2013 Totem Head Story Contest Finalist.
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2013 Contest Finalist

Conner Jamison
Under the Hatch
Written By:   Conner Jamison, 9 years old, Georgia.

So there I was hanging on the monkey bars when I asked George, Juan, and Mason to come to my house after school to play soccer. When they said, "yes," I couldn’t think about anything else but playing soccer. We got home, got our gear on, and started a game. George kicked the ball, trying to score, and missed. The ball went deep into the woods. When George tried to retrieve the ball, he found something incredible. He ran back to where we were standing. When we didn’t see the ball in his hands we asked, "Where’s the ball?"

"Did you see where it rolled?"

"Is it lost?"

"That was my favorite ball."

After George caught his breath, he said, "I-I found s-something in the w-woods. Come with me and see f-for yourself."

We cried, "What are you talking about?" in a worried voice. We followed George into the dark woods. Our jaws dropped when we saw what George was talking about. We inched toward a big, old, and wooden hatch in the ground. It was half covered with leaves, sticks, and pine-cones. We were all speechless as we stared at the hatch.

Juan was the first one to break the silence. He told everyone in a frightened voice, "U-um, I don’t think w-we should open that hatch."

George, Mason, and I all exclaimed at the same time, "Good idea!" We ran back to the house at supersonic speeds. We almost fell down trying to get through the doorway at the same time.

George was the first one to get through the door. Everyone started talking at the same time.

My mom had to shout over us "Please, one at a time!" She asked George what had happened.

George explained to my mom that he accidentally kicked the soccer ball into the woods. When he got to the part where he saw a hatch in the ground, my mom asked, "Are you sure you saw a hatch?"

"I’m pretty sure it was a hatch," answered George.

"Well, let’s go find out," replied my mom. I grabbed a flashlight from the kitchen drawer and tested it to make sure it still worked. It did. George led the way into the woods. When we showed my mom the hatch, she was just bewildered.

Mason asked, "Do you think we should open the hatch?"

I replied, "Are you crazy?"

Juan added, "We’ll never know what is under the hatch unless we open it."

Mom asked, "Are you boys sure you want to do this?"

We all exclaimed, "Yes, we’re sure!" at the same time.

"All right" said my mom. She returned to the house. We all looked at each other and nodded our heads in agreement. We pulled on the hatch to open it. It was heavy but we finally got it open. We could only see a dark pit with a ladder leaning against one side. I asked, "Who wants to go first?" George volunteered to go first. Juan and Mason followed George. I went last.

George began climbing down the ladder and started complaining. "This is going to take forever." We got to the bottom. We were terrified by the darkness and quickly went back up the ladder. We tried to open the hatch but it wouldn’t budge. We began yelling and screaming. No one heard us.

Juan said, "This is not good." We climbed back down the ladder. We began exploring as I held the flashlight to shine the way. George was behind me. Mason and Juan were in the back. There was a maze down there. It seemed like every turn led to a dead end. After walking for what it seemed like half an hour, Mason spied a wooden door out of the corner of his eye. He stopped walking and Juan bumped into him.

"Why did you stop?" asked Juan.

Mason told Juan about what he saw. Mason then yelled to George and me about the discovery of the wooden door. George and I went back to where Mason and Juan were standing. Mason asked, "Do we want to see what’s behind it?"

Juan was not sure. He was afraid of what was behind the door.

George exclaimed, "I’m going for it!" and opened the door. Mason saw something move in a corner and screamed. He ran into Juan. "Calm down" said Juan. Mason pointed to a thing moving in the corner and announced, "S-something in that corner just moved."

The thing that moved said in a raspy voice, "Hello, who’s there?" It was a human! We all got chill bumps when we heard it speak. It asked again, "Who’s there?"

Juan replied to the voice. We all walked closer to where the voice was coming from. To our surprise, the thing got up and started walking towards us. When we got close enough to the thing, we discovered that it was just an old man. He had a long beard, had stinky breath, and wore clothing that was torn. He said his name was Jeff.

We didn’t expect to see anyone down here. We thought there was treasure or something, not a human living here. We didn’t know what Jeff would do to us. We introduced ourselves. We told Jeff how we discovered the hatch in the ground. Jeff said he also discovered the hatch by accident. Like us, he wanted to see what was under the hatch. At one point, Jeff also had a flashlight. The battery soon died. Jeff could not find his way out of the underground maze. He had hoped that someone would find the hatch, come down, and rescue him. He wasn’t sure how long he had been there. Jeff was relieved that we were there. He wanted to escape this underground maze. He followed us back through the wooden door. We eventually found our way back to the ladder and began climbing up.

At the top, we all pushed with our might. The hatch opened. When we were all above ground, Jeff told us goodbye. He began running further into the woods. We hoped to never see Jeff again.

By this time we were all hungry. We didn’t have a snack before we started playing soccer. We were starving. Mom made us cheeseburgers. After a meal of cheeseburgers, potato chips, and chocolate chip cookies for dessert, my friends went home. I went straight to bed. I was very tired.

I woke up the next day. I clearly remembered my dream. Was it really a dream or was it real? Did George really find a hatch in the woods? Was someone really stuck underground? I couldn’t tell.

I got a shower and went downstairs for breakfast. Mom asked if I was going to play soccer today with George, Juan, and Mason. I calmly told her that I was taking a break from soccer today.

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