Fragments of Dreams
Chapter 1 - Reunion
"No, that's not right at all!"
Sarah Williams scrubbed at her sketchbook with her eraser, slowing slightly to avoid knocking over her coffee. Realizing that she had spoken aloud, she glanced around and noticed that a few of the cafe's patrons had looked up from their newspapers to stare at the odd woman talking to herself in the corner. Sighing, she glanced at the cafe's clock, took a sip of her coffee, and snapped her sketchbook closed before quickly exiting her preferred North Beach cafe.
Sarah made her way through the overcast neighborhood, having already memorized the trip from the small Italian cafe to the nearest BART station. Although it had taken a fair amount of adjustment on her part, Sarah had come to love the rich diversity and relaxed attitude of San Francisco. She had moved to an apartment on the outskirts of the city only three months ago, but she already felt very much at home. After going to college to become an engineer, she had been offered an internship at an environmental technology engineering firm, and just couldn't turn down the amazing opportunity. The only downside? Her new job placed her over three thousand miles away from her family.
She couldn't say she missed Karen, her stepmother, but she did miss her father, and especially Toby. But for as many reservations she had had in coming out to California, her family had encouraged her to go live her dream. Lost in thought, Sarah swiped her ticket and boarded the train.
On the ride home, Sarah flipped open her sketchbook again and flipped through her doodles, pausing briefly at each one to remember where and when she had drawn them. Although she had given up acting long ago, she was grateful she had chosen a career in which she could use a margin of her pent-up creativity. But things had changed after that night nearly ten years ago. No longer was Sarah occupied with the fanciful or supernatural. And whether her journey through the Labyrinth was a dream or an overworked figment of her imagination, she had grown up that night. She chose engineering because it was stable, tangible, real. If her "adventure" that night was any indication, her imagination had been getting the best of her and had been tearing her away from reality: her parents, school, Toby. Things were different now.
'Now, I really am on the path to achieving my dreams,' Sarah thought as she smiled.
She flipped another page and came to the portrait she had been drawing that afternoon in the cafe. She had been attempting to represent the young businessman sitting along the opposite side of the room. Fairly normal, not particularly noticeable in a crowd; just another shirt and tie at one of the many high-rise buildings in the City by the Bay. Sarah studied the hastily drawn lines and frowned. It looked like him. Not just this picture, all of them. While someone else might not have noticed, Sarah saw something that reminded her of him in every one of her drawings. Perhaps it was the set of the jaw, the deep-set eyes, the lips pressed into a thin, hard line just as they had been when she...
Sarah slammed the book closed-with a bit more force than necessary-as if telling her mind to stop dwelling on such thoughts. 'It was a dream, nothing more.'
"It's a crystal, nothing more. But if you turn it this way, and look into it..."
"No!" Sarah said aloud unintentionally, pressing her palms to her temples and screwing her eyes shut. She quickly clapped a hand over her mouth and looked up. Just as she was about to explain to the concerned, middle aged woman sitting across from her that she was prone bad migraines, the train came to a halt.
It had started to drizzle on the walk home, but Sarah silently thanked the gods that it hadn't started raining heavily until the moment she walked up the stairs and into the doorway of her apartment. She immediately put on a pot of tea as she unwound her scarf and shrugged off her windbreaker. 'Definitely one of the downsides of living in the Bay Area,' she thought as she looked out her cramped apartment's window at the brewing storm in the distance. Pouring the hot water for her tea, Sarah thought absentmindedly of what to make for dinner and sighed. 'If I was back east, I wonder what we would be having for dinner...' Sarah smiled to herself and decided to give her folks a call tomorrow. She wanted to talk to Toby, but she figured that, taking the time difference into account, he was probably already in bed.
Letting her tea cool on the dingy white countertop of her kitchen, Sarah walked over to her messenger bag that she had left at the front door and pulled out her sketchbook. "You're starting to become a hazard to my health," she said aloud. She walked to the desk in her room, and waving the book absentmindedly in the air, opened the top drawer. But as she finished placing the sketchbook into the drawer and was about to push it closed, something crimson red caught her attention. Intrigued, she pushed aside the long-forgotten office supplies and drew out a small, worn, leather-encased book: The Labyrinth.
Sarah's breath caught. 'I could have sworn I put this in my keepsake box with my other old books...' She ignored her instinct to shove the little book back into the drawer in which she had found it, but curiosity got the better of her. For all the character improvements she had made, suppressing her curiosity had not been one of them. Flipping through the wrinkled pages, Sarah came to a dog-eared page with which she was all too familiar.
"Give me the child."
