Sarah Williams glared at her algebra book in frustration. Math had never been her strong point, and she found herself fighting a powerful urge to throw her textbook against the wall. This was her second year taking the course, and it all looked like Greek to her. Too bad I can't wish this away, she thought with a sour smirk. Or can I…? She gave her head a fervent shake, putting the idea in the Do Not Open box of her brain. Once was enough, and Jareth was too dangerous to be toyed with so idly.
Sarah heard her bedroom door open, and turned to see her stepmother holding Toby and wearing a worn out sort of look. "Oh, Sarah, sorry to disturb your studies, but could you take out the trash tonight? Oh, and bundle up; it's starting to snow." Without waiting for an answer, she deposited Toby on the floor and left, closing the door behind her.
Toby looked up and smiled, waving Lancelot in the air by his fuzzy foot, and babbled happily, "Ah ba ba bahh! Ahh! Amamama!" He dropped the bear, and held up his arms for Sarah to pick him up. She laughed, and picked up the baby. "You're starting to look like a small lion," she teased, plucking at his hair, "You'll be needing your first haircut, soon."
"Sarah, the trash!" came a voice from the bathroom.
"All right!" Sarah snapped, putting Toby in the little playpen by her bed. "Don't go anywhere," she told him, "I'll be right back." She gave him the teddy, and ambled out into the hallway. As she passed by the bathroom, she heard bath water running, and her stepmother lowering herself into the tub with a sigh. Sarah rolled her eyes. She had sort of patched things up with her stepmother, mostly for her father's and Toby's sakes, but she thought it presumptuous of the woman to think that she could just move into her mother's place. To share her father's bed. Actually, if it wasn't for all that, the two of them would probably get along famously; her stepmother was a good woman, after all, and she did try.
Sarah pulled on her snow boots and donned her coat, and went to the kitchen to find the garbage bag all tied up by the back door. "Ohh…if they're going to take it out and tie it up, why not do the last step themselves?" she muttered, pulling up her hood. She opened the screen door, and it was nearly pulled of its hinges by the wind. She was glad there was a fire going inside.
Halfway down the lawn, Sarah tripped over something and went sprawling in the soft snow. She slid downward a few feet, and turned her head to see what she had tripped over. Her eyes widened in horror; a small huddled form lay face-down in the rising snow. "HOGGLE!" she screamed, turning him over. His lips were blue, and his eyes were closed. She couldn't tell if he was breathing or not; it was too dark. She placed two fingers on his neck, just below his jaw, and nearly sobbed with relief. He was alive, and his pulse was strong and regular. The garbage forgotten, Sarah lifted Hoggle in her arms and carried him inside.
Sarah hurried over to the fireplace and laid him down in front of the hearth, covering him with her coat. He gave a dry cough, but didn't open his eyes. She took his hands between hers, blowing on them to warm them.
Sarah jumped almost guiltily, and turned to see her father looking down at her in astonishment. "Sarah, what are you doing? Who is that? What is that?"
"Daddy…It's a long story. This is Hoggle, my friend. I found him outside."
"Your…your friend?" he got down on one knee and studied Hoggle. Placing a hand on the dwarf's forehead, his face fell. "We have to get him warmed up quickly. Go get the hot water bottle and the heating pad, and all the blankets you can find. Hurry!"
Sarah jumped again, and hurried off to do as her father had asked.
Mr. Williams took Hoggle's pulse, looked at his watch, and sighed. Where had he come from? He…he wasn't even human! What was he?
Sarah returned with what her father had asked for, and there were tears streaming down her face. "Will he be all right?"
"Yes, I think so." He fixed his daughter with a critical eye, and she fidgeted. "He's not human, is he? Not some midg—er, little person you met somewhere?"
Sarah looked down at Hoggle, and shook her head.
"Where did he come from?"
"From the Underground…" she murmured.
She sighed once more, and looked up. "You remember that book I was…sort of obsessed with a few months ago? 'The Labyrinth?'"
"Well…I sort of wished Toby away, and…well…" she cleared her throat, "I didn't know it would really happen. He was really taken away by the Goblin King. I had to go through the Labyrinth to get him back, and I just made it in time, and Hoggle and Ludo and Sir Didymus helped me get him back and…"
"Wait a minute, wait!" her father held up his hands, and shook his head. He looked at her again, and saw that she was completely serious. Stranger still, he found himself believing her. "You…This really happened?"
