A Bit Lost

My genre stretch story this month.  The challenge was to write a fairy tale retelling.  I think I did a pretty good job…

**

 

Roland gave his younger sister a sidelong glance.  May was sitting quietly beside him as the train rumbled through the tunnel towards the next stop.  She was swinging her feet and looking around at the other passengers with wide eyes.  He could tell that she wasn’t nervous, the way he was.  Why was that?

He heaved a light sigh as the train rumbled to a stop.  Standing, he reached for her hand.  “Come on, May-bird,” he said, using her childhood nickname.

May caught his hand in hers and let him lead the way off the train and onto the platform.  “Everything is so big here,” she said, looking around.  She quickened her pace and then looked up at Roland.  “Do you think we’ll find Lukas?”

Roland shrugged.  “We have to,” he said.  The problem was, he didn’t really know where they were going.  He knew this was the stop they were supposed to get off on.  However, that was all he knew.  Now, he just had to hope that he could find the place.

Pretending to feel more confident than he truly did, Roland set off down the street, searching for a road name that was familiar in some way.  When he’d set out with May that morning, he was certain he could remember the directions their cousin had given him.  Now, he felt completely lost.  He felt like he’d left a trail of breadcrumbs only to have crows come by and eat them.

He released a deep sigh and shook his head.  He couldn’t just wander until dark.  May would get frightened if he didn’t seem to know where he was going soon.  He turned down a side street and stopped.  There was a large house where one didn’t look like it belonged.  He looked at May and frowned.  “Do you see that?” he asked.

Nodding, May said, “It’s beautiful, Roland!  Like something out of a fairy tale!”  She released his hand to scamper towards it.  He flushed when she bounced up the walk and straight to the front door.

“May,” Roland gasped.  He ran up the walk and mounted the steps.  He had just caught her by the hand when the door opened.  He flushed even more and ducked his head.  “I’m sorry for disturbing you,” he said, without looking at the person.

“You have a really pretty house,” May said, nodding.

The person at the door chuckled.  “Thank you very much, my dear,” she said.  Roland forced his gaze upward to see an elderly woman standing there.  She smiled and then grabbed a few letters out of her mailbox.  “Are you children hungry?” she asked, her pale eyes twinkling.

Roland shook his head slightly.  “We just… we’re looking for the apartment where our cousin lives,” he said.  “May just… thought your house was pretty and wanted a closer look.”

Nodding, the elderly woman said, “Why don’t you come inside?  You can use my phone to call your cousin and get directions, at least.”

May frowned at him and Roland heaved a sigh.  Nodding, he said, “Thank you, ma’am.”  He slipped inside with May close behind.  Then, he followed the woman to the kitchen where she showed him the telephone.

He called his cousin’s telephone number, but got Lukas’s roommate instead.  “Hey… um, this is Roland,” he said, fidgeting with his jacket.

“Hey, Roland,” Markus said, sounding just a bit tired.  “Lukas said that you and May would be dropping in.  Are you lost?”

“A bit,” he said.  “Could you maybe… give me the directions one more time?”

Markus chuckled.  “I’ll go one better,” he said.  “Tell me where you are and I’ll come and pick you up.  We can meet Lukas for lunch.”

“Thank you,” Roland said.  He described where they were, finishing with, “It’s one of those old-fashioned houses like a gingerbread house.  I’m sure you can’t miss it.”

“It’ll just be about ten minutes,” Markus said.  Then, Roland hung up the telephone.

When he reached the sitting room, the little old woman was standing beside the couch, where May was seated, holding a tray of cookies.  “May,” he said, as his sister reached for one, “we’re going to have lunch with Lukas soon.  You don’t want to ruin your appetite.”

He nearly screamed when the old woman looked at him with red glowing eyes and growled.  May did scream.  As the old woman launched herself at him in a distinctly inhuman way, he dodged to one side.  “May, run,” he cried, scrambling to his feet.

He ran for the door, pushing May ahead of him.  He had just gotten the door opened and shoved his sister out through the opening when strong arms wrapped around him.  May screamed his name and then a smallish man with red curls appeared in the opening.  He swung a long wooden stick at something behind Roland.  The arms fell away and Roland tumbled out of the house.

The red-haired man stood between Roland and May and the hissing, wild-looking old woman.  “Not this time,” he said, holding the stick across his chest defensively.

Still hissing, the old woman tugged the door closed.  “What the heck was that?” Roland breathed.

Giving a wry chuckle, the red-haired man said, “Nothing most people have to worry about.”  He glanced back at them and smiled.  “I’m Markus, by the way.  You’re Roland and May, right?”

“Nice to meet you face to face,” Roland said.  “Is she… going to come after us?”

“Probably not,” Markus said, shrugging.  He nodded towards a little sedan parked at the curb.  “That’s my car.  I’ll cover you.”

May hurried over to the car with Roland close behind her.  Almost as soon as they were buckled into their seats, Markus got in as well.  He quickly latched his belt and threw the car into drive.  Then, they were heading off down the street.

Markus hit one button and said, “Dial Konrad.”

Roland heaved a sigh of relief as they headed through the city.  He barely listened while Markus told his brother to get a team out to the address, to take care of something he called a babaroga.  He didn’t know what that was, but he was pretty sure that little old lady meant to eat them.  He shook the thought away and then looked over at May.  “Next time we go someplace, I’ll make sure that I write down the directions,” he said.

May nodded quickly.  Then, she looked at Markus.  “She seemed like a sweet little old lady… until she hissed at Roland,” she said.

“They do that,” Markus said, grimacing.

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