Disclaimer: The characters and settings in this story are the property of Jim Henson and are only used for fan related purposes. The title of the story, as well as the lyrics included, are from the Nightwish song, Sleepwalker, and are used to set the tone of the story.
Part One: A dream or a nightmare?
Close your eyes
Feel the ocean where passion lies…
She heard the velvety voice as it came from behind her but defiantly—always defiantly—she refused to acknowledge it, refused to act as if she'd ever even heard it at all, no matter how often it chased her or how relentless it pursued her. Rather, she kept running forward in that recklessly yet determined way that had already gotten her so far. Her feet were bare. Sarah felt every stick, every pebble, every single blade of grass that fell underfoot but nothing would slow her down. She didn't stop. If she paused, if she hesitated for even the tiniest of seconds, the voice—whoever owned that voice—would finally get her.
And then she would be lost.
There seemed to be a pull against her, an invisible force that shoved her back regardless of how hard she tried to push forward. It took all the energy she had to keep moving—pure adrenaline that the irrational fear pumped through her veins kept her in motion.
She could feel the beads of sweat popping out along her furrowed brow from her exertion. Sarah spared a hand to wipe the moisture away—there was a slight chill to the nighttime air that, when it hit the blossoming perspiration, caused her to shiver despite the fiery energy and drive inside—but she just couldn't stop. Nothing short of a brick wall appearing right in front of her would keep her from going on. If she ever needed her feet to obey her, it was now. So she ran.
She could still hear the voice chasing her, following her always, following her wherever she went. It filtered into her mind, both lovely and intimidating, and even as her hands flew up to cover her ears, she couldn't outrun it.
She didn't dare turn around and look behind because she feared, more than anything else, that, should she give in and turn around, there would be nothing there, that the voice was actually part of her. Inside of her.
How could she outrun it then?
Its richness and its depth were almost intoxicating and in all the worst ways, it was familiar. Even as she tore across the open field, hoping against hope that she could escape the sound, she couldn't help but think that she should know the owner of such a sultry, seductive voice.
And maybe, she thought a touch frantically, I do—
Most emphatically, Sarah shook that thought right out of her head. She was more determined now than she had been during her entire flight. She didn't know where she was, nor did she know where she was heading to, but she felt that the end was in sight—and then she would be safe.
If only she could just keep running.
If only she could just keep ahead of that musical voice.
Out of nowhere, as if it had popped into existence for the sole purpose of tripping her, the perfect obstacle appeared: a larger than average stone, round and inconspicuous, had found its way directly in her path. She didn't see it and, mostly owed to her clumsiness and her tiredness, she stumbled over the rock. The continued speed at which she'd been running had gathered enough momentum to propel her forward and she fell, the action seemingly life flight. Sarah had just enough time to throw her hands up in front of her to break her imminent fall before the ground was there to meet her.
With a small gasp, she landed roughly on her palms before she rebounded, quickly rolling onto her side. She didn't even try to climb back to her feet then. Why should she? Solemn understanding had hit her even as she was falling.
The voice had caught up.
It was closer than ever.
It was there.
With a start, Sarah Williams opened her green eyes wide and, as if she were sleeping on a bed of pure springs, sat straight up before Karen had even finished hollering her name. Slightly out of breath, her heart racing, it took her a few seconds to recognize her surroundings. No longer lost in the outdoors, she was safe within the sanctuary of her bedroom once more.
She was home.
It was just another dream, she realized and, even in her thoughts, she sounded absolutely relieved. Still, there was a twinge of doubt that lingered. But if it was only a dream, then why am I panting?
As she tried a touch nervously to get her breathing under control, Sarah brought her right hand to her head. Just as she expected: her forehead was damp with sweat. Hurriedly, she wiped at the skin, eager to erase any sign of the upset another one of her dreams—her nightmares—had caused in her.
She groaned and, struggling as she tried to climb out of the mess of blankets that tangled up her legs, she wondered just how long Karen had been calling for her. It was no wonder that she'd heard a voice calling to her in her dream. Despite the fact that the voice in her dreams was unmistakably male, she had read somewhere that you can have a dream that incorporated facts that were happening just before you woke up.
Like a nagging stepmother calling you down to breakfast, she thought to herself with a slightly mollified huff.
