“Yes, I grew up in Narnia among other wonderful story worlds. Just how boring would life be without a captivating tale or three hundred! This is a fun little homage to the wonders of CS Lewis.”
I wrote this story in answer to the following prompts:
Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #107 — The picture above
FOWC with Fandango — Particular
Word of the Day Challenge — Month
Ragtag Daily Prompt — Oscillate
The Wizard in the Wardrobe
“So, tell me again why you have to clean your bedroom instead of taking me to the movies?” questioned Sloan twisting her tawny ponytail into a messy bun. She gazed across the NASCAR bedspread. Her boyfriend Dex stood there by the built-in wardrobe looking sheepish. “Come on, spill!”
Dex sighed and pulled open the door. A cascade of books, clothing, PlayStation games, toys and other detritus formed a heap around his feet. “I quote; ‘You will not go out with Sloan today because you are a slovenly teenager who needs to clean his room. You are grounded until it’s spotless!’ That’s why!”
Sloan giggled. she opened her mouth to speak but another voice beat her.
“I’m sorry I’m punishing you too, Sloan. He needs to learn his lesson.” It was Dex’s mother entering with glasses of orange juice.
“It’s okay. We can see the Adventures of Xylan another day. In the meantime, I’ll teach Dex how to clean his room for you.” Sloan accepted her orange with a smile, “Thanks for the drink.”
“You’re welcome. Dex, I want you to do the cleaning, not Sloan. If I find she did the work — you’re still grounded!”
Dex rolled his eyes, “Yes ma’am!”
“Watch it! You’ll be cooking dinner today too!” she raised her eyebrows and left the room.
“Right, we should empty the wardrobe. Then we can organise and put it back properly.” Sloan said taking charge. Leaning into the large space, she heaved a plastic crate from the bottom and deposited it on the bed with a groan. “Should we order as skip before we start?”
“Huh, cheeky! Are you saying I have a lot of rubbish?” Dex grinned as he removed the next crate.
“I think the mountain of evidence around your socks answers that question.” Sloan hurled a plush T-rex teddy at him. This was going to be fun, she decided.
As the wardrobe grew empty, Sloan set Dex sorting through some of the stuff. She manned the vacuum and knelt inside the wardrobe to remove all the dust and cobwebs.
“You know, cleaning my room is way more fun with you,” Dex called over the noise. “Even if it will take a month!”
“It is rather fun.” Sloan emerged from beneath the hanging clothes with a smile. “Here, I found a £10 note. Now, you can get me popcorn with the movie later.”
Dex gave her a bashful kiss on the cheek as he accepted the money. “Sure, you can have whatever you want. My treat for helping me.”
“Aww, thanks,” Sloan crawled back into the wardrobe and started cleaning again. Almost at once, she gasped in pain.
“You okay?” Dex dropped an encyclopaedia in a crate and rushed to help.
In the depths of the wardrobe, Sloan was sucking a bleeding finger. “Owee! The back of the wardrobe’s broken, I cut my finger on it,” she lamented with tears filling her pretty eyes.
Dex frowned as he hugged her. “Sorry, you hurt yourself. But there’s no back to the wardrobe it’s built against the wall.”
“Then you better look back there.” Sloan pointed with a healthy finger.
Full of intrigue, Dex did. He soon found a split in the wall. A little prodding revealed a few sharp panel pins sticking out. “What the hell! The bottom of this wall is plywood. There’s a space behind it too!”
“Can you see anything in —” Sloan flinched away from a tearing sound. “— side,” she finished with a sigh.
Dex discarded the plywood on the pile of things outside the wardrobe. Taking out his phone, he engaged the light and peered through the hole. “Look! You found a secret room.”
Sloan tingled with a mix of shock and excitement as she looked inside. “There’s a table’s with things on it. Can we go in and look?”
“You bet we can!” Dex’s eyes shone as he took her hand and led the way inside. The room was made of grey stone. It was clear the wardrobe was built to conceal the door. Dex played his light over the table.
Sloan stiffened and shrieked, “That’s a human skull!”
“It’s okay he’s been very dead for a long time!” Dex tore his gaze from the dark dead eye sockets. The skull was perched on a vellum brown tome the size of the sofa cushion. A brass hourglass twinkled in the light. There was also a single wilting candle within an ancient glass holder. The usually benign object created chills that caught his breath in his throat.
“I can see that! W-why is the candle smoking if nobody’s been in here for a long time?” Sloan felt herself growing anxious as she watched white smoke billowing from the wick. Something was wrong in this room.
