Feb 18
Cole P.'s picture

The Elixir

        I paced around my tiny bedroom for the thousandth time, feeling bored beyond reckoning. Why did my idiotic classmates have to have come down with Covid? I hadn’t even wanted to be in the same room with them, with their misbehavior and dumb jokes. I should have known it was only a matter of time until they did something stupid and got sick, but what could I have done? I’d already tried my hardest to get moved to a separate classroom. But now I was stuck in here (plus the upstairs bathroom), having to quarantine even from my own family, with only my cat TNT (named for both the ski trail and his personality) for company. And he wasn’t very good company, either.
         My mom and dad had let me have him in my room during my quarantine, anticipating how bored I’d become, but mostly he seemed as cooped-up as I was, sitting at the window and staring at birds. But he couldn’t leave either, because if I had coronavirus, I could spread it to him.
         In four days, I’d be able to get a test, but it felt like an eternity. I had already finished all my homework long ago, and now I had nothing to do.
          I went over to my bookshelf and scanned the shelves. I had read almost everything. The only book left was a book about numerology that my uncle had given me for my birthday back in November. At the time, it seemed like the last thing I would ever want to read, but now… well, I had read everything else. I decided to give the book a try.
         It was mostly just really stupid stuff about your destiny and how your name and the date you were born determine your fate. At the back of the book, however, I found a chart saying which letters corresponded to which numbers. Just for fun, I decided to play around with some words and see where they led me.
         Apparently, b-o-r-e-d was 16-2-4-23-7. 1,624,237. Interesting. I decided to divide that by s-t-u-c-k, which was 811,493. I did the math on paper and came up with roughly 2. I multiplied this by m-a-d (1,267) to get 2,534, then added up all of that number’s digits. 2+5+3+4 was 14, and then 1+4 was five.
         There was a number-word chart near the beginning, so I decided to look at it to see what my calculations “meant”. Five was the word “door”.
         “Door,” I muttered. “How perfect. I get a door just when I can’t use one.”
         Suddenly I heard a sound like fabric ripping apart at the seams. Something was slowly materializing in the middle of my bedroom. I watched it stretch out bigger and bigger, with my mouth hanging open half in fascinated awe, half in terror.
         At last, the shape was fully formed. It was a golden door, wreathed in flames and hovering a foot or two off the ground! The whole thing seemed to glow with an otherworldly energy. It was open a crack, almost like an invitation.
         I took a step back. What was this thing? TNT backed into a corner, his tail fat.
         “I know, TNT,” I whispered. “I’m scared, too.”
         Slowly, slowly, my cat crept towards the floating door. “TNT, no!” I shouted. “I need to talk to my parents about this.” But the cat continued to stalk forward.
         I rushed forward to pick him up, but with a sudden leap, he pounced through the door to the other side.
         “No!” I cried. What had I done?
         A tentacle poked through the opening left by the cat. Was the creature it belonged to devouring TNT this second?! I had to save him. Leaving all thoughts of my own safety aside, I charged through the door.
         TNT was not being devoured, as it turned out. Instead, he was wildly batting at the tentacles, which seemed to come from some sort of tree. Except that they were moving!
         The strange trees appeared to be waving their tentacles back and forth, almost like humans waving a string. The cat seemed to be enjoying this mightily. He was racing back and forth between each tentacle, jumping and leaping and biting at them. But I was so engrossed in watching him that I didn’t even notice at first that the door was shrinking!
         “TNT, come on!” I urged, but to no avail. The cat continued attacking the tentacles, and the portal continued to get smaller. Soon it would be too small for me to fit through.
         Despite the cat’s protests, I grabbed him in my hands, then ran with him over to what was left of the door and took a flying leap…
         …Only to collapse on the sand. The portal had completely disappeared! We were now stuck in this place… but what was this place?
         I looked around. We appeared to be in some sort of strange oasis. Desert surrounded us. I could see nothing anywhere outside of where we were except endless sand dunes.
         I didn’t really have a plan. Maybe the portal would return after an hour or two. If not, I didn’t know what I was going to do.
         A small creature skittered by, off into the dunes. Before I could anything, TNT turned around and chased after it!
         “TNT, come back right now!” I yelled, but of course nothing happened. I couldn’t really blame him. He was only two, after all, and he’d just been stuck inside a tiny room without anything to chase. At the moment, nothing I had to offer would be able to draw him back here.
         I ran in the direction he and the creature had gone, but saw nothing except tracks. I would just have to follow these and see where they led me. Hopefully I would be able to find my way back again.
 
