The Summer 2023 CABB Challenge
NEW VOICES FROM ABOVE AND BELOW
KHY AND THE FAIRY PRINCE
by PearlAnn SnowStar
Sitting on her backpack wasn’t comfortable, but she didn’t want to sit on the ground. The golden-haired lady sighed. “Khy, you just had to investigate, didn’t you?”
She looked around the passageway. She reached for the journal on her lap and took the pen from the holder on the side. She started to write when she heard something. Quickly putting the pen back in the holder on the journal, she got up. She placed the journal back into the backpack. She tossed the backpack on her back, fixing the straps.
Her heart was pounding. She reached down for her phone, which she was using as a flashlight. She shone the light around the darkened tunnels.
She screamed as her light came upon a young man.
The man placed his hands in front of his face. “Light bright. No hurt.”
“Who are you?” She lowered her flashlight, keeping it fixed on him, but not on his face.
“Who are you?”
“Yes, and it’s not spelled the way it sounds. I spell it K-h-y.”
“Like it sounds.” He looked at her. “Should not be here.”
“Why? Is this your tunnel to hide in?”
“Not safe. Only use as shortcut.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out some wires. “Above. Found Stuff.”
She should be more cautious, but she felt as if Mouse was not going to hurt her. Yet, the way he was talking was a bit unusual. “Why shouldn’t I be here?”
“Dangerous. Bad people come here.”
“So, why are you here?”
Oh, this was going nowhere. “OK, so you can’t tell me to where. You tell me it’s not safe. Fine. I’ll go look for another tunnel.”
She headed toward a passageway away from Mouse.
“Wait. Can’t go. Not safe. Dangerous.”
She looked at him. “OK, how do I get back to the basement?”
“The basement of the abandoned building. I found a hidden tunnel and followed it down here.”
“Oh…bad area. No go back.”
“Well, how do I get…Above?” Might as well use one of his words.
“I show. But never come down again.”
Mouse just looked at her.
“Yeah, yeah, dangerous.” She spread her arms out. “But this is my only sanctuary. I’m…safe.”
Mouse frowned. “No.” He looked at her. “Need place to hide?”
He got quiet.
She waited for what seemed like forever.
“OK good, Ok fine. Take Above. But never come back.” Then he turned and started to run.
What the?… She ran after him.
* * *
Khy was nervous as she walked down the unknown passageways. But she couldn’t stay anywhere ‘Above’ anymore. It was too risky. Sighing, she aimed the flashlight she was holding down the dim passageway. Aside from a few insects and the occasional rat, it wasn’t too bad.
She noticed what looked like a small nook. Looking around, she noticed no creepy crawlers, and it would do as a seat to sit on. She tried it out.
Ok, a bit uneven, but it will do.
She got up and placed her backpack down. She took out a journal, a water bottle, and her phone. She sat back down on the backpack. As she settled in, she heard tapping, and it didn’t sound random. She looked around and noticed that above her head were some old pipes. The tapping was coming from the pipes.
Not leaking. Maybe it’s just water or something running through it?
She really hoped no one had noticed her in the basement garage. She wanted what she found to be a hidden doorway to her own magical world. She took her pen out of the holder and began writing in her journal.
* * *
About an hour later, she stopped writing. She felt as if someone was watching her. She carefully put her pen back into its holder and shined the flashlight toward something in the far corner of the passageway.
“Oh my God!” She jumped up, holding her journal and flashlight, and stared at the cloaked figure.
“Please don’t be frightened.” The man spoke so gently.
“You just startled me.”
“Who are you, and what are you doing here?”
“I just wanted a place to hide and to be safe. To write, maybe to camp out. My name is Khy.”
“Hello, Khy. You must be the lady that Mouse spoke of.”
“Mouse? Oh, Mouse, that was a few days ago. I found another way down. Safer. I found it as I was hiding out in this abandoned building’s basement.”
“Care must be taken. There are some areas of the tunnels that are dangerous.”
“Mouse told me. What is your name?”
“Vincent, let me see you.”
“It is best that you do not.”
“Why? Look, I don’t judge the way a person looks anyway. The good-looking ones tend to sometimes be the most monstrous.”
“I am truly…unusual.”
She directed her flashlight to shine his way and noticed what she thought was a furry hand with claws.
She got up and kneeled on one knee. “My Fairy Prince.” She bowed her head and then looked up at him.
