Emily Rosenberger, Grade 8, Bundaberg State High School
1st in the 'National Treasures 2022' competition
The door swung open.
A vast carpet of rolling shamrock raced into view, the expanse of cool green landscape broken only by a wall of luscious emerald, sapphire-blue petals contrasting beautifully with pristine leaves as the sun bathed the lawn in its warm, golden light.
One million tiny red-gold fruit hung like miniature orbs from a peach tree's strong tan branches, while strings of delicate blush flowers adorned its stunning canopy. At the base of the trunk, a thick knot of bark and wood, lay a small wooden structure decorated with a neat, painted paw-print and the name 'Spot'.
His toes sunk into the shallow sea of green, his every sense tingling as he stretched, then set out, the dewy lawn shimmering magnificently in the morning sunlight. The painted picket fence drew closer with every stride, until he could spy the precious cluster of messy papers protruding from the letterbox. He smiled to himself, anticipating fascinating facts, glorious gossip and captivating crosswords until suddenly, the ground disappeared from beneath his feet.
He was falling, plummeting rapidly into endless nothingness. The world was spinning, tumbling before him like a malfunctioning rotation ride. Head over heels and heels over head; the abyss seemed to stretch on forever. He was speeding up, the air tearing at him, trying to rip him apart. He reached out in a desperate bid to slow himself, to no avail. He screamed but the wind whisked away the sound before it even left his mouth. Everything was blurred, a smeared painting in 1000 shades of deep brown, streaking past at 1000 kilometres per hour. He clamped his eyes closed, dizzier than he could even think possible. A sudden coldness pierced his skin like thousands of tiny daggers, sharp and jolting. He registered a dull thump, and then everything stopped.
He sat up groggily, subconsciously wiping a glob of cold, slimy mud from his face. He was surrounded by walls of looming earth, lying in a pool of murky quarter-leg depth water that soaked into once clean pyjamas, quickly turning them a shade of particularly unappealing brown. A splash behind him made his heart leap into his throat. THUD. His head slammed hard into the ground again, and he felt himself being pinned down by strong paws, sharp claws digging into his flesh. Sharp yellow teeth gleamed malevolently, rancid saliva dripping from its furry bottom jaw.
The creature lunged at his face. His eyes slammed shut, and he braced for the worst.
Something hot and wet brushed against his cheek, then his eyelid, systematically covering the entirety of his face in what felt suspiciously like dog saliva. He felt something furry thumping repetitively against his side.
'Spot,' he scolded incredulously, his eyes on fire, 'what did I say about digging holes in the lawn?'
The puppy blinked up with irresistible innocence, reducing his anger to nothing in seconds.
Together, they stepped out of the hole, Spot contentedly clutching a tiny bone between his teeth, looking extremely proud of himself.