Charles sat staring blankly at his computer screen. Bleary eyed, he ran his shaking hands through his hair once again. He hadn’t slept in 72 hours and he was wired on too much caffeine. Feeling desperate, at his wit’s end and ready to give up, he searched for a shred of hope.
He checked all of his accounts, everything was down. He needed money and he needed it now. Soon. Hell, he needed it anytime, he just needed a glimmer of hope that he’d actually find some way to make money at any point in the future. All he needed was to know that something was going right in his life.
He checked discord again. There was the post on steemitbloggers about yet another ‘free money’ crypto wallet. He’d already downloaded several and they didn’t really seem to do a whole lot. He knew it would take time, of course, but he wasn’t even sure he had the energy to click through links for another possible future bonus.
“What the hell do I have to lose?” He said to the dark empty room. He clicked the link and input all the infromation.
The screen went black.
“What the HELL? DAMN IT!” He hit the side of his monitor. ‘Great,’ he thought. Now my computer is freaking out on me.
The computer made a loud humming sound just as the screen lit up with a weird green hue. Letters typed across the screen: ENTER THE MAGICKEY.
“What magic key?” Charles said aloud, confused.
ENTER THE MAGICKEY.
Charles nearly screamed in frustration. He banged on the ‘ESC’ key a little harder than necessary, muttering curses under his breath.
The humming got louder. New words appeared across the screen.
Charles watched, his eyes getting wide.
PREPARE YOURSELF. HANG ON.
Flashed on the screen. Charles felt a jolt of adrenaline. Had he just downloaded a virus? What the hell? He hit the power button, not sure what to do, but the computer screen just got brighter. GIFs started to flash across the screen.
Faster and faster, lights flashing, pounding in his head. GIFs pouring back, bringing up memories, his favorite things. Charles couldn’t look away, it was mesmerizing.
“What the??? Was that COOKIE MONSTER?” He thought as Sesame Street GIFs started flying across the screen, filling it and then bursting into hundreds of GIFS all playing at the same time. Charles jumped back as the bright lights flashed and felt himself falling backwards. “This damn chair!” He thought as he felt himself falling.
He waited for the usual crash as he heard the chair hit the floor, but he felt nothing. His head was still spinning, the GIFs from the computer screen still flashing, even though he was no longer in his chair. They seemed to be spinning on the walls around him.
Suddenly his entire body felt like it was spinning like a top. He felt like he was going to vomit, or die. He alternated between screaming like a little girl and sobbing for his mother.
The fall that seemed endless suddenly ended with a painful THUD. Charles felt the wind get knocked out of him as he landed. Hard. Everything went black.
His head pounding, Charles blinked against the bright sunlight. He heard voices, weird voices. He blinked and squinted lifting his hand to shade his eyes. His other hand tried to push up against his floor, but then he realized several things all at once. The floor was not his bedroom floor, it was rough grass. The weird voices he heard belonged to two very unusual, not-possibly-real characters standing in front of him, looking very concerned. ‘Is that a FAIRY?’ he thought? And what was that horrible looking little man? He sat up, suddenly feeling a bit discombobulated.
The only clear thought in his head at that point was, ‘It’s finally happened. I’ve lost my mind. I’ve lost my mind and I’ve awakened in a fairy tale. Great.’
The little ugly old man reached out as if to help him up with a gnarled, oddly big hand. Charles scrambled back and felt his back hit something hard. He looked back and he was leaning against stones. No, not just stones. A stone wall. He head tilted back as he followed the stone wall up higher and higher. He couldn’t even see the top.
Eyes practically bulging from his head, he whipped his head around to the people, um, creatures standing before him. They still looked really concerned. “Why are you staring at me like that?” His voice sounded like a screech. “You’re not real! You’re just my imagination! Stop looking at me!”
The fairy seemed to poof a bit of sparkle and stomped her little foot. The goblin looking dude just looked offended.
“What the HELL is going ON?” Charles yelled, regretting it instantly when his head started pounding from the sound.
The little fairy got right in his face. He could see the angry little sparkles in her eyes. She grabbed the collar of his shirt and actually slapped him right in the face with her wings. Charles definitely took notice. He was absolutely, complete, irrevocably insane. He almost laughed out loud as he thought, ‘Well, I did something 100%! My father would be proud!’ A small giggle escaped.
