Jack and Jill went up the hill,
to fetch a pail of water,
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
and Jill came tumbling after.
He could have sworn, just moment's ago, he had been singing his little girl to sleep with nursery rhymes. To suddenly find himself standing on a dock, ocean surrounding him, seemed completely unnatural. Unlikely. Unusual. When looking through all the places he had been to. America, Japan, Norway. None were as mind-boggling as this one simple spot on a dock in a place of nowhere. The wood under his feet seemed solid enough and the ocean spray that frothed up every now and then sure felt wet to him, but it was everything else that just didn't seem to fit with his ideology. The fish, for starter's, had three heads and were a mixture of green and purple, they floated on the water's surface instead of below it and every now again they released a little whistling noise from their gills.
“Excuse me.” Grumbled a voice from behind him and he turned quickly, apologising for something he wasn't too sure of yet. He looked out over the town and was momentarily stunned. The people were a variety of colours, some blue, some red and the rare few were the colour of dead grass. The buildings were the only normal looking things yet even then they had strangely shaped doors and windows. Before he could finish computing these new sights there was another growl and something smacked him in the leg. His eyes immediately looked down and found himself staring at the greying head of a very short woman. She had hit him with what appeared to be an equally small walking stick and was swinging it back for another go. He hurriedly jumped out of her way.
“Oh, sorry.”He managed, cringing under the glower she was giving him. She muttered something he didn't understand and with a small 'hop', she stepped off the docks and into the water. Letting out a cry of surprise, he leapt forward to peer over the wooden boards. The woman was bobbing happily in the water, apparently waiting for something. A few seconds later the water began to bubble up around the old woman and she threw her arms into the air and gave a high-pitched squeal of glee before vanishing into the small whirlpool that engulfed her. There was nothing left of her but bubbles and the echoing of her 'weeeeeeeeee' before she disappeared.
“She does that a lot, probably one of the only people left who actually enjoys the gut wrenching ride via whirl express.”Announced a voice from his left shoulder. Growing accustomed to the sudden voices, he straightened up and turned with far more dignity than he had previously shown. A young woman dressed in dirty cotton trousers and a shirt that reached her thighs was standing with one arm wrapped around a sack of something and the other hand clutching a string of black fish. Her face was muddied but she looked pretty, golden hair pulled up into a messy bun and skin a recognisable peach colour. She was looking at him sceptically with yellow eyes.
“You're not from here I gather.” She didn't make it a question, more an observation and he nodded, trying to keep his expression mildly polite but inside was looking for a way out. He would have greatly liked to ask where here was but before he could even manage one syllable the woman had harrumphed and readjusted the sack, looking at him pointedly, successfully making him swallow down his sentence. When he didn't appear to move she coughed meaningfully and Keith finally got what she wanted him to do. Taking the sack from the woman's arms he followed her in a bemused daze, through the square and into a two story house over looking the crowds of people congregated in huddles.
“Just fling it over there somewhere.” The woman flapped her hand at the corner and he flung the bag feebly towards where she pointed. If he thought the outside 'world' was strange, he had to take a double-take with the house interior. The walls were covered in yellow and pink curtains, on which there were pictures of birds hanging on the material. The furniture was minimal and was made of what looked like inflatable plastic and filled with, potatoes? Carrots? Broccoli?
“What's your name?” Asked the woman who was now sitting on the table, one of the only wooden things in the house.
“Keith.” He replied with a mumble, still trying to grasp why the furniture was filled with vegetables. “And you?”
“Jill.”She said shortly. “So why are you here Keith? Kicked out of your house? Not one of those rich guys are you? who lives on Pea Green Hill?”Jill hit her hand on the table angrily and Keith watched her spit into the sink that was stationed against the wall. It was a good shot, it gave off a 'ting' and everything.
“Pea Green ... hill?”Keith finally managed, “House?”More like world, he added, but only in his head. The woman before him seemed to have a nack at making him forget exactly what he was trying to ask and for a second time his attempt to find out where he was was squished. Jill seemed to give him another once over before a grin broke across her face.
“Of course you can't be, you're not wearing anything that amounts to nearly as much wealth as them.” Keith himself thought he looked fine. Jeans and black shirt were customary work clothes. “They wear all this flashy stuff like, fish scale tunics and caterpillar scarves.”
“Cater ... fish scale ... can I have some water?” He choked out, suddenly feeling very parched. Jill nodded and made her way to the sink. Pulling out a hollowed wooden cup she filled it at the metal taps, another rare item in the house, and passed him the sparkling clear liquid. He had put it up to his lips before he even thought to check that it was indeed water. After his first sip however, he deemed it drinkable and downed it in one short gulp. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve and placed the empty cup on the table.