         I walked for over an hour, but still did not see the cat. The sun was beating down on my back, and I was beginning to get thirsty. On the bright side, at least I wasn’t in a city or something, where I could spread Covid 19 to tons of people. Quite the opposite, in fact. And at least there were clear tracks showing me exactly where to go.
         Wait… maybe not. Was that a sandstorm in the distance? Oh, no! This was terrible!
         The mass of spinning sand raced toward me. It was going to obscure all of the tracks! I was going to be lost in the middle of the desert!
         I hunkered down, my hands over my eyes. I felt sand spinning around me, then… nothing. Was it over? I dared to peek.
         What I saw was a startling surprise. There was a sort of wispy man floating before me.
         “A genie!” I breathed.
         “Sorry, dude, but I’m only a half-genie,” the man responded. “And unfortunately, that means you only get one and a half wishes, as opposed to the usual three.”
         “How can I have half a wish… oh, never mind,” I said. “My wishes are to find my cat and to figure out a way to get home.”
         “Technically, that’s two wishes,” the genie replied, “but since I’m feeling generous, I’ll round up.
         “The answer to both wishes lies in the oasis over in that direction,” he said, pointing. “I will send you there with my powers, but you will have to figure out what to do after that on your own, since I don’t really know that area very well. Are you ready?”
         “I think so,” I answered.
         “Special genie transportation in three, two, one!”
         The genie sent a stream of yellow light at me, and I was airborne! I raced over the dunes, going faster than the wind. It was terrifying, but also really fun. It was an amazing feeling to be flying through that bright blue sky.
         All too soon, it was over. I gently landed next to a shining pool of water. More tentacle-trees surrounded me.
         TNT nuzzled me to say hello. “How did you get here so fast?” I asked him. “Did the genie help you, too?”
         Whatever had happened, the cat wasn’t telling.
         What do we do now? I wondered.
         Luckily, there was a helpful hand-painted sign to guide us.
NEED GUIDANCE?  it read. The wisest animal of all is here to help! OWL THIS WAY!
         “Wow!” I exclaimed, surprised. “Just what I need!” I picked up TNT and walked in the direction indicated, where there seemed to be a sort of path.
         This part of the desert had less sand. Cacti and other scrubby plants dotted the ground. As we walked, there continued to be signs pointing us in the right direction.
         The path dead-ended in front of a particularly enormous cactus. Yet another sign instructed us to “knock for owl”. I knocked, trying to avoid the sharp spines.
         “Who’s there?” asked a voice from way up high. A small head poked out of a hole near the top of the cactus. A cactus owl! It was so cute!
         “Are you the all-knowing owl that the signs mentioned?” I yelled up at it. “We have come to ask you how to get back to our world.”
         “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you,” the owl replied. “I’m not really all-knowing or anything. You see, it gets so boring living here in the desert all alone like this, so I made the signs so that I could see more people. If you really want someone wise and you don’t want to stay here with me a little longer, you should try the sidewinder. He’s probably somewhere in the dunes on the other side of the oasis.”
         I thanked the cactus owl and after chatting for a little bit just to be nice, we left (although I should mention that TNT was no longer in my arms). I stopped to drink at the oasis, then climbed to the top of one of the highest sand dunes.
         “Hello?” I called.
         A voice answered, “Yesssssss? Who sssspeakssssss?”
         I turned around to see something moving towards me. It was the biggest rattlesnake I’d ever seen, even in pictures! It wriggled on its side, moving quickly up the slope. Soon it was next to me.
         “You need a way to get home, I hear?” the snake asked.
         “Yes, and quickly!”
         “Have no fear,” the sidewinder responded. “You sssaid the word “door” to get here, correct? Well, all you need to do to get back is to sssay it in reverssse. The portal will only remain open for five minutesss, however, so be careful!”
         “Oh, thank you, thank you!” I exclaimed.
         “Oh, and before you go,” said the snake. “I believe in your world you have a virus that is making it hard to do things the way you normally would. Am I correct?”
         “Yes.”
         A bottle appeared in mid-air. “Fill this flasssk up (the inssside is bigger than it looksss) with water from the pool in thisss oasssisss. I am sssure that your ssscientissstsss will find that it will help them tremendousssly in discovering a cure for Covid 19.”
         I thanked the sidewinder again and made my way down to the pool, where I slowly filled up the bottle. When it was full, I closed the lid and shouted “rood!” A door, very similar to the last one, appeared above the edge of the pool. I took one last look at the beautiful surroundings, then grabbed TNT firmly and leaped through the door, back into my house.
         All I can say is that I will never doubt numerology, or my uncle, again.


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