As Kelcy lay in bed that night, she couldn’t help but wonder what the place Far Beyond would be like. Were all of the creatures like Fabian or were there even stranger creatures or beings there? Creatures that maybe she had or could never have imagined without seeing them for herself. And what did the land of Far Beyond look like, she thought as wondrous images danced in and out of her mind.
“It’s nothing like Earth. That’s why most people here can’t see it,” Fabian said from somewhere in the darkness.
“How did you know what I was thinking?”
Emerging from beneath the bed, Fabian displayed a proud smile that stretched from one ear to the other.
“Well” He said with a certain amount of arrogance in his tone. “Reading minds happens to be one of the powers that many of the creatures of Far Beyond possess.”
“Really?” Kelcy exclaimed as she sat bolt upright.
“Yes. As a matter of fact, so many can read minds that we don’t have what you call secrets, which of course makes life easier.”
“So, does everyone go around reading everyone else’s mind all the time?” Kelcy thought about this for a moment then continued. “That’s a little scary.”
“No. We don’t go around reading each other’s minds. That would be an invasion of privacy, but the fact that we can keeps almost everyone honest. Besides, no one has the time to sit around reading everyone else’s mind. That would not only be boring, but there are just too many things to do.”
“Like what? What could be more interesting than reading someone’s mind?”
“Well work for starters. Everyone has a job and everyone has chores, just like here.”
“Chores? Eeeeeck! Far Beyond doesn’t sound as fun as I thought.”
“Oh, no Kelcy. Far Beyond is as much fun as you think and then some. Even the chores in Far Beyond are fun because everyone pitches in, so the time just flies by.”
“Really? What kind of chores do you have to do in Far Beyond?”
“Well. My official title is Clerk of Mischief Mockians and make sure that the other Mockians have everything they need for their assignments. I give them their shrinking powder and, of course, their growing powder, but most of us don’t like using that stuff.” Holding his hand over his mouth Fabian whispered. “Things can really get messy when you shrink and grow stuff. If you know what I mean.”
Kelcy didn’t, but she nodded her head just the same, as he continued. “And there are potions of persuasion, which do exactly what their name
implies. Sometimes bad kids just need that extra little push. Besides, we have to witness their bad acts to get credit for them. And I do other things, you know supply stuff?”
In a disappointed voice, Kelcy replied,
“Oh? I’ll have you know that my job is very important. Without me, the other Mockians couldn’t get into the houses of most of those bad boys and girls. They couldn’t return to their normal size once they were inside either. It’s very important, what I do.” Thinking back, Fabian remembered a story that might would make his point. “I remember this one time when we couldn’t find my friend Grimsdyke for an entire year because no one could see him. That was, of course before I took over as clerk.”
“So what happened to Gr, Grm, Gri, your friend?”
“Well, eventually we realized what had happened, and we shrunk a scouting party to go find him.”
“He was so small that no one could see him?”
“Yeah.” Fabian answered, squinting between the pinched space between his thumb and index finger.
“Then how did he survive? What did he eat?”
“Well, very little.” Fabian smirked.
After thinking for a second, Kelcy laughed half-heartedly and waited for Fabian to continue.
“He was so small that we didn’t even notice the crumbs he was eating from our dinner table. We just thought that our cleaning skills had improved.”
As the two sat and laughed, Fabian couldn’t help thinking that he would have liked to have been assigned to good boys or girls every once in a while. He enjoyed the pure glow that surrounded Kelcy and imagined that he had seen it in kids from his past, but recalled that it was so faint at those times.
As for Kelcy, she couldn’t even list all the things that she liked about this strange little creature. From the pockets that covered his overalls to the quirky, green overalls and checkered shirt, to the dirt that constantly swirled around him, Kelcy couldn't narrow down what she most enjoyed about Fabian’s company. These thoughts however, would have to wait for some other time, for it wasn’t long before the two of them fell asleep, sharing stories and giggling to the very end. As slumber washed over Kelcy, she heard Fabian say in a low wispy voice,
“We’ll leave for Far Beyond tomorrow.”
As if those words possessed a magical sleeping powder, Kelcy fell fast asleep.
In the morning, Kelcy awoke with the same smile she had before she fell asleep and felt even better than her smile expressed. Stretching, she shook off the last bit of sleep inside her head and yawned before checking under the bed for Fabian. There, rolled up in the tiniest ball in which he could fold himself was the little Mockian. He was fuzzier looking than when he was
awake. It probably wouldn’t have surprised her much that Fabian was dreaming about a date with the Tooth Fairy.
