Tina & the World of Winter, Part 1

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

A queer fantasy story for all ages. Inspired by Narnia with neopronouns, same-sex romantic love, and no patriarchal bs.

When Tina falls into the World of Winter she meets a chatting squirrel, wise Bears, and a chilly cat being who seems to hold on to a secret. Together they must find a way to overthrow the Queen of Winter before it's too late.

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Chapter 1

Tina walked through the forest. She had been bored for too long and no-one wanted to entertain her, so she had gone here instead. At least no-one tried to get her to do something on the farm when she was here. 


She had been forced to be with her grandparents the whole summer, maybe it would even become longer because her parents were working outside of town. As you can imagine, there wasn’t much to do in the countryside when you were a 13-year-old girl who only knew the city and the fun of it. 


She had kicked and screamed, then begged her parents not to do it. She didn’t want to spend the summer with her grandparents, it was okay for a week, but not for several months. She didn’t want to go there, she would be bored to death, no-one would want her and all her friends in the city would have forgotten about her by the time she would be back. 


But her parents hadn’t listened. They had to go and work, they said. They had to bring in the money, and right now, as the economy looked, they just had to go wherever the money was. Which meant that Tina would have to spend some time with her grandparents.


And she wouldn’t die, they said. It wasn’t so long, and anyway, she used to love to spend time with her grandparents. But Tina had protested and said that that was when she was 5 years old. Not now, when she was almost an adult. What was there to do on the farm? Milk cows? No way!


But they had refused to listen, and nothing more could be done. They had dropped her off by the farm on their way to the work, wished her good luck, and said that, of course she would find something to do. She just had to stop sulking. Which made Tina vow that she would sulk until they came back, just to make sure they knew how horrible time she had had there.


That had been 2 months ago. By now she had stopped counting the days and weeks and just given up any hope of ever returning to the city. She was doomed, her friends would have forgotten about her and no one would ever love her again. This was her fate.


She kicked a stone as she walked. The sun shone through the trees and it reminded her of her summers here as a little girl. She’d loved the forest and she still secretly did. Not that she would have told anyone, but that was the truth deep inside.


The stone hit another stone, shot off into the forest, and landed with a crunch. Tina stopped. Why had there been a crunch? There was nothing in this forest that would give a crunchy sound? 


She stepped out of the path, in the direction of where the stone had fallen. There was something shimmering on the ground and she leaned forward to take a closer look. 


She didn’t remember anything after that. The people on the farm would start looking for her in a couple of hours, but she wouldn’t be anywhere to be found. She had disappeared from the surface of the earth, it seemed like. 


Chapter 2


Tina was on her hand and knees in the snow. Her head was reeling and she had to steady herself on the ground.


What just happened? Where was she?


She heard a shrill voice chanting nearby,


- You came! You came!


Tina tried to turn her head in the direction of the sound but the world started to spin and she had to look down again. 


Why was she in the snow? How had she come here? The last she remembered she’d been walking in the forest on a summer’s afternoon.


She heard the high-pitched voice again,


- You came! You came! I didn’t fall from the tree! You came!


She tried to lift her head in the direction of the voice again and this time the world remained still. 


On a branch, not far from her, was a squirrel, dancing and jumping in the snow.


- I didn’t fall from a tree! And I didn’t eat Old Bear’s mushrooms! The signs were right! I’m not crazy! You came! You came! You are our savior! 


Tina closed her eyes and shook her head. A talking, chanting squirrel..? Had she fallen from a tree and this was all just a dream? Where was she? And what was this forest?


She opened her eyes again. Everything still looked the same. She was in a forest. In the snow. She looked up at the branch and yes... There was a squirrel dancing there.. 


- Come with me! Come with me!, it urged her. 


She looked away, ignoring it. This could not be real. It had to be a dream. She would not acknowledge a incoherent, chanting squirrel dancing on a branch. That would be to go too far. It had to be a bad dream. 


