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The inside of the store was bright; I could see people through the windows. Story Mart, a very, very large store I had never seen before. It was at the edge of the city limits but apparently it had been here a reasonable amount of time, not that I knew.
I went through the door. All went dark, desolate, there was no life. I rubbed my eyes, confused and turned to leave. I slammed into the door, it would not budge. I could not leave.
“Ma’am,” I heard, I turned quickly, my heart beating faster than a hummingbird being chased by a cat.
A boy stood there, in the entrance, about twenty, I guessed, he had a green apron on and a pair of hunter green glasses. The lights were on again, but no people were inside, “Can I help you?” he led me inside, “Come with me,”
“I should leave,” I said.
“No,” His grip tightened on my arm. I fought against him, but he only smiled and continued to walk. I was thrown down around the clothes section of the store. The lights came down with a thundering boom. I stood up, the boy was gone. I walked to the hallway, but could not move any further. The wall was invisible, it felt like chain. I ran up and down the length of the section, I could not find a way out.
Exhausted I sat underneath a clothes rack and closed my eyes.
“Oh get back here, Chance! I’ll win!” I heard a voice call out in the darkness
He laughed, “In your dreams!”
I opened my eyes. There were two people, close to the same age on horses, horses in the store… I felt like I was past mad! I rubbed my eyes again and stood. The girl, closest to me, did not see me. She had long blonde hair and a cute smile. The boy, Chance, was dressed in old clothing. He had a cape and everything. The pair began to chase each other in circles around the area I could not leave.
“Kaitlin!” the boy cried. “This way!”
I began walking around the area. I could see signs for other areas of the store. If I could find a way out of this one area I should be able to leave, and I needed to, but at the same time, morning would come and that boy would have to let me leave.
I heard a humming coming from behind a shelf. I walked around the shelf quickly, hoping to catch a glimpse of the person. The woman was not there but passes by me in the corner of my eye. I chased after her, “Hey!” I yelled to the voice.
The humming ceased.
I then heard the horse bound pair. “Kaitlin! Oh where did you go?” The boy Chance said, riding around the shelf, he stopped in front of me and smiled. “Did you see her?”
“No,” I said, “Do you know how to leave?”
“Oh, no, you cannot leave, once you are in here, you are in here for good,”
My chest went on fire, and I closed my eyes, feeling like I was just hopeless, but angry, very, very angry. “Are you sure?”
“Of course I am, have you seen Kaitlin?” He asked again.
“No, I have not,”
“Good bye,” His head cocked to one side, almost robotically and he left. I sighed and continued to walk along, hoping to find the humming woman. For some reason I felt like I really needed to talk to her, she could help me… maybe, if I was lucky.
I wanted to wake up… I hoped that this was a dream; I did not want to be here.
I finally could hear the humming again, “Where are you?” I asked, looking in no particular direction. She had to be somewhere, right?
“Over here,” I heard, “Follow my voice,”
“That is what I have been trying to do,” I urged, feeling crushed, I could not see her. She wasn’t anywhere around me or in the space I could not leave.
“If you are good you can go farther.” She said, “Maybe you will just have to wait before I let you,”
“Please, I do not have time to wait, I need to leave,”
“Chance talked to you, and what he said is true, you cannot leave once you are here…” Her voice was a whisper, taken away by the air. I looked terrified I would lose her, “Walk forward,” She said and I did as told, “Turn left,” And I did as told, then I could see her. She had a light glow to her, she was pale, almost see through. She turned to see me, “There you are,” she said. “Who are you?” She asked, I could not answer yet, “Who are you?” She asked again, “What are you? Are you a witch? Are you a good or bad one?” I felt like I was in a mix between Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz, either way I was not where I was supposed to be and this place shouldn’t be real.
“Um…” I mumbled, “I’m not a witch,” I laughed. “I’m a person.”
“Where are you from?”
