by Gayle Goh, age 11
Startled, I looked up into the stern face of Mrs. Robinson.
“Just who do you think you are? Falling asleep in my class!” she exclaimed with a thin scowl on her bony face. “I’ve been tolerating your nonsense for long enough! Your head is so filled with space and time travelling, I wonder you have time for anything else!”
I looked down to hide my face in case it betrayed my real feelings…I was mad. Who was she to scold me like that? I paid attention in class…most of the time…and I was always punctual with my homework. I scored high marks for all my tests and was polite to my teachers. In other words, I was a model student. And every human being has a particular interest. My interest was in time travelling in space. I couldn’t help thinking that there was a way to travel through time and places in a short time. After all, Einstein himself had said that if you could travel faster than the speed of light, you could arrive at the future! And…”
“Robert! There you go, your mind wandering away as usual! Meet me outside the principal’s office today after school.” She ordered, twirling around on her high heels to face the blackboard once again.
Groaning silently, I made a face at her behind her back. I decided I just had to get out of that classroom and take a breath of fresh air to cool myself down. Raising my hand, I asked to be excused to go to the toilet. Frowning, she gave her reluctant permission and paid me no heed as I stalked out of the room, my hands in my pockets.
My feet found their way to the musty old music room we hardly ever use. Hesitantly, I stepped into the pitch–black darkness. I put my hand in front of my face, but could see nothing.
And all of a sudden, the weirdest thing occurred. Now there was…darkness. It was not the same kind of darkness as I had been experiencing only moments before. Before, I simply could not see. But I could feel, touch, smell…and yet, now, I could not feel a thing. I was in a dark, empty void. I felt as though I was being ripped away from this music room, torn from this world into a place of absolute and total nothingness. I reached out to touch the chairs and tables that were so familiar to me, and yet my groping fingers met nothing.
I told myself that I was dreaming, but I could not bring myself to believe it. And suddenly I was gliding through space, gliding through a dazzling world of twinkling stars shining brightly in the velvety night sky. The moon shone on me, casting its loving light over my body and my hair. I started falling then…falling…falling…falling…
I was in a small, wooden boat. I floated on the crystal clear blue water. Colourful and unique fishes swam lazily around me. The bright corals were fragile and beautiful to behold. As I moved through this enchanted world of wonder, I looked in front and saw the most wonderful paradise anyone could imagine. It was a small island, with brightly coloured flowers of all shapes and sizes.
As I landed ashore on the soft, powdery sand, I walked barefoot on the sand. I had no idea why I was barefoot, but at that time I had no wish to know. This magical land was like the Garden of Eden. I saw a green forest and decided to walk in it. I treaded through the tall, springy grass. But just as I was beginning to really enjoy this marvellous adventure, I saw something so bizarre I could hardly believe my eyes. The forest was walking towards me! Yes, the trees were moving to me slowly but surely. And yet, as I looked closer, I saw that they were not trees but men and women…children as well, strange as it may seem! Who were these people, and what would they do to me?
They advanced slowly, a glint in their black, bottomless eyes. I shivered unwillingly. They were clothed in twigs, branches and leaves, but they remained decent. An old man looked at me and examined me from head to toe.
I could not help but think what they thought of when they saw my scruffy jeans, dirty face, uncombed hair and torn sneakers. Under different circumstances, I might even have laughed at the pure silliness of the situation. But I assure you; I felt no silliness then. Those black eyes of theirs were boring into me by the second, piercing into my very soul and digging out my deepest secrets.
I was surprised and startled when the old man spoke in a guttural tone. I could not make out what he was saying, but whatever language he used was punctuated by sharp, violent hand signals and fierce scowls. A young woman stepped out. On her face was a slightly gentler look. She too spoke in a low, uncouth voice, but her signals were more eloquent and she did not scowl that often. She ended her speech with what may be considered a smile.
But what they said was no longer of any consequence to me as they advanced maniacally towards me once again. A young man with dark olive skin and sharp white teeth grabbed me roughly and dragged me to a clearing. My heart stopped as I looked at the cauldron filled with boiling water. The cauldron…the cauldron was large enough to contain a boy…a boy of my size…
As I began to understand my dire situation, I struggled like crazy, kicking and punching all that came in my way. But slowly…surely…I was dragged towards that boiling cauldron of water.
I am in that very cauldron now as I relate to you my sad story. The water is boiling my skin, causing blisters to rise up. I have long since resigned myself to my fate. I have but one piece of advice to offer to science fiction fans like myself who are engrossed in space and time travel…
Do not ever enter the music room in St. Hilda’ s Primary School.
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