- The signs were right! No one listened to me! They thought I had fallen from a tree! But you came! You came! I was right! You are our savior!


The shrill voice rang through the forest but Tina didn’t pay it any heed. Instead she stood up and looked around. She’d been right, she was in a forest. And the sun was going down.


She tried to find a sign, something that she recognized, but there was nothing similar to her grandparent’s forest. If theirs was warm and welcoming this forest felt wild and almost savage. She shivered. You didn’t wander in this forest by yourself, she thought.


- You need to come! Hurry! They will find you here! Come, follow me!


They? The squirrel’s word made her shudder. Who were “they”? And what should she do? She didn’t know who “they” were but it didn’t sound like she wanted to meet them. But following a talking squirrel might not be the best idea either. But the forest was growing darker and a sense of dread had started to creep up her spine. 


- Hurry! Hurry! They will come! 


Was a chanting squirrel the better option? A sudden gust made her dress whip and she started to tremble. Maybe it was.. 


- To where?, she quivered


- To our friends!


And that was it. She must be losing her mind, she thought. She had just answered a chanting squirrel. She looked around, the trees cast menacing shadows as the sun went down, and Tina shivered. This must be the best option, she wouldn’t survive here by herself, she thought.


The squirrel had already left its branch and was jumping from tree to tree deeper into the forest. She took a deep breath, then started to walk after it. 


They walked in silence for a while when the squirrel suddenly stopped and turned to her.


- What’s your name?


- I’m Tina. And you?


- I’m Ratatosk. 


And with that Ratatosk continued to leap further into the forest. Tina hesitated, maybe this hadn’t been such a good idea in the end. Ratatosk seemed.. a bit irregular. But what other choice did she have?


Her thoughts were interrupted by the high-pitched voice. 


- Come! Hurry! The wolves are coming! She must already know you are here! She can sense it!


Tina looked at ratatosk, then cast a glance around her. Nothing of what the squirrel said made any sense.


- Who is coming!?


- The Witch Queen! She must know you are here! You need to come!


And with that, she started to run through the trees again. Tina looked around for the 100th time, then sighed and followed. 


When the darkness was almost complete, Ratatosk stopped and announced


- We’re here!

Tina looked around. She didn’t see anything different, they were still surrounded by forest and trees.


- What do you mean? What’s “here”?.


She shivered violently now when the sun was down and just hoped that “here” would mean a fire. It didn’t matter any longer that it would be a fire with Ratatosk, it was better than being in the forest, cold and hunted by some unknown witch queen.

- With our friend!, Ratatosk replied. Fae lives here! And we can stay with faer!


- I can’t see any friends, or anyone else for that matter, Tina objected.

- Because they live up there!, Ratatosk cried and pointed up in the tree she sat in.

Tina looked up but saw only branches.


- You need to climb!, Ratatosk pressed. And quick! They will come for you, they are already on their way, looking for you!


Tina was just about to protest that she couldn’t see any house to climb to when she heard wolves howling in the distance.


- You see, they are coming, Ratatosk squeaked. Hurry! Climb the tree!


That decided it. House or no house, she couldn’t stay where she was. She got hold of the lowest branch and swung herself up.


- Come now!, she heardRatatosk cry from above her.


She lost sight of the squirrel as she climbed but kept moving upwards. The darkness was complete now and she had to feel each branch before she stepped up on it. Then all of a sudden she heard Ratatosk’s shrill voice next to her,


- We’re here! Stay, I’ll go and talk to my friend.


Ratatosk disappeared up the tree and Tina heard the rustling leaves as she jumped up the branches. She followed the sound and yes, up there she saw a weak light and something that looked like a treehouse. There was a knock on the door and a creak as it opened.


- I found her! She came! Our savior is here! I didn’t fall from a tree, I found her, I found her!, Ratatosk squealed.


- Ratatosk, what are you talking about? Did you fall from a tree, again? Or did you eat Old Bear’s mushrooms?


The voice was a bored female voice that seemed to have had this conversation many times before.

