“Where,” I whisper, “am I?”
I swallow, looking around at what seems like a large corporation. I’m in a massive main hall with people in business suits running around, the sound of phones ringing, and virtual displays everywhere.
“Looks like we ain’t in Kansas anymore, Toto,” I say to myself, trying to calm my breathing.
“Charlie!” I hear a male voice behind me and I tense. I turn to see a very handsome man in a crisp gray suit. His hair is golden blond and he has shining blue eyes and a natural smile. Very charming, actually.
He looks me up and down. “I am glad you made it. I was getting worried we might have to do this without you,” he says with his hands casually in his pockets.
“Where am I?” I whisper.
I am not going to freak out.
At least not yet.
“You are at the Fairy Godmother Inc.’s headquarters. You were chosen to embark on a mission, a romantic fantasy of sorts. Let’s go somewhere to chat and meet the other women, shall we?” he asks, and nods his head for me to follow.
“Come on, do not be scared.”
I am a very open-minded individual.
But this is a lot to take in. “How did I get here? Was I drugged? That woman in the car . . . ” I say as I nearly run into a woman carrying coffees. “Sorry.”
She glares at me.
“That was the Fairy Godmother, Zora. You were beamed up here, like Star Trek. Are you familiar with that movie?” He looks back to see if I’m listening.
“It’s the best way I can describe it without going onto quantum physics, which tends to confuse the confused.”
I laugh sarcastically, not believing what I am hearing. “You beamed me? Fairy Godmother?”
“Correct, and yes.”
I curse and keep following him. I am not getting warning vibes of being in a dangerous place, but this feels foreign.
Like how you feel when you are in a dream and you know something is not quite right. All of the white is overly bright, almost making me squint.
I can see virtual technology being used by people that I know I have never seen before.
I have the new iPhone, and that is top of the line.
Even though 5G will probably cook our brains and cause cancer in a few years—but hey, it’s top of the line.
As I walk, I see a man waving his hands around like Tony Stark from the Avengers, virtual technology displayed in front of him. This place does not look like a dream, though.
I can smell and see, and I feel the pinch I give myself on my arm.
Maybe this is real and I am seeing things most people do not. I believe in alien abductions and government conspiracies. I look around with new excitement; this could be real.
I take in a sharp breath.
I am going to be one of those people who return to Earth with an abduction story that no one believes!
“Hillbilly Charlie Wilford, found wandering by herself, has no idea what happened in the past ten days or how she got here. Time lost with weird visions of technology and aliens. Stay tuned to another episode of Unsolved Mysteries~.”~
I take a breath as I am led into another sterile room.
“Sit,” he says.
There is a long table with chairs, and I sit in one, feeling dazed. “Is this where you tell me I am a secret agent? A sleeper agent like Jason Bourne?”
He sits in front of me and smiles. “Well, you are now an agent of FGI because you signed the very binding contract. Before we meet the other girls and find out your position, I would like to go over details that you missed out on.”
Pierce looks me in the eye. “This is real, number one. Number two, you will be traveling to a different planet with five other women to try and catch the prince’s eye.”
I raise my brows. “You serious? Other planets?”
He waves his hands and a virtual display is suddenly in front of me, making me gasp. I see the solar system and one world is highlighted red. “Whoa,” I breathe, eyes wide.
“Fairy Godmother Inc. keeps the universe in line with true love’s kiss. Yes, many worlds mirror ours. We change the hearts of the men in power, thus, changing everything else for the better.
“Behind every strong world leader is most likely an FGI agent. We find strong women to change the hearts of men; love can even change the mind and heart of the wicked,” Pierce says as he watches me.
“Wow,” I say. “You’re serious.”
He smiles. “Oh yes, we take these missions very seriously.”
I swallow, feeling my pulse hammering. “Why me?” I ask. “I just had a man cheat on me. He told me he loved me and even proposed marriage. Love does not change all,” I say, trying to keep my emotions in check.
Pierce raises a brow. “You are talking to someone who is in the business of love-matching. Love never fails in our corporation; we don’t mess up.
“This man you are talking about never loved you, Charlie. For if he did, you would not be sitting here,” he says carefully.
“Sometimes, fate likes to choose the broken-hearted as agents. I have seen it many times. The broken-hearted seem to have more hunger, fire, and anger in their soul. It sometimes translates to passion.
“That is why most of our agents are orphans or have no family ties left. We need girls that are willing to relocate and not miss loved ones on Earth. And that’s what we want,” he says, and shugs.
“We like to win, here at FGI. We want good players, and we are all family. Your new family.”
“So, you are taking my hurt and transforming it into passion?” I ask with a raised brow. “Sounds like you’re reaching a bit.”
Pierce smiles at me. “Maybe, maybe not.”
I stare at him. “I can’t believe I am sayin’ this but, what are the rules?”
He grins. “Country girls are always more open to new things, in my experience. You have three months to snare the man in question. You can change three things about yourself, whether it be physical or an ability.
“After that, you will place your hands in the Bowl of Destiny, and this will give you your position in the world.”
My mouth hangs open. “Three months? I can’t believe what I am hearin’.”
This is nuts.
He stands. “That’s all we need. We are good at what we do here,” he says and beams. “Let’s go and meet the other girls.” He looks at his watch.
“Wait,” I say, holding up my hand. “I am not willin’ to do this if the man in question is a bad boy. Like, a player. Man-whore. I am not doing that again.”
