~Minky's World~

Chapter One

By Paul Schroder

The sun has set and it's full on dark now. The park is dotted with light posts though and one of them sheds just enough light that we can faintly see one another. I'm still holding on to the pixie boy's ears, mainly because he hasn't objected and because I don't want to let go. Minky thought it only fair, I suppose, that he cup my ears just the way I was cupping his. So, here we sit, legs crossed, knees touching, holding one another's ears with a silly grin on our faces. Then of course the grins have to turn into giggles. We just smilingly look at one another until Minky says...

I guess I have more surprises for you. Ummm... I think I have surprises that will make my ears seem perfectly normal by comparison, Nick.”

Sigh... I'm not sure I'm ready to hear this. With these pointy ears and green pajamas, this kid would pass for a leprechaun if he were a foot shorter. My system just had a hell of a shock and I'm not all that certain that I'm ready for any more big surprises. I have to admit, though, I got over the ear thing pretty quickly. It's probably because I'm really enjoying this contact with him. I'm in no hurry to let go of these silky, soft appendages either. They aren't really creepy or anything. And having Minky stroke my own ears in response... well, let's just say I'd like this to be a forever moment.

The moment isn't to last though, as my pixie boy relinquishes contact with my ears and I take that as a hint that I should do the same. His face, so smilingly content up to now, takes on a serious expression. I can see the cogs whirring in his brain as he tries to decide how to best explain his further surprises. He places his hands on my knees and says...

Nicholas, what if it were possible for two different worlds to occupy the same space at the same time. Call it two different dimensions, if you want. Let's say that because they coexist together, that they share a great deal in common. The France language is spoken commonly on part of this world and it is the same on the other world. And then the two worlds share the English language in this particular location. Oh, the languages differ slightly but are still understandable. Perhaps at one time they were a single world, who knows; but they are still closely tied together and share geography and many other things in common. For instance, animals that exist on the one world also exist on the other. This does not sound too scary, does it, Nick?”

I feel like a Venus fly trap right about now. I couldn't shut my mouth unless a fly were to land on my tongue. Alternate universes? I halfway expect Minky to give me the Vulcan hand sign and tell me to “live long and prosper”.

I shake my head to try and kick start my mental faculties again. Does it sound scary, he asked me? Hell yeah, it sounds scary. It also sounds unreal, unlikely, unbelievable and about another dozen un's that I can think of. But it's coming from a kid that's admitted he has trouble lying in the first place and really has trouble lying to a friend – and I've been given the honor of being counted as a friend. I'm pretty sure that what I'm getting here isn't some hypothetical, what-if scenario. This is a lead in to where Minky actually comes from. And the concept is making my rear end pucker like I were sitting on a block of ice.

Truthfully, Minky, yeah... it does sound scary. In fact, it's scaring the holy beJebus right outa me. And I think the scariest part is yet to come. You're gonna tell me you're from this alternate world... aren't you?”

He gets a grin on his face and then... “BOO...” he shouts. My legs shoot out in front of me, kicking Minky in the thigh. My arms are flailing and I end up falling over backwards. I'm pretty sure my heart is running through the bushes without me attached.

Har, har, har... ha, ha, haaaaa...” and then silence, from Minky, as his diaphragm shuts down and he can only shake in silent mirth, arms wrapped around his middle with him rolling from side to side.

Dammit, Minky! That wasn't funny!” I get enough breath back to say, “my butt opened up and tried to swallow this blanket... you... you... arrrgh!” I'm about to add some additional pejorative statements but I can't, his laughter and giggles are becoming infectious. I'm picturing how I must have looked, flopping backwards like a tuna on the deck of a fishing boat! Soon I'm rolling on the ground, right alongside of him. We are in a fit of giggles and snorts for awhile.

Minky crawls up against me and throws an arm across my middle. Amidst chuckles he manages to say, “I am sorry, Nick; I just could not resist. Your eyes were so big and round and your jaw was hanging open. It reminded me of telling scary stories with my friends when we were little and spending the night together. Do you forgive me, Nicholas?”

He sticks out his lower lip and gives me a giggly pout. Crap, he's so cute. And I really, really, really like the way he either holds my hand or puts an arm around me. I've never been very demonstrative in my affections. Actually, I've never had anyone but my Momma to give me a hug or touch me in a casual, loving way. And, I have to admit, his arm just feels so darn good draped across my middle right now.

Okay, I'll forgive ya. But you have to agree to take my underwear down to the pond and rinse them out!”

