My Fine Feathered Friend.
Disclaimer: (looking through my handbag) I own two sticks of gum, three used tissues, a protein bar, a red leather wallet, an iPod that serves as a mobile David Bowie shrine, and an old ticket to an Elvis impersonator show that I went to in Vegas. Unless it fell into the lining of my bag, I don't seem to own the Labyrinth. I did own a chicken once. It was an over-rated experience.
Prologue: The Chicken of Destiny.
When Sarah looked back on events, she realized that everything that had happened—everything that took place—was, in fact, all because of a chicken. A particularly persistent, bloodthirsty, chicken. But a chicken, no more, no less. It was kind of humbling to have one's destiny decided by a piece of poultry.
Chapter 1: Sometimes, the noise in your closet is just a chicken-loving cross-dresser.
Sarah was an imaginative young woman. She could spin bedtime stories about knights questing through enchanted lands, cursed monsters that terrorized great cities, and beautiful princesses who were brilliant and brave and true. Her stories were so vivid that they could make her little brother shriek with laughter one moment; or cower fearfully under the bedcovers the next (always with one eye peeking out, watching his sister until she vanquished the monsters and made it safe for him to come out again).
But one night, when Sarah heard a thump, thump, thump and a muffled squawk coming from her closet, she immediately knew that there was something inside her closet (a thumping, squawking something), rather than just the workings of her rather splendid imagination.
She pulled her old, blue dressing gown over her pajamas and looked around for a weapon. Armed with a feather duster, Sarah crept over to the closet. After mentally counting to three, she threw open the doors.
"Ah, ha!" she yelled, brandishing her feather duster in a menacing fashion.
"AAAAHHHHHH!" yelled four small goblins, one of whom was wearing her pair of hot pink stilettos.
Sarah looked at the cowering goblins in shock. "GOBLINS? There are GOBLINS in my closet?" Then she noticed the indignant bundle of black feathers huddled in the corner. "And a chicken."
A goblin wearing a rusty sieve on his head piped up. "Please, Lady—we were only chasing our chicken, Rosalinda!" He pointed to the duster. "Please, Lady—do not hurt us with the fluffy killing stick!"
The others nodded in terror.
Sarah lowered the feather duster. "This won't hurt you. Look"—she moved it closer to the cowering goblins—"it's soft!"
The goblin wearing the sieve moved hesitantly toward the duster. With his eyes scrunched closed, he stretched out his hand until his grubby fingers just brushed the tips of the blue feathers.
"Oooohh," he said blissfully. "Soft!"
Sarah raised the duster and tickled his face with it.
"Tickle, tickle," she said teasingly.
The goblin giggled with delight and fell on his back so that she could tickle his stomach. Seeing his weakened position, two of the other goblins promptly jumped on him, followed by the chicken. As they gleefully squabbled for the privilege of holding the feather duster, Sarah turned her attention to the goblin wearing her stilettos.
"So, what are you doing in my closet wearing my shoes?" she asked, kneeling in front of him.
The little goblin reached down and stroked the pink leather in the same way that a child strokes a fluffy dog.
"Pretty," he said, stroking happily.
Sarah shook her head ruefully. The poor thing seemed to be going through some sort of dubious fashion crisis. Given the way that their king dressed, it was fairly understandable.
By now, the other goblins had finished their squabble, and the one with the sieve hat had taken control of the duster.
"More tickle?" he asked, holding out the duster to Sarah hopefully.
Sarah took it from his hand. "Okay, but just for a little while. I have work tomorrow."
The goblins nodded solemnly and lined up, ready.
Sarah proceeded to tickle them one at a time until they were crying with laughter and rolling around so violently that they were in danger of falling out of the closet.
After about an hour, Sarah brushed her long, dark hair from her eyes and stood up.
"That's it, guys—time's up! I've got to get to bed. Here"—she handed the duster to the goblin wearing the sieve—"you can take it with you."
Eyes shining, the goblin bowed. "Thank you, Lady! Thank you!"
"Goodnight, guys!" Sarah said, closing the closet door.
"Goodnight, Lady!" she heard their muffled reply.
Suddenly, she remembered.
