The creature stared at him through one of his eyes. One of the creature’s eyes were glued shut, or semi-closed through all of the different things that it had seen over the years. It kind of rocked back and forth in its chair. Looking at him, measuring him, weighing him up. There was a long period of silence between the two before any words were to be spoken.

“So what?” The creature spoke, “It’s been seven years.”

“Yes, it’s been seven years. A lot of things of happened. Many a thing.” The man spoke.

“So why are you here? Is there something that you miss about the past. Some grain of sand that you seem to have misplaced amongst the sands of time?”

“To be honest, I don’t know why I’m here. I’m searching for something,  I don’t know what. There seems to be something that I’ve misplaced.”

“You lost something.” The creature mused,”Perhaps it was your youth. As time passes we are all naturally robbed of the essence of youth.” The creature picked up a glass. It was an empty glass and he rolled it around in his hand. There were stains on the glass surface. The remnants of yeast and hops that had been once consumed in the glass, oh, so long ago. “I can peer into this glass and see the directions that you must take to gain what you had once were.”

“What the hell is that even meant to mean?” The man squeaked out.

“I can give you the directions you seek.”

“Oh, okay… What directions must I take?”

The creature looked into the glass. Through the surface of the glass, beyond the stains, he squinted his eyes. The one eye that was firmly open bulged and contorted. A flash of red went throughout the whole eye. Blood flushed through the eyeball. The entire eye went red. And then in an instant, the blood cooled and the natural white returned to the eye. “Take the stairs… Walk down the stairs and you will come to an opening. It will have what you seek.”

“Thank you.” The man offered his thanks to the creature and then from the top of the building took the stairs cascading beneath the earth’s surface. He stepped slowly, taking each step of the staircase as another foot placed along the wooden surface that spiraled down into the Earth’s core.

He sought release from the world. This bitter and tainted, twisted and fore-dawned world. The creature had been the only one to offer him guidance in this world of tainted miseries. All others had been too lost in their own cycles of eccentricities to be bothered with his.

The man walked and then came across the end of the long trail of stairs. There, posted above the exit was a sign. A mural that had painted upon its surface the words, ‘FAIRY TALE ENDINGS’. He looked at the sign and then his heart began to race. Blood pumped sending him into a panic. It was true, in the modern world ‘fairy tale endings’ were good things. But they didn’t use to be. In the past the end was full of blood and bile, horror and contortions. And he could smell it. Smell the blood and horrors that lay beyond that door. Perhaps, whoever lay beyond that door would decapitate him. Slit his throat or torture him. Whatever the true endings to fairy tales, they had been lost among the quiet reassurances that we give to ourselves that there will one day be a happy ending. Denial, complete and utter denial.

He ran back up the stairs and found an exit. The exit that he took to the Earth’s surface was a peaceful garden. Filled with fountains and quiet music. There may be no great reward, but having no reward is a greater reward as long as it lacks any form of subsistent punishment.

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