That has us both rolling around again. My arm has copied his and we are entwined, rolling together in gleeful companionship. But things eventually quiet down and we just lie with our heads on the blanket and looking at one another, arms across one another's backs.

It's true though, isn't it, Minky? You're from this alternate world, aren't you?”

He just nods his head in response and continues to smile at me.

But how'd you get here? I mean, aren't the worlds supposed to stay separated or something? Is there like a Harry Potter doorway where you can cross over?”

What is a Harry Potter doorway, Nick?”

Oh, never mind... it's just this fantasy book where these kids are magicians and can work magic spells and stuff.”

Really, Nick?” He raises his head, propping it up on his hand and forearm. His face has this fascinated expression. “I was told there was no magic in your world, Nick. I was told that it only existed in my world.”

Hot damn... that got my attention! I sit straight up, lifting my arm from his side as I do so. I think my face has that wide-eyed expression again.

You have real, actual magic, Minky? I mean, you can wave your little wand and “Poof”, turn me into a toad or something?”

He sits up so that our heads are on the same level. He chuckles and then says “No, not exactly, Nick. Most people possess very little magical power. A few are born with a... well, a special gift for it, I guess you would say. But even they have to be taught how to use it and can spend a whole lifetime studying it.”

Minky leans forward, conspiratorially, and says, “Everyone is capable of one thing, though, that you would consider magic. We are all born with something like alternate selves. And we can switch back and forth between those selves whenever we want to. But our alternates are not people, Nick, they are animals!”

He sits straight up and gives me a proud, beaming look. “Guess what my animal form is, Nick... guess!”

But I'm busy blinking my eyes like that will erase everything I've just heard. This story has gone from the ridiculous to the absolutely unacceptable. I have the feeling that I'm being taken for a ride here, like I'm a student on one of the short buses and he's the driver. But I just shake my head and continue to go along with it.

Oh... I don't know, Minky. Maybe a hyena or a mocking bird.”

He gives me an exasperated look.

No... you are not really even trying, are you? What does my name remind you of?”

A mink? You're telling me that you can transform yourself into a little, tiny, furry mink?”

He nods his head, rapidly, up and down with this huge grin plastered on his face.

Yep... a mink! And you should see me, Nicholas. I am the cutest thing. I bet you would just love to cuddle me.”

Holy crap... this is just wrong! And it's wrong on so many levels. Hell, I'd like to cuddle him right now – he doesn't need any damn fur. But this story has me doubting my new friend's sanity totally. He isn't a mink, he's a cuckoo bird. And somehow he's managed to escape from his clock. Oh gawd... my poor little buddy. Now it finally sinks in. Those really are pajamas he's wearing. He's somehow wandered off from a mental ward or a hospital somewhere.

I can feel my heart sink in my chest. Right now I feel just like I did when my Momma died. He's sitting there looking so happy while I feel like I've died inside. I try to smile back at him, to make him think I'm sharing in his good feelings. My lips manage a lying upturn, but my eyes give me away. I can feel the tears starting to roll down my cheeks. It's fully dark now, but the lamps interspersed in the park shed just enough light on us that I can see the proud, happy expression on his face come crashing down. He's seen my tears reflected in the lamp light and they tell him all he needs to know about my reaction to his story.

Minky sighs and bows his head. There's silence between us for about a dozen heartbeats. And then he starts talking to me without raising his head. His voice reflects the profound sadness we've both fallen into.

You asked me if there was a Larry Cotter doorway between our worlds - do you remember?”

Harry Potter,” I correct him, sniffing, “Yeah?”

Well,” he continues, “there is a doorway. I have the key under my tunic.”

He raises his head and looks at me. His lips are pursed into a grimace. Gawd... he must feel like I've rejected him. My tears must have been like a slap in his face that said... “Liar, Minky, you're a liar!” And this just causes my tears to come even faster. I've hurt my new friend with my lack of faith. I've hurt him and I don't know what to do to make it better.

He grabs the neck of his shirt and pulls it open, sliding his other hand inside. Some kind of a medallion comes into view, tied to a thong around his neck. I feel myself gasp as soon as I see it dangling from his hand. It's a simple design, just a leaf made of some kind of metal. But it isn't the shape or design that caused my intake of breath, it's the fact that the thing is glowing, pulsing with a faint, greenish hue. It looks almost like a living thing that's pulsing with a heartbeat.