Her groan deepened then and, as she finally won the battle of the warm covers, it turned into a frustrated sigh. If only that was the first time she had a dream like that; if that was the case, it would be very simple to explain away the calling of her , though, that wasn't the first dream—it wasn't even the second or the third. Ever since the nightmares began a few weeks ago, Sarah had lost count of how many times she'd been eager for a good night's sleep only to find herself forever running from a hauntingly familiar voice, calling after her imploringly.
Shaking her head as if she could forget for even a moment the night terrors that seemed to constantly plague her, she pushed her blankets to the side and placed her bare feet on the carpeted bedroom floor. "I'm coming!" she called back before her stepmother, Karen, could yell for her again.
Taking her time then, Sarah reluctantly pulled the rest of her slender body out of the bed and, after stretching away the aches and stiffness of another restless sleep, she scooped up her long dark hair and tied it back in a simple ponytail. Once her vaguely damp hair was pulled back and out of her face, she glanced at the thin silver watch that she wore on her left wrist.
The clock read 8:30 and she groaned again, rolling her eyes. Didn't Karen understand the meaning behind summer vacation? She had finally graduated high school in June (class of '88!) and was getting ready to head off to college when September came. She couldn't get any more grown up than that, could she? Wasn't it time for the woman to let her stepdaughter make an adult decision for once—like how late she would like to sleep in?
This time, Sarah just snorted. In the five years that Karen White-Williams had been her stepmother, the woman had never once treated her like an adult. In fact, she had the vague idea that Karen still thought of her as that gangly, imaginative thirteen year old girl she'd been when she had first met Sarah's divorced father, Richard.
Almost absently, as she let her fingers comb through the mussed hair and tangled ends of her ponytail, she let her thoughts find their way to her eighteenth birthday, back in that first week of July. It had been an entertaining enough evening—the whole family had gone out for dinner and Toby had actually been able to make it through the meal without a single spill—but the night… the night had been horrible, she remembered with a frown. She'd had the most frightening nightmare, her first in almost three years, and she had woken up screaming.
She shivered again. That had been the first of many nightmares, she knew, and—
—and I'd be better off already if I just forgot all about them, she told herself sternly as she pointedly let her hand fall back to her side.
The sternness was only broken when she yawned widely, about to slip her bare feet into her slippers. Her yawn ended abruptly when she glanced down; her mouth closed tightly then and her lips turned down in a prominent scowl. There was a rather bright red mark the size of a quarter at the tip of her big toe. Narrowing her eyes, she peered accusingly at the slight injury—one she was almost positive had not been there prior to falling asleep last night.
"Sarah! Your breakfast is getting cold!"
Relaxing her features at the (for once) thankful interruption from her stepmother, Sarah shook her head in utter denial. I must have banged my foot in my sleep, she reasoned as she put on the second slipper. Then, once the blemish was hidden from her sight, she let herself forget all about it.
That, and her dream.
"Sarah, dear, finally. I was beginning to wonder if I should send your brother upstairs after you," Karen said shortly, no hint of humor in her nasally voice, gesturing for her stepdaughter to take a seat at the table.
Sarah refrained from making a melodramatic retort as she plopped herself down in the sturdy wooden chair. There was a rather large plate of pancakes set before her. Karen thought she was way too thin, she knew, and nothing she could do could change that. It was just another one of those nitpicking things her stepmother held against her. After awhile, she got used to them—Karen meant well, after all.
Keeping to herself, she picked up her fork with her right hand; with her left, she reached out and playfully patted the blonde head of the four-year-old boy sitting next to her. "Morning, Toby," she said with a grin. He was a sticky mess, pancake syrup dribbling down his chin, but he there was no denying that he was still as cute as a button.
"Mornin', Sarah," he offered back. She wasn't sure, exactly, how he managed to answer her, his mouth full of pancakes as they were, but he looked all the more adorable for it.
Karen shook her own blonde head; not for the first time did Sarah feel like the dark outcast. It was only when her father, Richard Williams—a man with hair almost the same shade as Sarah's—was present at the table that Sarah felt like she belonged. True, her relationship with her stepmother and half-brother had improved over the years—following that one night when she was fifteen—but, at times, she just felt out of place among her family.
Suddenly, she shivered as a great chill coursed down the lengths of her spine. She dropped her fork.
Karen turned around sharply, assuming that her young son had, again, dropped a forkful of breakfast mess onto the kitchen table. When she saw that that it had been Sarah, she sighed and shook her head. She wore a faint grimace that confirmed Sarah's earlier thought. The woman obviously felt that she was closer in age to eight than eighteen.
