Once upon a sucky Tuesday, I found magic.
I lay under a creaky swing set in my favorite ratty T shirt and jeans, poking at a swing with my finger.
To tell you the truth I was bored of playing Epic Wizard Death Spells Volume V on my new PlayStation and couldn’t think of anything better to do.
Yeah, I know, it would've been more interesting if I'd started this story with some kind of sword-fight or a hero doing some kind of big grand adventure thing with cool stunts, smooth moves and witty quips like in the movies, but this story didn't start that way.
This story started on a sucky Tuesday when I was bored of fairytale games.
Seriously, everything needed to create the boringest day ever was there.
The tired swing-set in the backyard of a tiny neighborhood, the wimpy tree, the back deck made by a dad who really didn’t know how to make decks, the broken screen door, even those pointless wind chimes and rusty bird feeder.
“What are you doing?”
That would be Katy. My twice-as-sensible but supremely annoying 15-year-old sister.
She loomed over me in her school uniform, arms crossed, waiting for my answer.
I slid my hands behind my head before dignifying her question with a response. Sunlight glared in my eyes, making me squint, but I tried to keep my cool.
“I can see that,” she mumbled. “Busy planning your future, I suppose? You know playing Wizard Death Spells isn’t a real job, right? Unless you wanna be a warrior elf.”
“Maybe I do.”
Her tired smile didn’t think so. “Or maybe you could help me with my homework since you’re doing nothing anyway.”
Always an ulterior motive.
“Hey, don’t hate on the fairytale!” I pointed out, sitting up. “It takes skill to beat 12 dragons in 2.5 hours with all health and no loss of gold.”
“Oh please, like it’s hard,” she snorted. “You couldn’t survive a real fairytale if your life depended on it.”
“Yeah! Why don’t you get up and learn some real life skills like helping mom with that stack of dishes or getting a summer job or helping your kindhearted adorable little sister with her homework?”
“What the heck!” I bolted up, fake shock on my face. “Mom never told me we had another sister!”
Rolling her eyes, she turned and sauntered back to the house. “Fine. I don’t need your help anyway.”
I laughed. “I could beat the heck out of any fairytale, real or not, just so you know!” Ignoring me she walked inside letting the screen door slam behind her. “I just know them inside-out and upside-down is all!” I kicked at the leaves scattered across the bleached grass. “Anything would be better than this backyard.”
I rubbed my stubbly goatee.
I really should get in and study. But what was the point? Study to work to eat to study to work to eat. There was another level of Wizard Death Spells calling my name. Not that that would change much. I’d still have annoying homework forced on me at some point to stress and tangle my brain to no end.
Life stunk sometimes.
I picked at my fingernail, trying to push the all the annoying thoughts to the back of my head.
Deciding violence was the answer I took out my aggression in a roundhouse kick at a nearby faded soccer ball. It flew a few feet and then vanished into thin air.
My mouth hung open as I stared where the ball had been a minute before. It had flown between two trees and now was just... gone.
I walked forward slowly. I hesitated and glanced back at the house. This couldn’t be some kind of prank, could it? Katy was nowhere in sight. Haltingly, I reached my hand between the two trees. It vanished.
I yanked it back and it reappeared.
“Ah...” I stared at my hand. I stared at the air between the trees. I mean that’s all it was. Air. Well...that’s all it looked like anyway... I glanced back at the house again. Did anyone else see that?
I slowly pressed my foot forward and it passed through the hole in the air, vanishing.
“Wle! Ble! What the...”
I yanked it back out and stared at the trees.
Suddenly it struck me. This couldn’t be... But it obviously was. The doorway to my own magical universe. If it was, then the stupid thing to do would be to step into it. Just step into some magical fairytale doorway I might NEVER EVER EVER get back out of.
“Yeah.” I blinked at the doorway thing. “What’s the worst that could happen? I’m gonna do it.”
I stood there staring.
“I’m gonna do it.”
I broke a twig off the tree above me and tossed it between the trees. It vanished and the air kinda rippled. I took a wadded up dollar bill from my pocket and threw it in. It vanished.
“Yeah I’m gonna do it.”
I inched my foot forward and pushed it through the hole in the air. It vanished inch by inch. I was really about to enter another world. Me, Sean Williams, an adventurer.
My leg was invisible in front of me. One more step and I’d be— “Forget it! I’m not doing this! The gaming life’s pretty exciting after all.”
I tried to pull back when I felt something from the other side of the hole grip my foot and yank it forward. My heart leapt into my throat.
“Hey!” It just came out. It really sounded more like a desperate plea than an angry protest.
As I hobbled back, my foot was wrenched forward, and I lost my balance.
Panic gripped me as my back hit the ground and my other leg was grabbed from beyond the portal.
“No!” I jerked my leg with all my might and it escaped the grasp of something moving, reappearing on my side and I knew the time had come to scream.
I heard the thumping and bumping of someone rushing recklessly for the backdoor.
Mentally punching myself for always leaving things lying around the house where people could trip on them, I kicked at whatever held my leg.
I looked down and saw, to my horror, my pants now entirely swallowed by the portal. Rolling onto my stomach, I gripped the grass and the frustratingly loose dirt. I only caught a brief glimpse of Katy bursting through the screen door in panic before my head was pulled into the hole and everything went black.
Thump. I fell on soft ground in the pitch dark, with two hands full of dirt and grass.
It was cold.
Lying still on the damp floor, I breathed, out...
Then in again.
Not knowing what to think, and therefore not thinking at all, I lay still, not moving a muscle...well except to blink.
After a minute I felt the hand that had pulled me through the hole still gripping my ankle. Gasping, I lunged forward and grabbed for it, only to feel a slimy wrist pull away from me with an inhuman screech.
I jumped to my feet, but my yell died off, leaving only a hollow echo bouncing back to answer me. My heart thumped once, hard. I held my hands out in front of me.
I gulped. Fear crept up my spine.