I'm back to doing my Venus Fly-trap imitation. The damn thing looks eerie and I tentatively reach out a hand and touch a finger to it. My gawd... not only can I see it pulsing but I can feel the pulses beneath my finger. And it's warm, warmer than it would be just from contact with Minky's skin. He reaches for my free hand and places my hand on his chest.

Feel my heartbeat, Nicholas.”

I do, and it's a revelation itself. That thing around his neck, the medallion, is pulsing in complete rhythm to Minky's heartbeat. He holds his breath and his heart starts beating faster. I watch, spellbound, as the medallion flashes ever faster, keeping rhythm. He lets out a whoosh of air, his heart slows and the medallion matches pace exactly. My gawd... this thing is totally tuned to him; it's like a living extension of his body. But how can that be, it's metal, it's not alive.

One thing for damn sure, this is no hall pass from a mental ward! All the doubts that have been fomenting in my mind have become totally and irrevocably erased. You sure as heck couldn't pick that thing up from any jewelry store on earth.

I pull my gaze away from the medallion to look up into Minky's face, a face that's been watching me expectantly.

Oh, Minky... thank God! You're REAL!”

Yahoo...” I shout, grabbing him by the shoulders and then giving him pats. It's a good thing the park is empty, or I would have brought people running from my loud vocals.

You're real, your doorway key is real, your ears are real and you're my little mink from the planet whatever!”

I'm so freakin' relieved. I'm laughing and Minky's laughing and we're patting each other on the back. And then I remember the last thing he told me before my world had come crashing down.

Minky... I have this insatiable desire to cuddle a little, furry animal right now. Change into a mink for me.”

The grin slides from his face as he tells me...

I cannot, Nick. The mink and I are fused into one being here on this world. All that I have of him are these ears. I am just lucky I did not come through the doorway with a long snout or a body covered in fur. I would never blend in then.”

Wow.. then your ears aren't like that on your own world? In your human form I mean.”

No, silly, my ears are just like yours. In fact, they are a lot cuter than yours... giggle.”

I give him a playful smack in the arm.

In your dreams, fairy boy. In your dreams... heheheh.”

Minky gives a huge yawn and it's infectious. I may have had a long nap today but I've also had a long day and my emotions have been up and down like a storm swept ocean.

I am getting sleepy, Nicholas. I am happy I have found you and I am happy you have found a place for us to sleep. Can we just lie down now?”

I just smile and nod my head yes while sliding my back pack towards us. “Here,” I say, sliding it into place, “we can use my pack for a pillow, bud.”

This earns me a return smile and we flop down on the ground, facing one another as we rest our head on my pack. Our faces are mere inches apart but, lying down, the lamplight doesn't reach us and his face is in darkness. Probably a good thing or I'd stay awake all night just staring at him.

I've known for some time now that I prefer boys to girls. But knowing it and acting on it are way, way two different things. My instincts are to reach over in the darkness and give Minky a kiss goodnight. I suppose I could claim that it's just a custom on our world and doesn't really mean anything – if he were to get indignant about it or anything. But there's no way I could settle for just one kiss and I'd totally give myself away by trying to draw the very breath out of him. Sigh... I'll just lie here like a good little boy with my arms crossed.


Wow... Nicky? Where did that come from? I've been Nick or Nicholas up until now.

Yeah, Minky?”

Do you like me?”

Oh my gawd... is he reading my mind? Are my feelings really all that apparent? One thing for certain, I might not have the courage to tell him exactly the way I feel about him right now, but I'm not gonna lie either.

Yes, Minky. I really, REALLY like you.”

I knew you liked me, Nicky: I could feel it. I was pretty sure I was not just imagining it. Back there at the fermented cabbage vendor's cart, you told me that you had a secret that you had not shared with me. That was it, was it not, Nicky?”

Yes, Minky. That was it. Do you think I'm weird... I mean, for liking another boy?”

No, I think you are just fine, Nicky. I like you too. And to think, before I met you I was ready to go back home. I thought I made a big mistake coming here. This is a scary world, Nicky, and I got homesick really fast.”

Scary, Minky? How... I mean, what is here that scares you?”

He props himself up on his forearm, cheek resting on his hand, looking down on me. He's risen just high enough for the lamp glow to show me that angelic face. But it's a serious expression, perhaps a frightened one that I see.

