Flash Friday 29/01/2015: World Trip
The large oval mirror in the corner of the dusty study began to glow a brilliant light blue. The glass bent in on itself, forming a tunnel as if someone had pulled the plug out of the middle of it. Through this tunnel, two children fell through, landing on the wooden floor feet first. The tunnel closed behind them.
“Good golly,” Percy said, looking back at the mirror. “It’s real.”
“I told you so,” Dorothy said, with her familiar matter-of-fact tone. “The fairy told me that using the Ring of Discovery on mirrors opened up portals to new worlds, but you never believed me.”
“Alright then, you win this round. So, what world are we in now?”
“I…don’t know,” Dorothy said, her stern tone making way for amazement and wonder.
For the first time, the pair took a good look around the room. With such a dominance that they may as well have been considered the walls, shelves upon shelves were crammed to bursting point with books. Randomly scattered around the room were full suits of armour, weapons on racks, grammarphones, dressers, and many other points of curiosity, of which the mirror was one. The whole room gave off an aura of magic, as if the books were about to fly off the shelves and the furniture was about to come alive.
In fact, the room was so enchanting, it took the children an embarrassingly long amount of time to realise they weren’t alone.
Sitting at his desk at the other side of the room, an aged man scratched at old-looking paper with a quill, occasionally dipping it into the in well beside him. The long, silk robe he wore dragged across the table as he wrote.
The pair slowly approached the desk. “Excuse me, sir,” Dorothy said meekly. “I was wondering if you could tell us what world we’re in.”
That caught the attention they wanted. They couldn’t tell at first, because the man’s movements were so slow, he probably gathered moss if he stood still for too long. With all the urgency of getting up on a Saturday, the man put aside his quill, cleaned his glasses on his robe, and gave the pair an old, wizardly smile.
“Delaware,” he said.
“Did you hear that?” Percy said. “By gosh, we’re in the magical land of ‘Delaware’! Tell me, good sir; in what magical world does ‘Delaware’ belong to?”
“The United States, last time I checked.”
“Did you hear that?” repeated Percy, excitedly grabbing Dorothy by the shoulders. “We’re in a magical world called the–wait a minute. That’s in our world.”
“Never fret,” Dorothy said. “Perhaps this is another Earth, except magical. Maybe they have spells, and unicorns, and giant fat dragons, and–”
“None of that here,” the man said. “We sometimes have festivals here, though. Those are nice. And if you ask me, the Museum of Natural History is ‘magic’ in its own right.”
“Really?” Percy said, his face spoilt as he folded his arms. “That’s a load of bollocks.”
“Language!” Dorothy said, hitting Percy’s arm. “Besides, we can still spend some time exploring this huge U.S. state–”
“Second smallest,” the man said, “actually.”
“–before heading back home. Don’t you think so?”
“No.” Grabbing Dorothy’s wrist, he began tugging her towards the mirror. “I want a magical adventure full of joy and wonder. Not this boring nonsense.”
“W-Well,” the man said, standing from his chair. “No need to leave so quickly. I’ve got a book club meeting, if you want to join. Cup of tea?” He said more urgently, as they approached the mirror. “A game of chess, perhaps?”
All Dorothy could muster was an apologetic glance as Percy dragged her into the mirror, the tunnel closing behind them.
The man sat down, dipped his quill into the ink, and resumed his scrawling. Then, he said, “Alright, it’s safe to come out now.”
At once, magical creatures of all shapes and sizes collapsed from behind suits of armour, came out of drawers, and emerged from under sheets, breathing sighs of relief.
“Thank goodness,” a satyr said. “If I had to hold my breath a minute longer, I’d have passed out. Thanks for covering for us.”
The man sighed. “I didn’t want to send them back, but you all demanded that I–”
A dragon, who had been hiding in the ceiling, finally lost her grip, coming down with a crash on top of furniture and folks who didn’t move fast enough. “Who the hell did she think she was?” the dragon snarled. “‘Giant, fat dragons’, indeed! If I had an ounce less patience, she’d have been a flambé.” Reaching under her belly, she plucked out a stunned dwarf.
“If I had to give another group of energetic kids a tour of Eleswor, my fur would’ve gone grey,” said a faun. “What did you tell them this world was called, again? Dellywhere?”
“A place in their homeworld,” the man said, continuing writing as if nothing happened. “One devoid of magic.”
Everyone in the room grimaced.
“Phew,” breathed an elf. “If they found out they were in a world of magic and wonder, we’d all be roped in for a quest before we knew it. Still trying to wash the crayon markings off the wall from the last lot.”
“Well, then,” the man said, with a cold tone. “I’m glad you’re all satisfied that you denied two children a life-changing experience.”
“Excuse me!” the elf spat. “You’re not the one having to take the little brats around a world full of magic! Why, if they were standing here right now, I’d tell them that they can shove their enthusiasm up their–”
“Sorry,” said Dorothy, stepping back through the mirror with Percy in tow. “Percy acted awfully rotten earlier, so I made him come back so he can oh my goodness.”
Everyone in the room — bar the man — stared at the kids in horror.
The kids’ eyes lit up.
“Welcome back,” the man said, with a smile. “Fancy an adventure?”