The Easter Bunny.
The Tooth Fairy.
They’re all there, looking at you excitedly.
Well, except the Easter Bunny. Bunny, you remember he’s called. He’s standing there with his furry arms crossed, an apprehensive look on his face, glancing at you from the corner of his eyes.
He’s almost nothing like how you pictured the Easter Bunny to look. Sure, you had once pictured a larger-than-life rabbit. And boy, is Bunny tall. Just over six feet, you’d say, not counting his long silvery-blue ears. He’s a rabbit, that’s for sure. The fur on his cheeks is long and brushed back, sticking out to the sides. Black fur patterns his forehead, forming what you make out to be three leaves on his brow. He has jet-black eyebrows and springtime-green eyes that are teeming with life. His hair grows longer on his shoulders and middle of his chest, as well as on his knees, reminding you of a wolf’s coat. The layers in this hair are a mix of black, silver, and white. More fur patterns run down the sides of his arms, these ones with a fleur-de-lis type shape above two down-facing arrow tips. Leather straps wrap around the center of his long rabbit feet. He wears tribal armguards encrusted with colorful egg-shaped jewels. Slung across his torso is a wooden strap with four leather holdings, a single vibrant Easter egg resting in one of the slots. The patterns on it match the markings in his fur. He is turned slightly, and you can just see that attached to this strap is a quiver-like holder with what seems to be two boomerangs just sticking out of it.
The Sandman—Sandy—taps Bunny’s shin as if telling him to stop being so aloof.
“What?” Bunny responds. You pick up a thick Australian accent. “I don’t agree with all this, calling awl of us here to meet some person who can see us, interruptin’ our work. It’s suspicious that they can see us, seeing as that they really shouldn’t. Too old. It’s all too fishy, mate. We should just make ‘em forget. Hit 'em with the dreamsand, I say.” He turns and warms the bottom of his feet by the fire.
Sandy rolls his eyes, then floats—literally, floats—up to greet you, holding out a small hand.
He’s a little man, plump and no taller than three feet in height. He’s clothed in what looks like a wrapping robe made entirely of golden beach sand, with a tuft of extra cloth tucked neatly into the collar, reminding you of a rich man’s garb. He has shining golden eyes and gold hair that sticks out and is parted into five. It sparkles slightly, shimmering like sand in the setting sun. He has a pudgy, round orange nose. His skin seems to be made of a finer, smoother, and more skin-tone sand than his clothes and hair.
You take his hand and shake it. It feels how it looks, like fine and compact sand. He smiles widely at you, and you smile back.
“Nice to meet you, Sandman,” you say. He bows low, then holds out his hand towards the final member of the Guardians. A little picture of a tooth manifests in gold, gleaming sand above his head.
“Hello, Tooth,” you greet the Tooth Fairy.
She’s beautiful. She reminds you completely of a hummingbird, the way she hovers in the air, her large clear-ish wings flapping a million miles a minute in a blur of green, blue, pink, orange and purple. She still has a human shape—two arms, two legs, humanlike body and such—but she has short gorgeous feathers covering her entire figure. Gold feathers cover her neck, making it look like she’s wearing a covering necklace. Gleaming green feathers are dominant on her torso, but they give way to dazzling blue ones the further they go on her legs, the blend creating a teal-ish effect at points. Thin lines of slightly longer gold feathers encircle her wrists and her ankles, just above her puny slim feet that are covered in a slightly lighter blue-green, making them appear shoed. Nine or ten much longer feathers trail from her hip down to her feet, giving the illusion that she’s wearing the train on a long dress. They are blue, a few tipped with a rich purple, others tipped with black.
The long feathers on her head make her look like she’s wearing some sort of royal crown. The bridge of her nose is green, as is the area bordering from her eyebrows and just to the cheekbones. Green feathers sprout from her forehead and around this area. Navy blue ones continue the “crown”, sticking out farther than the green ones. A single, long gold feather sits at the top of her head. Thicker and larger fanning feathers dangle from where her ears would be, trailing up along her head like several ear piercings. The area around her eyes is dusted pink.
She’s surrounded by five miniature versions of herself—save for the fact that their faces are rounder and they have long hummingbird beak-like noses—all smiling at you.
“Hello!” she greets you with an upbeat voice. She quickly approaches you and flits just inches from your face. You step back a little, trying to regain your personal bubble space. “Well, let’s see them then! Smile!”
“Ah…wha—?” you manage to blurt out. But before you can ask her what she’s talking about, she has her small fingers hooked on the sides of your lips, spreading them out and apart as she inspects your mouth.
Her eyes are a wonderful purple, with pink highlights that give them a crumpled-foil-in-sunlight effect. Behind their outer enthusiasm, you can just see memories of ages upon ages of life. Her long purple eyelashes are defined, each one ending in a little flat circle.
You try to protest, but all that comes out are garbled sounds, like when a dentist has a tool in your mouth and asks you how you are doing that day.