Pierce thinks about that with a frown. “Interesting, never had that request before. But, to put you at ease, Louis Herbert Bagstock is a gentleman in every sense of the term. He is looking for a respectable woman to marry.”
I am intrigued—a gentleman even. “What does he do? This Louis?”
“He is the commander of St. Uspolia, the largest land country,” Pierce says. “And he owns and lives at The Dahlia.
“It is like an English palace, but it’s full of entertainment. A fancy saloon and hotel. You have to have some bucks to stay there.” He gives me a look.
“And he is a gentleman? What is this world like?”
Pierce shrugs. “It’s where most of his income comes from. The Dahlia is famous and highly sought after, a place for the elite. I will go over the world when we are with the other girls.”
This is so unusual, but captivating.
Reality is stranger than fiction.
I am still waiting for the cameramen to come out and say they punked us.
He takes me to a large room with elevated seating and a giant bird bath in the middle. I immediately see five girls sitting and waiting. I nod at them.
“Good to meet y’all,” I say, then redden a bit. This situation is so bizarre.
They nod at me.
That’s when I see the woman who picked me up in the fancy car, the Fairy Godmother. Sounds ridiculous, but at this point, we are way past that. She looks stunning in her black dress and diamonds.
Her hair is even pulled on top of her head in a bun—how Disney of her.
“Charlie, I am glad you are taking this so well,” she says with a pointed look.
“Yeah,” I say sarcastically, wondering how the others took it—judging by the frowns on their faces, probably similar to me.
The Fairy Godmother puts on a pair of cat-style seeing glasses. “The world is much like Victorian-era England with a touch of the Wild West, but with fantasy. I’m sure you all will enjoy yourselves there.
“Steampunk is the theme of this world. Very industrial. They use dark matter, a rare energy that they harness.”
“Awesome,” I hear a girl say.
I hear other murmurs.
Really though, that is amazing if this is real.
She nods to Pierce. “Louis is everyone’s main goal; one of you must snatch him. There is an evil thriving on this planet, and we need help from Louis’s brother.
“Julius is the brother and a bit of a rebel. He is the commander of the sky colonies called Solace Isles. Without Julius’s help, I am afraid Louis’s country will be infested with the Crystal Rot.”
Pierce chimes in. “This is a big deal. Crystal Rot is a drug smuggled in by a man named Tim Lester. He is the leader of a clan called Crypt’s Teeth. Nasty bunch of people and they need to be stopped.”
“How are we going to mend the brothers’ relationship?” a Black girl asks. Very pretty, I note. She has smooth skin and large dark eyes.
I’m not jealous.
Pierce shrugs. “Great question, Star. I need all of your focus on Louis. But, unfortunately, you all cannot have him.
“Louis will most likely take a liking to a couple of girls at most. The girls who do not catch his eye can go for the brother.
“Julius, or Jules, is rumored to love the ladies. You all will be very sought after because most of the women on this planet are a little rough, thanks to the spread of Crystal Rot. Makes teeth fall out and boils the skin.
“So, a beautiful, untainted woman is scarce. Which is why this planet is on our hit list.”
“Oh,” I say. “Horrible.” I think on that. Julius loves the ladies, does he? Sounds like a red flag to me, which I will be avoiding like the plague. Or Crystal Rot.
“Line up please, we are a day behind, and we need to get a move on!” the Fairy Godmother yells and claps her hands.
We all line up, and I am very freaking nervous. I am third in line, and I look back to the Black girl named Star. “This is supposed to tell us what?”
“What we will be . . . like, social status, I think,” she whispers.
“That’s nerve-racking,” I say.
The first girl is cute, with black hair and dark eyes. Pierce says, “Margot Lopez.” She nods and places her hands in the water.
The screen behind her, some virtual technology, reads: 2nd cousin, twice removed, to Louis Herbert Bagstock. Resides in The Dahlia.
I cover my mouth so as not to laugh. Where I am from, that’s fair game. Zora assures her that it is fine, not viewed as incest.
Next girl is Brittany Decker. Pretty girl with dark hair and green eyes. The screen reads: Engineer (works with Gravier Holdings).
I am next.
I swallow and walk up to the bowl, seeing the metallic substance. So strange. I place my hands into the contents and tense, feeling the vibrations.
My cheeks redden as I look at the screen, praying for something good. I always have bad luck, so a change would be nice.
It reads: Granddaughter of Bentley Gaylord Bray (inventor of steam engineering).
Pierce winks at me. “Very wealthy man, your position will be good.”
I sigh in relief.
This is exciting!
The next girl, named Tiffany Powell, sticks her hands in the substance. She is cute with short blond hair and hazel eyes: A guest at The Dahlia. Noble family.
Okay, not bad.
Lastly, Lynn Baker. Her long brown hair is pretty with her hazel eyes, a little short though, like five-foot-nothing. I am not short but not tall either, being 5′6”.
The screen reads: A guest at The Dahlia. Noble family.
We all have decent positions.
Pierce whistles. “All of you will be at The Dahlia. This should be interesting, everyone in the same place.”
I would love a Prince Charming to mend my broken heart. I am now feeling a surge of competitiveness, not wanting to lose. I eye each girl and think that I can beat them; I can play nasty if I want to.
I have been a dancer since I could walk, the competitiveness is in my blood.
No one should mess with a Southern girl.
We are as tough as gunpowder and lead.
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