[Um, best beware adult language in the last line. Sorry folks; adult characters.]
Third time. This was it, no more practice runs. After all, what in that spell could go wrong. And then to collect his winnings. A bag full of diamonds; and diamonds a rarity ‘round here.
Never had he stepped back from a dare. And only one dare had claimed something from him. Alas, that something still marred through him, though only seen upon close inspection.
Now, Klukelunnen told himself, and took yet another step away from the spell-book. Wouldn’t do to trip upon that as he spun himself around. There wasn’t a table here to set it on. No light neither but for that coming up from below (and himself of course).
He drew in breath, enough to swell his chest. Took a moment to steadify. Then … three times round on the ball of his foot (his right) the left foot striking hard at the attic floor on each revolution, while chanting the spell (no mean feat of coordination). I bid you take me to [some other place]. Kelunnen didn’t understand that last, why it was written in red and enclosed in square parenthesis. But it was part of the spell so he said it anyway. In his head, he pictured Gruff’s Cavern, where his cousins were waiting.
The attic swung round him. Hey, the spell was working!
Fast and faster, it unsettled his balance, skidded his feet, slipped him down on his rump in whump. He sought something stable, anything to hold to. But this was the attic and the attic was empty but for the spell-book and Klukelunnen. He found a crevice, a crack in the floor, and tried to dig his fingers in there. Alas, only his nails would fit.
He winced as the attic spun to a blur. Lips sealed not to regorge his breakfast which, by centrifugal force, had climbed that alley from belly to gullet; fingertips fiercely hurting as the spin sought to tear our his nails.
By the cringe, he wailed to himself, what have I done now? Done and dead I’ll be before this spell stops.
With a spine-crunching jar the spell and the spinning stopped.
“Lo!” he shouted out to his cousins.
But there were no cousins. Around him all was shadowy gloom. Where were they? Nix, wrong question. Where was he? Not in Gruff’s Cavern along with his cousins, hands out and awaiting that big bag of diamonds. He groaned. All that pain, and the dizzies, and where had the spell deposited him?
He sat himself up. He stood. He dusted himself down. And noticed a bare murmur of light coming up from below. He was still in Grandma’s attic! The spell had dumped him down where he’d begun.
“First things first.” His name wasn’t Klukelunnen for nothing. “Elunnen, Elunnen, Elunnen, let there be light!”
But around him all remained in shadowed gloom.
“Hah-rumff, now that’s not happened before.” Had he lost his magic in the whirling? “And for this I have bleeding sore fingers.” He brought them closer to inspect them. Those fingers would be tender for a good count to come.
Then, beyond their tender tips …
“What! But the attic has grown!” It had grown mighty large. Vast he’d almost say—for he’d seen vast and this didn’t quite measure. The walls that really were part of the roof now rose up to a towering height, though they should have been short, just above his head. And that tight crack that had bitten his nails? It now was a goodly sized ditch.
What the …?
Klukelunnen was no numbty-dunce. Along with his staggering bravery (more an inability to say no to a challenge) was his innate ‘gift’ of reasoning it out. It wasn’t the attic had instigated, spun, stamped and said the spell; it was him. Therefore upon him, not the attic, that the spell had worked. Therefore, it wasn’t the attic grown all gigantic. It was him had shrunk so small.
“By the … what do I do now? If Grandma finds me …”
He’d had a thwack or two off her before (like a tonnage of stones colliding with him, a mighty avalanche falling upon him) and he didn’t want more. He needed a spell to reverse the shrinkage.
But there he met with another problem. Where was Grandma’s spell-book? Not on the floor where he’d left it. Nothing but him was on that floor.
He cast a look up and around and … felt additionally queasy.
“Now why have I only just noticed that?” he asked out loud (out loud because that fixed him as a reality, and he’d a desperate need of reality with this otherwise strangeness happening around him). It was the shape of Grandma’s attic now disturbed him. Distorted it was, like a giant had grabbed it east and west and pulled and stretched it. It must have happened during the spin. The other notable changes (like something was odd with the floor) he put down to him being small.
How small; too small to negotiate the stairs? Only, if Grandma’s spell-book wasn’t up here, then he knew where it was. And that would require descending two flights of near-mountainous steps with him now shrunk to this size. But he needed that book. He had to find a spell to return him to size. Yet he felt sick at the thought of those stairs. Memories whirled in his head, upsetting his belly. And that only now settling after the spell.
“I dare you to climb the Giant’s Knee!” his cousins had said. It was one of their rites of passage; everyone did it. Well, his boy-cousins did, the girls did swimmery-things in water.
He remembered looking up (and up and up) at the rocky prominence. Sheer maybe, yet there were handholds. It shouldn’t be hard to climb. No one yet had died of it. Though true, several had fallen. Klukelunnen fell too.
He’d missed a foothold, dangled there by his fingertips, and they more sore than they were right now. But from that mishap he might have recovered. Except hindsight said he shouldn’t have done it while that water cascaded.
He shrugged off the memory. It wasn’t helping.
He needed that spell-book. And if the spell-book wasn’t up here, in Grandma’s attic, then it would be down there in Grandma’s parlour. There was nothing for it but to scale those stairs. And hope she didn’t see him along the way. At that he almost laughed. He now was so small he could easily hide behind her own skirts.
He didn’t get as far as the stairs. Stopped by the ominous ‘tump, tump’ of someone climbing.
“Grandma! She’ll hurl mountains at me, caught up here.”
He had to hide. But where? He cast around, but the vastness was empty. No, no, wait. What was that slab-like thing, like a huge cube of rock, against the far wall?
Tump, tump, tump, Klukelunnen heard the feet ascending the stairs.
Tump, tump, tump. Panicked, that odd cubic structure he’d not seen before would do him fine.
Tump, tump, tump. But no, hold hard, he told himself and abruptly halted his hurried flight.
Where was the slap and slither of Grandma’s sloppy slippers as they wrapped around the ascending tumps? Not there. Instead, the tumps were echoey-hard, as of a stone pelting the stair. That wasn’t Grandma. That was someone other.
The tumping stopped. That ‘other’ had arrived at the top of the stairs.
Klukelunnen hardly dared look, his back seemingly scratched by a herd of sharp-clawed spiders. More, that someone was filling the doorway, blocking the light from below. Darkness descended.
“Oh shit!” Klukelunnen expleted.
“Oh, my Go—What the f—?” squealed a female voice. Then as a shout, “Jace! Ja-ace! Is this your doing, this … manikin? Oh fuck, it’s moving! Jace, stop fucking around and switch the thing off!”