In Fabian's dream, the Tooth Fairy found all of his jokes funny she shared her love of dirt. Everything was perfect in Fabian's head. It was flawless. Noticing the content look on his face, Kelcy decided not to disturb him. Besides, she thought, he might need every bit of his strength to get to Far Beyond.
That day, Kelcy couldn’t help being distracted by thoughts of her first trip to Far Beyond and on several occasions, Mrs. Sampson had to call her name over and over again to get her attention.
“Kelcy? Are you alright?” Her teacher inquired after calling Kelcy for the sixth time.
“Oh. I’m sorry Mrs. Sampson.”
“You seem distracted dear. Is everything alright?”
“Yes. I was just a little distracted,” Kelcy said before returning to her daydreaming.
“Are you sure everything's alright?” Mrs. Sampson asked again.
“Yes. Everything is wonderful.”
“Okay, then what’s the answer?” The teacher asked, her voice growing more stern as her patience faded.
“The answer?” Kelcy asked.
“Yes. The answer to the problem on the board.”
Looking up, Kelcy saw the equation that Mrs. Sampson was referring to, but had no clue as to what the answer might be.
“I’m sorry Mrs. Sampson. I don’t know.”
“Okay, Kelcy. When your mother gets here, I want to see her.”
‘Oh no!’ Kelcy thought, alarms sounding in her head, for she knew that she would get into trouble when her mother found out that she wasn’t paying attention in class.
“Yes Mrs. Sampson. I’ll tell her.”
For the rest of the day, Kelcy could think of nothing other than how her mother would react, but it wasn’t the trouble that she would get into that worried her, it was how this would affect her trip to Far Beyond. And if Mrs. Sampson was worried about Kelcy’s ability to concentrate, she needn’t worry anymore. All that Kelcy could do for the rest of the day was concentrate on how she was going to lessen the punishment she would receive after her mother spoke to her teacher. When her mother did finally arrive, Kelcy ran straight to her and gave her a big hug to soften her up.
“Hey baby. What’s this for?”
“Oh, nothing. I just wanted you to know how much I love you.”
“Okay. What did you do?”
As mother peered down at daughter, their expressions couldn’t have been more different. While Kelcy’s mother glared down disapprovingly, Kelcy put on her best puppy dog sad face, which work approximately fifty percent of the time. Of course for it to work, the problem had to be fairly
small and since her mother had no idea what the problem was, Kelcy was wasting a perfectly good puppy dog expression.
“Nothing,” She said, her eyes as round and full as a full moon. “Mrs. Sampson wants to talk to you.”
“Uh, oh. What’s this about?”
“I’m not sure, but it might have something to do with the answer to 2 times 2.” At least that's what was written on the chalkboard when Kelcy last looked at it.
“What?” Kelcy’s mother said before moving in the direction of Mrs. Sampson’s office.
Before taking any more than a couple of steps, Mrs. Sampson came into the room and greeted the two of them.
“Hello Mrs. Foy. Can I see you in my classroom, please?”
“Sure. Wait here Kelc. I’ll be right back.”
With that, Kelcy sat down as Mrs. Sampson and her mother headed off to her classroom. While waiting, she kept hearing the song about a little while in her head. To Kelcy, the time that she waited for her mother to return could never have been considered a little while. Especially since she sang it in her head at least five or six times. When her mother did finally return, Kelcy could see the look of disappointment on her face and her heart sank. Not only had she disappointed her mother once again, but she would probably not get to go to Far Beyond now.
“Alright Mrs. Sampson, I’ll make sure she studies harder. Thank you for your time. Good night.”
“Good night Mrs. Foy. Night Kelcy.”
Even though Kelcy liked Mrs. Sampson, she waved without looking at her as she ran to the car.
“Mrs. Sampson said that you didn’t know the answer to 2 times 2, Kelcy. She’s worried.”
“I’ll bet!” Kelcy said as she pouted.
“She is. She doesn’t want to see you get behind and neither do I. I know that you know the answer to that question. We’ve gone over it for the past few days. So what’s wrong?”
As much as she wanted to, Kelcy couldn’t tell her mother the truth. Instead, she shrugged her shoulders.
“Well. I guess we’ll just have to work harder at your multiplication, so after dinner, we’ll go over the multiplication tables again, then it’s straight to your room for more studying.”
“Ahhh! Ma!” Kelcy protested. “I didn’t do any . . .” Before she could finish her complaint, Kelcy realized, her bedroom was exactly where she wanted to be.” Okay, mommy, I’ll try harder.”
“That’s my girl.”
