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Authors: Anna Staniszewski

My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending

BOOK: My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending
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Copyright © 2013 by Anna Staniszewski

Cover and internal design © 2013 by Sourcebooks, Inc.

Cover design by Jennifer Jackman

Cover images by © Yuri Arcurs/Shutterstock, © Elenamiv/Shutterstock, © Paul Almasy/CORBIS

Sourcebooks and the colophon are registered trademarks of Sourcebooks, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews—without permission in writing from its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

Published by Jabberwocky, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc.

P.O. Box 4410, Naperville, Illinois 60567-4410

(630) 961-3900

Fax: (630) 961-2168

www.jabberwockykids.com

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data is on file with the publisher.

Source of Production: Versa Press, East Peoria, Illinois, USA

Date of Production: September 2013

Run Number: 21296

“There is no real ending. It's just the place where you stop the story.”

—Frank Herbert

PART I
Chapter One

What did people bring with them when they were about to zip off to a mysterious fairy land to rescue their parents? I had no idea, but I figured I should at least pack a toothbrush. That way, if the fairies decided to torture me with magic dust or something, I'd at least have fresh, minty breath.

“Almost ready, Jenny?” Dr. Bradley asked from his perch by my desk. My magical mentor looked totally out of place sitting next to the piles of homework I'd be neglecting for however long this mission would take.

“I guess.” Even though adventurers weren't supposed to get nervous, I was shaking all the way to my toes. What if I couldn't find my mom and dad? What if they weren't even in Fairy Land? What if this plan turned out to be one huge mistake?

Stop
it
, I told myself. Then I zipped up my backpack and threw it over my shoulder.

I could hear Aunt Evie downstairs, whistling along with one of her parakeet patients. Part of me wanted to go hug my aunt good-bye one more time, just in case, but I didn't want her to worry. Besides, I
would
see her again. I just knew it.

Pop!
Anthony the Gnome materialized in the middle of my bedroom. For some reason, my magical guide was dressed in layers of climbing gear.

“Hey there, Jenny-girl!” he said, his harnesses and ropes rattling. He adjusted his headlamp, which barely fit over his mess of flame-colored hair. “Time to go!”

“Am I missing something?” I said. “Is Fairy Land in a big cave?”

Anthony shrugged. “If we're going to get your parents back, we need to be prepared for anything.” He clapped his pudgy hands. “Okey dokey. Let's get going!”

Dr. Bradley grabbed his cane and hobbled over to us. Then the three of us clustered together, preparing for the awfulness of spinning in between worlds. I took a deep breath and—
Pop!
—we were sucked out of my bedroom, tossed around in a rainbow void, and spewed out onto…

My bedroom carpet?

Yup. We'd been spit out right back where we started.

“What happened?” I asked.

Dr. Bradley frowned and adjusted his small glasses. “I was afraid this might occur. Fairy Land has been closed off from the rest of the magical worlds for years. It's possible they have blocked our attempt to transport ourselves there.”

“No problem-o!” said Anthony. “We'll try again.”

“But if they're blocking us,” I said, “then how will we—?”

“We just wear them down. That's what I always do in these situations.”

Anthony certainly
was
good at wearing on people. Still, I couldn't help giving his shoulder an affectionate squeeze. He and Dr. Bradley knew how dangerous this mission might be. In fact, they'd even gone against the Committee—aka their annoying magical bosses—to help me. I usually tackled missions by myself, but this time I was glad to have help.

As Anthony grabbed my arm again, I closed my eyes and got ready for more inter-world spinning.
Pop!
I felt the carpet under my feet disappear. Then we swirled around and around like dizzy snowflakes.

Finally, my feet were on solid ground again. I opened my eyes.

We'd left my bedroom behind and were now in a fancy chamber furnished in gold and red velvet. Weirdly, everything in the room was upside down. We were standing on the ceiling, looking down (or maybe up?) at the furniture. It was totally confusing.

“Oops,” said Anthony. He took my hand again and—
Pop
!

More spinning through the void. I was starting to feel like an ice cube in a blender. We bounced in and out of world after world after world:

A concrete parking lot that stretched on forever.

A crystal lake with squirrels zipping around on miniature Jet Skis.