“I saw your hand. OK some say Fae, I say Fairy, but your hand, you must be the Prince of the Feline Fairies.”
“I am no prince.”
She got up. “If you say so, Prince Vincent.”
Vincent quietly stood there.
“Let me see you, my Prince, please,” she begged.
He hesitated, then cautiously lowered his hood.
She smiled. “You are the Prince of the Feline Fairies!”
There was a quizzical look on his face. “I am just Vincent. Why are you looking for shelter here Below?”
“Not safe for me Above.” She shook her head. “And don’t tell me to go to the police.”
“You have a journal.”
“Yes, I write in it. It’s like a diary or a place to write my poems. I’m getting toward the end. I don’t have money to buy a new one now. But I’ll find a way.”
“Are you in trouble?”
She nodded her head yes. “I turned eighteen this past May, and just after I graduated, I noticed a change in my stepfather and stepmother. They must have noticed that I wasn’t going to blindly obey them. After graduating, I was looking for a job. They mentioned that a friend had a store, and he needed help. So, I worked there for a few weeks. But he was a creep. He kept trying to corner me in the back of the store. I tried to avoid being alone with him. I told my stepparents, and they told me that it was nothing. Nothing!”
“Perhaps they thought that you were mistaken about his intentions?”
She put down her journal and flashlight. She rubbed her arms. Straightening herself, she continued, her voice shaking, “No, I think they did not care. I should have known. And now they threatened to force me to go back with them to Montana, back to that ranch. I should have paid more attention these past four years. Now that I found a place to hide and write down my thoughts, I’ve started to recall the red flags.”
“Red flags?” Vincent shifted his position and leaned against the wall.
“I’m sorry. Would you like to sit down?” She placed her journal, the phone and the water bottle in the backpack.
“It’s all right. That nook would be too small for me.”
She looked at him and then at the nook. “Yeah, I guess it would.”
She placed the backpack on her back and adjusted the straps around her. She picked up her flashlight. “Guess like Mouse, you’re going to have to show me the way back Above. But I should let you know that I will keep looking for other tunnels and find another spot.”
“We have Helpers Above. They could provide a safe place for you.”
She shook her head no. “Nowhere is safe, my Prince. The group that my parents and stepparents came from is called the Christian Purists. I know it’s a white supremacist group…”
She took a deep breath. She could feel her eyes welling up with tears. “Ever since I could remember, I was mostly surrounded by white people. I was living in Montana on a small ranch, in a big house. Lots of people lived there. All I could remember was that we were home-schooled. Every day we always had some Bible verse to read and study, along with other lessons. And all of us had chores to do. Most of us, including me and the other kids, were not allowed to leave the ranch at all.”
She wiped her eyes. “One day, my mother was permitted to go into town, for supplies. She never came back. I remember my father telling me that night that she was killed in a car accident. A few days later, I had the chance to go into town for her funeral with Father.”
“You are shaking.”
“Should have realized it then,” she murmured.
“Well, eventually my father had to remarry. He was told by our group leader to do so, and so he married my stepmother.”
“He could have refused.”
“No, he couldn’t. But I think, he kind of cared for her. I think she liked him, too.” She sighed. “I remember one cold night, Father woke me and said to just come with him. He let me put on my boots and a coat before we went outside. He kept telling me to say nothing. So, I didn’t. When we got to the car, which was in the back of the big house, by the garage, it was dark. No lights, nothing. That was unusual. He told me to get into the back seat and hide under the blanket. I heard him leave. A few moments later, he came back with my stepmother. She kept asking my father why this sudden trip to town and why she had to go with him. Then she mentioned something about the lights being out. I heard my father say that that was the emergency. Stepmother then got into the car.
“We had to stop at the security gate, where a security guard was stationed. Father told him about the lights and that they needed to go to the all-night store to get replacements, so they let him leave, luckily without checking inside the car. We never went to the store. Stepmother was mad, but father convinced her that they had to go. It was one long road trip with lots of stops. I was afraid Stepmother would call the leader to come and get us, but she never did. That was some unusual road trip. But anyway, I should have seen it. I should have known.”
“That Stepmother may have found a way to get a hold of the group.” She paused, then continued, “It was after we settled into this city, after Father got me into school, that he died.”
