Continuing Tales

Please Come Home

A Labyrinth Story
by Ying-Fa-dono

Part 6 of 20

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Please Come Home

"Cut!" Rodger's voice echoed throughout the stage. "Good work. You're really doing well. Gus, watch your blocking. You keep cutting Mike off every now and then. Alright, let's go through it one more time. You just heard Sarah cry for help. Ready? And action!"

It had been one week since Sarah had been cast as herself in the spring play. Sarah tried to just do her part and nothing else, but sometimes she found herself doing Rodger's part more than her own. She would tell other actors what they were doing wrong and how to do it right. When people pointed this out to her, she would apologize and try to ignore the obvious mistakes. She'd also had to argue with Rodger about several things he'd changed in the play.

"You wrote in the script that the Goblin King gives the princess a poisoned apple," she told him. "But it wasn't an apple, it was a peach."

"Apples are more fairy-taleish than peaches," Rodger explained, patiently. "How many fairy-tales do you know of that have enchanted peaches?"

"This one," Sarah countered.

"Yeah, but this way we connect with the audience better," said Rodger, cheerfully.

"And you called it the Bog of Eternal Misery," Sarah went on. "It's the Bog of Eternal Stench, Rodger."

"It's an improvement," Rodger said, simply.

"It's called the Bog of Eternal Stench because if you fall in it you'll smell bad forever," Sarah said, incredulously. "Not that you'll be miserable forever."

"If I had to smell bad for the rest of my life, I'd be pretty miserable," Rodger said with a smirk. "I'd never get another date. Besides, Bog of Stench sounds too comical. It sounds funny, not scary. Bog of Misery sounds like something that would frighten people, don't you think?"

"Rodger, you're messing with it too much!" Sarah insisted. "Come on, why don't you just stick to what was written."

"Hey, if the anonymous author wants to come here and tell me I'm doing it wrong, let him," said Rodger, flatly. "Otherwise, my improvements stay in the script."

Sarah growled in frustration. Rodger was simply infuriating. She'd agreed to stay in the play because she wanted to protect it in case the Goblin King saw fit to interfere with the play, she could protect it. If Rodger was going to start twisting the plot and doing things wrong, that was just adding fuel to the fire.

If he found out about all these changes, the Goblin King probably wouldn't be able to resist coming and doing something about it, Sarah thought. But, so far, I don't think he knows about any of this. I just have to make sure Rodger sticks to the book and that word of this play doesn't reach the labyrinth.

"I'm coming, Princess," said Gus, turning abruptly on the stage, pretending to have heard a cry for help. He turned right into Mike, who was leaning against the side of the stage.

"Well, if it isn't you," said Mike, putting on a cool, sarcastic demeanor. "And where might you be going, dwarf?"

"Oh, um," stammered Gus, in a very Hoggle-ish manner. "The Princess escaped from me, but I heard her but a moment ago. So, I was about to go and take her back to the beginning of the labyrinth, just as you instructed, Your Majesty."

"I see," Mike strode coolly over to the other side of Gus, eyeing him suspiciously. "For one moment, I thought you were running off to help her. But, surely you weren't about to do that after I'd already warned you of what I would do if you did? That would be utter foolishness."

Sarah sighed as she watched the two boys act. She didn't mind the lines being moved around a bit, as long as the most important ones were kept the same. But Rodger was making things to dangerous. For the sake of everyone in this production, he had to clean up his act.

"Why do you look so miserable, beauteous one?"

Sarah cringed. Upon hearing that Sarah would be in the spring play, Dirk Bloomings had joined the stage crew and was helping put the set and props together for the production. Sarah, who was already terribly worried about what would happen in the play, was extremely unhappy to learn that she'd now have to deal with Dirk as well.

"It's nothing, Dirk," she said, dully. "Rodger is just being horribly difficult about the script."

"Well, that's just not right," said Dirk, standing up straight. "He has nothing against you. You could do this entire play, just you. It could be a one woman performance and it would be the best thing ever."

"Thanks Dirk," Sarah replied, without enthusiasm.

"Whatever you need, just ask me," said Dirk, looking excited. "You know, my friends and I were thinking of putting on a play of our own."

"Really?" said Sarah, staring down at her fingernails.

"Yeah," said Dirk. "And there is a princess in that one too. She falls in love with the Grand Master Wizard and . . ."

"You know what, Dirk," said Sarah suddenly feeling queasy. "I've gotta have a word with . . . Shawna. Over there. For awhile. Bye."

"Oh, fair thee well," said Dirk, watching her go.

