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Hollow
By Gage
Illustration by
KKC Bauder

Lost Horizon by KKC Bauder



Like any other day, I was in my room, rummaging through my backpack, madly searching for my math homework, when I saw something strange… I had never noticed it before. Okay, I didn't see it, I heard it. My house doesn't have rugs like all my friends have, my house has large blocks of tile.

Well, as I tugged my load of work out of my backpack, I stumbled onto one of the tile plates near my desk. When I did, I heard a hollow sound. It made a rigid, stale, sound that sounded like nothing was under it.

All the other tiles made no sound and were reinforced by a thick layer of cement under it. This one sounded like nothing was beneath it, like it was empty and not hard. It made a hollow sound, that bounced and echoed. A dull sound.

I was a curious eleven-year-old girl, so of course I wanted to investigate. I stared at the tile and hopped on it for a while, but nothing happened. As I was about to dive into further inspections, my mom, Joanne Baker, called, "Polly! You're gonna be late!"

I groaned in disappointment and trudged out of the room. Usually my mom encouraged homework before soccer. But tonight was big. B-I-G. Tonight was the championship, and my mom was the soccer mom.

So tonight was… special. And my mom was very lenient. Okay, I'll cut it short, I'm a little spoiled. A bit. My mom just feels like she needs to get me what I want, because she's ashamed of the divorce. She doesn't like to talk about it… but I was only two so I barely knew what he was like.

So I put on all my gear and hopped into the car.

"Ready?" mom asked.

I nodded. "Can't wait."

We were both a little anxious. So we drove to practice and… lost the championship. I scored one goal, but it was a landslide. 12--3. As you can guess, we weren’t the three. Anyways, I got home teary-eyed with fury, punching my pillow.

My mom forced me to do my homework before bed, and I didn't get a chance to discover and unravel the mysteries of that hollow tile. The next morning, I was focused solely on school and getting good grades.

After six hours of grueling classes, I was home again, and glaring at that hollow tile. Something was wrong with it… it just seemed special. I was ecstatic to hear I had the rest of the day to myself. So, I got a kitchen knife and started cutting and scraping away at the black stuff between each tile. Eventually, I had made some good progress.

There was still a lot of black glue, but I had cut off the majority. I dug a little deeper with the now-blunt tip of the blade and felt it lodge in something. I pushed it back and forth to discard some of the deeper glue, and I finally could put my hand around the whole tile. It wasn't big like the other blocks, it was, of course, hollow.

I heaved the heavy plate up, but it was too heavy. I tried to knife again, feeling under the tile plate. Sure enough, something latched from the ground to the tile. I swiped my knife through it and towed the tile from its sockets.

Scrape.

Plunk.

Crack.

The plate popped from the ground easily, and I lifted with all my strength. Low and behold, my hard work had paid off. When I gazed down to the hole, images of treasure and money flooded my mind. Those fantasies fled when all I saw was a dark, empty hole.



* * *



I was utterly exhausted and dissatisfied. All that labor for a hole. A deep hole, mind you, but a hole. I looked into the never-ending circle of blackness. I imagined it to be magic, like mist slowly rising from it, and it actually being interesting and fascinating. But it was just a hole you couldn't see the bottom of.

Or maybe you could. Maybe it was just dark dirt and not endless dark. At least I could figure THAT out. I tightly clenched the edge and slowly lowered myself. Well, my feet didn't touch the surface, so it wasn't shallow dirt.

The dirt was deep down and rich. I lowered my self a few more inches, expecting my feet to touch soon. Nope. I had went down at least three feet! I kept going down below until my eyes were level with the floor. I was down at least four feet two inches (my height)! Whoa. I decided it was dangerous and attempted to get out.

It was tough.

I didn't have the most brilliant upper-body strength, so I struggled to free myself from the pit. I managed to get one leg and one arm on the floor after what seemed like an eternity. With a last spurt of power, I flipped over the edge and sprawled on the hard, cold, tile. Man. I lay there for a few minutes, just pondering and panting for air.

Man, if I didn't put the tile back before mom came, I'd be in trouble. So, very reluctantly and with little strength, I did just that. A few minutes later mom came home. I was happy to see her and she really missed me, I could tell. Just like she missed dad.

Dad. . .

She was so contented to see me, we played a little game of hide-and-seek (we had to do the most ridiculous things to free our minds of dad and use escapism. I, for one, think it not ludicrous but a bit pitiful). So it was my turn to hide and mom was coming. I sprinted to my room and surprisingly…

I stepped on the not-so-securely fastened tile that was hollow and it crumbled. The whole plate collapsed beneath me, and for a femasecond I was out of it from shock. Then I registered what had happened. With incredible reflexes, I somehow managed to grab hold of the edge. Adrenaline pumped in every vein that pulsed in my body.

Slowly recovering after the grab, I decided to use this advantage. Mom couldn’t find me. Come on, my eyes were level with the floor. Then, something gave way in my wrist and I plummeted to the uncertain chasms below. . .

I stopped tumbling and landed flat on my back in water. I felt like I had smacked into bricks, and my back stung like fire. I was sure it was completely red. I floated in the water, gasping for air very often. After settling down, I doggy-paddled towards the end of the water I was in.

