I Would Be Your Slave.
OK.. this is a love story – after a fashion. And it's an idea that I've had playing around my head for some time. I've taken Kei's advice and decided to write something other than 'Heroes', just so that I can say that I've broken my writer's block. I don't know whether that will help with 'Heroes', but I'm willing to give anything a try.
'Heroes' still takes precedence – don't worry, I'm not going to abandon that, I'm enjoying it too much (when I actually manage to write it..)
This is still very experimental. I wanted to create something a little more frightening, a kind of 'Hammer house of Labyrinth.' I don't think I've quite managed that here, but I'll let you decide. Any suggestions as to how I could improve the 'gothic horror' feel would be most welcome. And no – however tempting it might be, I'm not going to make Jareth's heartbeast into a Raven..;)
OK.. On with the show.
I don't own Jareth or Sarah.
'You're a freak Sarah Williams! F.. R...E...A...K.. Freak.'
Cruel laughter echoed across the schoolyard.
Sarah hunched over, away from their cruel taunts as she hurried across the schoolyard. It was the same old routine every day, Jodie Miller and the rest of the 'trendy' gang delighted in making the less popular kids run the gauntlet. And Sarah was the least popular of all. They made her life hell in any way the possibly could.
And they weren't the only ones.
Deep in her heart, Sarah knew that she would never be as attractive as Jodie Miller. She would never be as popular as Jodie Miller. She would never be as smart as Jodie Miller.
Jodie Miller was everyone's golden girl, and she played her popularity ruthlessly. In her world, everything was perfect, she dated the most popular boys, wore the latest fashions, her figure was stunning, her grades were faultless, her teeth were straight, her blonde hair never out of place, the list could go on and on, ad nauseum.
The only thing that Jodie Miller lacked was imagination. She would never see a dragon in the clouds, or wonder whether there was life on other worlds. Everything was black or white in her world, there was certainly no room for fantasy. She would never, could never understand someone like Sarah, and she didn't even try. It was far easier to torment her, far more entertaining to point out her inadequacies in front of the entire class, to watch while the girl squirmed. Sarah embraced all things fantasy and different, and for that she was damned in her classmates eyes.
And once Jodie Miller had started bullying her, it had become fashionable to do so, and other kids followed suit, often ganging up on her in class, or lying in wait for her as she walked home.
Sarah always endured their cruelty. She never, ever retaliated.
Not even once.
Perversely, this only served to make them all the more determined to get some kind of reaction from her. And so they jibed and taunted, clawing at her hair, her clothes, her bag. Head bowed, hair hanging across her face she dodged between them as they crowded in on her and jostled her through the school gates. A few mimicked her walk, stepping close behind in an affected exaggeration of her every movement, erupting in fits of raucous laughter.
And then the chanting started;
'Freak, freak, freak... Scary Sarah, Scary Sarah, Scare me Sarah, Scare me!'
They leaped in front of her, cackling. Poking, pushing, prodding.
'Scare me. Scare me!'
That was her, yeah, she was real scary. It wasn't her fault, things just happened around her sometimes.
Unexplainable things. Frightening things.
This morning, for example. Tidying away the remains of some unfathomable experiment in the chemistry lab, she had lost concentration for a few seconds, and had reached out with bare hands to grasp the Bunsen burner that only seconds before had been spouting forth its distinctive dancing yellow flame. By rights she should have been horribly burned.
Sarah had felt Jodie's cruel eyes watching her, had seen the vindictive smile as the girl waited for the inevitable scream. Had watched the perfect cheerleader features twist into an ugly expression of disbelief, and only then had she realised her error and glanced down at the burner in her hand.
It was stone cold.
'Freak.' Jodie mouthed across the classroom. Sarah turned away, knowing that the incident would not be allowed to go unnoticed. By lunch time the whole gang knew about it. They taunted her with cigarette lighters, trying to get close enough to burn her flesh. Sarah took refuge in the school library and stayed there for the entire break, under the watchful eye of the school librarian.
Then there was the time last winter when she had slipped on the ice outside the school dining hall, and fallen straight through the plate glass doors. She should have been cut to ribbons, had even felt the glass start to lacerate her face and hands as she instinctively reached out to cushion her fall.
Not a scratch.