"Sarah, beware. I have been generous up 'till now. I can be cruel."
"Generous! What have you done that's generous?"
The retort tore through Sarah's heart as she dared to whisper her lines out loud, her memory of the Goblin King's cruel baritone voice playing like a record in-between, dredging up emotions of fear, pity...perhaps even regret.
"Oh, this is ridiculous!" Sarah shouted, tossing the leather-bound book onto her bed. She stomped back into the kitchen very much like her fifteen-year-old self, grabbed her tea, and sank grudgingly into the couch. 'Grow up, Sarah. It was just a stupid dream.'
The tea calmed her down as she sat in silence, contemplating the streaks of rain on her now dark window. "Well, it was a very convincing dream," she compromised, then sank lower into her couch and closed her eyes. 'The Goblin King,' she smirked. 'I wonder what he was really like.' She thought back to her days of her regular recital of the book's lines and how she had always perceived him to be unyielding and cruel. Perhaps he just hadn't had anyone to confide in. After all, the book made no mention of a Goblin Queen, let alone any other human-like beings besides Hoggle the dwarf, and the goblins, if they could even be considered human-like. Perhaps he had just needed a friend.
"I wish we could have been friends, Goblin King." Her words were just a whisper against the pattering rain as it struck the windowpane. She finished draining her mug and set it on her knee. "Yeah, if he was real, Sarah," she snorted. If these conversations with herself were any indication, she was in desperate need of making some friends herself. Shaking her head, Sarah stood up, rinsed her mug, and placed it in the sink. But as she was about return to her task of looking for something to make for dinner, a sharp scraping noise made her jump.
She turned around slowly, her body following her head, as she looked hesitantly toward the sound. Even more shocking than the noise she had heard was the magnitude to which the storm outside had picked up. The wind was howling, causing the windowpane to rattle violently. 'Probably just a tree branch against the window,' she thought shakily, attempting to calm herself. A fine explanation in any such situation, except for the fact that there were no trees outside of her apartment.
Suddenly, the windowpane started to rattle with greater force, and Sarah screamed as the hinge snapped and the glass exploded inward into her living room. "Christ!" she shrieked as she dove behind the counter. Shaking, and checking to make sure she wasn't hurt, adrenaline pumped through her system as she leaned the back of her head against the cabinets under the sink. What she heard next made her freeze and, if her mind hadn't already been reeling, would have filled her very being with a sense of dread and impending doom.
"What's said is said."
She didn't move from her spot behind the counter, out of some desperate and foolish idea that she might be able to escape her apartment unnoticed.
"You know very well where he is."
'The hell?' Sarah knit her eyebrows together in confusion. She extended her neck at an excruciatingly slow pace, every fiber in her body on edge and prepared to fight for her life. Being careful not to make a sound, she peeked her head around the corner, and gasped as she caught in her gaze the ends of a flowing, midnight black cape, dark boots, and the beginnings of leather breeches working their way up to-. She broke from her thoughts, disgusted at herself for what she was about to think, but consequently slammed her head against the cabinet.
There was a slight pause, but the voice continued slowly. "Forget about the-"
Silence. 'Dammit Sarah, you're such an idiot!' she chastised herself. She screwed her eyes shut and hugged her knees close, awaiting her discovery. When had she become such a coward?
She heard the sound of a throat being cleared. "Are you insulting me? Show yourself and give me the child."
'Wait, he's not onto me? Doesn't he know that I didn't wish away a child? I didn't even-oh, shit.' Sarah felt as if her heart was about to beat its way out of her chest, and she was half surprised that it didn't give away her location. Would he just leave if she waited long enough? She had enough to process knowing that what she had assumed to be a dream for the last ten years was actually real; she didn't need to deal with the Goblin King himself in all his tight-clothed glitter glory! But one thing was certain: there was no easy way to weasel out out of this situation. It was step up, or be stepped on. Sarah tightened her fists, clenched her teeth, and spoke.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
Another silence. Electricity seemed to fill the air. Was the Goblin King tense? If he was, his tone of voice hid it very well. "Did you not call upon my services? I am here to take the child you wished away." He attempted to maintain his composure. "Now show yourself."
'His services?' What was it about the way he said that that made it sound so...
"You will show yourself to me, or I will have no choice but to use force."
Sarah could tell his patience was thinning. She tried to stand, but her knees were trembling. 'Pull yourself together! He has no power over you, remember?' At least she'd still have the counter in-between them. With that thought Sarah stood, using the countertop for support, to face the Goblin King.
