Rebekah L. Copeland aka Aiijuin Graphics, Aiijuin on Deviantart
Written for Creative Writing Class, March 2011
A short-short story based on Jim Henson's Labyrinth (c) 2011
A Sarah/Jareth tale. Of course, like I would write much of anything else!
This story has also been published by me on DeviantArt.
The raven-haired teenager darted towards the right, and then towards the left as she maneuvered past speeding, yellow cabs and other clutter that randomly blocked her path within the intercity mazes of New York City. The chilly winter air froze her breath from her rose red lips as her gangly, long legs pumped furiously fast past the decrepit, stone walls and barren, dead trees of Central Park. She knew that he was close at her heels, and would eventually catch up. Sashya banked on her presupposition that hopefully her pursuer didn't know the 'Big Apple' like she did. Luckily, for her sake he did not. Sashya saw a trash can nearby and tossed the garnet-colored, little leather-bound book into it, however she was not about to part with the heavy amulet of radiant, ornate gold that was shaped like some strange demon's head with horns. She considered it her prize for the great feat that she had just accomplished.
Sashya could hear his breathing from behind. She sprinted past harried businessmen, pretzel stands, and tourists on the massive concrete sidewalks, as she scaled nearly twenty-two, vast city blocks in less than ten minutes. The clock, it seemed, was still ticking against her and she could not stop it. When Sashya had reached the iconic Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Street, she was nearly overtaken until 'Fate' intervened on her behalf.
A woman with shoulder-length, pin-straight hair that looked identical to Sashya's, had walked out past the numerous rows of stairs cascading down from the museum's entrance and hailed a nearby, idling cab. Seconds later, the lovely, brunette woman had collided into the looming, shadowy figure who had been chasing the adolescent girl, nearly knocking her underneath of the approaching taxi. She dropped her leather attaché case, and it landed at his feet. Her slate-gray business suit and lemony, wool cape became mingled with the man's heavy, midnight-colored warlock cloak that fluttered like a flag in the frigid winter winds. The two struggling bodies were akin to a Picasso masterpiece, since there was nothing more to be seen than a muddle of stiff and offended arms and legs sprawled out in oddly-shaped and unnatural directions. Nobody offered to help the struggling duo, since New York was notorious for avoiding helpful intervention.
When the man and woman had regained their wits and composure again, the cab had driven off with Sashya instead of the person who had summoned it. The man was smoothing his cloak, and looking rather vexed. The woman searched the ground for her case. Upon seeing it, she was about to ask him if he would hand it to her, when her eyes met his. "Oh my gosh," the woman's radiant and mesmerizing emerald green eyes blinked, "Can it really be? Here in the city? In the daylight? Jareth?"
The ivory-white, gaunt man blew back a silky, ashen-blonde wisp of hair from his face and answered very impatiently, "And what is it now, Sashya? Is it not enough that you have brought chaos into my lands after you entered them without my permission?"
The woman pushed her long, smooth locks behind her petite, rosy ears and smirked, "You were always bad with names, but I can't believe that you've forgotten mine already. What are you doing here? I thought that you only came out at night."
It took the man a minute to register that he had not captured the person that he had intended to. He blinked his strangely, mismatched eyes several times and gazed hard at the gorgeous, slender lady who stood before him. She looked familiar enough, but he couldn't place the face. She was older. There had been so many females over the centuries that had made wishes to him, which he had granted for a price of thirteen hours. Something about the voice of this one had made him forget about Sashya for the moment. The woman rolled her eyes, seeing that he didn't make the connection. She finally remarked after a few seconds, "So… did you ever rebuild that castle of yours after my visit?"
"Sarah?" Jareth replied as his face lit up with recognition, knowing only one person had ever managed to literally send his world crashing down around him. Sarah Williams continued, "How are things, Goblin King? Say, that teenager who just stole my cab, wasn't one of your newest victims, was she?"
"Ha! Victim? I'm the one who's been victimized here, Sarah," Jareth scowled, while still fiddling with the abnormally high collar of his cloak. Sarah didn't hear his remark however, since she was busy sizing up her old nemesis. He hadn't changed since she had last seen him. His multi-layered, wild blonde hair still jutted in all directions. His narrow, cat-like eyes looked as piercing as ever, especially when the twinkle lit back into them as he spoke her name. His perfect, placid, angled face was as ageless as ever. She raised her thick, caterpillar-like eyebrows in amusement, hoping that he would have something pithy and witty to say, just so she could challenge it again. Unfortunately, he didn't. The Goblin King's color drained from his face, as he began to falter. Sarah caught him before he swooned. She figured it was a another ploy to trap her, so she hurried to stabilize him with an angry look riddled upon her face.
He thanked her casually, but she replied with a stomp and a raised voice, "No more tricks, Jareth! What's up with the girl? 'Sophie' was her name, right?"
"'Sashya'," Jareth corrected, and then added, "But then, you were never great with names either, it seems." After a few seconds, his expression changed again, and he looked a bit apprehensive. Sarah tilted her head in inquiry, as Jareth understood the gesture, he replied, "That girl stole my amulet. Without it, I cannot return home and I am powerless to find her through flight or fancy. If I do not have it in my hands within thirteen hours, I will be trapped here in your world for all eternity."
