Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2022 finalist Mica Gonzalez. Mica finished 5th grade this past school year and wrote a story called “The Gate To Another World.” One judge commented that “the plot line was exciting and kept the reader wanting more, and it all flowed together very well!” Enjoy!
THE GATE TO ANOTHER WORLD
by Mica Gonzalez
“Okay.” Sofia spoke, disappointed.
She absolutely hated studying during Holidays, but she knew better than to argue with her parents. Sofia was a 12-year-old girl. She was short and thin, with black hair that reached her shoulders and bright aqua-colored eyes. She was wearing a white shirt with blue buttoned shorts.
“Make sure you finish both chapters!” Her mom called after her. Her mom was also fairly short, with short black hair and hazel brown eyes.
“I’ll take you swimming when you finish.”
Sofia’s face lit up, smiling widely. “Okay! Thank you!”
She grabbed the two books labeled “Maths For Grade 6” and ran up the carpet-covered stairs. She sat down on her chair, twisting it so it faced her desk. A small lamp was perched at the top, illuminating the paper. She uncapped her pen and began to work. Sofia loved to swim, it was her favorite thing to do. She couldn’t remember anything from when she was younger. She looked over at the glistening shell necklace that rested beside her. She never remembered where she had gotten it from, but she had it her entire life. She focused back on her work, scribbling down the answers for the last few questions. Once she finished, she stood up quickly, slipped on her necklace and brought down her piece of paper downstairs for her mom to check. As she handed her the piece of paper, she ran upstairs to change into her swimsuit.
After they went home, she decided to explore the house.
“Hey mom? Where does that door lead to?” she asked, pointing to the door near the staircase.
Her mom looked at her. “Nothing honey. Just don’t open it okay?”
Sofia looked at her curiously but nodded. That night, when she went to bed, she couldn’t stop thinking of the door. She really wanted to open it. Closing her eyes, she ducked under the covers trying to fall asleep. She tossed and turned, trying to find a comfortable position. Suddenly, an idea came to her. Sofia jumped up and sneaked towards her mom’s room. Once she made sure she was asleep, she crept out of the room and went to the door. She put her hand on the door knob and twisted it. As the door opened, about hundreds of trees appeared.
Sofia walked closer, turning her head rapidly as she looked around the beautiful forest. She walked further into the depths of the mysterious nature. A weird feeling rose in her stomach. A feeling like she forgot something. She ran on top of the soft snow, a small wooden hut catching her eye. She ran towards it, knocking on the door.
“Is anyone there?” she called. A tall figure opened the door, rubbing his eyes sleepily.
“Who are you?” it asked.
Sofia couldn’t respond, her eyes were too fixed on its appearance. It was tall, with jet black hair and dark brown eyes. It was wearing an oversized blue shirt and matching blue pants. It looked like a human, except it had wings on his back, the color of the ocean. Judging by his appearance, he would be about a hundred years old if he was human. The creature stared at her.
“A human? What’s a human doing here?”
“I accidentally came here. Could I come in? It’s a bit cold out here.”
The creature nodded, leading her into the house. Sofia gazed around at the cozy house. A brick fireplace sat in the middle, a small orange-colored couch resting in front of it. Velvet carpets covered the floor, and Christmas decorations filled the house. There was a tall staircase leading to the second floor. Sofia sat down on the couch, closing her eyes as she felt the warmth of the flames lick her skin. The creature came back, holding a cup of hot chocolate and handing it to her.
“Why did you come here so late?” it finally spoke, breaking the silence.
“I don’t really know.”
“You might want to go back – it’s very dangerous in this place.”
“Why? Everything here seems so nice!”
The creature sighed. “I’m just warning you, this place isn’t as nice as it seems.”
Sofia gazed up at him. She finished her drink, placing the white mug on the table in front of her.
“Thank you for letting me stay, even if it was only for a little bit.” The creature smiled at her, waving her goodbye.
“Wait, before I leave, what’s your name?” The creature thought for a moment.
“I’m not really sure, but most people seem to call me Ajax. What’s yours?”
“My name is Sofia. Nice to meet you Ajax!”
“Nice to meet you too, Sofia.”
Sofia smiled happily and ran out of the door, waving goodbye over her shoulder as she closed the door behind her. She ran towards where she came from, grinning excitedly. However, that smile disappeared almost instantly. Waiting at the foot of the door was her father. She forgot her dad was working late.
“Oh.. hi dad.” Her father raised an eyebrow.
He was average height, with dark black hair and light brown eyes. He wore a blue polo shirt with white shorts.
“Surely your mother told you not to enter this door?” His tone was strict.
