The Drowning City
By Julia Xiao
I slowly pushed open the old, creaky door and looked inside. What a sight met my eyes! A beautiful city is painted in front of my eyes. Tall, majestic skyscrapers touch a deep blue sky. Cars weave in and out of traffic, dodging motorcycles and bicyclists. A still sensation suddenly washes over me. The people on the bustling streets immediately froze. I stood in the doorway, looking left and right in confusion. I stumbled forward as a sudden invisible force slammed into my back. The old wooden door slammed shut behind me and faded into the wall.
“What? No! Where did the door go!” I exclaimed in shock. The people around me started to move again, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. The shock subsided and fear seeped into me. I was so afraid that I would be trapped in this world forever, alone in an unfamiliar place.
I rammed into the wall as hard as I could, but nothing budged. I leaned against the old, mossy, brick wall and slid onto the ground to catch my breath.
A shaky old voice suddenly spoke to me, “I suggest ya stop ramming into this old wall anymore. Yur not going to to get back to where ya came from like this.”
I grasped the old man’s hands and begged him, “Please help me, good sir. If you know how to get back to my world, then please show me the way. I want to see my family, my friends, and my cute little puppy, Furball. I’ll do anything! Just help me get back home.”
“Anything? Really?” the old man said as he leaned onto his cane.
“Yes, yes! Really!” I exclaimed, desperate for help.
“Alright, young one. Follow me.” he said with a chuckle.
I followed the old man down an old dirty ally way. We turned the corner and arrived in front of a rundown bar.
“What is this place?” I asked as I stared at the flickering neon sign.
The old man opened the door and said, “Welcome to the Nest.”
I walked in and saw cups and glasses of different sizes hanging from the ceiling. Some tables are stacked on top of each other, creating odd structures. The bar is small but decorated with strange plants resembling coral and seaweed.
“Have a seat sonny and I’ll pour ya somethin’ to drink.” the old man said as he busied himself with the bottles and glasses.
“So, how am I going to get home?” I asked impatiently.
“Do not fret young one, in just a few minutes the Great Sea would come and engulf our city.” During this time frame, the door will open inside of the lighthouse just a few blocks away from here. I’ll have my assistant show you the way.” the old man answered.
“I have just one last question. What is the Great Sea and what do you mean by ‘engulf our city’?” I asked.
“The Great Sea that swallowed up Atlantis of course. It comes and goes like rain and snow.” a voice from behind me said.
Startled, I turned around and saw a short, white haired kid looked up at me. He had a black eye patch and wore overalls with a cute little bow tie. Aside from his attire, he gave off a mysterious and cold vibe.
“What does the Great Sea do exactly?” I asked, still confused about my situation.
“Ya will see in just a few moments.” The old man answered as he handed me a cup of iced tea and some scuba diving gear.
“Put that on and we will be prepare to leave.” the child in the eye patch said. He had already strapped the goggles onto his head and put on the breathing equipment. I quickly put on the diving gear without any more questions and followed the kid to the door.
A sudden tremor went through the ground and up my body. I was like a mini earthquake. The old man opened a trap door on the ground and said, “This is where we will part. Make sure to never lose sight of my assistant. I hope ya have a safe journey.” He smiled at me as I said my farewells and jumped into the water that was sloshing up onto the bar’s floor.
“Follow me.” the young boy said sharply. He tugged at my hand and pulled me under the waves. The sudden pressure of water made me close my eyes. When I opened them, I was astounded by the sight in front of me.
The city was painted blue. The water filled the city, all the way up, past the skyscrapers. Fish of all different kinds and sizes swam in the streets. There were no people to be seen. It was like I had been transported into a fish tank.
The old man’s assistant was already swimming ahead, and I struggled to catch up. I was so awestruck by the city engulfed in water that I had almost lost sight of my guide.
At last, we had arrived at the lighthouse. It was very large and beautiful. The light from the top of the lighthouse was on.
“I have done my job now. You will go into the lighthouse by yourself and the door should be right under the staircase. Farewell, traveler. Remember your promise.” The boy smiled unsettlingly and turned around.
“Hey! What's your name?” I asked on impulse.
“My name is Wish.” the boy answered and headed off towards the heart of the city.
“I’ll remember your name.” I thought to myself and entered the lighthouse.
As the young boy had said, the old, wooden door was right under the staircase leading to the top of the lighthouse. I slowly pushed open the old, creaky door and stepped inside.
I was met with darkness. A sudden bright light shined ahead of me. I chased it through the darkness. After a long time, I touched the white ball of light and a brilliant flash of light engulfed my body.
Suddenly, I was in my bed in my apartment.
“It must have been a dream.” I thought.
I sat up on my bed and felt a small card that had fallen onto the ground. It was a business card and it read, “Travelers’ Nest on 9999 Aquarium Street in Sunken Atlantis. A place where travelers of different worlds come to gain guidance back home. All customers must pay the price. No exceptions.”
“What price?” I thought to myself. The alarm suddenly rang by my window, rattling the curtains and shattering my thoughts. I walked to my window to stop the alarm, but the scene outside caught my eye. The same blue sea from my dreams filled up my city and several schools of fish swam past my window.