Phoebe felt so tired, so sleepy that she didn’t want to wake up. She had no idea what happened as if it was all a dream and forgotten about it. Sure enough, she slowly opened her eyes. There was something blue-blocking her view but it was too blurry to see. Rising her tired arm, she gently poked the blue thing in front of her face. It was a leaf but why was it blue she wasn’t sure. Phoebe, now realizing she was sleeping on a pile of fallen leaves, she sat up rubbing her tired eyes.
Now that she was fully awake she looked up to see what’s around her.
She was surrounded by thin white trees with blue and purple leaves. The trees seemed to glow like neon glow sticks. She glanced to her side to see in front of her was a large black tunnel.
“Oh now I remember, I fell in the mud and Zoom-Zoom tried to grab me.”
She looks down at herself to see mud all over her, from her boots to her jacket. Her gloves covered in chocolate mud making them heavy, she takes them off and puts them in her jacket pockets. Phoebe looked up to see how far she fell in. She couldn’t see anything, it seemed that the only way up keeps going on and on. She thought maybe she may try to climb back up but it was too muddy and slippery.
Then she had an idea, “Maybe if I find a huge stick it will help me climb back up.”
She slowly got up on her feet feeling the squishy muddy water in her socks if felt like she was standing in a pound. She looked in the piles of leave and at the trees but saw no sticks, nothing.
“Should I pull one off the trees?” No, that’s wouldn’t be good for the trees, she wasn’t even sure what kind of trees they were so she thought she can use something else.
She looked down at the ground; the neon glowing trees cast her shadow in front of her. There was another light glowing but that wasn’t coming from the trees. Phoebe turns around to see what looks like a firefly but it has a white and fluffy body like a dandelion. Its eyes were small as dots and white antennas; it has long winkers in front of its face. It didn’t seem to have wings it was just floating there.
“Ba ba, ba ba” it made the strangest noise.
Phoebe thought it was cute but wondered if it was safe. She went up to it and started talking to the fly.
“Hello,” she said almost like a whisper, “Can you help me? I’m trying to get back home.”
The bug just stared at her and said “Ba ba, ba ba”
Phoebe giggled at the cute little sound the bug was making. Taking the strange noise as a yes Phoebe walked to the tunnel and pointed up, “I fell from up there and I want to go back up so do you-”
She turns again to see the bug was no longer there but she still sees its light from far ahead. “Hey! Where are you going, it’s this way!”
She ran after it, making loud squishy sounds with her boots as she runs deeper into the underground tunnel. As she runs deeper into the tunnel she notices that the trees are getting taller with more details. They have very thin lines of purple on the bark and the leaves are blue and purple and are much bigger. It’s not just that the trees looked different the ground is covered in brown grass and tall weeds. She feels she is was running in a field of lifeless grass. The grass made a crunchy sound as she runs through it. So far Phoebe hasn’t lost sight of the bug or its light.
“Ba ba, ba ba” it repeated it soft voice echo, “Ba ba, ba ba”.
The fog began forming around her ankles slowly rising in front of her face. Phoebe could feel the coldness of the fog hitting her face; it grows thicker and thicker making her lose her breath faster. She was losing sight of the bug. Phoebe didn’t want to stop running but she didn’t have any more air in her little lungs, so she stops to catch her breath and lets the bug getaway.
She stood there looking up where she last saw the light bug. Now surrounded with tall dead grass, dim-glowing trees and fog. Phoebe was scared having no idea how to go back home or where to go from here. She was so frightened she felt like crying, tears were forming in her eyes and started sliding down her cold cheeks. She wanted to scream for her mom and dad even her brother to come to find her but all she can choke out were small whimpers. Her nose was turning red as she continued to silently cry, after of few minutes she slowly calmed down rubbing her tears away with her cold hands. She hugs herself rubbing her arms to keep her body warm.
“There has to be a way out”, she said to herself, “And I’m not gonna stop till I get back home.”
Gathering all the courage she had she walks forward step by step. Walking through the fog made her shiver. It felt like walking into a snowstorm in the North Pole. Phoebe pulled her hat to keep the cold mist from hitting her eyes. As Phoebe continued moving forward she could have sworn that she heard the sound of rushing water. The fog has cleared up enough for Phoebe to see what was up ahead.
“Wait, is that that what I think is….”
Indeed it was exactly what Phoebe thought it was. There in the dark stood a yellow wooden bridge and under it was a small river.
The nine-year-old wondered how was this possible as questions popped in her head. Why would be there a bridge or a river underground? Could there be people living down here? That can’t be, what a silly thought she thinks.
Still, this bridge has to lead somewhere or else it wouldn’t be here. In Phoebe’s mind, there was a possibility that it may lead to a way out of this place. She went up to it and took a good look at it. The bottom was a solid stone that led to the other side while the railings were made of pure wood. The front railings, however, looked very different. It had shapes of faces on the side with creepy smiles as if they were happy to see someone coming to their path.
Phoebe didn’t find it scary but a little odd about the shapes on the railings. She went to the first stone on the walking path but halted for a second as she was waiting for something to happen. When nothing did she got braver and was now walking on the bridge. She stopped again to look down at the river, it was a beautiful sight to see. The river was pitch black but the reflection of water still made it sparkle. She thought she saw what look like fish in the water but it stayed in one place, she ignored it and kept walking. Phoebe was almost on the other side when suddenly came a big booming voice.
