From the beginning, magical realms have clung to the world like parasites. Shadow-worlds, all of them, where creatures crawl, searching for lost souls. A desert realm, where it was always night-time. The land of the fairies, a frozen wasteland with holographic trees. A Nightmare realm, which we shall not speak about. And a goblin world. A Labyrinth.
Once upon a time, a girl named Sarah went into the Labyrinth to claim back her little brother. She succeeded, and the Goblin King raged. Decades after that, another girl named Sarah went into the Labyrinth for the same reason. She failed, and the Goblin King smiled.
Countless Sarahs have been wandering the Labyrinth, in search of their lost brothers. Failing, walking away, succeeding. Some accepted the hand of the Goblin King, others turned away from him. All died, in the end, becoming one with the endless walls. Countless of Sarahs, in countless of endings.
'SLEEPOVER! SLEEPOVER! SLEEPOVER!' The cries of the technically-teenagers took over the small suburban house in Piedmont, California. Candy and Grenda had come over to visit Mabel and Dipper for spring break, and it was bound to be one heck of a half-week. Their parents were working overtime as always. They had had dinner together and then Dipper had retreated smilingly into his own room, leaving Mabel to her friends. He wanted to do some more research on the fairy dust he kept in a jar under his bed.
'I brought books!' Candy teased, holding up the latest romance novels from her bag. Grenda and Mabel both started making grabby hands for the dollar-store pages, and Candy distributed them with a smile.
After a while reading them together, Candy adjusted her glasses.
'It seems the new trend in novels is that a king falls in love with a girl, but she has to be tested before she can be his. I am not sure what to think of this. Listen: "Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here, to the castle beyond the Goblin City, to take back the child you have stolen" But yet she has not fought at all! All she did was cry until some worms came to help her! And surely a girl would not want to be underground, being Queen of the Goblins?'
'Ha!' Mabel called. 'I was asked to be the Queen of the Gnomes already.'
'And Queen of the Goblins would totally not be good for your reputation!' Grenda yelled. 'Like, EUGHH'
'Yeah! Queen of the Gnomes would be better than Queen of the Goblins!' Mabel shouted. 'Just imagine, all those goblins wanting a goodnight kiss! YUCK!' Mabel made a face. The others laughed.
'Hey, anyone up for karaoke?' Mabel asked.
The other girls nodded, all bored with their books.
After at least an hour of karaoke songs like Don't Start Unbelieving, We Built This Township on Rock and Roll, Straight-up Blanchin' and the all-famous 'Taking Over Midnight' (Though Dipper refused to leave his room to sing it with them) the three girls were all resting on the big blue, green and pink bean bags in Mabel's room, thinking about life.
The church bell in the chapel opposite their house struck twelve with a definite sound.
'Mabel. Truth or dare?' Grenda asked.
'Ummm. Truth!' Mabel replied
'ERR...Is it nice to have a twin brother?' Grenda asked.
'Yep! It's great! Dipper's my best friend! Together with you guys of course!' came the cheerful reply.
'My sisters drive me up the wall sometimes' Candy said, hanging upside-down on her green bean bag.
'Yeah, that just happens with siblings sometimes, I guess. Sometimes I wish that the goblins would take Dipper away as well...'
There was a loud scream from the other room.
'...but I never mean... it... Wha' was that?' Mabel finished. She looked over at Candy and Grenda, but it seemed as though they were frozen.
'Guys? Candy? Grenda?' Mabel waved her hand in front of Grenda's eyes. No reaction. She turned on a laser pointer and shone it on the floor, but Candy didn't even react to it.
Mabel noticed that the church bell had stopped ringing.
She felt all the blood drain from her face.
'… DIPPER!' she yelled.
She stormed out of her pink bedroom and across the hall, where Dipper's bedroom was. She practically knocked down the door, but Dipper wasn't there. His posters of swamps, self-drawn mazes and the confusing Escher print fluttered on his wall.
She frantically checked under his bed, his desk, his wardrobe. No Dipper.
Dipper was gone.
Mabel sunk to the floor. Had she... Did she just... But she didn't...
Mom and Dad! Their Grunkles! Surely someone would know what to do! She took out her brand-new cell-phone, (a sturdy, pink, foldable thing) and tried to dial a number, she found she could not get the number right. The clock on her phone said the time was 00:00. It was as if she were in... in a dream. She considered going to SweaterTown, because Dipper always seemed to find her if she was in SweaterTown.
But Dipper was gone. And she should find him first. Just like he had found her, once...
Her thoughts were interrupted by a loud BANG. The window blew open. In blew a hot wind, the sort of wind that reminds you of deserts, snakes, and scorpions. Not at all like the rain they had had in California for the past months. With the hot desert wind came an enormous amount of glitter, sticking to everything.
Mabel, who was used to glitter, didn't even blink. She just stared, open-mouthed, at the figure stepping through Dipper's window. He was tall, though just about everyone seemed tall to Mabel. His hair was spiky on top but long on the bottom, and he wore the best makeup Mabel had ever seen. He was alien-like, but beautiful.
'You have SO MUCH GLITTER!' she gasped after a few moments. 'AND YOUR MAKEUP! AND THAT HAIR!!' Mabel ran around the man, reaching up to pet his hair and stroke his coat-tails, her fingers getting covered in glitter. 'Did you do all of this yourself? The sequins? And the glitter? Where'd you get the fabric? Who are you?
'Do you not know?' the stranger said, and something clicked in Mabel's head. It was as if she had always known.
