Chapter One - Down the Construction Hole AKA Keep Out means Keep Out
Derek Hale usually paid attention to his surroundings. He was known for following rules, thinking straight and being one of the most determined guys in the whole world. He was reliable and he always knew where he was going. So how, for god’s sake, did he end up falling down a construction hole? Ah, yes. He was texting a boy from across town. It was his first date since his whole family burned down when he was a teenager. It was the first time he decided to try and let someone in into his miserable life. He was so terrified of saying something wrong as he texted his possible-boyfriend that he didn’t realise the road he usually went down was blocked by bulldozers and keep out signs. He didn’t even look up as he walked into the dangerous zone. His eyes were glued to his phone. He didn’t even notice that he wasn’t walking on solid ground any more until he was falling.
The hole Derek fell into was on the construction site, and it looked like it had been manmade, but it was not so. The hole wasn’t a few feet deep, like any normal hole should be, and Derek realised it imiediatly. The stormy sky above his head soon became a tiny pin prick of light as he continued to fall through the inky blackness, his leather jacket fluttering in the empty air. Derek wasn’t a screamer but tumbling through a never ending black pit was enough to freak him out. He tried to gather his thoughts as he fell. He wasn’t speeding up or slowing down. He extended his hands to try and touch the walls, maybe grip something to cease the fall but…there were no walls. His hands met air, even though he was falling through the air and there should have been earth or metal or concrete…
Derek’s stomach heaved and he squeezed his eyes tight, trying to find a logical explanation. And then he wasn’t falling anymore. He was lying on something soft and slightly damp. His eyes shot open and he sat up so violently he probably cracked a few ribs. He was in a field of ridiculously green glass waving in the gentle breeze, under a glaring golden sun, even though he could have sworn he was just in gloomy old London. Derek was about to get up when someone straight up ran forward, tripped over his legs and sprawled out face-first in the grass. Derek guessed he wasn’t the only one who wasn’t looking where he was going today.
‘’Ah, crap.’’ The boy who had tripped over Derek sat back on his heels, rubbing his curly hair as if searching for a bump. Derek blinked in surprise upon seeing the two wolf like ears popping up from the top of the guy’s head.
‘’Um…who are you?’’ Derek asked slowly.
The boy jumped in surprised and glanced nervously at Derek, ‘’oh, no! Are you one of the Red soldiers? I know I’m late, but I told the queen-‘’
‘’One of the red what?’’ Derek raised an eyebrow, ‘’dude, I don’t know what you’ve been smoking but can you please just tell me how to get out of…here?’’
The boy blinked, ‘’wait, you’re not from around here?’’
Derek frowned, ‘’define ‘here’. I live in London. My name is Derek.’’
‘’I’m Scott,’’ the boy begun to smile before his mouth fell, ‘’wait, you mean you’re from…’’ he lowered his voice and pointed his finger towards the sky, ‘’there?’’
Derek sighed, losing patience. His date was in two days. He knew that if he missed the date it would take him another six months to gather the courage to ask someone out again. ‘’Look. I just need to get out of here.’’
Scott shook his head, ‘’uh-uh. No can do. No one gets out from Wonderland without the Red Queen’s permission.’’
‘’Wonderland?’’ Derek murmured to himself, frowning. ‘’Who is this Red Queen?’’
Scott’s eyes widened and he grabbed his head, ‘’Oh sugar! I forgot! I’m going to be late for the audience!’’ he shot to his feet. Derek frowned at his weird clothes – a yellow shirt, maroon bowtie, red jacket and blue pants. He clutched an umbrella in one hand and a golden watch dangled from his wrist on a chain. ‘’Just stay out of trouble!’’ he called before sprinting down the slope.
Derek stared after him helplessly. What was he supposed to do now? The heat suddenly became unbearable and Derek looked around. A forest started a few feet from him, looking lush and inviting and cool. Derek stood up, peeled off his shirt and started towards the forest. As soon as he was within the shade of the trees he relaxed. He knew that he had somehow ended up in a weird place and that he had to find this Red Queen so he could get out. He would cool down in the forest and then he’d follow the direction in which Scott had taken off. It was his best bet. He sat beneath a random tree, one that was too tall for it to be normal, and closed his eyes.
‘’Now, who might by lying under my tree?’’ a voice cooed somewhere next to him. Derek jumped and looked to his side but there was no one there.
‘’Well, technically, all the trees are mine,’’ the voice spoke again and Derek got to his feet cautiously. There was no one there, and yet he could hear a voice. ‘’don’t worry, you haven’t gone crazy. You just can’t see very well.’’ And then, out of nowhere, a boy materialised in front of him. Like I said Derek wasn’t much of a screamer so all the boy got in response for his dramatic appearance was a muffled yelp. If Scott looked strange, the boy in front of him looked outrageous. He was dressed in a striped purple and violet long sleeved shirt, with blue skinny jeans. The colours were so bright Derek had to look up to the boy’s face. It was peppered with moles and his mouth was stretched wide in a mischievous grin. His eyes crinkled when he smiled.
‘’Who the hell-‘’
‘’Am I?’’ the boy bowed, ‘’The Cheshire cat, at your service. You may call me Stiles.’’ He stood straight again and looked Derek up and down. ‘’Well, for an outsider you don’t look very different. Although you are handsome.’’
Derek frowned, ‘’you…knew I was here?’’ he asked slowly.
Stiles shrugged, ‘’I didn’t until Scott told me. You know, Scott the little wolf boy?’’
Derek groaned in frustration, ‘’that’s not possible. He ran in the opposite direction.’’
Stiles leaned against a tree lazily. ‘’Did he now? Because I distinctly remember him stopping by my tree to kindly let me know that you were finally here.’’
Derek looked around, ‘’which tree did he stop by?’’
Stiles shrugged again, ‘’I don’t remember.’’ And then he disappeared. Just like that he was gone, only to reappear behind Derek a few seconds later. ‘’So, what brings you here?’’
Derek inhaled sharply, trying not to wonder why this strange creature smelled as nice as he did, ‘’I’m here by accident. I need to see the Red Queen so I can get back home.’’ He growled through his teeth.
Stiles playfully tapped his fingers against his bicep. ‘’That so?’’ he was gone within a second and when Derek whipped around he was hanging upside down from a tree, chewing an apple, ‘’tell me,’’ he said through a mouthful, ‘’what would you give me for taking you to the Queen?’’
Derek blinked in surprise, ‘’you know how to get to her?’’
Stiles grinned, ‘’of course. Which leaves the question – what are you willing to give me for a safe journey through Wonderland?’’ by the end his words were practically purrs and he reached out with the hand that wasn’t holding the apple to brush against Derek’s chin. The man stepped back, like he was trying to get away from an annoying fly buzzing next to his ear. Stiles took another bite of his apple and deported, letting the fruit fall to the floor as he disappeared.
‘’The fact is that you need an appointment to have an audition with the Red Queen. She’s supposed to have an open audience once in a while, but in this forest it’s hard to keep track of time,’’ Stiles grinned, ‘’but I know someone who always know what time it is. And when the Queen is free.’’
Derek didn’t trust this sly prankster one bit, but it was his best chance. After all he could probably spend weeks wondering through this forest alone, and if there were more creatures like this Stiles…well, it was probably best to have a guide.
‘’What about payment?’’ Derek asked suspiciously.
Stiles grinned, ‘’we’ll talk that over later.’’ He rolled his shoulders, ‘’let’s get going.’’
He stared down an invisible path through the forest.
‘’But Scott ran that way.’’ Derek jabbed his thumb behind him.
Stiles rolled his eyes, ‘’you want to lead the way, or should I?’’