“Are we there yet?” Nathan shouted over the ocean breeze. Red and Jack sighed. “You know that we’re going to Snow’s, right?”
“Yes, and that’s about fifty more minutes outta here, kid,” Jack yelled back. The strong winds blew his blond hair back.
“Anybody hungry?” Red asked, opening the picnic basket and taking out a slice of her specialty bread. “There’s also chocolate,” she added when Nathan automatically refused.
“Why do you guys treat me so–”
“Good?” Red and Jack guessed at the same time.
“Well, yeah, but… you act nervous around me.” He started playing with his shirt and sighed under his breath.
“Oh, well… you know, you’re kind of like our other child.” Jack whispered the last few words.
“You know, we care about you as much as–”
“No, you don’t. If you cared about her, you wouldn’t have sent her to a whole nother world.” Nathan glared at Red and Jack as a tear slipped down his cheek.
“But, we also made you happy,” Red whispered, taking Nathan’s hand. He pulled it away. “We brought Alice into your life.”
“And then lost her,” Nathan grumbled under his breath. Fists clenched, he watched their wooden raft slowly make its way through the clear ocean waters.
After that, the group was quieter than the fish in the sea below them.
And then, it happened.
Nathan did the dumbest thing he could ever think of.
He jumped into the water.
Red and Jack screamed, but the water was frosty cold. Nathan gulped in mouthfuls of air as his head popped up and out of the water, but he dropped back down.
He swam and swam and swam, but there was no end. Just endless sea waters. Finally, after what felt like hours, he reached a small village. Not just any village, but a village of needy people.
A group of boys came up to him in matching brown rags and laughed at his clothing. One of the boys even smirked and said, “You obviously are left behind in the new trend.”
Nathan shook his head as the boys went swaggering into the village, laughing. Their just jealous, he thought. Jealous beings.
He slumped by a tree stump and started to cry. Like, heaving sobs that couldn’t control themselves. How could he possibly survive without his sister?
Footsteps neared him, and he wiped off his tears.
“You lost?” A girl about his age asked, holding out a hand. He gingerly took it, and the girl led him over to a group of more girls. Nathan cringed at the sight of all these giggling girls. “Well, then, we take care of lost kids.”
The girl threw Nathan over to the group of girls and they hit him, punched him, and kicked him anywhere he would have refused. They tore at his clothes until, two things:
- Nathan finally knew that this was a village of bullies.
- Someone came to his rescue.
“How precious,” another girl who Nathan could’ve sworn he recognized smirked. “Someone’s messing with the wrong people.”
Suddenly, all the girls stopped kicking and thrashing and punching Nathan, and the other girl gasped. Nathan shrieked.
The two ran to each other and hugged like never before. Alice burst into tears. Nathan was just in a state of shock.
“Upside-Euro Hill,” Alice interrupted, pointing to the most looptiest hill Nathan had ever seen. It was far off into the distance, though. Then, Alice pointed to a boy about Nathan’s age. “This is Jamie.”
Jamie was not that happy to see Nathan. Alice squeezed Nathan harder.
“He told me,” Alice whispered.
“I know,” Nathan whispered back.
“Alright, come on, Alice,” Jamie groaned, taking Alice’s hand and pulling her over to a man Nathan didn’t recognize. Alice pulled away.
“No, we’re taking Nathan,” Alice demanded, and the man nodded. He held out a hand to Nathan.
“Hey, there, Nathan. Nice to meet you, finally. I’m Drieder.”
“Cool. Hey, Drieder. Hi, Jamie,” Nathan smiled at Jamie and held out a hand. Jamie gingerly shook it.
“Whatever. Come on, Alice!” He laughed, and Alice giggled. But she took Nathan’s hand instead.
“Let me show you around,” Alice suggested as they reached the top of the hill. Alice suddenly said, “Wings,” and she turned into the fairy from the Enchanting Forests of Fairies & Creatures.
“Meet Fera,” She whispered, laughing. Nathan started to giggle. Jamie groaned.