She looked at him sadly. “It was only a few weeks after Father’s funeral that she met my stepfather, and they got married. It didn’t feel right. I had turned fourteen and was starting high school, and then Father was gone. One of my teachers, Miss Waszcawski, told me that I shouldn’t be suspicious about what happened to my father. That I should be grateful my stepparents did not give me up to Child Services.” She paused, then continued, “You know what happened after they told me I was going to go back with them to Montana?”
“Stepfather grabbed my arm, dragged me to my bedroom, and locked the door. My bedroom has no windows to get out. But what he didn’t know was that I found the spare key one day and kept it with me always. So, what I did was wait until I felt that they had gone to bed. Carefully, I unlocked the door and snuck out. I put no lights on. I felt my way to the front door. As quietly as possible, I unlocked it, and then I fled.”
“Where did you go?”
“I went to one of my high school friends. Her name is Marylin. She lived, with her parents, in an apartment in Harlem. I only got to stay there for a few days. They got me clothes, a backpack, a journal and other stuff. Even got a cellphone with a new number. But, on the third day, I was looking out the window. I noticed a police car down the street. I had a bad feeling about the cops being there, so I grabbed what I could, told Marylin I had to go, that the police were here, then I ran out of the apartment.
“I went down the back stairs and out of the building. I knew that my stepparents had found me. I made my way to the store where I used to work, as I knew that it would have the back door open that day, because there were supplies coming in. I sneaked in, grabbed a water bottle and some snacks. Then I quickly got of there without anyone seeing me. I asked the Goddess to help me. I know I should have asked Jesus, but I always felt safe with the Fairy Goddess. I read about her in one of the many books at school.”
Tears started to run down her face. “Prince Vincent, I can’t go to the police. There might be someone who belongs to the group, and if they find out that someone helped me, they might even hurt that person. Not to mention forcing me to come with them back to Montana.
“The few days after I left my friend’s place, I hid out in abandoned buildings. One of them had a basement that was in disrepair. I saw boxes against a wall and a boarded-up entrance. I was curious, so after I found something that I can use like a crowbar, I took the boards off and found a tunnel. I went down its passageways. Well, that was the day Mouse found me. When Mouse took me Above, I quickly found more abandoned buildings to stay in. At each one, I kept looking for any hidden entrances. Today, in one of them, I found a hidden entrance to another tunnel, and I decided to go through its passageways.
“Please, Fairy Prince, I know that by asking a Fairy for help, I will have to give something in return for the favor. I can maybe do a week of tidying up your home or helping the elves like Mouse.”
He sighed. “Mouse is no elf.”
“Ok, he is part elf, but…”
“I know of a place Above. It is a brownstone that my Catherine owns. You can stay there for as long as needed. It is a safe place.”
“She is your true bond mate, isn’t she? You two are bonded for eternity, right?”
He smiled. “Yes.”
“Then lead me to Princess Catherine. I can feel that you trust her.”
* * *
Khy was happy. The brownstone apartment was nice. She made sure to keep it clean. She also asked Princess Catherine if there was something to help her with, as she had no money to reimburse her for the apartment. Princess Catherine suggested that she could help her tidy up the building now and then.
Today, she was helping Princess Catherine with cleaning up the laundry room. She finished mopping and emptied the water from the bucket into a huge sink. She went to the small closet to place the bucket and mop in. She noticed the hook, that was to hang the shovel on, was turned to the right, and the shovel was on the shelf.
She felt a small breeze. She used her hands to feel each shelf. There were five shelves total. The shelves were mostly empty except for a few small items.
When she got to the fourth shelf, she felt as if she found where the breeze came from. She tried to move the shelves, no luck. Then she decided to reach behind and pull the shelves toward her.
When she glanced behind it, she smiled. Tunnels.
She heard footsteps coming down the stairs, and voices. Princess Catherine was telling whomever they were, that she needed to see a search warrant or something.
Quickly, she entered the passageway. She noticed on the back of the shelves what looked like a handle. She pulled it, and the shelves closed back in place. She looked to her right and saw a locking device. So, the handle on its side unlocks the secret panel. She reached over and turned the lock. She figured that the hook would now be facing upright, as it should have been, on the other side.
She pulled out her phone from her pocket and used its flashlight, as she went down the passageways.
* * *
Vincent held Catherine as they sat on the couch in their brownstone apartment. Night had fallen on a very busy day.