'You're him, aren't you? You're the Goblin King.' she said, delightedly. 'You look so much better than on my book cover!'
'Oh, well done, child' the Goblin King said, smirking and slow-clapping with his gloved hands.
'You haven't seen my brother around, have you? He looks like this.' She pulled up her hair and looked sleepy and paranoid, a perfect imitation of Dipper.
'What's said is said' replied the Goblin King.
'What do you mea...You... You took him? But.. I.. I didn't mean it!'
'Oh, you didn't?' the Goblin King asked, looking sarcastically surprised. 'OW!' His sarcasm slipped away for real surprise and pain, for Mabel had just kicked him in the shin.
'Give. Me. Back. My. Brother, you CREEP!'
'Oh Sarah... OW!' the Goblin King said, clutching his leg. Mabel kicked hard.
'It's MABEL. AND IF YOU DON'T GIVE ME BACK MY BRO-BRO, I. WILL. FETCH. HIM. MYSELF.' she said, kicking him in the shins to punctuate her words. The Goblin King tore himself away from the kicking 13-year-old and, from a safe distance, looked down on her in disgust.
'As you wish... Mabel' he said.
Before Mabel's eyes, the surroundings changed. Where Dipper's window had been, there was exactly as she had expected. Dry leaves crunched under her shoes. The air smelled like deserts and the reptile house in the zoo. With the wind, there was a whiff of a foul stench, the sort of stench that sticks. Beyond lay the Castle, surrounded by the Goblin City, surrounded by the Labyrinth.
'Do you still want your brother back?' the Goblin King asked. He quickly dodged Mabel's kick.
His voice now came from behind her back. She felt his breath on her hair. She resisted the urge to throw her head back and head-butt him in the nose.
'Then time is short... You have 13 hours to solve the Labyrinth, or your little brother will become one of us... Forever. Such a pity...'
From behind Mabel, a clock started ticking. She didn't have to turn around to know that it would have 13 hours, but she turned anyway. The Goblin King had disappeared, leaving only a trail of glitter on the trees. She kicked the clock for good measure.
The clock went clang.
Then she looked around in her pockets. Lint, a ballpoint pen, some coins, three pieces of candy, her attack glitter, treats for Waddles. Not very useful. She wished she had her grappling hook with her.
Then she remembered something that her Great-uncle Ford taught her, the week before they left.
It was because she was having so many nightmares about not being able to escape Mabel Land.
Whenever she opened her eyes, she could still see it. She could still see the stuffed animal trees and the giggling river and the judge at their trial. Blind to the real world, she had screamed. Ford was with her in no time. But she could not see him. She tried explaining in her sobbing voice. Ford had understood.
"Mabel, listen to me. I need you to close your eyes." he had said
She had done so. His six-fingered hand had slipped in hers.
"Can you feel this?"
She had nodded.
"Keep your eyes closed. Reach out and touch something in Mabel Land. Can you do that?"
Mabel had reached out, but couldn't touch anything. She had shaken her head.
Ford had brought her hands to his face. It had been stubbly, he had not shaved yet. He brought them down to his coat. His coat always felt cold to the touch.
"Can you feel my face? My coat?"
"Y..Yes, Grunkle Ford"
"Good. Now, keep touching my coat, and open your eyes."
When she did, she could still see Mabel Land, but she could also see Grunkle Ford.
"Can you see me?" He had asked.
"Good. Now. Open your eyes again."
Somehow, Mabel had. And when she did that, she saw hers and Dippers room. She saw Waddles, on the foot of her bed. She saw Dipper hovering over her, looking worried.
"Do you see, my dear?" Ford had asked gently, hugging Mabel close. Sometimes you simply have to feel what's really there and open your eyes again."
Bearing this in mind, Mabel closed her eyes. She could still feel the heat of the Labyrinth, but she could also feel the soft touch of Dipper's carpet under her shoes instead of the crunchy leaves. Keeping her eyes closed, she started to walk, knowing her way around the two bedrooms by heart. She felt for Dippers doorway, and started for her own room.
In his castle, the King himself, Jareth, stared into his crystal ball. He was holding an ice pack on his leg.
'Why. On earth have you brought this... creature to me?' he murmured threateningly to one of his subjects. 'Where is Sarah?' he demanded.
'I don't know what happened, your eminence. She had the right hair, the correct eyes, a childlike attitude and a little brother... We thought she was a Sarah!' the subject said in a squeaky raspy voice.
'This is not a little brother. This is a teenager.' Jareth looked over at Dipper, who was unconscious with the goblin draught he had been forced to drink. The boy looked exactly like his sister.
'...a twin, even. Hmmm. Interesting...' he mused. Jareth had kidnapped many babies and toddlers, but never a twin before. He looked back into his crystal.
Mabel had disappeared.
He checked again. A red flash appeared in his eyes. Almost all the goblins took a step back.
He picked up the goblin he was talking to before by the scruff of its neck.
'HOW.' he demanded, rubbing the nose of his poor subject onto the glass surface. 'IS SHE ABLE TO DO THAT. NO ONE LEAVES MY LABYRINTH!'
'She didn't, your grace! Look! There she is!' The little goblin squeaked, pressing his finger to the orb.
And indeed. Mabel, opening her eyes, had appeared again, half a metre to her left, looking quite pleased with herself.
She had put her grappling hook in her sweater before she opened her eyes and went back into the Labyrinth. Better to keep that dumb king on his sparkly toes.
"I'm coming, Dipper." she whispered, hoping her brother could hear.
She hoisted up her socks and made her way down the path that would lead her to the Labyrinth.