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Princess and the Fraud
I was inspired by the Wrinkle in Time series and I was also inspired when I jokingly made a twist on a fairy tale title.
I hope to get enough people on Teen Ink to enjoy the first two chapters of this story so that I can consider trying to publish it when it is finished.
I also hope to get lots of advice from Teen Ink users and opinions on the story.
“The Thing about Screaming in the Dark, is that You’re Not Sure Why You’re Screaming”
“Do you ever get the feeling there’s something wrong in your life?” That was Simon, chubby little thing, and I think he has a thing for me. We’ve been friends since 5th grade. In 7th grade he thought it’d be flirty and attractive to call me Blondie, and then I reminded him I had black hair. He thought it was just a nickname for someone you ‘have the hots for’, I told him he was wrong and to just call me Penny. I thought about how stupid he sometimes was and then I realized he was talking to me.
“You weren’t listening, were you?” He mumbled.
“Well of course I was.” I lied, but it was only a little lie that didn’t matter.
“Then tell me what I just said.”
“Well, uh... you said. You told me—see what you said was far too complicated for me to repeat.”
Simon looked at me the way I look at my dog when he pees on the carpet. I adjusted my scarf to hide my face from him, and continued to crush snow with my boots. “I said, do you ever get the feeling there’s something wrong in your life- like you messed up somehow?’
“You mean like how I should be the queen of the world but I’m not? Yes I do think so.”
“Sorry, no. I mean something more realistic. Like being with someone you lo-”
“It’s really cold and it’s getting late. I think it’s just about time we start heading home.”
We each live on opposite sides of our neighborhood, I live on the West side and he lives on the East side. The park is the perfect place to hang out for the two of us since it is smack in the middle. As I took my last steps out of the park I turned and said bye to Simon, he glanced back towards me and raised his hand slightly. It was more like a twitch than it was a wave good-bye, but that was it, he walked away with his head down.
I approached my house, trying not to worry about what had just happened with me and Simon. When I looked up at my bedroom window, it looked as if it was glowing bright gold. This happens when the sun is setting and it hits our house just right. It only happens once a year thought, then the sun shifts a little the next day and it’s just my same old window. I hadn’t expected it quite yet, it usually happens in February, it’s only January the 2nd. That’s when my window flashed for a moment and then vanished. I shrugged since a cloud had probably covered the sun and stepped inside before I froze my fingers off.
“You know better than to walk in with your boots all covered in snow, go and clean those off right now.”
That was mom; she doesn’t want anyone making a mess on her precious new wooden floors. I turned around with no energy to argue that I had already walked in anyway. I cracked the door open and slipped off my boots. I hit them against the porch a few times so that the snow would fall off and quickly escaped into the warmth of the house.
“Dinner will be ready in about five minutes, go wash up and then set the table.” Mom ordered.
“Yeah, ok.” I said, opening the door to the garage and tossing my boots in.
Once I had put my winter clothes in the family closet, I went up to my room and turned on my Surface. I tapped on the camera icon to take a selfie and post it on Tumblr, what can I say, it’s become a hobby.
“No not the back camera-,” I noticed something flickering on the screen.
When I looked where the camera was facing, I didn’t see any type of flickering, but instead I saw an old-looking golden watch. It was lying on my desk; I was a few feet away from it on my bed. It had a navy blue face with royal red hands. I looked back at the screen and it was still flickering, as if it was releasing some sort of energy. Cautiously approaching my desk, I reached out and grabbed it. Nothing happened. I still did not know where the heck it came from. I went downstairs, but instead of eating my dinner, I asked my mother about the watch.
“Do you know where this came from?” I asked, raising the watch for her to see.
Mom looked up from her spaghetti and made a face. “No I don’t recognize it; maybe it was one of the things your father pulled out of the attic when he was cleaning it today.”
We looked at dad who was making a peculiar face. “Um, I guess. I wasn’t paying much attention to what was in the boxes I pulled out.”
“But it wasn’t in a box!” I exclaimed.
Mom and dad shrugged.
“I’m sorry honey,” mom started, “we just don’t remember that watch. It’ll come to us eventually.”
After dinner I went back up to my room to examine the watch more closely.
It had the day, month, and year on the face. Then I noticed something strange, even though the crown was not pushed in to set the time officially, it still had the right time and date.
“Well, I guess I should push the crown in before the watch is a minute behind.” I thought aloud.
I pushed in the crown and the sky seems to reveal the sun through my window again. This time it gets brighter and brighter, almost as if it was reaching out and grabbing me. Suddenly a piercingly high, loud beep echoed throughout the room for what seems like forever. The hands went nuts around the face of the clock, spinning and spinning. Then everything stopped. There I was sitting in a space of bright light. I looked over my shoulder and…
“What the heck is... that?”
