• Logic told me to look down before up because that was what they usually did in movies, but my odd conscience had advised me it would be in my best interest to look up first. So I looked up and was surprised to see the shining, arched ceiling-like-structure above me. It’s glass surface was etched with designs I couldn’t make out from so far below it. A fact that immensely frustrated me…
    Where the heck am I? was the first thing I wondered. The last thing I remembered was sitting drowsily at my desk in my History class while a dull documentary about blah and blah blah and how they blah blah blahed all over blah blah and changed blah forever. At least that’s what I made of it. BLAH! It had been terribly boring…but like Buffy, my hamster, always said: “The past is the unimportant stuff so focus on the present or else you’ll never find yourself past the past.” So where was I now?
    I looked around at the room I was in. It looked like a stained-glass artist had tried to discover how many colors of glass really existed (the number is 148,589,585.40693 for your information) and built a room with them. The walls glittered with splashes of scintillating glass; they were oddly shaped, oddly colored, oddly placed and most defiantly odd, but nonetheless pleasing to the eyes. I felt dwarfed in the very large room. It was also uncomfortably empty, a fact I just now noticed…
    The floor was covered with a blanket of dust that had probably been there long enough to outlast even a Twinkie. And that was saying something. I’m not quite sure what, but it was defiantly saying SOMETHING. I brushed away some of it and was surprised to see—myself. Continuing my efforts at clearing a space of floor, I discovered the entire floor was a mirror! In my mind’s eye I imagined the entire floor free of dust, reflecting the brilliance of the ceiling on its vast, smooth surface. Having no other occupation, I set to work. Now I wasn’t exactly ever one to enjoy cleaning but with the proper amount of curiosity fueled motivation, I eventually cleared it.
    (Now reader, I will not bother you extensively with the details of pushing away the half foot layer of dust and grime, but I would have you know the results.)
    I discovered a queer sort of magnifying device. It was bolted in place to the ground and after removing the small dry particles from beneath it, I felt compelled to look through it. From this I made a discovery. The magnifying device did indeed distort my reflection and my nose looked the size of a pizza, but more important was what I saw when looking at it from an angle so my head wasn’t directly above it. I could see the inscriptions on the ceiling…
    They read:
    Il jenous frentela quipo
    Pandu radau semplue
    Chrey vent
    Little did I know that in Diandolese this obviously meant:
    Sky Purple Is Slipping Ponder
    Flounder Needs Strutting My
    Dust West Little Newt
    However, this was not meant to be read in Diandolese. It was meant to be read in Gibberish, of which I suddenly found myself quite fluent. Translated, it really said:
    When you feel the need to depart
    What you seek lies straight ahead
    But do not forget the life of art
    Or what you see here will fall dead
    (Do not trouble yourself with the fact that there are four lines in the translation and only three in the original thing. It is of little importance.)
    Straight ahead, I thought as I looked up. Ah yes, cleverly disguised amongst the statements of color was a door. With a vibrant streak of red sprayed across it, it glimmered gently. I rose, dusting off the filth that clung to my jeans and shirt. Or, as much as I was going to get off. With purpose, I strode towards the door. I had to get back to school, I do believed it was enchilada Thursday…or perhaps it was Wednesday.
    I'd have never guessed how long of a journey this beginning would give rise to, or how much more it would teach me than any class the school district could provide me with. Ignorantly, I sealed my fate into place with the light click of the door knob as I turned it…
    The stain-glass-handle turned smoothly beneath my fingers as I stepped out of the stained glass room only to find myself in darkness. I heard a click behind me as the door closed, my stomach sunk as I tried to reopen it. It was locked. Well of course it’s locked! I snapped at myself.
    And so I found myself standing in the dark with who knows what else was there, not sure of where I was, I started to become hungry. Perfect. Several choices of angry words came to my mind as this dawned on me. Hesitantly, I reached my hand forward, not knowing what it would find. Just air. I took a step forward and found myself flat on my face only seconds and an OOF later.