Just as her mother said, the two of them went over multiplying two to all of the numbers from one to ten, and then Kelcy went to her room to study
the exercises again. Approaching her bedroom, Kelcy could see Fabian peeking through the crack between her door and the doorframe.
“So. You’re having trouble multiplying two?” Fabian said casually.
“No! I just couldn’t concentrate. I was too busy thinking about our trip.”
“Oh. Well, I can’t take you if you’re having trouble in school.”
“Oh, no Far Beyond,” Kelcy said, taking Fabian’s hand as the two of them sat on the bed. “I’m not having trouble in school. I just had a bad day. I promise you. I know how to multiply the number two. We can still go, right?”
“I don’t know. If you're distracted just thinking about Far Beyond, I can only imagine how distracted you'll be when we return. This might not be such a good idea.”
“No, no. It is, so pleeeeease. Can we go?”
“Well. I’ll make a deal with you.”
“Whatever you say. I’ll do anything.”
Although they weren’t there yet, Fabian and Kelcy could tell that the tears could soon start to flow.
“Well, okay. For the next hour however, you’ve got to study your two’s, then we’ll go.”
“For an hour, but I already know how to multiply the number two. It’s only gonna take me about fifteen minutes to go over everything again.”
“Well good then. That will give you thirty, eh twenty, eh forty. How many minutes are left in an hour after fifteen minutes?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, then you can figure that out once you’ve finished multiplying your twos and then maybe you can start on the number three.”
“What! The number three? We haven’t even started with the number three!”
“Good, so you’ll have a head start on the rest of the class.”
“Well, that’s the deal. Take it or leave it.”
Fabian was glad that she fell for his bluff. Take it or leave it, he was going back to Far Beyond to find out what he had to do and he was taking Kelcy with him one way or another. With that settled, he went over to the clock on Kelcy’s nightstand.
“It’s seven o’clock now. We’ll leave at eight, okay?”
“Okay,” Kelcy said as she started studying her exercises.
After she finished going over the two’s for the third time, Kelcy handed her paper to Fabian.
“I’m finished.”
“Okay, I’ll go over this while you figure out how much time is left in the hour after fifteen minutes. Then it’s onto the threes.”
“Okay,” she said without protest.
With twenty-five minutes left, Kelcy had figure out that forty-five minutes were left in the hour and she moved onto her threes, which try as she might, she just couldn’t figure out.
This however was of little concern to Fabian; his only concern was that she make the effort and that she did, so just as Kelcy was about to give up, Fabian took her hand and floated through the ceiling and into the sky. Looking around, Kelcy noticed that not only had her ceiling disappeared, but her entire house was quickly fading away in the distance. It wasn’t until her house was nothing more than a little speck that it dawned on Kelcy that she too was soaring through the sky.
“So, we’re really on our way?
“Yes, we are. You kept your part of the bargain, and now I’m keeping mine. Were you able to figure out the three’s?”
“Not really. It’s kind of hard, but how did I do with the number two?”
“I don’t know. Remember, I don’t know how to multiply.”
“So what were you doing when you were studying my paper?”
“Well, at first, I was trying to figure it out, but then . . .“
“But then, what?” Kelcy asked.
“But then I started daydreaming.”
“Daydreaming? About what?”
Fabian hesitated, so Kelcy prodded,
“About what? You can tell me. We’re friends, after all.”
This statement made Fabian feel good about sharing his thoughts with her.
“I was daydreaming about the Tooth Fairy,” he said, looking for Kelcy’s reaction.
“Oh. You really like the tooth fairies, huh?”
“Yeah, well one especially.”
“Me too,” Kelcy said, floating just below Fabian. “I like the tooth fairies, too.”
With that said, not another word was spoken as, together they soared higher, Fabian thinking about his Tooth Fairy, Kelcy thinking about the wonderful places they flew over. As the Earth zoomed by beneath them, she saw the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx, which were followed by the ruins of Greece and the Great Wall of China. Flying over their second ocean, Kelcy thought about how beautiful Earth was and how beautiful Far Beyond would be. Her mind swimming with images that she conjured up from her dreams.
It was while they were flying over this third ocean that Kelcy found herself growing very sleepy. She couldn’t explain it, but for some reason she suddenly felt her eyelids growing heavier and heavier until they eventually closed.
For how long she slept, Kelcy could not tell, but when she woke up, they were still over the ocean, so she assumed that she hadn’t slept that long. That of course was before she took a closer look at the ocean below them. This ocean was not like any that she had seen on Earth. Instead of the dark or
light blue that she was accustomed to, Kelcy now looked down on a surging violent orange sea. Brighter than any orange back home, this ocean was much scarier and the storm that raged over it more violent than any storm she had ever seen on the news. A little scared, but more confused, Kelcy asked,
“What happened to the ocean?”