“Smithfield?” I said plainly, trying not to laugh at what she was wearing, as it was quite funny.
“Are you showing me disrespect?” She asked, “I am the queen!” She said then immediately added, “Or was, depending on if you like to use past tense or what not, because I was the queen, until I died but I still kind of am because there is not another one in my place, unfortunately that is the problem that I am having.”
“Um…” I mumbled, “Ok?”
“If you help me I can try and help you escape, as I do know the ways. If you do not help me, you will end up as my son. He came here many years ago, a kid around your age, the age he is now, and he, well, did not help me. After five days he just up and disappeared, vanished, until he was born some time later, by me. He is now my son, the prince and he and his father are endangered of falling under the trap of the queen and her daughter from the hunting section, over there, and the food section. We get our food from them, and if they do not make them happy, we will have no food and will all die. The queen, over there, is very evil and her daughter is just as evil in every aspect. I cannot let my husband marry her.”
“This is all absurd,” I said, “I must be crazy or something, because this can’t be real,”
“Of course you will think that, dear, but it is real, this all is real…” She looked at me, her eyes a milky blue, “Now, you must decide, will you help me or not?”
“I will,” I said.
“That is good news,” She said, smiling now. “Good bye,” She then disappeared. I looked around to see if I could find her, but she disappeared with the air. I sighed and sat down, trying to think about what to do, how I could help.
How could not believe that this was happening, I was going crazy, I must. I came here to buy milk and bread and now I am stuck in the clothes section being told by a ghost queen that I must make sure that an evil queen doesn’t marry her still alive husband and an evil princess doesn’t marry the prince that used to be just like me but disappeared and was born again into this world. I must be missing something, obviously, something must be going wrong. Did I run into something, did I drink something that had spoiled and I was hallucinating? That must be it, but at the same time I can feel everything that is happening, which is odd because most dreams are not that way. So I should help out the weird queen just so in case this is real, I can get out of it and still be alive at the end of it instead of disappear forever and be born again as some clueless person who is lives in a department store…
Yeah, this isn’t real. Nope, can’t be, not at all… not at all…
Oddly enough morning did come, and I felt even crazier, I expected that I would be let out by the weird boy with the green glasses. I did not see him at all, but I did not see anybody else that I had seen that night. There were people shopping, they could not see me, they could not hear me… to them I didn’t exist, and I still could not escape. If I could find the boy and have him somehow tell me how to escape, then I should be fine. If I had to swear on my life not to tell anybody about this, than I will.
The day was long, and I found a place to rest near the bathrooms that I could not go into, but I didn’t feel like a human, I did not feel thirsty or hungry, nor did I have to relieve myself. It was like a comfortable state, and yet I could feel pain when I stumbled and could feel the itch on my neck.
I heard a beautiful male voice, singing like a sad, young lark. I turned to see Chance, walking around, swaying back and forth.
'Are you here? Are you here?
My love, my love, my mad young love.'
A sweet voice answered, as perfect as an angel’s, and as unreal.
'My handsome young prince, I see you here.'
'I love you; I love you, my cute little dear.'
As if I didn’t know any better, I assumed that they were in love.
It was both sweet and disgusting at the same time. I really wanted to laugh but did not want to be seen by the pair. If I was seen, maybe it would be difficult to help the queen, but in a way it was a relief to see the two. I assumed that pretty girl was not the evil princess, hah I sound so dumb right now, and that means that he would not marry that evil girl, he’d marry this pretty one and we wouldn’t have to worry about anything at all. Right? I guess I was wrong, because we had to think about getting food, although that was confusing because I didn’t need to eat or drink in this place Maybe it was different for people who this was their world, their world that they were alive in. they would have to live like anybody else, and I was just intruding.
Chance, the prince, was sitting against a clothes rack and looked around with a smile on this face. Chance had soft brown eyes, and short, tightly curled light brown hair, and he was just a nice guy. I guess it is hard not to be a nice guy when the only thing you know is a fairytale. The girl, who was not Kaitlin, I do not yet know who Kaitlin is, possibly Chance’s sister, as I remembered how similar they looked.