“Ugh, Alice, what’s the fun in being around him? I’m so much better to hang out with,” Jamie whispered in Alice’s ear. Nathan crossed his arms.
“Huh, that’s a strange question, considering that this is my brother that you’re talking about?” Alice pointed out, raising an eyebrow.
Jamie stammered. “Uh… well… he’s… u-uh… kinda b-boring, you know?”
Nathan glared at him.
“Sorry, man,” Jamie lied, holding out his arms like he was under arrest. “Just…”
“My brother is not boring, now you can go get money from your dad and live a happy life and jab people in the ribs.” Alice grabbed Nathan’s hand and started to pull him towards the house, while whispering, “No wings,” and turning back to normal.
Jamie grabbed her arm.
“You don’t have to go on saying that,” he yelled. “My family is poor, okay? And my dad needs to get better.” Jamie covered his mouth in shock. Alice gasped and her mouth dropped open.
“Hm,” She huffed, and let out a sigh. “I can’t believe you, Jamie. That’s probably why your dad is nuts. Because he’s drunk! He never meant to bring me here!”
“Alice, calm down–” Nathan started.
“No, I won’t! First, my real parents betray me and then someone who I thought I could trust?!”
Jamie sighed and tried to reach for Alice’s hand. She rejected. “How, how would you expect–”
“MY DAD ISN’T DRUNK, HE’S SICK, OKAY?!” Jamie screamed. Drieder ran over and grabbed his shoulders.
“James, calm down, buddy–”
“Don’t! She was wrongly accusing you!”
Drieder sighed and smiled at Alice. Nathan tried to cover her, but she blocked his way.
“James, Jamie, Jam-Jam… all of those boys are the same. So, how do you expect her to not accuse a stranger that forced her to live with us when she doesn’t even live in this world?”
Jamie puffed and glared at Alice. She glared back. Then, they stomped away opposite ways.
Nathan ran towards Jamie, instead. He never got a chance to talk to him.
“Hey, dude, what’s going on?” Nathan asked, sitting down next to Jamie on the soft grass. He raised an eyebrow.
Nathan corrected himself. “‘Dude’ means ‘buddy’ in my world,” Nathan explained. Jamie nodded.
“I just… never can express my feelings towards her.”
“Yeah.” Jamie looked away. “I just want to tell her that she’s amazing. According to my dad, she’s the smartest girl in your school back at home.”
Nathan blushed, feeling proud for his sister. “Yep. That’s her.” Then, he felt strange talking to this stalker and cringed.
“Don’t you want to know about who you’re about to save before you save them? I mean, what if you look into them, and they’re actually the bad guy?”
“I don’t get how you were saving her.” Nathan looked away and whispered, “I could’ve saved her myself.”
“Well, you don’t save your sister, you save your friends.” Nathan looked over to Jamie to see if he was smiling, maybe kidding, but he had a normal expression on his face.
“Are you kidding?” Nathan shrieked, getting up. Jamie sat still on the ground. “Who wouldn’t save their sibling?”
“Um, I’ve been acting for quite a while, but I’m not kidding,” Jamie yelled, getting up. Nathan backed away. “As of now, I was acting, or as you call it, kidding.”
“What’s happening?” Alice-as-Fera shrieked and pulled Nathan back before he got hit by deadly green mist.
“I don’t know,” Nathan shouted over the noise. Drieder came over, as well, and screamed.
“WHAT’S HAPPENING TO MY SON?!” Drieder demanded. Nathan pulled him down behind a bush with Alice.
“I think–” Suddenly, Alice-as-Fera gasped and had a fainting fit again.
“No, Alice–” Nathan started, but his eyes tripled in size when he saw what Jamie was turning into.
Drieder seized Nathan’s shoulders after he put Alice in a comfortable position. “Be careful, Son,” Drieder whispered in Nathan’s ear.
And that’s when it happened.
Jamie wasn’t actually Jamie.
He was the Evil Queen in disguise.