“We came in the only door and we had to break the wall to get in.” Dex tapped the wick. “Yet this is still hot. Somebody must have been in here and vanish as we came through.”
“But how?” Sloan pressed herself against him. She felt watched and expected something or someone to jump out of the shadows.
“I don’t —”
The hourglass rose into the air and began oscillating within a white aura.
“What the …” Sloan leapt away from the table. The hourglass snapped upright and slammed down beside the book. Now the sands of time slowly trickled into the lower reservoir.
Dex reached out to move the skull. He hoped the book would give him answers. A sharp slap to his wrist made him withdraw and scowl.
“Don’t touch Theodoric! You’ll upset him,” said an ancient male voice coming from the ether.
“W-who you are you? Show yourself!” Dex ordered while holding Sloan.
She was shaking within his arms. Nothing had left her as bewildered and scared as this room. “L-let’s get …”
“Theodoric is my friend, he hates the attention. Pity you arrived.” Ivory robes materialised from the wall behind the table. They were worn by an old man. His wild, white hair and beard were competing to see which could reach the floor first. What was visible of his face was deeply crevassed. The skin parched and stretched over his skull like a two-thousand-year-old mummy.
Sloan peered at him. “I know what you are. I’ve read about your kind in books but I didn’t believe you were real — you’re a wizard.”
“Indeed, in particular, I am Aurelias; Wizard of the Tuatha Danann. The last remaining wizard’s counsel in the United Kingdom.” Aurelius snapped his fingers and grinned as the candle ignited with a pretty green flame. “Do not be afraid, young lady. Only witches turn people into warty old frogs.”
“That’s a relief. Why are you in a secret room behind my wardrobe?” Dex asked.
“Am I?” The wizard rubbed his gnarled, skeletal hands together and nodded toward the door.
Sloan and Dex both looked with widening eyes. The wardrobe and bedroom were gone. Instead, they were shocked to see a desolate mossy fellside beyond the lintel. Faraway beneath the grey rocks, waves pounded a barren shoreline.
“Welcome to Maeshowe on the island of Orkney,” announced the wizard grinning beneath his beard.
“Your mum’s can kill you, Dex.” Sloan gaped, “We’re supposed to be cleaning your room. Instead, we’re in freaking Scotland!”
“Yup, I just got grounded for eternity!” Dex gulped, “Aurelius, how could we get to Scotland so fast?”
The wizard laughed, “Seems, someone can perform magic before your eyes and you humans never notice. Mind you, I put my socks in the washing machine and they vanish.” Aurelias shook his head, “Even as a wizard, I just can’t explain it.”
Sloan chuckled, “Washing machines must come with dimensional portals!”
“Oh, no! Without feet in them, socks would get badly stretched in a portal. Why there’d be disproportionate stockings everywhere if that happened!” Aurelius shrugged, “Anyway, my mistake. I was summoning some maltodextrin for a potion I was making. Apparently, I mumbled as I moved my entire office to Dex’s bedroom.”
Dex couldn’t help but laugh at the odd wizard, “Just as well you did try to summon anything dangerous then. You might have blown your pants off!”
“Oh, I couldn’t have done that. Here in Scotland, we don’t wear pants.” Aurelius began undoing the rope tie on his robes. “Here, want to look!”
Dex placed his hands over Sloan’s eyes. “No! We bloody well don’t! Just send us home please!” he complained over her giggles.
Aurelius tightened his cord and moved back to the table. Glancing at the hourglass he began murmuring to himself. “Quite right, quite right! We better get you back before your mum doesn’t murder you!” He moved the skull, Theodoric, off the massive tome and began to leaf through it.
“You want page four-thousand-two-hundred-and-fifty-three, sire,” said the skull.
“Thank you, Theodoric. You just saved me a month of reading.” The wizard turned quickly through the tome allowing lots of coloured dust to billow from the pages. Beside him, the hourglass began oscillating in the air again. “Now, promise me you’ll never tell anybody what you saw today.”
“No chance of that. Everyone will think us bonkers if we said anything!” Sloan told him.
“Jolly good. Jolly good indeed!” Aurelius caught and slammed the hourglass down the table.
Sloan and Dex felt themselves falling. She screamed as she tumbled out of the wardrobe into all his belongings.
Dex bounded his feet and dashed into the wardrobe. The plywood opening had vanished replaced by the usual solid wall. “What the hell happened?”
“I don’t know. But if things like that occur every time you clean your room. We should do it every day!”
“No kidding! Speaking of which my room still resembles a rubbish tip. Better get on with it before mum gets really mad!”
Have a great day!