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To His Royal Majesty, Jareth the Goblin King;

Your Girl finished writing her book this week. She sent it off to her publisher and seemed very excited about it. My notes say that it is her sixth one. I followed her to the store and some other shops, but nothing eventful happened. She still spends most of her time alone and at home, keeping busy.

She may suspect a little bit of something. I think she heard me when she was out for her run on Wednesday because she stopped and called out "Hello?" Don't worry, Sire, she will never see me.

- Merf

Sarah Williams was bent over her kitchen counter going page by page through a cookbook. She was looking for an idea for dinner, but nothing really sounded good. She stood up and sought out a cup of coffee. It was her regular morning ritual. Wake up around 3am, get some coffee, figure out what to make for lunch or dinner, check email, maybe watch something, and then go for a run as soon as the dawn light touched the sky. She took a big whiff of her coffee and smiled. It was her favorite part of the morning. No other cup of coffee smelled as good as that first one.

Going back to her cookbook, she mused "Maybe fish tonight."

She flipped to the fish and seafood section and began a new search. She gave it a few minutes and decided that her brain was up for deciding on dinner quite yet. Sarah moseyed over to the small dining table, where a tv remote and a notebook had been left from the previous night. She turned the television on to the weather channel. She wasn't too concerned about the fall weather, but it gave her the sense that she wasn't completely alone in her small house.

She moved from leaning against the dining table to sitting in a chair that faced the television in the other room. She had a love-hate relationship with her sleep schedule. She loved the notion of sleeping in, but she also loved her early morning time. Today, she wished she was able to sleep in beyond 3am, but her body and mind just weren't having any of it. Her last two years of high school, after "the incident", were spent staying up late and waking up early. Her parents had worried at first, but since she kept quiet during the odd hours and kept her grades up, she was sure they had written it off as a "teenage thing".

The drawing in front of her was a doodle of Sir Didymus. It was rather cartoony, but it made her smile. Sarah had written about her friends in a series of novels called The Magic Forest series after finishing college. She imagined them solving mysteries and going on quests, saving a few damsels in distress. Sarah picked up the pencil next to the notebook and did a quick doodle of a form that looked a bit like Hoggle.

"…In the northeastern part of town, you can expect the light rain along with some fog from the river" The weather channel reported. Sarah glanced up. There was a map of her area with temperatures and weather symbols, but no person – just a voice. The weather had been the same for the whole week. Light rain with fog, but by the afternoon the sun would peek through the clouds.

Sarah finished her little doodle and got up to wander around her house as she was prone to doing. Her front door was still locked, no one strange lurked outside on her small front lawn, her living room was still the way she left it, her patio door was still locked, and the lights were off in the two bedrooms and study. Her house was fairly modern in style. Surprising her family, who knew jokingly referred to her as "Sloppy Sarah", she kept an ultra-tidy house with minimal décor. The décor she had were pieces she had taken the time to decide on. She had changed during college from a sloppy teenager to a clean adult, for the most part. Her study was an explosion of her interests, but her study was now where she spent a great deal of time.

She heard the sound of something brush against the floor, just briefly. She turned to look down the hallway, where the noise had come from, but saw nothing.

"Hello?" Sarah called out. She had been hearing weird noises for the past few months, but there was never anything there. She leaned her head back and stretched her neck. "I'm going mental."

She sat back down at the table and continued to doodle. Sarah's phone, an actual landline phone, rang near 4am.

"Hello?" Sarah asked upon answering. She didn't like cellphones much and decided to just go back to a landline and answering machine.

"I'm just making sure you're awake" A male voice said with a slightly sassy tone. "Pour me some coffee. I'm almost there."

The line went dead and Sarah hung up. She pulled out a coffee mug, poured a cup, and went to unlock her front door. When she had moved into her house, after her first book had been published, she had become friends with a slightly flamboyant guy named Reese. She waited for him to make his way down the street, up her driveway, and into her house. He was in his pajamas and robe.

"You're up early" Sarah said. He stepped out of his slippers and followed her into the dining room where his coffee was.