“Would you follow a road if you don’t know where it goes?”
I remember being put to bed by my parents. I would plunge onto the mattress and they would toss the blanket over me. The white blanket would envelop me, hug me, and grab me. I liked being underneath the blanket, it was like a cave of mystery, or a secret fort. It was warm and comforting. Here I was cold and scared. The white space I stood in didn’t hug me, it choked me. I was motionless. I couldn’t speak, or otherwise I couldn’t hear myself screaming. Then, there it was, like a run in your stockings, a rip in the pages of your favorite book, or a moth hole in your sweater. It was a dark smudge in the whiteness of my surroundings. The smudge trembled like a flame, and waved like a flag. It looked unsteady, but it also looked like something I could walk through with ease.
I looked to my right to see if there was anything familiar around, I could swear I saw something next to me from the corner of my eye. When I turned my head I did see something, but I felt as though it had suddenly changed as soon as I turned to look at it. I thought very hard about it, there was something very familiar about the bizarre thing in next to me. I tilted my head to look at it from a different angle, and it changed in the blink of an eye. It changed so suddenly almost as if it was moving with me, and at the exact same time. I moved again and so did it. I leaned back and it got closer to me. When I stopped moving to focus on it a little, I got the impression that it looked a lot like hair. Its hair looked like my hair, and down below it had shoulders, it wore a blue knitted sweater… it looked an awful lot like the back of my head. It was the back of my head! Stunned, and a little dizzy, I tried to ignore the fact that I had just spent quite a bit of time trying to recognize my head. If I couldn’t recognize even that it was no use trying to figure out where I was. I directed my focus back on the strange blackness.
I tried to walk closer to the blackness, but I couldn’t feel the ground. My legs were numb and my body felt very light. The inability to walk towards the curious doorway made me want to go to it even more. I had this enormous will to go through it, and yet I was terrified. I thought about going through it, and what it would be like in there. As I dreamed of the things that could be inside, I felt myself drifting forward. I gasped as I got nearer, and nearer to the quivering blackness. Then I paused my fear for a moment, and looked down to see that my legs were not moving at all. I was floating, floating in the large mass of mysterious whiteness, into the black rip of which I did not know where it went. At the realization of all that was happening and all that will happen, I screamed, or at least I think I did.
Within 10 feet of the black opening, I felt a sort of suction. It reminded me of when I used to play with the vacuum hose. I would place my hand in front of the hose then it would pull my hand closer and give it a loud kiss in the palm. I felt colder, my limbs felt lighter, my lips were parched, and I felt breathless. My body flew into the doorway with a movement as swift as slipping on a wet floor. I let it pull me in, and I landed in the pool of darkness. I was hovering in the darkness and it felt like I was underwater, except that I could breathe just fine. I was moving slowly for a few seconds, when I suddenly felt myself being pulled. Not being pulled towards something, but it was as if I was getting stretched out. I felt myself getting longer, and then I somehow managed to look back. Instead of the whiteness I thought was everywhere, I saw a ring of white spinning around the blackness I was now in, as if it was the threshold of the doorway. Through the white ring, I saw what looked just like outer space, except it looked like it was in a fishbowl or under a magnifying glass. The stars looked distorted and soupy. The white ring and the starry sky shrank into a smaller and smaller circle and then vanished.
I turned and faced forward again and saw my body lying down with my feet seeming to be miles ahead. Being stretched out longer than Mike Teavee from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory I was surprisingly feeling no pain. I continued to stretch out faster and faster when I started to see colors spinning above me. The whole time I had been zipping through a black spinning tunnel. I gave up, nothing made sense anymore. I had most likely fallen asleep by accident and was going to wake up any moment. I was starting to collapse back into my normal size again and was slowing down a little. This was my chance to wake up. I knew it would be good to pinch my left arm since it works every time I want to wake up. So I reached out to my left arm and gave it a nip.
That pinch was very painful, and very real. Then I started getting scared again. This wasn’t a dream. I was really zooming through a cold, spinning, black tunnel and had no idea what to do. I don’t like not knowing what to do. I also don’t like not knowing where I am and how I got there. I panicked, I tried to breathe, and I tried to think. My mind went blank. Was my mind even up there anymore? What was a mind? After a good period of thought, I decided it would be wise to pass out. So I counted down from three, hoping to fall unconscious.
Wait. That wasn’t right. Instead of passing out, I regrettably realized I was hungry. Leave it to me to fall unconscious while plunging to my death in some blob of blackness. I wanted to cry, but every time a tear peaked out of my eye, it would slip behind me and then moments later zoom ahead of me and turn into ice. Ice… why wasn’t I turning into ice? I should’ve been a block of ice by now. Before I could wonder any further, I saw outer space unfolding in front of me again. I was so happy. Being thrown into space isn’t normally the most comforting thing. However, being stuck where I was, I was happy to see anything I recognized. Even if it still meant I was going to die in space. Then, like a peregrine falcon swooping towards its lunch, I was out of the tunnel.