The fairy smacked him again, “Listen here, Goldilocks. You need to get yourself together and you need to do it NOW. We don’t have time to waste.” She lifted him to his feet by the collar of his shirt, her tiny little wings flapping as fast as a hummingbirds. Charles’ eyes nearly bugged out of his head. His mouth hung open as he felt himself being lifted as if he were a feather by this tiny creature the size of a small bird. His legs were shaking as he stood before her.
He looked at the goblin man, but the goblin just shrugged his ugly little shoulders and held up his hands as if to say, “What can you do? She gets what she wants.”
The fairy clapped her hands together in front of his nose to get his attention. “Good. You appear to be quite sufficient, Goldilocks.” She flew backwards and looked him over, head to toe. She seemed to be somewhat satisfied with what she was seeing and Charles felt a moment of confidence burst somewhere inside of him. “Now,” she added, looking around, “Where are the three bears?”
“The what?” Charles asked, looking more than a little lost.
She sighed a heavy sigh as if he were more work than he was worth, “Your bears. Where are they?” She suddenly looked horrified. “You didn’t leave them behind, did you?”
Charles just looked past her at the goblin, who once again just shrugged.
“Well this is just FABULOUS!” She screeched with her little fairy voice. Sparkles flew about her once again. She started pacing, if that’s what you call it, flying back and forth, muttering and grousing about his certain lack of ability.
Charles was slightly offended. “Listen here, little… fairy person, thing. Whatever you are, I am at least 100 times your size. I am sure that whatever you’re pitching a fit about is not that big of a deal. Just tell me what you think I need to do so I can wake up and get back to my real life. Okay?” He stopped and the fairy seemed to freeze. Everything was still. He started to doubt himself. This was the weirdest dream he’d ever had. The goblin was shaking his head, an incredulous look on his face.
The fairy grew before his eyes. Not to any type of enormous size, but she definitely grew bigger. And redder. Even Charles knew enough to realize that she was very, very angry.
She grabbed him by his shirt once again and got right in his face, “Listen here, Mr Goldilocks. We asked the sky for Goldilocks AND his three bears. I don’t have time to mess around and get this wrong. We have to end this curse before midnight tonight or the Princess is going to be trapped forever. Her treasure, her Kingdom will never be returned to us and we will ALL be trapped in these…” she gestured to herself, “These stupid little bodies!” Whipping around, she pointed to the ugly goblin, “And look at this poor bloke! She turned HIM into a goblin! Why, I can barely stand to look at him, he’s so ugly.”
Goldilocks, er, I mean Charles almost felt bad for a second. These little beings were depending on him. He felt a surge of protectiveness. A burst of power and chivalry that he’d never felt before. He would help these people, even though he’d forgotten to bring his three bears. ‘Wait. I don’t have any bears!’ He thought for just a split second before he was focused on the fairy once again. It no longer seemed very strange that he was talking to a fairy or that he had forgotten to bring his bears. He had a momentary thought that he was definitely delusional, but decided that if he was going to lose his mind, he might as well do it right. He stepped fully into the role as the protector of the Princess or the fairy and goblin. Whatever.
“All right, so I forgot the bears, chill out!” He said, sounding quite commanding and sure of himself. He smiled at her with a very charming and suave smile. “Just tell me what we need to do and I’m on it.”
The fairy looked at him most suspiciously, “Well…” she said, “Okay, I suppose we can try. First things first, we need to rescue the Princess and get her treasure back. Then the goblin and I can reverse the spell. Remember, it has to be done by midnight. I know a way through a secret tunnel, but we’re going to need your strength and your sword to get past the guards. Are you ready?”
Charles reached for his sword. More than ready for a battle. He was the… “Oh no!” He nearly wailed from the unfairness of it. He’d forgotten his sword? What kind of knight forgets their sword?! “I forgot my sword!” The fairy looked at him like he’d lost his mind, and Charles was quite sure he agreed with her.