“YOU, GIRL ON BRIDGE!”
It startled her so much that Phoebe screamed and lands on her bottom. She looks frantically to see where the voice came from but she does not see anything. She quickly gets up and as she grabs the railing she sees something below the bridge. It rose up like a new mountain growing, it’s skin looked rubbery and scaly like fish skin but with a pale color and little horns sticking out on its back. The thing had a mob of hair that can be mistaken as seaweed. The mouth was huge and it had a baseball shape like nose. It’s round red and orange eyes looked up glaring at the terrified little girl. In a low grunting voice, it booms out,
“WHAT IS GIRL DOING ON MY BRIDGE!”
Phoebe swallows a lump in her throat trying not to freak out but in the inside, she was panicking. Whatever this thing was Phoebe tried to speak to it in an innocent voice.
“I…I’m l-llost-t”, she stuttered in fear to the monster, “I’m t-trying-gg to-o get back h-home.”
The monster raised a suspicious eyebrow at her, “YOU ARE NOT FROM FIRELANDS?”
“From where?” Phoebe tilted her head not understanding what the thing was saying.
“YOU TELL ME WHERE GIRL IS FROM OR I GET MAD!” said the big mouth monster, it revealed it’s long tentacles with little hands. The little hands twist and turn as they rushed to grab Phoebe’s jacket making her scream. She tries to run away but it was no use the tentacles brings her close to the monster’s face so it has a better look at her, growling and demanding answers from her which scared Phoebe more.
“Whoa! Hey! Hold on there, big fella.”
Somewhere from the distanced fog came a voice. A shape began to form as it got closer to the monster and the frighten Phoebe. When the person was close enough for Phoebe to see, she could not believe it.
This person…was a cat. His fur was a faint light blue with spots, a short tuft of hair on his head, and his tail was so long that it stood higher than he did. He had dark pants, a white button shirt, and a small green tie.
“There’s no need to do this with anger”, the cat said in a calm voice, “Just put the kid down. Put her down and will-”
“Gilbert! Gilbert where ya!”
A gust of wind rushed past the cat, whoever the other person was he was running too fast. He splashes into the water, he starts panicking splashing water in every direction and yelped in a high quirky voice.
“AH! Gilbert! Help! I’m not good in water!”
The cat named Gilbert just rolled his eyes in annoyance. The monster was also not pleased as it watches the quirky person somewhat jumping out of the water as fast as it can. He looked like a wooden puppet with no strings. His clothes were all ragged and stitch-up with white gloves and a droopy bowtie, with wooden feet and his black string hair was wild and standing up. Phoebe stared down at the odd pair as they tried to reason with the beast.
“THIS GIRL WAS ON MY BRIDGE! I WANT TO KNOW WHY!” it bellowed at the pair.
“Wow you’re scary!” said the quirky puppet. The cat covers his mouth and looks up to the monster.
“Okay, but what if we talk to her, she can tell us all the details and you can protect your little bridge. Um, how does that sound?”
The beast thought about the idea and looked at Phoebe, seeing how frightened she was, it gently puts her down on the grass next to the cat and the puppet. Soon the creature went back in the waters fading away as it sank deeper.
The cat and the puppet picked her up away from the river and they clean off the mud and water on her jacket. “I’m really sorry about that,” said the cat, “Big Guy can be grumpy when it comes to his bridge.”
“I didn’t mean to. I was only trying to find a way out.” Phoebe explained.
“A way out to where?” said the puppet looking up at her with a weird grin.
After they were done cleaning her off, getting most of the dry mud off, the cat and puppet step away to get a better look at Phoebe. She also looked at them with curious eyes wondering what they are thinking. “So you’re from up there,” the cat pointed up, “you fell in the tunnels and you're trying to go home correct?”
“Well, yes but how do you know about that?”
The puppet spoke up, “OH! The danifly told us when it found you in the forest.”
The little white light flew up to Phoebe, it was the same bug that she saw near the tunnel. “Ba Ba, Ba Ba” it said to her.
Phoebe smiled at the little bug, she patted its soft fur and then watched it fly away into the unknown, “Thank you danifly.” She turned to her saviors, “And thank you for saving me from that monster. So who are you anyway?”
The cat was first to speak up, “Oh, so sorry. My name is Gilbert, Gilbert Whiskers and this is my wacky friend Toodles Scadooles.”
“Hi! I like everything!”
“It’s nice to meet you, I’m Phoebe Hollow.”
Gilbert and Toodles started at Phoebe in disbelief. “Wait is your last name is Hollow?”
The nine-year-old raised an eyebrow at them, “Yes why?”
Then the cat and puppet looked at each other for a minute and they both had a smile on their faces as they looked back the girl.
“This is good news”, said Gilbert, “You have to come with us, Phoebe.”
The two creatures both took Phoebe’s little hands and guided her into the fog. She asked them where they were going but they just smiled at her.
“Don’t worry you’ll see,” said Toodles, “We’re gonna show you our home.”
Phoebe had many questions about their strange world and what they were and what their home would be like, but she told herself that she will have to wait until they got there. She smiled to herself, happy that she made new friends. She couldn’t wait for the adventure that awaits her.