When the Warlocks gave me this key, they directed me to this exact place to use it. I suppose they knew it opened onto this park. And I suppose they also knew I would be more comfortable in these surroundings, that things would look pretty much like on my world. It was not until I wandered to the edge of the park, and saw the city, that I got so scared. Nicky... those things that convey people around, moving on that black pathway: I thought they were monsters! I saw people inside of them and thought the monsters had eaten them! But then I saw them for what they truly are, a magical means of transportation. Even when I realized what they were, they were still frightening. They are so loud, Nicky, and they dart here and there and make so many different kinds of sounds.

And, Nicky, so many people! And the buildings are so huge and stacked on top of one another. Lights are blinking and flashing everywhere. It was just awful! I ran back inside the park and hid in some bushes. I was going to use the key to return right then, but I saw you. You walked past where I was hiding and walked across the grass and lay down. And I thought you looked lost, just like me. And then that bum person walked past you a few times, looking like he wanted to steal your travel pack. I went over and set by you because it made me feel comfortable, like I was not really all alone in this strange place.”

I just listened to him tell his story, fascinated, and a bit confused. I didn't want to interrupt him to ask questions. But I could tell he'd started to wind down.

Minky, you said Warlocks gave you that key? Warlocks, like in male witches?” I gulp.

Yes,” and he nods his head. “It was they that I had to bargain with to get this key. These things are not just lying around on the ground to pick up, you know. This is probably the strongest magic on my world, this ability to move between worlds. And only the most magical of creatures, the Warlocks, can make it happen.”

But,” I ask, “why did you want to come here in the first place? Were you just curious about this other world you'd heard about? Or are you some kind of an explorer or something?”

No, Nicky. I was in trouble. I bargained for this key in order to escape from my world. The Baron wants me very badly. Sooner or later he would catch me too. This is the only place I could possibly run where he would not try following me. But, Nicky, after just a short while on this world I figured I was safer back among the evil I knew than here in this scary place. If you had walked past my hiding spot just two minutes later, I would no longer have been here.”

Warlocks and Barons — every time he spoke he just filled my mind with more questions. The questions were about to come flooding forth when we heard the bushes crashing near us. Someone was pushing himself through the bushes and towards us!

Well, well... looky what we have here, Sam,” as the beam from a penlight sweeps across Minky and me. A second body crashes through the bushes to come standing next to the one that had spoken. A second penlight beam switches on and sweeps across our recumbent forms.

Their lights aren't all that powerful, so we aren't entirely blinded. We can still see clearly enough to make out the forms of two scruffy looking characters in the park lamp glow. And by scruffy, I mean long unbathed, unshaved and wearing filthy clothing. They're both holding a sack in one hand with the neck of a bottle protruding. Wine bottles are my immediate impression. We had stumbled upon the sleeping spot of a couple of winos.

I'm sorry, Sirs,” I quickly speak up. “We didn't realize this blanket was still occupied. We'll leave. We're sorry to intrude.”

I start to rise to my knees when I feel a foot plant itself in my midriff and give me a push backwards. I end up on my butt and elbows with a shaky Minky right beside me.

What's your hurry there, young fella? We'll just have us a little party together. Shoot, me and Sam have brought the refreshments,” he says, holding up his sack-covered bottle.

My... ain't you cute wittle guys?” Sam responds. “Tell you what, why don't you just slip out of those clothes and we'll have us a weal good time?”

Both of their faces are lit up in malicious grins. The Sammy bum had set his bottle down and is now in the process of unbuckling his pants. Evidently male rape isn't unheard of on Minky's world either, because Minky's shivering doubled as soon as he heard what this fella had to say.

Nicky, my mouth is too dry. Spit on my medallion for me” he whispers in my ear.

What the hell, I'm thinking, we're about to become the meat on a couple of wino shish kabobs and he wants me to spit on his necklace. The pulsating metal is dangling in front of my face now and I just instinctively do as I'm told. I manage to work up enough spittle to be effective, evidently, as it stops pulsing and flares into a brilliant green. Minky drops the thing so it's just dangling by its thong and then he reaches down and tugs up the hem of my shirt, pulling it up to my shoulders. Holding my shirt up with one hand, he uses his other to raise his own shirt up and then plops down on top of me. We are belly to belly with the medallion trapped between us. And it's a medallion, by the way, that is starting to hum very, very audibly.”

Ahhh... isn't that cute, Sammy? The boys are givin' us a floor show. It'll be cuter when they're naked though. Why don't we juuuuusssst..................”

I hear the man's voice change from a normal, human tone into something that sounds very much like a jet engine winding up on the tarmac prior to launching itself down the runway. The volume becomes ear splitting and I reach up with both hands to cover my ears. Just then there is a crack of thunder that shakes the ground and every bone in my body.

