Started: 11-1-10, 12:51 AM
Finished: 10-13-11, 12:41 AM
By Tooie Kangaroo
Chapter 1: “The Peasant’s Arrival”
Katy Sable was sitting up in her bed excitedly, as her father walked into the room. The little blond squealed, “What took you so long?!”
Mr. Richard Sable chuckled at his daughter’s enthusiasm. “I had to walk clear across the house to get here.” He sat on the side of her bed and smiled.
The ten-year-old bounced. “I want a musical story tonight!”
The father rubbed his chin and said, “Like with dancing and whatnot?”
She nodded her head so fast that he was afraid that it would fall right off. He laughed. “Alright, calm down! Give me a moment to think.”
Katy asked, “How much longer?”
“I haven’t even started yet. You are really impatient, you know?”
She crossed her arms in order to hold herself still. “I can’t wait!”
Mr. Sable covered his mouth and tapped his nose while he thought about it. She wanted a musical story. It was something that she had not asked for yet. Richard obviously did not have much time to think of one, before she would burst from the excitement alone. He looked at her and asked, “What about a peasant?”
She cocked her head to one side. “A peasant? That sounds interesting.”
“Yes, this story is called ‘The Peasant’s Arrival.’ You are the peasant.”
Katy smiled. “Alright. I’m ready.”
The father leaned in close to his daughter and said, “Look into my eyes, Katy.”
The little girl gazed into her father’s eyes, just as she had been told. For a moment, she saw nothing. But soon, she could see a very strange reflection in them. She could see people, beautifully dressed people. They were dancing. Her ears began to hear the faint sounds of music. It was a slow yet very rhythmic waltz. As she walked out before the dancing crowds of the apparently wealthy and well to do, she began to realize that she was not at all dressed for the occasion.
Katy’s clothes were old and had a few holes in them. Her hair was very disheveled and unkempt. She was hardly up to their standards. The dancing crowd glared at her from time to time. They were looks of disgust.
The little peasant was hurt by these looks, but the music was just so wonderful and moving, that she felt herself swaying to the beautiful melody. The raggedy, little girl stepped into the crowd of dancing people and raised up her hands lake a ballerina about to begin her dance.
One of her disapproving spectators said as she danced on by, “Have you ever seen something so dreadful. Who would have ever let her into the ballroom?”
Katy let her hands fall to her sides gracefully, letting the music move her in whatever way it would. Another voice came from the crowd, “Such horrid clothing. She could never be as graceful as us.”
The little peasant girl was only slightly shaken by the words. She was more focused on the music. It was such a beautiful melody, and she wanted nothing more than to dance. And so… she danced. Little Katy began to dance to the music, ignoring all those who were around her, and she did so with grace and beauty despite her raggedy clothing.
The other dancers sneered and scowled at the peasant girl, but they could do little but that. She had been ignoring them anyways. It was the music that held her attention. The other dancers were there just to bother her.
And so Katy danced and danced and danced until the music ended. It felt wonderful. The people all left the floor, leaving the girl standing there in a graceful pose. Katy smiled. No matter how much the snobs of the rich and wealthy tried to bring her down, she stayed true to what she loved and focused on that. Even in such a harsh atmosphere, Katy had been very happy.
Mr. Sable closed his eyes and sat back up. Katy blinked and looked around her own room. Richard chuckled and asked, “So… what did you think?”
Katy squealed with delight. “It was wonderful! It was like I was alone among so many people. I just let the music take me away. What music was that?”
“I’m not sure. I just sort of came up with a melody.”
“That was a great story. That girl was not there to mingle as much as she was there to enjoy the music.”
The father confirmed, “Find something you love, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
“Thanks, Dad. I’m gonna go to sleep now. Can’t wait for tomorrow night!”
Mr. Sable leaned forward and kissed her forehead. “Good night, Katy.”
“Good night, Dad.”
Mr. Sable smiled and turned off her lamp. He quietly walked out of her room and then into his. Next to his bed was a framed picture of his wife, Elizabeth. Taking it into his hand, he sat down.
The man rubbed his hand through his hair and took a deep breath as he looked into the woman’s happy eyes. He began to cry.
Chapter 2 – “The Hungry Mouse”
Katy sat in the cafeteria of her school and ranted on and on about the time that she spent with her father. “It was beautiful! The whole ballroom was decorated with flowers and all sorts of things!”
Samantha, the annoyed brunette scoffed, “You’re making this up. There is no such place.”
The little girl replied, “Just cause you can’t find it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I was there!”
Frank shrugged as he poked at his green beans. “Last time you said you were exploring a pyramid. Aren’t they in Egypt or something?”
Katy corrected, “These were in South America!”
Samantha rolled her eyes. “You can’t go to South America and make it back to school on the next day.”
Katy sighed and nodded. “I know. I was still there. I remember being there. And tonight I am going somewhere else. And I’ll tell you about it if you want.”
The boy replied, “Well, you do seem to keep them interesting.”
The annoyed Samantha leaned on her palm and said, “I think you’re going crazy. Ever since you lost your mom, you’ve acted all weird. And now you’ve been making up stories to tell us.”
Katy leaned back into her chair and frowned at those words. She tried to speak, but her stomach sunk deeply within her and stifled her speech. Frank yelled, “Samantha! Shut up! Her mother is in a coma!”
Samantha rolled her eyes. “Well, somebody has to say it! I can’t stand to see her like this! It’s pathetic!”
Katy picked up her food tray and walked over to a different table. Frank ran over and sat down in front of her. He said, “Don’t listen to her. I like your stories, even if they are a little weird.”
Katy rubbed her nose and answered, “Thank you, Franky.”
The boy smiled and tried to change the subject. “Did you hear about the mouse?”
“No. What happened?”
“They found a mouse in one of the rooms. They tried to catch it, but it got away.”
She blinked. “I hope they don’t hurt it. Mice are so cute.”
“Yeah, well the teachers don’t like them.”
Katy looked up and thought about it. “I wish a mouse would bite Samantha.”
Frank laughed. “Me too. That would be hilarious!”
* * *
Mr. Sable looked at his daughter with intrigue. “A mouse?”
Katy snuggled herself deeper into the bed sheets as she answered. “Yep. They didn’t catch it though. I bet it was looking for food. I hope they don’t kill it.”
He nodded. “Yes, that would be a shame. It probably did not mean any harm.”
“Do you have any mouse stories?”
The father chuckled. “You’ve been waiting all day to ask that, haven’t you?”
She defended herself. “Not all day! Just since lunch time.”
Richard sat down on her bed and leaned over to speak with his daughter. “I have one for you. I call it ‘The Hungry Mouse.’”
She chuckled. “You thought of that name really quickly, didn’t you?”
He smiled and replied, “Look into my eyes, Katy.”
The little girl gazed once again into her father’s eyes. She saw only darkness in them… at first. But she soon saw a little crack made up of light. She peered through it and saw the hustle and bustle of human feet, walking back and forth in the cafeteria.
A voice spoke from behind. “It’s right there, and there’s so much of it just falling to their feet! What a waste those humans are.”
Katy looked back at the mouse. He looked pretty upset about what was happening out there. She gazed down at her paws and back at her tail, which she swished around. She touched her little round ears and twitched her nose. Her eyes filled with fascination and excitement at the revelation of what had happened. She looked at the mouse and said, “Are you upset that the humans are eating all that food?”
The mouse scoffed, “No! We all need to eat! But they just drop half of what they eat to the floor! They don’t deserve such good things!”
Katy once again peered out of the crack and did indeed see the sloppy, human children, dropping crumbs and other tasty food bits onto the floor. Something that would normally disgust her was looking quite scrumptious in that moment. She spoke as if in a trance, “What are we waiting for? Let’s go get some of it.”
The ranting mouse gasped. “What?! Are you crazy?!”
“Some people think I am.”
“What if they spot you?! You’ll get caught, and then who knows what!”
Katy looked back and grinned. “We can run from cover to cover. They won’t see us if we’re careful.”
The other mouse looked through the crack with her. “Where are you running to first?”