The cavern ceiling above my head was very low, and many times my head bumped into it when I came for oxygen. Then, it shifted. Quickly. The roof was alive! Every time I came up, it pushed down, forcing me down into the water! I was drowning!

Now, I couldn't come up for air, the roof was now underwater. I swam as fast as I could, now stroking faster than before. Each kick was costing me air. Each lunge was costing me time. Then, I saw the small ceiling rise ahead to a large room.

I had seconds before I passed out from lack of air. Water went up my nostrils. I was about to drown when… I made it. My head surfaced about a second before I was sure I was going to die. I came up sputtering and coughing, choking and spitting, water coming from my nose and mouth. I burped and threw up.

After recuperating for a long, long time, I just floated with my face to the ceiling. I was so tired, after swimming such distances and near-death situations. I finally came to shore and lay on the ground. I was so out of it, I didn't notice the city and people around me.



* * *



I woke up.

I was on the hard ground, with a city hustling and bustling around me.

So it wasn't a dream.

I sat up, my head ached and my entire being was sore and inflamed. A man kneeled next to me. No, it wasn't a man, my vision was blurry. It was a boy, about my age. "Are you all right?" the boy asked in a nice voice. Man, that voice was sweet-sounding.

"Y...Yeah," I stammered in a mixture of confusion and embarrassment. Here I was, sleeping in the middle of. . .a city. Wow.

"What happened?" the boy asked in that same great voice.

I tried to clear my fuzzy vision. "Umm, I'm not sure. . ."

The boy helped me up and I rubbed my eyes. Yep, it was a city. Man, that boy was cute. So handsome. I'm boy-crazy. And around boys, I tend to make a fool of myself.

"W--What's y. . .your name?" I asked dreamily, looking into his eyes.

The boy replied, "Sam's my name. But that's not important. You seem a little disoriented. Tell me what happened."

And I told him. I figured where I came out of, because there was a little hole in the wall near the water. That's where I came out of.

"That hole in the water is how I got here," I explained.

He nodded silently. "That's the stream of Karkop, who is said to have died there," Sam informed me. "Now he traps anyone in there."

I banished the subject and said, "So, um…"

"Yes?" he prompted.

I smiled shyly. "Uh, you wanna, you know… get together sometime?"

Sam's face turned a blushing red. "Uh, yeah. . .I would like that. Since you don't live in Hraw--" That must be this city, I thought, "--I guess you could come to my house."

We both continued making complete idiots out of ourselves and eventually wandered through the big city.

"Hraw," Sam said, "is full of creatures. There are friendly ones and bad ones. You'll see the good ones, but hopefully you'll never see the bad kind: vampires."

That frightened me. "You have VAMPIRES here?!?" I said in surprise, and then shuddered. Sam nodded.

We arrived at his house. Turns out, his mom and dad got divorced too. His mom had left like my dad. That made me feel more drawn to him. So I got to know his dad and everything was well until we heard something on the TV.

"There is a swarm of vampires heading for Hraw," a newscaster warned. "Lock everything. Be prepared."

With fear in our eyes, we all got in his cellar and locked everything.

"Does this happen often?" I asked fearfully. Sam shook his head no.

"There's a best and worst case scenario: The vampires destroy the city."

I nodded in horror. "What's the best case scenario?"

Sam drew a breath and declared, "That IS the best case scenario."

We sat in the dark for a while hearing footsteps and destruction. Blood-curdling screams of the people being bitten, struck fear in our hearts. Finally, Sam's father ordered, "OUT. We need to get out." And we did. We ran outside to the water. Sam's father yelled, "Go! Leave!"

Sam nodded, teary-eyed. "Go."

"I won't!" I argued.

Sam pointed to the stream of Karkop. "Go! I won't let anything happen to me! I… love you. Good-bye."

And (much to my joy) he swiftly kissed me on the cheek. Then, I jumped in the water. We waved sadly, and I was off.

The swim wasn't that hard, the stream seemed to be sleeping. The climb was hard. I crawled up the way I came out. It took hours. I clenched the dirt though, and made it out. The second I saw mom, I panicked and yelled, "We need to move!"

My mom, seeing my expression, said fearfully, "Okay." So we did.


Now we live in a completely different state. We never found my dad. Here, I am now, staring up at the moon and stars on a hill. I think I hear my mom yelling for me to come in. But I stay, gazing at the constellations. I've never gone back to see Sam. I never have, and probably never will. I'm now thirteen.

I once came close to telling my mom about it, but didn't, and haven't gone back to it or seen Sam, but I ended up never seeing them, and now I'm here, thinking about Sam, the vampires, the Hollow Spot in the tile floor.

The End

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Gage About the Author: Gage

Gage is a talented 15-year-old author from Florida who began writing for Phoophie Tales at the age of 12. In his free time, he enjoys acting, video games, reading and writing stories. What inspires Gage is reading other great horror stories and wanting to make his own to inspire others.



about the illustrator, kkc bauder

About the Artist:

KKC is a second generation artist from Texas. She was raised on abstract expressionism and loves playing with line, color and motion to create free-form paintings that can be interpretated in many different ways. Her work is inspired by Music and Literature. You can visit her art shop at: Cool Unique Original Art | apparel & gifts



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