The fairies in the picture beckoned to Ed.
This couldn’t be. It was only a piece of art his mother picked up at a county fair and hung in the hallway. Ed was certain he’d seen movement every time he passed it, but assumed it was only his reflection in the glass frame.
It was a photo of a real forest scene, with multi-colored fairies drawn over it. The style was so realistic, one could mistake it for an actual photograph. The fairies had transparent wings, shaded the same color as their skin, which was completely uncovered. They had no genitalia, and their bodies appeared youthful.
Now the fairies fluttered all over the forest. A few turned and stared directly at Ed. They gestured for him to join them.
I can’t get inside a picture, Ed thought.
To prove that point, he placed his hand on the glass frame. It went into the picture. At first, Ed feared he’d put his fist through the wall, but instead it hung within the picture as if he were waving out a window.
When the fairies saw this, they pointed at it and danced around excitedly. Ed could feel their tiny hands clutch his fingers, gently trying to lead him inside.
His other hand went into the picture as well. More fairies grabbed that one. They pulled the rest of his body through the frame.
Ed hit the ground, but felt no pain. The tallest, thickest trees he had ever seen surrounded him. The air was fresher that anything he’d ever breathed, as if pollution had not touched this world.
The fairies were more magnificent in person. Their vibrant colors changed hues as they flew about him. They sang and giggled like schoolgirls.
“Our savior is here!” they cried out together.
“Your savior?” Ed was sure this was a case of mistaken identity. “I’m just a boy.”
“But you must save us!” they begged.
“From what?” Ed asked, because these pixies could not be happier.
“The wicked King has captured many of our friends and put them to work in the diamond mines. Without constant sunlight, they will die. But the King does not care. He has ruled over our land for ages, and all he cares about is wealth.”
“That’s terrible,” Ed said. He’d only read a couple of fantasy books, but understood that people were summoned into fantasy worlds when they needed help. He doubted somebody as young as he could stop an evil ruler, but there had to be some reason the portal into this land opened for him. Besides, nobody could say no to the magnificent fairies.
“Where do I find the King?” Ed asked them.
“First you must cross the bridge of Relto,” the fairies told him. “Then walk through the land of Vea, but beware of the powerful Treclock, his spells could turn you to stone. You must find a dwarf there to help you climb the mountain of Kabarochen. At the top is the King’s castle, and on his land is where the mines are.”
Ed wasn’t sure if he’d be able to do all this, but he figured those guys in the fantasy books succeeded all the time. Finding something in themselves they didn’t know was there. Ed was excited at the prospect of self-discovery.
“Lead me to the bridge,” Ed commanded them.
They swarmed around him and guided him out of the forest. Beyond it was a great ravine. Connecting one end to the other was the most decrepit bridge Ed had ever seen (actually he’d only seen bridges like that in movies). It was made of rope and wood, but the rope was weathered and many of the wood planks were missing.
“Is it sturdy?” he asked.
“Many creatures have passed upon it,” the fairies told him. “But we suggest you take caution still.”
Ed was skeptical, but figured this was the first of many obstacles he’d have to overcome. He bid the fairies farewell and began across the bridge. They watched him as he made his way across, slowly at first, but when it was obvious that the bridge was sturdy, he moved a little quicker. Soon the fairies were an encouraging blur in the distance.
At the middle of the bridge, Ed felt the bridge begin to shake. It wasn’t him doing it. He turned to see the fairies buzzing around frantically. Were they trying to warn him of something?
One of the bridge’s ropes fell away from the wooden post. It took Ed a moment to realize what was happening.
He turned to run to the safety of solid ground, but after two steps, the bridge gave out beneath him.
The fairies watched in joy as Ed joined the other twisted bodies on the rocks below.
By Thomas J. Misuraca
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