The goblin cleared his ugly little throat and they both turned to look at him. There he stood, holding a sword that was obviously much too big for his frail little body. Charles breathed a huge sigh of relief, as did the fairy (although her sigh of relief was accompanied by happy sparkles. Charles’ sigh was just a boring old sigh.)
“Thank you, Goblin!” He grabbed the sword and slid it home in the scabbard attached to his leather belt. He had a moment of confusion at that little turn of events, but it quickly passed. “Now, show me to this tunnel and let’s rescue this girl!”
They quickly ran to the side of the building, heading for a tunnel when suddenly the pile of rocks guarding the entrance burst outward as if they’d been blasted by dynamite. The fairy was bounced backwards and landed against his chest with a loud thud, a tiny little “oomph” coming from her mouth as she hit. The goblin stumbled backwards and fell on his butt, staring with dread at the newly revealed opening in the castle wall.
Charles wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but he too felt a prickle of dread along his spine. Suddenly an ancient looking chest came flying through the hole and landed with a loud thump at his feet. The lid flew open and treasure like he never imagined spilled out at his feet. He looked up as he heard swearing coming from the tunnel. It was a most ladylike voice to be saying such angry curses, and he was definitely not prepared as the most beautiful woman walked out of the hole in the wall.
He was standing there mouth agape when she turned to look at him. Her dress was in tatters, she had scratches on her arm and a bruise on the side of her face. Her hair looked like it had been in some sort of fancy updo at one point, but now hung in straggling limp curls around her head. Some pieces sticking up and looking somewhat like a bird’s nest. Still, she was the most gloriously beautiful woman that Charles had ever seen.
She stomped over to him, “Well! What are you waiting for?”
Charles stared, not comprehending what the problem was. This lady was a ball of raging fury and it was all pointed at him. “What? I...I...I…” he stumbled over the words, not quite knowing what to say.
“Oh for Heaven’s SAKE!” She shouted. She reached up and grabbed his head, bringing him down for the most earth shattering kiss he could ever imagine. His knees went weak and he stumbled against her. She didn’t stop the kiss, she just held on as he literally collapsed to his knees before her. The kiss seemed to have knocked the wind out of him more than his fall earlier.
When she finally pulled away, she looked a little shaked herself. She tilted her head, confused. Charles tried to speak, but once again, he just stammered nonsense, “What? Kiss? That was...I can’t, didn’t knowing what? Princess? Uhhh…”
He heard the fairy and the goblin start to snicker, then laugh. Soon they were rolling in the grass, laughing so hard that tears were running down their faces.
The princess looked around, studied the fairy and the goblin for a moment and then turned to him once again, “Well, that wasn’t quite good enough. Time for a nother try.” She started to lean towards him again and then stopped a mere half an inch from his face, “You ARE Goldilocks, aren’t you?”
He nodded, still reeling from the first kiss. “But I forgot my bears,” he said, sounding awfully confused.
“Of course you did. You always forget something. She looked down at the sword hanging by his waist. “Well at least you didn’t forget the sword, even if you were a little late in getting to me.” He looked down at the sword and back to the princess. “Don’t worry about it, I didn’t really need rescuing, I got that part myself, but I needed to kiss the Goldilocks that fell from the sky in order to break the curse, so I guess we need to do that some more.
Charles was more than happy to oblige as she placed her hands behind his head and pulled him in for another mind blowing kiss. They both got a little lost in the kiss and didn’t notice as the fairy turned back into her human maiden form (albeit with a little extra sparkle than she’d had before) and the goblin turned back into the strong gorgeous knight that he’d been before.
They stood watching the princess and Goldilocks kiss for a bit. The used-to-be-fairy saying, “Do you suppose we should tell them that the spell is broken and they can stop kissing now?”
The Knight turned to the maiden and grabbed her to him, “How about we just join them instead?”
“I thought you’d never ask,” she said, then smiled, “Too bad the curse left you with that great big ugly goblin nose, though.”
The knight gasped and grabbed at his nose, finding it just as straight and perfect as it had been before. He looked at his maiden and she laughed until she had tears in her eyes. “You are rotten. Absolutely incorrigible,” He said.
“Well, I suppose all that’s left to do is to kiss me, then.”
And he did.
The Princess and Goldilocks didn’t even notice.
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