Disclaimer: Remember WENN and characters thereof property of Rupert Holmes, AMC, Howard Meltzer Productions. The 10th Kingdom and characters copyright Hallmark Entertainment.
by Kevin Schultz
Gertrude Reece looked up from her post. The noise was what caused her to peer at the door and its frosted window. She heard a distinct, rough, scraping sound, as if something big and wooden was being dragged along the floor in the hallway. It got closer and closer, and then stopped just as it seemed to reach the door. A shadow passed in front of the glass.
The door opened very slowly, and quite suddenly a head popped through the doorway.
"Ack!" Gertie yelped. "Scott Sherwood! What on earth is going on out there?"
Scott looked furtively around, then ducked his head back out the doorway, checking the hallway behind him. His slightly muffled voice echoed back, "Uh, just checking on... um, is Betty in, by any chance?"
Gertie narrowed her eyes. "Not yet, surprisingly enough," she replied, suspiciously. "Why?"
Scott peeked back through the doorway. "Got something for her." He grinned hugely. "But I don't want her to see it until everything's ready. I was thinking of stashing it in the Men's Lounge."
"What is it?" Gertie asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.
"Oh, just something I found, lying around, here and there," Scott answered cheekily.
"I seem to find that it is commonly you who is doing the lying around here and there," Gertie teased.
Scott chuckled. "Well, I think it's safe to say you got me there. Would you mind giving me a hand with this? It's kinda heavy..."
"At the tone, Broom Brothers Time will be 1:00 pm." Mackie paused, and watched as Mr. Foley chimed the bell, signifying the time, and that all was right in Pittsburgh. Well, that some of the clocks were right in Pittsburgh, anyway.
"Stay tuned for 'Amazon Andy'," Mackie concluded, and he motioned to C.J. to cut the mike.
"Mr. Foley, I'll be right back, will you cover for me for a few minutes?"
Mr. Foley nodded, and tiptoed closer to his own microphone, gently blowing on it to clean off the tiny film of dust on it.
"Thanks, Mr. Foley, you're all right," Mackie said kindly as he dashed quickly out of the room, heading for the Men's Lounge.
Mr. Foley opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by a loud crashing noise from the general vicinity of the Men's Lounge. There was also what sounded like Mackie saying "What in the..." Mr. Foley, concerned, was about to call out to see if Mackie was OK, but Eugenia beat him to it.
"Mackie?" she called as she headed out of the studio.
Jeff Singer and Hilary Booth were seated in the Green Room when they heard the commotion from the Men's Lounge. Jeff stood up, instinctively steppping in front of Hilary. Just then Eugenia rushed in, slightly out of breath.
"Mackie excused himself and then we heard a loud crash and then..." Eugenia trailed off. "Well, it wouldn't be proper for me to go in there myself, Jeff, and Mr. Foley has to cover the broadcast, so could you...?"
Jeff nodded. "Of course, wait here, both of you."
Jeff moved carefully down the hallway, passing the door to Betty's office. Betty and Scott poked their heads out the door. "We heard something--" Betty began.
"I know, I'm just going to check on it," Jeff replied, keeping his eyes forward, checking around for trouble.
Scott murmured to Jeff, "Watch out for my... stuff..."
Jeff nodded. He reached the door to the Men's Lounge and paused. Pressing his ear to the wall next to the door, he could hear nothing from inside. Cautiously, he reached for the door handle.
Suddenly, the door was yanked open, revealing three terrifying persons. One was quite tall, about Jeff's own height, the other two were somewhat shorter. Their faces were somewhat... odd. Their hair was ruly and unkempt. Their brows seemed almost Neanderthal, while their noses appeared to be disproportionately large. Their very unclean teeth stuck out of their mouths at odd angles. In a word, they looked wild.
One of the creatures, the taller one, caught sight of Jeff Singer, and held the other rwo back with his arms. "Suck an elf!" the tall creature exclaimed. "What an ugly person!"
Jeff bristled at this, but kept quiet, standing tall and firm.
"You wouldn't happen to have seen four humans anywhere near here, would you?" Tall Creature growled darkly at Jeff. "An ugly young woman, an ugly man, and two small ugly younglings of their litter?"
Jeff had absolutely no idea how to go about answering that one, so he just shook his head.
"Let's kill him!" one of the shorter creatures, the female-looking one, cried out.
Tall Creature slapped her back. "No! He's of no use. Let him go back to the others of his kind, and tell his friends that Burly, King of the Trolls--"
"Hey, that's ONE of the Kings," the shorter male interjected.
Tall Creature, Burly, continued, frowning even more, "... ONE of the Kings of the Trolls, will not be defeated! We will find this 'family' and have our revenge!"
With that, the three darted back into the Men's Lounge, slamming the door shut behind them. Jeff paused only a moment, then lunged for the door. He yanked it open, revealing Mackie lying almost peacefully on the floor, and a large, ornate mirror framed in carved wood, propped up against the far wall. There was what seemed to be a faint glow emanating from the mirror. Of the strange creatures, there was no sign.
Jeff knelt down beside Mackie, and gently shook him awake. "Mackie, what happened? Are you OK?"
Mackie, feeling woozy, sat up to catch his breath. He paused. "Umm... I think so," Mackie said carefully. "Say, you wouldn't happen to have seen..."
"...three strange, ugly fellows, with the look of the devils about them?" a strange voice cried out.
Jeff and Mackie turned to the doorway. A man was standing there. "Good, they've gone, for now, anyway," the stranger continued. "They've lost the scent! Virginia, I told you I'd take care of you!"
A young, beautiful woman, carrying to tiny little babies in her arms, peeked around the corner. "I'm sorry, but it seems something's happened to our mirror. We won't be a moment, and then we'll be out of your hair."
The strange man backed out of the doorway, gesturing the lady in with a grand, somewhat theatrical, flourish of his hands. "After you, my dears," he said, bowing as Virginia passed. "How are little Christine and baby Tony?" he asked excitedly as the brushed past Jeff and Mackie, who sat there, dumbfounded.
"They're fine, Wolf, I told you. Let's go before they come back."
As Virginia reached up and twisted something on the mirror, the mirror began to shine its eerie, swirling glow. She stepped through with the tiny babies, followed by Wolf, who was continuing the conversation. "As long as they don't find the secret k--" The rest of his sentence was swallowed up as Wolf was swallowed up by the mirror. Once they were gone, the mirror once again settled down and took on its former appearance.
Jeff and Mackie paused, then looked at one another.
Scott burst through the doorway. "We heard shouting, is everything OK?"
Jeff and Mackie looked right back at Scott and said, "You're keeping this mirror!"