    Ouch. To my irritation I’d made the pleasant discovery of finding a rock that I wouldn’t have fallen over if I’d taken a step in any other direction. I’d landed funny on my ankle too and the right knee of my jeans had torn. It just needs to rain now, I thought sarcastically. To be perfectly honest I half expected it to. Isn’t that was usually happens?
    After a moment of contemplation, I decided not to haul myself to my feet and instead continued on my knees. The ground felt smooth beneath my fingers and… clean. While trying to figure out what to make of that, all my forward crawling halted when voices found their way to my ear. Their words were indistinct, but I made out the sounds of harsh laughter among them. Wildly I glanced around, trying to see where the noise was coming from. I saw no light. I saw no dim outlines. I only heard the voices.
    Presently, the question of my sanity became to most pressing thing in my mind, but I refused to seriously consider that. Kallie, I told myself firmly, there is nothing wrong with you. All you need to do is find the people talking and ask them how to get out of here. After a moment I added, And where I can get something to eat. Perhaps this place has a cafeteria alike to school.
    Having a clear goal made it easier to continue and maintain a regular breathing pattern. Out of the blue I heard a bellow of, “No cheesecake! No!”
    “Hello?” I shouted in question form. If I could hear them yelling, they should be able to hear me. Silence was my only response. Not even the voices greeted my hungry ears.
    “Hello?” I repeated a bit more slowly and hesitantly.
    Footsteps came pattering in my direction. The thought struck me that maybe I didn’t want these people to find me, but I could hardly call back my words and running was out of the question; where there was one stupid rock, there was another just waiting to trip me. Closer and closer came the footsteps. I tried not to breathe too loudly, but my heartbeat began to run the 100 meter sprint and I could hardly control how loud that was. That wasn’t an ability exactly granted. Someone coughed a few paces from my left and someone to my right let out a sigh of frustration.
    “Where are you?” a male voice asked.
    I deliberated a moment and decided that maybe I did have better chances if I trusted myself to strangers than if I remained unaided in this dreary darkness.
    “I don’t know,” I replied, “where am I?”
    I heard the pair take a few steps in my direction, but they didn’t come uncomfortably close.
    “Who are you?” one asked guardedly.
    “Kallie,” I replied, also hesitant.
    “Callie La Vayant?” the one to my right asked hopefully.
    “Um, no, Kallie Carvell.” I replied utterly clueless about this other Callie.
    “Cheesecake,” muttered the one on the left pointedly to the one on the right.
    “Cheesecake?” I asked in confusion.
    “Precisely,” came the odd voice of the one on the left.
    There was a lapse of silence. “Who are you?” I asked, a little bolder.
    “Eldon,” the one presumably on the left said. After the one on the right gave no response he added, “And this is Jayden.”
    “So,” Eldon asked conversationally, “how’d you end up here?”
    “Er, I can’t say,” I said awkwardly. How are you supposed to explain that when you’re not sure yourself?
    “Hmm?” said Eldon, as if he hadn’t heard me correctly. Which was unlikely due to the minimal distance between us.
    “Well, that is… I came from the… stained glass room back there and—” I began.
    “What?” Jayden interrupted me.
    “Cheesecake,” repeated Eldon to Jayden.
    “No!” shouted Jayden.
    “Right, well,” I said, struggling to my feet, “this has been a lovely chat and all, but really I’ve got to— oof.” I’d taken a step forward and fallen into one of them. Perhaps I’d done more to my ankle than land on it funny. To my displeasure, it was the one on the right who ended up catching me. I struggled to right myself, but that didn’t go so well.
    “Are you hurt?” asked Eldon, concern in his voice.
    “My ankle,” I replied, holding on to Jayden’s shoulder for support.
    “Jayden,” the other said more seriously, “like it or not, I think the time has come.”
    Jayden’s hand on my elbow stiffened. “There is no need. We still have time. She’s probably still in there and—”
    “No,” said Eldon more forcefully, “cheesecake.”
