Continuing Tales

The Enticement

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 5 of 16

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Untitled Document

"And where do you propose that we go?" Jareth asked. He gave himself a mental shake. His voice was beginning to sound frail, even to his own ears. "You yourself agreed that this city was choked with buildings."

Sarah never stopped packing and didn't look at him as she spoke. "I have a place in the Adirondacks. We're going there."

"The Adirondacks?" he repeated.

"The Adirondack Mountains. You said that you were surrounded by iron here. The cabin's in the middle of nowhere. There's nothing around for miles." Sarah zipped the suitcase closed and finally looked at him. "If you don't feel well enough then just rest, but if you feel up to it, I could use some help. The sooner we get everything done, the sooner we can leave."

The weakness Jareth was feeling was much more pronounced and his hands were shaking visibly but he forced himself to his feet. As much as he hated accepting assistance from the girl, it was preferable to passively lying there and dying.

"What do you want me to do?" he asked.

"Put the clothes I brought you back in the boxes and sacks. Set everything you pack by the door so that we don't forget anything on our way out. I'm going to go get the car and then pick up some supplies." Her voice was still cold.

Sarah lifted her suitcase and walked out of the room.

Clenching his teeth against the nausea that rose when he moved, Jareth followed her.


By the time Sarah finished packing things from the bathroom, Jareth had completed his own packing and was shivering badly. Sarah turned the heat up higher and took the trench coat out of the box. She held it up, silently waiting. Jareth was shaking so violently that it took him three attempts to get his arms through the coat. Once he had it on, Sarah didn't ask permission, she simply moved around in front of him and buttoned up the coat, tying the belt around his waist. She walked from the room without a word, returning with a long blue muffler that she wrapped it around his neck, tucking the ends inside the coat.

Sarah pulled on her own coat and looked at the suitcase and bags she'd placed by the door. She left those behind, but picked up the boxes and sacks that she had carried in earlier.

"I'm going to get the car and then go to the market," she said. "I'll go ahead and take these with me. It's going to be a pain carrying them now, but it will save us a trip back upstairs later. If you find anything else you think we'll need, just put it in a sack and set it by the door. I'll be back as soon as I can."

After she left, Jareth sat on the sofa, looking at the large metal box he had noticed earlier. Images now flickered from the glass front and the sound of voices came from within it. He winced as a dull throbbing pain began settling into his veins. The effects of the poisoning were becoming more distinct, he thought vaguely.

He focused on the box in front of him, trying to distract himself from the pain. As he was attempting to puzzle out what the people in the box were doing, a loud knocking came from Sarah's door.

He looked at the door warily. Should he answer it? The knocking came again and he pushed himself to his feet. Weaving slightly, he made it to the door and took a moment to steel himself. He took a deep breath, drew himself erect and opened the door.

He found a middle-aged woman standing there. Her graying black hair was cropped short and her eyeglasses were sliding down toward the end of her nose. She was dressed tastefully in brown trousers and a cream colored sweater with a brown leather overcoat. She held a large sack in her arms and when she saw him, her mouth dropped open.

"Oh my god," the woman exclaimed. "It's you. I mean, you're him."

Jareth arched an eyebrow in question.

"I'm sorry," she said with a wide smile. "It's just that after what Sarah told me, I never thought I'd actually see you. She's obviously been hiding things from me."

"Have we met, madam?" Jareth asked coolly.

"I'm Jean Abbott. I'm Sarah's... Well, I help Sarah out. You know, at my gallery. Is she here?" Jean peered past Jareth into the apartment.

"Sarah is at the market," Jareth said, his eyes narrowing.

Jean's eyes fell on the suitcase and bags by the door. "Taking a trip?" she asked curiously.

"We are going to the mountains." Irritation flooded his voice. What did this woman want?

"For Christmas? Just the two of you? How romantic. I'm glad to see that things are looking up for Sarah." Jean gave a wolfish smile and then glanced at her watch. "Listen, Hon, I've got a cab double-parked downstairs. I just wanted to stop by and drop off Sarah's Christmas present." Jean shoved the sack she was carrying into Jareth's arms. "You can do me a huge favor, though. There's a folder in there with the current offers for the portraits. I've got a buyer that's really interested in the entire series and he's willing to pay a pretty penny. So, tell her to sell. Point out to her that she doesn't need them." The woman looked Jareth up and down appreciatively and gave him a wink. "Flesh and blood is so much warmer than paint and canvas."

Before Jareth could ask her what she was talking about, she looked at her watch again and said, "Oh, I've got to run. Tell Sarah to think about the offer and give me a call."

At that, the woman turned, skipped down the stairs and was gone.