Shocked and confused, Fabian shouted Kelcy’s question back at her as he peered down at the water below.
“What happened to the ocean?” When he saw that everything was as it should be, he asked, “What do you mean? It looks fine to me. Maybe a little calm today, but otherwise fine.”
“Fine? It’s orange, silly. And it looks like there’s a hurricane down there. That’s what I mean.”
“Oh!” Fabian said. “It’s supposed to be that way. Welcome to Far Beyond, Kelcy.”
Peering down, Kelcy’s eyes grew wide as did the smile on Fabian’s face. Fabian then said,
“All of the water in Far Beyond is orange. And the ocean is usually rougher than this. It protects Far Beyond from invaders who might use the sea as their mean of entry.”
“Real-Really?” Kelcy stuttered, “Is something wrong with the water though?”
“No! Is something wrong with your blue water?”
“No. It’s supposed to be blue.”
“Well, ours is supposed to be orange, and that’s just one of the things that’s different from Earth.”
“Well, can you drink it?”
“Only if you’re thirsty,” Fabian said with a chuckle.
“So Kelcy? Did you have a nice nap?”
“Yeah, but I don’t know how I could’ve fallen asleep. I was so excited.”
“Well actually, I made you go to sleep. There’s some rule about not showing visitors how to get to Far Beyond, but you probably needed the rest anyway. We’re going to be so busy once we get there and you probably won’t have much time to sleep until I get you back home.”
“Yeah, I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep the whole time I’m here.”
“Don’t say that. You wouldn’t want to put the Dream Weavers out of business, would you?”
“The who?”
“The Dream Weavers.” With a sigh Fabian continued, “They’re the Mockians or Fairies that make your dreams . . . eh . . . our dreams . . . everyone’s dreams. Without the Dream Weavers all you would have would be nightmares.”
“Really? I thought dreams came from my head.”
“They do, but who do you think acts out all of the parts in your dreams?”
“I thought I made them up.”
“You do make them up, but somebody has to play the role, and that’s where the Dream Weavers come in. They’re the actors that play the parts in your dreams”
“And Nightmares? They’re played by actors as well?”
“No! Nightmares are all together different: Night Mares are these beautiful, pitch-black horses that come from . . .” Fabian hesitated as he thought. “Actually, no one knows where they come from, except for the Night Mares themselves, of course. Anyway, they enter your dreams and change them to whatever you fear most. They’re really quite pretty, so it’s amazing that they can create such scary stuff.”
“Tell me about it. I’ve had some pretty scary nightmares.” Kelcy said as a thought came to her, “Why don’t the Dream Weavers keep them out of dreams?”
“Oh, they do, most of the time, but sometimes the Night Mares are just too powerful or the Dream Weavers are just too tired from working so hard.”
“Well, I don’t like the Night Mares.”
“No. You shouldn’t think of it like that. Without nightmares, you wouldn’t enjoy the good dreams as much. Think about it like this: When you wake up after having a nightmare, aren’t you happy that it was only a nightmare?”
“Yeah,” Kelcy said without thinking.
“Well then, in a way, nightmares are good because they make you so happy when they’re over.”
“Yeah, but what about dreams? I usually feel sad when they’re over.”
“But you shouldn’t.”
“Why not?”
Not sure as to how to answer her Kelcy, Fabian pointed at the land they were quickly approaching.
“Look! We’re almost there! Far Beyond . . . home!”
Amazed by what she saw before her, Kelcy could do nothing but repeat what Fabian had said.
“Far Beyond.”
As they drew nearer to shore, the brilliant colors that covered it grew brighter as the surrounding cliffs reflected the orange of the ocean and blended into the purple grass of the hillside. As they flew even closer, Kelcy realized that the grass wasn’t grass at all. Instead, what she saw were millions of flowers that blanketed the hillside like frosting on a cake. A big purple cake.
Landing in an open field, Kelcy could barely feel the flowers on which she knew they had landed. So soft to the touch were these flowers that it felt as if there was nothing but air between her feet and the ground. As Fabian checked out the area, Kelcy reached down to touch the beautiful flowers and noticed that there was something that made them more pretty than any flowers she had ever seen back home.
“Good. No border patrols,” Fabian snapped as he walked back to where they had landed.
