Continuing Tales

Please Come Home

A Labyrinth Story
by Ying-Fa-dono

Part 5 of 20

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Please Come Home

Sarah waited outside the drama club room, waiting for Rodger to come out. When he finally did, he was accompanied by Mike Hayward-Jones, the boy who had been cast as the Goblin King.

Good, thought Sarah. I want to talk to both of them anyway. Of anyone in this play other than me, he's the one in the most danger.

Rodger turned and saw Sarah standing there. "Hey, Sarah!" he said, smiling at her. Sarah opened her mouth to speak, but he cut her off. "I know, I know. There is no need to thank me. I understand that you're full of utter awe and adoration for me since I gave you the lead, but I assure you that I don't need any kind of thank you. If you feel that you must shower me with praise, however, I will not stop you. Go on, shower me with praise!"

"Rodger, I can't do it."

Rodger's eyes widened. "Huh?"

"I can't do it. I can't be in the play," said Sarah, firmly. "You have to find someone else to play the princess, because I can't. I really can't Rodger, I'm sorry."

Sarah braced herself for whatever came next. She expected Rodger to get angry, to shout that he had gone through all the trouble of letting her be in the play and she was just going to throw it away, and tell her that she was being selfish and that her decision would ruin the play entirely. Sarah also expected him to look disappointed that she'd refused the opportunity he had given her. The very, very last thing she expected, however, was what Rodger really did. He burst out laughing.

"Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!" Rodger through his head back, his glasses shining in the gleam of the florescent lights overhead, all of his teeth were visible as laughter boomed from his mouth and echoed through the hall.

"Rodger," said Mike, in his heavy Australian accent. "Don't laugh at the girl. That's really rude."

"S-sorry, I'm sorry," said Rodger, whipping his eyes. "I'm sorry, Sarah. I shouldn't have laughed."

"No, you shouldn't have," snapped Sarah, feeling angry and abashed. "What was that all about?"

"It's just that I could have sworn that you said you were going to refuse the lead role in the play," said Rodger, shaking his head as if the whole thing were the funniest joke he'd ever heard. "Ha! Ah, that was a good laugh."

"But, Rodger, I'm serious," Sarah insisted. "I can't be in the play. I really can't!"

"Sarah, Sarah, Sarah," said Rodger, patting her shoulder. "I understand. You see it all the time in the drama club. Tiny little freshmen get larger roles than they expect and they start freaking out and saying they can't do it."

"I happen to be a junior," snapped Sarah. "And I really . . ."

"I know you're a junior, Sarah," said Rodger, nicely. "I'm merely saying that you're going through exactly what it is that they go through. It's the whole 'I'm not worthy' thing. You get something great and you feel you don't really deserve it. It's fine, all young actors get it."

"But that's not it!" Sarah cried, now quite desperate. "Rodger, I'm really serious. I can't be in the play. You have to find someone else."

"You'll see, Sarah, you'll see," said Rodger, patting her shoulder again. "You'll be totally comfortable on stage. You were born for this part and you'll come to know that yourself."

You don't say! Sarah thought furiously. "But Rodger, I didn't even audition."

"What are you talking about?" said Rodger, waving his hand. "Of course you auditioned. I saw you go up on stage and say those lines. You were perfect. I totally believed everything you were doing and saying. It was a flawless audition. So what if you've never been in one of the school plays before? Everyone who saw you agreed that you would be the best choice for the lead."

"I wasn't auditioning!" Sarah shrieked. "I was trying to tell the other girls what they were doing wrong. I didn't really mean to try for the part!"

"Sorry, Sarah," said Rodger, now seriously. "The play is cast. You're the Princess. I'll expect you at practice on Monday afternoon. Talk to Mike here, he'll help you see that the life of the stage is just right for you. I have to meet with the president of the band club. This play calls for some background music. Careful, Mike, I may even make you sing in this thing." And with a triumphant laugh, Rodger walked off.

Sarah growled in frustration. Rodger was being utterly impossible. She couldn't be in this play. She just couldn't be in it. It was too much. All she'd worked so hard to let go of was coming back to her. She couldn't deny that a tiny bit of her was glad that the labyrinth had come back into her life, but she also knew that it would only make it that much harder when the play came to an end, and she'd have to forget about it all over again.

"Sorry about him," said a voice next to her. Sarah turned and saw that Mike was still there. She'd almost forgotten about him. "Rodger's a nice guy, but he can be a little bit, well, Rodger."

