Chapter 8: Running

We hadn’t walked much further when I spotted something up ahead. It looked like a large building. As we got a little closer, I noticed a doorway in the wall and that our trail seemed to go right through the middle of the building. I could see another doorway on the opposite wall, and our path was a catwalk of sorts through the middle of whatever the warehouse held. Aeolianna and I were leading the group. I cautiously approached the doorway, holding tightly to the handrail. Heights made me nervous. As I peered into the brightly lit building, my eyes widened. It was one enormous room, lined with shelf upon shelf of every toy imaginable. Our path went along one side and the rest of the space was a veritable wonderland of toys. However, there was no floor. The chasm beneath us was dark and foreboding. There were numerous staircases leading to the toy shelves, but I wasn’t about to go off exploring here. Something just didn’t feel right.

“Stick to the path, everyone,” I called. “Let’s keep going.”

I walked a few paces forward until everyone else was inside the building. Soon, all the toys started talking to us, calling for us to come and play. As we marched resolutely forward, some began laughing at us, calling us cowards and boring. Didn’t we want to come and play? We could continue our journey later. There was so much fun to be had with all these amazing toys. Despite mine and Aeolianna’s previous warnings, a few toys untied their tethers and decided to heed these siren songs. They rushed off to join the playthings. Two girls disappeared down the hole that wasn’t a floor as they tripped on one another in their rush to get to a beautiful Barbie doll. A few others managed to get to the toy shelves, becoming once again the toys they had been in the dungeon, instead of real people. I was saddened by their choices. They joined in the taunting, but the rest of us paid them no attention.

I was almost to the door on the opposite wall and I could see the lush forest outside beckoning me.

Suddenly, I felt a prickling sensation on the back of my neck, as though something sinister was glaring at me. As I turned around, high up on a top shelf on the wall where our entrance door was, I spotted him. A large, dark brown, King Kong stuffed gorilla. Garrote. The moment I spotted him, his eyes opened and flashed red.

“Hurry, everyone! Get out of here!” I yelled to my friends. No sooner had I spoken than Garrote leaped off his high perch and landed with a thud on our catwalk. It shook violently and began to teeter toward one side. Several people who hadn’t tied their tethers on yet fell off and dropped into the darkness below. I saw that Fred, Ted and Ned began to slide toward the gaping chasm as well. Immediately I noticed that their tethers weren’t well tied and were coming undone. I wouldn’t be able to reach them before they fell. Zinga was on top of it though. Just as his brothers began to slide off the trail, he snatched the tethers trailing from their waists and wrapped them around his own before tying them securely to the rail. The brothers stumbled and tripped over one another, but managed to get back onto the trail and held fast to the handrail.

We continued to run, every step a fight to stay upright as Garrote pounded along behind us. I wasn’t sure what he would do if he caught us, but I wasn’t planning on sticking around to find out. Almost through the door…

I was through! I waited briefly for the others and helped a few stragglers who had gotten a bit tangled up in their own tethers. As I glanced back to check for anyone else, I saw his enormous toe sticking out of the small doorway we had just come through. The building seemed to shake as he pounded on the wall trying to get out. We kept running as fast as we could. No one dared look back. The feeling of impending doom hung over us. We could feel the ground vibrating with every movement the monster made. It wasn’t long before we heard a loud crash and knew he had broken through the wall. We sped up.

For what seemed like hours, we ran and he chased us. We couldn’t see him, but we could still hear him and feel the vibrations of his huge footsteps running after us. The thumps echoed in our pounding hearts. No one slowed down. We all knew what would happen, even if the details were gratefully fuzzy. We could not let him catch us. This was not the moment to face him. We weren’t strong enough, we had nothing to fight him with, yet.

Finally, I spotted something up ahead. A wall! It wasn’t as tall as the one by where we had started out. I could see the top. But it looked tall and strong enough to keep out Garrote.

The interesting thing was, once I noticed it, the threat of Garrote seemed to lessen. The shaking ground seemed to become more stable, and for a moment, I almost wondered if I had imagined a giant gorilla was chasing us bent on our destruction. I looked around at the others and by the look of amazement I knew they felt the same. What was this place we were approaching?

We halted before large double wooden doors. There was something carved into them. It looked like a poem. As we caught our breath, I slowly read the words out loud.

 

Just open your eyes and see

Through eyes of curiosity

The world in a different way

Than we may know.

Just open your eyes and look

Through the pages of an open book

And there you will find the key.

Just open your eyes and take the key

And look for the door –

The door to imagination

Evermore!

 

As I read, Zinga, already breathing normal, began to hum. It was a simple tune, but there was something about it. He hummed it a few times until it stuck in my head. Once more, I looked up at the words written on the door. This time, instead of simply reading them, I sang them with Zinga’s tune. After the last note, the doors swung open. All thought of Garrote was gone. Ahead of us, the trail climbed a high mountain and disappeared among the clouds. I guess that’s where we were going. We all passed through the doors. I looked back through them as they began to swing shut. As they were about to close, Garrote broke out of the trees. I caught his eye as he glared at me. I wasn’t afraid anymore. He couldn’t get to us in here. This was a safe haven. Garrote could not enter. And while I knew that the trail would probably lead us across his path once more, for the moment, we were in another world where worrying about such things had no reason. I turned my eyes toward the summit and began the long climb.

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