“Welcome,” said the frail creaky woman on the porch. She rocked back and forth on the old-fashioned wooden rocking chair. I could see the bluish tint to her hair and the frail bones of her wrist. As she rocked the boards on the porch creaked.
I opened the gate and walked through, sighing. I should have known. When I looked behind me, I couldn’t see the street or my bike. It was black and dark behind me.
“Want a blueberry muffin?” she asked.
I sat on the porch step next to her feet and took a muffin. They tasted just like the ones I had eaten at home, yea just like Rose’s creations. I bit down and tasted the blueberries. I didn’t see the old woman get out of her chair. She must have because minutes later I was handed a cup of coffee.
“Before you ask,” said the old woman. The pattern of her rocking chair calmed me. I listened to the creaks and drank the coffee. The slightly bitter taste stung my tongue. “We are in a pocket dimension.”
She brought me here, yada, yada, yada to rescue a princess. Then I would live happily ever after, after I killed the dragon, which was probably the princess’ mother and regained the throne. I was about to say no, when the old woman snorted.
“You’re thoughts are not that interesting. I don’t have a princess, dragon, or even a throne that needs saving. I just want you to find my keys.”
Before I could tell her no. Plus my mouth was still full, she whistled. It was as creaky as the rocking chair. A young goat came trotting around the house. It jumped onto the porch and butted my leg. The old woman patted the young goat on the head.
“My keys were stolen by a gnome and I need them back right away. Miss Goat will lead you to the right dimension and then you’ll bring the keys back to me.”
“Just a minute,” I said. I set the coffee cup down on the porch. “I haven’t accepted your commission. Plus what are you going to pay me? I accept dollars and credit cards.” I looked around the yard. “I don’t trade in favors and boons.”
The quiet became intense and the sky around me clouded. When I looked into the old woman’s eyes, I saw a red glint in them. She wasn’t as frail as she was pretending. I could see that if I made her mad I would find myself in ashes. The old woman opened her mouth and showed me her sharpened teeth. In the back of my hind-brain I could almost remember the stories of this woman who was the terror of the battlefield. Young children were threatened with her name into being good.
I shuddered slightly as she smiled at me. “Okay,” I growled. “I will accept a boon.”