Sto­ries and po­ems by kids


The busy sounds in Meow Wolf’s House of Eter­nal Re­turn ex­hibit twisted, echoed, and bounced through my ears. My friend Aiga, my sis­ter Merid­ian, and I floated past a brightly painted mon­ster statue eat­ing a fiery-red corn­dog as if we were in a trance, then into an ocean of peo­ple and even a more col­or­ful va­ri­ety of cu­ri­ous noise.

Sud­denly, one sound drowned out all the oth­ers. In fact, the other sounds prac­ti­cally bowed down to it, re­ced­ing im­me­di­ately. It was the fire alarm.

I froze for less than a mil­lisec­ond and yelled, “Get to the liv­ing room!”

By the “liv­ing room” I meant the ex­hibit’s liv­ing room. The “front door” was there and that led to the ar­ti­fi­cial front yard. That led to the lobby, which, of course, re­vealed the en­trance/exit. This was the sim­plest way to get out, al­though there could be thou­sands of ways. Meow Wolf, a twist­ing tun­nel of mystery and con­fu­sion, had peo­ple pour­ing out of ev­ery nook and cranny. Watch­ing peo­ple crawl through the fire­place was bewildering, but this was some­thing else. In the liv­ing room a worker stood, a soldier. “Please fol­low the crowd out the front door,” she told us. Her eyes were strict and she used a voice that wasn’t to be dis­obeyed.

What else would we be do­ing? I thought, mo­men­tar­ily an­noyed. I didn’t say any­thing, though, and did what she said.

In the lobby, we were greeted by a crowd twice as large as the one we were al­ready in. It was like be­ing a cow, in its mas­sive herd. What was hap­pen­ing? Did every­one get out okay? Was there re­ally a fire? I don’t see any smoke — maybe the fire’s in­side only? I wanted an­swers. It was like be­ing an astro­naut on some new planet. Were there aliens? Was there enough oxy­gen in my oxy­gen tank? What if my space­ship stopped work­ing? Would I be stranded here for­ever, not know­ing what in the world was hap­pen­ing?

A worker came up to us and said, “Please go across the street. You have to be far­ther away from the build­ing.” Yes! We were go­ing some­where! Across the street, peo­ple were strewn ev­ery­where. Were they like me? I won­dered. Prob­a­bly, but prob­a­bly not. They prob­a­bly felt the same emo­tions as me, but I knew I felt them stronger. We waited for a while, and then, like a quiet mir­a­cle, a worker came and stood next to us. “What’s hap­pen­ing?” my mom asked the worker for me. “I know as much as you do,” the worker replied. Which isn’t very much, I thought. The worker’s mir­a­cle-like en­trance had been de­ceiv­ing. A lit­tle while later, fire­fight­ers and po­lice gath­ered Meow Wolf work­ers to­gether. “I think it’s time to go up to a ran­dom per­son and call them ‘mommy,’ ” I joked. “I think I’ll do it to that lady in the green dress.” “She looks nice,” com­mented Aiga. My thoughts hadn’t trav­eled far­ther than get­ting out alive. “I said, ‘Get to the liv­ing room,’ ” I an­nounced. “It re­ally helps if you know the place in­side out.” I was proud that I could di­rect us in the right di­rec­tion.

We talked about this and that, for how long I don’t know, be­cause I soon changed my chan­nel and started day­dream­ing about a time very dif­fer­ent than this one that seemed to lag on for­ever. It was a time where I knew what was hap­pen­ing and things made sense.

“Wait, what? Are we leav­ing?” We were, ob­vi­ously enough, be­ing dragged to the side­walk across from us. “But I want to stay and see what hap­pens,” I whined. Mom only ut­tered through clenched teeth, “Raven, come on.” We stepped onto the side­walk and Bobi drove up in her car. As we climbed in, I an­nounced some­thing: “I hate not know­ing what’s hap­pen­ing.” “Raven,” said my mom the next day. “Meow Wolf’s in the pa­per.” I’d ex­pected this. Un­sur­prised, I took the pa­per and read a small ar­ti­cle in the cor­ner of it. It turned out that Meow Wolf work­ers pulled the alarm be­cause of a note ref­er­enc­ing a bomb. I was re­lieved when I found out there wasn’t ac­tu­ally one, but I was an­noyed that the note had scared so many peo­ple and left me won­der­ing for no rea­son at all. They were ter­ri­ble things mixed to­gether — won­der and worry. Sure, there were lots of times I’d been cu­ri­ous about what was go­ing on, but this one was by far the worst. I’m a Capri­corn and I like know­ing what’s go­ing on. Meow Wolf was al­ready a cu­ri­ous-enough place and it didn’t need any help. As un­re­al­is­tic as it was, I wished that noth­ing like this would ever hap­pen.

Ralph Steiner (1899-1986):

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