Rachel Elizabeth Dare could be quite oblivious to many things.
So when the world fell down around Rachel, she was sleeping. Unfortunately this did not mean she was a beauty, or that a man with hair worthy of a shampoo commercial would come dashing in.
It meant just that she was lazy and that when she did wake, everything was already over.
Without a clue of what to do but nurture her foolishness she put on her best shoes and marched valiantly and stupidly out her door. It would have been less stupid if she had been wearing more than seashells over her breasts but the occasion called for it.
Nobody was around. She knew staying in the one place would not come to anything; a house of shelter which was full of food and still working plumbing would not be any good and had to be abandoned irrationally on a whim.
Just in case though she ventured too far and had to make use of the excellent plumbing. She picked a bunch of dandelions and intended to leave a trail behind her. Flowers in hand off she skipped, because flowers were always meant to make one merry no matter what the situation. Sadly the only bird that flocked to her humming was a magpie.
At the end of the street she dropped a dandelion and looked left then right. She had no idea of which way would hold the answer, though what she was searching she didn't know either. This was where she needed something to jump behind her and scare her into making a decision, or a sign of a rainbow to guide her.
"Hello there." Standing before her, quite suddenly out of the blue, was a young man, with jet black hair and bright sea green eyes that seem to almost glow. He didn't even appear like a wise old man, but quite a young one, maybe younger than her even, maybe just out of being a boy.
"Are you lost?"
Of course she was lost. "Of course not, how dare you think such a thing."
"I was just wondering. I'll be on my way then." He turned and walked off.
That was her sign then. She turned in the other direction and started walking.
"You don't know how to do this do you?"
With a swish of her skirt she turned back to the young man that was now looking at her.
He motioned around him. "This. I obviously know the right way, you're meant to follow me."
"Oh." With the dandelions in her hand she skipped over to him. "Let's go then."
He subtly rolled his eyes and started walking again and she followed him willingly. Every now and then she dropped a dandelion to the ground, not noticing how the wind was picking up around their feet and carrying the dandelions away. Dandelions, the weeds that they were, were meant to just spring up whenever they touched the ground, they tended to do that in the garden all the time.
It had been a long time since she had done anything to resemble exercise yet now, though they walked and walked, she didn't even notice her breath.
"Where are we going?" She asked eventually.
"We're waiting?" He replied slightly cryptically but as if she should understand it entirely.
"Waiting for what?"
"Anything really. A bear, a monster, a three-headed unicorn, something that will give us something to continue this. We need to keep going until then."
She was just as confused as ever.
"We're walking until something happens? Why do we need to continue this, can't we just stop?"
He looked at her exasperatedly. "You really don't know how this works do you?"
"Of course not!" She felt it was the better answer, not that she knew what he wanted. Indignation was an emotion and an emotion was better than nothing interesting people had told her.
"If nothing happens, this stops here, we don't want that."
"We just don't, you don't. Give me your shoe."
She looked down at the shiny shoes covering her feet.
"I'll show you."
She took the left shoe from her foot and gave it to him. With a quick move he threw it far off into some trees on the edge of her sight.
"You need to get it back, let's go find it." He went to move off and she grabbed his arm.
"I'm not bothering to look for my shoe which you just threw away. You get it, I'll wait here."
He glanced at the trees and looked back worried.
"You'll lose me if I do that."
"No I won't, I'll be right here."
He glanced again at the trees. "Someone else can get your shoe back, let's keep walking."
She let him drag her along, feeling the rough pavement on her bare foot.
"Why is it you always lose the pretty things?" She muttered under her breath.
"Don't worry you won't lose me."
She glared at his ears and wished they would fall off. She was annoyed that he would throw her shoe away, but as she thought more about it she realized it was entirely reasonable. He knew what he was doing and she didn't, if it was best for him to throw her shoe away then it was best. If she had really thought about it properly she may have asked him how he knew anything at all, but instead she just left it, trusting that he would leave the way to wherever they were going.
There was very little noise around them, just the occasional magpie and the few lines that she'd hum every now and then. The wind would play around the trees and sometimes there'd be the crunch of a leaf under their feet but apart from that there was very little.
"What's your name?" She asked all of a sudden as she realized she didn't know.