Katy pointed. “There’s a table over there. Then there is another table just further. Gotta watch out for feet. They might step on you and stuff.”
“The feet are what I’m afraid of.”
Katy laughed. “Come on, don’t be afraid. Aren’t you hungry?”
“Shouldn’t we wait until they all leave?”
“They’re just gonna clean it all up! Why don’t we get the food while it’s laying on the floor?! You know, when it’s nice and fresh.”
“Okay, I guess you know what you’re talking about.”
Katy got down on all fours, which felt both strange and natural at the same time. She said, “Okay. When I say ‘go’, we both run to that first table over there.”
The other mouse nodded. “Alright, whatever you say.”
Katy squeaked, “Go!” With that, she ran for the nearest table and slid to a stop. “See that wasn’t so…” She looked around and realized that she was alone. The other mouse was still waiting back at the crack.
She squeaked over to him, “Why didn’t you follow me?!”
He replied, “I got a better idea! Why don’t you get some of the crumbs and bring them back to me!”
“You coward! You’re a big, fat coward, whatever-your-name-is!”
The mouse replied, “My name is Lenny!”
“Lenny is a stupid name, and you’re a coward!”
“Well… I’m not going out there! You’re crazy!”
“Fine, but I’m hungry so you can just stay behind!” She got ready to run to the next table, watching as the feet of the humans walked back and forth.
Lenny squeaked, “Just be careful!”
Katy suddenly darted across the floor and underneath another table. There were a lot of crumbs there and she went right to work, gobbling them up. “Oh… wow! These are so good! I never thought eating off of the floor would be so much fun!”
The little mouse shoved a breadcrumb into her mouth and looked around to see if any other tables had food under them. Her eyes suddenly spotted a woman, who was talking to one of the faculty near a doorway. She blinked and stared at the woman as if in shock.
Slowly, she crawled from under the table into plain view, forgetting all about the stealth that she needed for that situation. Katy whispered to herself, “Is that Mom?”
One of the students suddenly screamed. “There’s a mouse in here!” All of the girls in the room started to franticly run away from where Katy was, and most of the boys started to advance, some wielding cups and jars. The little mouse realized the danger and immediately ran for the crack in the wall.
Several students ran in front of her, trying to catch her in their containers, but she dodged left and right. She would never make it to the crack at this rate. She ran for one of the doors, hoping to slip under it.
The students yelled, “Where did it go?! Quick, it’s over there! Catch it! Catch it!”
Katy’s little heart pounded as she ran with all of her strength. The humans all pursued her franticly. She cried out, “Oh, god! Oh, god!”
Just as she was about to make it under the door, a plastic thermos was slammed down around her! She ran into the side with a smack. Katy shivered in fear as she started sliding across the ground. She grabbed her tail so that it would not get caught. She heard a student shout, “I got it! It almost got away, but I got it!”
Katy looked around nervously and suddenly screamed out the word, “Cupcake!”
All in one moment, she saw everything around her stretch outward like she was being pulled away from the world that she was in. And just like a snapped rubber band, the images were yanked away. All she could see was her father, looking at her with worry. “Are you alright, Katie?”
She tried to catch her breath and said, “I’m okay! I just got scared! I’m alright, really!”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I probably could have gone on with the story, but I panicked. I still understand that life as a mouse is very difficult. I had no idea.”
Mr. Sable smiled. “That’s very good.”
She caught her breath and looked up at her father. “So why was Mom in the story?”
Richard seemed confused at his daughter’s words. “What?”
“Wasn’t that Mom talking to one of the teachers?”
“I don’t know what you mean. I- I didn’t… You saw her?”
“Yeah, at least I think I did. It might have been someone that looked like her.”
Mr. Sable shook his head in bewilderment. “It probably wasn’t her, Katy.”
She looked down. “Oh.”
The father rubbed her cheek lovingly as he replied. “Why don’t you relax tomorrow since it’s Saturday. Take it easy. And Sunday, we’ll go see your mother at the hospital, alright?”
“Thank you, Dad. It was a good story even though I panicked and everything.”
He kissed her forehead and stood to his feet. “That’s why we have the safe word. Have a good night, Sweety.”
Richard was preparing for bed. He entered the bathroom and began brushing his teeth. He thought about what his daughter had said. She probably just misses her mother, he thought. He leaned over to spit, but when he looked back up he saw his wife in the mirror and immediately turned around with a gasp. No one was there. He looked back at the mirror, and saw that he was alone.
His heart raced. His nerves became shot. He whispered, “Cupcake… cupcake.” After a moment of silence, he rinsed his mouth out and went to bed.
Chapter 3 – “The Adventures of Super 10”
“Unhand that death ray, you fiend!” shouted Katy who was pointing at Frank. They were both in capes made out of white and black bed sheets.
Frank was wearing black, because he was the villain. He shouted, holding a toy ray gun, “Never! With this death ray, I’ll rule the world! Don’t even think about getting any closer!”
Katy took a step back. “You won’t get away with this!”
Frank laughed. “There’s nothing you can do, Super 10! This just proves that ten-year-olds cannot be super heroes! Why don’t you just go home and cry?!”
The caped girl started to walk away, but she turned and said, “You forgot one thing, Blue Scar!”
“Oh, yeah?! What’s that?!”
“I didn’t come alone!”
They two kids just stared at each other for a moment in the middle of the front yard. Katy grumbled and yelled, “I said… I didn’t come alone!”
Richard jumped when he realized that was his cue. The father had been sitting on the front porch, taking some notes. He picked up a weasel plush animal, sitting next to him and threw it straight at Frank, bouncing it off of his arm.
Frank began to overdramatically fake a death scene, dropping the fake gun to the ground. “Agh! Not Wonder Weasel! He got me!”
Katy laughed. “Ha! That’s what you get!”
Frank fell to the ground and stopped moving, although he still frequently scratched his nose. Katy picked the weasel up and announced, “And the day is saved once again because of the heroic bravery of Super 10 and Wonder Weasel! Woosh!” She pretended to fly around the yard.
Frank asked, “Can I move now?”
Katy replied, “No! You’re dead!”
Richard chuckled and continued to take notes. He had been enjoying watching his daughter play. It started to give him some fun ideas.
* * *
Richard walked into his daughter’s room later that night. She grinned with excitement. He asked, “What are you so happy about?”
Katy squealed, “You have a new story for me!”
“Who said I did?”
“Don’t mess with me! I know you do! You were thinking about it all day!”
“How could you possibly know that?”
“Cause you were quiet and writing stuff down. You always get ideas when you do that!”
He smiled. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Maybe, I came in here just to say goodnight.”
“Come on, stop it!”
The father sat down at her feet and sighed. “Alright, so I did get a very good idea today. You helped, though.”
“I did? What’s it called?”
“It’s called ‘The Adventures of Super 10.’”
Katy gasped. “Are you serious?! I didn’t think you could do stories like that!”
The father shrugged and answered, “It’s just a story. Why not?”
She began to bounce. “Let’s do it! Let’s do it! I can’t wait!”
Richard nodded and leaned forward looking into her eyes. “Katy, I want you to relax first… then look into my eyes.”
Katy took a deep breath, trying to calm herself down. She blinked and then gazed into his eyes. Reflected off of the surface was what looked like a street with lots of people walking back and forth. Katy walked down the sidewalk with her weasel’s leash in hand. The little thing trotted along cutely only a few feet in front of her. It was a very beautiful day in the big city. People were on their way to work, kids were playing in the park, and everything seemed to be perfect.
She jumped a little when the watch that she was wearing buzzed and beeped. She pressed a little red button on the front, and the image of her father appeared on the screen, wearing really huge, dorky glasses. She laughed. “Hey, Dad! Your in my watch!”
The man replied, “What’s all this daddy nonsense. I’m your most trusted advisor and technology expert, Doctor Gizmo!”
Katy giggled and replied, “That’s a terrible name.”
“This is no time to joke, Katy. I’m detecting a large object, flying straight for the city. It can only be the work of… Hey, let me go! Unhand me! Katy!” She could see Doctor Gizmo struggling with someone right before the screen went out.
