Toby scowled at the rain pouring down, making tear-like streams on the school bus window. He would be really happy if it stopped. It was such a nuisance that Toby even thought the 'W' word.
Sarah had spent the last eight years drilling into Toby's mind that the 'W' word was never to be spoken, and only thought of when making his birthday wish. It was too dangerous, she said, and Toby never questioned why. He had dreams about wishes, nightmares about what they could do, and Sarah explained that all wishes had a cutting edge. Still, with the rain pouring down and the knowledge that he would be spending breaks cooped up with the rest of the fourth graders, Toby really wanted to use the word 'wish'.
An hour to the north of Toby's school, Sarah was thinking rather the same thing as she inwardly cursed the rain. Today was an important day for the production, and even with her umbrella, she was sopping wet. Sarah would have happily wished the rain away if she thought the Goblin King would take it. Or if she trusted him enough to only take the rain here, and leave enough for crop to grow on the rest of the earth. You had to think about these things when making wishes. It was a lesson Sarah had learned eight years ago.
It was only the first of several life lessons that the Labyrinth gave Sarah. The only other one she had actually been taught in the process of rescuing Toby was that life was not fair. However, throughout the unfairness, and Karen's rather biting remarks, Sarah's friends had been there for her. Sarah had never stopped seeing Hoggle, Didymus, or Ludo in her mirror. She had even had a rather enlightening chat with Hoggle this morning about rosebushes. Sarah knew her friends were real. Or she was schizophrenic, but Sarah was fairly sure it was the former case.
The next lesson, Sarah had learned on her sixteenth birthday, when her first boyfriend laughingly joked that Sarah was a bit old for imaginary friends. Sarah now found much better hiding places for her journal. What she knew to be real, others assumed was not, and Sarah could not risk being thought of as weirder than she already seemed to be. Other lessons followed, and Sarah was fairly sure she could be clinically classified as paranoid. To compensate for the abnormality of her dearest friends, Sarah attempted to keep up the most ordinary façade, to the point that most people simply thought Sarah liked fantasy. This was hardly remarked upon, as many great actresses had the same habit.
To preserve the act, however, Sarah had to keep most people at arms length. She had made some friends, but none were close. Toby was the nearest Sarah had to a best friend. Even at the theater, Sarah was known for being distant. The manager thought it was fantastic, a symptom of the 'daydreams' that made Sarah such a passionate actress. The other actors found it slightly disturbing, though, and sometimes resented the fact that Sarah rarely went out with the rest of the company.
Sarah shook the thoughts from her head and the rain from her hair, as she walked through the theater's back door. Today was the day that the cast would be determined, and Sarah could hardly let her mind wander to such things as the Labyrinth, or its dangerous master.
Ferra was a young actress, in her sophomore year at the Univeristy. She knew she was good. She adored the theater. Ferra was even majoring in stage acting. She simply could not understand what was going on, however. Ferra had always gotten a leading role in high school, especially in musicals, but here they refused to recognize her talent. Instead a graduate, with a degree in Accounting of all things, had gotten the role of Eponine, while Ferra was merely her understudy. It drove Ferra insane. Eponine's songs and role came to her naturally, and she found it ludicrous that the ice-queen Sarah had gotten it. Why? The producer told her it was because Sarah had more passion in her voice, was better at belting. Ferra had looked Sarah Williams up, however, and found out about her mother. The truth came crashing down upon her in that moment. Sarah had been chosen because she had a name, a history that everyone would recognize, and the superior Ferra had been left in the gutter as an understudy.
Ferra wanted desperately to wipe the smile off of Sarah Williams's face. As authentic as it seemed, Ferra knew that it could only hold contempt for her. Sarah blissfully went over her experience of being an understudy and congratulated Ferra multiple times. It was all Ferra could do to keep her countenance calm. Would that fate had given her the famous mother! The thunder echoed Ferra's foul mood, and reminded Sarah of her swiftly approaching damp walk home. The good thing about the modern time was that it would be simple to make a photocopy of Eponine's lines and not worry about getting the theater's copy wet in the rain.
After her little conference with Ferra, Sarah went back to the only room in the theater that did not exhibit an artistic flair. It was far from a bland office with cubicles, but there were no grand paintings or beautiful drapes. Sarah set to her task of copying the script, the mindless hum and whir of the copying machine lulling Sarah into deep thought. This was life aboveground, mindless and noisy. As much as she loved her brother, adored learning and the theater, after her stint in the Labyrinth, Sarah felt strangely uncomfortable in the real world. It was as if she did not truly belong here.