    (Not even Marcus Porcius Cato (the original inventor of cheesecake) could predict what sort of delicious trouble and adventure this one word would take our threesome into.)
    My whole concept of cheesecake was about to be blown into oblivion…

    Jayden’s hand was warm on the small of my back as he helped me, somewhat grudgingly, hobble away from the locked door.
    “Where are we going?” I asked, my arm slung around his shoulders for support. Eldon was the one who answered.
    “To get the cheesecake.”
    “Okay, really, what’s up with the cheesecake thing?” I demanded. They would not keep me in the dark any longer, no pun intended.
    “It’s a long story,” Jayden muttered.
    “Well, I think I’ve got a while,” I pointed out, realizing that my injured ankle wasn’t going to speed us up any.
    “Right,” Jayden agreed with a sigh, “Eldon, you can tell her.”
    “Oh no, you’re a much better story teller,” Eldon said, obviously just wanting to hand the task off to someone else.
    “I really don’t—” Jayden began.
    “Just tell me the story,” I interrupted; the pain I felt shooting from my ankle and up my shin was making me irritable.
    “Fine.” He took a breath and began telling his story into the darkness. “I guess you could say it started when Eldon, Callie, and I began our search for the perfect window.” I must agree with Eldon, he had a very good story telling voice.
    I took that in for a moment. “Why were you looking for the perfect window?” I asked, somewhat bewildered.
    “My mother-”
    “YOUR mother? MY mother!”
    “Our mother!
    “FINE! OUR mother was redecorating, another long story,” said Eldon, “please continue Jayden.”
    “Anyways,” Jayden continued, “after many fruitless attempts, we heard rumors about a fantastic building made of stained glass. Well, we figured that if we found out who could make and entire mansion out of stained glass, we could probably persuade them to build the perfect window.”
    “Mansion?” I asked. Though the room had been large, I hardly thought it qualified as a mansion.
    “Yes, there are over five hundred other rooms other than the one you went through to get here.”
    “Wait, this wasn’t the only way out?” I asked.
    “Not in the least,” Jayden said, “there had to be at least three other doors you could’ve gone through.’
    Of course, I thought, leave it up to me to mess up directions that say ‘straight ahead’…
    “Unless,” Eldon cut in, “when Callie left, she—”
    “She didn’t leave!” snapped Jayden.
    “I said left nor leave!” Eldon retorted bratishly.
    “Same difference and she did neither!” Jayden said sounding utterly convinced.
    “Well, actually I did have to leave in order to get—” I began awkwardly, pointing out the obvious can always be a little weird, but I was cut off my Jayden’s harsh clarification.
    “Not you, Callie La Vayant.”
    “What does this have to do with cheesecake?” I cut in.
    “Well, that was quite a tangent,” remarked Eldon.
    “Will you quit asking questions and let me tell my story?” Jayden exclaimed.
    “Okay,” I agreed in a voice that confirmed I was all too conscious that I was the one hindering the tale.
    “Anyways,” Jayden began once again, “we decided to come to this mansion and inquire after who had built it, but when we got here, it was empty.” I thought about the vast, mournful emptiness of the room I’d been in and tried to imagine dozens and dozens more like that. I shivered.
    “It was a little spooky,” he admitted, “we kept expecting to stumble upon someone or at least something else alive.”
    “Did you ever get lost when—” I stopped my question before I could finish. Patience is a virtue, I told myself. Yet, my virtue had no patience.
    Jayden went on as if he hadn’t heard me, “And then we found it: the perfect window.” There was a touch of awe in his voice as he recalled the wondrous sight. “Every other bit of glass in this building is tinted with color, but though those are beautiful, stunning even, this pristine panel of crystal stood leagues above them.”
    “Cheeseca—” I began.
    “He’s getting there,” whispered Eldon.