She looked at him. “I got so scared, Vincent, that they would find Khy.”
“But they didn’t.”
“I’m glad she figured out the secret panel.”
“Why would they come here looking for Khy?”
Catherine put her head on his shoulder. “Yesterday, Khy told me about her friend Marylin and that she should call her. Marylin was the one who provided a place to stay after she escaped from her stepparents. She wanted to let Marylin know that she was all right and to tell her she was in a safe place. She reassured me that she would not mention exactly where she was.”
“This morning, after Khy helped Thomas with taking out the trash, she got spooked by something. I knew she was scared, for when she knocked on my door, she started calling me Princess Catherine again. And I had just gotten her to stop that.” She paused, then continued, “I figured out that when she’s scared, she starts talking about fairies and elves and a magical fairy world. I told her to come in and calm down. She told me that as she was taking the trash out, she thought she saw someone she knew. Someone that used to keep eyes on her, for her stepparents, in high school. I asked her if she was sure and she said yes. She didn’t know what to do. He was in the alley talking to someone in a car. She started to run back into the building and hoped that she wasn’t spotted.”
The phone rang. She got up and answered it.
He watched and waited as Catherine talked on the phone. He was concerned about Khy. The past few days were not easy on her. The first night that he found her, he led her to his apartment and got a key for one of the emergency apartments they had. Then he took her to the one-bedroom apartment. She looked around and thanked him, as he gave her the key for that apartment. She said she was glad it was on the ground floor. Today, Jamie found her roaming the tunnels. She told Jamie who she was. Jamie sent a message on the pipes, and when he got to the passageway, he could hear Jamie tell Khy that she was not an Elf Warrior. Khy saw him, and went down on one knee, calling him Prince Vincent. The look on Jamie’s face was concern.
Catherine hung up the phone and turned to face him. “That was Joe.”
He stood up and walked over to her. “Catherine, what is it?”
“Where is Khy?”
“I guided her to your old apartment. I remembered Bob’s phone number. When we got to the threshold, I had her call him, from her cell phone. I explained to Bob that Khy will be staying with him. I told Khy what floor the apartment was on and that I would wait until Bob came down, to let me know that she was safe. Bob will keep an eye on her. She will be sleeping on the sofa bed tonight. If there is any trouble, he will contact me.”
“We must get her Below as soon as possible. She’s not safe Above.”
He gave her a concerned look.
“Joe told me that the group she mentioned, the Christian Purists, have been around for a long time. They are under investigation for bribery of public officials, maybe even child abuse, here and in Montana. They may also be responsible for suspicious disappearances, maybe a few murders. He called them a dangerous cult. He said that her stepparents hired a private detective to look for Khy. It was just by chance that a man named Kevin Ferry happened to be in this area with the detective, Barnabas Kollyns. Kevin was hired by the group about four years ago, to keep an eye on Khy.
“Kevin, the stepparents and Barnabas immediately got a search warrant to search my building. They said that Khy was mentally unbalanced and that she was a danger to the public and to herself. They told me that she was spotted by my building and that they needed to search it, to see if she was living there. Luckily, Thomas was with me. We followed them as they looked around and kept telling them we didn’t know who they were talking about. They were finally convinced that she wasn’t there.”
She paused and then continued, “I can’t believe that the judge just gave them the warrant without checking into it, with no questions asked. Joe said they got that warrant so fast, without even proof that Khy was staying in this building. The judge they got, Angelique DuPres, was a person that his office was investigating for bribery charges and probably also belongs to the group.”
Looking up at him, she continued, “I heard about this, but I still can’t believe this is still happening in America. That someone or some group, rich and powerful, can act this way. Even be protected and sheltered because someone in the government allows them to thrive. My God, Vincent, what has become of our country?”
“What else did Joe say?”
“He said that after I called him about the search this afternoon, the FBI contacted him. Somehow, they heard about what happened and would like to talk with Khy, perhaps to get information on the group. He told them that maybe Khy ran into my building because she saw Kevin and Barnabas then went out the front door and went someplace else to hide.”
“I’m glad that Joe managed to get the attention off of you.”
She nodded. “Joe told me that since I left for family practice and that I don’t want to do anything dangerous, to let the matter go. He has interns investigating the judge and that he will add this incident to the file he has on the judge.” She sighed and started pacing as she continued, “Joe agreed that if Khy is that afraid and based on what happened today, it would be best for her to go to my secret place.”