“You know that's exactly how my husband used to drink.”Jill pointed out from her new position filing through the sack Keith had 'flung' in the corner. She had placed a pile of cauliflower to one side and another pile of corn on her other side. Keith could only guess these were to become new additions to the furniture structure, some of the other fruit looked rotten.
“ ... used to?” He asked, before realising how impolite that sounded and shutting up immediately. Jill seemed to laugh softly and leant back on her haunches.
“He fell down a hill not too long ago actually. It's a real shame but ... I got over it.”She shrugged and got back to her feet giving the window a dis-tasteful glare. “Well. Due to curfew it seems you will be staying here for now. Because of the time of year, this one is most likely to last a good twelve hours. I'll go up and make you a bed.” And she disappeared up a flight of stairs Keith had not noticed till then. He was glad to see they were made of wood, he didn't appreciate the idea of trying to climb a set of stairs made of potatoes. It wasn't until he had finally digested her words that he realised what had been a sunny and bright day outside had become so dark he could barely make out any of the street.
“Uh.” He muttered before walking briskly to the stairs and stumbling up them, under the intent decision to ask Jill what the time zone was in this world. He came upon her laying out a blanket on the floor of the large room that made the so called 'upstairs'. To one side there was a chest of draws (wood), an upright desk filled with corn and a bed (filled with what looked like water). In the bed was a man, sleeping, a bandage wrapped securely around his partially covered head. Jill didn't seem to pay Keith's arrival and attention and instead began patting down the soft looking duvet she had placed down. The only indication she gave that she knew he was there was an indication of what the quilt was made of.
“Swan feather's.” Keith was about to claim how rare an item that was when she continued, “nasty little birds, far too many of them around now-a-days. They're beaks are rotten pieces of work, one peck and your paralysed for life.” Keith gulped down his comment. Instead he ventured to say;
“How did it get dark so quickly? And what's 'curfew'?” He pointed unnecessarily out the window, because Jill didn't even bother looking.
“ The Twinkle Star Project. Something the moron's on Pea Green Hill came up with. They were trying to see if they could generate their own star and harness it's power, something went wrong and It blew up in their faces. Now we have to be inside at certain times during the week or we all fry to death, believe me, it may look dark but it's a good 700 degrees out there. “ Keith's next question was answered immediately because Jill went over to the bed and introduced the body currently sleeping in it.
“This here is Jack.” She introduced, patting the man in the bed on his bandaged head. “My husband.” Keith blanched. Jill looked lovingly down at the man.
“But ... but you said your husband fell down a hill?”
“Yes, but I didn't say he was dead.” Countered Jill, looking decisively, dejected, at the idea. “Which is a shame isn't it sweety?” Whispered Jill to the man. She finally patted his cheek and got up off the bed.
“...” Keith simply stared, debating how best to reply to the remark. Instead, his mind began to wonder how much longer it would be before the goddess of sanity made her swift return back to his upside down life. “How is it a ... shame, exactly?” He finally managed, growing uncomfortable with the stare Jill was giving him.
“He's worth £250,000. He took out the policy about two weeks ago. Ever since then we've tried countless remedies, accidental poison, falls, injuries etc, but nothing has worked, at least, nothing that would entitle me to the money. I can't have blatantly offed him. That's a dead give away. No, in retrospect we had to make it look like an accident, which I can tell you is no easy task. Unfortunately, due to all the failures, he's received quite a bit of ... brain damage. It's not good on a body to fail death so many times, we're hoping for a miracle. “ She crossed her finger's. Keith simply nodded. Taking this for understanding, Jill got to her feet and announced loudly, that she would be going to wash up in the sink downstairs and that he might as well sleep now, she would cook something when there was a little more light. Apparently the intense darkness lasted only for the first five hours and then gradually began to get brighter the closer it came to end of curfew. He had failed, once again, in his task.
Asking the man lying half-dead in the bed if he knew where he was seemed a pretty stupid idea, but the itching feeling to go and poke the man anyway was strong. He never had been much of a 'mature' adult but he thought poking complete strangers, especially incapacitated strangers, might have been pushing his current sanity a little too far. As much as he regretted his lack of knowledge with the situation, Keith lay himself down on probably the most comfortable bedding he'd ever been on and closed his eyes, pretending he was simply at home after having far too much wine after dinner and sobering up on the couch.