Twisted, compressed, and reformatted, Rose/Not-A-Rose landed on her feet....and couldn't move. Her feet were fixed to a base! The only part she could move was one arm and that wasn't any help because her hand was firmly attached to a big stick. She could wave the stick but what good was that? She looked around and could only see blackness and gold dust. This place was eerie. A poof of golden dust cascaded over her and mostly ended up on her base. Good thing it didn't stick to her hair or her face!
She couldn't reach her talisman. It, and the rest of the things she had been carrying, had been somehow embedded inside her. A remarkable trick, which included her transformation into a statue. Not that she was happy about it. She'd much rather the magician play card tricks.
How to get out of here? She couldn't use her talisman if she couldn't get her hands on it. Here was....giddy feeling as the magic dust began to have an effect. It was nourishing but making her feel sort of tipsy at the same time. It felt as if the whole world was humming, or simmering, with energy. She thought she might be able to use the energy of the dust to move if she understood it just a bit better. That just might be the buzz talking. The temptation to absorb the magic dust was pretty strong. Would it give her power or drug her into a coma?
Thinking was the only thing she could do, so that was exactly what she did. She didn't come up with any real answers. She needed a name, she decided. With a name, she would know who she was. When she had been Rose, she had known exactly who and what she was. When she had been Not-A-Rose, she had known exactly who and what she wasn't. Now....she was pretty lost. The only thing she knew was that she was a prisoner in a cage without bars or locks.
"Gracious!" the prisoner thought. "That has to be the ugliest, most grotesque, thing I've ever seen!"
"Hello to you too," the thing answered. "You're very rude. I can't help the way I look any more than you can. We were both changed."
"You can hear me?" she gasped. "How?"
"Easy. You spoke while humming. Anytime you hum with the wind, your thoughts can be heard. Except there is no wind, as there is no sun, no nothing. Just black and magic dust crashing down from the volcano. Not that you actually exist. I'm dreaming you and when I wake up you will cease to exist....or I will. I've been here so long I don't care which."
"Are there others here?" she asked. "Does anyone know how to get out of here?"
"Why would anyone be here if there was an exit? As for others, just open your eyes....or shut them. Whichever. Are you dreaming or awake? Don't bother answering because it will change. It always does. Blink, blink, you stink."
"I do not stink!" she protested. "I don't understand!"
"You only think you don't understand. You're new here. The longer you are here, the less you will understand."
"Bad girl! I'm your mother and I say that you have been a bad, disobedient daughter!" the short blonde woman accused.
"I'm not your daughter!"
"Mommy! You abandoned me!" cried a younger girl.
"Wrong species!" the prisoner declared.
"You're wearing a crown. You must think you're a princess! How funny! You're a bad girl who thinks she's a princess!"
Everyone burst into loud, sneering, laughter.
"We bow before you mighty princess with your mace of power! See our respect for you." Both little women pulled down their pants and bowed in the opposite direction.
The prisoner looked at them in wonder. She couldn't see the point in their action. Was this supposed to be humiliating? For them, maybe but.....they were nuts.
"They are mooning you," the weird thing said. "You don't understand? They're not real. They don't exist....maybe. If you don't understand, then they are not in your dreams. Someone else is dreaming them....maybe. It's hard to tell."
"Drunk as if on fermented berries?" the prisoner asked, relaxing a little. Of course, these manikins' actions had nothing to do with her.
"Ya wanna fight? Think you're tough, don't you? I'm tougher than anybody! Tough as nails! You want a piece of me? Here I am! Go ahead. Take your best shot!"
The prisoner sighed. "Go away! I don't want to fight."
"Drop your stick! Either drop your stick or it's on! I'll teach you not to go threatening people with sticks."
"I can't drop it!" she protested.
"Put 'em up! We'll see whose the toughest!"
She lost her temper. "Go away! You're not real! You don't exist!"
"Oh, dear! Now you've done it," the weird looking thing said. "We never tell people that they don't exist. They might believe you and then where would we be if we didn't believe in ourselves? Penalties, punishment, purgatory, peril, puh, puh, and more puh words."
"I didn't mean to be rude," the prisoner said. "It's very confusing here, not knowing who is real and who isn't!"
"Mean and rude," the snarling one fell over backwards and disappeared, whimpering.
"Well, he was mean and rude," the prisoner argued, feeling rather sorry. "He kept trying to fight me and I don't want to fight. I want to go home!"
Instead of sending her home, her words brought home to her. There were her friends and the bees and butterflies...and Buttercup!
"You've come for me! My wonderful friends! How happy I am to see you. Yes, I was foolish and rash and I have regretted leaving home so many times! Now we can all go home and everything will be just as it was before! We will all be happy and content."
The fairies looked sternly at the prisoner. "You are not Rose. You are not a fairy. You are not our friend. We don't like it here. We want to go home. Since you brought us here, we have to pass judgement on you. That's the law and we always obey the law. Guilty." The fairies all spoke as one.
"You hoped I'd starve and perish from the cold," Buttercup accused. "Because I wanted to live like a boy fairy should with several wives. That was mean!"
"I didn't mean it!" she protested. "I was hurt! I was upset because you hurt my feelings. You broke all your promises to me! I wouldn't have let you die! I'd have shared my honey and my hive with you, with any of you! You are my friends, my family, my people. I love you all!"
"Except that you chose to leave, to change. Now you are not our friend, our family, or even a fairy. We don't know you and we don't want to know you. You are all wrong! You are guilty and must be punished. That is the law!"
All the fairies spoke in unison, being of one mind on this matter.