"We had a major fight last night" Reese tiredly reported. "I think that bitch is moving out today and good riddance. Mike was unable to handle this much Reese."

"Does this mean that tonight is a wine night?" Sarah asked. Reese nodded while he sipped his coffee. "Want to go running with me? It might help take your mind off of Mike."

"Good one" Reese said. "I love how you try to kill me every morning." He looked at the drawing in front of her. "Is that the Sir Didymus guy?"

"Yep, and Hoggle" Sarah said pointing to Hoggle.

"I don't know how you came up with all of the fantasy stuff, but I guess it sure sells" Reese said with approval. He ran a hand through his well maintained hair. "Hear anything from your publisher yet?"

"Not yet" Sarah replied. "It usually takes a few weeks for them to go through the manuscript."

The two talked until Reese's phone beeped at him with an alarm. He headed home and promised to bring something delicious for that night's wine fest. Reese had quickly become Sarah's best friend over the last five years and kept her social. Karen, Sarah's stepmother, had asked if Reese had a mind for "switching teams". Sarah had rolled her eyes and chided her for being outdated. She was not going to date her gay neighbor.

She went to her bedroom and changed from her flannel pajamas and robe to her exercise clothes and a hoodie. Dawn would be happening in the next hour and a half. Changing didn't take more than a few minutes at the most. Sarah paused at the wall hung mirror next to her door. It was part of her morning routine.

"Hoggle? I need you" Sarah said firmly. She gave it a long pause, but nothing happened. After that one night, her friends disappeared from her life just as quickly as they had entered it.

The run was good that morning. The air was crisp and it wasn't too chilly out. Sarah liked to run a 3-mile trail that went steeply up the side of a butte, around the top, and back down the same way she had gone up. She would occasionally come across deer, rabbits, and foxes. This morning there were no animals on her path. She had run up the side of the butte and caught her breath at the top before running the rest of the trail.

As Sarah ran the trail, she had the unique feeling of being watched. She stopped running after the feeling didn't immediately leave. This wasn't the first time she had this feeling. She was sure she heard a little critter move in the woods, crunching some fall leaves. The light rain was just enough to leave her unsure. She scanned the woods and saw something that looked like a shadow. Sarah couldn't quite make heads or tails of what she was looking at. Was it a figure or a tree?

She didn't waste time trying to work it out. She took off hoping that she wouldn't be followed.

Through the cover of a leafy fern, a small goblin watched as the shadowy figure quickly faded away.

"How was your day dear?" Reese asked as he stormed Sarah's kitchen with a bag full of groceries. He pulled out two bottles of red wine, a pumpkin pie, and a bag of gummy worms. Sarah had cashew chicken on the stove.

"Pretty dull today" Sarah replied with a smile. "Have I ever told you that sometimes I feel like I'm being followed?"

"Once or twice" Reese said. He removed his coat and went to drape it over the back of a chair at the table.

"I think I saw someone when I went running today" Sarah said while she stirred her chicken.

"Was he at least cute?" Reese asked with an eyebrow waggle. Sarah smiled and shook her head.

"I just saw a dark figure in the woods, so I don't know" Sarah replied. "It's possible that it was just a tree."

"Well fear not" Reese announced. "I have brought a movie to take your mind off of your tree shadow and mine off of Mike." Sarah pulled out two plates and two forks. "'Blazing Saddles'."

Sarah laughed and began to dish up the plates with rice, sautéed veggies, and the cashew chicken. Reese opened a bottle of wine and got the film set up. The two worked like a well-oiled machine. If one of them was having trouble, they opted to have a wine night where they would eat a lovely meal, drink a fair amount of wine, and watch something to lift their spirits.

"It smells great" Reese said bringing the pie and gummy worms out to the table.

"Why did you get those worms, Reese?" Sarah asked as he plopped the bag down next to the pie.

"Because I'm healthy as fuck" Reese retorted with a big smile. Reese and Sarah enjoyed each other's company while thoroughly enjoying the classic Mel Brooks film.

To His Royal Majesty, Jareth the Goblin King;

There is a black shadow following Your Girl. Showed up in the woods. Advise.

- Merf