Kelcy was too busy enjoying the flowers to notice anything else. Parting them, she discovered the dark blue grass, which grew underneath.
“The grass is blue, Fabian,” Kelcy said, her gaze still on the grass.
“Yeah, that’s bluegrass, not that stuff they try to pass off as bluegrass in Kentucky.” Fabian said while scanning the horizon. “Well, we’d better get out of here before the border patrol comes along,”
“Why? What’ll they do?”
“Oh, nothing really. It’s just that they don’t get to stop a lot of people.”
“So, if your only job is to guard the border, and there isn’t really anything to guard against, wouldn’t you try to drag it out any activity that you could?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, they would and they do, trust me. No one has tried to cross Far Beyond’s border without permission for over five hundred years, so the border patrol is always bored, hence the name BORED ER PATROL. So . . . Whenever anyone comes home, they make ‘em answer all of their stupid questions over and over again. And if they’re really bored, they make you fill out these long forms, which in and of themselves could take up to three weeks, so let’s get a move on it.”
“That sounds like a good idea,” Kelcy said as she took Fabian’s hand.
“From here on, we’ll walk. It’ll be harder for them to spot us on the ground, and if we can make it over these hills, we’re home-free.”
“Far Beyond’s that close?”
“No, but the Forest of Pitch is and the Border Patrols never go in there. They’re only supposed to keep things from coming out.”
“But I thought they were supposed to keep things from coming into Far Beyond,” Kelcy said.
“Yeah, well they are, but they’re also suppose to make sure that none of the creatures from the Forest of Pitch come out. To be quite honest, I think they’re scared of the forest, because all they ever seem to patrol are the borders, never the forest edge.”
Gulping, Kelcy asked her next question as she grabbed Fabian’s hand tighter.
“Scared? Scared of what?”
“Of nothing really.”
Not exactly the answer Kelcy was seeking, but when she thought about it for another second she realized that she probably didn’t really want to know the answer. Continuing, Fabian said.
“Well, since I was little, there have always been tales of the creatures that live in the forest. Supposedly, they are some of the nastiest in all of Far Beyond, but the only ones that I’ve ever seen are the Weave Monkeys and
other small, harmless things. But if we don’t go now, we might never even get to see them . . . You ready?”
Kelcy simply nodded her head as the two of them set off.
Walking along, Kelcy saw many things that she had never seen before. In the sky, hovered large birds that displayed feathers that were every color of the rainbow. At first glance, these birds seemed crazy to Kelcy, because of the way the flew, but soon enough, she realized what they were doing. They were hunting big bugs that blended into the sky so well they were invisible most of the time. The only time someone could see them was when they were at certain angles to the sun. As Kelcy watched the birds swoop, dip and dive for the bugs, she tried to figure out how they could see the transparent insects, let alone catch the fast-moving insects. As they crested the first hill, Kelcy’s thoughts turned from the birds and insects to what might lay on the other side.
Clearing this first hill, the only difference that she noticed was that there weren’t nearly as many purple flowers as she had seen previously, but the beauty of the bluegrass made up for the lack of flowers. The ground looked like a blue quilt with purple spots all over the top and it was just as pretty as the field of flowers, if not more so. By the time they had reached the top of the second hill, the purple flowers were all but gone, and replacing them were yellow and white flowers that stretched as far as the eye could see. These flowers too were soft as air, but Kelcy had grown truly fond of the purple ones because purple just happened to be her favorite color. None of this matter now however, for before they made it to the bottom of the second hill, Fabian stopped dead in his tracks and looked skyward. Although Kelcy saw nothing, Fabian’s expression worried her.
“What is it?” she muttered.
“Don’t you hear that?”
Kelcy tried, but could hear nothing.
“No, what is it? A little while?”
Fabian didn’t smile.
“No. It’s the Border Patrol. They’re coming. Here, lay down, and try not to move or make any noise.” Fabian directed Kelcy to an area that was especially thick with flowers.
Lying down, Kelcy was towered by the sea of yellow and white flowers. As she settled in, Fabian shook the flowers above her to cover up the hole that she created when she laid down. He then laid down next to her, adjusting the flowers above himself.
“I hope they don’t see the trail we left behind,” He said, putting his finger to his lips.
When she had first laid down, Kelcy heard nothing but the birds that chased the semi-invisible bugs, but after a while, she could make something out. At first, it sounded like heavy breathing, but as it got louder, she could tell that it was similar to the sound made by the multi-colored birds that flew directly overhead. It wasn’t until they flew overhead that Kelcy could see just
how much larger the birds used by the patrol were compared to their wild counterparts.
