String Theory

Elma led Anna and Teak through a winding series of passageways. In each of these passageways, at regular intervals, small lamps hung from hooks that jutted out from granite walls.

Unlike the regular kerosene lamp that had been in her "room", Anna noticed that these lamps were boxed shaped and gave off a ghostly blue light. Elma stopped in front of one of these lamps when she saw that Anna had taken an interest in them.

Elma removed the top cover and motioned for Anna to look inside. 

"Tiny jellyfish, " breathed Anna in wonder, watching the small creatures float about in the water-filled lantern. Anna had seen jellyfish before, mainly the brownish orange ones that would occasionally wash up on the beach in her village, but nothing these size or colour. 

"I know our world must seem strange and frightening to you," Elma offered sympathetically. "But not everything you'll encounter is terrible."

"I'll encounter?" piqued Anna. "You make it sound like I am going somewhere. Somewhere that isn't home."

"I'm afraid your journey has only just started my child, " Elma said solemnly. "Teak was right to bring you to me."

"Elma, deals with humans coming into her realm more often than I do," said the teakettler. "It seemed like the most logical place to start."

Anna looked down at Teak, who had been trotting along silently up until this point. Before they left the room, he had dropped Anna's shoes in front of her and muttered something about stinky feet, but for the most part, he had been quiet.

Anna stopped and looked at her two companions. "I'm sorry, I'm still trying to take all of this in. I'm still trying to process a talking dog," Anna started. 

"Teakettler! I'm a Teakettler!" Teak huffed, a small puff of steam coming from his mouth.

"And I'm not quite sure what you are Elma," Anna continued, ignoring Teak. "I don't know why you stole my shoes. AND why can't you just send me back home."

"Let's start with the simplest, " Elma said, motioning for Anna to continue walking through the tunnels. "Why we had your shoes. I put a simple spell on it to keep the fairies from tracking you."

"How can they track me? I was in the woods before and now I'm in some sort of underwater cave."

"They had a good portion of your spirit pulled into their realm. You are on their turf and they can sense the location of any human unfortunate enough to be brought into their world."

"How am I in their realm? I'm talking to you and Teak right now, aren't I in yours?"

"Each brand of fey-folk has their own realm, " Teak was talking now, apparently over his little huff. "We can push and pull humans in and out of our realm. Most fey-folk don't bother bringing humans in, since they're an nuisance." Teak gave Anna a quick accusatory glance before continuing. "But of course the fairies actually TRY to bring humans over, since they like how you taste."

"So why can't you or Elma push me back to the human world?"

Teak thought for a moment. "Think of a couple strands of string laid down next to each other. You're standing on one strand, the fairy realm, and I'm on my own. We can talk, even interact to an extent, but I can't reach out far enough pull you off of your strand and bring you safely over to mine. We have to bring one string closer to the other so I can grab you. That is going to take some doing."

The description did indeed make at some sense to Anna. "And what happens when I join you on your string?"

Teak smiled a wolfish smile. "I send you home, and I go back to my stump."

The End

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