Sofia knew better than to lie to her parents, but she didn’t want to admit it either. She looked down at the floor.
“It’s a dangerous place, this world. You can’t keep wandering around here.” Sofia nodded, refusing to look him in the eyes.
He sighed. “You should get to bed, it’s late. I’ll decide on your punishment tomorrow, you look awfully tired.”
She ran back up the stairs into her room. As she ducked under the covers, she remembered her visit to the world and smiled. It didn’t take a long time for her to fall asleep this time.
The next morning, she was in a better mood. That was, before she remembered how much trouble she was in.
“SOFIA!” Her mom yelled from downstairs. “BREAKFAST!” Sofia hurriedly ran down the stairs.
“What’s the food?” She asked. Her mom passed her a plate of pancakes which she quickly ate.
“Sofia, we have to talk.” Sofia already knew she was talking about the night before. “What happened?” she asked innocently.
“Your father told me you snuck into the door I SPECIFICALLY told you not to.” The floor suddenly seemed really interesting to her. “Look at me.” she instructed firmly. “Why did you sneak into that door?”
“I was so curious!”
“Even so, you should’ve known it was wrong.”
Sofia looked down at the floor again. “You’re grounded. No talking to friends until we say otherwise.” She looked up at her.
“But mom! You can’t do that!”
“Yes, I can. Now bring your plates to the sink.”
Sofia sulked. Since her parents were so strict about her going out, her friends were one of the only sources of entertainment she had. She frowned, carrying her plate to the sink.
Later that day, her parents announced they were going out for lunch with their friends.
“We are going to go out for lunch – DO NOT ENTER THE DOOR. We will lock your room, don’t mess around,” they said firmly. Sofia nodded silently. “Okay, we’ll be going now. Love you!” Her mom said, softening her tone.
They waved goodbye, walking out of the door. Sofia was stuck in her room, pacing. She knew they were hiding something. She looked around trying to figure out how she could open the door. Her eyes fell on a small bobbing pin resting on the bedside table. She picked it up and brought it to the door. After a few minutes of trying, she finally succeeded in opening the door. She excitedly ran downstairs towards the door, opening it. The trees she saw the other day came back into view. She ran inside, excitedly looking for Ajax’s house. Finally, she spotted the familiar wooden cottage and knocked on the door.
It opened revealing Ajax. “Ah, I wondered when you would come back! Come inside, I have something to tell you.” Sofia curiously walked into the small house and sat down on the couch.
“Last time you came, I thought you looked familiar so I did some research and I found that YOU are the lost princess of this realm!” Those words rang in Sofia’s head for a minute. Lost princess? How could she be a lost princess? She was just a regular girl.
“I’m sorry? I think you’ve been mistaken. I can’t be a princess.”
The creature sighed. “You are. You have to be. Have you ever had something happen to you? Like maybe your eyes or hair color were different from your family’s?”
It hit Sofia’s head like a train. Her eyes were a beautiful aquamarine color while her dad and mom’s eyes were brown. The creature seemed to have understood that she realized something and kept going.
“There was a planet long ago called Watatsumi. It was invaded by evil aliens who killed the ruler. The king had a daughter named Sofia, which is your name. The king gave his daughter a beautiful shell necklace before he died, identical to the one you’re wearing now! After the king died, the aliens went after the princess. However, the maid and guard saved the princess, bring her to planet Earth. Legend says that there are two humans currently taking care of her. Does anything that happened in that story sound familiar?”
Sofia was too stunned to speak. Everything now made sense, why her parents were so strict, why she had the necklace, why she had to study so hard, why she wasn’t allowed to go out.
“Where you’re standing now is the gateway between earth and Watatsumi.”
She felt so angry that her parents had hid this from her for over 10 years. She felt like she could yell at them any moment. Rage filled her as she ran faster towards the door. The light wood of the gate came into sight, gleaming in the almost night sky. She ran through it, running up to her room and locking it from the inside. Her parents were almost back. She quickly got her notebook and scribbled down notes of what had happened that day and got ready to confront her parents.
The sound of their footsteps approaching. It became louder and louder until finally there was a knock on the door.
“Yes mom?” Her mom opened the door, looking around the room to make sure everything was still in place.
“You look tired.” her dad commented.
“Not tired, just a bit bored.” she answered. “Mom, dad, are you my real parents?” They stared at her in disbelief.
“What kind of question is that? Of course, I mean, why wouldn’t we be -” her mom tried to say.
“I know you’re not! I know I’m from a different planet! How could you hide that from me?!” They opened their mouths but nothing seemed to come out.
“I hate you both!”