From where she lay, Kelcy guessed that the birds of the Border Patrol had to be at least four or five times bigger. They weren’t as pretty as the wild birds because their feathers weren’t as bright, but what they lacked in color they more than made up for, in size. When the last of the patrol flew by, Kelcy tried to sit up, but was held down by Fabian. A few moments later a single member of the patrol flew by. Once this solitary flyer had passed, Fabian sat up and helped Kelcy to her feet.
“They always have a straggler,” he said, watching the patrol fade into the distance, “to make sure that no one is hiding in the flowers.”
“Do you know all of their tricks?”
“Yeah, well after sitting in their headquarters a couple of times, you either learn them, or . . .” Kelcy’s blank stare told Fabian that he should explain himself further. “Or you end up sitting in their headquarters for hours every time. Hopefully, they won’t be back this way for some time.”
Continuing down the hill and up the next couple of hills the two traveled on without incident, singing ‘A Little While’ to pass the time. It wasn’t until they reached the edge of the Forest of Pitch that they sang their last chorus and Fabian slowed their pace.
“What is it?” The nervous expression on Kelcy’s face mirrored that of her guide and friend.
“Nothing. It’s just that sometimes the Weave Monkeys like to play pranks. Actually, they like to play pranks all of the time. That’s what they do.”
“But why are we stopping?”
“Because I thought I saw something moving in the forest.”
“Maybe it was one of the Weave Monkeys,” Kelcy said, easing behind Fabian.
“No. It was much too big to be a Weave Monkey. Oh well, I don’t see anything now, so let's go.”
Hesitantly, Kelcy entered the forest, making certain not to let go of Fabian’s hand. Attempting to look in every direction at once, all that Kelcy could see were the trees of the forest. It was as if the place was deserted, but this was not the case, because her ears told her otherwise, as the sounds of several creatures could be heard moving throughout the forest, matching their pace. All around the two travelers, the forest teamed with life, some of which sounded quite large to Kelcy’s untrained ears.
“Are you sure that the biggest thing in this forest are monkeys?” Kelcy whispered, frightened that her voice might disturb whatever tracked them.
Fabian said nothing, as the two walked further still, the sunlight began to fade. Almost as if night were approaching, the sun withdrew, seemingly afraid of what lurked in the forest. At first, the fading light didn’t bother Kelcy, because even with the light, she couldn’t see where any of the creepy noises came from, but as they continued, the darkness began to take over.
Covering everything like a dark cloak, it flowed over the trees, the ground, and eventually over Fabian and Kelcy. The last thing Kelcy could recall seeing was her hand, which disappeared before her very eyes along with everything else. Scared that she might have been blinked out altogether, Kelcy said,
“It sure is dark in here.” In an attempt to sooth his friend, Fabian spoke.
“That’s where it gets its name. Pitch refers to pitch dark, and that’s exactly how dark it gets in here. Don’t worry though, it will only take us about two hours to get to the other side, and then we’ll be at the gates of the City.”
He gave her hand a reassuring squeeze that didn’t work.
“But how do you know if we’re going in the right direction?”
“Because I’ve come this way hundreds of times. I could find my way through here in the dark, hehe.”
Kelcy didn’t laugh, but she forced a giggle as they continued through the forest, which had grown almost as silent as it was dark.
Occasionally, a noise could be heard that scared Kelcy as much as the moving shadows she would see or imagined she had seen. In this darkness, her eyes easily betrayed her, as the eyes of even the most frequent of visitor had done so in the past. Her ears however did not deceive and with each cracking twig or thump in the night, Kelcy’s fears grew.
“What was that?” she found herself repeating over and over, which to her relief Fabian had an answer every time.
“Oh, that was a Bush Wonker. They like to beat the bushes,” he would say, or “That was a Stone Flipper. They can’t leave a stone un-turned. They’re cute little things, and they never seem to stop working. Sometimes they even turn over stones that they’d just turned over an hour before. Funny little guys.”
And that’s how it went for the first hour or so: Kelcy asking Fabian what a certain noise was, Fabian telling her, giving her a little history about each creature. After a while, Kelcy’s fears began to subside, but that soon changed when a rather loud noise was heard behind them. At first, this new sound concerned her no more than any other sound in the forest, because she simply thought that Fabian would explain it away as he before. This however was not the case, so when Fabian remained silent, the hair on the back of her neck pricked up. Stopping suddenly, Fabian listened for the sound again, but was disturbed by his frightened companion.
“What was that?” she asked, a cold chill sweeping across her face.
