Once Upon a Time – Chap. 49.1


“So let me get this straight,” Ian spoke with deliberate calmness as he raised a hand to count off each major point in Gwendolena’s explanation of what he’d witnessed moments ago. “You opened a portal to some unknown place in my world—

“Actually,” Gwendolena gently shook her head while reaching for the last remaining tray of cookies on Trevor’s lemonade stand. “Not unknown. The portal will open in the exact same location where you entered ours.” She raised the tray up to him.“Cookie? The macaroons are everyone’s favorite.”

“So you opened a portal to my bedroom closet.” Ian lowered the pinky on his raised hand while absentmindedly grabbing a cookie with his other. “And through that portal, you sent four monsters,” he lowered a finger, “one of them carrying that gaudy stone-puzzle-medallion thing—

As he lowered another finger Gwendolena interrupted him again. “They didn’t take the entire puzzle dear love, I still have that. I only gave Seth one of the pieces to ensure they could make their way back.” She raised her own hand to reveal the stone puzzle still in her possession as the sleeve fell down. “And of those four monsters, Wymer is the only real nuisance and I have every confidence in Seth’s ability to keep him out of trouble. As for Vandalarius and Deigenhardus, they’ve been two of my most trusted guards for many, many years.”

Ian dropped his counting hand. “Eh, who are the last two?”

“V and Deigen,” said Gwendolena with a nod.

“Right. And they’re supposed to find a matching gaudy stone-puzzle-medallion thing from my world that will counteract the power of that one you’re holding and bring it back?”

“Not exactly matching but also not quite what our friends who are still too rude to come down the hill would expect to receive.” Gwendolena half turned and waved at Serena and Kirkaronus, who remained scowling from their horses. Kirkaronus started to wave back but quickly stopped when Serena elbow nudged him in the side.

“But what makes you think anything like that even exists where I come from and how are they supposed to find it?”

Gwendolena turned back to him. “They’re not just looking for an object but a person as well. V’s sword will glow when they find the one who can lead them to it.”

Ian took a nibble out of his cookie. “Finding that one person might be a bit more of a challenge than you think. They may not even be in my city, they could be anywhere in the world.”

“Why,” Gwendolena let out a small chuckle, “how many little villages and castles could your world have?”

“I don’t know about villages and castles, but if you mean the entire population of Earth it’s around six or seven billion.” Ian nearly choked on his next cookie nibble. “Eh, speaking of people, you said our monster pals would find themselves in my closet?” At Gwendolena’s nod, he gulped down the bite. “Maybe I should have mentioned to you guys that I can only afford the rent for that closet’s apartment by having a roommate.”


After trying various alien foods from the indoor icehouse and accidentally squirting mustard on one of the kitchen walls, Deigen and V seemed finally ready to move on with their mission. Seth for his part had kept busy exploring the room’s other strange items. Not only did he discover a copy of the toaster Albert created, but also other strange gadgets and switches on the walls that seemed to work all sorts of magic. One switch made the entire room glow from overhead while another caused the empty washbasin to make a loud metallic gurgling noise. The last bit of exploration apparently caused enough clamor to warrant them company. As soon as Seth lunged at the switch to make the wash basin cease its horrendous clamor, he found himself spinning in place to grab Wymer’s hood and keep his fellow zombie from charging a petrified man in the doorway.
V made a ghastly face and spit the pimento cheese he’d just sampled onto the floor, though the action seemed less due to alarm and more to discovering he hated pimento cheese. Deigen likely had the most frightening appearance as the soda which spewed all over him earlier had left a somewhat dried blood looking stain on his shirt and he now bore a mouth smeared with equal parts ketchup and strawberry jam.

For a moment, the zombies and vampires stared back at the stranger who wore the same sort of outlandish clothes as they’d seen on Ian and an unruly mop of brown hair. The tunic itself was an eyesore, bearing bright colored splotches; clearly the man must be some sort of painter interrupted from his work.

Not being one fond of long silences, Deigen made a grandiose wave at the man. “Hello there, friend. Sorry about the mess here, we truly didn’t intend to be such a bother.” He lowered his arm and gave a friendly smile. “Would you happen to have a name?”

The poor fellow continued standing dumbfounded in the doorway, opening his mouth only to let out a shrill yell that made the empty washbasin’s metallic gurgling noise sound like a music box in comparison.


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