The door creaked open. Sarah gave another groan. She was sure her mother had come into her room unbidden, determined to pull her off to a big breakfast and a busy day.
“It’s Sunday,” said Sarah from beneath the blankets. “I don’t even have school today. Let me sleep just a little longer, okay?”
“It’s already past noon.”
Sarah’s eyes opened wide then, and she poked her head from underneath the blankets. The voice didn’t belong to her mother. It was a boy’s voice, which meant there was an intruder in her bedroom. She looked in the stranger’s direction and felt a scream begin in her throat. She never got the yell out, though, because by then she had noticed something very strange indeed. She wasn’t in her bed. She wasn’t in her room. She didn’t even know if she was in her own world anymore.
The boy in front of her looked about a year or two older than her, but cut a very comical figure. He was a mousy young thing, with thin arms and a body that could probably get blown over by a strong wind. He wore dark purple robes that were a size too large for him and seemed to almost swallow him up. A pointed hat sat on top of his head, with the brim almost covering the top of his eyes. If he wore clothes that fit, he might have looked like a wizard’s apprentice. Instead, he looked like a child in a bad Halloween costume.
The skinny boy crossed his arms. As he did so, his oversized hat fell forward so the brim covered his eyes. He cleared his throat, straightened his hat, and began to speak.
“As I said, it’s past noon, and you’re in my room uninvited, sleeping in my bed. I’m going to have to ask you to leave. If you don’t, I’ll turn you into a frog or, um, something.” He tried to make his voice sound grand and booming, but it cracked when it got too loud, forcing the boy to shift his feet awkwardly. Sarah could barely stifle a giggle at the gangly young man.
“You? Turn me into a frog?” She was dreaming, she decided. “There’s no way someone like you could manage that.”
“That’s what you think.” The boy drew himself up to his full height, which was admittedly rather tall for someone his age. Unfortunately, the wrinkled purple robes and crooked felt hat ruined his moment. “I give you one last warning,” he said, “be gone from here, or I will strike you down with powerful magic.”
Sarah sat up, pushed the blankets off, and smiled. “Go ahead. Do your worst.”
The boy gave a grim nod, and walked toward a small table next to the bed. A large book sat on the table, with a heavy leather cover and yellowed pages that looked like they were about to fall out. He opened the tome and began reading.
“Ebao lareca hiuus!” The words seemed like nothing more than gibberish, but the sudden authority and confidence in his voice as he spoke them made Sarah jump. As he finished reading, he pointed dramatically toward Sarah. She hunched her shoulders and pulled the blanket tighter despite herself.
A puff of smoke filled the room. It had a sickly sweet smell which reminded Sarah of bitter black licorice for some reason. She crouched low, coughing and waving her hands to get the strange haze away from her. It disappeared eventually, and Sarah was quite relieved that she hadn’t been transformed into anything unnatural. The boy, however, was nowhere to be found. Only his robes and hat remained, lying crumpled on the floor in an undignified heap.
“Well, that was a rude boy,” said Sarah to herself. “And now he’s running around naked somewhere around here…wherever here might be.”
Image: Frog, by David Wagner