Here's the day you hoped would never come
Inspired by a challenge from
I don't own it, I don't get royalties. I get voices in my head that won't go away.
All characters from Labyrinth belong to Henson and Company. Bowie belongs to Iman.Prologue
(Words from the Novel The Labyrinth by A.C.H. Smith.)
He settled in a tree, his claws hooked on a branch, and he stared at the girl in the glade below. The wind moaned, rocking the branch, scudding low clouds across the evening sky. It lifted the hair of the girl. The owl was watching her, with his round, dark eyes.
Chapter One. Be careful what you wish for.
Sarah Williams was not the most popular girl in her dorm, not by a long shot. After a succession of roommates, some who stayed in the room less than a night, Sarah was deemed to be a first class bitch and impossible to live with. Some of the girls had gone so far as to label her 'The Roommate from Hell'. All of Sarah's hopes for a normal life at collage were dashed in the first weeks. Sarah had thought that going to school so far from home would afford her some peace and quiet. Paul Smith's Collage had seemed the perfect place when she'd been shown the brochures.
James Westwood, her father's client, had suggested it. James had been a client of her father's law firm while Robert was still married to Linda. They had formed a friendship that outlasted the Williams' marriage. James had watched Sarah grow up, and noticed a change in her just before she turned sixteen. She had gone from a self-absorbed brat to a quiet and thoughtful girl. James noticed she seemed to take a great deal of care of little details. He told Robert she'd be perfect for management of one of the Resorts he owned. James had gone so far as to get Sarah into the scholarship program at Paul Smith's where his own son Phillip had been a student. As he was a major contributor he had some pull.
Paul Smith's was beautiful; the main campus of the 14,200 acre property was on the shores of Lower St. Regis Lake in the Adirondacks of Northern New York. Amid awe-inspiring mountains, sparkling lakes and lush forests. Sarah was taken with the beauty immediately when Robert and Karen had driven her up to the collage. She had been away from home before, during summers she spent with her mother. Therefore, this was no big deal. And she would be much closer to home than on her last vacation with had taken her to London where her mother was on location for a film.
Everyone was impressed, everyone except Toby, who was decidedly unhappy about the arrangement. "Why does Sarah have to go here?" he pestered his mother.
Karen looked like she was ready to jump out of her skins. "Toby, we've been through this a dozen times."
Robert tapped his son on the head, "Being part of a scholarship program is an honor."
Toby narrowed his eyes at the adults. "I don't think so." He grabbed at Sarah's hand. "You promised you'd always be with me."
"Squirt, you're going to Junior Kindergarten. Don't you think I should be in school as well?" Sarah reasoned with the boy.
"Not this far away!" He bellowed.
Sarah got on her knees, "Toby, I'm closer than I was during the summer."
The little boy was not placated. "You could go to school back home."
Robert tapped his son's head again. "Sarah is going here, and that's final."
Finding the Lydia Martin Smith Hall, at the far end of the campus, the family set about getting Sarah settled in her room. The dorm room was a decent size, and had a pleasant view of the lake and the woods on the point, being a corner room on the second floor. Sarah noticed the bed closest to the window, and as she was in the room first, claimed it. Karen helped Sarah make her side of the room, homey. Each student had their own dresser, closet and desk area. Sarah had a small mirror, the size of a medicine chest mirror, that she placed leaning on the way on top of her desk.
When they finished, Sarah asked Toby what he thought and he said, it did not look homey to him. Where were the pictures, or the things Sarah treasured on her vanity at home? Robert pulled out the Polaroid camera and posed Sarah and Toby. He then put the picture on the wall as it developed.
"There sport, now your sister has the most important of her treasures here. A picture of you." Their father teased.
Sarah had watched them drive off, and went to explore her new home. She took a crocheted shawl that Karen had made for her, and walked out to the point. It was beautiful, wild, and free. The water sparkled as the sun was setting in the west. She knew the sunrise was going to be even more magnificent. She knew too that her rooms would afford her a spectacular view. The wind moaned, lifting the hair of the girl as she walked in the stand of trees by the lake. Sarah held her shawl around her, not give her much warmth, as the chill passed though her. She stopped walking, and spun round expecting to find someone standing there. She could feel the eyes watching her. Her heart began to pound, and her throat went dry. When she turned, she saw no one. It did not matter; she knew what she felt. Someone was watching.
