It was a dark, misty night; the mild breeze of summer rushing past him, carrying the foul scent of the small river nearby. However, the smell did not seem to bother Tom in the slightest because he knew tonight he was about to unravel a mystery that had puzzled many citizens of The Drive for decades. Strange as it was for a street to be called The Drive, even stranger was the fact that there was no house number 3 as the houses surrounding Sarah’s house were numbered 2 and 5. Although some just accepted the fact that this was simply a numbering mistake, others stayed curious and curiosity was what got Tom interested.
Desperate to talk to Sarah, he ran, slashing through air like a bullet, down The Drive and came to a halt at house number 4. ‘Sarah! ‘ whispered loudly Tom, panting uncontrollably, as he threw an unnecessarily large stone at her window. ‘Tom! ‘ muttered Sarah. ‘What are you doing here? It’s past midnight! ‘ ‘Sarah, we don’t have much time,’ said Tom with excitement and fear dripping down his face now. ‘What are you talking about? ‘ but before Tom could open his mouth to say a word, she too seemed to catch on but didn’t look as excited as Tom.
Sarah has always been one of those who just went with the saying that the numbering of the houses was nothing more than a mistake, ‘Hold on’. She appeared at the door about a second later wearing her bright pink pyjamas. ‘Sarah, look! ‘ said Tom pointing at the little jet of green light that was circling above one of the tiles next to Sarah’s house where house number 3 should have been. ‘We need to run,’ shouted Tom and took hold of Sarah arm, ‘Quick! ‘ and they hurried off towards the source of that dim green light.
Tom was the kind of boy who liked unravelling mysteries beyond the imagination of a normal fourteen-year-old. Always looking for an answer. Always looking for a greater picture of the world we live in. Sarah on the other hand, preferred maintaining the view she already had of the world, but curiosity was her weakness. Every time Tom discovered something new, Sarah did all she could to help him and tonight was the same story. As soon as their feet touched that tile, everything went cold and the ground beneath them disappeared.
What seemed to look like street lights zoomed in and out of view; the motion knocking every bit of oxygen out of their lungs as if forced out by a vacuum cleaner. They spun violently and finally found themselves lying on the ground, but it wasn’t The Drive. They had arrived at a deserted old village. The stone-built houses had moss growing all over them which gave them a rather nasty smell, but most strange of all, the houses did not look like houses at all. They were round and watchtower like which gave Tom and Sarah a distinct feeling that they were not alone.
They could feel the gaze of other worldly beings, but didn’t know who or what they were. ‘Where are we? ‘ asked Sarah quietly. ‘We should be in Tricesimus Expertus according to the book’ ‘What book? ‘ ‘”A Hidden Treasure, Darkly”, this is how I found out about that portal,’ hesitated Tom ‘so we better listen to what has to tell’ Sarah didn’t seem too keen on the idea, but she didn’t want to argue with Tom now that they only had each other to lookout for. Neither of them had ever felt so isolated and fearful, stranded in perhaps another universe.
‘What do we do now? said Sarah in a tone of uncertainty and sure enough it was not possible to work out what dangers lay ahead of them by just standing still at the closed end of the long street surrounded by watchtower-like houses. ‘Well there’s only one way we can go,’ said Tom looking ahead of them ‘since I don’t think we’ll be particularly welcomed in these houses’ The candle-lit village road was so dark that it made it impossible to tell where the road ended or what stood at the other end. Tom and Sarah marched on in unison trying to make as little noise as possible.
They got deeper and deeper into the village, but the road kept on going, full of twists and hard stones crackling under their shoes. The houses on either side of the road were now covered in so much moss that they looked like giant hedges with doors and windows. Tom and Sarah had both noticed the horrible yellow eyes staring at them though the many windows as they went past, but they did not dare to stare back or even speak of them. Eventually they got to the end and were now facing an enormous door.
‘Does it say anything about this door in the book? asked Sarah hopefully. ‘Yeah, it’s under “Tests of Mortality” but it doesn’t say what we have to do,’ Tom answered looking slightly worried. ‘It’s our only way forward,’ sighed Sarah. The door creaked open and let them through. It was cave-like and they found themselves stood on a platform suspended in mid-air with nothingness eagerly waiting underneath.
A mysterious red glow shining out of the dark rough walls onto the platform, closely resembling blood made Sarah very uncomfortable as she had a phobia of blood. ‘We need to get out of here! ‘ cried Sarah. This is a test designed to make you uncomfortable,’ said Tom calmly as he wrapped his arms around Sarah ‘Come on, we’ll be alright’ They proceeded forward on the platform and found a box labelled “Riddle of Patience” and inside was an old piece of parchment. Tom took the piece of parchment and glanced at it, but it made no sense to him. ‘Let me have a look’ She took it from Tom, but she too had no idea of what it could mean.
There were three bits of writing on the page, but the letters made no sense; they were in another language and each letter was spaced out evenly from the ones around it. We’ll have to see if that’s of any use later on, come on, let’s not waste time’ said Tom. They once again proceeded further on the platform and now faced tiles on the floor which stuck out from the rest of the ground. Each of them evenly spaced out from the ones around it.
‘That’s it! Where’s that scroll? ‘ ‘Here,’ as Sarah handed him the scroll ‘you found something? ‘ ‘Yeah look! Most of the letters are unique but some are similar and the ones that are similar make a path to the other side’ ‘I hope you’re right, look at those pillars equipped with arrows, they must be what some of these tiles set off’ shrieked Sarah.
Careful not to step on the wrong tiles, they made their way across and found another box waiting for them. This box was labelled “Test of Perception” and inside it was a torch with no instructions or anything at all. Just an old torch. ‘What could this mean? ‘ mumbled Tom more to himself than Sarah. They continued their path along the platform and encountered may raised obstacles to get through and some apparent wires on the platform which Tom was sure were a poor attempt at making traps for the passer, although both Tom and Sarah’s eyes were searching simultaneously for any sign of danger.
Sarah! ‘ Sarah narrowly escaped a boulder coming right at her from above when she got lost in her own thoughts about her nice, warm bed and she could’ve still been sleeping in it, and accidentally stepped over one of the wires. ‘Is this all a dream? ‘ she asked herself. ‘I can’t go on Tom! ‘ cried Sarah. ‘We can’t give up now! Please Sarah,’ pleaded Tom. Deeper and deeper they travelled along the platform avoiding traps and boulders sticking out of the platform, until they discovered another box awaiting them labelled “Test of Courage”.
Inside it was two vials labelled “Water Breathing Potion” and Tom could see why. Not far ahead of them, the platform ended and there was a water tunnel suspended in mid-air instead. ‘So we have to drink these and swim? ‘ asked Sarah waiting for confirmation that she had understood the situation. ‘Erm, yeah,’ said Tom ‘follow closely. ‘ They drank their potions and set off in the tunnel. It seemed so natural to breathe under water that it made Tom wonder whether if they really were in a tunnel filled with water. The tunnel was just a narrow version of the cave, but filled with water.
It was so narrow that Sarah had to swim behind Tom and there was no way they could swim along side each other. The potion was starting to wear off and the effect was showing on Sarah. She fell to the bottom of the tunnel and was helped up by Tom. He tried speaking but only bubble came out of his mouth. ‘Must be close now’ he told himself. He couldn’t swim as fast because he had to help Sarah who was dragging his feet down. With all his might, he gave it all he could and finally saw the end of the tunnel and there was something shining in the distance.