As I went further out into space, things started to look less distorted, but something didn’t seem right. I was zooming away from the tunnel, but everything looked like it was expanding away from me. Right in front of me was something that looked like a gigantic version of an Aptera. I figured it was a spaceship. Although I thought I had been speeding towards it, I could swear it was slowly floating away. It kept inching away from me and then swoosh it swung right in front of me faster than I could flinch. I had no idea what had just happened but I had long decided to no longer be surprised at anything anymore.
From above me came a blue light that covered me completely and then sucked me up. There I was, panting on the floor of the spaceship. I was thirsty, hungry, tired, and speechless. I felt dizzy, so my vision was blurred, but I saw something moving towards me. My eyes focused and I could see the creature clearly. It had pitch-black skin, and thick blue lips. It had one eye that seemed to have a 360 degree sight range. The eye itself was not like an ordinary eye, it made it look like there was a tree with 5 branches on its face. Two ‘branches’ facing left and right, one going straight up, and the other two stretching diagonally upward, all of which wrapped all the way around her head and met again in the same formation. This meant that the back of its head looked the same as the front except without the mouth. Instead of white, its eye was glowing green; the iris was neon blue and was shaped like a diamond. Its body was like a human body, but longer and slimmer. It wore a black and green robe and carried a silver staff with a green orb clutched to the top.
It stared at me, its pupils dilated, and appeared to be trying to communicate. I heard a faint sound, but my ears weren’t quite working again yet. Gradually a clicking sound began to flood into my ears. I noticed it was making the clicking sound, which was starting to sound more like a woodpecker, by rapidly hitting its tongue against the roof and floor of its mouth. Its tongue was moving at an incredible speed, this must’ve been its native language. I made a face; I couldn’t tell what it could possibly be saying.
The creature understood, and lifted one of its long black fingers to a necklace it was wearing. It pressed a button and began to speak fluent English.
“So sorry, I seemed to have forgotten you don’t speak Vaḍraṅgipiṭian. How do you feel? Was the trip alright? I’m glad you got here in one piece, you are our first successful test subject.”
All I could manage was to stare at it, or her, based on what I gathered from the voice. I just stood there with my mouth hanging open, and I didn’t have a mirror but I could tell my hair looked like a troll doll’s hair.
“Bhūmi to earthling! Is anyone there? Speak child!”
“How am I still alive?” I heard myself croak. It had felt like such a long time since I had heard my voice.
The creature laughed.
“I’ll explain later, let’s go show you to Śāstravētta, our planet Bhūmi’s most famous scientist.”
The Bhūminian led me to this so-called Śāstravētta, or should I say carried me. I couldn’t get up and I wasn’t sure if it was from exhaustion or pure shock, but my new creature friend didn’t mind, she just swooped me up into her big arms and we were off. We went through many doors, and passed many curious individuals who starred at me from every angle possible. I wondered how anyone could ever blindfold these guys.
Finally we reached our destination. A large sphere shaped room that must’ve been the center of the ship. There were gadgets everywhere, strange liquids in tubes, and animals in cages that were growing extra limbs from all sorts of random places. Then a creature that looked just like the one carrying me eyed us from the back of its head. Then quickly turned around, looking overjoyed, and came running towards us.
“Ah you’re here! I’m so relieved to see you!” Another she, her artificial voice sounded just like my aunt Betty, she always gave out too many kisses.
“Oh this is wonderful,” Śāstravētta continued as she examined me and touched and poked me, “Thank goodness you didn’t explode!”
“Hooray…” I said, trying to go along with her, hiding the amount of shock I had thinking I could’ve exploded.
“Oh, Āpad'dharma, we did it.” Śāstravētta cried, turning to the woman that was carrying me.
Āpad'dharma turned to me, “If it wasn’t for Śāstravētta, you wouldn’t have been alive right now, to answer your previous question. That watch we gave you protected you with an invisible force field and also brought you here. That watched protected you from ripping apart during spaghettification as you were nearing the singularity. It also kept you from being in pain and allowed you to breathe in space. Of course it also kept you from exploding in space.”
I looked at Śāstravētta in astonishment, “thanks...” I managed in a trembling voice, still hiding how utterly terrified I was.
“No thank you,” She smiled.
“Alright,” said Āpad'dharma, “We have much to tell you, and much work to do. It’s time we told you why you’re here. You will be a great help to us, and I have a feeling we’ll be a great help to you.”