Entirely lost in her musings, Sarah jumped when the door slammed open, and an unhappy Ferra poked her head in. Ferra's mood seemed even more negatively impacted by the weather than Sarah's. As much as she was not a social person, Sarah was far from stupid, and quickly proffered the first copy she had made to Ferra. They did not have to pay to use the copier, after all. The only thing Sarah sacrificed was a bit of time, something that she could generally afford these days. Ferra took the copy of the script ungraciously, with a forced smile toward Sarah as she left. Sarah turned back to her task with a small tweak of the lips, and let her mind begin to wander once again.
Sarah's mood fell as she made the mad dash back to her apartment, hoping that nothing would get irreparably wet. She had been looking forward to taking tea with Didymus, but his old 'war wounds' always seemed to act up when there was a strong storm. Sarah would probably receive an apology when she met him at the mirror. It looked like the rest of her day might be a lonely one, with just Sarah and her lines. Sarah didn't notice her copy of Labyrinth lying open on her entry table, but she did hear the hushed patter of tiny, retreating footsteps.
"Goblins? You better be behaving. There will be consequences if you've gotten into my lipstick again." Sarah poked her head into her apartment's restroom, where the toilet paper and cosmetics seemed, thankfully, just as she had left them this morning. Of course, Sarah's friends had not been the only ones to follow her out of the Labyrinth. She also received visits from goblins, who seemed to have taken a liking to her. Sarah stepped into her bedroom, where a particularly tiny goblin was jumping on the bed, a small white box forgotten on the floor.
"Sarah! King send present!" Sarah sighed, patting the little thing absently on the head. As much as Sarah would very much enjoy forgetting about the Goblin King, he insisted on sending her a gift every year a few days before her birthday. Sarah had never opened one, but there was a rather large stack of the white boxes in her closet. To be quite honest, Sarah was unsure whether she refused to open his presents out of spite, or because she wondered if he sent her perfume bottles filled from the Bog of Eternal Stench.
"Thanks, Kibble. You did good job staying out of trouble. Do you want a cookie?"
"COOOKIIIEEEE!" Sarah took the exclamation as agreement, carefully tucking the white box away with the other seven. In attending to the kitchen, Sarah hardly noticed the draft that blew through her entry hall, flipping her copy of Labyrinth open to an illustration of the Goblin King's castle.
In the University dorms, a few miles away, Ferra took some aspirin, resting her forehead against the cool floor length mirror. All this anger had given her a headache and left her flushed. The math homework she had been attempting had only exacerbated the problem. The cool breeze running through the dorm room picked up, relieving her slightly of her symptoms.
A distracting flash of color swept across the pained drama student's vision, causing Ferra to leap further into the dorm room and search for the cause. Ferra caught sight of a foreign object on her dresser, one she had been fairly sure had not been there when she entered. With an annoyed, dark thought toward her pesky little botanist roommate for leaving her things lying about, Ferra picked up the slender, leather bound book. With a questioning frown, Ferra flipped it over to see the words "Labyrinth, a Faerie play" embossed in gold. Ferra's lips turned up into a small smile, the first of the day. Perhaps Ferra's roommate deserved some thanks for being so thoughtful.
Ferra stayed up half the night reading the play, homework momentarily forgotten. She found the play intriguing, with the story of a brave heroine that she longed to play, even if it was just once. Strange, thought, the concept of wishing someone away, and actually having it work. It was most certainly something Ferra wished could happen in real life. Ferra sniggered at the thought. Oh yes, there was a good deal someone could do with a single wish.
Three days later, Sarah blushed as the lighting coordinator brought out an enormous cake with twenty-three candles on it. The cake could only be for Sarah's birthday, and was a tradition that Sarah would rather have forgotten. There were some very few things that Sarah truly enjoyed on her birthday. Despite the weather, all three of her friends from the Labyrinth always took breakfast with her, a right treat for Sarah. Another was the dinner she always had with her family, small but nonetheless happy. Sarah never remembered her dreams from the night before her birthday, but they inevitably left her giddy and refreshed when she awoke in the morning. There was little better than that in this life. The time Sarah was forced to spend at work, smiling through social events seemed to be a counterbalance intended entirely to bring Sarah down to reality.
