[Prompt: After a long, hard day of work, you return home—the only problem is, your front door is wide open, all your lights are on and there’s a sword stuck in the ceiling. The rest of your house looks normal, but you also notice several holes dug in your backyard. What’s going on? ]
“This can’t be good.” The last thing Sandra wanted to see after coming home from work, was the front door of her home standing wide open. From where she sat in the car, it looked as if every light in the house was on. It shone at the end of the block like a lighthouse beacon warning her of imminent danger. She had been tempted to turn the car around and find a cheap motel to spend the night. It was her husband’s day off and his turn to watch their three children. Yet this meant she couldn’t storm inside, demand what was going on and fire him on the spot like she might have done to a babysitter. Instead she had to be level-headed and discuss the situation like mature adults instead of scream at her husband in front of the children. At times she felt that he really was one of the children instead of a grown adult.
Sandra rested her forehead against the steering wheel and closed her eyes. It wasn’t too late. She could still turn the car back on and leave behind the problem ahead of her. She toyed with the idea of calling her husband to inform him that she was almost home. Maybe giving him ample warning time would kick him into gear and he’d clean up whatever disaster he had going on inside the house.
With a groan, Sandra opened the car door and left her means of escape and headed straight for the fight. The only condolence she held as she reached the front door was that there weren’t cop cars lining her street and flashing there lights. There was no crime here, just her husband being irresponsible. Sandra cast embarrassed looked toward her neighbors darkened windows. They lived in a nice part of town and she could only wonder what sort of heinous gossip her neighbors might create to amuse themselves this week.
Sandra stepped inside and made it a point to slam the door closed behind her. She toed off her work shoes and slid into the closet where she also hung her coat. She set her purse on the landing table and waited. The house remained silent to her arrival. Right away she could discern that either no one was in the house, or they were all asleep.
“Doug?” She tried her husband’s name as she moved toward the living room. She stepped onto the carpet only to nearly stagger back into the hall at the sight that greeted her. From the middle of the ceiling protruded a sword that looked very much like the real deal. Sandra’s mouth hung agape for several seconds as she tried to wrap her mind around what she was seeing. Her anger responded for her, “Doug!?”
She began to storm through the rest of the house, seeking out the object of her ire. “What is going on? Where are you?”
The rest of the house appeared to be in perfect order. In fact it looked like Doug had taken it upon himself to clean while she was at work. It didn’t lessen the fact there was a damn sword in the living room. Where did he even get a sword? If he was wasting money again on those stupid fantasy game items, Sandra was going to strangle him. He was not a child anymore. He needed to stop behaving like one.
The house remained vacant much to Sandra’s disappointment and growing concern. She palmed her phone as she moved to the sliding glass door in the kitchen that opened to the back yard. She pushed the glass aside and stepped out onto the concrete pad they often did their barbecuing. There were holes dug into the lawn that had once been pristine. Instantly images of her children being buried there flashed through her mind and she ran to one of the holes with a barely suppressed scream.
The hole was empty, as was the next one she checked. Sandra inspected them all just to be sure, then gave a long sigh of relief to expel her fear. The anger quickly swept in to take its place. She looked around at their ruined lawn and silently ground her teeth. The next moment the phone was to hear ear and calling her husband as she returned the the house. He didn’t answer, which didn’t surprise Sandra because the man obviously knew he was going to be in trouble and spending the next month sleeping outside in the tool shed. She pushed back her rage and left a message.
“Doug. I don’t know what is going on, but you and the kids need to come home and tell me why there is a sword-” Reaching for the weapon, Sandra felt it vibrate as her fingers neared the hilt. On reflex she jerked her hand away. It didn’t appear like it was shaking, but as she reached her hand forward she definitely felt the world shifting around her. The edges of the living room darkened and she couldn’t focus on anything but the sword impaled into the wood. She forgot all about leaving an irate message and by standing on her tip-toes she managed to curl her hand around the hilt.
The world around her spun and as the floor fell away she was force to grab the sword with both hands to keep from being sucked into the abyss below her. Green flooded into view, still spinning around her, and when at last her feet touched something solid, she stumbled on to the ground with the sword still in hand. Instead of the carpet beneath her, it was dirt and fallen leaves. What she had tripped over was an upraised root of a tree. She stared up at the leaves above her, watching them dance as the breeze drifted in and out of the forest. It was strangely peaceful, until she fully adjusted and heard the chaos around her.
Her gaze lowered from the canopy and took in the armored men fighting ahead of her. They were straight out of the medieval times with their metal armor, although one looked to have taken a roll in the dirt because clump of dirt and grass clung to the edges. The two knights circle each other, checking each attack the other made until their attacked became more frenzied as they battled for the upper hand. Dirt knight managed to knocked out the other knights foot and the man came crashing down at Sandra’s feet. She gave a small yelp and pulled her knees into her chest. She cowered against the trunk as the dirt knight advanced on his fallen foe, ending the fight with a final piercing blow.
She sank further against the tree as her eyes shot up to the dirt knight. The man removed his helmet to reveal the concerned face of her husband. “Doug!?”
“How did you get here?”
She stood, but kept her hand against the tree in case her legs gave out. “What do you mean how? What is this? What are you doing here?”
Doug tucked his chin in toward his chest, a coy look she was familiar with, “do you remember how I said I was from out of the country?”
“Yes,” He had mentioned something about being born in Norway before his family had moved when he was a young child.
“Well, I’m more from.. Out of your world.”
“I don’t.. Where are we?” A more important question sprang to the front of her mind. “Where are the kids?”
Doug gestured off to her right. Her eyes followed his hand until she noticed the two children up in the tree, both of them handling bows and wearing a quiver full of arrows.
Doug chuckled, “And you thought those archery lessons would be a waste of time.”
She spun back around, setting her hands on the points of her hips, “I see Claire and Benny, but where is Tobias?”
Her husband frowned, “They took him. That’s why we are here.”
“What do you mean they took him?”
“Old rivals of my family. A long time ago I took something from them, a powerful object, and with the help of others I hid it from them. They sent me to your world in hopes that the secret of its location would be forever hidden, but they found a way through..” His shoulders sagged in defeat. “We fought, but they grabbed Tobias and retreated back to their world, this world. I had no choice, I had to go after him, and the other two refused to let me go alone.”
Her heart sank at the thought of her missing child. “What do we do?”
Straightening his shoulders, Doug slid his sword back into the sheath at his hip, “That’s easy. We rescue him.”