And just that quick, I'm no longer lying on a blanket with Minky plastered to my belly. I'm spitting and sputtering and a spray of water is launched from my nose and mouth. I've instinctively pushed myself to the surface of a body of water, gasping for breath! My mind is in a total, uncomprehending, panicked flux. I keep rising until I see that I'm standing about waist deep in... in... in the stinkin' pond! How the hell did I end up in the pond?

Aaaahhhhhh...” is the sound that escapes my throat after I glance down at my right arm. There, clinging to my forearm, is a gigantic, wet rat! And it's staring up at me with beady little eyes and a mouth chuck full of sharp teeth!

Woooosh... I don't even have to think, I just react. I fling my arm up and over my shoulder and launch that sucker towards the middle of the pond. And my little feet aren't inactive either; my toes are stirring up the bottom as my legs try, desperately, to propel myself towards the shore and away from what must be one really pissed off, gigantic rat.

I couldn't have gotten to shore any faster if Moses had parted the water for me. Standing on the bank, I turn and look back to see if I can spot the damn critter. But what I see shocks me more than if there were a pond full of rats swimming towards me. It's the moon! Only it isn't the moon I've known all my life. The rifts and craters are entirely different! Most of the collisions that formed the craters appear to have happened down the center, leaving two hemispheres relatively untouched. This moon is shaped like a huge pair of buttocks! I mean... the son of a gun is actually mooning me!

Holy Hell! I'm... I'm in Minky's world! I sure as hell ain't in Kansas no more, Dorothy!” I'm half mumbling and half shouting to myself. I stare at that perverse, yellow orb for what must be three or four minutes. I stare at it until I hear something sneeze down by my feet. I look down and that wet rat is staring up into my face. And then it squeaks out...

Nicky... you are a butthole!”

You could park a jeep on my tongue, my mouth has hinged so far open! Oh my gawd... it isn't a giant rat... it's a mink! And it isn't just a mink... it's Minky!! I drop down on hands and knees.

Oh, Minky! Are you all right? Did I hurt you? I'm so sorry. I've never seen a real, live mink before. I didn't know it was you, honest.”

No duh,” he says. “I sort of figured that out when I was about twenty feet in the air,” the little critter squeaks at me. And then...

Hee, hee, heeeeee! You should have seen your face, Nicky! Hee, hee, heeeee... squeak, squeak.”

Good gosh... you ain't seen nothin' till you've seen a mink laughing at you. Disney couldn't have animated it any better or any funnier. I find myself giggling right along with his squeaking antics. This brown, wet, little critter is standing on its (his) hind paws and waggling his head back and forth, tongue hanging from one side of his jaw, chortling and snorting like I'm the funny looking one here.

Finally, he pulls his tongue back into his mouth and squeaks, “Stand back, Nicky.”

In the space of about three seconds, I watch this little critter grow and expand and change back into the boy that gives me goosebumps to look at. Holy crap... you can triple the number of goosebumps! Minky is standing there in the raw! He's all pink and delightful and he's grinning as he watches my face and eyes do a running inventory of what nature has granted him.

My clothes do not exactly fit my mink body,” he explains, grinning widely. “So, are you just going to sit there, staring at my dingus, or are you going to swim out with me and help me find my pants and tunic?”

What? Huh? Oh, yeah... sure.” And I stand up, feeling embarrassed that I had been staring so noticeably. If I'd ever done that in the locker room at school, I would have been dead meat. But Minky just looks at me with this silly grin plastered across his face. And that's when I notice his ears.

Dude...” I say, “you really do have cute, ordinary boy ears, don't ya?”

He responds with a chortle, “I have cute boy everything, judging by the way you were surveying me.”

I feel my face blushing a deep crimson. And rather than make a retort I just start heading out into the water.

It's a good thing that weird moon reflects so much light,” I say. “Let's just hope they're floating somewhere near the surface.”

The two of us wade out into the warm water. Luckily, we find both top and pants after just a short search. When we wade back to shore, I glance around a bit at our surroundings. Things don't look much different than they did at the park. The grass is long and bent over though. Obviously this isn't a park on this world or someone would be doing some mowing. I think about the bushes where the winos had surprised us. I'd forgotten about those guys and I find myself shivering somewhat. And then I think of something.

Damn, Minky. I don't have my backpack. Do you suppose you could pop back just long enough to grab it and then get back here before those winos can grab you?”

Ummm... about that, Nicky. No! Actually, there is no going back there.”