She yelled, “Doctor! Are you there?!” There was no reply.
The girl looked at the weasel, which silently gazed back at her with concern. She said, “That sounded bad!” The weasel nodded in agreement.
Suddenly, a large, looming shadow washed over the great city. Katy looked up and saw the tremendous airship, as it blocked out the sun entirely. All of the people in the city stopped as well, staring into the sky at the tremendous object. It was a giant, flying ship. She scowled at the big thing, knowing that it had to be of sinister origin. From the great craft came a very poncey voice, which echoed across every part of the city. “Greetings, citizens! The world will soon belong to me, but not before I destroy you all with my death ray! Have to make an example of somebody! Oh, well! Sorry to do that! Tootles!”
Everyone began to scream in a total panic. Katy shook her fist. “We have to stop him! Let’s hurry!” She picked up her weasel and ran into a conveniently located phone booth. The box was suddenly bursting with light from the inside, and soon, out walked Super 10, the yellow caped, ten-year-old, super hero that everyone loved. She was followed by a caped weasel, now walking on two legs with his arms akimbo. It was Wonder Weasel, her most trusted sidekick.
Super 10 announced, “Come on, Wonder Weasel! Let’s find a way inside that thing!” The power ring on her finger glowed and the little girl zipped right off of the ground. Wonder Weasel held out his hands as a jetpack uncloaked from behind him. He held onto the control bars and blasted off, following Super 10 into the sky.
* * *
Located on the bridge of the great vessel was a tall bald man with a blue scar across his right eye. He sat at a large consol with many monitors all about. He spun around in his chair as he joyfully admitted, “Who’d have thought that causing senseless destruction and mayhem would make world domination so easy?!”
The robotic, monotone voice of his computer answered, “You are a gen-ius, sir. Blue Scar is de-fea-ted by no one.”
“Yes, yes. I am a genius! Isn’t that true… Doctor Gizmo?” He chuckled over to the bound and gagged doctor. “Oh? Nothing to say? Well that’s quite alright. Once your daughter sees that your life is in danger, she will give her power ring to me!” Doctor Gizmo scowled.
The computer announced, “Your e-vil-ness, Su-per 10 has breached do-cking bay three.”
“Oh, really?! Then we shall have to give her a very pleasant welcome. Release the Scarbots!”
* * *
Super 10 and Wonder Weasel carefully snuck through the airship. When they came to a split path, she said, “We better split up. I bet Dad, I mean, Doctor Gizmo is being held somewhere here. Keep a look out for him.” The weasel nodded and ran to the right. Super 10 ran to the left.
A door opened and there stood three chrome-plated robots with a blue scar painted over their heads. They raised their fingers to point at the girl, and laser beams fired out. Super 10 gasped and held up her hand. She was surprised to see that she was able to deflect the lasers back at them. She smiled and ran straight for them and punched one so hard that it flew away into the next room. Another tried to grab her shoulder, but she took hold of the hand and slammed the entire robot into the last one. All three had been defeated.
Super 10 dashed into the next room where she found an elevator. It opened right up as if inviting her in. She thought to herself, It’s almost as if they are letting me right in. Could be a trap.
Even though it seemed dangerous, she walked straight into it. The door closed, and the elevator began to move on its own. “I hope Wonder Weasel is okay,” she muttered to herself.
The elevator stopped, and the doors opened up. There was Blue Scar, standing right across the room from her. She made two, little, ten-year-old fists and shouted, “Blue Scar! I knew it was you!”
The bald man chuckled, “Yes, it is I!”
“I’m gonna take you down, Blue Scar!” She ran towards him quickly, but he just chuckled.
“Not so fast, Super 10!” He pointed over to the restrained Doctor Gizmo. A large death ray was aimed directly at him. Blue Scar held up a remote control, threatening to press the button. Super 10 stopped and realized the severity of the situation.
She said, “I thought you kidnapped him! Let him go so I can defeat you!”
The scarred, bald man seemed perplexed. “Now, why would I let him go if you were going to defeat me afterwards?”
The little girl scratched her head and said, “Oh… yeah. I see what you mean.”
“But nobody has to come to any harm, little girl. All I ask is that you give me that ring of yours. I will let you both go after that.” He grinned and sat back down.
Super 10 whimpered, “But you will take over the world!”
“Details, frivolities, blah… blah… blah. The point is that you and your doctor here will be unharmed. Take it or leave it.”
Super10 looked at the ring around her finger and cringed. Was she really to give up all of that power just so that Blue Scar would win? Just then, she saw that Wonder Weasel was sneaking over to Doctor Gizmo. She grinned and said, “No! I won’t do it!”
Blue Scar was surprised. “You what?! But what about Doctor Gizmo?!”
Weasel was franticly removing the doctor’s bindings. Super 10 was relieved to see them sneaking away from the death ray. She said, “Prepare yourself! I’m going to take you out once and for all!”
“Oh, what a pity! Seems you leave me with no choice! He held up the button and looked over to the death ray. A look of shock washed over him. “What the?! Where is the doctor?!”
Super10 shouted, “Somewhere safe, but in a moment, your gonna need a doctor!” Blue Scar looked at the girl pitifully as she dashed over to him, giving him a punch in his gut. He flew into his computers and groaned in defeat. “I’ll get you next time, Super 10!”
Wonder Weasel and Doctor Gizmo ran around the corner to meet her. She jumped up and down and cheered. “We did it!”
Doctor Gizmo picked her up and kissed her on the cheek. “You did it! Good job, Super 10!”
Katy smiled as her father held her. She blinked and looked around, realizing that she was back in her bedroom. “Dad, you were in the story!”
Richard nodded. “I thought you’d enjoy seeing me there. It was just a character, though.”
“That was so much fun! I fought a super villain and saved the day!”
“You did a great job, Sweety.”
“So, we are gonna see Mom tomorrow?”
“Yes. Just get some sleep. We’ll head over around noon.”
“Thanks, Dad. I like visiting her. Goodnight.”
Richard leaned over and kissed her forehead. “Goodnight.”
Chapter 4 – “Elizabeth”
Nurse Fay walked with Richard and Katy down the hospital corridors. She said to them, “She’s actually in very good health. Every now and then her pulse goes up, but it always comes down shortly after. We aren’t really sure why that is. It happened briefly Friday night.”
Richard remembered the vision of her that he saw on Friday. He asked, “But other than that?”
“Other than that, she is very easy to care for. She’s just not waking up. Comas can last any number of years before the victim wakes up, but sadly that does not always happen.”
“We know all about that. Just keep doing what your doing.”
Katy asked, “Do you read her stories at night? She might like it if you do and wake up someday.”
Nurse Fay smiled. “Actually, we do. At least just recently, we have been having volunteers read stories to our coma patients. Some believe it can stimulate the brain and speed up recovery. I figured that it wouldn’t hurt.”
“That’s very good. Stories are the best medicine there is.”
Fay opened the door and let the two family members in. There on the hospital bed was Elizabeth Sable, Richard’s wife and Katy’s mother. She seemed just to be asleep, however she had been asleep for nearly two years.
Richard smiled at the nurse and said, “Thank you very much. May we have some time alone?”
The nurse stepped back. “Take all the time you need. If you need any assistance, just buzz me.”
“Thank you.” The nurse left.
Katy stepped around the bed and sat in a chair. She leaned over and looked at her mother. She thought her mother had a very pretty face. The little girl said, “Mom? Can you hear me? It’s me, Katy.” Richard sat down near the window and just watched. Katy continued, “I really miss you. If we could, we’d have you stay our place. It’s a lot more fun there.
“Every night lately, my dad tells me these amazing stories that are real! You can actually see them and feel them! It’s really amazing! If you come back, you can see what I mean. He can tell you stories as well.
“Oh, and also, I saw you the other day! I was a mouse, and a woman that looked just like you was in it. It startled me so much that I had to use the safe word.” Richard covered his mouth as he listened. “Dad said he didn’t mean to, but it looked so much like you that I got distracted.”