This girl’s name was Christina, which seemed like a perfect name for her. This was going to be an interesting day, or night, or whatever will work for this situation.
Finally Christina stood, “I think I see somebody,” She said to Chance. I stood back, expecting her to talk to me, “Hello,” She said, “Are you new?” She held out her hand, and I shook it, “It is nice to meet you, my name is Christina,” As I already knew, “What are you wearing? I must change that, come with me,” She said and I was whisked away to the changing rooms of the store. “Do you have a room here, dear?” She asked.
“No,” I said, looking around. The walls seemed much higher, like they almost reached the ceiling. They shouldn’t be this high, was it a way of keeping us in here? Another way of keeping us captive.
“Well, you may have this empty room right here, it is the last one, you are lucky,” She said, looking into a drawer beside a computer. “This is the key to the rooms, to all of them, but I advise you to keep to your own room. You can rest there,”
She opened the door to the room and said, “Stay right here for a little bit, I must get you into suitable clothing. You look like a mad woman,”
“Not any less than I feel,” I said.
She walked away singing in her angelic voice.
The queen walked the line, to get out of the bind…
She now has paid the price…
She fell to the ground and made not a sound
now we see her no more.
Disturbed by the words to the song I sat down and closed my eyes. Christina came back and opened the door, holding a dress in her hands, “This was mine, but I can’t fit in it anymore,” She said, and she put me in it. “That looks absolutely wonderful on you, dear,” She said.
I heard a knock on the door, and Christina opened it, there stood Chance. “Hello, who is this?”
“A new girl,” She said.
“I was a new boy, once upon a time,” He said, “I couldn’t find my way out, but that was long ago, I can hardly remember it now,” He laughed, “My mother was set on trying to get out of here, that’s what killed her, but I barely knew her.” I wanted to tell him that I knew his mother; she had talked to me, but for all I knew they would hang me for being a witch because that is what that queen person had told me.
I finally was able to see the evil queen. She had three daughters, one was the eldest, I assume was her favorite and the other two stood in the back, a look on their face like they were absolutely air heads. One of them was crazy for the prince and that one wasn’t the eldest. I stood behind the queen, the dead one, that no one knew was there, but she was a comfort to me.
The king bowed to her, he smiled like he liked her, “Hello Zuri,” He said calmly, “What is the occasion?”
“I wanted to renew our contract for the food section,” She said, “But I also wanted to speak to you about something else, something for me,”
“Yes, anything,” the king said immediately, knowing that they needed the food.
“Your son and my daughter are both of age, and I believe that it would make it all easier if-“
“No,” Chance said stepping up, “No,”
“Alright, that is fine,” Said Zuri, “Then there will be no food for you, any of you, and you sweet little Christina will die,”
“Then please give me time to think about this,” Said Chance and he walked away, “Christina, please come with me,” then he looked at me, “You too,”
Christina sat down with me and whispered to Chance, “Should I tell her?”
“Not now, until I get this all figured out,”
“What? What aren’t you telling me?”
She laughed and said nicely, “I can’t tell you right now, you don’t need to know yet, dear,” I wondered if they knew my name, but I really wanted to know what the secret was. It may help me get out of here.
I needed to find the dead queen and find out what she wanted me to do to so I could get out of here alive and not completely messed up, not that I was sure I wasn’t messed up now.
The ghost queen came to me later that day and said, “After Christina tells you, then you should know what to do, you must keep my son and her together, just in case. That is not only for me, but for you, girl. You need them to be together. But my husband, if he goes with Zuri, then she will kill him and take our kingdom and make my son work for her. She must be destroyed,”
“What? How am I supposed to destroy her?”