Minky's in the process of dressing. He continues with, “You will notice that I no longer have the key. It was good for exactly one trip there and back. It is now, undoubtedly, hanging from a peg back at the Warlocks' cottage. Sigh... that means that they know I am back here already. They are probably laughing their butts off at how short a time I spent in your world. I mean, I spent a month working for them in order to bargain for that trip. And here I am, back, in less than a day's time. Sigh.”

I feel my eyes bugging out of my head.

What? Do you mean there's no going back? Do you mean I'm stuck here, in warlock land? Holy crap, dude... if you thought my world was scary... cheese! And you've got some kind of a Baron hunting you down?”

Minky gets a sheepish look on his face. “I know, Nicky. I am sorry. But we had to get away from those bad people and that was the only thing that came to my mind. They were a lot bigger than us and their legs were a lot longer. I really do not think we could have outrun them. Besides... do you have any idea what they had in mind for us? That one man was not lowering his pants in order to take a pee, Nicky.”

I giggle. “You noticed that, did you?” But then the seriousness of the situation reasserts itself.

What are we gonna do, Minky? I'm not gonna be much help to you here, trying to protect you and all. I don't know anything about your world and I'd probably just cause you to get captured. If you can, somehow, get us back to my world, then I could show you it isn't such a scary place after all – and you'd be safe there.”

Minky sits down in the bent-over grass. The poor guy truly looks exhausted. So I sit down next to him and realize that the day's events have caught up to me too.

How safe will we be if we sleep right here by the pond's edge, Minky? I mean, there aren't any dragons or ogres or anything that will wander by and eat us, are there?”

Ha, ha, ha... don't be silly, Nicky. Ogres are just in your world's fairy tales. They are not real, you know. And dragons normally tend to sleep at night so I do not think we need to be concerned with them.”

I snap back up to my feet, suddenly wide awake. I probably look like an owl, the way my eyes are popping outta my head. I'm trying to look in every direction at once, fully expecting to see a puff of smoke or flame somewhere in the woods.

Holy crap, Mink - you mean dragons are real here, too? You have honest-to-gawd, giant lizards that belch fire and fly and stuff?”

If this kid is dumb enough to yell “Boo” at me again, I swear, I'll cover him in diarrhea. My heart is like a giant kettle-drum, beating in my chest, and I'm wheezing like an eighty year-old cigar smoker.

But the mink boy seems unconcerned as he lies back onto the long grass, giving me a sleepy looking smile.

Lie down, Nicky.” He pats the ground next to himself. “They can't fly: their wings are too tiny. Only the small ones can fly. And the adult dragons are so big they shake the ground when they walk. There's no way one of them is going to sneak up on us. We'll decide what to do tomorrow, when I can think better. I'm just too groggy right...” And my little buddy falls asleep in mid sentence.

Sigh. I guess he's right. I suppose I need to rest, too. There's no way I'm gonna fall asleep though, there's just too much stuff whirring around in my head. I lie down on my side, facing the sleeping mink boy. With my head resting on my forearm, I watch my new friend with his face relaxed into the calm composure of sleep. His wet, blond hair is in disarray. No longer does he have the pointy ears that allowed me to think of him as my pixie boy. His ears are perfect, in fact. Shoot, everything about him is perfect. I blush a bit as I recall what he looked like, standing in front of me in the altogether. Soon, my thoughts no longer dwell on butt-shaped moons, evil Barons and small flying dragons. This visage in front of me crowds out everything else in my mind. I gradually drift to sleep thinking Minky thoughts. But my last thoughts, before my mind closes down for the evening, is to wonder what I'm gonna to be facing tomorrow in this strange, new place.

Poor Nicky, tossed out of his home by an evil step-father and now he is in a world of dragons, warlocks and who knows what else. And poor Minky, a month of hard work to escape some evil baron and he is back where he started. But there is one thing that has changed for the both of them; neither of them are facing their fears alone. In chapter two, Nicky gets a rather eye opening look at the new world he finds himself in, and he finds that dragons are not just the things of storybooks.

Nifty decided, in it's infinite wisdom, to delete the drawing that was to accompany the prologue. And a good friend spent time adding for me as well... sigh. But I have parked it out in cyberspace for you to look at if you desire. Go here.

And I really, really want to know if anyone is reading this story here. Am I just spinning my wheels posting to Nifty's fantasy section? I think I have responses from all 6 people that read the stories in here. Anyways, you can reach me at callmepaul@graffiti.net