"'How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.
'You must be,' said the Cat, 'or you wouldn't have come here.'"
The basement door slammed shut as James plummeted head over heels into the darkness. Panic and fear overcame him as he anticipated slamming into the hard cement floor, yet it never came. Endlessly he fell, flailing wildly in the shadows trying desperately to gain control of his fall and just before he could let out a scream of terror he landed. But he didn't violently crash into unforgiving cement, instead, he landed softly on what felt like...grass.
When James finally found the courage to open his eyes, he discovered that he was no longer in his basement, in fact, he wasn't at home at all. Staring up at large crescent moon through bare branches, he blinked several times to wake himself from the dream he was having, but when the cool wind kissed his cheeks and the sound of crickets filled the air, he knew that he was awake. Slowly working his way up to his feet, James struggled to see through the dense forest surrounding him. The pale moonlight barely illuminated the large hideous and twisted trees that loomed overhead casting terrifying shadows across the forest floor. If there ever was a path to take, James would never be able to find it in such poor light. A thin fog covered the ground beneath his feet and disappeared beneath the darkness of the trees.
This way. A gentle voice called out from what seemed like the back of his mind.
James whirled around expecting to see the horrible creature that had taken him from his home and left him somewhere in the woods, but instead his eyes locked with the piercing stare of a large white fox, sitting no more than a few feet away, framed perfectly by the trees and the light of the moon. James couldn't help but admire its beautiful alabaster coat.
"Did you just talk to me?" James said aloud, and to his surprise, the fox nodded. He wasn't sure if his eyes deceived him. "Do you understand me?" he asked, hoping to see it nod again, but this time the fox merely blinked, seemingly losing interest in the boy and with a yawn and a shake of its fur it turned and made for the shadows.
"Wait!" James called after it. This is crazy, he thought to himself. There's no way that fox just spoke, and it didn't nod, it was a trick of the light. He tried rationalizing the odd event in his mind as he watched the large creature disappearing into the shadows just as quickly as it had appeared, it was gone.
For a long time, James stood dumbfounded where the fox had left him still trying to process what he saw. The snap of twigs breaking close by disturbed his inner turmoil.
"Hello?" James questioned, turning to see nothing but trees and shadows around him. The chirping crickets abruptly stopped, leaving James in an eerie silence.
A low, sinister growl sent shivers down James' spine causing him to immediately sprint off into the forest. Not taking any time to look back, James didn't care if he was being pursued he just knew he couldn't slow down. He ran and ran until he felt as if though his heart were going to burst from his chest, he finally looked back, and to his relief, there was nothing there, nothing was chasing him at all. He came to a stop, breathing greedily and searched the trees for any movement.
"Where am I?" He wheezed to himself, taking a seat against a tree, wondering how he was going to get back home.
Don't dawdle, you're nearly there, A voice called out in his mind again.
James bolted to his feet and looked around the large tree trunk he had leaned against and to his surprise a medium sized house sat peacefully among the trees. A dim light glittered in the houses two windows, setting it apart from the shadows of the forest. How did I miss that? James wondered, seeing how the house clearly stood out with its glowing windows and oddly curved roof. No, he was sure he didn't miss it, it simply wasn't there when he first looked.
If the mysterious building appearing out of thin air wasn't enough, what surprised James, even more, was there sitting on the porch, right in front of a large black door, was the white fox.
The decision to enter the home was one that James never had a say in. For it wasn't a coincidence that brought him to the house's doors, nor was it the nightmare that had brought him here to the twisted trees of the forest. What James would soon discover is that it was simply fate that brought him there.
As he approached, the white fox disappeared through the house's door. James' legs seemingly had a mind of their own, moving against his will underneath some unseen spell and leading him toward the large black door. "Maybe they have a phone I could use," James, kept telling himself, trying to make sense of the apparent magic he was under.
As he approached the house, the door swung open, and whatever magic that held him was released, leaving James staring into the shadowy depths of the house.
"Hello?" James called out, as he stepped into the dreary home. The sound of faint laughter drew him past all the oddly priced trinkets and to a counter in the back. This isn't a house, it's a shop! James thought, staring at the dusty counter. "Hello," he called out yet again, and the laughter abruptly stopped.
Stepping behind the counter, James stared down a long narrow hallway, at what looked like a massive door. His eyes drifted back to the counter where a dusty silver bell sat. He quickly gave it a tap and called out once more. "Hello?" but no response came.
"I'm trying to find a telephone," James said as he cautiously approached the door.
"You're trying to find your way here, you mean." A bright and melodic voice with a hint of an English accent called out from behind the heavy door. As the dull sound of a locking mechanism being opened resonated from within, James caught a glimpse of a familiar engraving etched into the hardwood. The door opened to a room filled with a smoky, apple cinnamon scented haze.
Even through the smoke, James could already see the tall figure of a woman sprawled out on a lounge sofa smoking from a long slender pipe.
"It was because you are in need of something that you have come here." The thin woman continued to puff from her pipe.
Her voice was calm and soothing, and James found himself at a loss for words. Approaching closer he could make out the woman's long purple evening gown, which was accented with large silver flowers stitched into the fabric. Her black hair flowed over the edge of the sofa, shifting slightly as she fixed her dark brown eyes on the young boy, anticipating a response.
"I do need a phone, actually," James admitted.
The woman continued to gaze upon James as if searching for something that he couldn't see. "You're not from around here, are you?" she finally asked.
"Indiana? I was born here." James responded matter-of-factly.
"What's your name?" The woman questioned with a devilish smile.
"James... James Grey," James responded wondering what she was getting at.
"Your birthday?" She asked, her grin broadening on her face.
"June third? Why?" James answered confused at the purpose of the woman's questioning, who seemed increasingly amused by each of his words, as she laughed at his response.
