This was going to be a one-shot, but given that I’m a little pressed for time and don’t want to save it to a communal computer yadda yadda, it’s going to come in a couple of installments. Maybe I’ll write a couple and make it a series. The point is that this is going to be a short story and you’re only getting the first two pages now anyway - expect more this evening. But I’d love some feedback and I hope you enjoy it a little bit.
For the record, it’s fair to say that I owe a bit of inspiration to The Bedwetter’s Ball, which I recommend you read, but I’m planning on going down a different path.
Eleven year old Laura Woodside drew the heavy red curtains across the empty window in her bedroom and walked over to the dark wood chest of drawers that flanked her bed. She dropped both the towel around her body and the one enveloping her long blonde hair and pulled on a vest and pulled up a Goodnite. She tugged the light by the closed door and found her way into bed in the dark. No sooner had she pulled the duvet around her neck than she was promptly asleep.
Tap, tap, tap at the window. Laura groggily opened her eyes and rubbed away the sleep. Tap, tap, tap again. She edged her way to the side of the curtains and, rather than open them, peaked in under the edge.
“Hello,” the boy said.
Laura stumbled back, surprised. This moment wasn’t nearly as romantic as it looked in the movies, but then, in the movies normally they’d seen the boy before. And Laura had never seen anything like this boy. For a start, she’d never seen someone who could reach straight through glass, as he had when offering her his hand to shake. After that, it was certainly unusual, she thought, to have green-blue spiral eyes, like little windmill toys.
“Hello,” the boy repeated from behind the curtains, “I’m sorry to barge in,” – and he marched straight through the windows and the curtains – “but you must be Laura and my name’s Arthur.”
“Please to meet you, I suppose,” Laura stuttered, moving back to sit on the bed. It was only as she reached over to the bedside light that she realised she had no need: she could see perfectly as if the room was inundated with a kind of clarity, though it remained pitch black. “Why are you in my room?”
“I’ve come to ask a favour. I need your help with something.” Replied the boy, adding, ominously, “Something important, though I dare say, dangerous.”
Laura thought to herself for a moment. She wasn’t a particularly adventurous girl. She had her friends, she was a good student, sometimes she was in trouble, but she was never the kind to sneak away with a stranger in the middle of the night, not that she actually knew if that kind existed outside of stories. But something was a little different. The boy radiated a sense of excitement that, even though she’d just woken up, had her itching to run, jump and explore.
“What do you want?” she asked.
“I want you to pack up whatever you need for the night and I’ll tell you on the way,” replied Arthur, flicking his jagged black hair out of those swirling eyes. “The journey won’t take long, but there’s not long until morning.”
Laura jumped to her feet and seized her beaten up leather satchel – the one that had belonged to her grandfather – and tipped out her schoolbooks. She grabbed a honey coloured cashmere hoody from the drawers, a spare Goodnite, stuffed them in the bag and pulled on a pair of tartan flannel shorts. Before she had time to tie the ribbon the boy had seized her by the wrist and pulled her through the window and into the air.
Walking across the air, two stories above her driveway, Laura no longer thought about how strange things were. When the boy opened an old wooden door, riddled with woodworm, that she’d been unable to see above the gates she’d walked through every morning for her whole life, she walked through without question.
The two of them arrived at the foot of a colossal staircase, carved out of granite polished so finely black that it looked more like the night sky than the air Laura had just stepped from. Far in the distance, at the top, a white building glowed faintly, like the moon.
“We better run,” said Arthur. And with that Laura found herself running, tirelessly, up more stairs than she’d ever seen in her life.
Some hours later, at the top, breathing as if nothing had happened, he offered, “You only have to take the stairs once. There are ten thousand of them. Inside they take it as a sign of respect that you make the effort at least once.”
Laura sat down, her diaper squishing, though she only wet whilst asleep, on the low wall that surrounded the enormous round courtyard. The building still looked so far away. All around there was nothing beneath the wall. The stairs extended in one direction, but everywhere else? everywhere else there was nothing.
“Where are we?” she whispered, though her voice still echoed across the desolate stone.
“At the palace,” Arthur replied “First we’ll announce our arrival, and then I’ll answer some of your questions.”
Once again, he grabbed her skinny wrist and Laura floated alongside him, her satchel over her other arm, her hair flowing behind.