“Young lady! You can’t speak to your parents like that!” her dad said.
“YOU’RE NOT MY PARENTS!” she finally screamed, shutting the door in their faces.
They both looked at each other before walking away from her door. Her built-up frustration finally released and she punched her wall as hard as she could, making a dent in the white concrete. Suddenly, water fell around her. The weird thing was, everything was dry. She stared in shock as the last of the water dried up. Excitement filled her as she climbed out of her window, grabbing a small notebook and pen from the small glass table next to her as she ran as far as she could. What she didn’t know is that her life was about to be ruined.
Her legs were tired from running. She saw a nearby park bench and sat down to catch her breath. She thought about what had happened the past few days.
Everything seemed crazy. She had just found out that the parents she had been living with for the past 12 years weren’t her real ones. No wonder they were always so strict. Just thinking about them made her mad. She stood up and paced around the park, thinking about the past events. Sofia sighed, sitting down on the worn-out wooden bench beside her. She took out the notebook and pencil she had snuck in at the last minute, and began to draw. Before she knew it, it was night time. She picked up her bag and ran back towards her home.
Her legs ached from running. As she knocked on the door, she could hear a scream coming from inside.
“What was that?,” she thought to herself.
“Mom? Dad? Are you guys okay?” No reply.
She pushed open the door and to her horror, her parents were lying on the floor.
She knelt beside them, checking for a pulse. They were both alive, that was good. She still felt mad that they hadn’t told her the truth, but she had grown up with them for her whole life and she hated to see them hurt like this.
“Who did this to you guys?”
She stood up, searching the house for the culprits, but she couldn’t find them. Just then, a bright glow came from beside her. She looked to her right and saw it. The door. Last time she was here the door was closed, maybe they escaped through there! She ran and ran, searching for the culprits. Deep in the woods, she heard a voice calling for her.
“Sofia?” She turned around and saw Ajax.
“What are you doing back here?”
“My parents, they got attacked by someone.. or something. I’m trying to look for them.”
“You aren’t ready to fight them yet. You don’t even know how to use your magic!”
He commented. Sofia froze. That’s right, she hadn’t even found out that she had magic until a few hours ago.
“If you want I could teach you. It will take a long time though.”
But Sofia, who was determined to learn, wasn’t listening. “Please teach me!”
The creature laughed. “Okay.”
Months passed, and finally, Sofia was ready to fight.
Ajax had taken her to a lake. Mountains stood tall behind it, the crystal clear water shimmering in the sunlight. She first learned how to concentrate. She had to close her eyes and think about things that made her happy. It took a while, but she finally managed to get it after some time.
Sofia began to learn about techniques, stances, gliding on water and much more. Once she mastered all of them, Ajax took her to the ocean. She learned how to control water more strongly, also learning how to create dangerous water wheels in the process. After a lot of complaining, getting splashed on and laughing, Sofia was ready.
She had obtained the ability to manipulate water.
She carried a bottle of water wherever she went just in case there was none nearby.
“That was tiring.” Sofia was now 13 years old, having trained for almost a year. She regularly visited her parents in the hospital and gave them gifts and flowers.
“I think you’re ready to fight them!”
“Really? You think so?”
“Yeah. Here, take this map. It will lead you to where you need to go next!”
Sofia nodded, thanking Ajax before packing up her things. Saying her last goodbyes, she picked up her bag and set off into the distance.
After what felt like hours, she finally arrived. Above her, a marble castle stood tall, overlooking the forest. Sofia recognized it instantly. Memories started replaying in her head like a broken record. This was the castle she used to live in. She took a deep breath, and entered the structure.
“Hello?” she called out. “Is anybody here?” No response. “Hello?” she tried again. Suddenly a sound that sounded very similar to a bang could be heard. She turned her head quickly, examining her surroundings.
Just then, a bunch of gross looking creatures came running down the stairs. They had wrinkled blue skin and thin white hair. They were very short, about the height of a chair. They were so skinny you could see their bones. They ran at her like a herd of animals. She looked around quickly and noticed a small tub of water next to them. Focusing hard, she imagined the water floating up into the sky and into her hands. She didn’t have much time. Not long after, the water began replicating the image in her head. Opening her eyes, she could see that the gruesome aliens were threateningly close. As fast as she could, she sent a big wave of water splashing on them.
“That should delay them for a few seconds.” she thought to herself.