"I don't have one."
She laughed. "Everyone has a name."
"I'm not everyone."
She wasn't content to let him get off without telling her his name.
"I'll make one for you then."
She eyed him closely.
"You shall be called…" She touched his face, searching for the right name. "Your face says Jonathon, but your eyes say Esteban and your hair says Henry. This is quite hard."
"Names aren't important now, let's keep walking."
"No no, I'm almost there." She eyed him once more. "Fred. You're a Fred."
He didn't appear too happy with that name. "I couldn't even get a Frederick."
"No Frederick is too princely and you're not a prince." She took back the skip in her step and went on, this time forcing him to trail behind her.
She skipped in silence, waiting for him to ask her name. Then she would stop, batter her eyelashes, sway her arms in beauty and announce her name to him with all the dramatics she could muster. But he didn't say anything, and she could only skip in anticipation.
As she was just starting to get a little bored she saw building loom up before them. With an apple tree growing out the front, a glossy red tiles on the roof she thought it looked rather delicious.
"Are we going there?" She asked 'Fred' eagerly.
"It wouldn't be there if we weren't."
They reached the front door and he knocked.
She wasn't sure what to expect and when the door was opened she searched for a pair of eyes and then had to look down. A little boy stood there, in a bright blue apron and a pair of tongs in his hand.
"Is your mummy home?" She asked.
The boy shook his head. "My mother doesn't live here, only I do."
"May we come in?"
He stepped aside to let them both in.
As she crossed the threshold she found it odd that the inside looked like it was made of bricks. She had been sure the house was a wooden one, but maybe her eyes had been too caught up in the shiny ribbon on the windows.
"Tea?" The little boy asked.
"Yes please," Fred replied.
There was a small sofa and armchair off to the side and they both sat down.
"He seems like a nice little boy," she said.
"Things change quickly. You don't know what he could do."
"Then I'll teach him a lesson, I'll make sure he doesn't do anything."
An old man appeared from the kitchen was a tray and a bowl of apples.
"They come fresh from the tree." He told them and settled himself into the armchair.
"Move over Fred so that lovely boy can fit in."
"Hmm,what boy?" The old man asked as he poured the tea.
"The boy that opened the door."
Something clicked in the old man's eyes.
"He forgot to do some his chores, he went off to do them. Take an apple."
She had never really liked apples, something when she was young had put her off them, so she just took the tea with a thank you.
"You have a lovely home here," she commented, because when one cannot comment on the weather they must comment on the decor.
"Where did your shoe go young lady?" The old man asked her, ignoring or forgetting her comment about the home.
She couldn't quite remember where it was lying. "It's off somewhere."
The three of them descended into silence.
She looked around the house again, and saw a cabinet with a thick layer of dirt on the top.
"Let me clean that for you." She jumped up and went over to it, running a finger through the dust. "Did you have a cloth somewhere?"
"Through that door there's a cupboard, there'll be one in there thank you dear."
She began to move towards the door.
"Don't go in there." 'Fred' was standing and holding out his hand towards there. "Don't do that."
"Why not, I'm just getting a cloth." Her mind was absorbed with the act of cleaning. "I'll just be a moment.
"You'll lose me."
For a small moment something pulsed inside her. She wasn't sure she wanted to lose the young man that she had trusted and followed blindly. But it was just to the cupboard.
"I won't lose you." She turned her back to him and boldly walked to the door.
"You won't even know my name," she heard him say.
She looked back once more. The desperation in his eyes was great, but she knew she had to get the cloth. Then as she grabbed the handle she suddenly turned to to him with a genuine smile on her face.
"Your name is Percy."
She twisted the handle and stepped through the door.
Around her there was a flatter of color, a noise that could be considered a cacophony and a wide open space.
She opened her eyes.
The sun was shining through the window and the road workers had begun their morning drilling. The blanket that had been covering her was on the floor, her body splayed across the bed. She brushed back her hair and sat up.
"Morning Ms. Dare."
She looked to the door where her maid was carrying a pile of dirty laundry.
"Did you have a good sleep?"
She nodded, still waking up.
"What'd you dream about?"
She thought back. Scratching her arm she got up from the bed, trying to remember.
"I'm not sure, sea monkeys maybe."