Sarah made sure that Dirk was no longer watching her when she stuck out her tongue in disgust. Shawna saw her and laughed.

"Looks like one of the crew guys has a crush on you," she said, teasingly.

"I know," said Sarah, miserably. "I really wish he'd just leave me alone."

"Tell him where to stick it," said Shawna, simply. "That's what I'd do."

Sarah would have dearly loved to tell Dirk where to stick it, but she was just too nice to do it. She turned her attention back to Mike and Gus on the stage.

"You'll give that to her, dwarf!" Mike was saying, pretending to grab Gus by the ear and yanking on it. "Or I'll tip you straight into the Bog of Eternal Stench before you can blink!"

"Yes, Majesty," mumbled Gus, looking defeated.

"Oh, and Hog's Breath," said Mike, sharply. "If she ever kisses you, I'll turn you into a prince."

"Really?" said Gus, looking hopeful.

"Prince of the Land of Stench! Now, off with you." Mike snapped then laughed darkly. It was a very good imitation of the Goblin King. Sarah was impressed.

"Cut!" said Rodger, clapping his hands. "Good work guys. Oh, and Mike, remember it is the Bog of Eternal Misery now."

"Really?" Mike looked unhappy. "But that just sounds wrong. Isn't it better to just stick with what it is in the book?"

"Thank you!" said Sarah, gesturing towards Mike.

Rodger frowned at both of them. "You both need to take this more seriously. Have more faith in your director. I know what it is that I am doing."

Sarah sighed. This play was so much more work that it was worth.


That night, Sarah dreamt again.

Sarah was surrounded by nothingness. There was nothing around her at all. There only swirling, white mistiness. What she was standing on seemed to be nothing more than some the same mist made solid, so that she could stand and walk. She looked around her. All she could see was herself and nothing else. There was nobody with her. She was alone in dense nothingness.

Sarah wrapped her arms around herself. She felt very lonely all of a sudden. She wished she had company with her, and then this nothingness would be less frightening. Then, as if to answer her silent plea, she heard something. A soft whimpering coming from somewhere in the mist.

"Hello?" Her voice sounded normal even in this strange place. "Is someone there?"

The whimpering went on. It sounded like a little child. Sarah felt a rush of compassion. Wherever they were, Sarah wanted to help the poor child. She wanted to comfort it, to help it if she could.

"Is someone there?" she repeated. "Are you hurt? Please, let me help you."

And then there it was. A figure, appearing out of nowhere, right in front of Sarah. Sarah stared at the figure before her. It was a little girl, or so it seemed. The child was curled into a ball, her tiny shoulders shaking. Sarah noticed she had very, very long sandy hair. It was longer even than the girl was tall. It spilled all around her, curling and splayed all around her and made you thing of octopus tentacles, except you didn't want to run your fingers through octopus tentacles, which is what you definitely wanted to do with this child's hair.

"Hello?" Sarah said, bending down toward the girl. "Are you okay?"

The girl looked up at her. Sarah received a small shock. Her eyes, the little girl's eyes were exactly like his. Both blue, and yet mismatched, with one pupil more diluted than the other. Sarah wanted to look away. She was afraid to see those eyes, but she just couldn't do it.

She is just so cute, Sarah couldn't help but think. Despite the fact that she had the eyes of the Goblin King, the girl was, indeed, very cute. Her face was small and round with youth, a button nose, and a tiny mouth. She was very small and dressed in, what looked like to Sarah, a white shirt that was so long on her it could be a dress. The girl blinked, and Sarah saw the remains of tears in those horribly familiar eyes.

The little girl stood up, still staring at Sarah. She raised two tiny fists to her eyes and rubbed the tears away so she could get a clearer look at the strange newcomer before her. Then she spoke.

"It worked?" she said. Her voice was young and childish like Toby's but there wasn't a trace of Toby's baby-talk in her voice.

Sarah hadn't understood what she meant, so she simply asked again, "Are you okay? Do you need help?"

The girl stared at Sarah, and then shook her head.

"You don't need help?" Sarah asked.

"Not me," the girl replied.

"Not you?"

"No," said the girl. Then she stood on the tips of her toes and looked at Sarah with those mismatched eyes. "Strange," she said, looking at Sarah in what seemed to be awe.

"What's strange?" Sarah said.

"I don't talk to people very much," the girl replied. "It is a strange feeling, talking to somebody new."

"You don't talk to people?"

"I don't have anything to say to other people," the girl replied with a little shrug. She looked back up at Sarah and her tiny mouth curved into a smile. Oh, she was just too cute! "But I don't mind talking to you."

"I don't mind talking to you, either," said Sarah, smiling. "I'm Sarah."

