Enter At Your Own Risk (Short Story)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
What would you do if you found a book with no title and no author and after a few pages in, you are asked to finish the story by reading an incarnation...would you do it?

Submitted: March 21, 2015

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Submitted: March 21, 2015

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Jasmine Hafford went from the bookshelf marked “Sci-Fi/Fantasy” to the one marked “Mystery/Horror” and over the one marked “Non Fiction” just looking for something good to read. After scanning the contents of the bookshelves in the tiny bookstore, she came to the conclusion that she had read all the good books and the others she didn’t care for.

She was about to leave the tiny – and only – bookstore in the small town of Diamond Crest, Maine when a torn and tattered box with a stack of books labeled “FREE” caught her attention. She knelt down near the box – not caring that she might get her white Capri pants dirty – and began sifting through the pile of old books. She was seconds away from expelling a sigh of frustration when a black book demanded her attention. She picked it up and was even more intrigued at the fact that the book bore no title or author’s name; it was simply strewn with gold embossed lilies and a red circular sticker on the upper left hand corner with the word ‘free’ written in blue ink.

Jasmine opened the book and looked at the inside cover, hoping to find a title or author; nothing. She flipped through the book and looked at the top of the page; still nothing. The mystery of the book and her own curiosity convinced her that this was a book that’s definitely worth a read.

She neatly placed back the books she took out of the box and walked to the check-out counter with the title-less book in her hand.

“Hey Jasmine, would you like a bag for that?” the cashier, who appeared to be in her mid forties, with black framed glasses and her hair in a messy bun, smiled at Jasmine.

“Sure.” Jasmine returned the cashier’s warm smile and handed her the book.

The cashier took the book from Jasmine’s hand, checked the price sticker, nodded and placed it in a brown paper bag before handing it back to Jasmine. “Here you go, sweetie.”

“Thanks Ms. Spaulding.” Jasmine lightly smiled at the cashier before exiting the bookstore, barely waiting for a response.

*****************************

Jasmine pushed open the door to her house and stepped inside and closed the door behind her. “Mom!” She yelled out, “Mom! Are you home?” She waited for a response but heard nothing. She shrugged it off, “Must still be shopping.” She said to herself. She ran up the stairs to her room, flopped down on her bed and took out her new book. She slowly flipped through the book one page at a time. On the fourth page, she saw the very first inked words, written in beautiful calligraphy which said:

Enter at your own risk.

The ending may surprise you.

“Challenge accepted!” Jasmine smiled to herself as she flipped the page. After about 30 minutes of reading, Jasmine was still enthralled by the story. She devoured every single inked word that was printed on the pages of this mysterious book. The story sounded familiar, yet at the same time it was like nothing she had ever read before. It was about a young boy, no older than 17, who found a jewelry box in the attic of a new house his parents had moved into. Inside this jewelry box was a golden ring with an inscription on the inside. The boy read the inscription out loud and was transported to an alternate universe filled with good fairies and an evil Enchantress that had been imprisoned, waiting to capture 100 human souls, which would buy her freedom.

The story was getting more intriguing with every flip of every page, Jasmine was at the part where the young man came to lake that a good fairy led him to. This lake would be his gateway back to his world. Before he could enter, however, the evil Enchantress intercepted, turned him to stone and the young man became soul number 98.

Desperately wanting to know more of what happened with the Enchantress, Jasmine flipped to the next page, however, it was completely blank. Her eyebrows twitched with confusion and she flipped the page again; that page was blank as well. Jasmine flipped the page one more time and printed in black, bold letters were the words:

HELP ME FINISH THIS STORY. TURN TO THE NEXT PAGE.

Without wasting anytime, Jasmine turned to the next page and on that page were the words:

ALMOST THERE. RECITE WHAT’S WRITTEN BELOW.

Jasmine shook her head and smiled to herself. She played along with the antics of this unknown author and began reciting the words that were printed on the page. When she was finished, she felt an invisible force holding her down to the bed. She tried to break free, she tried to scream but she was paralyzed and her voice was gone. Slowly, a web of darkness began weaving itself around her vision and there wasn’t a thing she could do, except succumb to the darkness that was engulfing her.

