If anyone had actually been watching a small patch of sky over northeastern Washington, near the minute town of Maize, they would have seen something amazing. Unfortunately the entire population of Maize, including the group of students from WSU, was five hundred and sixty four. The occupants of the town were spread throughout the grand forests that made up the Pacific Northwest, which meant about one person per thirty miles, and therefore no one witnessed the spectacle.

A hole opened up in the fabric of space and time, and a body dropped through.

The only thing that stopped the limp form from crashing to the ground in an explosion of skin and teeth was the fact that it was redwood country. The tall giants, whose branches extended higher than most of their deciduous cousins, cushioned his fall. The body ricocheted and bounced off numerous leafy limbs before breaking through the canopy to crash with a sickening thud into a thicket of ferns.


Christian had to wait a minute for his heart to restart after the intense shot of adrenaline that coursed through his body when whatever fell into the bushes directly to his right nearly took off his head.

Whoever said being a lab assistant was boring was so fucking WRONG.

The mushrooms he had been gathering now strewn on the ground, forgotten, the first thought that ran through Christian's head was that perhaps it was a meteor. Steam was rising from the dense shrubbery, and it smelled like the earth was slightly scorched.

Crawling carefully over to the perimeter of the ferns, Christian delicately parted the green leaves. And swore for the second time in minutes.

"Holy shit."

Lying in the center of the miniature crater was a young man.

He looked like he had walked through a shower of that glitter crap Christian's little sister liked to put on before dates; his skin positively shimmered with it. His golden blond hair was matted and tangled and lay around his head in spikes, and his clothes were bloody and torn.

As Christian looked on, his eyes round as saucers, the man groaned and stirred. Eyes the color of sage opened and rolled around wildly until they fell upon the startled undergrad. The man licked his lips and started croaking out words that sounded like gibberish. He stopped abruptly and shook his head as if clearing it. When he spoke again, it was in English.

"My name is Jareth…and you have no idea how screwed up this is."

Christian's mind was like an engine that was revving furiously in neutral and had yet to slip into gear. There seemed to be a problem with his transmission; he couldn't get his brain working properly. So he reverted to the universal phrase that was appropriate when something unbelievable happens.

"Hey man, are you okay?"

The man tried to sit up, groaned, and fell back. Blood trickled from the corner of his mouth.

"Sarah," he whispered. "I need to find…Sarah."

Then he passed out.