“Ready or not, here I come!” Isabelle yelled from downstairs.
My heart raced in my chest as I ran down the hall, past the stacks of boxes Dad had moved in yesterday. I doubled back on the stairs and climbed to the third floor, hoping to find a better hiding spot than in my room. I searched frantically around the first room, and when I saw nothing, I continued through to the next.
A half-step down, and I was in a tiny room with another set of stairs that descended back downstairs. It was in the corner, three feet from the floor that I saw what I needed, a small door with vertical slats. I opened it and found that it was at least three feet deep.
The sound of Isabelle climbing the stairs made me panic. I jumped in, closed the door behind me, and moved as far in as I could. In the dark, I could see the illuminated outline of the door at the front, but something else caught my attention. There was another outline on my right, where the stairs would be. I pushed gently on the door, and it popped open, revealing a small set of stairs that descended down, not toward the back of the house, but toward the side.
“What is this?” I mumbled, crawling into the passage.
I descended the stairs on my hands and knees as there was only enough room for me to crawl. A few minutes later, I arrived at another small door. On the door, a little sign, about the size of an index card, read PLEASE KNOCK. Not knowing what else to do, I lowered myself to sit on my knees and knocked on the door.
A moment passed, and then I heard someone talking on the other side of the door.
“Who could it be at this hour?” the voice said before the door opened a crack.
A single, purple eye looked at me, grew wide, and the door slammed shut again.
“It’s a largling!” the voice said on the other side of the door.
“What do you mean ‘it’s a largling,’ Edith?” a second voice replied, “Let me see.”
“No,” the voice I assumed belonged to Edith said. “I’m telling you, it’s not a knell out there.”
“What are we supposed to do? Leave them out there?” the second one said. “Please move out of the way.”
I heard small feet shuffling before the door opened wider this time. I could see a little person with thinning orange hair and pale blue skin, behind them I saw another that looked like a woman with her hair braided down her back. Her purple eyes darted around as though in a panic. The one in front of me looked up at me with their gold eyes and a wide smile.
“Well, as I live and breathe,” they said. “What brings you to our humble home at this time of day?”
“I don’t understand,” I said, “How are you in my closet?”
“Closet? Ahh, you must be one of the new larglings that moved into the house! My name is Oli Frocker, and this is my wife, Edith. What’s your name?”
“T-Thomas,” I replied. “Thomas Pettinger.”
“It’s very nice to meet you, Thomas. I would invite you in, but as you can see, you are much too large to fit at the moment. Please wait here. I’ll be right back,” Oli said.
I nodded and watched the door closed. I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. This tiny couple couldn’t possibly live in the closet upstairs. I tried to think about where I was in relation to the back stairs in the room behind me. I was certain the stairs I was on would have broken through the wall of the stairs in the house.
“Here, we are! Sorry about the wait,” Oli said as he opened the door again. “Let me see your hand, please.”
I held out my hand.
“Thank you,” he said as he pricked my finger.
“Ow!” I said, putting my bleeding finger in my mouth.
“Sorry about that,” Oli said with a smile as he hid a tiny knife the size of a tack, “It was necessary, I assure you.”
I suddenly felt the room start moving. The walls looked as though they were growing, and my feet dragged off the steps behind me until I was sitting on my knees in a huge space. I looked toward the door and found that it was growing as well. Oli and Edith seemed to be getting larger from my perspective.
“What’s happening?” I asked as I closed my eyes to stop the turning of my stomach.
“You’ve come to my door, young Thomas. It would be rude of me to not invite you in. You can open your eyes,” Oli said.
I opened my eyes to find myself staring at Oli’s belly. I looked up to see that the door looked like it was a normal size, and the hall behind me was gigantic.
“There we go. A bit of magic, and we can be proper hosts. Edith, would you care to start some tea, please?” Oli said, offering me a hand.
“Magic?” I repeated, trying to blink away the reality I saw as I took his hand and got to my feet. Even now, I stood a full head taller than him.
“How old are you, young Thomas?” Oli asked.
“Fourteen, sir,” I replied, looking up the stairs. They seemed impossibly tall now.
“What a wonderful age! Is this your first time finding us knell?” he asked.
“Not very adventurous then, are you?” he laughed. “come in, make yourself at home. Edith will come out with some tea and snacks for us.”
“What is going on?” I asked, refusing to budge.
“It’s been some time since we’ve had a largling at our door, young Thomas,” Oli said, “We are the knell. Come in, and I’ll explain everything.”
My legs seemed to move of their own accord as I stepped over the threshold and into their home.