I drop my bag and step into my new room. Every step I take, the creaks in the floorboards get louder. I turn back and across the hall I catch a glimpse of my old room. I miss it. It was bigger, and if you look hard enough you can see a carving of a bird and the letters "ERI". Under the window above where my desk used to be. My uncle carved them when we first moved into this old creaky house. Emma Reese Ivana, AKA Emree, though I'm the only one who calls myself that.
Two weeks ago my 14-year-old brother, Wren, started to complain that his room was too small and, being their favorite, my parents automatically offered my room. He gladly took it, and now my old room is his new room. I've got a lot of work ahead of me. I think as I look around the room. The walls and floor are bland and the only way to tell someone actually lived in it before was a small wooden bed, with a sad blue comforter, and an old wooden wardrobe.
“Hey, Emma,” my dad says as he drops my desk abruptly in the middle of the doorway. “Heres your desk, put it where you want,” he says, practically running to Wren’s room to see if his favorite child needs any help.
I roll my eyes and grab one end of my ornately carved wooden desk. “Thanks for the help dad,” I mumble. “And its Emree,” I add.
Wren looks through the doorway, his smooth long black hair, showing only one of his dark brown eyes. He flicks his head back as to move his hair out of his face, but his attempt fails.
“No one cares, Sis,” he says.
I ignore him and start to drag the desk over to the opposite wall, scratching the creaky wood with the legs of the desk. I feel my grip start to loosen on the end of the desk and before I know it the desk slips out of my hand and falls on to my foot causing me to fall back into the wall. Instead of hitting the wall and leaving a dent or two, it acts as a door, and swings open. My eyes grow wide and I start to fall back again, this time falling all the way to the floor. I start to duck for cover expecting some evil mastermind to come walking through the tunnel and destroy the earth and everyone on it, but no one comes out. All there is to see is a long dark musty tunnel. All at once I realize what it is and start to scream.
“Emma stop making so much noise! What's going on in there?” my dad calls from across the hall.
“Uh- nothing!” I respond. “And, once again, it's Emree,” I say louder than before.
“That's a dumb name! You can't combine two names! Your 11 years old, you need to grow up and choose between Emma or Reese!” my dad tells me.
I roll my eyes.
“It's my name, and I choose Emree!” I yell trying to counter everything my dad says.
As I wait for him to yell something back, my curiosity gets the best of me so I start to enter the passageway. It’s dark, creepy and has trouble written all over it. The more steps I take the more endless it seems. Finally, I see a glimmer of sunlight. I run towards it and get excited as I see that there's a...hole.
Great, I have to climb my way out. I think.
I dig my foot into the dirt wall, creating a foot hole. I do the same all the way up and out of the passageway. As I emerge from the hole I'm blinded by the bright 6:00 sun, which was supposed to set 30 minutes ago. I assume it's my eyes playing tricks because I have been in the dark tunnel for so long.
“Hello!” a cheery voice says.
I back away from the short man who had suddenly appeared out of nowhere. His face looks as if he had a permanent smile. The man had shining white teeth, and light brown, short, wavy hair that was gelled perfectly into a swoosh to the right of his cheery face. The only thing out of place with the man were his eyes. Before this, I was almost positive that my eye color was the weirdest eye color ever. I mean, my left eye is bright green but my right eye is dark brown, both with amber specks in them. However, this man’s eye color beats mine for weirdest. The thing is, he doesn't have an eye color at all. It's all black. It just looks like he has really big pupils. He notices me staring at his eyes so he starts talking again, trying to change the subject.
“So what brings you to Aleeza?” he asks. I start to look around. “Aleeza?” I ask.
The man smiles again. “The city of joy! I'm Cayo!” he tells me.
I nod, and Cayo starts to lead me farther into Aleeza. The whole place is bright and everyone looks exactly like Cayo; perfect hair, perfect smiles. The only thing left to worry about is their eyes. It just doesn't make sense why they don't have color in their eyes if it is such a cheery, perfect place. The grass is a healthy shade of green and all the plants look just as healthy. There are no utility poles, which means there's no electricity. All their light comes from the sun.
“Don't worry about us; the sun never sets,” Cayo says.
I stop abruptly. Cayo turns and looks at me.
“Everything all right Emree?” he asks. I start to back away, trying to get back to the passageway.
“D-did you just read my mind?” I ask.
Cayo looks away, worriedly.
“A-and how do you know my name?”
Cayo cocks his head. “You told me!” he says.
I shake my head. “No, I didn't! There’s something wrong with this place!” I yell.
Cayo gets angry and calls something in another language.
“Ce’ ser tang hanso!” He calls.
All of the people in the village turn their heads, their cold, lifeless eyes staring straight into my soul.
“I had faith in you, Emree. You failed us.” Cayo says. “Sungosed!” Cayo calls.
All of the people lock their eyes with mine and start chanting.
“Cogod doson! Cogod Doson!” As they chant, my head starts to spin and the world starts to go black.
I back away and climb down the hole. All of the people in Aleeza are now taking large steps toward the hole into the passageway. They stop at the hole and don't come after me as I back away. I realize they can't follow me and start to run back to the entrance.
By the time I make it to my room I'm exhausted and lightheaded. Whatever the mutant monsters had done to me was how they mutated everyone else. It didn't surprise me that my dimwitted brother hadn't found the passageway before. What did surprise me is when I look in the mirror to check for any sign that I had left the house, the amber specks in my eyes had been replaced with black specks. The next day half of each of my iris's colors had been replaced with a cold, hard black. I feel compelled to go back to Aleeza and stay there forever, but I know it's because of whatever spell those evil mutants put on me. There are days where I venture halfway through the passage only to realize I'm walking myself to my death bed. On other days I don't know if I'm more human or more mutant. I'm torn between two worlds. The world where I belong. And the world where I want to be. Torn between two halves of my heart. Each half telling me to go a different direction. My head asking me every minute of every hour of every day. Where do you belong?