"I know," replied the girl.

"You do?" said Sarah.

"Yes," said the girl.

"What's your name?" Sarah asked, politely.

The girl stared. "You know my name."

"I do?" Sarah was puzzled. Cute as she was, this was a very strange little girl. "When did I learn it?"

"You've known," said the girl. "For a very long time."

"I'm sorry," said Sarah. "I don't remember what it is."

The girl didn't look upset at all. In fact she giggled.

"Yes you do."

Sarah was now clueless as to what to say to her. "I'm really sorry, but I don't remember your name. I don't even think I've met you before . . ."

"If you like," said the girl. "I'll tell you my special name. Only one person ever calls me by my special name."

"You have a special name?" said Sarah, now more puzzled than ever. "Is it like a nickname?"

"Uh, huh. It's what he calls me."

"He?" Sarah was suddenly alert. "What do you mean he? Who is he?"

"He calls me Rin," said the little girl, smiling.

"Rin?" Sarah repeated.

"Yes," said Rin, pleasantly. "But you may call me Rin too, Sarah."

"Really," said Sarah, smiling back down at her. "Okay, Rin it is."

Rin giggled again. "I like you," she said, smiling. "I remember liking you. I told him I liked you. I remember. I remember that he . . . that he . . . was . . . happy." Rin's eyes suddenly filled with tears and she buried her face in her hands.

"Rin?" Sarah cried, kneeling down so that she was at Rin's level. "What's wrong?"

"Something is not right," sobbed Rin, whipping her eyes fruitlessly. "Something is not right. I know it, but he's not telling. He's not telling me!"

"Who are you talking about, Rin?" said Sarah, desperate for an answer. "Rin, who are you referring too."

"Y-you know w-without me t-telling you," Rin said through her tears.

Sarah gasped. "The Goblin King?"

Rin wailed and clutched at her extremely long hair. That sandy brown color. Sarah knew that color, but couldn't think of where she'd seen it before. "Something isn't right! Something isn't right! Something is going on and I don't understand!"

"What isn't right?" Sarah asked, urgently. "Rin, please, tell me what's wrong. Maybe I can help. I wanna help you."

Rin cried even harder at this. "He's sick!" she wailed. "He's sick! He's sick! He's sick and he won't tell me what's wrong! I don't know what to do. I'm scared, Sarah, I'm so, so scared!"

"Sick!" Sarah gasped. "What do you mean sick?"

"I . . . I . . ." Rin hiccupped in her sorrow, her adorable face contorted in pain. "I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!"

"Rin? What do you mean? Let me help you, Rin. What do you mean sick? Rin?"


Sarah's eyes snapped open. The swirling white nothingness was gone. Now there was blackness and a strange heaviness all over her body. She heard someone say her name again.

"Sarah? Sarah, are you alright, sweetheart?"

"D-Daddy?" Sarah's voice came out hoarse and full of sleep. Sarah had to pry her eyes open, sleep gunk having sealed them shut. She saw her father in his paisley pajamas in her doorway, looking at right at her with concern in his eyes.

"Are you okay?" Robert said again. "I thought I heard you talking in here and I was worried."

"I must have been sleep talking, Daddy," said Sarah, patient even through her grogginess. "I was having a really weird dream. I'm sorry I worried you."

"That's okay," said Robert, looking mostly relieved but still a little unsure. "Do you need anything? I got up for a glass of water, do you want one."

As Robert made this offer, Sarah realized just how rough and dry her throat was. "That sounds really nice, Daddy. Thank you."

"I'll bring it up for you," said Robert. "You stay in bed."

As Robert left, Sarah collapsed back onto her pillows. When she blinked her eyes, Rin's adorable, tear-streaked face was all she saw. What a strange dream that had been. Rin had had the Goblin King's eyes and she seemed to know him. She had seemed to know Sarah too, but Sarah was absolutely positive that she'd never come across a little girl named Rin when she'd run the labyrinth. But then who had she been? What had she wanted from Sarah?

Robert came back five minutes later, holding a class of ice water. He placed it on Sarah's bedside table, gave his daughter a quick kiss on the head and apologized once more for waking her before he turned and left the room. Sarah took a long drink of cold water, and then she flopped back onto her pillows. Part of her was afraid she'd see Rin again, but then another part of her wanted to see Rin. But when Sarah closed her eyes this time, it was only to drift into a deep and dreamless sleep.

The next morning, when Sarah awoke, she hardly remembered Rin at all.

Please Come Home

A Labyrinth Story
by Ying-Fa-dono

Part 6 of 20

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