Just for TheReadingZone, N.D. Wilson has revealed what lies behind one of the 100 Cupboards. Over the course of the series, Henry finds his Grandfather’s journal, which reveals some of the cupboard secrets. Here’s a secret about one of the cupboards that you won’t find in the books!
This place is strange. The sun is shining, but not on me. I crawled up through some kind of drain and into a narrow stone corridor without a roof. Blue sky above me, but the walls are tall enough and set close enough together that I think it must be permanently damp where I am sitting (and cold water has already seeped completely through my trousers—but adventuring has its costs). The ground around me is thick with moss, all of it sponged full of water. I have already explored this corridor, but not at any great length. It turns suddenly in both directions, occasionally bends, and frequently opens into others. Wander too far, and I could easily be in here forever. Clearly, it is some kind of labyrinth—though for what purpose, I cannot say. The only signs of life that I have encountered are actually signs of death—a thigh bone, jagged and chewed on one end, a jaw, some ribs. Which gives me an idea, dangerous perhaps, but I am here, and I will explore. I will use a bone to carve my path in the moss. Goodbye, Anastasia. Adventure is calling me . . .
Terror. I will not lie to you, never to you, Anastasia. I shiver. My heart’s teeth are chattering and my hands are shaking as I write. Safe again, but barely. Sitting on your grandfather’s bed in the hollow farmhouse. I wandered too far in that terrible maze, twisting and winding through corridor after corridor, bone-plowing a furrow in the moss as I went. Nearer the center, the bones increased—some half-swallowed by spongy green, some fresh and feeding flies. Their buzzing was the first sound I had heard in this place, beyond the quiet wind moving above these open corridors.
I reached a place with a roof, and the corridor became a tunnel—a dark mouth, breathing a terrible stink. The bones there were thicker, rattling around my feet, scraping my ankles (you know how tender they are). I stood in that mouth, listening, straining my eyes in the darkness, and I could hear breathing. Two pairs of lungs—one small and afraid, one thick and phlegmy and beastly.
Up against the wall, I could just see a young boy. His clothes were tattered around him, his face was bloodied. In his hands he gripped a long knife, almost a short sword. He was looking at me, startled, afraid.
Beyond him, a horrible creature slept in a skeletal nest, with one terrible arm hooked around a fresh kill. His body was the body of a great ape—something part animal, part human, part giant. He was covered with hair, matted with sweat and blood and filth. But his head was even more terrible—huge, horned, snouted like a baboon or a fanged bull. Snoring.
The boy whispered something to me in a language I could not understand. Then he began to creep forward, toward the beast.
“No!” I said. “Don’t wake it!”
The beast snorted, rattled its bed, and opened its bloody eyes.
Some might say that I should have stayed, but how could I have helped that poor doomed boy? It required courage enough to breathe, to swallow back my scream. And to run.
I could hear bones crunching, the boy’s shouting, and a terrible roar, and I raced back through those narrow walls to my drain, my rope, and my path out of that world and into this. I will see your face again. I have survived a terror. That poor boy, I fear, has not.
Would a coward continue on with these explorations? I have already chosen a door for tomorrow. Your great-grandfather’s description:
#14. Collected 1899. Syrian caravan. Square ebony cabinet. Four corner locks in silver. Central silver ring. Slave trader claimed it contained the ghosts and treasure of crusaders. No confirmation possible as he wouldn’t allow examination. Won it (and two camels) at dice. Left in the night, pursued.
Your grandfather’s additional note is as confusing as the last: [Kastra/Damascus/III]. But I will not learn more today. My courage must recover. Anastasia, is it strange that I will see you tonight, and listen patiently to your barbs? You will not know what you are saying, or to whom you are saying it. I am Richard Hutchins, facer of perils.
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