Mrs Rowlands, the biology teacher had seen her fall, had rushed in to try to help her, and had cut her hand badly on the broken glass which littered the floor. She maintained that it was a miracle that Sarah had escaped without injury.
Yes indeed, Sarah was different. Her pen never ran out of ink. Her clothes never needed ironing. Her hair was never tangled; often untidy, yet never tangled. Silly little everyday frustrations which other people took for granted never bothered her. And she was always on her own, she never tried to make friends with anyone at school, and certainly never dated.
That was something she was most particular about, the few boys who had approached her had lost interest real quick.
A solitary figure, yet never alone.
Never, never alone.
She terrified herself sometimes.
He terrified her with his intensity.
Yet tonight, tonight she had just about taken as much cruelty as she could endure. She forced her way past the jeering barricade, pushing through until she was free to run, setting off at a furious pace into the gloomy evening. The laughter behind her eventually diminished as she reached the park and she relaxed slightly, letting the rain wet her face, soothing, calming. Wet leaves squelched beneath her feet as she sloshed her way through puddles in the grass, not caring in the slightest for the mud that clung in sodden wet clumps to the soles of her shoes.
There had once been a mansion in the park. An old style gothic monstrosity of a building, built at the turn of the last century by a wealthy industrialist landowner, who'd had far more money and enthusiasm than style. It was little more than a ruin these days, a forlorn crumbling shell of a building, lost and lonely beneath its creeping ivy. Sarah loved the place, and often visited to shake off her worldly worries, fantasising about the day she would earn enough money to buy it, and restore it to its former glory. Its previous owner must have been wealthy indeed; the park had once been his garden, and he had designed everything, from the ornamental lake to the weird twisted statues. There was even a small hedge maze, serving as a reminder of another time, a different age, overgrown and neglected in the modern world. Sarah carefully skirted around it and headed down towards the lake.
Sarah nearly jumped out of her skin as Jodie, grinning, stepped in front of her.
A nasty grin, full of malice, and spiteful anticipation.
'Well, well, if it isn't the freak!' She declared, her voice echoing loudly across the lawns. 'Say "hello", freak!'
She smiled as two more of her gang stepped menacingly out of the shadows. Sarah recognised Adam Griffiths and Emma James, and swallowed nervously. Adam would do anything for Jodie, he was completely under her spell and the bitch knew it and used him mercilessly. As for Emma, she was Jodie's best friend, and just as callous. No sympathy there.
'I said, "say hello".' Jodie sneered, stepping forward. 'What's the matter freak? Cat got your tongue?'
Sarah raised her head, to stare levelly at her adversary.
'My name is Sarah.'
Her voice, though quiet, cut through the sound of the rain. Behind Jodie, Adam and Emma exchanged glances. This looked promising; the whelp had never retaliated before.
'No it's not. It's Freak. Sarah's far too good a name for the likes of you.' Jodie continued to advance, stepping forward so that she now stood in front of Sarah.
'Oh look, the Freak's shoes are dirty.' She slammed her foot down onto Sarah's boot, and twisted it cruelly. Emma took up the theme.
'And her hair is dirty.' She laughed, scooping a handful of mud and mussing it through Sarah's hair.
'And her face is dirty.' Jodie, laughing now, pushed Sarah so that she went flying into the dirt.
'What are you going to do, Freak?' She taunted.
Sarah sat up, ignoring their spiteful laughter. Mud matted her hair and ran in lazy rivulets down her face. Her bag containing all her coursework was completely sodden, and filthy. And he was watching, she could almost feel his eyes upon her. She bit down hard upon her anger, whatever happened, she couldn't afford to retaliate.
'I think the Freak needs a bath.'
No, they couldn't, could they? Panic rose slowly to Sarah's throat, as she felt a pair of rough hands grab her by the ankles.
'Jodie, please.' The colour drained from Sarah's face as they began to drag her painfully through the mud towards the lake.
'Please don't do this. You have no idea who might be watching.'
'Oh I'm scared, I'm really frightened.' Jodie sneered. 'There's nobody around for miles! Perhaps the fairies might take offence.'
Sarah swallowed and closed her eyes.
'You don't know what you are saying.' She whispered. The gang laughed.
'You're going to have to do better than that, Freak!'
The water was freezing. Sarah's first instinct was to struggle, until she realised that she was only fuelling their enjoyment, and forced herself to become still in the water. Just as she thought she would burst through lack of oxygen, the hands that had been pushing her down vanished, and she found herself able to move. She broke the surface and took a huge desperate lungfull of air.