Katy leaned over and kissed her mother on the forehead. “I miss you a lot. I really wish that it had been you. Please get better and come back home.” Katy walked over to her father, and they hugged.
Richard said, “That was wonderful, Sweety. Mind if I have a moment alone?”
“Sure, Dad. I’ll just wait outside.”
“Thank you, Sweety.”
Katy waved and left the room. Richard sat down on the side of the bed and ran his hand through her hair. “Hello, Cupcake. I’m back again. I’ve missed you more than… Well, I don’t think there’s a word big enough for it. Let’s just say that if you ever decided to wake up again, it’ll end up being the best day of my life.”
Richard went quiet for a time. He just looked at her, remembering all the times that he had spent with her. Finally, he said, “I’ve been taking her to the storyscape. Only started about three weeks ago.” He chuckled. “It’s the only thing she looks forward to anymore.”
The man sat up a bit and rubbed his head. “She knows it’s not real. I mean, I told her that it was just a story, but I guess just being in such fantastic places can make real life seem a little boring. She’s doing okay outside of it anyways… not like you. You could never get enough of it.”
Richard paused as a knot in his stomach churned against him. “She says that she saw you. I told her it was nothing, but the truth is that I think I’ve been seeing you too. Sometimes in the mirror, something at a glance, and sometimes it feels like your standing right behind me.” He choked a bit and went silent.
Richard leaned forward, looking at her closely. “Are you still in there, Cupcake?”
Elizabeth did nothing but breath. He placed his hand to her eyes and lifted her lids. He stares into her vacant eyes and looked deeply into them. “Cupcake?”
Suddenly, he heard the voice of his wife come from behind, “Fiiind me.”
Startled, Richard turned around. There she was standing before him in a gray skirt. In fact, there was no color in her at all. The man’s heart began to race as she stepped up close to him and said, “Fiiind me. Please, fiiind me.” There was a severe urgency in her voice.
Richard tried to talk, but he was completely lacking in breath. He was not even breathing at all. He gasped several times before his vision faded into nothing, and he dropped to the floor with a thud.
The next thing that he remembered was a very bright light, shining right in his eyes. He lifted his head to shield himself. The doctor clicked off his light pen and said, “He’s awake. Mr. Sable, can you hear me?”
The voice of Katy rang out, “Dad, are you okay?!”
The confused father answered, “I’m fine. I can hear you both of you. What happened?”
The doctor explained, “You passed out, Mr. Sable. Your daughter found you laying on the floor next to your wife’s bed.”
“Where am I?”
“Your on a gurney in the hallway. Can you sit up?”
Richard raised himself with little difficulty. He saw Katy looking at him with so much worry. He told her, “I’m fine Katy.”
The doctor suggested, “Perhaps you should stay here for a bit; we can check to see what may have caused it.”
“No, that’s okay. I think I was just upset about my wife. I really miss her.”
Katy added, “That’s true. He talks about her all the time.”
The physician nodded. “Alright, that’s up to you. Although, I do recommend that you get some rest tonight.”
As father and daughter exited the hospital, Katy asked, “Are you sure you’re okay, Dad?”
“Yeah, I’m just a little out of it. Maybe we shouldn’t do a story tonight.”
“That’s okay. It’s a school night, anyways.” The two left the hospital and went home.
* * *
Later: Richard lay back on a comfortable, black couch. A psychologist named Doctor Rule sat in a nearby chair with a clipboard and pen. He asked him, “So, Mr. Sable, I take it you have come to me tonight with a problem.”
Richard nodded. “A growing one. I don’t normally come to places like this, but I am not sure what else to do.”
“That’s quite alright. You know that I am here to help.”
“Um… thank you.”
“Now, tell me everything from the beginning.”
Richard squirmed about, trying to get better snug into the couch. He said, “It’s about my wife, Elizabeth.”
“The coma victim, yes?”
“Yes, that’s right. You see, I’ve been seeing her from time to time. I think it might be because… because…”
“Because of what, Mr. Sable?”
“Because I… was… the cause of her coma.”
“Hmm… Interesting. How is it that you caused it? As I was told, the cause was unknown. There were no external injuries, no sign of drug overdose… nothing at all.”
“You see, Doctor Rule, I have this strange ability. I call it storyscaping. I can look into someone’s eyes and let them experience a story that I create for them, as if they were really there. It was something I did with my wife quite a lot.”
“Fascinating.” The man began to jot down notes more often than he had been at first. “You say that the person you do this with, truly feels like he is there?”
“Yes. That is the best way I can explain it. I come up with a story I want to tell, and then I draw them into the storyscape. From there, they can interact with the story, and I control the environment and people. I also keep them safe. Nothing is ever truly dangerous as long as I am in control from the background.”
“But you said you cannot control the… I guess you could say ‘traveler’s’ decisions. Could they not do something that would cause them danger?”
“Not really, but it can get scary at times. My wife and me came up with a safe word. If a person said this word, they would be ripped out of the storyscape. It’s very intense to do it this way, however. It breaks the flow of the story.”
“So you and your wife did this? I think I see where this might be heading. May I ask what the word was?”
“It was the pet name for my wife. A small round cake that you make in batches with frosting on top.”
“Yes, that’s it.”
Doctor Rule scribbled some more notes. “So you did this exercise with your wife often?”
“She couldn’t get enough! She even started writing stories in her free time about her adventures. I would often joke about it being a plagiarized version of what I came up with, but I really didn’t mind.”
“So, if I may ask, what really happened to make you feel responsible for her coma?”
“Well, one night she was asking me why I was never able to join her in those storyscapes. I mean, I had cast myself into the story before, but it wasn’t really me. It was just a character that represented me. What she was asking was why I personally couldn’t join her in the storyscape.
“I honestly didn’t know the answer. I had never even thought about it before. I didn’t see anything wrong with the idea, but I just didn’t know how to go about doing it. Little did I know that she already had a plan. She had brought a mirror to bed that night.”
The doctor cocked his head as he scribbled. “A mirror?”
Richard nodded. “Yes. The plan was for me to stare into my own eyes and draw myself into the storyscape, then she would look into my eyes as well and join me there, assuming the safe word would work for both of us.”
“Did the mirror do its job, Mr. Sable?”
“Yes. It worked just as she said. We were both transported to a black and white, 1920’s, movie universe, which I had come up with beforehand. It was strange being there. I tell you that I really felt like it was absolutely real.”
“We were two undercover cops trying to bust some sort of illegal, alcohol, smuggling ring. I had the whole story set up beforehand. The only change I made was that I was now apart of it.”
“So what went wrong?”
“As the story progressed, some things were out of place. People acted strangely. And one part really threw me for a loop: a group of bad guys, that I had invented for later, showed up in a bar scene at the wrong time. They were looking for us in the story, and they shouldn’t have even known about us yet.
“I told my wife that we should try and sneak out, not because they were there, but because they were not supposed to be there. But when we exited the bar, we were suddenly surrounded. It was an ambush. They pointed guns at us and everything.”
“My wife was never scared. She thought I had everything under control, but the truth was that I had lost control. I was no longer running the story because I was playing in it. My own fears were turning against me. I mean, the very idea that something could go wrong was making it go wrong.
“She reached for her gun and tried to take them out in some sort of heroic movie-esc act. I tried to stop her, but they shot her before I could. She was dead in one hit. I immediately called out the safe word, but when I returned to the real world, I found her asleep… and she never woke up.”
“That’s very tragic, Mr. Sable. And for this, you feel that you are responsible?”
Richard nodded and then shrugged. “I know that I wasn’t really sure what would happen, but still, I feel terrible about it. I just can’t help but think that if I didn’t have this ability, she would be fine right now.”
The doctor placed his clipboard down on a nearby table and looked him right in the eyes. “You’re right. It is your fault.”
Richard was surprised. “What?”
“If it wasn’t for you, your wife would be fine right now.” The doctor stood to his feet and walked over to a closet.
Richard defended himself, “Now, just wait a minute. I didn’t come here to hear stuff like this.”
