Stormy weather. Nice to be out in. There’s a cyclone on the horizon and it looks pretty. I don’t know why, but I have this strange compulsion to look directly at it. It’s taking houses, trees, everything with it, but I just can’t leave my house to escape it.
Something has happened. What’s going on here? Where am I? Wait... I’m inside the cyclone? Really? It’s a funny thing that seems to have happened. One minute I’m standing at my window in my wee ramshackle shack, watching this behemoth come my way, the next I’m in my favourite chair and I’m swirling around inside the cyclone. How I got to be sitting in my chair baffles me, but I don’t care. It’s a comfy chair.
I really shouldn’t be able to see anything, but I can see everything clear as day. I’m swirling around in this thing at thousands of miles per hour and everything that I see is perfectly in focus. Oh, look, there’s a horse! Hello horse! And a wee woman with tits. Blue tits, I believe. Nice wee birdies... What you thought I was talking about her mammary glands? Perish the thought! Though they are nice boobs.
The cyclone seems to have a planned route. I’m now being dropped off, very gently, into a field. It is silent. Totally silent. Not even a blade of grass is making a sound, even though the wind is blowing.
“Hello!” I shout, but hear nothing, not even my own voice.
I look around and see the field is completely barren. Not a single piece of wildlife. Not a sign of life, save the grass blowing about in the soft breeze. Where am I? Is this heaven? Hell? Purgatory? Limbo? Did I die? Now I’m having the existential thought argument. This is never good.
“Hello?” I whisper this time, sure only in the knowledge that I’m very unsure of myself.
Something giggles, but I can’t be sure what. How come they heard a whisper, but not a shout? This place makes no sense, it’s so scary... But it’s comforting too. The something comes along and floats in front of my face. It tilts its head to the side and smiles.
“Come with me,” it beckons in an unnervingly soothing whisper.
I follow it and it flits around, leading me to a tree.
“You’re wondering where you are, right?”
The thing explains that it is a fairy and that I am in a place called Zarg, a parallel universe.
“Beer?” It asks and hands me a tiny can, which grows in my hand to the size of a normal can of beer back on earth.
“What the?” I ask, bemused.
“Pfft, that’s nothing, watch this!”
The fairy also starts growing, and before I know it, she is human sized. Very cute too. Then she becomes giant sized, and back to human sized. What is going on here? I think I’m dreaming, so I pinch myself. That hurt! What did that prove? Sweet Francis Albert Noneface, that’s what.
“You’ve just grown from like a foot to about four and then to who knows what and back again. I think... What in blazes? And why is this beer so sweet?”
“Ah, silly you. This place is different, but I’ve already said that, haven’t I? Well, let me tell you! Beer is sweet, night is day, day is dangerous and there is no such thing as government. Yes, we live a charmed life, but it is quite dangerous too.”
“Dangerous how?” I interrupt her.
She explains that there are Stalkers around.
“What, those creepy folk who chase after people?”
“Yes, but they aren’t your earth stalkers.”
“They can inhabit people, but if you stay with me, I can protect you. Their magic is no match for ours. We are the true light, not like them with their creepy, dark lights and noisy proclamations,” she spits on the ground.
“What’s your name?”
“Faeriea. You want to go home, correct?”
“Yeah, but not really. I like it here. Though I hate it too.”
Faeriea explains that the feeling is a common one amongst travellers. I try to explain that I’m not a traveller, but she pays me no mind. All she seems to care about is getting me home, wherever that is. This feels like home.
“Come, I’ll take you to the Den!” Faeriea giggles.
She’s really cute. I can’t help but think that. She has this beautiful round face, blue-green eyes, which seem to change colour when they catch the light in a certain manner. Her smile lights everything up, not just her face, but her whole surroundings. Looking beyond her face, I can’t help but be stunned. She has curves, and I lurves me some curves! Everything about her is beautiful: Her heart, body, soul and spirit.
“Zoop!” She suddenly proclaims and turns fairy sized.
“Why do you keep doing that? You don’t stay in human form for long, do you?”
“Can’t. Too hard. Ain’t a full fairy yet,” she says.
“So... How do you become a full fairy?”
“Oh, I can’t tell you that. Then you’d try and be my knight, and I don’t want knight! I don’t like knights, they’re weird.”
“Wait until you know me, then we’ll see how weird knights really are,” I chuckle, letting my guard down. I really think she’s genuine here.
We continue on, through vast rolling hills and ever changing woods. Why do the woods have shifting sands? Screw it, I’m done questioning, I’ll just enjoy the weird experience and be bewildered. It seems like bewilderment is their default emotion, apart from undeniably catchy happiness.
“Ooh, apples!” I shout excitedly.
“You want one?”
I look puzzled and Faeriea jumps upon an apple, stomps up and down and it plops into my hand. I take a huge bite and screw up my face.
“I knew you wouldn’t like it.”
“What the hell? Why’s this so bitter?”
“Our apples are poisoned,” she smiles cutely.
“Oh, now you tell me?”
“Don’t worry, it’s safe for humans.”
I take a sigh of relief and wipe my brow.
“You’re a friggin’ wee minx, aren’t you?”
Is that all she can say, ‘teehee’? I’m rapidly falling out of love with this fairy. When was I in love? Oh, there go the questions again.
“How come my brain feels like moosh?”
“Oh, that happens to you humans here. Hence the beer. It’s an elixir.”
Magically, a beer appears.
“Well, well, a wild beer appears,” I laugh.
Faeriea lands upon my shoulder and points.
“You see that?”
“That’s the Den. Run!”
