Was I dead?

Darkness consumed my vision, shivers scorching my skin from head to toe.  I couldn't be. I could hear a loud rushing of something in my ears, a sound that pulsed erratically.


Hearts don't beat in the afterlife.

All of a sudden my senses came flooding back in waves. Knees met grit and teeth met tongue as I collided with a hard surface, pain enough to scramble my thoughts. I peeled my eyes open and saw someone lying a few feet away. Sprawled awkwardly with his own bound wrists was my brother. I yelled out, only for my voice to lodge in my throat. 

"Nice try, but you're not getting off that easy." a dull voice stopped me in my tracks.

Chills scathed my skin as the man in question drew closer. My heart slammed into my ribcage as he roughly yanked me to my feet. 

"Get your hands off me!" I spat.

I gave a sharp kick to his shin, revelling in a short victory as he doubled over in pain. From what I could see we had landed on a shoreline, the previous sounds of civilisation engulfed by the darkness. I quickly ran over to my brother, helping him to his feet.

"Shut it kid, the both of you've got nowhere to go. Might as well make our jobs easier and co-operate."

He materialised behind me with a chuckle as he heard my brother yelp in surprise. He gripped the scruff of our collars and shoved us forward. There were no bars to keep this lion from its prey. I tried shooting the most disgusted look I could muster but my revolve shattered as the nebulous wisps of our portal vanished into the night.

"Our mum's coming to get us, both of them." my brother declared.

"You might want to look around, Henry," came a voice behind our thick-necked captor, "You see any clock towers around here? You're a long way from Storybrooke. Listen to Greg and behave."

Greg stepped back, revealing a lithe frame. A woman, fawn skin kissed alight by the moon. Head cocked, a broad smirk aligned Tamara's features.

"It doesn't matter. My family's been to the Enchanted Forest before, and they can get here again."

The lake lapped gently in the background. A cool breeze crept across its black expanse, icy fingertips prickling the sweat on my neck. Behind, woodland creatures scuttled within the depths of the dark. An uneasy feeling wormed its way into my stomach.

"Well, you're not in the Enchanted Forest. This is Neverland."

"Neverland? You mean, the whole 'second star to the right and straight on 'til morning' Neverland?" I blurted. "You're kidding, right?"

 The cricket chirps crescendoed, singing their anthem in the absence of sound.

"What is it you want with Neverland?" asked Henry.

"It's the mother lode of magic." Tamara turned towards Greg. "Where's the communicator? We need to signal the Home Office."

I tried to repair the brokenness in me by stitching my desperation together but the blades of reality tore through my handiwork. I swallowed thickly. Plastered on a grim smile.

"An office in the jungle, real practical. I don't suppose your other form of communication is by bird delivery, is it? Old fashioned slip of paper with the message tied around the leg. Very convenient." I retorted. "Who do you work for, anyway? Bet he's a real twenty first century guy."

"Who we work for is none of your business. Just know that they take care of Greg and me."

"Do they? Can you tell them how you can get back home after you destroy magic?"

"We don't ask questions, we just believe in our cause."

I looked towards my brother, who snorted in response. A gasp, as Tamara tipped sand from the battery compartment of Greg's walkie talkie. Her face was a canvas of calm, but her fists were clenched so tightly around the object I worried it would disintegrate.

"What is this? A toy?" she spat.

"It's a good thing you guys don't ask any questions." said Henry, shooting me a grin.

I smirked in reply. The adults both hesitated before quickly regaining their composures. Tamara gripped our coats and shoved us forward; Greg took the lead but his knees were shaking with anxiety. If carrying the weight of pent up emotions could sculpt a physique...

"Follow him. Walk."

And so, the matador walked ahead. But these bulls weren't going down without a fight.