“Ohhhhh, good job! Excellent work. You need to floss more often, though,” she comments as she takes her hands out of your mouth. Her accompanying fairies chirp at her, a couple of them speaking to you in their own little language as if offering advice on how to maintain your dental hygiene. She flies off with the fairies, commanding them on where to go to collect teeth around the globe.
“Well?” you hear North say to your left. He’s smiling at you.
You can just feel the sparkle in your eyes. You’ve been thrown back into your childhood. You don’t remember the last time you felt this much wonder and excitement. Even the way the first snow of winter made you feel couldn’t match the emotions you have at this moment. Your heart is racing.
“Thank you so much!” you tell North, running up and bear-hugging him. He returns the embrace and laughs, his belly jiggling along merrily.
You step back, a question nagging at you.
“But…why did you invite them?” you ask, looking up at North.
He smiles. “It not every day tat we have someone your age who still beelieves. And somehow lands on my front porch.” He winks. He then kneels down, a strong hand on your shoulder. “Besides, I have a feeling dat you vwill play a very big role in our lives. I feel it…in my belly!” he says, putting his hands on his belly and jiggling it slightly.
“But…what about Bunny?” you ask, glancing over at the tall rabbit. “He doesn’t really seem to be all that accepting of me.”
“Eh, tat is just way Bunny is. Trust me,” North says, standing up and walking over to Bunny. He slaps a hand on the rabbit’s back, making him jolt forward. Bunny shoots North a menacing look. “He vwill warm up to you!”
You speak to the three Guardians—and eventually Bunny as he slowly takes to you, just as North had predicted—asking them questions about what they do, their lives, their pasts, and answering their questions regarding yourself in turn.
Elves with goblets of eggnog and hot chocolate, trays of cookies and other sweets, come and go, often tripping over themselves or also munching on the snacks. One elf brings up a silver plate with nothing on it besides a few crumbs.
A blizzard begins to blow outside.
“Ah, it seems to be time for you to be heading home. It is very late, and I beelieve someone is here to pick you up,” North observes, looking out the window at the storm that is beginning to gain intensity. “And I am sure other Guardians have things to attend to.”
Each of them nods sadly. They would love to stay and talk to you more, but they know that they have duties to carry out.
You bid each of them farewell, Tooth calling “Don’t forget to floss!” before fluttering outside. Sandy leaves on a fluffy cloud of glowing gold sand, waving happily as he floats off. Bunny taps the floor with his giant feet, a hole large enough for him to dive down into appearing just beside where he tapped.
“G’bye, little bugger,” he says before leaping down into the rabbit hole. It closes up behind him, leaving nothing but the original floor and a couple of purple flowers.
North escorts you to the same double doors that you had entered into.
You feel something tugging on the end of your pants.
You look down and see your old clothes. You take them to reveal your elvish friend in teal looking sadly up at you, tears welling up in its big eyes.
“I’ll come visit again soon,” you tell him. You look at North. “I hope?”
North nods. “Though I cannot guarantee, it is most likely.”
You wave goodbye to the elf, who is beaming at you. North opens the door.
You see Jack standing there, two yetis on either side of him, holding his arms.
“Hey,” he says, smirking. “Long time no see. Ready to head out?”
You nod and walk up to him. He shakes off the yetis’ grips and takes up your hand.
You turn and wave goodbye to North, who smiles and waves in return.
A gust of wind pushes you up into the air. You turn as far back as you can to see the workshop growing smaller and smaller as you get farther from it. Its snow-capped rooftops make it blend into the snowy surroundings, and you’re soon unable to see it any longer.
So that’s why nobody is able to see it from above, why it has gone unseen all of these years, you resolve.
“So? How was it?” you hear Jack ask you. You turn to face him. He’s smiling wide, thrilled at the information that you have to share.
“It was…incredible! Thank you for taking me here.”
He blushes a little and laughs. “You’re going to have to tell me more than that once we get home!”
“All right, all right!” you say sarcastically, laughing yourself.
From out of nowhere, a black wisp shoots by you, brushing your free right hand.
Your heart skips a beat, the feelings of joy and happiness gone out like a candle blown out suddenly. They are instead replaced by fear.
Another black wisp darts beneath you, following underneath the two of you.
“Jack!” you call to him urgently.
He shakes his head. “Just focus on me, don’t be afraid! I’ll get you home sa—!”
But before he can finish, you’re hit hard by another black wisp, forcing you to let go of Jack’s hand.
You are sent tumbling into the air, falling back-down towards the earth at an incredible speed. You’re screaming for Jack, hand outstretched towards him. He speeds after you, calling out your own name, a determined look on his face.
You begin to fall into a deep, dark canyon. The space between you and Jack is too far…he won’t catch up to you in time.
Just as you think you’re going to hit the bottom, you land on something cold and sandy. You recognize the texture. This isn’t Sandy’s smooth, golden sand.
Nightmare, is your final, split-second thought.
The impact knocks you out.