Yet once again Fabian said nothing, as Kelcy gripped his hand tighter. Moving only when her guide moved. After what felt like an eternity, the little Mockian whispered,
“Okay. I don’t know what that sound was,” Kelcy wasn’t certain, but she thought Fabian’s voice cracked as he spoke those and the next words. “ . .
. but from the noise it makes, it’s sound pretty big, so we might want to avoid it. Now, whatever happens, don’t let go of my hand, and do exactly as I do.”
“But I can’t see you,” Kelcy said, fighting the urge to run. “ Why don’t you just use your magic to get us out of here?”
“Because my magic doesn’t work here. For that matter, no magic works in the Forest of Pitch. It’s got a special kind of magic all its own that protects it from all other spells and incantations. ‘Now he tells me’, Kelcy thought as she listened to his next suggestion.
“Now, when I tap your hand, we’ll both take one step. We’re going to have to move slowly, so we don’t startle whatever’s back there. Maybe it doesn’t even know that we’re here.”
While Kelcy awaited the signal a chilling breeze caressed her cheek, as if only to add to her fear.
“You ready?” Fabian said, giving Kelcy’s hand a light squeeze.
Barely able to get the words past the lump in her throat Kelcy replied,
“I’m ready.”
“Okay. Here we go.”
As Fabian prepared to tap Kelcy’s hand, the loud noise was heard again, and it was definitely much closer this time. With that, Kelcy let go of Fabian’s hand and ran straight ahead, screaming at the top of her lungs.
“Okay Kelcy. Not exactly following directions,” Fabian said as he heard the little girl’s shrieking voice growing faint in the distance. It was then that Fabian heard the crackle of twigs and leaves as whatever it was closed the gap between itself and the Mockian. “But it works for me,” Fabian said as he started running and screaming at the top of his lungs.
Ahead of him, he could just make out Kelcy’s screams as she ran aimlessly through the dark.
“Okay Kelcy, just keep running straight ahead. We should be out of here soon, but if I don’t make it out for some reason, tell the tooth fairy . . . the one with the blue hair, that I love her.”
“Aaaaaahhhhhhhh!” was the only response that Fabian would receive.
Eventually, streams of sunlight pierced through the canopy of the forest, encouraging Fabian to use what little strength he had left to run even faster. As light flooded through the thinning trees, he could tell that whatever had chased them had slowed its pace. And by the time he had reached the edge of the forest, Fabian knew that the monster behind him had given up completely, but still something did run after him.
As he ran past the last tree, Fabian’s only thought was of Kelcy, but there was no sign of her. From one end of the forest’s edge to the other he scanned, but it was to his rear that Fabian should have looked, for to his delight, Kelcy barreled past him at full speed, taking cover behind his tiny body. That’s when he realized that she was the source of the other noise he heard as he ran through the forest. Terrified and shaking, the two of them looked to see what other horrors might emerge from the forest, but nothing
did. Giving into the fatigue that Fabian felt, he rested his hands on his knees and tried to catch his breath, all the while trying to console Kelcy.
“Don’t worry. Whatever it was, it’s obviously stopped chasing us. The creatures of the forest don’t leave the forest . . . usually.”
“Usually?” Kelcy repeated.
“Yeah, they don’t like the light.”
Still gasping for air, Fabian and Kelcy stared into the darkness of the forest one last time before feeling safe enough to turn their backs to it and move on. It was as they were turning away that the trees bristled with life, every branch shaking violently as a loud chattering emanated from the dense foliage.
That was when Kelcy first heard the laughter of the Weave Monkeys. Not an altogether unpleasant sound, but nonetheless scary to Kelcy, because of what she had just encountered and because it was so sudden.
“What’s that?” she asked, looking back at branches that seemed to mock her fear by the manner in which they shook.
Fabian, on the other hand could barely speak; not because he was frozen by fear, rather that he couldn’t stop laughing.
“That, my friend, was a troop of Weave Monkeys up to their old tricks.” He said before turning and yelling back at the forest. “That’s why you guys aren’t allowed near the City.”
Still trembling, Kelcy said, “I don’t think I like the Weave Monkeys.” To which Fabian casually replied,
“Well, they like you.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t have let you know that it was all a joke.” Seeing the disapproving look on Kelcy’s face, Fabian added, “Their pranks are how they keep unwelcome guests out of the forest.”
“Well, that’s fine and dandy, but I thought you said you could read minds. Why didn’t you just read their minds?”