The doctor opened up the closet and looked back. “So what did you want to hear, Mr. Sable? Did you want me to tell you that it was not really your fault? Did you want me to give you a hug and let you know that everything will be alright? Perhaps just to move on with your life and forget about the woman? Oh, no, Mr. Sable. Elizabeth’s condition is your fault and you will be punished for it. Katy could be motherless for the rest of her life because of you.”
Richard stood and shouted, “I didn’t know! How could I have known?!”
Doctor Rule produced a shotgun from the closet and aimed it at Richard. The latter gasped and nearly fell backwards. Rule slowly approached, “You don’t deserve to live, Mr. Sable! Accept your punishment like a man!”
Richard shouted, “Cupcake!”
The image of the doctor was yanked from his vision and he found himself falling out of his own bed in a jittery mess. He tossed the mirror away in the process. Slowly, he got himself up and looked at the clock. It read, “4:20 AM.” He immediately stumbled into the bathroom to toss water onto his face.
Chapter 5 – “The Frightened Rock Giants”
The cafeteria at school was bustling as it always was at lunchtime. Frank, Samantha, and Katy sat together at the same table. Frank asked, “Is there something wrong, Katy? You’ve just seemed out of it all day.”
Samantha added, “No tall tales for us this time?”
Katy peered up from her beans. “Yesterday wasn’t very fun. We went to go see Mom at the hospital, and my dad passed out. It kinda scared me.”
Both of the other children were surprise to hear the news. Frank asked, “What happened? Is he okay? He looked fine last Saturday.”
“He says he’s fine, but I know him better. He just doesn’t want me to worry. As far as passing out, I think he just misses Mom a lot.”
Samantha said, “Well, that’s understandable. Still… passing out? Who passes out from missing someone?”
Frank suggested, “He might have had some sort of bug or something. Did the doctors have a look at him?”
“The doctor said he should just get some rest. He didn’t say anything about a bug.”
Samantha made a subtle scoff and commented, “Probably all that traveling you all been doing.”
Frank scowled at her. Katy ignored Samantha and said, “Also, this morning, he looked really out of it. It was like he didn’t sleep enough. I hope he wasn’t up all night.”
The boy seemed concerned. “That doesn’t sound very good.”
“He still told me he was gonna come up with a new adventure for me tonight. I kinda hope he does, cause they always make him happy… and me too!”
Samantha rolled her eyes. “Oh, for crying…”
Frank decided to ignore Samantha as well. He smiled at Katy and said, “I hope you have a great time.”
Katy replied, “If it’s anything like it’s been, it’ll be wonderful!”
* * *
Katy was just finishing up her math homework. It was always a struggle to do it. Her father had made an arrangement with her: she could only hear a new story once she had finished all of her homework. However, the anticipation of the next story always made it a chore.
Richard leaned into her room with a smile. Katy saw him and grinned. “I’m almost done!”
“I’m not bothering you, am I?”
“No, I’m just putting the finishing touches on everything. I’m pretty sure all these answers are right. I worked them all out on notebook paper and everything. You can check it if you wanna.”
“No, you do pretty good with math. Sweety, I wanted to ask you about the woman you saw in ‘The Hungry Mouse.’”
Katy paused. “The one that looked like Mom?”
“Yeah… How much did it look like her?”
“Well, I kinda wasn’t sure as much when you said it wasn’t her, but at the time, I really thought it was her. She even seemed to wear the same clothing that she liked.”
“Did she look at you?”
“No, she was talking to a teacher. She didn’t even know I was there. Why are you asking me this?”
“No reason. I guess I just like hearing about her.”
Katy stopped what she was doing. She stood up, walked over to her father, and hugged him tightly. “We both miss her. Maybe she will come back, you know?”
Richard returned the embrace. It took everything that he had not to start crying. “I hope so. Thanks for the hug.”
She smiled and went back to her work. “Do you have a new story for me?”
“Yep! You finish up, and as promised, I will deliver.”
“Give me five more minutes!”
* * *
Richard pulled the covers up to his daughter’s chin. “You ready, Sweety?”
Katy stirred with excitement. “What’s it called? You always come up with awesome names!”
“Well, I call this one ‘The Frightened Rock Giants.”
Katy’s eyes went wide. “What a strange title!”
Richard chuckled and asked, “Well, are you ready?”
“Oh, you don’t even have to ask me that anymore! I’m always ready for this!”
The father laughed, but soon calmed down. He said, “Katy, look into my eyes.”
With excitement, Katy looked into her father’s eyes. Even though the room was dim, she saw daylight reflected within his pupils. She was drawn to the light and soon found that the light was a field. It was open and beautiful. There were pretty white flowers all around. A breeze wafted around her, causing the flowers and grass to move along with it.
She sniffed the air and smiled. It was a very pretty place. There was a surreal quality to it as well, a very inviting one. It was like entering a magical place, and she felt enormously at peace there.
The tranquility was soon interrupted by a very noticeable rumbling under her feet. Katy turned around and saw what can only be described as a walking, rock giant. It looked like a person in form, but was entirely made up of rocks, the movements of which seemed very unnatural for what she knew of rocks. She stepped backwards in fear, but did not run away.
The rock giant stopped just before her and peered down at the little girl. In a deep, booming voice, it asked, “What are you doing within the domain of the Fire Lords?”
Katy gulped and nervously asked in return, “Are you a Fire Lord?”
The giant’s stony eyebrows shifted upwards. It replied, “Of course, I am not a Fire Lord! They are those who I serve! We giants fear them greatly!”
Katy was worried of anything feared by something this big and scary. She said, “That sounds very creepy. Are the Fire Lords scarier than you?”
“They are the scariest things alive!”
“What do they look like?”
“They are red with menacing eyes. They have long ears that can spray molten hot fire if they are angered. We giants fear them for this reason.”
The little girl started to feel for the monster. She said, “You poor thing. Nobody should be scared all the time. I’d like to have a look at these creatures.”
“You are a very brave girl. My name is Toil, what is yours?”
“Katy, if you are as brave as you say you are, please come with me. I will take you to the terrifying Fire Lords!”
The little girl smiled at the fearful creature and followed him. “Thank you. I hope I am not getting myself into trouble.”
She was taken to a town filled with those rock giants. Katy noticed that they all seemed to be working very hard. Some were building, some were digging, and others seemed to be carrying. None of them looked like they are having any fun at all. Katy felt even worse for them, realizing that they were being used as slaves.
“Toil,” she asked, “where are all the Fire Lords?”
“The Fire Lords stay inside and are made to feel comfortable at all times. If we do not give them all that they want and desire, they will unleash their fires upon us, and we will be melted down into nothing.”
“I don’t like these guys. They sound really mean.”
“I will take you to see the Great Fire Lord. He is the leader of them all. Follow me, brave girl.”
Katy followed. As she passed by one of the brick buildings, she stopped when she heard a strange woman’s voice calling, “Fiiind me! Fiiind me!” Katy stopped in her tracks. The voice sent a shiver down her spine. Slowly, she peered through the doorway. Her eyes went wide when she saw here mother standing there. “Fiiind me!”
Katy muttered, “Mom?”
She was suddenly turned around to face Toil, who looked at her sternly. “Katy, I asked that you follow me.”
Katy blinked and looked back into the house. Nothing was in there but a table and two chairs. She faced the large creature once again and apologized, “I’m sorry. I got detracted. I’ll follow you for real this time.”
“Hmm. Very good. Come this way.”
The rock giant led her to a large house. Many of the rock giants were gathered around performing a large number of (what Katy thought to be) unnecessary maintenance tasks to the estate. Toil stood near the door and said, “Go inside. Gimble, the Great Fire Lord, is waiting.”
Katy walked inside. It was a narrow hallway that led to a curtain. She pulled the curtain apart, revealing a lavishly decorated room. Rock giants littered the floor, cleaning and doing other various tasks. On the throne at the end was what they all seemed to fear. It looked like a tiny, red, adorable, bunny. That can’t be him, she thought.
