Tom was twelve. He lived in a big, old house on the edge of town. Like many old houses, this one had a large attic at the top of the stairs. The attic was off limits to Tom and his little sister. But the boy was so fascinated with this forbidden place that he became more and more obsessed with the idea of exploring it. The question was, how and when could he do it without getting caught.
Finally, one Saturday morning he woke up with the answer. Tom’s parents always took a nap every Saturday afternoon. He would tell them at lunchtime that he had loads of homework and that he would be in his room working on it for the rest of the day. For effect he added, "I probably won’t be done by dinnertime, but hopefully I can finish by bedtime." The truth was that he didn’t have any homework; he finished it before he went to bed the night before.
Tom’s mom said, “All right. Just be sure that you check on your sister, and you two be quiet. Dad and I are going to take a nap.”
“Okay Mom. Don’t worry about us. We’ll be fine.” Tom waited in his room until he was sure his parents were sound asleep before he began his assent to the attic. When he was about halfway up, he heard his sister’s bedroom door open. He looked back and saw the little blond girl in her yellow play dress looking at him. “Dad said we are not supposed to go into the attic.”
Tom scrunched up his freckled face, squinted his dark brown eyes, and gave his sister his meanest look as he said, “You go back into your room and stay there. If you tell mom or dad that I went into the attic, I am going make you sorry. Now be quiet and forget what you saw.”
The little six-year-old had tears welling up in her blue eyes as she stepped back into her room and quietly closed her door.
The boy knew that he was free now to spend as much time as he needed to explore the attic without interference. It was a good thing that he remembered to step over the third step from the top because it creaked, and it might have woke his dad. When he reached the door, the boy felt a thrill of excitement. He knew that there would be lots of interesting things in the attic. Otherwise, why would he not be allowed to enter it? Finally, the moment had arrived, and the excited boy opened the door and switched on the light. The first things he saw were lots of stacked cardboard boxes, racks of old cloths, and broken chairs and lampposts. There were boxes of old stuffed toys, an old bicycle, some tools, and jars of screws and bolts. As Tom moved farther in, he noticed that it was dark way in the back because a light was out. As he was pondering whether he should go any farther, he heard a noise.
The noise scared Tom, but it also made him more curious. He called out, “Is anyone back there?” When there was no response, he decided that he had seen enough. He was disappointed and decided that the attic was not very interesting after all. Suddenly, he heard another noise come from the dark corner. He decided to check it out, so he carefully ventured into the dark section of the attic. Wishing now that he had brought a flashlight, he was about to go back downstairs to get one when he saw a dull glow ahead and with it he felt a cool breeze that smelled like fresh night air.
Tom continued moving toward the strange glow, not realizing that he was walking into another dimension that was nothing like his world. The boy eventually discovered he was walking on a dirt road. The strange glow was coming from a moon that did not look like the moon he was used to. There was enough light to see the outlines of trees and boulders along the road.
Behind him, he heard a wolf howl and then a young woman stepped out from behind a rock. She was pretty, but she didn’t look quite human. For one thing, she had fangs. Her eyes looked like wolf eyes, and she was taller than any woman Tom had ever seen.
“Welcome to your new home, your new world. This is the world of the long night. It is always dark here and dark things live here. The only way you would have been able to cross over from your world to this one is if you had done an evil act.”
Tom was terrified of the woman. He stammered out, “I… um… got lost. That’s all. I was in my attic and I heard a noise coming from the back… there was no light. I… I…”
“You would not be here if you did not belong here. If you belong here, then you must stay. Now I must go. I do not have time to bother with you.”
“But you don’t understand; I cannot stay here. My mother and father will worry and be sad if I do not return home.”
The woman’s expression seemed to reveal a moment of compassion for the boy and then a look of anger took its place. “Leave me!” she screamed and then she howled like a wolf.
Tom did not know what else to do. He was so scared that he just ran off. He called out for his mother and father, but of course, they could not hear him. Eventually he tired and sat down under a tree, resting his back against the trunk. What now? He wondered. Then he started talking to himself. “What am I going to do? I have nowhere to go and no one to take care of me. I have no food or water. I will just sit here until I die of hunger and thirst.” Tom hugged his knees and cried. Every so often he would call out, “Daddy, Daddy I’m sorry. I am lost.”
The boy jumped up in shock as he heard a mocking voice saying, “Daddy, Daddy I am lost. Waa waa.” Then a hideous laugh followed.
“Who’s that? Who’s there?”
In response, an ugly, old elf with a long gray beard, wrinkled face, evil eyes, wearing a pointed, black hat and carrying a knurled walking stick, stepped out from behind the tree.
“Who are you?” Tom asked nervously.
The old elf was almost as tall as the boy. He stuck his nasty old face right into Tom’s face and said, “I am your new daddy.” The elf’s breath stank so bad that the boy had to hold his breath. “You are going to be my slave and do all the nasty work I do not want to do.”
Tom took a step back and breathed. “No, you can’t do that. That’s not right! You will get in trouble.”
“Look who’s talking. I know why you are here. You lied to your parents and disobeyed them by going into the attic. You did not stay home to watch your sister. In fact, you threatened her and made her cry. Who are you to tell me what is not right? You do what you want to do. Why can’t I?”