"I know what you mean," said Sarah, heavily. "Congratulations on being Goblin King. That's a very important role."

"Thanks," said Mike, smiling awkwardly. "Yeah, I can't believe Rodger cast me for Goblin King. I'd have thought I was too nice to be the bad guy."

"Yeah, I know what you mean," said Sarah.

"But, I mean, he's not all bad though, is he?" said Mike, scratching his chin.

Sarah stared. "What do you mean?"

"Well, he's in love with the girl, isn't he?" Mike explained. "If he's capable of loving someone other than himself, than he can't be all that bad."

"I don't think I follow."

"Well, I read a lot of comics," said Mike, looking slightly embarrassed. "Stupid hobby, I know."

"I don't think it's stupid. But go on."

"Well, a lot of villains in my comics, they only care about themselves," Mike went on. "They're all about themselves. You know, wanting to rule the world and all that. Stealing and killing and all the evil stuff they do in the stories, it is all for themselves. But this Goblin King guy, he's in love with a girl. If he can feel something like love for another person, then he must not be all that bad. Sure, that doesn't make him Saint Peter either, but there is a bit of good in him. I mean, all he does all the time is do what she asks him to do. Remember those lines he says? What are they again? Bah! I can't remember. But it was all about being generous? He was telling her about doing all this stuff for her and that he was generous for doing it?"

Sarah remembered very well what Mike was talking about. "Everything you wanted, I have done. You asked that the child be taken, I took him. You cowered before me, I was frightening. I have reordered time, I have turned the world upside-down, and I have done it all for you. I am exhausted from living up to your expectations of me. Isn't that generous?"

"Yeah, I know what you're talking about," Sarah said, vaguely. "I guess I see what you mean."

"Well, that's what makes him not seem so bad to me," said Mike, shrugging. "I gotta go. Me dad's probably waiting for me. I'll see you at practice on Monday, then."

"Bye," said Sarah, waving to him. Mike was nice. She was glad that she would be working with him in this play. She pondered on what he had said though. Maybe he was right. Maybe she'd made the Goblin King out to be worse than he actually was.

But then again, Sarah thought, stubbornly. Mike's never had his sibling stolen, been made to run the labyrinth, been looked in an oubliette, been chased by cleaners, been nearly pulled apart by Fierys, eaten drugged peaches, been dumped into an enormous junkyard, faced the entire Goblin Army, ran through the Escher room, and faced the Goblin King himself, now has he?


Sarah came home that day, feeling gloomy. The moment she walked in the door, Toby was running right for her, his arms open wide to receive a hug.

"Hi, Sawah!" he cried, throwing his arms around her knees. "Wow-come home!"

"Hey there, Toby," said Sarah, giving Toby a kiss on the top of the head. "Did you have a good day today? How was preschool?"

"Fun!" said Toby. "I like pweskool. I have," he held up one hand. "Five fwiends!"

"That's great," said Sarah, happily. "Who are they?"

"Joey, Bobby, J.C., Davy, and Chwis," Toby counted on his fingers. "But I have more."

"You do?"

"Yeah. I have Mommy, Daddy, Sawah, Lance-lot, and Man when I'm at home," Toby explained. "So I wheelly have," he looked down at his fingers. "Ten fwiends!"

Oh, no, Sarah moaned inwardly. Not "Man" again. "Toby, do you ever see Man other than when you're asleep?"

"Nope," said Toby, shaking his head. "I jus 'member him in my sleep."


"Yeah," said Toby, thinking. "I was with all these things and they were all talking and I was wheelly scared, then Man stands up and he sings and they sing and everybody singing and dancing, then I wasn't scared anymore."

"Uh, huh," said Sarah, uncertainly. "Um, listen, Toby . . ."

"Toby? Toby, is Sarah home?" Irene's voice came echoing in through the hall.

"Yes, Mommy," said Toby, turning away from Sarah to run toward his mother. Irene came in and let Toby give her a hug too.

"Hello, Sarah," she said. "How was school?"

"Um, I don't know," said Sarah, honestly.

"What does that mean?"

"The drama club president wants me to be in the spring play this year," Sarah admitted. She didn't mind telling Irene. In fact, she'd hoped to tell Irene. If anyone could think up a reason why Sarah shouldn't be in the play, it was Irene. And whatever reason Irene gave her, she could give to Rodger and hopefully managed to back out of being in the play altogether. To Sarah's surprise, however, Irene's face lit up.

