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5. THE THING BEHIND
Mary found herself walking through a grassy path. Flowers, bushes, and trees lined her way. She did not know where she was, or where she was going, but looked upon the strange and beautiful plants as she meandered in the maze.
She felt that something must be behind her—a slight scuffling noise dashed from one side of the garden to another, but when she turned around, nothing mysterious could be seen. She thought she started to see—or sense—a creature staring at her from a bush with red eyes, but she turned around and kept going.
She suddenly came to a clearing, surrounded by the same exotic foliage, and a small crowd of children were playing there. Mary was shy; somehow this crowd seemed distant, capering about and not seeing her. Then she recognized several of them. They were friends from school, talking together with smiling faces. They beckoned to her. Mary approached them, beaming.
“Hello!” she cried, and she hugged each girl tightly. The throng talked and played together, and Mary did not remember when she had last been so happy! But in the corner of her eye, she could always see a dark figure moving in the bushes around the enclosure.
She ran into the school with the rest of the children, for recess was now over. The garden enclosure was gone now, and the school stood prominently across the parking lot that also appeared. Mary received homework with the rest of the students, but she soon left the classroom. A fox was trailing down the hallway, wagging its bushy tail. It turned a corner.
Mary followed it, when one of her teachers came out of a room and said, “You can’t go there. Why are you going that way? It’s where all the bees are.” Mary, confused, kept walking down the hall. “You can’t go there! You can’t go there!” she heard her teacher echo still behind her.
She turned the corner, and found that tropical plants were growing at the doors, creating a sort of jungle. It seemed that each room opened out into the jungle. She started to back away, when a growling noise came from behind. She turned—a dark, four-legged creature stood there with a strange, menacing face on its chest, for it had no head. Red, piercing eyes glowed at Mary, and a fanged mouth grimaced as its growled. It hopped from side to side, blocking Mary’s path of escape.
Mary stood still, not knowing what to do. Sometimes the monster looked as if it was some type of mutant monkey, and at other times back to the globular creature that had no name. Almost frozen with fear, Mary managed to step into a room connected to the hall that looked cold and sterile on the inside.
A woman sat at a round table. She had a serene face, which looked like it was used to smiling. She greeted Mary warmly, and had the girl sit on her lap.
“Do not be afraid,” she cooed as she cradled Mary.
“I was wrong. It’s out there,” Mary whimpered.
“It is just a monkey,” the lady said. Mary looked toward the door; her pet monkey named Mikey smiled and waved to her from the window.
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