Chapter 8

The blue door behind them was closed and locked, so there was no chance of checking the red one for safety. Sarah and Lucianne hurried away from the hole and the Helping Hands.

The corridor they were walking down now at first seemed just another Labyrinth corridor: yellowish walls, moss springing out here and there… But there was one strange thing about it: a sort of gray mist that surrounded the girls as soon as they got out.

"It must be evening time," Sarah guessed as the mist gradually thickened.

"No," Lucianne shook her head worriedly. "It was dawn in here when we began. The time can't move that fast. Unless Jareth has sped it up – but why would he do it?"

The mist was by now so thick that both girls could hardly see their own feet. Moreover, some humming noise was coming from everywhere. Everything about the corridor was creepy.

"Maybe this is the certain death," Sarah murmured. Her friend gave her a furious look:

"Sarah! Don't give the Labyrinth ideas!"

Suddenly, a big dark figure stepped out of the fog. At first, it was just a silhouette, but then it became visible in details. It was an enormous troll-like being, with large round black eyes.

"Children must be in beds by now!" it hissed. Sarah squeaked:

"The bogeyman! Just how I imagined him! Oh, no… My mother used to tell me it would eat me if I don't go to bed!"

The girls ran past the approaching bogeyman. Luckily, because of his fatness he wasn't very fast, but he quickly began to chase them, growling something about little girls not going to sleep late.

"When I got too frightened ten or eleven years ago, I imagined the bogeyman to be extremely stupid," Sarah explained as they ran. "I bet he's in every detail like I believed him to be. We can fool him!"

They bent down and ran to the wall, where they sat near a gigantic bush of moss. The bogeyman didn't notice it, so he still ran forward with menacing roars. Sarah and Lucianne sighed in relief, and the blonde thought aloud:

"I think it's the Tunnel of Horrors. I heard Jareth threatening an especially troublesome goblin to throw him here instead of the Bog."

"How can we get away, then?" Sarah whispered. Lucianne opened her mouth to answer when they heard hissing again. They sat still, thinking that the bogeyman is coming back. Instead, they saw an army of black snakes. Each of them regularly curled into an almost perfect letter D.

"Oh my, that's my nightmare from a while back," the elfin girl shuddered. "Before the first Stellology exam, I feared I would get a D…"

"Are they poisonous?" her friend asked in a terrified whisper.

"I don't know about you, but I have no wish to find it out!" Lucianne replied and suddenly began to speak loudly and distinctly:

"Stellology is a magical science discovered in Faerie during the reign of an ancient King Manavidan. His second wife Arianrod is generally believed to be the first stellologist ever; though she actually was the Queen of the Moon and the Stars…"

As the girl recited a brief summary of her Stellology course, the black snakes stood, horrified. After five minutes, tall white herons flew from the sky and ate all snakes. Sarah noticed that the legs of every heron were tied together with a red ribbon, forming an A.

The herons flew away.

"Let's go!" Lucianne ushered Sarah out of the moss bush and they ran as fast as they could… not for long. Apparently the first two drawbacks were practically nothing; the Tunnel of Horrors now unleashed its main forces. Every nightmare, every childhood terror of the two friends attacked them.

Sarah and Lucianne rushed back and tried to break the door or to fall into the hole again – they decided that anything would be better than the Tunnel. But the hole was closed.

"I wish someone could help us to get away from here!" Sarah yelled desperately.

"Sarah!" Lucianne looked almost betrayed.

"Do we have any choice?"

There was a roll of thunder, and the horrifying creatures backed away. Jareth himself appeared between them and the trembling girls. His hair was more disheveled than ever – it looked like a stack of golden hay after a hurricane. He wasn't wearing his dark regal clothing Sarah saw before, instead, he was in a rather simple white shirt and tight blue leggings.

He raised his hand, and the Tunnel's inhabitants stepped back into the fog.

"Well!" Jareth chuckled sarcastically, turning to Sarah and Lucianne. "How are you enjoying my Labyrinth?"

The question was directed at Sarah, who instantly remembered how to annoy the Goblin King.

"It's the piece of cake," she looked at him defiantly. Jareth glared back, his blue eyes sparkling dangerously.

"Oh, really? Then how about…"

He didn't finished the phrase: a golden clock appeared by his side, and Jareth moved his fingers a little, so that the hands of the clock span. Two hours ahead.

"You have about seven hours left," he smiled victoriously, then with one push of his elbow opened the locked door. "Get out of here, as you wished. You've still got many… slices of that cake to deal with."

Sarah and Lucianne ran outside. Jareth followed them, only to vanish in a cloud of glitter. They head his laughter echoing from somewhere far away.

"Oh, damn him!" Lucianne cursed. "Sarah, let's hurry!"

"It's a very nice idea, but where exactly are we? It's a different place!"

It was different, indeed. A dark forest with glitter everywhere under the trees and no road or path visible. Laughter could still be heard in a distance, but it was not Jareth's – it was shrill and crackling.

"Help!" Lucianne called. "Help! Mom! Dad! Hoggle!"

Sarah joined her soon. Still… No one answered.

"How do you know they're nearby?" Sarah wondered. "The Labyrinth's enormous."

"Cries for help can be heard everywhere in the Labyrinth," Lucianne sighed. "Which means Mom and Dad are away from it. I wouldn't be surprised if it's Jareth's doing as well."

"What about Hoggle?"

"He's a coward, I called him just in case," her friend said with a hint of disdain.

…Meanwhile, Hoggle was walking around the stony part of the Labyrinth when he heard the two girls' yells.

"Coming, coming…" he murmured, turned around and almost crashed into Jareth, who was leaning against one of the stones.

"Oh. And where? Are? You? Going?" the King raised an eyebrow.

"I was going to lead the ladies to the Outer Corridor, just as we planned, I was going to pretend I was going to help…" Hoggle stammered. Jareth cut his mumbling short:

"Let me ask, Himble…"

"H-h-hoggle," the dwarf murmured.

"What is that plastic thing round your wrist?"

"Oh! This… Eh…" Hoggle looked around desperately. "W-where did this come from? Oh. Oh. Well, I'm off to lead the ladies to the beginning…"

He rushed away, but Jareth shouted:

"Wait! I think I got a better plan. Give Sarah this…"

The Goblin King conjured a crystal ball and threw it to Hoggle. As it flew, it turned into a fresh-looking peach.

"What's this?" Hoggle asked cautiously.

"It's a present. You will give it to Sarah, or you'll go directly into the Bog of Eternal Stench…"

"No!" Hoggle cried.

"Then – go!"

"I-is it going to hurt her? I mean, she's the friend of Lady Lucianne, who's my friend…"

"One more word, and…" Jareth made another crystal, and Hoggle didn't wait for whatever was coming. He ran away.