Jareth sagged back against the doorframe and allowed the heavy sack to slide down to the floor. He closed the door and moved back toward the sofa when the pain increased sharply and broke through the rigid barriers he had placed in his mind. As it crashed over him, he staggered and wondered why the room was growing so dark before his knees buckled and he fell to the floor, unconscious.


Sarah made it to the garage and tapped her foot impatiently while she waited for the car to be brought to her. When the attendant pulled the car around, she met him at the driver's door and snatched the clipboard from his hands. She didn't examine the car, she simply signed the document stating that her car was in good condition and threw the boxes and sacks into the trunk.

As she pulled out onto the street, she decided that she'd go to the local market and get everything she needed there. She could save money by stopping at several different stores but she didn't have the luxury of extra time.

Sarah mentally reviewed what she needed and then compared it against what she knew was already at the cabin. She had no idea how long they would be staying but she would drive into Hague or one of the other small towns nearby and fill in any missing supplies after they got to the mountains.

If he doesn't die. The thought surfaced unbidden.

No, she thought, gritting her teeth. Jareth couldn't die. He wasn't going to show up, destroy all of her romantic fantasies, make snide remarks about her bathroom and rude cracks about her "pathetic little life" and then die on her. He wasn't allowed to die. She intended to have the pleasure of telling him exactly what she thought of him and that jerk wasn't going to cheat her out of it by dying.


Sarah finished her shopping in record time, pulling two shopping carts along with her. At the checkout line, she slid her credit card over and signed the receipt without even glancing at the total. She loaded the bags into the trunk of her car and drove back to the apartment as quickly as New York traffic would allow.

She parked in the alleyway and rushed upstairs. She put her key in the lock and briefly didn't understand why it turned so easily. Then she realized that it wasn't locked at all. Puzzled, she opened the door and stepped inside. When she saw Jareth lying on the floor, fear stabbed through her like a dagger.

"Jareth!" Sarah cried in alarm. She rushed forward and dropped to her knees beside him. She shook his arm but he didn't respond. "Jareth, please wake up."

With a frantic burst of strength, Sarah rolled him over and for a single, horrified second, she thought he was dead.

He was almost completely white, his face was cool to her touch and she couldn't feel his breath when she held her hand over his slightly parted lips.

"No," she whispered, tears flooding her eyes. "No, this isn't supposed to happen."

Her voice caught in her throat when she saw the faint rise and fall of his chest. He was still alive.

Sarah tried to pick him up, but he easily outweighed her and she could barely move him.

She would have to drag him to the car.


Sarah moistened her lips and said in a shaking voice, "I hope you can hear me. I know we have a deal and that you want me to go back to the Underground. But you've got to take Jareth back now. If you won't take just him, then take us both. He's really sick and he's going to die if you don't help him."

She held her breath and waited. As the moments passed, Sarah realized that nothing was going to happen.

Suddenly enraged, she threw back her head and shrieked, "Damn it, why won't you listen to me?"

She dimly heard the sound of heavy footsteps pounding up the stairs but she ignored them and tried to figure out the best way to get Jareth down to her car.

"Sarah?" A man's voice exclaimed from the doorway. "I just got home and I heard you screaming. What's wrong? Why is your door open?"

Sarah whirled around and almost sobbed with relief at what she saw. "Oh, Gary, thank god, you're back. He's too heavy and I don't think I can move him by myself."

"What's going on?" Gary dropped his suitcase and came into the apartment. He looked at the unconscious man lying on the floor and his eyes widened as he recognized him and then looked at Sarah. Tears stained her face and her eyes were almost wild with panic.

"Is that..." Gary started, surprised. "That looks like the guy you keep painting. The Goblin King."

"You've got to help me get him to the car. I'm parked in the alley." Sarah tried to pull Jareth up from the floor.

"Christ, Sarah, stop that," Gary said sharply. He went down on one knee next to her. He pressed his fingers against the man's throat and felt the pulse fluttering there. "Have you called an ambulance? Do you know what's wrong with him? Did this guy take something?"

"An ambulance isn't going to do him any good. I've got to get him away from all this iron. It's killing him here."

"What?" Gary was confused.

"The iron. He's surrounded by it."


"He's fae," Sarah cried. "Don't you understand? I've got to get him out of the city."

Gary looked at her for a long moment with a worried frown. "Sarah, I know you believe that story, but..."

She grabbed Gary by the shirtfront and looked directly into his eyes. "You know me. You know I'm not insane."

Gary sighed. "You're asking me to believe that this guy is from some other world, Sarah. That's a lot to ask."

