A young boy digs a hole to make an underground fort and discovers a very strange place.
It was summer and Parnell was bored. He wanted something exciting to do. He finally got an idea and said to himself, “I’m going to dig a big hole in the ground, cover it over with branches and leaves, and make an underground fort.”
Since it was getting late, he decided to wait until morning to start work. He was so excited when he went to bed that night, it took him a long time to go to sleep. When he woke, he got dressed, grabbed a piece of bread, got a shovel, and started digging in the backyard. He had checked with his dad first to make sure it was okay with him.
Digging a hole was much harder than he thought it would be, but he kept thinking about the fort and how much fun he would have hiding out in it.
He was digging away when he hit something hard. At first, he thought it was a box because it looked like wood. “It could be hidden treasure,” he said aloud. However, after more digging he discovered it was a door. When he opened it, there were stairs leading down into the darkness. That was strange, but what was even stranger was that he could feel a light breeze blowing up from the bottom of the stairs into his face.
Parnell ran into the house and grabbed a flashlight. He hurried back to the stairs and began to descend very slowly and carefully. After awhile it became clear that the stairs continued for a very long way, so he quickened his pace.
Once he reached the bottom, he found a long tunnel. Off in the distance he could see a light. I wonder what that light is coming from, he thought as he scratched his head. “Well, there is only one way to find out,” he muttered as he started to walk toward the light.
When he reached the end of the tunnel, he found himself in a very strange place. He was surrounded by walls made from some sort of soft, spongy substance. It was a maze, and there were peculiar human hand shaped creatures with faces stuck to the walls.
As he walked through the maze he said aloud, “I wonder what place this is.”
To his surprise, all of the hand creatures answered at the same time, “This is The Strange Place.”
Parnell jumped in fright, and started running in an effort to get away from the hand creatures and escape The Strange Place. He ran in and out of the passages, but no matter how far he ran he kept seeing the hand creatures. They started laughing at him, and he kept running until he came to a big empty room. Parnell was relieved that this room had no hand creatures.
As he stood trying to think what he should do, he felt something touch his shoulder. He jumped and turned to see a bizarre creature standing behind him. It was the same size as Parnell, but it was not human. It had four big bulging eyes set in a row across its forehead. It had a long pointy nose, and little ears that looked like tubes sticking out of his head. Its teeth were all different sizes, and they were chipped, broken, and brown. Its head was too large for its body. The body was thin and wobbly looking. Orange skin covered its legs and arms that looked like sticks.
Parnell started to cry, and the creature said, “Do you want to get out of here, little boy?”
Parnell was too scared to talk, so he kept crying and just nodded his head.
“I have a magic potion. If you drink it, it will transport you out of here. Drink this and it will all be over.”
“But that is just a bottle of beer,” Parnell said. “That is not a magic potion.”
“In this place it is. Just drink a big gulp and you will be home.”
He took the bottle, took a swallow, and gave it back. “Now what?” he asked the creature.
“Now you’re really stuck. You stink like beer, and nobody will want to help you now. Don’t you know kids aren’t supposed to drink things like that?” The creature vanished; Parnell was alone.
The scared boy wondered to himself, Now what, am I ever going to get out of this place? I wish I had said no. I guess there’s nothing I can do except keep trying to find a way out of here. The boy kept wandering through The Strange Place until he came upon a small house. There was a little girl sitting on the porch, and she was crying. “What’s the matter little girl?”
The girl sniffed, looked at Parnell, and said, “My mother wants me to water the flowers around our house, I do not want to. She said I could not come back inside until I do it. Will you do it for me? If you do I will be ever so grateful.”
The boy did not want to disappoint the girl, and he thought that if he did her chore for her that maybe she would tell him how to get out of The Strange Place. “Sure I will.” He took the watering can and walked around the house, pouring water on the flowers. It didn’t take long because there were only five plants. That made Parnell wonder why the girl would not do it herself: it was so easy.
When he was finished, he took the can to the girl, and she knocked it out of his hand. She screamed at him, “Why did you do that! It was my responsibility, and you should have told me no. Now I’m going to tell my mother on you!” The girl got up and started shouting, “Mother, some boy who smells like beer did my chore for me, and now I can’t do it.”
The boy decided it was time for him to make a quick exit. It was a good thing he did because he could hear the girl’s mother screaming and slamming the door as she came outside.
After a long time of walking, the boy came to a kind of forest. It wasn’t like any forest he had ever seen before. It was just as strange as everything else was in The Strange Place. The trees were flat on top and the leaves were blue and purple. There were flowers that were shaped like little cubes on top of sticks. The sky was dark and scary looking.
It was very quiet until he heard something say, “I have some advice for you, boy.” Out from behind a tree crawled the strangest hand creature he had seen yet. “If anyone asks you where you are from, tell them you are from The Strange Place. If you tell the larger creatures that live here that you are from the other world, they will throw you into the pit.” After the creature finished speaking, it crawled away into the woods.
Parnell continued wandering down a windy path and was thinking all the while what he should do. So far, he had done what he thought would help him, but it always turned out wrong. Eventually he ran into another odd beast. This one had tiny eyes, big ears, no nose, and a little mouth. It had wild yellow hair sticking up all over its head. Its body was big and furry like a bear standing up on its hind legs. The creature looked at Parnell and said, “Hey you, ugly. You look like you don’t know your way around. Are you from here or someplace else?”
Parnell didn’t know what he should say. If he was truthful, the creature will throw him into a pit. If he lies, it will be yet another attempt to take the easy way he believes will keep him safe. Every time he did the easy thing that he thought would help him, it didn’t work out. Should I lie or tell the truth? He struggled inside himself.
“Well, speak up, ugly one. Do you come from The Strange Place or the other world?”
Parnell remembered his mother telling him that you could never go wrong doing the right thing. Parnell said, “I come from the other world.”
“WHAT!!! Why did you come here? You do not belong here; I will throw you into the pit!” It grabbed Parnell and dragged him to a very dark place. Then it took him to the edge of a deep dark pit.
“No, please don’t do it. I told you the truth. I could have lied to you. Please do not throw me into the pit!”
“Too bad--everyone who does not belong here must go into the pit.” Then he threw the boy in, and he fell for such a long time that he began to think that there was no end. When he finally did hit bottom, he was in his bed. Parnell was home safe in his own room. Was it a dream? I still have my clothes on. I did go to bed with my pajamas on, didn’t I? Parnell was never really sure. Even though he found that there was no hole dug in the backyard, he did find the shovel and flashlight on the ground where he was sure he had dug one.
fantasy, action adventure, religion and spirituality, children, kids, young adult, horror, dark, christian values, church, spooky, thrilling, christianity, Sunday school, teaching story, home schooling, children's church, YA, choices