F-I-N-A-L-L-Y! This prompt was torture. I had too many ideas and not enough at the same time. My poor confused and muddled mind.
After reading through this, I realised that as nice as the story was supposed to be, it could actually be interpreted in a really, really dark way… I am going to get this published before I change my mind again and edit something else, but as usual, if you have given this writing prompt a go, or any of the others from the writing challenge, I would love to hear them! I hope you enjoy it more than I enjoyed writing it (HA)!
He had lived his entire life in this house, but he was standing in a hallway he had never seen before.
It can be lonely being an only child, but Charles would amuse himself by creating lavish dens in various rooms of the castle that he was fortunate enough to live in. The castle had been in his father’s family since it was built, in the late sixteen-hundreds and although they were not royalty, the Williams family were not short of money. The castle’s structure resembled that of a sandcastle. Tall and square, with four towers complete with turrets, but far grander and more detailed than a sandcastle could ever be. It was built from a gloriously bright pink sandstone which curved into archways and boasted beautiful carvings. The towers were home to yet more, smaller towers that rose upwards at varying heights, all with elegant conical roofs. It was a building magical enough to grace the pages of fairytale books.
Charles adored growing up there and although its sheer size meant that many of the rooms became abandoned and run-down, Charles loved the ruggedness of the place and thought that the dusty, derelict look made it feel more like an adventure. There were one hundred and twenty rooms in total in the castle and he had free reign to explore most of them, except the Northern tower.
His Father, Mr. Williams, had told him that it was too dangerous for young boys as it was his laboratory and Charles should never enter. Michael was a science professor at a university and a good man, who was always fair and kind to his son. He always kept the Northern tower door locked, not that Charles ever knew this, unlike many other boys, who are much more disobedient, Charles respected his father’s wishes and never even attempted to open the doors for a nosey, no matter how much his curiosity would try to encourage him.
Charles’s mother wrote music and spent most of her time at home playing piano in the ballroom, trying to come up with her next masterpiece. He loved to listen to her play and with the ballroom being in the very center of the castle, you could hear the angelic music float up to the highest rooms of the towers if you listened carefully enough. It was the perfect soundtrack to his reading and it made escaping into the world of his current book even more blissful. At that point in his life, he would never have been able to dream that traveling to the world of books would just be the beginning.
He was mature for his age, his Mother always proudly boasted to her friends, “All of the books he reads have made him ever so wise.” Which was why on his sixteenth birthday, Mr. Williams had decided it was time to let Charles into the Northern tower. Naturally, Charles was the most excited he had ever been in his life. He had lived in that castle his whole life and had begun to dream up theories about what experiments went on behind the door since he was old enough to know how to.
Charles and his father stood, staring at the door to the tower with their hands on each other’s shoulders. A gothic, stone archway framed a dark mahogany door adorned with intricate metal locks and hinges and if Charles didn’t know any better, he would have said it looked magic. His father took the opportunity to tell his son how proud he was of him and looking him lovingly, in the eyes said, “It is your turn to learn the family secret and I couldn’t feel more proud to have the honor of passing this gift down to you.”
The phrase, “passing this gift down to you” very much confused Charles, because all he could assume was that his father was referring to being a professor and Charles didn’t want to become a professor, he had always wanted to be a writer, but he remained silent and let his father continue.
“Are you ready?”
“I’m ready!” Charles eagerly said and the door slowly opened, revealing a wobbly stone staircase that spiraled upwards around the curved pink stone walls and so far, nothing appeared all that exciting, there were four doors and two windows upon the walls, allowing just the right amount of dusty light in for him to not trip up one of the old and treacherous steps. The first door they approached was the less glamorous and secure version of the door downstairs, but it still possessed an inviting air to it.
The small room was filled with treasures that he had never seen in this world before. Bookcases towered all around them which was home to crystals that appeared to glow with a light all of their own, dried flowers that were the most delicately beautiful flowers he had ever seen; much prettier than a hydrangea and much more elegant than a rose, and various other unfamiliar and captivating items. Underneath the single window in the room, stood an armchair which his father gestured for Charles to sit on. Mr. Williams perched on the edge of the footstool and started to tell Charles a story. “This is world number one. I call it Eden because it is particularly beautiful. You saw the four doors leading out of the corridor on your way up here? Behind three of these doors is a different world and behind the fourth is my laboratory.” Mr. Williams could see Charles’s look turn from anticipation to concern. “You can think I am mad all you like, but the truth is, us Williams are different. It is true that I am a professor, but I am also an alchemist for other lands that the people of this world will never reach. For centuries our family has had the gift of traveling to other worlds in our sleep and it was your great grandmother who first decided to use the gift to help these lands and bring them healing medicines from other worlds that they otherwise would never be able to reach. It is a gift we never asked for, but it is one that I would never change.”
Mr. Williams, although he did have a sense of humour, was far too serious a person to be playing some kind of joke on Charles. “You are telling me that you travel to different worlds in your sleep?”
“Exactly. However, it isn’t your average eight hours before school, kind of sleep. To travel to these worlds you have to be in the right room and fall into a peaceful nap. Time moves much more slowly there, so whilst you will appear to be napping here, you will be walking, talking, eating, breathing, dancing… whatever your heart desires. All I ask, and I know you will, is that you leave the world a slightly better place than you found it, each time.”
By this point, Charles had really thought that his father had lost it but didn’t want to appear so rude as to tell him, so as if to humour him asked, “So if I take a nap right here, right now, I will end up in…”
“Eden.” His father nodded.
“Okay… let’s give it a shot then…”
“You won’t possibly be able to just fall asleep and it takes a lot of practice to get there on your own. So to start with, I have developed a tonic that will help you on your way there and I will accompany you on the first few trips.”
If it had been anyone else who had gone on a mad rant about other worlds and magical potions, he would have run and he certainly wouldn’t have accepted the drink that was handed to him, but Mr. Williams was his father and a very good one. So Charles reluctantly obliged and downed the tonic.
He opened his eyes to a light pink sky and his father’s voice saying, “Welcome to Eden”.
Thank you so much for reading!
Here are some links to the other prompts from the 30 Day Writing Challenge and my version of the last prompt in the challenge.