She made a run for it, using the remaining droplets of water to help her glide across the floor. Soon enough, the aliens regained their composure and began to chase her. Taking out her small pouch full of water, she released it and began to spin her hands. A dangerous water wheel began following her as she focused on running. She had to find the gem that contained the power of all aliens. If she destroyed it, they would all vanish and life would be normal again. There were over a hundred rooms in the castle, there was a very small chance she would find it right away. Just then, an alien came and tackled her from behind. She fell to the floor, her water wheel slowly disintegrating. There was no time to lose. She could hear the aliens approaching. The small creature was lying on top of her, attacking her with its long nails. She jumped from under the alien, kicking it with all the power she could muster. Taking a deep breath, she began to run once more. Lifting the water off the floor, she released another wave of water on the small aliens. She slid down the marble staircase and ran forward, checking every room until she found the gem. More aliens joined the already giant group, pushing her to the floor. At this rate she wouldn’t be able to find the gem. Her arms and legs were trapped, making sure she couldn’t move. Just as she thought she was going to lose, she remembered some of the training Ajax had taught her. Dodging the attacks of the small blue aliens, she began to focus her mind on her surroundings. Suddenly, she felt it. Water. It was a lot of water. Using her mind, she focused as hard as she could, lifting the water closer and closer to her. The aliens’ attacks began to grow more violent. They had started to use some of the water tricks they remembered from the other planets. A wave of cold splashed over Sofia’s body, making her gasp in shock. She looked around at the paralyzed aliens, smiling to herself. Her training really did pay off, but there was no time to think about it now. Leaving the aliens behind, she began to run and run.
She remembered what Ajax had told her: “The gem should be somewhere near the middle of the castle.”
Sprinting down the stairs, she could hear the angry screams of the aliens in the distance. If she had to guess, she had about 30 seconds left. Summoning water as a jet, she began to glide down the stairs at an inhumane speed. Then, she saw it. A small compartment under the staircase. The aliens were approaching, coming nearer and nearer. She had 10 seconds left before they arrived. Using the last of the water she had in her pouch, she broke the door open and walked in. 9 seconds left. Sitting in the middle of the room, a gleaming gem the color of water sat motionless. 8 seconds left. She looked around the room for a fallen stick or something useless. A dead leaf lay motionless on the ground, soaking wet. She could hear the footsteps approaching. Cautiously, she slipped the dead leaf into the invisible barrier. Sure enough, an axe came falling from the ceiling. She dodged it just in time, grabbing the gem and running as fast as she could. 3 seconds left. She could make out the shadows of the aliens nearing her. Running down the marble staircase, she could see a glint of golden. The exit was near.
“You can do it..” she whispered to herself.
She had trained hard for this moment. Right at that moment, a loud scream was heard from beside her. More aliens were running after her. She slid away from them, kicking the ones that got too close. She had no time to fight now, not when the exit was so close. Using the last of her energy, she hurled a large metal rod onto the aliens, gripping the gem tightly in her hand. She ran and ran, her legs aching. Right as she opened the heavy metal door, she felt a grab on her foot. She fought back as the alien pulled her away from the door, refusing to give in. Just then, a loud noise that sounded like a horn was heard in the distance. A familiar creature appeared, carrying a sword.
“Ajax! When did you get here?”
“No time to talk now. Let’s get out of here.” Ajax used his silver sword to kill the animals clinging on to her.
“Thank you!” Sofia spoke breathlessly.
“No problem. We have to get out of here before the others come.”
They both pushed open the heavy golden door together, shutting it behind them. They ran as fast as they could away from the castle. Not daring to look back. Sofia’s legs hurt so bad but she couldn’t stop. Once they both made sure they were safe, they stopped to catch their breath.
“That was tiring.” Sofia said.
“I can imagine.” Ajax replied. They talked for a few minutes before realizing.
“Sofia, you have to destroy that gem you’re holding.”
Sofia looked down at her hand and nodded. “I almost forgot!” She threw the gem as hard as she could on the ground, but it didn’t break.
“You have to use your magic to break it.”
“Oh, why didn’t I think of that sooner?”
Sofia spotted a small bowl of water next to the fire and gathered it into her hand. She placed the gem onto the table and used the water to slice it in half. It felt like a weight had been lifted off her back. A very heavy one.
“I’m going to go check on my parents, I’ll be back.” she said.
Taking what was left of her stuff, she looked around for the door. After a few minutes of searching, she finally found it. After walking back into the human world, she sighed. She was about to go look for her parents when she heard someone call her name. As she looked up, she saw them looking down at her.
“Mom! Dad! I missed you guys so much! I’m sorry for yelling at you guys, I realized that family isn’t about blood. You guys cared for me all these years and I’m very grateful!” She ran up the stairs and hugged them tightly. “I love you guys!”
“We love you too.” It was all finally over.
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