Strangers in a Strange Land

The Long Walk Home

This is the first chapter to the sequel of the Fractured Fairy Tale. I release one chapter a week for my students. Be on the lookout for updates.

The singular cloud that funneled slightly at the bottom broke apart into smaller clouds and drifted away from Dan’s property with the gentle northern breeze. When Eugene said, “There went the window,” he may as well have said, “We’re stuck in 1915 because you took too long.”

Caitlin was so caught up in Eugene’s persistence; she hadn’t thought things through to the end. Otherwise, she’d have anticipated the cool, potentially dangerous greeting from Selene. An even scarier situation came to Caitlin’s mind; she had to sleep in the same room as Miss Scarier than the thought of death. She stopped where she stood and motioned to turn around. “Maybe I shouldn’t go back.”

Andrea circled around Caitlin to block her path. Pointing in the direction of Dan’s farm, she said, “Home is that way.”

Caitlin looked over to Eugene for support. His expression changed from wide-eyed hopeful to thin lined resolute. He nodded to punctuate Andrea’s answer. “I’m not going back without you. The last time they sent somebody for you and he came back empty handed, Damien started throwing fireballs like he was a character from one of those anime programs.”

She knew he said it to make her feel better. However, Eugene’s line of reasoning added to the gray cloud over her heart. The last thing she ever wanted was to be the cause of discord among her friends.

“Well, let’s get on with it,” she said and turned around. “I hope Damien doesn’t try to shoot me with a fireball. He left a burn mark on Dolph’s shoulder. Luckily Coury knew how to make an ointment, so the injury healed quickly.”

Andrea hadn’t heard anything about life on Dolph’s farm. “Like how quickly?”
“In a couple hours. Coury is related to Asclepius. If there is one thing I learned from staying at Dolph’s is there is much for people to learn. We are way behind when it comes to things like medicine and day to day living.”

“I didn’t see any other people,” Eugene said.

“There are doors all over the place. Technically, they don’t live on the farm, but there are a lot of people living a three to five minute walk away from Dolph’s front door.”

“Oh, that explains the mist I saw by the creek.” Caitlin noticed Andrea nodding to something off in the distance.

“But it was only for a couple seconds.”

In the same direction where Andrea had been looking, Caitlin saw three figures approach them.

“It’s the triplets.” Andrea clapped her hands in delight.

Selene came with backup? Caitlin prepared herself for the berating that was sure to come. Just don’t say anything and when they get tired, they’ll stop. In spite of her resolve, Caitlin’s legs refused to move forward.

“You could always tell Damien I want to stay here. That I don’t want to go back to our time.” She rushed her words to eliminate any chance of an argument.

Eugene and Andrea simultaneously took each of her hands in theirs. This time Andrea was the formal one. “We left as a group, we’re returning as a group.”

Squeezing their hands to communicate the strength they passed on to her, Caitlin began to walk towards the triplets.

When they were in hearing range, Selene yelled, “I didn’t mean for you stay in the labyrinth for two weeks!”

A warmth beginning at her bracelet resonated through Caitlin. “Why didn’t you just go home without me like you wanted to?” Caitlin was as surprised by her response as everyone else. “It would have solved everything.”

Marjorie and Angelica turned to Selene. Angelica’s eyes searched for something she knew she was missing but couldn’t place her finger on it. On the other side of Selene, Marjorie’s expression seemed more enlightened as though she figured out the solution to a problem that had been bugging her.

Her voice devoid of remorse, Selene said, “You’ve known me since I was five. It’s not like stupid things coming out of my mouth is anything new.”

Eugene leaned in and said, “She’s got a point.”

Andrea added, “Ask her a question and she’ll tell you no lies.”

Selene’s voice softened, “You have to be willing. Not pushed.”

“I knew something happened in the labyrinth,” Marjorie said.

“It wasn’t like being at Dolph’s was torture,” Caitlin responded. She was telling the truth. It was like having the older brother she’d always wanted but never had.

“Well, let me tell you, being in the house with Brian, Damien, and Peter have been. So, it’s only fair you share some of the pain.”

Angelica’s face hardened to stifle the smile she unsuccessfully tried to hide. “She speaks the truth.”

Eugene and Andrea laughed their agreement.

“So we’re good?” Selene asked.

“I guess so.” Caitlin shrugged. It wasn’t as if she expected a parade.

They had enough sunlight to get to the edge of Dan’s ranch. Then the moonlight, giving enough illumination to guide their steps, marked the path to the front porch of the house. Dan sat on the steps of the porch waiting to greet the friends back from their journey. His intense eyes contrasted the lightness he tried to convey through his smile. Remaining where he stood, he said, “Hello there Miss Love, you got here just in time for dessert.”

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