I don’t question her, but just run. A zapping sound happens and I’m in another area. This place is sandy. There are pyramids and it’s freezing cold.
“Opposites, yeah?” I shiver.
Faeriea drags me over to a giant tree stump. Well, she calls it giant, but it’s tiny to me, and I have to squat to get inside. Damn, what a tight squeeze.
“Poler, are you here?”
Out peeks a rather impressively tattooed and muscular... Man?
“Poler, look what I found! He’s a human and he’s lost his way! Please, I’m ready!” Faeria pleads.
“Okay, go for it.”
Huh, did he just say ‘go for it’? Go for what?
“Robes time!” Faeriea giggles and flits.
Before I know it, I’m stripped of my clothes and shoved into a robe. I guess this is to keep me safe on my journey home, but if I’m second-guessing myself, who the heck knows?
“Into the pod, it’ll take you home.”
I do as instructed, and walk into a giant pea pod. Bizarre, but whatever, as long as it gets me home.
“You might feel some slight turbulence, some nausea and encounter a monster or six. Just wave your sword at them and they’ll frighten and scatter,” Faeriea tells me.
Well, I might as well take her advice and be on my way. Faeriea pushes a button and then shoves a lever. The man she called Poler looks on and nods... Here goes, I guess?
“Good luck!” Faeriea giggles as I am shoogled and shaken.
Her face contorts into some weird shapes and she shakes. I meet a friendly-looking lion and he introduces himself as Cecil.
“I’m your guide. I’m your salvation or your damnation. Choose wisely and don’t listen to my wise counsel.” His voice is calm and rational. Almost deadpan, actually.
I take his advice, or something, and get on my way.
“Faeriea!” I shout and try to run towards her, but she disappears.
She’s a mirage? Oh, bloody great, all I frigging need, illusions and grandeur. I somehow don’t think I’ll manage out of here. Not in one piece, anyway. I hope it doesn’t rob me of my mind. I like my mind.Noisy wee place, but mine, nevertheless.
“Oh, be careful, that floor has a thing... Do you know what I mean?” Cecil tells me.
“Seldom, if ever,” I brush him off.
I see the floor and it flashes. I look above and there’s a mirror ball. A dancefloor? I’m supposed to dance my way to freedom? Music starts, and it’s the most horrible, out of tune, totally discordant, bizarre thing I’ve ever heard. What’s that, a friggin’ violin? I look and see a bagpipe wielding a knife. This is bug-shagging crazy!
“He’s harmful, vanquish her!” Cecil advises.
His voice is so expressionless, that I can’t tell. He told me not to listen to him, but I can’t help think that maybe it was just another trick. I keep walking and go past the bagpipe. Harmless, but I knew that. I think. I’m so confused.
“Just don’t not be haphazard here, it’s gonna get lazy.”
Whatever, I’m just gonna keep going, ignore Cecil. Oh, a doorway! I open the door and am in the same field that I arrived in. But... It’s different. It’s charred and bleak. Am I home? No, this isn’t home. It isn’t, it can’t be.
“Oh, this is the only bit I’m allowed to guide you through. This is the burial chamber.”
A note comes floating down and I read it:
Dude, whatever your name is, I can’t remember,
He’s telling the truth. He can’t lie here, so take his advice. Let him guide you, but don’t take his hand. He’s an undertaker. Go with him.
A lion as an undertaker? Yeah, that’s something silly.
“Take this shovel and bury me.”
I remember the note and take his advice. I clong him over the head and dig a grave. He willingly steps into it and I cover him with soil.
“Goodbye,” he waves from the grave, giving me his one and only smile, nod and a wink.
I make it through another door and yet another note comes through:
Thing, um... The hell is your name?
Anyway, this bit you have to go about yourself. It is the only way. Once you’re through here you’re home.
I move through the white room. That knife-wielding bagpipe is here, and I try to get past it. It ain’t letting me through. Oh, so Cecil was being truthful? He is harmful? Well... Here goes something! I take my sword and swish it at the bagpipe. It skirls and runs away. Bugger, I’m gonna kill you! Shut your incessant whining!
I hear a voice inside my head.
“Guy, he can only be killed with his own knife.”
I immediately cover my ears and sing “la la la, I’m not listening!” I was told to go about this my own way, and that voice sounds a lot like Faeriea’s.
“You damned fool, this is your own voice! Listen to your instinct!”
Benefit of the doubt, then? Why not? I take the voice’s advice and fling my sword, impaling the bagpipe against a... Wall? Whatever it is, I impaled it and robbed it of it’s knife. I cut it open and the bagpipe let out a rather lovely melody.
“Well done, you’ve killed me.”
Oh well. I forge on ahead and come to another door, and another note:
This is the door to your world. Go through.
I head through the door and I’m back in my old ramshackle shack. There’s no hurricane coming, it’s all perfectly peaceful. I find myself with a peaceful and calm feeling. There’s no sign of Faeriea and no sign of lions or bagpipes or any dancefloors. No shifting sands within forests, and no craziness.
I settled down in my chair and started writing this, when a knock came at my door. I opened it for the biggest surprise of my life.
“Remember me?” The girl on the other side asked.
“By the love of the harmless bagpipes! It’s you!”
That person, my readers, was my wife. Well, my wife-to-be. I hugged her close and kissed her softly on the head.
“How is this possible?” I asked.
“The quest I took you on was a quest for true love. Congratulations, my true love, you’ve found me.”
“No, we’ve found us,” I smiled and embraced her.
To this very day, we are still married. She still can’t remember my name, but that’s just a side-effect of the transition. I don’t mind, I love her and she loves me, that’s all that matters because love is lovely.