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. Knees met grit and teeth met tongue as I collided with a hard surface, painful 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 - my brother. I yelled out, only for my voice to lodge in my throat.

"Nice try, but you're not getting off that easy," someone chuckled.

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 had disappeared. I quickly ran over to my brother and helped 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 grabbed the scruff of our collars and shoved us forward. I shot him a disgusted look only for it to quickly fade as the nebulous wisps of our escape route disappeared. The portal was gone.

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

"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, cocked her head in complacency.

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

A lake lapped gently in the background. A cool breeze crept across its black expanse, making the sweat on my neck prickle. 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 said. "You're kidding, right?"

The cricket chirps crescendoed.

"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 desperately to stitch my resolve back 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 said. "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 Tamara and me," said Greg.

"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.

Tamara's brows knit together as she inspected the walkie talkie. She opened the battery compartment and gasped as sand spilled out.

"What is this? A toy?" she asked. Her face was canvas of calm, but her white knuckled fists said otherwise.

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

They both hesitated before regaining their composures and shoved us forward. Greg's knees were undoubtedly shaking. If carrying the weight of pent up emotions could sculpt a physique, he was halfway there.

"Follow him. Walk."

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