“I can read minds.” Fabian hesitated, then “Everywhere, except for in The Forest of Pitch. Its magic is too powerful to penetrate. I think that’s why the Border Patrol’s afraid of it.” When Kelcy shrugged, Fabian added, “The Border Patrols can read minds, except for in the forest. They don’t have any control in there and I think that scares them.”
“Okay, but I still don’t think like the Weave Monkeys.”
“No problem, but I’d bet that someday you will.” Waving towards the trees, Fabian faced Kelcy and asked.
“ So, are you ready to go into the City?”
“Of course, most definitely,” she said, feeling the color returning to her cheeks.
The two then walked towards the City gates, which were only a stone’s throw away from the Forest of Pitch. They approached the gates at a pretty brisk pace, because Kelcy could hardly contain her excitement. Before her was the place she had only imagined and it seemed even grander than in her
dreams. The gates that welcomed all visitors extended high into the sky and the walls surrounding them extending further still. In Kelcy’s mind only giants could have built such a city. How else were such gates erected, she thought. During the short walk from the forest to the City, Kelcy noticed several holes that ran along the side of the giant gates, the lower of which housing large marble statues. Most of these statues were crouching, facing outward, as if guarding the City from all enemies whether they approached from the sky or from the forest. Each one held a formidable weapon of some sort in one hand and a shield in the other.
As the two visitors drew nearer to the gates, Kelcy thought she saw one of the statues move from the corner of her eye. Thinking that her imagination was getting the best of her, she continued to walk, if not more slowly, more cautiously. As the two of them drew closer still, it seemed as if more and more of the statues were moving, but since Kelcy only saw this movement from the corner of her eye she didn’t dwell on it too much. Since she wasn’t certain whether the statues were moving or not, Kelcy looked at Fabian for some insight into what might be happening, but he seemed not to notice anything. After a while, Fabian turned to Kelcy and said,
“The City Guards will be greeting us shortly. Don’t worry however, they’re not as mean as they look. They’re actually quite nice, at least the ones here in the city.”
This eased Kelcy’s mind, and affected her stride, which became more confident as they approached the gates. Only when she noticed that the gates were made of gold did she falter, not so much at the gold, rather the designs that were carved into this gold. Etched into the soft metal were images of the creatures that she assumed lived inside. Not just a guess, but an educated one, as the scenes on the gate depicted a bunch of creatures that looked a lot like Fabian. There were four of them flying around a perfectly round object. Above that were scenes of what Kelcy guessed to be fairies of some kind, dancing around another round object.
Examining the rest of the decorations, she made note of their variety, each with three or four creatures dancing, flying, or running around some kind of object.
It was while she was admiring one of these scenes that Kelcy noticed movement again from one of the giant statues. This time there was no doubt in her mind, for as surely as one of the statues had moved, another creaked to life, followed by yet another: The joints of all three rumbling like thunder and cracking as if being hit by sledge hammers.
Eventually, all of the statues would move, their joints grinding with the effort. When all of the statues that Kelcy could see were in motion, one of them stood upright and moved forward only to be followed in turn by the rest. When all of these stone defenders were standing at attention, one by one, they leapt from their perches and filled the sky with tons upon tons of falling debris.
Realizing that any attempt to shield herself from the giant statues would prove useless, Kelcy simply stared up as they plummeted towards the ground before unfolding giant wings, which caused their decent to slow as they began to glide. From every pocket in the wall, statues leapt and began to glide before flapping their huge wings.
By the time Fabian and Kelcy had reached the gate, a couple of the statues had landed in front of them and stood motionless. Up close, Kelcy could see just how large they were. Each one, at least twice as tall as any man she had ever seen back home.
“Okay here we go. Just let me do all of the talking, and everything‘ll be just fine.”
Although Fabian hadn’t realized it, he didn’t have to tell Kelcy to be quiet. She had no intention of talking to the big statues that approached.
“Welcome to the city, visitors,” the largest statue said in a booming voice. “State the nature of your visit, please.”
To this Fabian responded,
“Hello Brethren, I am Fabian, a mischief Mockian of Far Beyond. I am returning from my latest assignment and seek counsel concerning said assignment.”
“Very well, Fabian. Who is your companion?”
“This is my latest assignment,” the scruffy little Mockian said as he motioned towards Kelcy with his hand. “Her name is Kelcy. She’s from Earth.”
After examining Kelcy for a few moments, the statue spoke again.
“Very well. Welcome to the city, Kelcy,” was all that he said as the other statues that had landed in front of the gate parted. Kelcy and Fabian walked towards the entrance to the City. As they approached, the gates opened, the ground rumbling beneath them, ushering forth the sound of distant trumpets.
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