The Dark Part of the Forest #9

The Dark Part of the Forest #9

Amelia DesMarais, Author

∼Chapter 9: Passage to the High School∼

Peter led them through silent halls and empty turns, trudging on a path he had obviously taken many times before. Tily was on the verge of complaining when Peter stopped abruptly in front of a piece of blank wall.

“And what is this supposed to be? A wall that tells you where the shortcut to the high school is?”asked Tily skeptically.

“Watch and be amazed,” replied Peter. The wall was a normal wall as far as the school standard was. Just a wall, with a few brick s showing in one place and some cracks in another. Peter ran his finger down one of the cracks in the wall, then walked to where the bricks showed and tapped a slightly chipped and discolored brick. Then, before their eyes, the wall began to change. Silently, as is if it had been muted, the wall fell away and rearranged itself until a man-made passage opened up before them. The tunnel held no source of light, but glowed as if lanterns hung on the walls.

“Peter stepped in ahead, calling after him,”Are you guys coming or not?”

Erin, Tily, Kathryn and Marcus stumbled after him, and the moment they had passed over the threshold, the wall closed up behind them. Bricks flew into place, and soon the wall looked innocent once more, as if it were not hiding five refugees off to the high school.

Catching up to Peter, Kathryn asked, “So how did you come upon this place?”, gesturing around them.

“Oh, I have ways,” he replied. “Ways that I will not share, mind you.”

Kathryn sighed, then fell behind to talk to Erin, Tily, and Marcus.

“What do you guys know about his sister that could make her a ‘solution’?” she asked, using air quotes.

“Well, I know she’s in tenth or eleventh grade,” remarked Erin.

“I have no idea what she does,” said Tily. “As a power , I mean.”

“I know that there was a rumor that she did something when she was in sixth grade that got all hushed up, but I don’t know what it is, or if it’s even true,” said Marcus.

“Well, that doesn’t help us a bit,” said Kathryn.

“Bits and pieces that tell only the part of the story that is unnecessary,” Erin murmured sadly.

“Well, shall we go ask Peter about his sister?” asked Marcus brightly.

“Well, I’d be in favor of that idea if I knew where he was,” said Tily, “because he seems to have disappeared.”

They all looked around. Erin let out a soft groan. Kathryn called out, “Peter!” and Marcus tapped at the curved walls, in case there was a secret passage, but they found nothing. At that moment, they heard a laugh behind them. “You’re tapping the wrong part of the wall, Marcus!” a voice called. Ut sounded strangely like Peter’s. “Come over here!” They all ran towards the sound of his voice, and discovered a narrow passage that led steadily upward, the same lantern-less lights marking the way. They saw Peter standing in the passage. “We’re almost there!” he called, then turned and ran up the passage. The others followed him. The passage ended in a dead-end brick wall. By now, of course, they all knew that it was far more than it seemed. Peter tapped a certain brick, and the wall slid away, revealing a hallway much like the one through which they had come. Looking once down the hall, Peter headed off to the left, hurrying now. They passed bare and cracked spots in the wall, grand stained-glass windows glowing in the soft moonlight, and so many twists and turns that they lost all sense of direction. And when they all were on the verge of giving up, Peter stopped. They were in front of a door marked D24. The door had a gold plaque on it, engraved with the words. Leanna Fenice, Grade 11. Peter knocked on the door with three short raps, then one long one. A few seconds later, the door opened a crack and a soft voice floated out. “Peter?”

“Yup. It’s me,” Peter replied. “What did you expect? You knew I’d come at some point.”

The voice, which obviously belonged to Leanna, laughed. “Did you bring anyone with?”

“Yeah, just a couple friends though.”

“How many?”


Leanna sighed. “Come on in.”

The tall, brown-haired girl who opened the door could only be Peter’s sister. They all filed in, with Peter in the lead and Marcus holding up the rear. But really, he was not the last one in. Ximen was, but you, dear reader, probably know that already. Once they were inside, Leanna said, “Make yourselves comfortable. I don’t have four chairs though, so you’ll have to make do.” She plopped down  on the carpet along with Tily, Kathryn, and Marcus, while Peter sat in the armchair in the corner and Erin took the stool by the kitchenette.

“So I know Tily, Marcus, and Erin, but I don’t think I’ve met you before,” she said, pointing at Kathryn.

“I’m Kathryn.”

“Nice to meet you Kathryn,” Leanna said, offering a hand shake which Kathryn took. Then she turned to Peter. “What brings you to my dorm?” she asked.

“Well, there have been some strange goings-on around school, mainly focusing on a certain sixth-grader by the name of Ximen Valor, who has some odd powers.” As he said this, the curtains rustled, though no one paid that any mind, except for Erin, who glanced at it quickly, then looked away again. “We were sent to our dorms early, and we were given no reason as to why.”

“I don’t see how this all comes down to you visiting me. So what if you had to go to bed a little early and they don’t want to always tell you everything?” Leanna asked skeptically.

“Well, Ms. Greenelake seemed very distressed. And she also seemed to have come from the forest. She never visits the forest unless she needs to check on every thing, which she doesn’t do until April, or unless something is really wrong. And so, this is why everybody in the middle school is curious. I thought that you might be able to help us by telling us the story that was so shrouded in rumor and secrecy that involves you and the heart of the evergreen forest.”

Leanna was silent for a moment, looking into the distance. Then she said quietly, as if to herself, “I suppose it wouldn’t be all bad to tell someone of what happened that day. No, not all bad at all.” Then, louder she said, “You all are in for a long story. I hope you’re ready.”