"No. For friends, it isn't at lot to ask at all." Her voice was harsh and then her tone and her expression softened suddenly. "I know this sounds crazy. I know I sound crazy. But he is fae. And he's dying here. Look at him," she insisted. "Take a good look at him."

Gary looked down at the man lying on the floor and took in the eyebrows arching up in wings and the odd discoloration around the man's eyes. With a fingertip, Gary brushed at the darker coloring there. It wasn't makeup, as he'd first thought, yet it wasn't a tattoo, either.

"Well?" Sarah demanded. "Will you help me?"

Gary regarded his friend. Sensible Sarah, he thought, who'd been through hell and back in the past few years. The woman who took care of him each time he lost yet another friend, who accepted him for what he was without condition, and always kept her feet planted firmly on the ground. The woman whose only flights of fancy involved a world called the Underground. A place full of magic that she adamantly insisted was real.

A place that, if he told the truth, he'd always wanted to believe in.

Gary glanced back down at the man. Gary's common sense was screaming at him to just call an ambulance and let the paramedics handle the situation. And yet every instinct he had told him that there was something otherworldly about the unconscious man.

For a fleeting moment, Gary felt a presence surge through his mind. His vision grayed and a shimmering image of an enormous maze replaced Sarah's living room. Gary blinked and the image blurred into that of the Goblin King casually lounging on a throne, lazily twirling several crystal balls in one hand as misshapen creatures scrabbled at his feet.

Gary blinked again and Sarah's living room was back in place. Stunned, his mouth dropped open and he raised startled eyes to Sarah.

"What is it?" she demanded.

Shaking his head, Gary briefly wondered if he wasn't making the worst mistake of his life. He began pulling the unconscious man up into a fireman's carry.

"Where are you going to take him?" Gary grunted from the strain, lifted Jareth and started toward the open door.

"To the cabin. I'm hoping that it's far enough away." Sarah raced into the bedroom and grabbed her pillow and coverlet from the bed. She then picked up the suitcase and bags that were stacked by the door and slammed the door shut behind her.

In her living room, the television played on without an audience and the weatherman gave the forecast in a grim voice.

"We've just received a bulletin from the National Weather Service. Arctic low-pressure that had been slowly moving over the New England states has begun push forward at an incredibly fast pace. In addition, the tropical jet stream that draws warm moist air in from the Caribbean has made a sudden and unexpected shift toward the northeast. We can expect rapidly dropping temperatures and heavy snowfall within the next three to six hours."

The man faced the camera with a grave expression. "When these two systems merge, it could produce the most severe storm since the blizzard of 1978. For those of you living to our north, unless this weather pattern changes very soon, the worst of it will be probably be settling directly over the Adirondack Mountains."


Gary settled Jareth into the back seat and Sarah placed the pillow under Jareth's head and tucked the coverlet over him. She closed the car door and turned to her friend. Sarah threw her arms around Gary and hugged him tightly.

"Thank you," she whispered into his ear. "I'll never forget what you did for me."

Gary hugged her back and then held her out at arm's length. He'd never been more confused in his life. "Sarah, what the hell is going on?"

She shook her head and broke away from him. As she moved to the driver's door, she said, "I don't have time to explain. Lock up the apartment for me, okay? I'll call you when I can."

Sarah got into the car, started the engine and rolled down the window. She looked over at Gary with a sad expression.

"If I don't see you again, I love you," Sarah called out of the window.

"What do you mean, if you don't see me again?" Gary cried. "What's that supposed to mean?"

She put the car in drive and it began to roll forward.

"Sarah!" Gary called out.

She never looked back and the car pulled out into traffic and was gone.


Sarah wriggled out of her coat and turned the heat up until it was stifling inside the car. As soon as she made it to I-87, she began pushing the speed limit, sending up a silent prayer that the state troopers were busy elsewhere.

She forced herself to drive and tried not to glance back at Jareth. Either he would survive the trip or he wouldn't. There was nothing she could do about it now. Other than the stifling heat, the only concession that she made to his presence in the car was her refusal to turn on the radio. If he was able to rest, she didn't want the noise to disturb him.

Sarah held firm to her resolve until she made it to Albany. She exited to get gasoline and turned around in the seat to look at Jareth. Was it her imagination or was his breathing less labored? She wasn't certain and wasted no more time. She quickly filled the tank and pulled back onto 87 and kept driving.

It began snowing just south of Saratoga Springs and she had to reduce her speed. By the time she made it to Glens Falls, her visibility was down to only a few car lengths in front of her.

Sarah's hands clenched the steering wheel so tightly that her fingers locked around the wheel and she had to flex them cautiously to relax the joints. Her neck and shoulders were aching from hours of sitting hunched over. The heat inside the car combined with the sheer tension of the situation had caused her to perspire and sweat trickled down between her breasts and matted her hair to her neck.