“Quite near the ceiling is an open space that you can get through, find a way to get close to Zuri when she is asleep and kill her, that should be easy enough,”
“Explain please, you are not telling me everything,”
She smiled proudly, “You are smart, I did not tell you everything. She is very well protected and on the other side of the store. There is a whole area you must go through. At a certain time of night, the only time you will be able to leave this place, there are dog like creatures running around. You will see them very soon and I will show them to you. They are all white and they like to eat people like you, the people who have not yet crossed into our world yet.”
“Um, ok, sounds weird,” I muttered under my breath, “Come out here with me and we will wait, right at the fence,”
I stood near the fence, feeling it on my hands. The employees were closing up the store currently, making sure it all looked nice and put together. The lights were turned out. The queen stood tall and said, “Any time now,”
A loud howling rolled through the air, and an entire pack of normal looking wolves was in front of my pacing at the fence, “There they are,” I said. “And they are wolves,”
“I know what they are,” She said, “But not the same as what you call normal,” the queen stepped back, “They are under the control of Zuri. They will do as she pleases whenever she pleases.”
Chance stood behind me, “What are you doing here?” He asked, “You need to stay away from these things,”
“Have you decided what you want to do?” I asked him.
“Yes, I have, I need to keep Christina safe so I will marry Zuri’s daughter.”
“No, please, not yet,” I said, “I was told to make sure you don’t, by your mother, she said that you must tell me your secret first,”
Chance nodded and said, “I am not surprised, your kind are the only ones that can see people like her. Um… everyone who comes here is expecting really, and they are expected not to leave. In my case they knew I was not going to have a way to leave and you know that I was born of the queen. I had a life before then, but I can hardly remember. So at this point Christina, though, is carrying you,”
“Huh? But I am getting out of here, your mother said,”
“Even if you die, you will still be with Christina, and will still be born, so anyways, you are probably going to be one of us,” he began to walk away. I followed closely, feeling crushed that I wasn’t going to get this accomplished. I must do this… because if they are not together than I am not alive, if I die, I will really die, or I will be the evil princess’s daughter instead of Christina. I had to plan future wise.
Oh my gosh, what am I thinking? This isn’t real! This can’t be real; it is completely illogical in every sense of the dang word. I am just crazy as crazy can possibly be and I need to get out of here.
So I attempted to find a way to make this work. I would have to pass by the hunting section just to get to her anyways, so then I would find something to fight my way through with, but how the heck would I get to her without any weapon to begin with. I just need to get away from the wolves.
The hammocks, yes, that hung from the ceiling for show, I could go through those, and the tents that hung there by the hunting supplies. Humph, I thought, this was going to be an adventure, might as well have fun while I am here. I needed, though, just to find a way to the hammocks first off. Maybe the people with the horses could help me.
I ran over to Chance who was sitting beside Christina, “You need to help me,” I said to the pair, “Because I am trying to help you,” they nodded uncertainly and I said, “Do you see those hammocks up there? I need to get to them,”
“You are as mad as I thought you were,” Christina said smiling greatly, “Please, think logically,”
“There isn’t any logic in this place to begin with! If I want to get out of here I must think without the dang logic and now I am starting to sound like you people, oh no… but please, I need to get up there somehow, some way, and I need your people’s help,”
Chance nodded slowly, “I guess so,” He stood and said, “Let’s get to work, the wolves are still out, but you will have to be over there for a day until the wolves get out of there again. Are you a patient girl?” He asked.
“Might as well be, I am not hungry, or thirsty, so it should be easy,”
“But you will not sleep,” Chance said, “I know how it feels, but you will need to do this,”
We looked to the hammocks and he asked, “Can you climb?”
