Yuen Kayla Hei-Yin

The Spirit of the Mogao Grottoes

“It's rumored to be haunted and it wasn’t much fun,” said my friend Abbey, who was describing her recent trip to the Mogao Grottoes. I didn’t participate in this conversation with my other best friends because I, Sally Brown, was going to visit the Mogao Grottoes along with my pesky sister and over-enthusiastic mother for this Christmas break. And I was not looking forward to it.

Eventually, the dreaded day arrived. The car trip to the airport was fine. When we arrived at the Dunhuang Airport, Aunt Catherine greeted us with open arms. My cousin, Glory, grabbed me by my arm and started to discuss with me how fun the Mogao Grottoes would be.

The next day, we headed straight to the Mogao Grottoes. It was actually fun! The Mogao caves looked more like a palace from the Qing Dynasty. Glory said it used to have different colors of velvet, gold, brown and silver. However, over the centuries the colors started to fade. Inside, all I saw were Buddha statues, Buddha art and more Buddha. Then, I went to the library and relaxed there till our tour was over. When we went back to the hotel, a mysterious voice cried, “Help, help!” I decided to ignore it and enjoy the ride back to the hotel.

As I was getting ready for bed, I thought of the mysterious voice. I decided to ignore it again and flopped down on my bed. Just as I drifted off to sleep, a bright light flashed before my eyes. In front of me was a ghost! Yet, the ghost looked harmless and I wasn't frightened! The ghost then told me why she was here. She was a former queen who once ruled a place called Alexandra. She had lost her crown and came here when she relocated the crown here. Also, she needed my help retrieving it. Her parents had chosen her to protect the crown and rule the kingdom, even though she was only thirteen. They died after because of a disease. Her life became harder and everyone was always throwing their problems at her. Just as she was starting to gain her subjects loyalty, she was ambushed by her guards in the library. They declared themselves the king and took the crown away. However, they shortly lost the crown due to their clumsiness. Then she threatened me to compromise and I agreed.

The next day, I sneaked off to the library. As I entered the library, I whispered, “Utah? Hello? It’s me, Sally. Where are you?” Before I knew it, Utah was in front of me! I started to speak but she rudely stopped me with a wave of her hand. “About time! Come, we have much to do but our journey will only take about an hour or so.” Utah levitated away to another room. It was hard to keep up with her but I eventually caught up. We went in so many directions, I couldn’t tell where we were going! We climbed up stairs and hallways that were hidden in plain sight. I saw symbols on the walls, cobwebs everywhere and some unrecognized objects. Then, Utah stopped in front of a wall, she started looking for something. She pressed on a tiny button and a hidden door revealed itself. Which was strange because ghosts usually couldn't touch things. When the door opened, dust flew everywhere. The door made a creaking sound, I was beyond my words. Utah ushered me to hurry into the room, quickly following behind. When we entered, the first thing I saw were people. But these people had been turned into stone, vines surrounded them, their faces looked horrified. Surrounding the vines were little black wisp that circled. “Who are these people?” I asked anxiously. “These are the people before you,” Utah answered coldly. “They have failed me. Their hearts were filled with greed, so I could not retrieve my crown. But you will. Stop blithering and follow me.” As I stepped onto the long narrow bridge, I felt as if though something was watching us. But I quickly brushed that feeling off and followed Utah. On the end of the bridge, I saw a golden crown floating in midair, it was decorated with jewels and had an odd symbol on it. Unexpectedly, Utah pushed me! “What are you doing?!” I asked, panicked “This is the reason you are here. You see, I could retrieve the crown myself. But to get the crown you must offer a living being with a pure heart. You are the only one that had succeeded, I am grateful for that. Now with your help, I can retrieve what was taken from me so many years ago!” Utah responded; her eyes looked harsher than ever. I started crying, knowing my life would end in a few seconds. I inhaled my last breath, then, darkness.

Pain—that is what I remember. But yet, I feel like I’m alive, I could feel my heart beating. I saw somebody ripping out the vines that surrounded me. It was Utah! I was so glad I cried, but my tears were joyful. Afterwards, I fainted, for a long time.

When I woke up, I could see Utah smiling at me. But she was a human! “You’re a human!’ I shouted. “Yes. After I saved you, I miraculously became human. I'm sorry I betrayed you and I promise I will make it up to you. But……” She trailed off, “But?” “What will I do now? Who will I live with?” I smirked convincingly, showing Utah I already knew what to do.

Rumble! Me and my sisters rush down to the dining table. We each grabbed a seat; Utah grabbed the closest one to the food. Utah’s a quick learner, she adapted to her new life with us well. Ever since Dad left, our family always felt like it was missing something. Utah was the final piece to our broken family. And I'm pleased that she's the final piece!

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