The owl had watched, still, on his branch, he stared at the girl his round dark mismatched eyes. He saw and heard everything. Sarah turned and ran back toward the student housing, and away from the wooded point. The owl sat on his branch, in no hurry to follow. He would bide his time, he knew what he wanted, and where it was to be found. He raised his wide eyes to the night sky. Night, his time of day. Spreading his wings he took to the sky, on silent wings of velvet. Nobody heard him as he glided over the campus. No one noticed the creature of the night as it found a branch in a tree outside the Lydia Martin Smith Hall. Trees near the corner room on the second floor would be a fine place to wait, and watch.
Sarah was not surprised when she arrived back at the room to find her new roommate had arrived. She was surprised that the other girl had torn down some of her things and was rearranging the room without having even discussed changes or introducing herself. The other girl, a hard looking girl with dirty blond hair, snarled at Sarah when she entered the room.
"You Williams? I'm Braden." The girl said with a curled lip. "You're the scholarship hardship case right?"
Sarah was not sure what to say. "I'm on a scholarship, yes…Hardship?"
The other girl shoved Sarah's belonging aside. "I'm paying full tuition. So here's the deal, I get the first call on things in the room. I pay full, I get the best, got it?"
Sarah didn't think going two or three rounds with the larger, tougher girl were wroth it. "Fine with me, Braden. You decide what you want, I'll take what's left."
Braden looked at her with open contempt in her blue eyes. "Glad we understand each other."
Braden left the next morning, sighting a conflict of personalities as her reason for requesting a change of room. The next girl was named Thomas. She left after three days, said she could not stay in a room with someone who had no respect for other people's belongings. She had accused Sarah of taking some of her things. When the items were found in other rooms, rooms Sarah had no access to, Thomas dropped the charges. After that there was Jennkins, who said Sarah had bad dreams, and kept her awake with her incessant chatter and cries. Parks came next, she lasted a week, and left because she said she thought the room was haunted. Hubbard left because she said the room felt claustrophobic. Danning said she could not stand the perfume Sarah wore. Sarah swore she was not using any perfume. One girl never even got in the door, said there was a strong smell of peaches and it made her ill. One after another they came, and went. The Office of Residence Life gave up and made Sarah the single occupant of the room. The moved the spare bed out to set up a sleeper sofa in its place.
Braden took it upon herself to hold Sarah accountable for all the problems the room seemed to cause. Braden had been the one who pushed Thomas into pressing charges for the missing items. She complied a list of the persons who had been assigned the room, and the reasons they left. It was Braden who had labeled Sarah impossible, and a bitch to boot.
Sarah was relived the first day of class when she found none of her classes was with Braden. Braden was taking forestry classes, specializing in wild life habitats. Sarah's classes in Hotel management were at the other end of the campus from where Braden would be on a daily basis. However, Braden had a very long reach. She had friends all over the campus and they took delight in reporting back to Braden on what that "Weird Willimas Girl" was up to.
A young man taking classes with Braden fueled her fires. His cousin had been in Sarah's classes back in her high school, he told tales of the strange girl. Braden listened to the tales with fiendish delight. She discovered that Sarah had an aversion to birds of prey, and most especially owls. She began to form a plan.
The first owl feather showed up in one of Sarah's text books. Sarah opened the book, and jumped out of her desk. When asked why, she lied. "I saw a spider, sir." She flicked the little feather off her book and went back to studying. Braden had nearly howled when she heard the report.
Sarah returned to her room, heard chatter in other rooms, and knew she was not welcome to join in. She could not understand why she was singled out for the cold shoulders. She had done nothing. Yet, she was the brunt of jokes and snickers and nasty little pranks. Braden was making her life at Paul Smith's a living hell.