*****************************

Jasmine’s eyes slowly opened. She blinked a few times fast as the sharpness of her vision slowly returned. She sat up, buried her face in her hands and expelled a few deep breaths. She felt a warm breeze tickle her skin, which made her realize that she was no longer in the confines of her bedroom. She looked around and noticed that she was in some sort of a field. It was vivid and bright with colors; it looked like a painting which an artist spent decades perfecting. The grass and the trees were a bright and beautiful green. There were flowers of different species strewn across the lush field. Orchids of red, pink, white, purple and blue shared the same space with red and white hibiscuses. Bluebells and chrysanthemums gently swayed in the wind and kissed the honeysuckles and apple blossoms. Petunias and daisies shied away at a corner by themselves.

“Hi.” She heard a sweet, small voice to her right. She slowly turned her head to the source of the sound and her eyes doubled in size as she saw a tiny girl – no taller than 5 inches – with pink shoulder length hair hovering near her, blue and purple wings protruding from her back; a fairy.

“Don’t be scared.” Another sweet, small voice came from the left. With tears breaking the bank of her eyes, Jasmine turned to the left and saw another fairy – this one had short blue hair with yellow and orange wings protruding her back – smiling at her.

Jasmine wanted to scream but fear crippled her vocal chords. She violently shook her head as more tears consumed her and she slowly began backing away.

“It’s ok.” She heard a sweet, yet bigger voice. She couldn’t pinpoint the exact source of the sound as it appeared to be coming at her from all directions. “It’s ok.” The voice reiterated.

Jasmine’s mouth dropped in shock and awe as a red mist materialized in front of her. Her eyes squinted in disbelief as she tried to process what happened next. The red mist slowly took the silhouette of a woman. The red mist dispersed and standing in front of Jasmine was the most beautiful woman she had ever seen. Her golden blonde hair fell straight down to her mid back. Her heart shaped face harbored two deep pools of green eyes. She had a perfectly straight nose, and a pair of thin pink lips. She was wearing an elegant light blue gown, with silver trimmings and massive pink and red wings adorned her back. She was a fairy, yet not as tiny as the first two who greeted Jasmine; She was practically the same size as Jasmine.

“What…Who…Where…Where am I?” Jasmine managed to say between ragged breaths.

“In a very bad place.” The fairy’s voice and face was etched with sympathy, she held out her hand to Jasmine.

Jasmine reluctantly took it and allowed this stranger to help her up.

“I don’t understand.” Jasmine looked around as she tried to take in everything that was happening. It was like she was stuck in a bad dream that she could not get out of.

“You don’t belong here.” The fairy smoothed Jasmine’s brunette hair.

Jasmine slowly pulled away and automatically took a defensive stance.

“I’m not going to hurt you.” The fairy smiled. “How did you end up here?” Her voice leaked with concern.

“I don’t know.” Tears rolled down Jasmine’s cheek, “I was reading this book and…” Jasmine cut herself midsentence and allowed her memory to take her back to the near past. She remembered the story she was reading about the young man, who read an inscription and was transported to a world with fairies. “No.” Jasmine shook her head. “This can’t be real.”

The fairy placed a loving hand on Jasmine’s shoulder, “This book, was there an incantation in it?”

“Huh?” Jasmine asked puzzled, “I read something and everything went dark and now here I am.” Jasmine sobbed.

“Oh my stars…we have got to get you out of here.” The fairy Wiped Jasmine’s tears.

“The evil Enchantress…” Jasmine whispered more to herself than the fairy.

“You know?”

“It was in the book. What’s going on?” Jasmine’s voice cracked.

“Years ago, Thayga, the evil Enchantress wrecked havoc on earth. She was captured by the…” The fairy stopped and looked around alarmed, “Oh no” her voice filled with fear. “Do you trust me?” She asked Jasmine.

Jasmine hesitated but nodded in the affirmative.

“Close your eyes.” The fairy whispered to Jasmine.

Jasmine complied.

The fairy kissed the inside of her palm and blew toward Jasmine. Red rose petals magically appeared out of her open palm and gently swirled around Jasmine, making her grow invisible by the second.

The second Jasmine was completely invisible, a tall black mist with flashing lighting appeared before the fairy and when it disappeared, a disturbingly beautiful woman came into view. Her hair was raven black and so long that it swept the floor. Her almond shaped eyes harbored violently red pupils. A wide smile parted her black painted lips to expose razor sharp teeth. An emerald green grown draped her tiny yet strong frame.

“Thayga.” The fairy’s voice was stern and unwelcoming.

“Gwendolyn.” The Enchantress’ voice was filled with fake happiness, “Where is…” she paused for a second and sniffed the air three times “she?” the Enchantress concluded.

“Who?” Gwendolyn asked, her voice cold and distant.