    “Well, we assumed we could just take it, seeing as the great house was uninhabited. No one would miss it right? Wrong. The moment our fingers left their prints on its perfect surface, we heard something awful. A screaming and screeching like you wouldn’t believe and wouldn’t want to hear. And then, out of nowhere, we were surrounded by twenty or so people. They were all wearing fine clothing, like royalty. Very royal royalty. One woman walked towards us, her dark hair was pulled up into, I don’t even know how to describe it. Everyone there was so elaborately dressed; I couldn’t even comprehend all the depth and detail at that moment.
    “Anyways, she walked up to us with an expression of such furry and disgust I felt frozen to the spot, even though all I wanted to do was run away. So, to make a long story short, she cursed Eldon and me to stay here (this is pretty much the dungeon by the way) and Callie was commanded to remain and guard this place for one hundred and thirteen days, after which, if she did stay for the whole time, we would all be free to go. However, if she left, she would supposedly doom us to die here. What she wasn’t told was that, if this did happen and she left, we could eat a magical cheesecake and be taken out of here, but it would prevent Callie from ever moving out of the area she was in.”
    Jayden paused a moment, “Maybe now you can see why I’m so hesitant to try the cheesecake. If Callie is still there, she will be stuck there for the rest of her life, but if she isn’t… she deserted us.”
    “Oh,” was the only response I could muster. Seeing as I was uneducated as to the proper etiquette during a conversation about the perfect window and magic cheesecake, it seemed best to not say much at all. It all seemed rather…mad.
    “And if what you say is true,” Jayden continued, slowing our walk, “it seems she has abandoned us and the only solution is to eat the cheesecake.”
    “But,” I began, “what if she had just… stepped out of the room to get food or something?”
    “All services were provided for her, as they were for us. None of our bodies need a thing as long as we’re inside the stained glass building. If she wasn’t there, she’s gone,” Eldon stated.
    “But she might have—” I fumbled for another excuse. The pain in Jayden’s voice was sincere and I felt a sort of sympathy towards him. There was also a slight softness when he mentioned Callie’s name that gave hint that maybe it was the betrayal of more than a friend he feared.
    “If she wasn’t there she’s gone,” Jayden affirmed.
    The two boys waited for my answer.
    “Er, there was a layer of dust at least half a foot high in there and no sign of anyone,” I informed them. We’d come to a stop in the blackness.
    I felt Jayden sigh beneath the arm I had around his shoulders. “Well,” he said, masking his pain, “Eldon, you’d better get out that cheesecake.”
    “Yes sir!” the voice of Eldon responded with an enthusiasm I hadn’t expected. After being stuck in a dark prison for who knows how long, the boy was ready for a breath of fresh air and the brightness of freedom.
    I heard his shuffling steps tread away from Jayden and I for a moment, the scraping sounds of cardboard against cardboard, and a grunt as something heavy was lifted.
    “Here we are,” Eldon said in a triumphant tone as he walked back towards us and dropped what I assumed was the cheesecake on the ground.
    That was anticlimactic, I thought. You’d think a choir of angels would be the ones to carry in a magic cheesecake, not some funny little boy who probably couldn’t carry a tune if it had handles. Regardless of the presentation, I was filled with wonder at the sight that greeted my eyes as Eldon opened the cheesecake’s box.
    Liquid-like light poured out from the box, radiated from the item of perfection inside.
    (I’m a failure at describing perfection, dear reader, my apologies, but if Marie Callender could’ve made a cheesecake like that, my anti-cheesecake friends would’ve been instantly converted a thousand times over.)
    We all stared in wonder at the masterpiece for a moment before Eldon took his stubby hands and carefully handed each of us one of the pre-sliced pieces.
    (The taste was—can you imagine the taste of a flawless cheesecake? No, of course you can’t, you’ve never had one and, I’m sad to inform you, you likely never will. Again, as I’m a failure at describing perfection, you will have to live a life deprived of any sense of what the crown of the existence of cheesecake was like. Again, my apologies.)
    With that sweet, creamy, perfectly mixed with a hint of raspberry chocolate that cannot begin to be described, I felt a lightness begin in my toes rush through me. The last thing I knew before darkness over took my mind was: cheesecake. For rather obvious reasons…