‘NO000oooooo…’the sound echoed and re-echoed, in total darkness. The stiff figure in the stern of the little boat heard it, but the terror was too great for him to react at all. But still, there was no crash, no sudden, painful death. Then the boat shot ahead, like a stone from a sling, and hit the water again with a huge splash, soaking him, and he was in bright, very bright, light. Slowly, painfully, he forced his fingers to relax their death grip, as the fear ebbed away. Looking around, Jason found that he was in a lake, with forest to the north and west, and meadows to the east. The boat drifted slowly across the lake, and he was finally able to take in what he was seeing.
The forest, the meadow, the grass and flowers, all looked like what he was used to, but everything had a sheen of silver. Even the water of the lake had a silvery glow. ‘Hmm…’ Jason thought, ‘you aren’t in Kansas anymore!’ Not that he had ever been in Kansas, but it seemed the most appropriate comment he could make just then. He rubbed his hands of over his face, and across his hair, wiping the water off. The sun was very bright, and quite hot, so his soaking actually felt good. He realised that he was heading for the north bank of the lake, and decided that he would rather go to the east, and into the meadow. He’d had enough of forest for a while.
Taking the oars, he rowed, getting the boat turned and aimed for a small cove and beach he saw. It wasn’t too long before the boat scraped on the bottom, and he got out and pulled it ashore. He paused and looked around, wondering where he was, and beginning to think he might never get home again. He sighed, and bent to pick up his backpack, stuffed the odds and ends he had taken out back in, and closed it. Then he took his rolled up sleeping bag, hung it from the bottom of the pack, and shouldered it, shrugging his shoulders to settle it comfortably. Then he stood for a moment, looking at the boat. He hated to leave it, but there was nothing else he could do. He gave it a loving pat and whispered ‘you’ve been even better than I expected, Argo.’ Then, with a sigh, he turned and started walking east, through the meadow, facing the sun.
He hadn’t gone far when something soared over his head, almost touching him. He looked up, startled, and saw a huge white dove, soaring in circles a few feet away. As he stared, he became aware of a voice. Not one he could hear, but in his mind, saying ‘you’ll never get anywhere, walking. You cannot get out of this land on foot. This is a projection of Fairy Land, intruding into your land, and when your boat hit the cliff, it allowed you through. Most would have been killed. I do not know why they decided to allow you in, but I do know you will not get out again without my help.’ The dove landed just in front of Jason. ‘Climb on my back, in front of the wings, and I will carry you back into your own world. Just please don’t wrap your legs too tightly around my neck, as I really do want to keep breathing.’ There was the hint of a cooing chuckle in that.
Dazed but willing, Jason climbed up on the dove’s back, settling himself comfortably and grasped a double handful of feathers. He let go again immediately, afraid that he might hurt the dove. ‘It’s all right,’ the dove’s voice said. ‘Hang on like that, but don’t pull. I will be sure to keep the flight as smooth and even as I can.’ Jason took hold again, and the dove ran a few steps, the leapt into the air. Soon they were flying high over the meadow, and shortly over a more normal looking forest. They flew on as the sun moved overhead, and then started sinking down in the west.
Before darkness fell, the dove landed, and Jason slid off. They were near the edge of a forest, and in the distance, across fields of some kind of crops, he could see a city. ‘This is as far as I can take you,’ the dove said. ‘Once you get to the city, you will have no trouble getting transportation back home. Next time you decide to go exploring, young Jason, be more careful. You should know what your destination is. An Odyssey was all right in a Greek legend, but it isn’t a very good idea in real life. Goodbye now.’
‘Goodbye, Dove, and thank you for your help, and your advice. I will remember it all my life.’ The dove gave a grave nod, then hopped up and was soon several feet overhead. It flew once around Jason in farewell, and then headed off into the sunset in the western sky. Jason watched it until it was a speck against the red sky, then sighed, and turned to look at the city again. It looked to be at least ten miles away, so he decided to see if he could find a place to spend the night. He found a sheltered area under a tree and settled down. As he ate from his dwindling supply of food, he wondered ‘What lies ahead of me now? What else can happen to me? Will I really be able to get home again?’