What could the boy say to that? He knew the elf was right. There was nothing he could say because he was guilty and he knew it. Tom just hung his head and shrugged.
“Now, that is better. Come with me, and I will take you to my forest, your new home. The miserable boy walked behind the elf looking down at the ground. Eventually they came to a forest of mushrooms. Never before had he seen a mushroom as big as a house, and there were thousands of them all different sizes and colors. “You get some sleep, boy. Tomorrow you will be working until you cannot stand anymore.”
“I’m hungry. May I please have something to eat?” Tom asked pitifully.
“You can eat the mushrooms. They are not poisonous. In fact that is all there is to eat around here. Now, I am going to be close by. Do not even think of running away. There are wolves in this land. Hungry wolves that would kill you in a flash if it were not for me to protect you. They do not eat mushrooms,” the elf said and then laughed a nasty laugh.
Tom picked some of the little mushrooms scattered around the ground. They were rubbery and tasted bitter. They made the boy gag when he tried to swallow them. He finally gave up trying to eat, curled up under a large mushroom, and sniffed as he cried.
“Stop your blubbering. You got what you wanted, didn’t you? You got to explore the attic. Aren’t you enjoying your reward for all your planning and scheming to get what you wanted? Now go to sleep. You have lots and lots and lots to do tomorrow.” The elf laughed as he walked back into the wood and disappeared.
Just as Tom was falling asleep, he thought he saw a wolf standing in front of him. He sat up with a gasp and saw the tall girl with the fangs he met earlier, standing by him.
“Be quiet or the elf will hear you. If you come with me right now, I can save you from this wicked creature.”
Tom whispered, “I think you are the wolf. If I go with you, you will eat me as soon as you get me alone.”
“Do not be silly, boy. If I wanted to eat you, I could have already done it. Now let’s go.”
“No. You have fangs!”
“So, you have teeth. Are you going to bite me?”
“Okay then, let’s get you out of here, and be quiet.”
But it was too late. The elf caught them before they could get very far. “And where do you think you are going with my slave, wolf? He is mine now. You had your chance to eat him when he first came into our world. Leave us, and do not come back, unless you want to feel the power of my staff.” The elf held up the walking stick with both hands and pointed the end at the wolf.
The woman bent down and whispered in the boy’s ear. “When I attack the elf, you turn around and run until you come to the dirt road. Turn right and follow it back the way you came.”
“Enough, wolf! Get out of here now or you will die!”
“Do not get your beard in a twist. I am going.” The woman took two steps heading away from the elf.
The elf put his staff back at his side and said, “Come on, boy. I think it is time for you to go to work on my--”
Before the elf finished his sentence, the woman turned and by her second step toward the elf, she was already changing into a vicious wolf. Her transformation was so fast that when she leapt, she was already fully changed. The elf did not have time to raise his staff. Tom ran as fast as he could in the direction the wolf told him to go. He was determined to get back home. He heard the sounds of growling and screams from the elf. The scared boy ran and ran until he thought his racing heart would burst. When he arrived at the end of the dirt road, he thought he would see the tunnel to his attic, but all he saw was a wall of rock.
“There you are.” Tom heard the lady/wolf who rescued him.
“Where is the passage back to my house?”
“I told you when we first met that this is where you belong now.”
“But I don’t understand. You said you would save me.”
“Yes, that is true . I have saved you from a life of misery serving as the elf’s slave. Now you are going to save me in return.”
Tom looked confused. “What do you mean?”
The woman smiled a smile that looked like a wolf bearing its teeth to its prey. The look on the woman’s face filled the boy with terror. In a voice shaky with fear he said, “You lied to me. You are going to eat me after all, aren’t you? Why didn‘t you just eat me when we first met?”
“I wasn’t hungry then. Now I am famished. I figured that I would be doing us both a favor. I save you from a life of retched slavery, and I save myself from starvation. There isn’t anything much to eat around here, and I do not eat mushrooms.”
“What about the elf? Didn’t you eat him when you attacked him?”
“Of course not; I hate elf meat. It is tough and putrid tasting. But little boys are quite juicy and sweet.”
Tom was on the verge of sheer panic. He did not know what else to do but beg for his life. “Please do not eat me. I am sorry for what I did.”
“I’m curious. Have you learned anything from this experience?”
“Why should I tell you? You are just going to eat me, and the only revenge I have is leaving you curious with an unanswered question.”
“Answering my question will buy a few more seconds of life. Is not life more precious than a rather weak attempt at revenge?”
Tom thought about it for a minute and then said, “I have learned that getting what you want isn’t all it’s cracked up to be if you have to betray and hurt others to get it.” As soon as the boy finished his statement, he heard a grinding sound coming from the rock wall behind him. He turned to see an opening appear.
“That’s it, Tom; it’s over,” the wolf/woman said. “You no longer belong in the land of the long night, and I have lost my meal. A spark of wisdom has ignited in your soul, so go back to your family.”
Tom did not question his unexpected change of fortune. He hurried back to his house as quickly as he could. Tom did not tell anyone of his adventures, but he did confess his wrongdoings to his parents and apologized to his sister. Tom did not resent his punishment one bit because there was nothing his loving parents would do to him that was anywhere close to what he almost suffered. 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, consequenses, wisdom