An empty landscape with a giant banana.

An empty landscape with two giant bananas.

An empty landscape with
no
bananas.

And the set of a TV sitcom.

“Anthony, stop!” I finally cried, feeling seriously sick to my stomach.

We materialized in a grassy field dotted with enormous wild turkeys. As Anthony let go of my hand, I realized the creatures weren't exactly turkeys. Their bodies were humanlike, but they had droopy wings on their backs, and their oversized heads and necks were beakish and saggy. Gross.

“This is ridiculous,” I said, my head throbbing. “We'll never get there at this rate.”

The turkeys froze at the sound of my voice. Then their black eyes swung toward us. Their huge beaks opened, revealing flat, square teeth. Perfect for gobbling us up.

“Intruuuuders!” one of the turkey-monsters shrieked, flapping its scraggly wings.

“Get together!” Dr. Bradley cried as the turkeys started charging toward us.

Their beaks were only inches away when—
Pop
!—we disappeared into the void. I'd never felt so relieved to be sucked in between worlds.

“What were those things?” I said. My voice echoed for what felt like forever as colors swirled around us in a nauseating pattern.

“They were goblins,” said Dr. Bradley.

Goblins? Since when were goblins giant turkey creatures? Then again, if there was one thing I'd learned during my three years as an adventurer, it was that magical creatures were actually nothing like they were in books and movies.

Thud!
We landed on cold, hard ground. This time, we were in the middle of an old courtyard. The stones around us were crooked and mossy and dotted with tufts of yellow grass. I was relieved not to see any killer birds nearby.

“Where are we?” I said with a groan. I felt like someone had plucked off my arms and legs and reattached them upside down. I wasn't sure how much more world-jumping I could take.

Anthony let out a little squeal and pointed to a faded sign in the distance. “Welcome to Fairy Land,” it said. “The Place of the Future.”

“Fairy Land,” I whispered. I had no idea what all that “future” stuff meant, but I didn't care. What mattered was that we'd finally made it! We were here!

I forgot all about my aching limbs and started to run toward the sign, grinning like a crazed monkey. Underneath it were rows of ticket booths, the kind you'd see at an entrance to an amusement park, and in the distance I spotted a crumbling roller coaster. I'd always thought “Fairy Land” sounded like the name of a theme park. It clearly used to be one, though it didn't look like anyone had used it in years.

I turned to ask Anthony about it, when—

Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!

A blur of small figures appeared all around us, locking us in a tight circle.

“Don't move!” someone said. I couldn't see who it was. All I could see was the razor-sharp spear pointed right at my head.

Chapter Two

“Why have you come to Fairy Land?” a voice said.

When I was finally able to look past the spear, I realized the small figure at the other end of it was a leprechaun. He looked straight out of a cereal commercial: long beard, buckled shoes, and a shamrock attached to his green hat. Of course, I couldn't remember the last time I'd seen a leprechaun in a cereal commercial threatening someone with a deadly weapon.

I glanced at Dr. Bradley and Anthony who were huddled beside me, their arms raised in surrender. So much for the three of us going on our first adventure together.

“Don't mind us,” Dr. Bradley piped up. “We were just passing through on our way to…” He trailed off, looking around at the overgrown fields and run-down amusement-park rides. The truth was that Fairy Land wasn't on the way to anywhere, except maybe that never-ending parking lot we'd accidentally popped into.

“Hey, no need to get all stabby,” said Anthony, pushing one of the gleaming spears away from his neck. He never noticed when his life—or anyone else's—was in danger. “We just want to have a little chat with your queen.”

Another guard stepped forward. He was shorter than the other leprechauns, but his dark beard was streaked with silver. He was twirling a shamrock between his lips like a farmer would do with a piece of straw. I could tell by the way the rest of the guards stood up straighter around him that he was the leader.

“No one can see the Queen Fairy,” he said, his voice surprisingly low for someone barely half my height. “Now please gold.”

“Um, do you mean
go
?” I said.

“Gold,” the leprechaun insisted. He stretched out his arm and pointed his finger in the universal gesture for “scram.”