It was with relief that Sarah finally claimed an early exit. She wanted plenty of time to prepare for her long drive tonight. Just once, Sarah would like her father and Karen to drive up for her birthday, but their arguments against the matter were reasonable. Sarah shucked her raincoat with relief, rolling her eyes at the rainstorm that simply refused to end. Be it a drizzle or proverbial buckets, it had not stopped raining in for days, and it was beginning to bother Sarah.
Ferra excused herself to the bathroom the moment the cake had been cleared away. That damn Sarah had to have gotten the lead role, had to have all the techs wrapped around her alabaster finger. Ferra's frustration had increased four-fold when she had realized how similar their names sounded. Most heinous of all, her birthday celebration had taken up a precious day of practice. An idea wiggled its way into Ferra's mind. It was a ridiculous thought, absolutely silly. But, then again, Ferra could always use a little practice, even if it was to an empty bathroom. She was sure that was all it would be. A few pretty lines said to an invisible audience, one she could pretend would respond with bated breath as they waited for the Goblin King's answer. With a theatric sigh, Ferra rested one hand on the basin of the sink, and struck a properly dramatic pose. "I wish the goblins would take Sarah Williams away," in a whisper, she added, "right now."
Sound rushed in Ferra's ears and she jumped as a silky voice chuckled. Ferra turned around, her breath hitching as a tall man with feathery blonde hair came into her sights. There was something off about his smile as he proffered a small crystal ball. Ferra's mind worked madly in confusion. "What is that?"
"It is a dream. Take it and forget Sarah."
Ferra gasped. Had she really managed to summon the Goblin King? With only a moment's hesitation, Ferra lunged forward and seized the crystal. The sardonic grin followed her as the bathroom melted away and Ferra found herself in the middle of the cast members, reciting Eponine's lines.
Sarah's heart did a flip as the clock to her left stopped ticking. Everything fell quiet, and there was no sound of traffic from the busy street outside. Sarah knew magic when she felt it, and so she found herself making her way to the nearest mirror in alarm.
It took longer than she expected, for moving through the magic residue was like wading through hip deep mud. Sarah had barely made it to the bathroom mirror when a voice she recognized all to well interrupted her. "Well, Sarah. Isn't this a surprise?"
Sarah flushed, refusing to turn and look at the intruder. "Hello, Goblin King. I'm guessing you aren't here to congratulate me on another year of life."
Jareth moved up behind Sarah, so the she could watch his every movement in the mirror, gracing him with a scowl. "It is quite interesting, actually. Some child just wished you away to me."
At this revelation, Sarah whirled around. "What?"
Jareth smirked. "Indeed. I was most shocked as well. Who would not find utter bliss in your presence?" The sarcasm in his voice burned at Sarah's ears. "No matter. She did not even consider running the Labyrinth. You are mine now, Sarah."
Sarah quivered in anger. "Who would do something like that? And I thought you didn't steal adults, Goblin King."
Jareth's smirk faded. "I'll make an exception for you, Sarah. I always have." He hardly had a choice in the matter, Jareth thought vehemently.
Sarah sat down on the edge of her sink, letting the words sink in. "Am I allowed to take anything with me? Am I allowed to say goodbye?"
Jareth sighed. This was so much more difficult with adults. "The forgetting has already begun. Most everyone thinks you are deceased in some tragedy that occurred last night. As for your things, I suppose you'll want the contents of your closet." His sardonic tone was barely perceptible this time
Sarah blinked, thinking of all the sentimental items that she kept in her closet. Even her journal was in a specialized cubby there, alongside her jewelry box and Lancelot. "That would actually be perfect." Both of them felt the shift of magic that indicated Sarah's will had been done. Jareth was extremely glad that Sarah would assume it was his work, especially when a puff of glitter exuded from her bedroom.
With that done, Sarah and Jareth suddenly found themselves in the castle's throne room. It seemed to be made of a stone closer to granite than the sandstone Sarah remembered, but it was a majestic look that suited Jareth. A crowd of goblins came zooming into the room with the sole intention of flocking Sarah. Imperiously ascending the stairs to his throne, Jareth waved one gloved hand at his goblins. "Take Sarah somewhere . . ." Jareth grinned mockingly, "nice."
A/N: This was my NaNoWriMo project of '10, co-written with Cringe (whom you should go check out). Hopefully she'll get around to posting it as well. We'll be posting chapters regularly, once a day if we can edit that much around school. Every 1-7 days should be expected. And when we actually get rolling, you'll get better Authors' Notes. As for now, the two of us are very tired from New Year's Eve parties.