The worst prank of all came on Halloween. Braden and some of her cohorts had more or less kidnapped Sarah and two of the other freshmen girls. The drove them out to the woods and left them there. Megan Cleary and Rebecca DuMont huddled close, and stared at Sarah with wide eyes.
"Why are they doing this to us?" Meg asked shivering from fear as much as from the chill in the air.
Sarah looked at the two girls and shrugged. "Braden is a bully, and has lots of followers. She gives orders and they obey… she thinks we are weak, so we're perfect to pick on." She looked around, trying to see if she recognized anything. "But we are not as weak as she thinks."
"What do we do now?" Rebecca asked, looking to Sarah, as she seemed to have a calm and clear head about the situation.
Sarah looked at the road, and at the surrounding woods. "We're about four or five miles from the school. I hope you two are wearing sensible shoes." She pulled her shawl tightly about her. "Come on, we go this way." She pointed up the road. "So where are you from?" She started the conversation that she hoped would take their minds off their troubling situation. She kept the chatter light, and friendly, and most importantly, she kept it on a positive note.
Unseen in the skies above the three girls the bird that was white against the moon glided.
With Sarah at the lead, the three moved steadily toward the school. Sarah noticed Megan was having trouble breathing. She looked at Rebecca; "Does she have an inhalator of something?" She paused the trek so the girl could clear her lungs.
Rebecca frowned, "She's not suppose to get upset, it makes the wheezing worse."
Sarah took hold of the frightened girl. "Meg, look at me…I've survived much worse than this. I promise you, I'll get you back to school." Meg nodded and asked if she could sit for a moment. Sarah closed her eyes as she turned away from Meg who had Rebecca's arm around her for comfort. "I wish… I wish…" she whispered in a voice barely audible. "I wish there was a way to alert the school about Meg being out here."
'Granted.' The whining wind whispered back, above was the flutter of wings.
Sarah looked up. The cold hand of fear gripped her heart. What had she said? Had she said her right words?
"Was that a bat?" Meg wheezed.
"No…" Sarah came closer. "It was just an owl, most likely it's looking for a mouse. Not to worry." She looked at Rebecca who's eyes were like blue jewels even in the nights dim light. "We'll stay here for a bit, until she gets her air."
Rebecca nodded, her long thick red hair falling over her shoulders like a cascade. "We'll be alright, won't we Sarah?"
"Sure we will." Sarah thought of tougher situations she'd gotten out of. "This is …a piece of cake."
Meg laughed lightly, not wanting to start wheezing again. "If you say so, Sarah."
Sarah removed her shawl, and wrapped the short blond with it. "I've been though much worse.…" she giggled. "Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I fought my way to the castle beyond the Goblin City."
Rebecca looked at Meg who captivated by the tone in Sarah's voice began to breath more normally. "Go on Sarah." Rebecca urged.
Sarah looked at the little blond with gray eyes. She took a seat on one of the rocks they other girls had sat on. ""Once upon a time there was a beautiful young woman whose stepmother always made her stay with the baby. The baby was a spoiled child who wanted everything for himself, and the young woman was practically a slave girl. But what no one knew was this: the King of the Goblins had fallen in love with her, and given her certain powers." Quietly Sarah began to tell her story to the two girls who were frightened. She had reached the telling of the ruse and the shaft of hands when a car came speeding from the direction of the collage.
The dark station wagon pulled over and stopped. A man got out along with one of the schools medical staff. "Thank God! We've found you." The man said as he approached the girls. "Thank God you had the sense to head toward the school and stick to the main road."
The nurse had a concerned look on her face as she approached Meg, "Miss Cleary are you alright?"
Meg nodded, but didn't speak.
Rebecca looked at the man, she recognized him as one of the officials of the Office of Residence Life. "Mr. Wilkes, how did you know to look for us?"
The man was helping walk Meg to the car. "It was the stragest thing… we got a call for Miss Cleary here about her inhaler. When we went in search of her, a student said he'd seen you all being shoved into the back of a car. Knowing the pranks that are played I suspected something of this sort. The caller said your inhaler was due for recharging, and that if you were out in the night air without protection…well, you know what could happen."