She sucked in a sharp breath as she took in the scene that lay before her. First, there was glass littering her living room floor, and the carpet under her window was soaked with the rain that was blowing into her room. But these details (and how she was going to receive more than just a lecture from the landlord), were nothing compared to the spectacle standing in the middle of her apartment.
She rose from the kitchen floor as gracefully as possible, gripping the edge of the countertop until her knuckles turned white, to support her weight on her trembling legs. She took a deep breath and raised her head to meet the eyes of her former (and possibly present) rival. Sarah's breath caught as her eyes met his. He looked exactly as she remembered him. Intense expression, wild blond hair (which had perhaps grown a bit more unruly), ice blue mismatched eyes, and in full Goblin King regalia, just as he had come to her ten years ago. His expression, however, she did not recognize. His at first hard features made swift transitions from smug surprise, to confusion, and finally to recognition as Sarah swept her long dark hair behind her shoulders. The transition was so fast, however, that when Sarah blinked, his cold mask had already been slipped back into place.
He opened his mouth to speak, but hesitated. "Sarah?" he almost whispered, clearly with less force than he had intended to use if his following expression of frustration was anything to judge by. "What is the meaning of this?"
She stared back at him blankly, mouth agape, attempting to absorb what he was saying while forming a decent comeback. It wasn't working.
He looked around as regally as he could in the cramped apartment. The off-topic thought ran through Sarah's mind that her home really didn't suit him at all. "What are you doing here?" he demanded, attempting not to sound foolish. Sarah noted that he kept his fists clenched at his sides.
This was her chance. "What am I... What am I doing here? I live here!"
"You..." he looked around, his suddenly intrigued expression turning into one of disgust as he glanced around at the shoddy apartment. "You live here?"
"Isn't that what I just said? I'm sorry it's not up to your standards, your majesty."
He cleared his throat. "You wished a child away to me. I am here to take it." Realization suddenly dawned across his fair features. "Sarah, you..." He clenched his jaw. She stared back at him, confused by what he was getting at. "You have a..." He couldn't say it, but shock was spreading rapidly on his trained features.
Suddenly, Sarah understood, and looked at him like he was insane. "What? No, I don't have a child! I didn't wish anything or anyone away to you." She placed her hands on her hips. "I think you should be the one explaining to me what you are doing here. But you're free to go; you've done enough." She gestured to the glass and the wet carpet surrounding him.
Slight relief flooded his eyes, but his harsh features remained intact as he processed her response. "How dare you call me here and then dismiss me as such!" He began stalking toward her. Sarah backed up against the refrigerator, still determined to remain in control. But the closer he came, the more she lost her nerve. "You say you did not wish away a child, but if that is the truth," he gestured around the kitchen, "do you mind kindly explaining to me what I am doing here?"
Sarah's eyes met his, icy and unyielding, trying to maintain her composure. "I don't know, you tell me, Goblin King. I'm not the one with magical powers, here."
"...And he had given her certain powers."
"What did you wish for." It was not a question. He loomed over her, the air around him prickling with heat. His mismatched eyes bored into hers, and Sarah was quickly breaking down. She had to end this quickly.
"I didn't wish for anything!" She cringed as her retort came out more whiney than commanding.
"Oh, indeed." He lowered his voice. "And I suppose that I am here simply because of sheer chance, and because I am incompetent at my duties? I can only respond when summoned, Sarah, and I guarantee you, intentional or not, you wished for my presence for one reason or another." He flashed his sharp teeth with a mischievous smirk.
'Stupid, stupid, stupid Sarah! Why couldn't you have kept your mouth shut?' "I told you, I didn't wish for anything." He was so close that she could hear his heavy breathing. She drew in a shaky breath. "So unless you plan on repairing my window, I suggest you leave."
The Goblin King paused and controlled his features yet again. Sarah wondered what kinds of thoughts and emotions were swimming behind the mask he always wore. "I see," he smirked. "As you wish...precious." The loathing in his tone was audible. He backed up carefully, taking care to avoid the countertop behind him, as he stepped back into the circle of broken glass in Sarah's living room. Glaring at her, he raised a gloved hand to eye level, made a fist, and then gracefully flourished it through the air, as if he was producing one of his infamous crystals.
He coughed, and repeated the gesture. Nothing.
Sarah stared at him in silence, too entranced by his odd movements to comment. The Goblin King let out a sigh that quickly turned into a growl, making Sarah flinch. She looked at him for an answer, and indication of what he was attempting to do.
"It seems," he started through clenched teeth, "that I am unable to fulfill your request. I cannot return."
Disclaimer: I do not own Labyrinth or any of its characters. Labyrinth belongs to The Jim Henson Company and all applicable associates.