Miko lived on the furthest edge of town, northeast of the center of Fable. Sandy had never been out this way before and was somewhat surprised when Miko turned onto a narrow dirt road just off the path to Pageturner Ranch. Sandy squinted and shielded her eyes and saw no house, which suggested that Miko must have been living in the adjacent woods at the base of Novel Summit. It was still early in the day, so the sun hadn’t quite made it over the horizon, casting an aura of white light around the imposing peak.
Miko’s home wasn’t too deep within. After one gentle turn to the north did it appear at the end of its own road. Miko had no neighbors out here. It was just her and the trees. The house was inside a small clearing with wild uncut grass all around it. It was a humble home with a straw roof, and only small signs of Jill’s tudor style. Instead of being mostly wood, bright, colorful and straight like the other buildings in the village, it was a homely tiny hut. Sandy guessed there were only one or two rooms inside. A small loft’s window was at the ceiling just above the door, and a rounded clay pot rested next to some old wooden steps.
The inside of the doghouse was even smaller than what Sandy had guessed. It was like a single room in Kemono Cafe, with a bed by one of the windows and a table by the other. Sandy’s nose was immediately assaulted by many hundred strong smells and it was easy to see why. The house was like a dense pantry with deep shelves filled with jars of dried fruit and herbs. Tall tins of coffee stood beside hanging strings of garlic, overfilled bread boxes were used as stands for heavily chipped butter dishes, and there was a whole 3 gallon barrel of oats right next to a tall jar of raspberry jam.
Sandy smiled at the array of flavors, but there was something missing in a place like this. It really did feel like a pantry and not at all like a home. Even Maxine’s most crowded rooms felt like each item had a story. Sandy felt as if she could trace Miko’s morning routine exactly just by looking at the dust. There was a place she slept, a place she washed, a place she changed, and then the door. Miko went to the counter and reached for an empty jar.
The two of them turned around and left the doghouse in a hurry. Miko was trying not to dwell on the fact she had such a simple home. Sandy was slightly awkward about it, because she couldn’t tell if Miko was embarrassed or not. She was able to take in Miko’s entire homelime in a ten second glance.
Miko had taken Sandy a little deeper into the woods where a large old tree stood proudly over one of its fallen neighbors. Both trees had been claimed by a thick swarm of fat fuzzy honey bees. Sandy stood way back from the dangerous buzzing and rubbed her arms nervously as Miko approached a wooden box at the side, crouched over like a burglar.
Miko reached to a metal rod sticking out the top of the box and turned it, then quickly put a small jar from her home just below a chute at the bottom of the box. Golden reward began to flow out and fill the jar right away.
Sandy guessed the bees were not happy about Jill’s invention and the two girls ran from the rising angry sound. Miko crouched low with her honey jar in both hands and bolted in front of Sandy. It took everything Sandy had to keep up, running with knees high in the air.
It didn’t take long before Sandy knew this was going to become a tradition of theirs. The small table in the corner of Miko’s home was perfect for what it needed to be. Miko loved being a host for once and spoiled Sandy with thick slices of toast, smothered in jam and drizzled with honey that couldn’t be any fresher if they tried. Miko proved to be very knowledgeable about tea and unafraid to go big. She boiled a black tea with cinnamon and apple slices to make something Sandy kept going back to until it was gone. And she agreed quickly, every tea was better with honey in it.
The light out the window turned a bright hue of orange. At first Sandy didn’t notice, but when a new color of bright magenta started to mix in both Sandy and Miko turned from their conversation to look outside and looked on with shocked faces. The orange and magenta light were fighting for dominance just off the road, swelling over one another like paint being freshly mixed in a bucket of sky blue. Miko got up right away to go look and bolted outside. Sandy came up behind her much more slowly, trying to grab at Miko’s wrist.
The colorful lights began to turn on one another. The chaotic fluid patterns of light found balance and became a whirlpool, pushing against one another until they spun in the sky like a firework! Sandy pulled Miko back several feet! But then, right in the center of the colored light, the sky tore open and revealed a new starry sky behind it. Sandy’s heart leapt as she watched a silhouette on the other side push forward into the center and leap into their world!
A woman pushed through the portal with all her might! But she was at a strange angle… She looked around in shock just as gravity began to take hold and began flapping her arms like a bird in a panic!
Sandy and Miko looked on silently as she fell to the ground with a heavy *FWUMP* and laid as still as a sack of potatoes. The colored light in the sky vanished into a puff of purple static. A tiny device fell from the sky and bounced off of her head into the nearby grass.