More laughter alerted her attention. They hadn't gone far. Tired of trying to drown her in the lake, Jodie had spotted Sarah's bag lying discarded on the grass, and had made a beeline for it, pulling it's contents out for all to see. Make-up, hair slides, even items of personal hygiene now lay scattered across the lawns, a never-ending source of amusement. Sarah blushed flame red, yet still refused to allow their taunts to break her, until finally, in a desperate attempt to get some kind of reaction from her, Jodie pulled out an old battered book bound in red leather.
'Ohh, look what we have here!' She held it aloft triumphantly; her trophy, the one thing that Sarah Williams treasured most. she had seen Sarah reading this book on many occasions, yet had never managed to get close enough to find out what it was..
'What's this? Goblins? GOBLINS!' She shrieked her amusement to her friends. 'Oh, this is priceless.'
Sarah trembled and squeezed her eyes tightly shut as the girl leafed through the pages.
'What's the matter, Freak, are you afraid I'm going to damage your precious book?' Jodie approached her again, waving the book tantalisingly out of reach.
'You like this a lot, don't you..?' She continued, 'It's very special to you..'
Sarah nodded, shivering, and held her breath. At least Jodie hadn't inadvertently said the words.
'Such a pity!'
With a malicious glint to her eyes, Jodie turned and hurled the book as far out across the lake as she possible could. There was a moment when time seemed to slow down, when they were all helpless to do anything but watch the small red volume follow it's trajectory out across the water. It hit with a faint splash and sank without trace.
'I hate you.' Sarah whispered under her breath.
It was enough.
The wind whipped up suddenly, rattling through the trees, wiry branches crashing against the wooden shutters of the old mansion, making both girls jump. And as Sarah watched, horrified, she could just about make out the ghostly form of an owl, almost insubstantial, barely in her realm at all, yet steadily coming towards them all on silent wings.
'Oh, my God, Jodie, Run!' Sarah shouted over the wind. 'All of you! Run, Get away!'
Emma and Adam needed no further encouragement. Sarah looked terrifying, as the wind blew her wet hair in a frenzy about her face. She looked taller somehow, more ethereal.
The owl was almost upon them now, reaching out with sharp talons towards Jodie, who screamed and threw her hands up to shield her face.
Too late. Sharp talons raked the soft skin, scoring deep bloody scratches down her cheeks.
'Stop it! Stop it!' Sarah whirled around, and the owl was gone. Vanished as quickly as it had appeared.
Perhaps it had never really been there at all.
Chittering high pitched voices echoed on the wind.
'Say the words, Say the words...'
'Leave me alone!' Sarah screamed.
It was suddenly calm, quiet. No howling wind, no fierce storm.
'Jodie are you alright? Jodie?'
Much as she hated the girl, much as she had endured the torments, Sarah was not about to leave her hurt.
Terrified, Jodie backed away desperately from Sarah.
'Stay away! Stay away from me, Freak!'
She couldn't take any more. Clutching her bleeding face she ran off into the gloom.
Sarah sank to her knees in the mud, her tears mingling with the rain and the rivulets of dirty lake water dripping from her hair.
'Why can't you leave me alone?'
Her head snapped around, there had been a voice. His voice. Faint, carried on the wind, yet unmistakable.
'You fear me, Sarah.'
She sucked the air in over her teeth, 'Yes.'
'And.. You love me, Sarah.'
Her head dropped forward. She was silent for a long time. Too long.
And you will obey me?' His voice was terrifying.
'Then you know why.'
And the voice was gone.
Since her victorious return from the Labyrinth he had haunted her, always watching, protecting her from harm like some twisted guardian angel. She was never free of his presence, never alone. Today was different, frighteningly so. Today she had unwittingly called on him to help her, by admitting a weakness. Today she'd had an unwelcome reminder of his terrifying powers; he had won a minor victory over her, and he knew it.
He had never spoken before.
'Say the words, Sarah.' The wind seemed to whisper, taunting her.
'Say the words Say the words Say the words.'
Hundreds of chanting goblin voices, teasing, a guttural crescendo
'No! Leave me alone!' She screamed into the night.
'Leave me alone!'
They chittered and laughed at her. She would be theirs soon enough.