Disclaimer: In a perfect world, I could take credit for creating Gravity Falls, which is one of the wittiest, most clever cartoons on the air today. This is not a perfect world. All credit for the premise and characters of Gravity Falls goes to Alex Hirsch and Walt Disney Entertainment. Credit for any/all fairy tale references (albeit they are out of copyright) go to their creators - the "Folk" and, of course, the Brother's Grimm.
Fairy Tale Falls – Part One
"I know it's around here somewhere," Dipper Pines muttered to himself. He reached under his vest and pulled out a map. He'd found it wedged beneath the cushion of Stan's recliner just that morning. As best he could tell, it must have slipped out from between the pages of his journal during one of his countless reading sessions.
He flopped down on a mossy old log and examined the page he was carrying. In one corner was an intricate illustration of a fairy rendered in green ink. The first letter of the first word, "O" as in "Once" as in "Once upon a time," was also elaborately illustrated. It's weird. The handwriting on this page doesn't really seem to match the rest of the journal, he thought for the umpteenth time. At least, I don't think it does. Without the original to compare it to, there's really no way to tell.
Augh. Darn Grunkle Stan taking off with his journal. It was just like an adult to snatch something away without asking. Despite his constant pestering, Stan still refused to return Book Three to him. Every time he asked, his grunkle would tell him that "he didn't need that weird old book putting ideas in his head." Apparently, in Stan's opinion, Dipper had enough weird ideas already. No doubt, his current mission was one of them.
He fumed silently over the map for a few minutes before cramming it back up under his vest. Mabel's gonna flip out when I bring her a real, live fairy. I'll bet she forgets all about that creep Gideon trying to kill us. The improbability of this statement hit him almost as soon as he thought it. "Well, it'll at least get her to come out of her sweater," he said aloud.
An image of Mabel rocking in the corner of their shared attic bedroom, a pink sweater emblazoned with a shooting star pulled up over her head, rose in his mind. He pushed his hat up on his forehead and squared his shoulders, resolute. Peter Pan was one of his sister's favorite stories. She had set out a thimble of sugar water every night for a year after their father first read them the story trying to lure Tinker Bell into their room. Now, she was finally going to get her wish. After all, what were "little" brothers for?
Dipper chuckled to himself, amused with his own joke. Unfortunately, his self congratulatory moment didn't last. A sharp scream rang out across the forest causing the hairs on the back of his neck to stand on end. Before he could react, a figure rushed past him and disappeared into the trees. All thoughts of fairy-hunting abandoned him.
"Hey, wait up," Dipper called, chasing after the mysterious runner. It was no good. Whoever it was, they were swift and sure-footed as a deer, darting in and out of the trees, expertly navigating around rocks and fallen logs. He, on the other hand, was slow and clumsy as a…well, as a twelve-year-old boy who needed to spend more time at the gym and less time in front of the television set.
The bramble underfoot caught at his ankles and scratched his legs as he ran. At one point, a tree branch snapped back, knocking his hat off his head. Well, that's just great, he thought, slowing. The temptation to go back lasted only a moment. Whoever or whatever had run past him had been in a hurry to get away, and his gut told him that if he was smart, he'd follow suit.
"Hey," he called again. "Wait up." It was no use. He stumbled to a stop, bending down and placing his hands on his knees as he fought to catch his breath.
In the distance, he heard a disconcerting howl. Okay, what the heck was that?
"I wouldn't stay in one place for too long if I were you."
Dipper jumped up, letting out a frightened yell. Standing no more than a foot away from him was a girl – at least he was pretty sure it was a girl. It was hard to tell since the long, red cloak she wore shielded her face from view.
She laughed suddenly, causing the fabric of her coat to ripple. "You scream like a girl."
"That wasn't a scream. It was a…um…a manly yell."
The girl laughed again. She was beginning to get on Dipper's nerves. He'd only gone after her in the first place because he thought she was in trouble. Clearly, she wasn't. "Well, I guess I'll just be going then," he said, turning to leave. Weirdo.
"No, wait." She suddenly produced a basket from underneath her cloak. After carefully removing the gingham cloth that covered the top, she pulled out a familiar garment – his hat. "You dropped this."
Dipper reached out and grabbed it, slipping it expertly onto his head. "Just who are you supposed to be anyway?" he asked, not bothering with a thank you. "And how did you get my hat – you've been in front of me this whole time."
"I found your hat on the path. Lucky for you, I was going this way." The girl pushed the mantle away from her face, revealing a head full of red, curly hair, a shade darker than Wendy's. Her freckles, too, reminded him of Wendy, but there the comparison ended. This girl had wide, blue eyes and a round, slightly chubby face. Overall, Dipper estimated her age to be close to his own. She leaned in without warning and whispered conspiratorially, "I'm on my way to my grandmother's house." The sentence was punctuated with a mischievous smile.
"Ooookay," Dipper said, taking a step backwards. Why is everyone in this town so abnormal? And how can this girl act like nothing happened when just a minute ago she was screaming her head off like some terrifying monster was chasing her?
"Well, I'd better be going," the girl said, cutting into his thoughts. "I'm not supposed to stop along the path – or talk to strangers. And they sure don't get any stranger than you." She paused to laugh at her own joke before continuing. "You should go, too," she added, glancing over her shoulder. "You never know who – or what – you'll meet in the forest." With that, she skipped off into the woods, humming to herself.
She'd been gone less than a minute when an ear-splitting howl assaulted Dipper's ears. He looked around, but with the wind picking up it was impossible to tell which direction it came from. It was followed, almost immediately, by a high-pitched scream exactly like the one he'd heard earlier. Dipper jumped to one side, half-expecting the red-haired girl to come sprinting back into the clearing. When she didn't, he turned on his heel and began running himself. Only this time, he didn't go in the direction of the scream. He hauled tail back to the (relative) safety of the Mystery Shack. There was something strange going on around here, and he was going to need a certain book if he had any hope of solving the mystery.