STORY TIME IN THE TUNNELS

Diane Kenny


It was long past dinnertime for most of the residents who lived below the streets of New York. Pascal, however, was rarely present at normal meal times. Always the faithful guardian of the tunnelís communication system he only left his post when he knew the pipes would be relatively quiet. Even then he made sure one of his trusted apprentices would oversee his precious pipes in his absence.

It wasnít confidence in Zackís abilities to maintain order or the lateness of the hour that found Pascal lumbering toward the kitchen. It was a weariness that had become his constant companion of late. This slow pace of travel was not at all his custom.

As he made his way to the kitchen he wondered why he even bothered. Lately he didnít have much enthusiasm for anything, even Williamís wonderful cooking. Born and raised in the tunnels, he had no desire to venture into the world above. But of late something had possessed him, a yearning undefined, a restlessness he couldnít shake. Heaving a loud sigh he continued on till he found himself outside Fatherís chamber.

It was not his habit to linger anywhere long but there was magic at work in the tunnels tonight. "Story time" he whispered to himself. Listening outside the chamber entrance he smiled. This brought back many happy memories. In his minds eye he could see it all. He always sat with Vincent, Rebecca, and little Olivia right up front as to not miss a single word or expression. Behind him somewhere Devin and Mitch would be poking each other and Winslow would be grumbling about the story choice. Yes, those were wonderful times.

At first these thoughts brought a smile to his face but soon these memories too made him feel weary. Listening to Fatherís narratives as a child Pascal had often imagined himself the hero. It was easy then to imagine that someday heíd be tall, strong, handsome and charming. Everything the beautiful princess of the tale had dreamed of. But that was long ago and heíd given up the idea that any woman would see him as her prince charming.

Just as he started to continue his journey to the kitchen Fatherís voice reached his ears.

Armed with the enchanted shield of virtue and the mighty sword of truth the brave prince had vanquished the evil witch. Now he must journey to the castle for it had been foretold that he alone could break the spell that had befallen its inhabitants. All those who called the castle home were trapped in a dreamless sleep and if he failed in his mission to free them they would remain that way for one hundred years.

Making his way to through the forest Pascal hurried in the direction of the castle. Suddenly the path ended and he found himself in front of a wall of thorns the like of which he had never seen before. "Take great care, your highness, for if you are pricked by a single thorn, you too will fall under the witchís spell." Turning in the direction of that little voice he saw the three fairies that had provided him with his enchanted sword and shield.

With great care and determination Pascal hacked through the vines until he stood in front of the castle door. "The Great Hall" he said to himself. The door he faced was identical to the entrance to The Great Hall and across it was the beam that Vincent alone could lift. With a strength he didnít know he possessed he removed the barrier and entered.

At the far end of the room sat two thrones and upon them fast asleep sat Father and Mary. They were dressed in royal finery with jeweled crowns on their heads. Father held a large leather bound book as if he had been reading. The rest of Pascalís family surrounded them. The scene was very much like those of his childhood, except they werenít simply asleep. The danger they were in set his heart pounding, and looking around him at all those he loved he became afraid. What if he couldnít break the spell? After all, he knew nothing of magic and spells.

"This way!" exclaimed a tiny voice pointing to a large staircase. It too was covered with the vines that bore poisoned thorns. "Careful now you must get to the Princessís chamber." Said another voice, the second fairy. "We will guide you, follow us!" said the third fairy.

Pascal followed the fairies, disposing of the vines in his path. They stopped outside the entrance to a chamber that seemed vaguely familiar to him. Looking to the fairies once more Pascal asked them "How do I break the spell?" All three answered him in unison. "With true loveís kiss!" This only served to confuse him more after all no woman had ever thought of him that way. "Go on," said the fairies. "The entire kingdom is counting on you."

Feeling suddenly as if all was lost Pascal slowly entered the chamber and recognized it immediately. "The candle chamber?" he gasped barely above a whisper. "Stop dawdling, young man" chided the fairies. In the center of the chamber sat a large four poster bed surrounded with winterfest candles. As he drew closer he gasped "Rebecca!" She was dressed in a beautiful blue gown and she too wore a jeweled crown. The sight of her took his breath away and he hesitated. "Kiss her!" cried the fairies "Hurry! Kiss her and break the spell!" As if in a trance Pascal bent and touched his lips to Rebeccaís.

Opening his eyes Pascal stared dreamily at Rebecca until reality struck him. "Rebecca, did IÖ" he stammered. "Oh Rebecca IímÖ"

With a touch of her fingers on his lips she stopped his words. "Yes you did, Pascal and itís about time!" she said smiling at him. Pascal was shocked speechless but his heart was full of joy.

"Were you headed to the kitchen?" she asked him. Still lost for words Pascal nodded at her shyly. "Would you like some company?" Again he answered only with a nod. Putting her arm through his she smiled happily. "Well letís go than. Weíll see what William has thatís fit for a Prince Charming."

Only Vincent noticed the winks exchanged between Mary and Rebecca as she and Pascal made their way past the chamber entrance. Smiling as if pleased with herself Mary thought "It seems thereís a touch of magic afoot in the tunnels tonight."

FINI

 

Originally written to be part of a CABB Round Robin story.