Not a chance. We'd come all this way to follow up on the only lead we had about where my parents might have gone, and I wasn't “golding” anywhere until I knew for sure they weren't in Fairy Land.

“Why can't we see the queen?” I asked. “Is she invisible or something?”

“No one is allowed to insult the Queen Fairy,” the head guard said, practically shoving his spear up my nostril.

“Whoa!” I held my hands up way over my head. I hadn't come to Fairy Land to get an unwanted nose piercing. “I'm not insulting anyone. I was just wondering why we can't see her.”

“Hey,” Anthony chimed in. “Stop waving that pointy stick around!”

The head guard's eyes narrowed. “Enough.” He motioned with his hand, as if he was about to do some serious magic on us. But nothing magical happened; instead, a loud buzzing sound erupted from a red cuff around the leprechaun's wrist.

The other leprechauns looked away in embarrassment, like they'd accidentally seen the head guard in his underwear.

“What's going on?” I said, pointing at the cuff. “Why is it making that sound?”

“Nothing to worry about,” he mumbled, his round cheeks turning pink. “I just went over my magic ration for the day, that's all.”

Wait. Were the leprechauns on magical diets or something?
Join
Wand
Watchers
today
and
watch
the
magical
pounds
melt
away!

I glanced over at Dr. Bradley just in time to see him wink at me. Hopefully, that meant he had something up his sleeve that would get us out of this mess.

The head guard gave his bracelet a fierce twist, and it finally stopped buzzing. Just then another loud sound echoed around us.
Pop!

Dr. Bradley vanished.

The leprechauns stopped trying to stab us and charged toward the spot where the doctor had been. Seeing my chance, I grabbed Anthony's hand and ran as fast as I could through the knee-high grass toward a cluster of nearby rides.

“Stop!” one of the leprechauns called after us.

Then a heavy orange cuff that looked a lot like the red ones the leprechauns wore appeared on my wrist. Anthony had an identical one around his wrist too. It perfectly matched his hair. I had no idea what the cuffs were for.

“Anthony, get us out of here,” I cried as I dragged him past a crumbling spaceship ride.

“All right. All right,” he said, huffing. His short gnome legs weren't really designed for running, and all the harnesses and ropes he'd draped on himself weren't helping. The gnome snapped his fingers…but nothing happened.

“What's the matter?” I said.

“I don't know.” He kept snapping his fingers, but it still wasn't working. “Maybe the cuff did something to my magic.”

Great. I glanced over my shoulder and spotted the dozen leprechauns sprinting after us. We had to find somewhere to hide.

In any other kingdom, Anthony would've known his way around and been able to give me directions. But since Fairy Land had been cut off from the rest of the magical worlds for years, we were pretty much running around in a black hole.

“Head for that Ferris wheel!” I said. It wasn't a great hiding spot, but our only other option was a teacup ride. There was no way the leprechauns would mistake us for lumps of sugar.

We sped up, trying to lose the leprechauns in the tall grass. They were so short that they could barely see over it. Just when I was starting to think we might lose the guards, Anthony tripped over his climbing harnesses and sailed to the ground.

“Take that stuff off!” I cried, pulling him to his feet.

Anthony scrunched his face up in annoyance, but he tore off his gear and cast it aside. “Don't blame me if we get stuck somewhere with no way to climb out,” he said.

Finally, we got to the ancient Ferris wheel. It was rusted and sagging and clearly hadn't been used in years. We ducked behind a dented control panel and tried to catch our breath. I hadn't noticed it before, but the buckets of the Ferris wheel were shaped like flying saucers. In fact, most of the rides we'd passed had been space-related. Maybe that's what the “Place of the Future” stuff on the welcome sign had been all about.

“I think we're safe,” Anthony wheezed. He grabbed one of the Ferris-wheel seats to steady himself.

“No, don't!” I said, but it was too late.

CREEEEEEAK!

Slowly, the Ferris wheel started to turn, making the loudest, most horrible sound I'd ever heard. Anthony jumped away from it with his hands up, as if he'd had nothing to do with revealing our hiding spot.

Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!

The leprechauns materialized all around us. The head guard might have run out of magic, but the others had plenty to go around.

“Freeze!” they cried.

BOOK: My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending
2.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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