“No,” I said, “I don’t think so at least, I don’t know what to do…”
“I see that,” Chance said, stand on one of those racks, near the dressing rooms. Then the shelf and you can stand on the top,”
It sounded easy enough and I did as asked. I climbed onto the rack with unsteady feet. I feared the worst, that I would fall off and either get really hurt or die, but I doubted that would happen. I finally got onto the shelf and I sat down as Chance instructed me for what to do next. “Do you see that really big shelf, the one in the middle?” I nodded, “Climb on the different shelves on it, and you should be able to get to the top,” I listened and got to the top. I was proud of myself for this. “The wall, get on top of the wall,”
It was perfectly possible because there was a large thick top to the wall before it hit the ceiling. I sat on the top, feeling like I needed to recuperate. Breathing deeply looked around for the best possible way to get onto the hammock. It was far away, more than twenty feet. I could always jump but that would be really stupid, and I could always try and reach and then fall, like you see in the movies. There had to be some kind of way to do this without actually dying.
The queen did fall, fall… fall…
Oh the queen did fall… and we see her no more.
Christina sung beautifully. That reminded me, Kaitlin could help, and she seemed adventurous enough.
“Get Kaitlin!”I cried down to Chance.
“Oh yes,” He said and ran off with Christina. I felt alone in the dark, there were no sounds left and I could not see anybody. It was like if they were not in sight, nobody was alive in this place. I could no longer see the wolves or the horses, or the home of the queen, or the ghost queen. There was nothing here to make this more comforting. Instead I felt like this was all an illusion and I was left here to rot until morning where some people would call the crazy people police and lock me up. But that was better than being stuck here.
Chance, though, came back and had Kaitlin beside him. She climbed up onto the shelf and looked at me with a proud smile, “So you’re the one?”
“I guess so, depending on what you are talking about,” I said, “I need to get to the hammock,” I said immediately, curious about her plans.
“Alright, I have a rope with me,” She said, “try to get it on the pole that is holding up the hammock,” she handed it to me, it took four tries before I got it looped around correctly. “Now you should be able to crawl on it if you give me the other end. I will got back down there and hold onto it with Chance and Christina.”
So we acted out what she said and I climbed onto the hammock. Close by was another hammock and another getting me close to the tent that I could spend the day in. I realized that I was weightless, I was making no visible action on any of the items although I was on them. I would not be seen in the tent by people when the store was opened in the morning. I climbed in and lay down.
I could hear the opening of the store and the voice of the evil boy who brought me in here. I did not look outside of the tent but instead waited for my cue that was so far away. I looked at my dress, the one Christina put me in. I thought about them and how their lives worked. I really did think that this was real, how else would this be happening. Dreams or hallucinations did not last this long. I was just crazy then, or this was real. Both options were completely equal.
Finally I could hear the wolves and I headed out to get into the hunting section directly below me.
I looked down, the wolves were not near my, they were circling the clothing section where I was. Chance and the two girls were standing at the fence distracting the dogs for me. I crawled down on the rope that was down to the ground. There was nothing below me except for the section. I could see now where the queen lived, there was a door to a storage room, and I just wondered what she did to it to make it her palace. I went down to the hallway and grabbed a machete to protect myself and a knife that I put in my pocket.
I continued on, knowing that I had to be careful; I only had a day and a night after this to be alive.
Suddenly I could hear breath. It was the wolves. I climbed up to the top of the sections shelves. I could hear Zuri’s voice, “Dogs! What is it?” She asked.
I hurriedly went back up to the tent, trying to hide from the creepy queen. The dogs circled in place in front of her She could not see me all the way up here. She went back inside the room and the wolves ran off in their own respective ways.
I worked my way down to the hunting section and stood, trying to decide the best option to take. I could no longer see Chance, Christina and Kaitlin, but I knew that they were rooting for me. It was actually a good feeling to know people believed in me and wanted me to do well. I was going to do all that I could to make sure that I did not let them down.
Zuri was going to go down, and so were her little wolves and her creepy daughter. Well… I didn’t want to kill her child that was cruel; they would be just as normal as the rest of us once she was dead, correct? Or would Zuri just go right on into annoying the poor dead queen. I feared that but I did hope that she would be alright in the end. The queen only cared about her children and I was going to do as she wished and I would be a hero in the end.