"Really?" she said, looking at her stepdaughter with interest. "So, will you be acting or working backstage?"

"I'll be acting," Sarah told her. "I got the lead, actually."

"Well, I may not think acting a very good choice for a career," said Irene. "But I think this could be a very, very good thing for you Sarah."

"What!" Sarah stared at her stepmother, shocked.

"Oh, Sarah," said Irene. "You spend all your time locked up in your room painting. If you're involved in a group activity like this, then maybe you'll learn to be a little more social. I've just been saying this to Robert, you need to be involved in more things and interact with people more. If you're in a club, well that's just great. This could be an excellent opportunity to get to know more people and make new friends. I think this is a whole new starting point for you, Sarah, I really do."

Sarah suddenly felt utterly defeated. Her only lifeline had failed her. There would be no point in asking her father what he thought. He would simply agree with Irene, like he always did. Sarah suddenly longed to be alone, away from her stepmother. "Irene, I think I'm going upstairs to take a nap. I'm really tired today."

"Oh, alright," said Irene, looking surprised. "I'll call you when it's time for dinner."

"Alright, thanks," Sarah replied dully and she headed up the stairs to her bedroom. Once inside, she collapsed onto her bed, took one of her pillows, and shoved it down on to her head, sandwiching her head between the pillow and her mattress.

. . . . . . . I give up! Sarah thought miserably. There is just no other way to express my feelings on this matter. It . . . is . . . just . . . NOT FAIR! She pounded her fist into her mattress as she thought these last two words. Must the entire world conspire against my every attempt to forget the labyrinth? Was all that work for nothing? Was all that energy I used to forget what happened wasted? Were all those tears I cried at the idea of forgetting my friends all worthless? The hand she'd used to pound on her mattress fell over the edge of her bed and dangled there lifelessly. It is no use. There really is no point in it, is there? I'm just going to have to accept the fact that it happened. I was there and it really happened. The labyrinth is real. My friends Hoggle, Ludo, and Sir Didymus were real. The Goblin King is real. And I'm just going to have to deal with that.

Sarah suddenly sat bolt upright. The Goblin King is real! Her mind was racing. He really was real. He existed. He still exists now. Sarah began to panic, her thoughts racing. What if he discovers the play? What if he knows I'm going to be in a play about what happened when I said those words? What if he knows that some boy will be playing him? What will he do to Mike? What if someone says something and summons him by mistake? What if he comes? What if he ruins the performance?

No, Sarah thought, stubbornly. No. He's not going to do anything. I'll make sure he doesn't. I AM going to be in this play. I AM going to do my part. I'm going to protect this production. I'm going to watch over the entire thing. I'm going to make sure he doesn't come anywhere near us as we're performing. I'll make sure that this play goes down without a hitch. No matter how powerful he may be, there is one fact that remains the same. He has NO power over ME!


Sarah stared at the blank canvas before her. Sometimes she'd get some kind of inspiration by just looking at the blank space on which she was to do her art by trying to see what she could do to fill it in. Right now, however, she had too much going on in her mind. Irene had called her down for dinner a few hours after Sarah gone up to her room for a nap. The said nap never came, however. Sarah had stayed awake, laying in bed, her thoughts drifting over and over about the labyrinth and whatever scheme the Goblin King might think up to ruin the play. These same thoughts were what it was that kept Sarah's artistic flow at bay.

Sarah looked down at her set of acrylic paints. They were the very nice, expensive kind that her father had given her for her birthday. She blotted several dots of each color onto an old dinner plate, but they were now getting hard as Sarah's mind refused to lend her any help when thinking what to paint. Sarah picked up one of her fattest brushes and mixed some white in with one of her favorite shades of blue. She liked this blue so much because it was so pretty and easy to work with. It had been what she had used for many of her landscapes for when she needed a proper color for the sky.

Alright, Sarah said, as the two paints combined and formed the perfect shade of blue for an afternoon sky. I'll make this an outside picture. I always did like using this color for the sky. Sarah loaded the large brush with the newly created sky blue and ran it across the top of the canvas. It seemed to help with the feeling that she was doing nothing to achieve the Garrison Award. Sarah painted two-quarters of the canvas in the sky blue before looking back down at her colors. She tried a few experiments, mixing this color with that, still looking for inspiration.