Sarah shot her a sheepish grin as she hurriedly, fumbling, tried to pick the silverware up and off of the table and, after a few sorry attempts where it seemed like her fingers weren't working, set it on her plate. The strange sensation had passed but its effects were lingering: she felt as odd as she had when she was ripped—rather at a good moment, admittedly—from her dream. To be expected, she was no longer hungry.
Karen, it seemed, had that sixth sense awarded to all mothers that informed her whether or not her child wanted to eat. She turned on Sarah again and pointed at the full plate. "Your breakfast, Sarah," she reminded in a voice that told the girl that she would not leave the table until the plate was clear.
Sarah nodded and re-took her fork. It was no use arguing with Karen so early in the morning.
But she didn't have to eat much, as it turned out. Karen kept her sharp eye on her stepdaughter until a few forkfuls had been forced down and she was satisfied that Sarah would eat without supervision. Toby, on the other hand, had long since given up on eating the pancakes. Most of his breakfast was now a crumbled mess, squished beneath his childish fingers.
Sighing, she lifted her son out of his seat before setting him onto the kitchen floor. With a quick warning—"Tobias Richard Williams, keep those filthy and sticky hands to yourself or no Alvin & the Chipmunks!"—she led the four-year-old out of the kitchen and up the stairs to the bathroom. Sarah could hear his squeals of protest—like all little boys, he hated bath time—all the way from the kitchen.
As soon as she knew that Karen would be occupied, she hurried from her seat, plate in hand. Using her fork, Sarah cleared the plate, dumping the rest of her breakfast into the garbage. She then placed the empty plate and her fork into the sink before silently ascending the stairs.
The bathroom door was closed. Sarah breathed out a sigh of relief as she snuck past the room and entered her sanctuary once more. Ever since school had ended and she had been spending more time around the house, readying herself for her first semester of college in the fall, Karen had been after her to gain some weight. It was getting a bit annoying, really.
Closing her bedroom door behind her with a satisfied smirk, she flipped off the slippers and let her feet sink into the soft shag of the carpet before crossing the room and settling down at her old vanity. It had long since been cleared of anything that was not essential—the pictures of her mother and her co-star turned lover, Jeremy, had been tucked away—and now held piles upon piles of books.
However, there was one, a dog-eared book with a faded red cover, that had also been hidden away. That, as well as anything else that reminded her of that night, had been boxed up shortly before her sixteenth birthday. She did not want, nor need, any reminders.
The reflection in the mirror made her nauseous; if she hadn't known for absolute fact that the girl in the mirror was her, she would've thought it was someone else entirely. She had the same facial features, yes, and the same dark hair but that was where the similarities seemed to end. The girl before her had dull green eyes that had heavy, dark grey bags underlining them; she hadn't had a good night's sleep in weeks. Her face was sunken in, her cheeks gaunt and her skin pale. Much of her time was spent in doors and her appetite was scarce. It was almost as if she was wasting away…
In an effort to wipe the serious expression off of the mirror-Sarah's face, she stuck her tongue out and wiggled it around. She crossed her eyes and, on a whim, she tilted her head to the side and blew a raspberry at her reflection.
See, she told herself, I can still be silly Sarah Williams. It made her feel a bit like her old, fantastical self to be making such faces. She snickered to herself, almost breaking the pose. At least I'm alone, she thought gratefully.
But she wasn't.
On the other side of that mirror, unbeknownst to the brunette (for, if she knew, she would most certainly not be making such ridiculous faces), a man was watching. Well, not a man but it was near impossible to describe just what he was. He was tall, he was beautiful, he was awe-inspiring. He had a wild mane of thick, spiky blond hair that rested feather-light on his shoulders; he had a coy smirk that offered anyone their dreams should they desire them.
His eyes, one darker than the other, were both narrowed intently on the mortal girl. There was no hint of a challenge within their depths, only indescribable want. He had almost got her that morning—just like he had plenty of other times—but then she had vanished, slipping away ever so lightly from his very grasp.
A place between sleep and awake—
—end of innocence, unending masquerade—
—that's where I'll wait for you…
End Note: I had tried my hand at a Labyrinth fan fiction before but nothing really came from it. I think it's because I actually sat down and plotted it out – and, when I do that, I normally lose interest. I'm much better at having a vague idea (including a beginning and a conclusion) and expanding on that until the two ends meet. That's what I plan on doing with this story. I hope anyone who reads this, enjoys it. And reviews. Reviews make stress a happy author :)