I just have to get to the queen first, before her wolves went back to their dens, wherever that is. There is room though, as the hunting section had large hills filled with stuffed wildlife all around. I looked around; the wolves normally there, as stuffed ones were the ones running around. The wild horses were the ones that Kaitlin and Chance were riding and the deer were walking around near the stream.
The dead queen was now beside me, “There you are, dear,” She said, “You are wasting time by giving yourself a pep talk, it won’t help. Either way you will murder someone,”
“Thanks for making me feel better,” I stated to her.
“I am just telling you the truth that you will have to face following this,”
“When she is dead, what will you do with me; I will hardly have time to get out of here?”
“That is true, but I will think about what I can do or you can decide to stay if that is what you so chose,”
She disappeared and I went up to the door. It was the time that all of her guards would rest, the wolves were supposed to be her protectors. To make sure that I was safe I killed them all and opened up the door. She was sleeping on a long red bed.
I closed my eyes and killed her also. I said sorry and went into the room where her daughters slept. I did not hurt them, but I started to beg for forgiveness. I had never felt so terrible in my entire life and these people weren’t even real. They weren’t alive, and I was just dreaming or hallucinating and yet I felt like I really had killed somebody.
I hated it and ran out. The wolves were sitting all in a line. They did not hurt me but acted like they didn’t know what to do. One large one bowed to me.
“Not me,” I said, “I am sorry, go to Chance, bow to him,” I stated, “And the king, but not me, I am not good,”
I walked back until I had to climb all the way over. Chance and Christina hugged me warmly, “Good job!” They cried.
The queen stood behind me, “Yes, I am proud of you, dear,” I shook my head and sat down. I felt like I couldn’t go back now. I would wish to turn myself in and then get locked up for being crazy, not that I am not crazy already anyways.
Chance and Christina then hugged each other.
The evil queen, she is gone now.
She fell, fell, fell… down, down, down…
My love, my love, my mad young love
I can have you now…
The little princess she cries in her sleep
She has no more power
Nothing will suffice
She will not know what to do
My love, my love, my mad young love
I will have you forever
Christina was smiling and looked at me, her face close to mine, “You believe you are leaving?” She asked, “You cannot, it is too late, I already have you,” She said.
“But…. The queen, she promised,”
Chance smiled, “She did? I don’t understand why she would lie to you, you cannot leave, and there is no way.”
“She said she knew,”
“She knew the way to die,” Said Chance, “That is the only way out dear, you will live with Christina and I,” He said as if this was a good thing.
“You must be mad, there has to be a way out of here,”
Christina stood next to me, hugging me, “You heard the story… the only way out is to die,”
I did not want to die, but I did not want to be here.
“You lied,” I turned and saw the dead queen.
“Not exactly, I said I could get you out of this,”
I shook my head and said, “You still lied.”
The next day was… odd… quite odd and soon I could feel like I was falling asleep. I was finally tired, standing next to Christina and I fell to the ground. All went dark.
My love, my love, my mad young love.
I will have you forever, forever, forever.
A beautiful young queen wanted her freedom
Little did she knew her plan's end.
Her lover stood silent at the sight
As the beautiful young queen took her first step as she sung
My love, my love, my mad young love
I will have you forever, forever, forever
He looked to her and said, "Come with me,"
She did as she did
The queen walked the line, to get out of the bind
She now has paid the price
She fell to the ground and made not a sound
Now we see her no more
The lover stood beside her, his head to the side.
He told the king to come to her bide
He did as he was told, seeing his queen's body
As she stood silent watching the sight
They could not see her
They could not hear her as she sung
My love, my love, my mad young love.
I will have you forever, forever, forever
There is no freedom in the life you now live.
You are now mine forever, forever, forever.