1 Chapter One

Chapter ONE

The pits of Hell belched and clouded humanity with the pungent smell of rotten eggs that harbored the fiery embers of Hades.

Bleeding hearts.

What is it? Two- hundred degrees? I wipe the beads of sweat from my brow and take a laboring breath of humid air that seems to suffocate me temporarily. Somehow, I laugh, and it sounds like I have smoked two packs a day for the duration of my twenty-five years of existence. I think for a second. It must be this incredible heatwave passing through, for the love of all that is holy and mighty. I'm half tempted to turn on the news to see if the sun is due for impact. New Orleans has always been two steps from Hell in the month of July.

I stand in my rented apartment, glaring at nothing, not that anything would warrant the waves of disdain lasering out of my eyeballs. Everyone loves that classic resting-bitch-face, I do it well as of lately. My discolored eyes survey my dark living room as I stand as still as I can, as if Freddy Krueger is on the other side of my front door. I will explain why in a second. But first, I live on the top floor of an old Victorian house that I'm am sure is haunted. Not to go entirely out into left field here, but the other day, I kid you not, somebody folded my laundry when I knew for sure I did not touch them. I know this is not the groundbreaking news you were expecting, but when you live by yourself, it's a big deal.

I crossed my neighbor off the list who lives on the bottom floor because that is too strange to fathom that someone would do a B&E for the mere joy of folding women's clothing. I can't except that Justin, Johnny's Pizza delivery guy, has that creepy fetish. My mind rejects the image of him smelling my laundry in a black ski mask, eyes rolling back into his head, and blissfully folding them into neat piles.

So, I don't think you understand how scary this experience was for me and still is. Even the underwear was folded, who does that?

Ghosts do, apparently.

Or maybe it is the suffering heat of the second floor that has me out of my blanking mind, which brings us to the problem at hand.

This issue is bigger than the floating inferno currently surrounding New Orleans. I am holding a letter, a golden sparkly letter, mind you, that was pushed under my door this morning. When it was still dark outside, we're talking early people! The last time I checked, the postal service does not deliver at four in the morning under said person's door. Why? Because that's bizarre and that's not how they do respectable things. They work at normal, suitable business hours. Only mentally unstable people deliver creepy letters at four in the morning by sliding letters under your front door, probably followed by heavy, excited breathing. You know what I'm talking about, stalkers, serial killers, rapists.


The letter would read: I see you...or Peek-a-boo.

Something alarmingly creepy, and then that would be the start of a B-budget horror movie. But no, that's not what it read, not even close. It radiated light. For a fleeting second, I'm sure that I'm being invited to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, holding the golden ticket. But no, it's way weirder than that, trust me. This letter is why I now doubt my ability to function in polite society.

I shift my weight as I stare down at the ghostly missive that alights my fingers and half my arm. The paper is feather-soft, and I can hear a faint jingle, like if you shook Tinkerbell. A sudden giggle escapes my lips, not knowing how else to react to this odd letter.

Apparently, folks, The Fairy Godmother herself felt the need to write to me and invite me on a romantic fantasy of vast proportions. A charming prince of Fate's choosing. You can't make this up; you really can't. I place my hot hand on my burning forehead, and read the letter again, just to confirm my slow-boiling hysteria.

I reread it slowly this time.

It sounds like a Fairy Tale version of The Bachelor, not kidding.

Dear Viola Del Vonsula,

Congratulations to you.

If you are standing, I might suggest you sit. You have been chosen at random to take part in the two-hundredth anniversary of the Fairytale Challenges. Though this is a random picking, I know much about you—possibly more than you might even know about yourself. I see you now, reading this missive, with a frown upon your beautiful little face. But rest assure Viola for I do have your best interest at heart, and that is quite better than what you're used to. I know you have lived a life of fear with no family, orphaned as a small child. What a poor, poor child you used to be, quite heartbreaking, having to grow up too fast. But you were once a dreamer, full of hope and excitement. Seeing the beauty in everything and giving humanity the benefit of the doubt. Indeed, a wonderful girl inside and out.

But now you wallow in paranoia. Getting mixed up with the wrong crowd can prove to be devastating to one's person. Your innocence is leading you down a path of such darkness and despair, I fear. It does sadden me, for being the Fairy Godmother I do despise such a tragic story.