When Sarah took the exit for Highway 28, there was a horrifying moment when she felt the rear of the car fishtail before she got it back under control. She reduced her speed to a crawl and kept moving.

Finally, Sarah took the ramp from Highway 28 and found the small road that led up to the cabin. The snow was becoming heavier by the minute and she was so focused on simply trying to see the road ahead of her that the low groan and slight rustling sound from the backseat almost caused her to jump out of her skin.

She tried to call his name but her throat was so dry that the only thing that emerged was a croaking sound. Clearing her throat, she tried again.


There was no reply but, daring to take her eyes from the road for a moment, Sarah glanced into the backseat and was relieved to see that he had shifted position and had pushed the coverlet back. She turned the heat down a bit and concentrated on surviving the last few miles of the trip.

When she finally pulled up in front of the cabin, the wind was blowing so hard that the gusts rocked the car. Sarah glanced at her watch and blinked. It was after 2:00 a.m. A trip that would have taken her five hours on a clear day had taken over nine hours.

Sarah wanted nothing more than to go inside the cabin and sleep, but she knew that wasn't an option. The car had to be unloaded, but more importantly she had to figure out a way to get Jareth inside.

He had to wake up, she thought, and he had to be able to walk. There was simply no other option.

She closed her eyes briefly and said, "Just give me a break here, okay? Just one fucking break."

She twisted around to look at Jareth and as she moved her legs, she almost cried out because they were so stiff. Finally, with a stifled whimper, she pulled herself up onto her knees and faced the backseat.

"Jareth," she said softly. "Can you hear me?"

He muttered something unintelligible and she sagged against the seat briefly at this show of improvement.

"Jareth," she repeated, louder. When he turned his head away from her, she leaned over and patted him softly on the shoulder. "Jareth, you've got to wake up. C'mon, I can't carry you."

His head turned toward her suddenly and confused mismatched eyes met hers.

"How are you feeling?" she asked.

He began to push himself up, groaned, and laid his head back. He grimaced and tried again. He slowly maneuvered up into a sitting position.

"I am..." he started, but his voice came out into a whisper. He swallowed hard. "I am well," he said.

Sarah snorted. "Liar."

His eyes narrowed and she couldn't help but smile.

"But if you're feeling well enough to be ticked off at me, then you really are feeling better," she said.

"Where are we?" he asked, looking out the windows.

"We're at the cabin. In the mountains," she said. "I'm going to go inside and turn on the heat and start a fire. Then I'll unload the car. You wait here where it's warm until I'm finished. But then you're going to have to walk inside. I can't carry you. Do you think you can manage it?"

He arched an eyebrow, assumed a superior expression, and opened his mouth to speak when Sarah recognized the look on his face and interrupted him, suddenly furious.

"When I came home, you were unconscious. For a minute, I thought you were dead. Luckily, Gary was there to carry you to the car. I just drove nine hours in a blizzard to get you here. I'm so stiff and sore that I feel like someone has beaten me with a baseball bat. I am drenched in sweat because I kept it like an oven in here so that you wouldn't get any colder. And I have been up almost 24 hours straight. So, do not--do not--patronize me. Do you think you feel well enough to walk? Yes or no?"

Sarah thought she would have been proud of that speech if she hadn't been close to tears by the end of it. She could feel her lips trembling and her voice broke on the last word.

Jareth looked at her for a long moment and apparently decided that it wasn't worth pushing his luck.

"Yes," he said finally. "I can walk."

"Good," she whispered and abruptly turned away from him. She wriggled into her coat and braced herself.

Then she opened the car door and stepped out into the freezing night.


Frigid cold swirled into the vehicle when Sarah opened the door and Jareth shuddered. While he was very much improved, he still was far more ill than he wanted her to see. His pride demanded that he hide it from her even though she had already seen him at his weakest state.

Contrary to what Sarah seemed to believe, he was well aware that he had almost died and that she had saved his life--a fact he found particularly galling. He disliked being indebted to anyone, much less this disrespectful girl that he was expected to marry.

She was a puzzling creature. Her near breakdown into tears was particularly confusing. Her behavior toward him fluctuated wildly between hostility and benevolence. However, he thought ruefully, Sarah seemed to be a master at striking that peculiarly delicate balance of hostility during benevolence.

Jareth frowned. Women acted only to serve their own best interests. Bitter experience had taught him that they always wanted something in exchange for their altruism. Now, he simply had to determine what it was that Sarah wanted.

The Enticement

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 5 of 16

<< Previous     Home     Next >>