"Hey!" she called out, opening the door.
But they were already gone.
So were her pink stilettos.
Jareth sprawled on the throne, one leg hitched over the armrest, one hand rubbing his eyes. He felt a headache coming on. A giant, goblin kingdom-sized headache. He had to get away.
"Is it too much to ask that someone, anyone at all, wishes something away to me?" he asked testily. He looked up at the small-beaked goblin polishing the back of the throne. "Is that too much to ask, Squeak? Is it?"
Squeak wisely shook his head. "No majesty," he said, spitting on the throne and rubbing at it with a dirty, red rag.
Jareth sighed. "Frankly, I don't even care what they wish away. I'll take anything right now. Baby. Kitten. A fully-grown accountant…"
"Accountant?" asked Squeak.
"Accountant," said Jareth, his face in his hands.
Wallowing in his misery, Jareth took a moment to notice the chanting…followed by uproarious laughter…that was starting to get louder and louder in his throne room.
"Tickle, tickle, tickle YEAHHHYY!"
"Tickle, tickle, tickle YEAHHHYY!"
"Tickle, tickle, tickle YEAHHHYY!"
"What the blasted..." said Jareth, looking up.
He watched, perplexed, as the goblin Ignor, in his rusty sieve hat, tickled one of the younger goblins with a blue feather duster.
"Tickle, tickle, tickle YEAHHHYY!" all the goblins chanted, as the young goblin fell to the floor in giggles.
The young goblin then picked himself up, dusted himself off, and ran to the back of the queue as the next goblin in line walked up to Ignor ready to be tickled.
"Tickle, tickle, tickle YEAHHHYY!" they all chanted as that goblin, too, fell to the floor in laughter, picked himself off and ran to the back of the queue.
Jareth looked on in shock. It was the most organized and civilized display from his subjects that he had ever witnessed. Sure, there was a small altercation when one goblin tried to have his pet chicken tickled, but that was quickly dealt with, and the game soon continued. Jareth was almost reluctant to stop them, but his curiosity got the better of him.
"Stop!" he said, rising from his throne. He stalked over to Ignor and bent down so that they were at eye level.
"Ignor," he said curiously, "what is it that you are doing?"
Ignor smiled happily and straightened the sieve on his head. "It's the tickle game, Majesty!" He reached out with the feather duster and began to rub it on Jareth's leather vest.
"Tickle, tickle, tickle—" the goblins chanted.
Jareth's hand shot out and took the duster.
"—ohhhhhhhhhh," the goblins said, glumly.
Jareth reached out and grabbed the front of Ignor's shirt.
"Ignor," he said, his voice deathly calm, "where did you get this?"
Ignor swallowed. "It's the Lady's fluffy killing stick! She showed us the tickle game, but she couldn't play for long because of the work, so she gave us the stick. It's soft," he said, sighing happily.
Jareth stared down at the grubby, little goblin, perplexed. How many 'ladies' could his goblins possibly know?
Well, there was one particular lady…
The thought of that particular lady still made Jareth's stomach clench in a most uncomfortable fashion.
"Ignor," he said quietly, ignoring the clenching altogether, "when you say 'the Lady' do you mean Sarah? Did Sarah give you the…" Jareth paused, raising his eyebrow, "fluffy killing stick?"
Ignor nodded, eyeing the feather duster longingly. "Yes, Sarah! The Lady!"
Jareth sighed and released Ignor's shirt. His goblins were visiting Sarah again and apparently stealing her cleaning products. He was about to question Ignor about what he had been doing in Sarah's house to begin with, when a sudden scraping noise caught his attention.
Looking up, Jareth saw a small goblin shuffling unsteadily toward him in a pair of bright, pink stilettos. He took a long look at the little goblin—eyeing him from the tips of his oversized pink shoes to the long, black chicken feather sticking up from behind his ear at a rather jaunty angle—and smirked.
"You're looking quite dashing today, Skeep," he said to the goblin, "even though pink is not quite your color. I hope for your sake that Sarah doesn't notice that you've run off with her shoes."
Skeep bent down and stroked the stolen shoes. "Pretty," he said happily.