I picked the image of the ruins for my 20 minute sprint this time around. I’m also using a character from my 2013 NaNoWriMo project (which I never finished).
Brian stumbled as he walked forward. He had no idea what he’d just done.
Looking around, he had a pretty good guess. The Winter Queen had been furious about him stealing Gwen away from her court last week and had someone managed to draw Brian into Faery, but Brian wasn’t in Faery anymore.
This wasn’t like last week when he’d gone to Gwen and then brought them both back to her brother, this was something entirely different.
He turned in a slow circle, taking in the lush green of the hillside, and the moss-covered gray stones that used to be some kind of stronghold or church by the look of them. He probably wasn’t even in the US anymore. Brian patted his pockets and came up with the keys to his apartment, his wallet and, by some small miracle, his cell phone. The thing was usually sitting on his desk or coffee table.
The question was whether the thing would work. He turned it on and checked for signal, nothing.
It figured. He didn’t see anything nearby that might resemble a cell tower.
The question was which direction would get him closer to one, or at least closer to civilization. He had no supplies, no jacket, and no ID that would be valid in another country. He didn’t even have a passport if someone could get one to him. He was in such trouble if he couldn’t find a human being or a cell signal soon.
There was a road. That was probably his best bet even if he ended up going the wrong way he might pass someone driving.
It was too hazy to get a good sense of east or west from the sun. He remembered some saying about moss on trees but couldn’t remember what direction went with it, so he went right when he got to the road and hoped for the best.
Brian checked his phone again after he’d made it several hundred yards down the road. Signal, and a new time. It had been ten in the morning when he got sucked into the Winter Court. The phone was now reading four in the afternoon. Time didn’t pass at a one to one equivalency in Faery and the mortal world, so he couldn’t be sure, but with the scenery, weather, and six-hour time difference, Brian was guessing he was in Europe somewhere. The British Isles if the half hour he’d spent in Faery translated to an hour in the real world. It was possible. It ran anywhere from half as fast to twice as fast and Brian seemed to remember Finn saying that time ran faster in Winter even if it was colder.
Brian figured it might be worth trying to call someone. He’d start with Finn, he seemed to be the most sensitive to when things went wrong and it was his mother who was involved. Brian dialed by hand, making sure to add the country code just in case.
It actually rang, which he hadn’t been expecting. He idly wondered how much extra he was going to be charged for this call as he waited for Finn to answer.
“Brian?” Finn asked when he picked up, his voice way too high.
“I’m okay,” Brian answered.
“Oh, thank Faery,” Finn said, and Brian could hear the harsh exhale as Finn started to calm down. “The sprites were in a tizzy and Winter and Gwen were sure it was my mother when they got here, but our inside man said you weren’t at court.”
“No, I’m not at court,” Brian agreed. “I’m not really sure where I am. Britain maybe? Any idea what piece of my world your mother’s throne room connects to?”
“It was in Ireland last I lived there,” Finn answered. “But it moves a lot.”
“Ireland might be right,” Brian said, looking around again. “Very green. Ruined stone building, I think I see some sheep. But I guess it could as easily be Scotland.”
“So how do we get you home?” Finn asked. “Nit can do portal spells easy enough, but she has to know where to put the other end.”
“Call Jessica. Explain what happened and that I’m in another country we think. Then tell her to check ‘Find My Phone’ and she can tell you exactly where I am. Don’t let her check a phone or computer until after you explain where I am. She’ll freak about the location if not prepared in advance.”
“I can do that,” Finn said. “Should I stay on the line with you while I do?”
“No, it shouldn’t be necessary,” Brian replied. “I’ll make sure I still have a signal as I keep walking. I’m hoping to find another human being, maybe get some water and a snack. I’ll call you back in fifteen minutes or when I figure out where I am, whichever happens first.”
“Alright, be safe,” Finn replied.
“Always,” Brian replied. He took good care of himself because he knew how important he was to all of them. He was almost single handedly powering their little court these days, and it made him feel guilty if he wasn’t up to his full power for them.
Brian hung up and kept walking. This was one of the weirdest things that had happened to him in years. And that was really saying something given all the bizarre things that had happened since Jessica started working at A Touch of Magic and then brought him along.
The road started to make a curve around the lake and Brian kept walking. There was a sign up ahead but he couldn’t read it yet.
Brian’s phone rang. Jessica.
“Hi,” he answered.
“Seriously? Freaking Ireland? How the hell did you manage that?”
“Not a clue. I was hoping Finn or Bláthnat would have an idea.”
“Well they seem pretty confused. But she at least knows where you are, so she can open a portal. Finn’s going to come with a couple sprites and they’ll bring you back.”
“Sounds good,” Brian replied. “Should I stay out in the boonies for this? I think there’s a town up ahead.”
“Yes,” Jessica replied. “Out of sight would probably be helpful too.”
“I’ll do what I can,” Brian offered, heading off the road and across the grass. At least he’d been wearing his sneakers. This would have been a horrible walk in the slippers he’d had on earlier. “I’m probably as out of site as I’m going to get,” he said as he walked slowly down a little hill not far from the road. He’d be visible, but not terribly noticeable he hoped.”
“Sit tight. They’re coming.”
“Roger that. See you soon,” Brian said before hanging up.
Ireland was very pretty, he thought as he gazed back across the road at the lake. He’d have to try for a real visit one of these days. After he got a passport.