Christopher Barzak‘s novel One for Sorrow is currently being turned into a movie, to be released early next year. This story is from the just-released anthology Glitter and Mayhem, edited by Apex Magazine editors Michael and Lynne Thomas and Electric Velocipede editor John Klima. The story is based on the fairy tale that I have the most ambivalent attitude toward.
I laugh at this memory now. I laugh at how innocent I truly was. How little I knew of what the world had to offer beyond the confines of my father’s kingdom within its place in time and space. What a gas! What a lark! What a blast! What an epic evening! Even that—all of those bits of language—would have been limited to “Quite enjoyable indeed!” prior to my underground dancehall experiences.
Our spooky princes took our hands and drew us out into the crowded dance floor, where all of us began to move in unfamiliar ways. Our hips out, our hands in the air, our hands gripping those warm bare waistlines of our princes even. The song the DJ was playing kept repeating the phrase, Get down like you’re underground, and I backed up against my prince, like I’d seen a woman with pink frizzy hair and a face made up like a geisha do with another woman, who was dressed in a dark pinstriped suit and a bowler hat. My prince put his hands on my waist as I ground against him, slid his fingers down my thighs, and for the rest of the night we did not speak a word. We just danced. As one song slid into another, we just sighed.
At the end of that night, my sisters and I knew we’d return. Despite being covered in a slick of our own sweat, despite our dresses and shoes being hopelessly ruined, we knew we’d go back as soon as we could. So after our underground princes led us back to our boats and poled us across the river to the forests of diamonds and of gold and of silver, Sister One stopped at the bottom of the stone steps that led up to our room and said, “Sisters, if we are to ever visit this place again, we must not speak a word of what we saw and what we did this evening. Understand?”
We all nodded, and one by one we made solemn vows. “I will never ever,” Sister One said, and then Sister Two, and then Sister Three, and then Sister Four, and so on, down the line we pledged, until it came to me, and I completed the previously unspoken end to our sentence: “I will never ever speak a word of this place or what we do within it.”
What happens underground, stays underground.