A hearty chortle escaped the lips of the Enchantress, “You know who.” She said matter-of-factly, “Soul number 99.”

“There’s no one here, Thayga. You should leave.” A hint of anger lined Gwendolyn’s voice.

An evil cackle emanated from the Enchantress, “Why must we always go through this? I sensed a human soul. You know that I always get them.”

“Not always.” Gwendolyn’s voice was still hard and cold.

The Enchantress chuckled, “Not always,” she agreed, “but most of the time. I have been trapped in this….this…hell for over 700 years and I am only two pathetic souls away from being free and finishing what I started all these years ago.” She took a step closer to Gwendolyn.

Gwendolyn didn’t budge.

“I’ll play your little game but mark my words, this one isn’t getting out alive. She has…” The Enchantress looked up at the sky, “6 hours to find a way out, or her soul is mine.” Without saying anything else, The Enchantress disappeared behind that same black, lightning filled mist she appeared out of, leaving behind a hauntingly evil laugh.

“Not this time.” Gwendolyn whispered to herself as she shook her head. She snapped her fingers twice and Jasmine instantly reappeared.

“What was that all about?” Jasmine’s voice was filled with fear.

“We need to get you out of here.”

“Am I going to die?” Jasmine’s voice was shaking.

“No, you must not think like that.” Gwendolyn placed a silencing finger over Jasmine’s lips. “You are going to get out of here. When you do, I want you to destroy that book. Burn it!”

“Will that get rid of this curse once and for all?” Jasmine asked as she tried to control the shakiness of her voice.

“Sadly it won’t.” Gwendolyn truthfully answered, “Thayga is a very powerful Enchantress. Burning the book will not end her curse but it will take another 100 years, 150 tops for her incantation to appear somewhere else.”

“What if I don’t make it out of here? What happens to the book?”

Gwendolyn offered a sympathetic smile, “The incantation either remains in the book where it is, or it will transpose itself onto something else BUT you are getting out of here.” Gwendolyn offered a smile.

“Kanita!” Gwendolyn called out.

Suddenly the tiny, pink haired fairy appeared by her side.

“Take her to the Lake of Freedom.”

Kanita nodded.

“Give me your hand.” Gwendolyn smiled at Jasmine.

Jasmine held out her hand and Gwendolyn wrapped her fingers around Jasmine’s wrist. Jasmine felt a warm sensation around her arm and when if faded, Gwendolyn released her grip.

“Around your wrist is a vine…” Gwendolyn began as Jasmine stared at the tan colored vine that wrapped around her wrist, “the more it fades, the less time you have. If you don’t make it to the lake before the vine fades then there will be nothing I can do to help you.”

Jasmine’s mouth dropped.

“Kanita will guide you to the lake. I can’t tell you what to expect on the way because Thayga has her magic set up all over and her traps always change. You have to be strong hearted, believe that you will get out unscathed. If you falter in your belief, you may fall prey to Thayga’s trap.”

“I…I don’t know.” Tears filled Jasmine’s eyes.

“Believe in yourself.” Gwendolyn smiled at Jasmine, “and when you get to the other side, BURN THAT BOOK!”

Jasmine nodded.

“Blessings.” Gwendolyn smiled and disappeared behind a red mist.

“Let’s get you home.” Kanita smiled at Jasmine and led her out of the field.

*****************************

Jasmine and Kanita were an hour out of the field. Every few seconds, Jasmine checked the tan colored vine that was on her wrist. Her heart was pounding.

“We’re going to be just fine. You’ll be home in no time.” Kanita offered words of encouragement to Jasmine.

Jasmine nodded as she followed Kanita to the lake that would lead her home. Jasmine was about to ask Kanita a question when she heard someone seductively whisper her name. “Did you hear that?”

“Hear what?” Kanita asked puzzled as she flew a few inches from Jasmine’s head.

“I swore I heard someone call my name.”

“Don’t listen.” Kanita shook her head, “Must be the Enchantress.”

“Jasssssssmine.” She heard the slow, seductive voice again. She tried to ignore it but she couldn’t.

“There it is again.”

“Jasmine, please don’t listen.” Kanita pleaded.

“Jaaaassssmiiiiine.” She heard the voice once more, it was like a velvety caress to her ears.

“It’s coming from over there.” Jasmine pointed to a field of dandelions. “I gotta go to it.”

“Jasmine, NO!” Kanita yelled.

“Jaaaaassssmiiiiine.” The voice compelled her to follow it and she subconsciously headed in the direction of the dandelions.