Sarah nodded again, ashamed. "I didn't mean for it to happen…"
"All right, I believe you, but what's…" he looked down at the dwarf.
Sarah shook her head. "You'll have to ask him when he wakes up. I don't know."
"Peter! Sarah! What's—who—are…" Mrs. Williams stood there in her bathrobe her eyes nearly popping out of her head as she stared at the comatose Hoggle.
"Come upstairs, and I'll explain." Said Sarah's father. Looking over his shoulder, he watched his daughter for a moment, and then herded his wife upstairs.
Sarah knelt down beside Hoggle, and turned the heating pad up on High. The dwarf was shivering now, his teeth rattling in his head. He had finally warmed up enough to shiver. "Oh, please wake up, Hoggle! Please be all right." she put her hand over her mouth to stifle the sobs that were building up. Hoggle groaned softly, began to shake his head. He was waking up. "Hoggle! Hoggle!" Sarah said as loudly as she dared, shaking him gently. Quick as lightning, the dwarf seized her wrists and thrust her away; his eyes were wide open, and he began to pant with fear. He was terrified.
"Hoggle, it's me! It's Sarah! Look at me, Hoggle. It's all right, you're safe now."
She stroked his forehead and cheeks gently, until he had calmed down and was looking at her in disbelief. "S—Sarah? Sarah! I didn't think it would work!" he sat up and she hugged him. He didn't mean to and he didn't want to, but his relief was so intense that he burst out crying.
"Oh, Hoggle, don't!" Sarah pleaded, rocking him gently, "What is it? What happened?" He tried to answer her, but he couldn't speak over the sobs that followed one after another so quickly that he had trouble even sitting up. If Sarah hadn't been holding him steady, he would have fallen back again. His right hand gripped her sleeve so tightly that she could feel her hand beginning to go numb. "It's okay," she murmured, "It's okay."
Dinah Williams took the red, leather bound book out of her pocket and flipped through it. She had remembered perusing it some months before, not much interested at the time, but even so she saw that it had changed. The girl in the story was no longer named Simone; she was Sarah. And the Goblin King's name was Jareth…he looked like David Bowie! She looked at one picture near the beginning, and saw a line drawing of Sarah and Hoggle trading insults. She flipped through to the end and saw Sarah giving Toby her bear, Lancelot, and she saw a strange party going on in her room. They had just assumed that she had had her radio on loud, and hadn't really thought much at the time. Why hadn't they? That was the strange part; normally, they would have demanded that she turn it down. She headed for her bedroom, catching her husband's forearm and dragging him with her; she had something to show him.
Meanwhile, Hoggle had calmed down enough to tell Sarah what had happened. He didn't speak right away, and when he did he talked very quietly. "I don't know where to begin."
"That's okay. Why don't you tell me what you were doing out in the snow? I thought you were…" she couldn't bring herself to say the word 'dead'.
Hoggle passed his forearm over his eyes, snuffling loudly. "Ya know how you can wish us here by callin' us?"
"Yeah." She nodded slowly. She had called them several times, usually just to say hi.
"Well, I…I was wondering if it worked both ways…so I wished meself here. I guess I sorta missed, and it worn me out so that I keeled over. Sarah, something's happenin' to us back at the Underground. Everyone's gettin' nightmares, and some of 'em are even comin' true. I doesn't know what to do no more." He hugged his knees, and rested his chin on his arms, wrestling with another bout of tears. They must have been some nightmares, to get him like this. Sarah, who had had some really nasty nightmares in the past, shuddered at the thought of those dreams coming true. Now that she looked at him more closely, she could see that he hadn't slept at all in days. He was afraid to.
"Hoggle? Hoggle, calm down for a minute, okay?" she said, gripping his shoulders firmly. He held his breath and shook silently. He nodded. "Do you have any idea what's causing it?"
"Who is more like it." He hissed bitterly, "It's Jareth getting his revenge on us for betraying him!" With that he dissolved completely, sobbing uncontrollably into his folded arms. Sarah rubbed his back gently in a circular motion, and stared off into space. You have no power over me…
No, he no longer had power over her, but he did have power over her friends. And he was using it. She could protect herself from him, but that power didn't extend to her friends. She shook her head as she continued to try to comfort Hoggle. Sarah, what have you done?