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The Secret Tunnel

About Ayushmaan Mukherjee

Ayushmaan is a Fourth Grader and part of the Gifted and Talented program in the Bridgewater school district of New Jersey in the United States. He takes keen interest in maths and has won several awards in multiple contests across the country. He is very inquisitive and an avid reader of almost all topics under the sun. During his leisure he likes to play chess and works on creative projects using recycled materials. Lately, he has been developing a passion for writing.

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Once upon a time there was a boy named John at a middle school called Hamilton school. Hamilton school had a secret that not many people knew of, which John, for some reason, did know. The secret is that there is a mysterious trapdoor in the back of the janitor’s office in the D-wing. It’s locked, so no one knew what’s in there. The keys were in the janitor’s office, but John had no idea where exactly, so it would take some looking around in there. Then it clicked!

All John had to do to get the key was become a janitor!

Next month there was a sign up for volunteer janitor after-school. John just needed his parent’s signature to sign up. One week came and went and it was May. So John could now sign up for being volunteer janitor. The next day, John went to get the sign-up sheet for volunteer janitor at the janitor’s office. When John went home he told his parents that he wanted to sign up for the volunteer janitor. He nervously waited for their answer. They thought it over, and finally said yes! All John could do was to wait for the next day.

The day turned soon enough, but John had a surprise, and it wasn’t a good one. Today was supervised! The teachers were mentoring all the people who signed up how to be a janitor. They divided the children into separate groups. John got put into the gum scraper group. Oh, how John wanted to sneak away to get the key and open the trapdoor, but he couldn’t. So he spent the whole afternoon scraping gum off tables and went home, depressed.

The next day when John went back to school, the gum scraping wasn’t supervised. So John could venture into the janitor’s office. When he got there he found the keys in a cabinet. He put the key in the keyhole and it turned! He opened the trapdoor and went down a long, long ladder to a lobby-like area. A sign next to him said Sterling Mine. So this is a mine?

Huh John thought to himself. “Wouldn’t hurt if I looked around just a little bit.”

Well, that “little bit” ended up being an hour. By now John was exhausted. Suddenly he started to feel light-headed, and then an urge to throw up. He knew it was carbon monoxide…

He woke up in the middle of the night realizing it was all a nightmare. It felt so realistic that his heart was pounding. It was a shame that the next janitor’s helper class was a week away.

John had to wait one more week for the next janitor’s helper class to get the key. On the scheduled day when John went to janitor’s helper class he was able to find the keys in the janitor’s office labelled “tunnel”. He carefully put them into the keyhole and opened the trapdoor. He stepped inside to see a very short tunnel. It led to a chest labelled time capsule and John opened it. It was from 1930. It had lots of teaching equipment from back then and a painting by what seemed like a famous artist from that century. There was a bunch of tributes to him. John didn’t know what to do, whether he should tell the teachers or keep it to himself. For the rest of the day he kept wondering about it.

Finally he decided that he could not keep it a secret and that he would try to tell the teachers. The next day he approached his teacher, Ms. Anderson, and told her all about the ‘incident.’ Ms. Anderson said, “Very interesting. You are not in trouble, but go tell the principal.”

So John told everything to the principal. Principal asked in disbelief, “Who did you say is the artist?” John said he was Carl Holty. “You found one of his paintings!?” sputtered the principal. Later the principal told John’s parents that John had had discovered a treasure. The painting was sold for $10,000. Half of the proceeds went into improving the school and the other half went for John’s allowance! It was the best day of his life! A lot of seats got soft pads so that the students could sit more comfortably, for longer hours. Everyone liked John.

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