"Well well!" She cried, "Telling a complete stranger your true name and birth date, how precious!" She laughed deeply again and James could see tears forming in her eyes.
James felt oddly embarrassed by her remark, "I would rather be honest than start off with a lie." James snapped back.
The smile on the woman's face became menacing, "There is great power in a name, boy. Even the smallest detail, such as your birthday, could lead to a life-altering change to your future," Her light-hearted demeanor once again returned as she tapped the contents of her pipe into an ashtray.
"Well, what's your name?" James asked, trying to gain ground in this one-sided conversation.
The woman covered her mouth with the fingertips of her free hand and giggled. "Oh James, you're not even trying. Did you think it would be that easy?" She asked mockingly. "Alright, I guess I can humor you. I am Calypso," She said standing and taking a bow.
"What an odd name..." James said, immediately doubting whether this woman had truthfully answered him.
"It's world-famous," She grinned. Plopping back down on the sofa, she pulled a small silk pouch from one of the cushions and began filling her pipe with the pouch's contents.
"So, do you have a phone I could use?" He asked again trying to get the strange woman back on track.
"Only for emergencies," She explained shaking her head and paying James no mind.
"But...This is an emergency! I was taken by a monster and this talking fox led me here."
"Where is this fox?" Madame Calypso once again turned her attention back to James, seemingly ignoring the existence of a monster and focusing solely on the mention of a speaking fox.
"It ran in here." James looked around in vain.
"So allow me to understand. You were following a fox; which entered this shop; and you followed it in willingly...yet you're lost?" She said seemingly pleased with herself.
"I..." James was beyond frustrated with Calypso, "Never mind I'll just find my way back, sorry for the trouble," James turned to make his exit, but the heavy door slammed shut before he could even take a step.
"Now, now. Don't be so hasty. There are dangerous things in that forest, boy and you're not in Indiana anymore." Calypso rose from her lounger and stepped off into the fog. Returning with a small table and large blank scroll, she placed it in between her and James.
"There are secrets in this world, James. Secrets that you will soon come to know. All around us magic lives and breathes," She spread the scroll across the table, "Magic that only a select few can see and even fewer can harness and manipulate it to accomplish the impossible, create the miraculous and harness fate... these few are known by others as wizards, witches, warlocks, heroes, villains, and you, James... I believe are one of them," Calypso never looked up from the scroll, but if she had she would have seen the completely skeptical look painted all over James' face, a look that would soon be changed to wonder.
James laughed, "That's impossible, magic isn't..." James' words were silenced at the sight before his eyes, Calypso tapped her pipe against the parchment, and a small spark erupted from the contact, touching the paper, but instead of setting the dry scroll ablaze it darted around the paper's surface.
James moved closer to see what exactly was happening, on the once blank sheet of parchment were words being written from nothing... no, being burned onto the page, each letter glowing faintly as the words filled the scroll.
It only took a few moments for the scroll to be completely filled and Calypso leaned forward and raised an eyebrow to the now wide-mouthed boy across from her. "Impossible, indeed."
Snatching the scroll from the table she began to read it, and line by line as her eyes scanned the words, the paper would burn away until there was nothing left of what she once held.
"How did..." James tried to ask, but Calypso held up a finger to silence him.
"You have lived quite a troubled life... Your mother left you when you were very young... Your father... passed and your life is about to be uprooted." Calypso honestly looked saddened by his story.
"Wait... what do you mean my father passed?" James asked suddenly.
"Dear boy, that is why you're here, he's no longer able to protect you." She said as she slumped back into the lounger.
"What do you mean? Protect me from what?" James' heart began to race as he contemplated her words.
"I can't say, it was just a simple fortune telling spell, I'm sorry. Something is looming over, a great power... has no one ever told you?" she asked. James just shook his head.
"Interesting... Well, I guess I could tell you... for a price," she said.
"But I have no money," James said, but Calypso didn't seem deterred.
"It isn't monetary compensation that I seek, but a certain device that belonged to your father...a watch"
"How do you know about that?"
Calypso just giggled to herself, "Magic" she waved her hands mockingly.
"Why would you want this, it's just a watch?" James asked, holding up his wrist.
"If a service is given compensation of equal value is given..." Suddenly Calypso became severe, "There will never be more or less, and for the information about what plagues you, that watch is the payment I require. That is all you need to know," The smile returned to her face. Before she could say more, the sound of a bell rang from the front of the store and immediately brought a frown to Calypso's face.
"It looks like our time is done for now... It seems I have another customer. Shoo." Calypso tried to wave the confused boy away.
In an instant feeling of dread hit a James like a ton of bricks. The sound of heavy footsteps against the hardwood floor of the shop's entrance echoed through the hall and into the back room. "Who is that?" James asked. The entire atmosphere of the shop seemed to change as the footsteps continued again, clicking down the long hallways just outside the heavy door. With each step, the world seemed to darken.
"You shouldn't concern yourself with small details, just enjoy the ride for now." Calypso giggled again apparently entertained with herself.
Her words weren't exactly reassuring to James, he still had no idea how he would get home, and the unusually strong woman was seeing fit to throw him back out into the dark forest. However, when the heavy door opened it wasn't the dimly lit hallway James had entered from that greeted him, nor was it a horrible creature waiting to devour him along with Calypso, it was empty darkness.
"Mind the gap, dear," Calypso said cheerfully as she hurled him through the door.
Yet again James found himself plummeting into eternal darkness, unsure of where or even if he would ever land. His knee clipped something hard in the darkness and as he unconsciously reached forward to steady himself, his left arm connected with hard cement. A loud sickening crack echoed in the dark around him as he slammed onto the hard floor and slid headfirst into a solid wall, leaving him in an unconscious heap on his basement floor.ns220.127.116.11da2