"Maybe you shouldn't have brought her into your labyrinth to begin with," Sarah mused. Jareth shook his head and grasped Miss Williams by the shoulders firmly. He announced with a serious look, "I did not! Sarah, the play book entitled, 'The Labyrinth.' What did you do with it?"
Sarah shrugged, "I don't know. I moved out of my house and most of my stuff was packed away in boxes when I left for college. I just assumed my stepmother and daddy sold all of my old junk after I left or gave it to my brother Toby. Why?"
The Goblin King pinched at the bridge of his nose in exasperation. He was clearly experiencing a combination of internal pain and frustration. He scowled, "That book was no ordinary book. It was the gateway into my kingdom." After a few seconds of awkward silence, Jareth pointed at Sarah with his black-leather gloves, "I hold you responsible for this mess, and you must help me find the girl who stole my amulet."
"Why again?" Sarah asked with a sardonic undertone in her voice. Jareth narrowed his eyes into slits, "If I run out of time here, then I become one of you forever…"
"A New Yorker?" Sarah asked, feeling the need to harass him like he had to her many years before. Jareth, not in the mood for jokes, shook his head and finished, "Mortal….and your 're stuck with me forever."
"Point taken," Sarah grimaced. She scratched her head and picked up her case while asking, "Sashya, right? Her name? And what's her last name?"
Jareth shrugged. He didn't have the background information on the amulet thief, like he had with Miss Williams many years before, after all Sashya had forced her way into his land. Sarah shook her head, "Jareth, what you're asking is impossible. There are thirty-four million people in the Big Apple alone, and finding one teenage girl named, 'Sashya' may produce at least fifty thousand results here. With time turned against you, I'm afraid we can search, but it's highly unlikely that we'll ever find her or the amulet again in time for you to return to the castle beyond the Goblin City."
Sarah had been right. Finding the girl had become a shattered illusion. There was only a magical king and the luck of a once triumphant teen, now a woman, who had conquered his labyrinth long ago. There was only a small hope and a dream, and nothing more. Thirteen hours had expired, and the Goblin King became trapped just as Sarah thought that he would. The powerful, golden amulet was thought to be lost forever….
However, one afternoon thirteen years later…. a little boy with the wildest, ashen-blonde hair and mismatched eyes walked to the front of his third grade classroom with several crumpled, handwritten papers within his slender, ivory hands. His teacher, Miss Wayans nodded at him. He nodded back and began to speak, "Okay. So, um… I wanted to bring my dad's little red book for show and tell today, but he wouldn't let me. He wrote it long ago. He says its very special. I can hardly read it, because it's so old, and he won't tell me what it used to say, so…um, I wrote my own little red book from a fairytale that my mom used to tell me."
Miss Wayans smiled and remarked, "You're going to tell us a story? That's wonderful… Shhh! Class! Go ahead, Mr. Williams." The little boy began, "Once upon a time, there was a pretty princess who stole a jewel that didn't belong to her. She had met a great white owl that was sitting in a tree when the owl said, 'Who, who, who are you?' The girl was scared and said, 'I'm not telling you who I am!' The owl saw the stolen jewel and said, 'That does not belong to you, you, you.' The princess stuck out her tongue and said, 'Well, I took it and it's mine forever, now I'm off to hide it …'"
Suddenly, a knock came at the classroom door. Everybody looked up. The principal turned the knob, and peeked his head in ever so slightly. He called to Miss Wayans, "Sashya. I have a memo about the new updates for the parent-teacher conferences tonight." Miss Wayans nodded and rose as quietly as she could, while she said to the boy, "Mr. Williams, continue reading to everybody. I'll be right back."
Williams stared at his teacher, and then to her desk, where his eyes caught the glimmer of something gold and shimmery that was peeking out from one of the piles of papers. It looked like a charm that was shaped like a demon's head with horns. He gazed at it for what seemed like an eternity, until another student shouted, "Junior! Finish the story so I can show and tell next!" Young Williams startled and dropped his paper to the floor. As he bent down to pick it up, he thought about how he would tell his mom and dad about this really 'cool' thing that he saw on Miss Wayans desk today. 'Junior' began to read again, "The great old owl said to the princess, 'Beyond is the big dark forest. There are dangers untold and hardships unnumbered there.' The princess frowned, 'Then, I'll run away from those things and they won't get me!' The owl spread his wings and said, 'Boo-Hoo-Hoo! Such a pity! You can only run for so long, before you run down. Soon they will find you and your reward will not be what you want, but what you truly deserve. Turn back, Princess! Turn back before its too late!'"
Miss Wayans closed the door behind her as the principal left. She scurried back to the front of her classroom as quickly as she could. Young Williams was taking his seat again. Sashya glanced up at the time. In nine hours and twenty-three minutes her classroom would be teeming with inquisitive parents.
Inevitability was imminent. Time was running out and the clock, it seemed, was still ticking… ticking against her and she could not stop it.