Lucy was sinking, deeper and deeper. Every now and then the floor beneath her bed would stop swallowing her and the dark, spongy walls around her would loosen and tighten before pulling her down again. She imagined that this was what it must feel like to be eaten whole by a giant snake. Wherever Lucy was going, whatever this Woleb place was, it felt like she was being sucked through some sort of wormhole, travelling not only down below her bed, but also across time and space itself. She began to feel a little queasy, like the time she’d been in training for the family jelly-baby-eating competition and she’d puked on her shoes.
She couldn’t quite put her finger on why or how, but everything she knew to be real and safe was suddenly uncertain. Up was down, left was right, this way was that. Her mind was spinning with dizziness, and not in a good way, like when you spin round and round in the park and fall over laughing. It was more like that dizziness you get when you ride a rollercoaster too many times and feel like your head is stuck to the ground and you can’t stand up. Lucy’s arms soon started feeling wobbly and tired. Her legs felt like they were made of mashed potato, and she realized she was losing her fight with the floor. But, oddly enough, the very second Lucy stopped struggling and wriggling, the walls seemed to let her go. Her feet came out first as she plopped out of a hole and fell a few metres, but before she landed she stopped in mid-air, just hovering, like one of those astronauts on the International Space Station. Yep, Lucy was floating, just above the ground. Except the ground wasn’t beneath her feet now – it was above her head, and everything was the wrong way up! The moment Lucy realized this she went toppling up to it with a wet thud, landing next to the hole she’d plopped out of. Lucy was in the Woleb. ‘Whatever the Woleb is,’ she muttered.
She stood up (which was now down), brushed herself off (which was now on) and her head began to feel all twisted with this backwards-ness. She took a step forward (which was now backwards) and stumbled a little as the ground wobbled under her bare feet. It was the strangest thing she’d ever stepped on. It felt warm, damp and squelchy, like standing on a giant tongue. Yuck! thought Lucy. I wish I’d worn my slippers! That’s the thing about having adventures in the middle of the night. You can never be fully prepared for them. The air was hot and misty down here in this soggy corridor, and Lucy felt her T-shirt begin to stick to her arms and back. She slicked her fringe out of her eyes and it stayed there, stuck in place on the side of her forehead by small drops of sweat. The walls were slightly rounded, with ridges on them that arched up over Lucy’s head as though she was standing in a giant throat. The thought made her shiver. It also stank – it was so disgustingly rotten that Lucy could feel her eyes watering and she had to hold her nose.
Suddenly the hole by her feet started wobbling like mud-flavoured jelly, and Lucy noticed a small wooden signpost next to it with one word written on it. Dungston. Her surname – and Lucy recognized the writing instantly. It was the same sticky brown writing that had been used in the letter she’d found pinned to the school door. ‘So the Creakers wrote that letter!’ she muttered to herself as she studied the messy handwriting. The hole wobbled again, and a moment later she heard voices echoing through it. Voices, and laughter, and cackling. The Creakers.
You can meet The Creakers over here.
*The clever ones amongst you will have spotted that, that’s ‘Below’ spelt backwards