She soon noticed that by mixing a rich brown with white and adding a tiny bit of yellow, it made a rough sandy color. Sarah allowed herself a small smile. She kind of liked this color. It reminded her of something . . . but what?

Better not think about it, she said, sulking as she painted the sandy color onto the rest of the blank canvas. Odds are it'll have to do with all that again.

When she'd finished painting on the new color, Sarah stared at what she'd done. It was now half-sky blue, half-sandy brownish, and still very much incomplete. Sarah sighed. There was no point working on this any longer. She couldn't think of anything that would improve the picture now. She looked over at her clock. It was 8:45. Maybe she'd just turn in early tonight. She put her paints and brushes away, left the canvas in a corner of her room to dry out, went downstairs and washed the paint off the plate, bade Robert and Irene goodnight (Toby had gone to bed a 7:30), went back upstairs and went through her bedtime routine of brushing her teeth, putting her hair up, getting on her pajamas, and hopping into bed.

Tonight, Sarah forbid herself to even think about the labyrinth. She thought only of how comfortable her bed was and how tired she felt. She refused to think about Rodger and the play, too. She would not let it go to her mind. She would ignore it completely. Sarah sighed into her pillow. She just wanted to sleep. No more worrying about anything right now. If only, for one night, she could just get some sleep . . . .


Sarah knew where she was. She'd been there before, but it had been different at the time. The last time she'd been there, the Goblin King's throne room had been empty. The goblins had all gone out to stop her from getting into the castle and the King himself had fled into the Escher room. Now, however, it was full of goblins and noise. Everywhere she looked, she could see goblins. They were arguing, talking, chasing chickens and just making a world of noise. Sarah stared. She was looking right at the creatures, but not a single one of them seemed to know she was there.

She walked over to a pair of goblins who seemed to be having a tug-a-war over a long rope of linked sausages.

"Find your own!"

"Let go!"

"Beat it!"

"It's mine!"

"I saw it first!"

"I called dibbs!"

"You did not!"

Sarah reached down to tap one of the goblins, but she couldn't. Her hand, she now saw, was semi-transparent. Now she understood. Right now, in this room, she was little more than a ghost to these creatures. She could see them, but they couldn't see, touch, smell, or hear her.

Sarah looked around the room and felt a slight shock. Sitting in the strange throne in the middle of the room was him. The Goblin King. He sat there, looking rather bored. One leg was draped lazily over one of the curved arms of the chair; the other was tapping the ground dully with the tip of his boot. His head was resting on one fist; his free hand was tossing one of his crystal spheres up into the air and catching it effortlessly. His strange eyes swept around the room. What he was looking for exactly, Sarah couldn't really think.

But then something happened. The Goblin King's eyes grew suddenly wide, he sat upright in his throne, the hand that was tossing the crystal suddenly stopped and clutched at his chest.



The crystal fell to the floor and shattered. The noise that had filled the hall died at once as every goblin in the room turned their eyes expectantly to their king. But the Goblin King didn't do anything. He stared at the shattered fragments of his crystal with one had still clutching his heart. There was something pained in his expression, as if there was something he was trying to hold back. He quickly covered his mouth with his other hand, closing his eyes very tightly and breathing deeply.

The goblins hadn't made a single move. They continued to watch their king, looking expectant. No doubt they thought that he'd dropped the crystal in order to gain the attention of everyone in the room. After a few moments of nothingness, one of the smaller goblins dared to step out of the crowd.

"Your Highness?" it said in a squeaky little voice.

The Goblin King opened his eyes. They swept around the room again, noticing all of his subjects watching him. He quickly regained his composer, swinging his leg back over the arm of this chair as if nothing had happened.

"What are you all staring at?" he said dully. "It has passed. Go on. As you were."

Within milliseconds the room had resumed its noise and chaos. Only Sarah was still paying attention to the Goblin King. There was something still wrong. His face had a worried look in it, he was still clutching his chest, and there was something different about his face. It was paler, weaker than before.

Before she knew what was happening, Sarah was awake. Back in her bed, and miles and miles away from the Goblin King's throne room. Sarah's mind was racing, overwhelmed with what she'd just seen.

What on earth was that about?

Please Come Home

A Labyrinth Story
by Ying-Fa-dono

Part 5 of 20

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