But I have brilliant news, Viola. I, the Fairy Godmother, have an offer that may change your life forever. God knows you need it. You can only go up, dear girl.

I am giving you a chance to find a happily-ever-after.

On behalf of the Fairy Godmother Incorporated, you will able to compete against four other ladies for an opportunity to win a happily-ever-after. Keep in mind that this offer is a once and a lifetime opportunity full of adventure, danger, and the ultimate prize of true love.

Love is the secret to life, Viola, and it could be yours. Please take a moment to imagine falling in love with a handsome, dashing prince. Just imagine—keep believing.

Take a moment to absorb what I am telling you.

I know your first instinct is to throw this letter away, but please do not, dear girl. For Heaven's sake, this is your only chance at happiness, trust me, I've checked. Did I mention that people want you dead? Quite disconcerting.

I am the All-Knowing. Fate is my specialty. Destiny is my hobby. Bloody hell child, I'm the keeper of the most powerful emotion of all...true love.

The choice is yours.

This offer will last until tomorrow night when the clock strikes twelve. If accepted, all details and questions will be provided to ensure complete and total understanding. The meeting will take place at the French Quarter past the tall, charming man in white. Please do not be late, or this fantasy will be nothing more than a rotting pumpkin.

Upon accepting this offer, you will agree to pay for this experience by handing over half of all your assets, including but not limited to bank accounts, IRA's/401K's, jewelry, vehicles, clothes, shoes, electronics, real estate, animals, animal's belongings. If failed, all family ties will break, and you will be alone in the world. All competitors will travel to the same kingdom; the choice of a Kingdom is random by a spinning wheel of destiny (this trip is known to cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, drowsiness, uncontrollable tremors, fatigue and in rare cases, death). Everything about the Fairytale challenge will rely solely on fate, and all aspects will be unpredictable and potentially dangerous, even resulting in your demise. Each contestant will have their chance at the spinning wheel, where they will find out what their fate will be for the next three months of the challenge. Whether a contestant spins to be a princess or a pauper, they will have to make the best of it to catch the prince's eye and heart.

God's speed,

Fairy Godmother

Fairy Godmother

President & CEO

The Fairy Godmother Inc.

"Where dreams come true."

Do you see what I mean?!

This lady knows bits about my life, and I know for sure that I have told no one of my bad life-choices. That was between me, myself, and I. And, more importantly, because I have no friends and family that I wish to claim. My foster parents only loved me when tax time came or when someone needed a babysitter for their seven kids when they went out on a bender.

Seconds pass as I just stare, heart pounding with indecision. The only way this made a little sense if this letter invitation was genuine. Which it most definitely is not. I laugh. Ok, Viola, let's not get on the bus to Crazy Town just yet. Let's list the facts and look at this logically:

*This letter is glowing. Seems impossible.

*This letter is glowing and sparkling by an unknown source. Seems supernatural. Creepier than ghosts folding my underwear.

*"The Fairy Godmother" knows things she most definitely should not about my life. Very unsettling.

*I hear clear sounds of sparkles.

*The Fairy Tale Challenges sounds a bit like the Hunger Games—but for the hopelessly romantic.

*I am a secret lover of the movie Anastasia, tell no one.

*A meeting at midnight to find Mr. Charming might be a red flag for a rapist.

Lastly, whatever this is, I have nothing to lose. I have nothing going for me in this life. One needs to aspire and goals to have positive outcomes, which I don't.

I think about that.

If this is a hidden camera show or a scientific study to test the dumb and gullible women, then I will be a proud statistic. Maybe they're offering to counsel us? I might benefit from that. This could be a Study approved by Dr. Phil! I mean, I always wanted to get counseling, kind of a hidden desire, actually. I secretly want doctors to look at me and tell me if I really am a psychotic bitch, or that I have been mistreated my whole life, and it's not my fault, and then we would cry together. I could break down the emotional walls!

I could get sent to a really nice beachfront rehab facility.

Am I doing this then?

Midnight tonight.

Well, Fairy Godmother, you can count on me. I'm just the right amount of messed up to show up and represent. I glance back at the glowing letter and could not wipe the silly smile off my face.

I have bought a ticket to Crazy Love Town.

Or, a nice bed at a rehab center.

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