The red bunny shouted in a cute high-pitched voice, “Ah! A new visitor to my town! Come forth and give worship to your new ferocious master!”
Katy approached the leader and said, “I am not sure why they are worshiping you. You are all cuddly and cute looking.”
The rock giants all gasped at the rebellious words of the newcomer. The apparent Gimble replied, “You have no idea who you are saying such things to, my dear! I am ferocious! I am terrible! These giants tremble at my very voice!” It was true; they were indeed trembling.
Katy stood before him and smiled, “But your voice is high-pitched and kinda squeaky. And you are short with long ears. You look just like the bunny rabbits from back home!”
Gimble looked enraged. A rock giant ran behind her and spoke on her behalf. “She is not of this land, sire. She knows not what she says. Have mercy on her!”
The Fire Lord hopped off of his throne and shouted, “Be gone, slave! I will talk to her myself.” The giant left her, anxious of her fate.
Gimble casually walked around the girl. She liked that he has to force his feet up high to walk, because they were so big and bunny like. He said, “You are not from around here so I will give you a second chance. You see, as these rock giants already know, I am a very terrifying creature indeed.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes, it is so! I am menacing! I am vengeful! I can throw molten, hot fire from my ears! You would never survive such an attack.”
“You can really do that?”
“Yes. The giants know it. And now you do. So, if you wish to live, you must do what I say and become one of my slaves. Perhaps you could build me a fountain. Yes! I would like a fountain with some sort of statue upon it of me spitting into a pool. That is what I will have you make for me, slave. So, get to work!”
She just giggled and stood there. Gimble huffed, “I said, get to work!”
“But you haven’t showed me yet.”
“Showed you what?!”
“The fire thing. You said you can throw molten, hot fire from your ears.”
A rock giant pled to the girl from inside the room, “Do not tempt fate! If it is true, he will destroy you within his example!”
Gimble nodded. “The giant speaks the truth. The only way to show you would be to destroy you. So you should not want to make that risk. So, off you go. Make me that fountain post haste!”
The girl did nothing but smile. The bunny started to steam. “Why are you still staring at me like that?!”
“Because I don’t believe you.”
All of the giants in the room seemed to panic. It was if the girl had a death wish. Gimble huffed, “You do realize that if I show you, then you will die!”
“Yes, but I think it would be cool to look at all the same.”
“Okay then! You have left me with no choice! I will have to destroy you to prove my point! Come, let us go somewhere private and do this. The sight of a little girl being burned to a crisp will be too much for these giants to bear.”
“Why not do it here?”
“I just told you!”
“I think they can handle it. Just look how big and strong they are.”
“Trust me, they are too weak to handle such a sight!”
“Well, I am not going to build your fountain, or go to a secret room with you. So you have to prove to me right here that you can do such a thing.”
Gimble looked about. The rock giants looked on fearfully at what he would do. He looked at the girl, seeing that she was not going to give in. He took a deep breath, pointed his ears in her direction. Half of the giants covered their eyes. However, the bunny just sighed and fell to his rear. “Okay, you got me. I can’t do it.”
Katy giggled, “I knew it!”
The giants all became angry. One of them shouted, “You said you could melt us down into nothing! You lied to us and made us work! You will pay for this, Gimble. All other Fire Lords will as well!”
Gimble gasped and ran behind his throne as they all advanced. Katy ran between them and shouted, “Stop! Leave him alone!”
A giant growled and said, “But he was mean to us! He made us do things!”
“He didn’t make you do anything! He lied to you and you all fell for it! You didn’t even check to see if he could do it! You are just as much to blame as he was!”
Gimble peeked around and shouted, “Yeah! Listen to her!”
Katy turned around and sneered at the bunny. “And you! You took advantage of those big, lovable, stupid giants! You ought to be ashamed!”
“Well, what else was I supposed to do?! They were scary!”
“Did you even try being nice to them? I bet you didn’t.”
Gimble looked down and muttered under his breath, “No.”
“You both are capable of getting along fine if you’re just honest with each other. Why don’t you gather all the Fire Lords and rock giants together and have a big talk. You know, work together and get along. I don’t see any reason why you should be at odds.”
The rock giants still growled at the bunny. Gimble remained hidden behind the throne. He yelled, “Listen to her! I will talk to the others of my kind! I am their leader; they will listen to me! We will no longer make you our slaves!”
Katy nodded to the giants. “You heard him! Come on, you are all partly to blame for this. Give them another chance.”
The giants talked amongst themselves for a bit and finally said, “We will agree to those terms, but in the future, we will not be so gullible.”
Katy smiled happily as the bunny stepped out from behind the throne. She crossed her arms in satisfaction, seeing that there may be a chance for the two to get along. As the story seemed to fade away from her eyes, she could not help but think about how awesome it would be to have Gimble as a pet.
Richard smiled. “Did you enjoy the story?”
“I did! Wow, I can’t believe big, strong rock giants like that could be controlled by something so small and adorable. That was so funny! I hope they can work out their differences and get along now.”
“Don’t worry, I think they will be just fine.” He kissed her and stood up to leave.
Katy stopped him. “Dad?”
“Um… I dunno if you knew it or not, but… I kinda think I saw Mom in the story. She was saying something about finding her.”
Richard frowned. He was not sure what to say. Katy continued, “It didn’t really stop the story, but I was just worried about you. You really miss her, don’t you?”
Richard found it difficult to smile after hearing that. “More than I am able to express, Sweety. I’ve got to go to bed. Goodnight, Katy.”
“Goodnight, Dad. I love you.”
“I love you too.” He left her room and went to his bathroom. He picked up his toothbrush, but before he could do anything, he just broke out into tears. He muttered, “Oh, god I miss you, Cupcake. I’m gonna find you, I promise.” He was unable to do anything for a long while. He just stood there, holding his toothbrush, and cried silently.
Chapter 6 – “A Dangerous Search”
Katy slipped on her backpack and walked over to the front door. Richard asked from the kitchen, “Is it here yet?”
“No, Dad. I think the bus is a little late this time.”
“You didn’t miss it, did you?”
“I hope not. I usually hear it before I make it to the door; the bus is really loud.”
Richard approached her and said, “Katy, I hope you have a good day. I love you a whole lot; you know that, right?”
Katy was a little surprised. “Of course, I do! I love you too! Are you okay, Dad?”
“I’m fine, don’t worry about me.”
“Are you gonna have a story for me tonight?”
Richard seemed a little evasive. “Maybe. We’ll see. I’ve got a lot to take care of today.”
“Oh… I understand.”
The distinct sound of the bus approached the front of the house followed by its impatient honk. Katy opened the door and waved to her father. “I’ll see ya later, Dad! Hope everything goes alright!”
Richard stood at the doorway and made sure that she made it onto the bus with no trouble. He answered, “See ya later, Sweety!” When the bus was out of sight, he closed the door and went into his bedroom.
Carefully, Richard began to make up his bed. As he did so, he began talking to himself. “It would be called ‘A Dangerous Search.’ It was a story about a man, a man named Richard. He had lost his wife, but he knew that she still lived somewhere in that city. There would be little to stop him from finding her.”
Richard tucked the top covers around the pillow as he continued, “He didn’t have much to go on at first, but soon he started receiving these letters. They all said the same thing: ‘Find me.’ It didn’t take much to realize whom they were from. Someone had his wife, and he was going to find who it was no matter what the cost would be.”
Richard picked up a mirror from the side table. He lay down upon his bed, getting as comfortable as he could. He looked into the mirror and said, “Richard walked down the back streets of town, hands in his pockets, and a mission on his mind. There was a restaurant nearby. He stopped and looked through the window.”
Richard could see the hustle and bustle of people within the building. The entire scene was completely lacking in color, something he had not seen in a very long time. He opened the door and proceeded inside. No one seemed to notice him. There was not really anything special about Richard.
There was a bar at one end. Richard knew that there was no alcohol sold here, but some people were sitting there, eating. He sat down on one of the stools and signaled a waiter. “Hey… over here.”
The waiter approached with a smile. “Yes, sir. Is there anything I can get for you tonight?”