She stopped pacing and turned to face him. “We’ve got to meet with the other Council members Below. We must convince them to allow Khy into the Community.”
He turned and quickly got his cape, “I agree, Catherine. We will schedule an emergency meeting. I know they will allow Khy to come Below.”
* * *
Khy was excited. She walked beside Catherine with her backpack on her back and a happy smile. She was going Below. To the Fairy World!
Catherine noticed the smile on her face. “I see you are excited.”
“I’m just glad I needed to spend only two nights in your old place. That I can come Below. You know, Bob was very nice to me. When he went off to his classes, he gave me one of his empty journals to write in. Plus, I got to watch some TV.”
“Princess Catherine, what is it?”
“Vincent is coming.”
“I won’t endanger the Prince or his Fairy Court.”
Catherine looked at Khy. “You know that there is no such thing as a real Fairy Court.”
Khy just smiled and said, “That’s why they call those stories fiction. But I know, and you know, and Prince Vincent knows, that it’s the real deal.”
“Catherine, Khy.” Regal-looking Prince Vincent stood in front of them.
“Prince Vincent, thank you for your kindness. I could have stayed hidden in the other apartment, but it may have put Bob in danger. I’m glad I can finally come Below. I can’t wait to meet all the wonderful fairies and elves.”
Catherine sighed softly as Vincent answered Khy, “It was my honor to do so. Before we continue, I must ask you…”
“To keep everything that I see and where I go a secret.” Khy lowered her head and then brought it back up. “I will, my Prince Vincent and Princess Catherine. I won’t let the humans Above, especially from that group, know of your world. Heck, I won’t even venture Above, ever, even if I’m told it will be safe.” Khy smiled. “Plus, just to protect my new world, I know how to make traps. I would make a great sentry, too.”
Vincent looked at Khy. “I’m glad that you’re willing to help us out Below, but that may not be…”
“Khy! Make traps. Like Mouse!”
Catherine, Khy, and Vincent turned around and saw Mouse with a bag over his shoulder loaded with items. “Been Above. Found stuff.”
“Mouse, they aren’t…” Catherine started to say.
“Nope! Found! Take! Was in gray dumpster.” Mouse grinned. “Dumpster diving!”
Khy started to laugh, “You’re an elf.”
Mouse frowned. “I’m Mouse.”
Catherine rolled her eyes. Vincent chuckled.
All of them continued down the passageway.
“Oh. Mouse almost forgot.” Mouse looked at Vincent and Catherine. “Jacob wondered what you were doing.”
Catherine turned toward Vincent. “Our son lately seems to want to know where we are all the time.”
Vincent smiled. “Our child needs to be reassured that we are still here. And, I am sure that eventually, our Caroline will also be the same way, when she gets his age.”
Mouse quickly moved to the front and scampered down the passageway.
Khy excitedly clapped her hands. “I get to meet the Royal Family.” She started to follow Mouse.
Catherine shook her head and made a tiny moan. She looked at Vincent and noticed a pleased look on his face.
Vincent whispered to her, “I don’t mind being a prince, however, our community is going to be wondering what she is talking about.”
Catherine grinned. “Perhaps, my prince of a husband, you are going to have to give a royal command to them, that Khy is harmless, that at times she lives in her own world.”
Khy turned around and saw that they were holding hands. “I see that the Royal Couple wants to dillydally. That’s OK.”
“You will be welcomed Below by the others in our community tonight,” Vincent said to Khy.
“Catherine explained what was going to happen. That I will get my own chamber. My assigned duties. And there will be time to write.” Khy grinned. “I can’t wait to meet the Master Wizard of Below.”
Mouse called out. “Coming?”
“Lead on Mouse elf,” Khy replied. She quickly ran to catch up with Mouse.
Catherine turned toward Vincent. “The Master Wizard of Below?”
“I believe that is what she is calling Father, my Princess.” He put his arm around her waist. “Shall I lead you to my kingdom?”
She gave him a look. “You have a silly grin on your face.”
“I wonder what Father would think about being called the Master Wizard of Below,” Vincent mused. “He might be very concerned about Khy’s mental state.”
Catherine groaned. “Or, Father may just let it go to his head and want to be called that from now on.”
They started laughing as they resumed walking toward the Library Chamber Below.