It was a dark and stormy night in the novel I was assigned to read for one of my 300-level English courses, and the main character had just found a secret tunnel behind the bookshelf. I was anxious to finish the novel as I had to submit a reading response by midnight.
It was only 8 p.m. so there was no need to get too worked up over this just yet. I still had four hours to get the book read and do the response.
When I’d first read the main character’s description, I’d been a little ill at ease to discover the similarities between her and me. We both were of average height with long brown hair. We both had blue-green eyes and wore glasses. The spookiest similarity though was her name: Tianna. Only one letter different than mine.
Every time her name was mentioned in the novel, I felt a shiver of recognition go down my spine as if the characters in the novel were talking directly to me.
I flipped the page, expecting to read about a winding staircase leading to an underground dungeon, or maybe to a secret lair, but instead, I felt my head start to dip towards my chest and my eyes beginning to shut.
When I awoke, I could barely make out my surroundings. Everything was dark. I felt a cool breeze and reached out to find the source of the chilly air. My hands met a damp stone wall, with a handrail that curved downwards. I was in a stairwell. A secret stairwell. Quickly, I realized I’d somehow been transported into the novel. Knowing that the novel I’d been assigned to read was of the gothic genre, I wasn’t too excited to see what was at the bottom of the stairs, but I didn’t have much of a choice. Hopefully, if I just played along and pretended to be the main character, I’d be able to go back home soon.
At the bottom of the stairwell was a small room. The room had a tidy-looking fireplace flanked by big wooden bookshelves on either side. Two comfy chairs were facing each other in front of the lit fireplace, with a small coffee table between them. One of the chairs was occupied.
“Who are you?” I asked the tall gentleman in the chair.
His eyes slowly looked me over before replying, “The real question is, who are you?”
“I’m not supposed to be here.”
“No. you’re not,” he replied, pulling out an old pocket watch. “In fact, it’s time for you to go.”
I started to ask what he meant when I felt that same heavy feeling in my head, and I only had time to get one last glance at his smirking face before my eyes closed.
I awoke to a slight headache and the familiar view of my desk at home. I looked down to see the novel laying open on the same page as when I left it. With a yawn, I reached for my phone from where I had left it charging. Its glowing screen revealed the real nightmare: the clock read 12:01 a.m.