School: Boroughmuir High School, Edinburgh
“Welcome! Welcome! This way please. Good, form an orderly line. I SAID ORDERLY.”
A sharp looking young man with a dusty briefcase was belting out instructions to the… people? No. Some of the creatures ahead of Jace were definitely not human. Blackness enveloped the scene, but he could see perfectly. In some ways he wished he couldn’t, so that he would no longer have to look at the more horrifying beasts. A surprised expression found its way to Jace’s face as the young man suddenly appeared beside him, there was no way he could have fought his way through the crowd that quick.
“You, my boy look confused.”
It probably didn’t help that at this very moment, a creature similar to a dragon was trying to put a giant pink grizzly bear in a headlock, who was screaming in protest.
“Wait,” Jace thought. “Grizzly bears don’t scream. And they’re not pink either. That thing looks awfully like a dragon, they don’t exist. This must be a dream. Definitely a dream, and I’m going to wake up right now.” He pinched himself. Nothing happened.
The young man glanced over his shoulder and back. “Don’t worry about them, it happens most days.” He sighed. “Now. What’s the name?”
“Uh. Jace.” Something about this place didn’t seem right. The dark was making him dizzy, almost nauseous, his panicked heart drummed against his chest.
“Well. You’re not on my list.” The man scanned a clipboard that Jace could’ve sworn wasn’t there a second before. “Are you sure that’s the name of your creator?” A chuckle escaped the man’s lips as he took in Jace’s narrowed eyes.
“Do you mean my mum and dad?” Jace was on the brink of a meltdown. He had no idea where he was or what was going on! Not that you could blame him, his creator had imagined him believing he was a normal boy. Living in a normal world. Earth being this normal world. This was clearly not the case.
“No, son. Your creator. The gate keeper should’ve given you their name on the way in.”
“What way in? I just appeared. Right here.”
“Look, this isn’t a time to be messing around. I don’t have time for this, I’ve got,” he paused to check his watch, “five hours of work to get through.”
“I honestly don’t know what all this is!” Shaking his head in disbelief, but finally concluding that Jace was only clueless and not trying to trick him, the man turned away.
“Can someone please get this boy a manual.” He turned back to Jace. “You are a boy, right?”
Jace didn’t answer.
Clearly not really interested anyway, the man snapped his fingers at a nearby cluster of ‘things’. That was the only word Jace could think of to describe them. The man turned back to Jace. And then, just like that he disappeared. Four seconds later (Jace counted), he reappeared, manual in hand. Jace shook his head, closing his eyes. Wishing that everything was just a dream. It was not a dream.
“How did you do that?” The man bent down until he was staring at Jace right in the eye. Somehow, Jace willed himself not to look away, as if this way he was at least owed an answer.
“You’ve really never heard of this place? No one told you about it while you were in the waiting room?” Clearly, the man thought that he was the one who should be asking questions.
“No.” Jace was growing impatient.
“Interesting. I’ve never seen a case like it. They must’ve imagined him to think he had a life on Earth.”
He muttered the last sentence, but Jace still caught it, his ears clinging to every letter formed, hungry for answers. “Imagined,” he thought. “I’m not ima-“ Before he could finish this last thought, the man’s hand clamped down on his shoulder, a feeling of being torn into thousands of little pieces and then stitched back together overwhelmed his senses. To say it was excruciatingly painful was an understatement.
“What was that for?” His eyes gleamed with anger, matching the tone of his demand. This was getting worse and worse. What had started as a harmless dream was turning into a horrific nightmare! Except, it couldn’t possibly be a nightmare, because surely, he would’ve woken up by now. These thoughts skipped about inside Jace’s head, a woozy feeling took over from anger.
“Sorry.” The man looked to the ground. “I’m not meant to teleport with newbies.”
By this time, Jace had been through enough already and wasn’t particularly bothered being teleported!
A joyful look struck the man, as if he suddenly remembered why he was present. He gestured to the deep ravine running through the cave, that Jace had filtered out in his daze. “Welcome! Welcome to The Realm of Myths and Legends.” Noticing that Jace’s face still looked blank he continued. “Although, I wouldn’t exactly call some of the guys here legends. Best not to mention I said that, they can be a bit touchy.”
“Oh, and by the way, you can call me Roscoe.’’
A few hours later, when Roscoe had given him the briefing that he would’ve received ‘if Margret hadn’t been so disorganized’, Jace finally felt he understood everything. He was a figment of someone’s imagination, this someone lived on Earth and, because of this he was living somewhere that wasn’t Earth, not that he had ever lived before. Unsurprisingly, during the process of taking all this information in, Jace had a few breakdowns. Six to be exact. He felt as though everything was closing in on him, a sick claustrophobic terror.
To be safe, Roscoe thought it was best if they walked to Jace’s ‘home’. Jace would never forget what he saw on that walk, for as long as he lived. Which would be forever. Because he was imaginary. However, this world seemed far from imaginary to Jace. Ultraviolet light trails in a bubble-gum pink forest made his jaw drop so far that Roscoe had to close it before the dwarves took offense. Jace’s eyes popped as an azure sun rose from the horizon line of a sea with waves from which icicles hung, a snow queen perched atop a crystal throne nearby. Eventually, (not that Jace was complaining about any detours), Roscoe came to a sudden halt outside a large, oak door which was, by the looks of it, thousands of years old.
“How do I get in?’’ Jace was unimpressed by the door in comparison to the other attractions, it was bleak, and dusty, and old. Old!
“That’s up to you.” Roscoe vanished, before Jace could even say goodbye, or slap him across the face. The latter was more likely.
Jace was on his own. For an entire day and a half, he sat outside the door! About the time that he was giving up hope, a tiny black key appeared suspiciously in front of his head. Nevertheless, he took it anyway. Stuffing it into the keyhole, he prayed that it would fit. It did. As he turned the key, an amber mist so thick that he could almost draw words from it, seeped from inside.