“Actually, I’m looking for someone.” He produced a picture from his jacket and showed it to the man. “Have you seen this woman?”
The waiter examined the picture carefully. “I don’t think I have, sir.”
The man sitting next to him asked, “Can I see it?”
Richard turned and smiled. “Justin! I didn’t see you there next to me.”
Justin chuckled. The chubby fellow reached out to shake his hand. “I’m surprised to see you around here. How long has it been?”
“Two years, I think.”
“Well, you’ll be sad to hear that nothing’s really changed. Who are you lookin’ for?” Richard flipped the picture around for him to see.“Isn’t that your…”
Richard finished the sentence, “My wife.”
Justin seemed confused. “Richard, I thought she died. We were all there that day.”
“I’m not so sure. I’m receiving letters from her.” Richard showed him one of the letters.
“‘Find me?’ How do you know they are from her?”
“I just know, Justin. Is there anything you can do to help me out?”
The tubby man sighed. “This is a dangerous city, Richard. If your wife is being held somewhere, chances are that whoever has her won’t wanna give her up.”
“I don’t care.”
“I didn’t think you would. Do you mind if I keep this picture?”
“If it will help.”
Justin stood up from the bar and tossed some money down. “Care to go for a walk?”
Richard joined him outside and walked with him down the sidewalk. “Where we going?”
“Where it’s at is about a block away from here; what the place is is none of your business.”
“I don’t want it to be my business anyways. You still hangin’ with the same crowd?”
“There’s worse crowds than this, my friend.”
“Just do what I say, okay?”
“You won’t have any problems with me, Justin.”
Justin led him to an old, worn-down, apartment building. “Wait here. I’m gonna go talk to some people. Try not to get ambushed.”
Richard frowned. “I’m not in the mood for jokes right now, Justin.”
“Duly noted. Hang in there.”
Richard waited nervously. He honestly felt closer to his goal than he had ever been. Justin was a contact of his back when he had gone on that mission two years ago with his wife. It was the same mission that cost Elizabeth her life, or so he thought at the time. Justin was not a bad guy, but more the type to play the field to his advantage. He always felt safer this way, and in truth, he probably was.
It took some time before Justin returned. It may have only seemed longer, because Richard had been pretty nervous about the response. The chubby man approached and held up a piece of paper. “This is gonna get you killed, you know?”
Richard tried to grab it, but Justin yanked it away and said, “They know your comin’. They know you’re here, and they know your comin’. Think about it: your captive wife sent you a later. You thought this would be easy?”
Richard huffed, “I don’t care. Who are they?”
“Same bunch of thugs that ambushed you. The whole bunch is led by Jimmy the Squirt. You probably won’t have to deal with him personally, though.”
“Where, Justin?! Where are they keeping her?!”
“There’s a warehouse not far from here. It’s always a warehouse, isn’t it?” He handed Richard the note. “This is the address. They’re gonna kill you, Richard. I know she means the world to you, but I don’t think going in there guns blazing is gonna do either of you any good.”
“Thanks, Justin, but I don’t have a choice. I’ll see you later.” Richard began walking away towards the address.
Justin sighed and called to him, “Just don’t come back dead, Rich!”
Soon: Richard snuck up to the warehouse. He reached into his jacket and produced a pistol. He slowly made his way around the building, looking for an entrance. After making four rights, he realized that there was no entrance. Richard started to become aware of where he was. He cursed his own mind for playing the trick. He knew that he was starting to loose control of the storyscape, but he was too close to go back.
The warehouse still had windows up high. Richard holstered his weapon and ran over to a dumpster that was against the building. He crawled on top of it and peered inside of the place. His stomach tightened at the sight of Elizabeth, his wife, gagged and tied to a chair. There were thugs all around her, pacing around idly, waiting for him to come in and get killed. He counted six of them.
As carefully and quietly as he could, Richard attempted to pry open the window. It worked. Nobody heard him do it. There was enough space for him to crawl through. All he had to do was drop down and take those men out without his wife getting killed… again.
Thud! One of the men shouted, “Did any of you just hear that?!”
Richard pulled out his pistol again and pressed himself into the left side of a stack of crates. He was lucky that he did not sprain his ankle with a fall like that. It seemed like he fell a lot farther than it looked: another trick of his own mind working against him.
A man answered, “I’ll check it out.”
Richard could hear someone slowly moving towards his position. There was no time to wait any longer. He had to act, and he had to act right then. Swiftly, he moved out of cover, aimed his pistol only a few inches from the investigating thug, and fired a bullet straight into his head. The man flailed and fell to his back. There was a guard just behind him raising his weapon. Richard shot him too, sending him to the floor as well.
A man from behind the crate yelled, “He’s here! Richard is here! Somebody put a bullet in him!”
Richard took a quick peek from around the crate. He saw his wife in the chair. He did not want her to be caught in a crossfire. The nervous man picked up the body of the first thug that he killed and walked over back behind the crates. He fired one shot around the right side and then threw the body out. Guns began to fire at the corpse; Richard ran around the other side and pulled his wife by the back of her chair out of the center of the room. They saw him and tried to shoot one or the other, but missed.
Elizabeth looked at him with fear in her eyes. He whispered, “This won’t take long. It’ll be okay.”
One of the men said, “That was pretty clever, Richard, but you already know you’ve lost this one!”
Richard peeked around the corner once, and ran out of cover. He saw one of them and shot him. The others opened fire. Before Richard could get to the other stack of crates, he took one in his left shoulder. Despite the pain, he thought to himself, Only three left. He slowly made his way around the stack.
A thug shouted, “You’re no hero, Richard! You can’t save her! You don’t have it in ya!”
Richard tried to keep his breathing as quiet as he could. He was counting down from twenty in his mind. They were right around the corner, and he only had three bullets in his gun.
The thug continued, “It was over before it even began! Your wife belongs to us now! Time to let her go!”
…Four, three, two, one… Richard spun out of cover. He saw all three of them standing there, turning to shoot. He aimed his weapon for what seemed like an eternity, even though it was only a moment. Bang! Bang! Bang! They all dropped.
Richard ran for his wife and removed her gag. She cried, “Richard! Oh god, it’s you! You came for me!”
He worked at untying her ropes. “It’s okay. I’m getting you out of here. It’s over.” As soon as she was free, she embraced him. He held her close and wept, but it was only moments into the embrace that he started to realize that something was off.
She cried, “Richard! Oh, Richard! You found me!”
He pulled her away and promptly said, “I got your messages. Do you remember the safe word?”
She nodded. “Of course, I do!”
Elizabeth stepped back and shouted, “Cupcake!” Nothing happened.
Richard just stood there confused. “It didn’t work. Why didn’t it work?”
“I can’t go back? But honey, you came all this way to save me. Why wouldn’t I get to go back with you? Isn’t that what you really wanted?” There was a distinct level of insincerity in her voice.
Richard stepped back and frowned. “Oh, god. This isn’t happening.”
Elizabeth grinned and said, “Did you think it would be that easy? Did you think you could just plan my escape with such simplicity?”
He groaned, “You’re not my wife.”
“Of course, I am. I can be your wife whenever you want me to be. All you have to do is use the mirror, Richard. You don’t even have to bother with the thugs and the rescue.”
Richard dropped to his knees and cupped his face. “My… god! This isn’t happening! I don’t want you! I want my real wife!”
“She’s dead, Richard. She died because you put her in the way of a bullet. But I can be yours whenever you want.”
“Now that’s no way to talk to your wife! Don’t you still love me?! Don’t you want to spend time with me anymore?! It’s been so long, Richard!”
Richard stood up and pushed her back. “I said, shut up!”
She fell back and cried, “Well, fine! If you don’t love me then you can go to hell! That’s where you deserve to go anyways!”
She picked up a pistol from one of the fallen criminals and aimed it at him. He shouted, “Cupcake!”
All too quickly, he was yanked out of the storyscape and thrown back into reality. It was with so much force that he tossed the mirror clear across the room, shattering it against a wall. “Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!”
“Dad?!” came the voice of his startled daughter.