Meg looked at the inhaler in her hand. "That's why my lungs didn't clear." She looked at Sarah. "Your stopping us, saved my life."
Sarah shook her head, "The caller saved us." She looked at Mr. Wilkes. "Who was the caller? I'd like to thank him."
Wilkes frowned. "Good lord…I forgot to take his name…." He looked at the three girls. "Who was responsible for this travesty?" The three shook their heads; all three refused to give any information. Wilkes frowned. "Girls the ones responsible need to be punished. This is not just a silly prank, a life could have been…"
Sarah shook her head. "Mr. Wilkes, this was just a prank gone wrong. If we make more out if… the ones who did this will target us for far worse."
Meg rested on the ride back against Rebecca, her roommate. When they arrived, Braden and her cohorts saw the nurse usher Meg over to the infirmary. Braden snipped that she could not see any reason to. Wilkes heard the comment and took it as an off hand stupid remark. He looked at the girls with Braden, "Miss Cleary is asthmatic. Her inhaler is over due for a recharge, and she could have been in serious danger if not for the quick thinking of Miss Williams. Who ever did this stupid prank almost destroyed a life for nothing. I want it understood, our office will not put up with any more hazing!"
Braden's followers looked chastised, she did not.
Sarah went to her room, the hall still filled with costumed parting students. She walked though the throng of snickering students to her door. A sign had been posted on her door, it read. 'Beware, here in dwells the witch.' Sarah looked at the sign, heard the laughs from the hall and placed a hand on the paper. Then she removed her hand, let a smile replace grim line her lips had formed. She turned and looked at the gathering crowd. "Damn right!" she tossed her head defiantly. "You sure you want to fuck with me?" The crowd, now sensing a turn in the position of who was in power, backed down.
Rebecca was coming down the hall, "Sarah." She didn't look at the costumed people, she looked only at the girl who in her mind had saved both she and Meg. "Meg has to stay in the infirmary tonight. May I stay with you?"
Sarah opened the door, "Of course, Rebecca. You are most welcome." She glared at the crowd in the hall. "We won't be disturbed the rest of this evening." It was not a statement it was far more. It was a command. Before she closed the door, she added; "So sayeth the witch!"
In the tree outside the corner room of the Lydia Martin Smith Hall, a barn owl took its perch. Large eyes watched, and waited. He knew the girl would be safe…for now.
Meg was released in the morning when a new inhaler had been brought from the pharmacy. Sarah and Rebecca were waiting for her. Meg rushed to them and embraced them both, glad to be out of the infirmary.
"Sarah, you have to tell us more of that wonderful story you were telling us. You made it all seem so real." Meg said excitedly.
Sarah cleared her throat; "Most of it comes from a book I have. I embellished it a bit."
Meg laughed, "Really? Well, you have to tell me the name of that book. I'd love to have a copy."
"I think it's out of print," Sarah said off handedly, making light of the conversation.
Rebecca sighed, "That's too bad, I enjoyed the story. I'd love a copy myself."
Meg spotted Braden and her friends on the quad, "Oh damn, here comes trouble."
Sarah shook her head; "I don't think so. Come on, let's get to class." With Sarah in the lead, the three walked past the tormentors with their heads held high.
Braden snapped the pencil she held in half. She muttered to herself, but her companions over heard. "If it's the last thing I do, I'm going to teach that Williams bitch a lesson she'll never forget."
The owl saw and heard everything, and understood. He could use this to his advantage. He would keep a close eye on the situation. After all, the only one with any right to Sarah was he, himself.
Sarah looked at the little red leather book she had taken with her from home. She frowned, looking at herself in the mirror. Quietly she placed the book into the top narrow drawer of her desk. It was the only drawer with a lock, which she turned with determination. She was taking no chances; she was going to be extra careful in what she read, and what she said. She had already made the mistake of saying the words aloud once. She could not afford to let that happen again. That day would never come, she vowed. Never! She looked at the picture of her brother. Careless words spoken in haste had nearly cost her dearly once in this lifetime. Never again! She vowed, never again.