- No, I didn’t! I didn’t eat his mushrooms! She came, our savior came! She’s really here! 


- But why would I believe you now, Ratatosk? You have fallen from the tree before, many times. The signs have never been right before.


- But this time they are! I promise! I didn’t fall from a tree, the signs were right! She’s here now! I will show you! Let us in!


- How many times have you seen the signs, Ratatosk?


- But this time it’s real! She’s really here!


- Go away Ratatosk, you bring bad luck.


- Please, let us in. 


?- No!


- I’ll owe you a favor.


It went silent for a moment,  then Tina heard the creaking of the door as it opened up more and the voice said 


- Where is she then, Ratatosk?


- She’s down there!, came the high-pitched voice of the squirrel


- So bring her then.. 


Tina heard footsteps disappearing back into the house and leaves rustling as Ratatosk jumped down the branches. The sound came closer until it was right next to her.


- We’re welcome with our friend, I told you fae would be good. Let’s go!


Ratatosk didn’t seem to be aware that Tina had overheard the whole conversation, but she decided to not say anything. It seemed easier with Ratatosk. She took hold of a branch and started to climb up. 


As she emerged from the foliage and up into the light she saw that the treehouse was enclosed by a porch and on it stood a strange being, half-cat and half-human. Fae, because Tina realized now that it wasn’t a woman, had cat ears and a tail. Tina tried not to stare, but the curiosity became too much and she risked a glance.


The being studied her with a disinterested look.


- So this is the savior, huh, Ratatosk?, fae mocked.


- Yes, this is her! I found her! She came, she came!


The cat-being sighed, then turned and walked back into the house but left the door wide open. Ratatosk gestured to Tina to follow faer.


They came into the small hut, no bigger than a room. It was a murky place and the only light came from a fire that was lit in the corner. The cat being had gone to sit in front of it, ignoring both Tina and Ratatosk. 


Tina looked around, unsure what to do. She shivered violently from the cold but she didn’t want to be rude, so she stayed in the small hallway, trembling from the cold.


Ratatosk, on the other hand, didn’t hesitate but jumped up on the bed next to the cat being and said


- I told you she would come! You need to help us!


- No, I don’t. 


- But why not?


- You know what the Queen will do when she gets to you, don’t you? She will make a collar out of you. For her coat. 


- But we are safe here, Ratatosk tried. 


- I was safe. Until you came. 


- But Lynx, look at her! She’s shivering! You need to help us!


Tina looked at them bewildered. They talked as if they were old friends, but Lynx didn’t seem very friendly. And she didn’t want faer to be angry with her, but she didn’t know what she’d done to make her so.


- Look at her!, Ratatosk tried again. Look how she’s trembling!


And for the first time since Tina had entered Lynx turned to her with a disdainful look.


- Did you fall from a tree too?, fae scorned


Tina didn’t know what to answer but didn’t want to stay quiet when Lynx finally spoke to her


- I fell.., she tried


- Look how cold she is!, Ratatosk chipped in


- Yeah.. Why are you only wearing a dress?, fae asked suspiciously 


- It was summer where I came from. There wasn’t any snow.


Lynx frowned.


- No snow? What do you mean by “no snow”? There is always snow here.


- See, see!, Ratatosk chimed in. I told you she wasn’t from here, I told you she had come! I didn’t fall from the tree.


Lynx glared at Tina for a moment, then turned back to the fire. Tina looked at Ratatosk, who just shrugged and made an obscene gesture at Lynx’s back. 


Should she say something?


Ratatosk had started to circle a finger next to her head to show what she thought about Lynx but before fae got the chance to see it Tina took a step inside the hut. 


- Please, you need to help us. Please.., she pleaded to Lynx’s back


- Why?, she heard fae ask from the fire.


- I’m cold and hunted by some witch queen. I don’t know how I ended up here or even where I am. Please.. I’ll do anything for you. Please, help us.


There was a moment of silence, then she heard Lynx say


- Deal!


Submitted: May 01, 2021

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