Kanita quickly flew in front of Jasmine, waving her arms in front of her, trying to wake her up from her reverie but it was no use. Jasmine was completely gone.

Guided by an entity that had complete control of her, Jasmine walked to the dandelion field and stopped in front of the tallest and biggest dandelion there and smiled at it.

“Sleep.” The dandelion Jasmine stood in front of whispered, and suddenly, the dandelion seeds violently flew in Jasmine’s face, placing her under a deep sleep.

“Nooooo!” Was the last thing Jasmine heard Kanita scream before she fell victim to the cradling arms of sleep.

*****************************

Jasmine’s eyes slowly opened and she saw Kanita frantically flying back and forth above her. “Oh my stars! You’re awake!” Kanita exclaimed. “We’ve got to go. We’ve got to go now!” her voice was heavy with desperation.

“What…what happened?” Jasmine’s voice sagged with grogginess.

“The Enchantress’ trap got to you.”

Jasmine looked at the vine on her wrist, it was barely visible, “How is this possible?” She asked more to herself than to Kanita.

“You were asleep for over five hours. I tried to wake you but nothing happened.” Tears filled Kanita’s eyes. “Jasmine, we really got to go. You have less than fifteen minutes.”

Jasmine looked at the fading vine on her arm as she bolted off the ground. Her time was literally being counted down. She and Kanita rushed to the Lake of Freedom.

A smile clung to Kanita’s lips when she saw the lake a few feet away. “It’s over there!” She beamed, “Run as fast as you can, and just jump in.”

“OK.” Jasmine nodded.

The shimmering water of freedom was only a few seconds away from Jasmine. She could practically see the ugly, pink wallpaper that lined her bedroom walls.

With only a few seconds to spare, Jasmine was about to jump to her freedom but what happened next made her heart droop with pain.

The water in the lake quickly turned to concrete right before her very eyes.

“No!” Jasmine and Kanita yelled out in unison.

“No, no, no, no, no.” Kanita cried.

Jasmine couldn’t say anything more, she simply stood there, dumbfounded, staring at the slab of concrete that was once her doorway to freedom. “No.” Jasmine whispered.

“Yes.” A cocky voice appeared behind Jasmine.

Jasmine turned around, with tears streaming down her eyes and found herself staring into the violent red eyes of the Enchantress, standing there in all her evil glory.

“Leave her alone!” Kanita flew between Jasmine and the Enchantress.

The Enchantress laughed at Kanita’s bravado, “I can kill you without blinking.” An evil smile stretched her lips. “Go tell your precious Gwendolyn that she lost.”

“No! Just let her go!”

“Deliver my message or I kill you.”

Fear blanketed Kanita’s face. “I’m so sorry, Jasmine. I truly am.” She sobbed and flew away, defeated.

“No! Don’t go!” Jasmine pleaded but it was no use.

Kanita was gone.

Jasmine collapsed to the ground, and began crying.

“There, there.” The Enchantress’ voice dripped with fake syrupy sweetness. “Get up.” The Enchantress offered her hand.

Jasmine ignored and continued silently crying.

“Fine.” The Enchantress’ voice was harsh. She waved her arm and instantly, Jasmine shot up to her feet. “Soul number 99.”

On the inside, Jasmine was writhing and thrashing but on the outside she couldn’t move. It was almost as if her body was her own prison.

The Enchantress kissed Jasmine’s cheek and she slowly turned to stone. The Enchantress placed her hand over Jasmine’s chest and closed her eyes as a ray of white light shot out of Jasmine and made its way to the Enchantress’ body. “One more to go.” The Enchantress smiled as Jasmine’s stoned body cracked and vanished into dust…

*****************************

“What?!?! That can’t be it!” Natasha yelled at the book she found in the basement of the new house in Diamond Crest, Maine that her parents recently moved into. She flipped to the next page and noticed that it was blank. “No.” she chuckled to herself. She was about to close the book when she noticed that there was something printed on the next page.

She turned the page and laughed out loud at what was written on it:

HELP ME FINISH THIS STORY. TURN TO THE NEXT PAGE.

“Hmm, interesting.” She murmured, “Mr. or Mrs. Author, if you’re trying to scare me, you have got to do better than that.” She smiled as she turned to the next page and just as she expected, she saw the words:

ALMOST THERE. RECITE WHAT’S WRITTEN BELOW.

Her smile widened and she began reciting the incantation…

THE END


© Copyright 2019 Tony Hart. All rights reserved.

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