He saw her staring at him in shock. “Katy! What are you doing here? Didn’t you leave for school?!”
She trembled, “It’s 4 PM! I got back an hour ago! What’s wrong with you?!”
Richard looked at the clock just to confirm that somehow he had spent the entire day within the storyscape. He had been in there a while, but it did not seem like it had been that long. He looked at Katy, and realized that he had some explaining to do. There was no more time for secrets. She had to know the truth.
“Sweety…” He released a long sorrowful sigh. “We need to have a talk.”
Chapter 7 – “The Truth”
Richard had explained the incident with his wife, omitting a few of the violent details. Katy did not look like she had fully accepted it. This was a part of her father that she never really knew. Richard could see that it was definitely scary to her. “I’ll understand if you don’t like me much after this, but I assure you, I did not know it would happen.”
Katy asked, “Then what happened today? I came home and called for you. I only came in here when I heard you screaming.”
“I was trying to find her. Sweety, it hasn’t just been you who has been seeing her. I’ve been seeing her outside of the storyscape. She’s calling me. I thought that I could go back in and save her. Turns out that the whole thing was just another story. I saved a character, not my real wife.”
“So… what if you really did find her.” Katy looked hopeful. “What would happen? Would she just wake up in the hospital?”
Richard sighed. “I don’t know.”
“What if she died again?! Would she never come back?!”
“I don’t know.”
“Why can’t you find her?! Is there any way to find my real mom?!”
“Katy, when I am on the outside, I have control over everything in the story. When I go inside, all my fears become a reality there. My own mind works against me. I can’t keep it under control. I only found her today, because I had planned on it. Now that I think of it, it would have never worked.”
“What about me, Dad?”
Richard was baffled by that response. “What do you mean?”
“What if I went in looking for her? You could stay outside and stay in control.”
Richard snapped, “Out of the question!”
“It’s too dangerous in there! That story was full of criminals! It was for adults!”
“Forget it! I’m the only one who can find her!”
Katy began to sniffle. She was not used to being yelled at by her father. “Well, I’m sorry! I just miss her!”
Richard rubbed his face in a difficult attempt to calm himself down. “I know. I know. I’m sorry. Katy, we both miss her. And if there is a way to bring her back, aside from putting you in danger, I’ll find it.”
“But… what about you?”
“What about me, Katy?”
“Aren’t you in danger when you go to that place?”
Richard went quiet. Yes, he was in danger there, and he knew it. It was something that he tried not to think about. His daughter asked again, “Dad, what about you?”
“I guess that I’m not completely safe there. But I just wanted to find her so badly.”
Katy hugged him and said, “Don’t go there! I don’t wanna lose you too!”
The words were a curse to his ears, but they may have also been his blessing. The truth was that she was absolutely right. If he continued to try, he might end up just like Elizabeth, and where would Katy be after that? The father hugged her and began to tear up. “You’re right. I’m sorry, Katy. I should have never tried.”
Katy looked up at him and said, “We’ll talk about it, okay? If there is a way to do it, we’ll try. Just don’t go unless you are sure.”
“I won’t! I really love you, Katy, with all of my heart! I’ll never hurt you!”
“I love you too, Dad. We’ll get through this. If there is a way to bring her back, we will.”
“Yes… we will.”
* * *
Being a father is hard; being a single father can be a nightmare. There is a certain unbalance to it that is difficult to explain. Needless to say, the task of fatherhood becomes a seemingly endless and impossible trial the moment the mother has been taken out of the equation.
Richard loved his wife more than anything, and his daughter, Katy, was the product of this love. When he lost his wife, there was a time where he felt that he had lost everything. The prospect of raising Katy alone was so daunting, that he did not feel like it would even be possible. However, Richard never gave up.
Despite the bountiful love that he had for his wife, his daughter became the priority. A psychologist in town, Doctor Rule, helped him understand that he needed to let Elizabeth go and concentrate on the one who really needed his attention. He knew that it would not be easy, and he was right. His workload doubled. There were days where he was just about to pull his hair out, but he still thrived.
Katy looked to her father more than anything. Who else did she have? Yes, she remembered her mother fondly, but Elizabeth was no longer there. The problem was that there was little that Katy and Richard saw eye to eye on, and this put a heavy strain on the relationship. The two of them were drifting apart.
Unbeknownst to Katy, Richard has a strange and miraculous ability. He could create a story in his own mind and deliver it to others as if they had really experienced it. Richard used to do this with Elizabeth quite frequently. They both came up with the term ‘storyscape’ to refer to the strange reality that the traveler was drawn into.
Within the storyscape, Elizabeth could experience things that she could have only read in books previously. It was wonderful and magical. It was like imagination coming to life. It brought out the child in her, and Richard loved that. However, the same ability that brought her so much joy, turned against her and left her in a comatose state. Richard was heartbroken.
After two years of a struggling relationship with Katy, Richard decided to show her the storyscape. He had not practiced it in a very long time, however it came back to him easily. The closing gap of a growing child’s imagination burst wide open, and Katy delved deeply into the wonders of the storyscape.
She knew that it was not real, and she accepted that. It was not really the storyscape itself that drew her closer to her father, but the stories themselves. They were exciting and wonderful, and every last one of them was like a gift from her one and only dad. It was this gift that created common ground for father and daughter, and their relationship excelled at an alarming rate. There was not a moment that Katy did not want to be with her dad.
But these ventures into the storyscape left Richard open to old wounds. His wife was calling for him, and in his heart, he knew that she was real. Once again, he began to focus more on Elizabeth than his daughter, which was a terrible mistake. It was a mistake that could have nearly cost a daughter both of her parents. Fortunately for him, Katy saved him.
However, the wound had been opened and his wife still called. Both of them wanted to save her. Months went by. Many conversations were had. Finally, the two had come up with a plan.
* * *
There was a knock at the door. Doctor Rule opened up and smiled. “Right on time, Mr. Sable! I haven’t seen you in what… a year and a half?”
Richard shook his hand and smiled. “That’s about right. And you’ve met my daughter before, correct?”
Katy stepped inside with a cute smile. “Hello.”
Doctor Rule chuckled. “Hello, Katy. Yes, it’s been a while. I was a little surprised in hearing from you. You were a little unclear on what we were to talk about. I hope everything is alright.”
Richard nodded. “May we come in?”
“Where are my manners? Come right inside. Have a seat.”
The two stepped inside and sat on a comfortable couch. The doctor sat down and smiled. “Now how can I help you both?”
“Well…” said Richard with a slight twinge of nervousness, “I need you to help me find my wife.”
Doctor Rule’s smile slowly shifted into a frown. “Your wife, Mr. Sable?”
Katy added, “My mom.”
“I’m not sure I understand.”
Richard explained, “My wife is lost in a place known as a storyscape. She’s been there for over two years. I can’t save her right now because I can’t control my fears and paranoia while I am in there. I need a professional, and you’re the only one that I trust. It may take a long time, but I can’t do it without you.”
Confused, Rule looked at the daughter. Katy confirmed, “It’s real. She’ll never wake up without your help. Please, help us save my Mom.”
Rule became really quiet as if trying to see if this was some sort of joke. “You’ll have to forgive me. You believe this storyscape is real, and your wife is there?”
Richard nodded. “I know it’s hard to believe, but if you need proof, I can give it to you. Are you ready to let imagination take the helm and guide you into another world, Doctor Rule?”
The doctor leaned back into his chair. He was still dubious of the whole thing. He dealt with delusional patients all of the time, but it was still his responsibility to allow Richard to prove himself. The doctor answered, “If you have proof, Mr. Sable, then I suggest that you present it. And then… we can take it from there.”
Richard smiled at his daughter for a moment. She grinned and walked over to the Doctor Rule, taking his hand. “Don’t worry. You wont go in alone.”
The doctor was almost becoming nervous from the staggering sincerity of these two individuals. He said to her, “Thank you,” and turned back to face her father.
Richard leaned over on one knee and smiled with confidence. “Doctor Rule…Katy Sable… look into my eyes.”
To Be Continued…