by Ella Kostura
Editor’s note: Ella Kostura, a ninth grader at Put-in-Bay High School, was the grand prize winner for the Halloween Spooky Saga Writing Contest for Teens sponsored by the Ida Rupp Library. Ella won a $25 Amazon gift card. Here is her story.
“Well, I hope this looks okay.” I whispered to myself as I looked in the mirror. It was currently Halloween night, and I was getting my costume ready. I decided to go Trick-or-Treating by myself this year. I’m currently 15, a freshman in high school with no friends. I thought as I laughed to myself. Once I grabbed my hat I smoothed down my slick black hair, and put it on. I wore a long trench coat and a bird mask to complete my costume. I was going as a Plague Doctor. I had always loved researching about the war and the plague, so what could be better than being a doctor?
“Percy!” I heard my mom calling for me. “It’s time to get going! Trick-or-Treating starts soon!”
“Ok! I’m coming, hold on!” I yelled back as I grabbed a small bag off my desk. I took this bag with me everywhere. It held a small pocket knife, compass, some spare change, and a journal. Running down the steps, I grabbed a small bag for my candy. I hugged my mom goodbye and walked out the door. When the cold breeze hit my fingers, I pulled them into the sleeves of my jacket.
There is a large house at the end of my street. Everyone says it is haunted, and that if you even go near it you won’t ever come out of it. As I neared the house, I sped up my walking pace and tried to get away from it. I jolted to a stop when I heard small whispers coming from behind me.
“Percy, come with us.”
“You know you want to…” I turned around and saw nothing. Maybe I’m just hearing things. I turned back around and took a few more steps before I heard it again.
“W-who’s there?” I stuttered as I spun back around.
“Come closer and you’ll see.” I cautiously walked towards the noises which sounded like they were coming from the house. I walked up the broken sidewalk and opened the creaky, rusty, gate. I winced as it let out a loud screech. I started walking over the cracks and got to the front steps. A part of me was telling myself to turn back, but a part of me wanted more. As I opened the door, I saw something run across the floor, and I uttered a small shout. Phew, it was just a mouse. Letting out a shaky breath I continued on. I walked through the house, and down the steps.
When I reached the basement, I could hear the water dripping down the cement walls. I ran my fingers along the cracks in the walls until I stumbled upon a trapdoor. It was almost too good to be true. Should I open it? Might as well… I pulled on the door but it wouldn’t budge. I threw my empty candy bag onto the floor and wrapped my fingers around the handle. I placed my feet on either side of the door and pulled up. The trap door burst open, and I fell back onto my tailbone. I groaned as I sat up and looked into the mysterious hole. It was dark-so dark that I could not see anything inside of it. I stood back up and whispered,
“Well, here goes nothing.” and heaved myself feet first into the dark space. I fell for what felt like minutes, but before I realized what happened, I blacked out.
“Doctor! Doctor! We need you!” I heard as I rubbed the back of my head. Sitting up, I looked around me. This, this is not home… I was in some sort of a hospital, and there were others dressed like me. They had on long coats that went down to their ankles, bird masks, and goggles. I climbed out of the small bed and a smaller woman, maybe a nurse came up to me.
“Doctor, we need you in here.”
“Doctor?” I repeated.
“Yes, are you feeling ok doctor? Are you sick?” She responded quickly.
“Sick? What do you mean sick?”
“With the Black Death.”
“Oh, no of course not! Can I see a newspaper? I need the date.”
“Oh! Umm, did I say paper? I just need the date.”
“It is 1360. Sir are you sure you’re ok?” 1360?! But how? We’ll worry about that later.
“Yes, what do you need?”
“Our patients are still getting worse.”
“I don’t know what I’m supposed to tell you. I think that the country needs to quarantine. If we all stay in our homes, and only leave when really necessary then would the virus spread?”
“That is honestly a great idea. I will contact the other hospitals and cities.” The nurse said as she left the room. I need to get out of here. I walked back over to the bed I woke up in and laid down. I pinched my arm just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I wasn’t. Closing my eyes, I tried my best to relax against the small bed. I laid there for a few minutes and opened my eyes once more. I was still in the hospital. I just want to go home. I jumped off the bed and walked over to the desk in the corner of the room. After, I felt around my torso, and luckily, I still had my bag. I opened it and pulled out my journal.
I went over to the desk and sat down. Hours passed as I tried to figure out a way to get out of this place. This reality? As time went by I started to grow a bit drowsy from the lack of sleep, food, and water. I couldn’t even remember the last time I ate, drank, or slept. I then laid my head down on the desk and drifted off to sleep.
I woke up the next morning to someone slapping papers against the table. I jolted awake and turned toward the noise. It was the nurse from before.
“Here is the daily paper,” she said
“Thank you.” I exclaimed as I sat back up. I took the paper and read the heading. “COUNTRY WIDE QUARANTINE”
“I told the paper what you were telling me about yesterday, and they thought it was a good idea. We have to quarantine for the next month.”
“Yeah,” the nurse sighed.
“None of us will get to see our families for a month. We are stuck here and-”
“Hey, it’s going to be ok. If we all follow the rules, by the end of this we can go home and relax. A month is a long time, but look at the long run of things.”
“Yeah, that’s true. Thanks.” She smiled softly and left the room. Ok, so back to figuring out how to get home. After another hour of sitting, an idea popped into my head. If I figure out where I am, I should be able to find the house that brought me here! I realized that my mask was off, so I put it back on and gathered all my belongings. I zipped up my long coat, and took one last look around the room. I swung open the tent door, and ran outside. A part of me was telling myself to go back and help all those sick people, but what more could I do? I hope that the nurse will be okay. I thought to myself as I looked around.
Strangely enough, I saw the same maple tree that was on my street. I ran over to the tree and looked to my left. There was no house in sight, but there was something. In place of the house sat a small well. Could that be it? Running as fast as I could, I made it over to the edge of the well. I looked down into it and saw only water. This might be my only way home. Here goes nothing, and I jumped into the well. It was cold, and all around me felt gross and slimy. Suddenly, as I was opening my eyes, the water turned to air, and I was in the basement once again. I was home! I lungned up from the spot on the floor and ran outside. It seemed like time hadn’t moved at all. Was it all just a dream? Did I actually travel back in time? I guess I’ll never know.
I paced back home and walked upstairs to my room. To finish off the night, I opened my favorite book about the past. It covered all the topics about the plague and what it was. While turning the pages something caught my eye. The words had changed! It stated that the plague went away much faster than before! Did I change history!? On the next page there was a picture of two doctors. Listed as Sara Clay and Percy Johnson.
The following piece is published in this month’s Put-in-Bay Gazette. The Gazette has been producing incredible independent Put-in-Bay island news for over 40 years. If you have any interest at all in what is happening on South Bass Island, we urge you strongly to subscribe to the Put-in-Bay Gazette. One-year online subscriptions are only $15, and print subscriptions are available as well. To subscribe please click here.
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