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Apple like no other

By Storycollector

Children / Fantasy

Apple like no other

Apple like no other

The real world, summer1966, California

Little Steve enjoys these summer holidays. He rides his bike, plays with his friends, swims with them in the pool and sometimes they explore the town and its surroundings together, sometimes Steve goes alone.

His hair still a bit wet from the last swimming he rode on his shimmering bike through the town. He was in the neighbourhood near the part of town where he has lived with his adoptive parents when something caught his attention.

Every time he rode through the street, he looked at the numbers written on the houses and every time the line ended with a house with a number 42 on it. Only this time there was one two story house too many. The number on the building was overgrown with some creeping plant. The boy frowned, it can't be, houses don't grow overnight.

Steve rode to the fence where he left his bike and sneaked to the house. His curiosity overrode his good manners. The boy found a window that was easy to open even and Steve being slender and nimble didn't take long to get inside. Once he got there, he took a moment to listen for any signs of the owner of the house approaching. Then he relaxed a bit and started to explore his surroundings. He was prepared to find something unusual but his discoveries were so far disappointing.

The room looked like any other middle class living room. Television, sofa, bookshelves, table. He was just about to turn his back to the furniture when he noticed something. On the table lay a lean, smooth object. The boy came closer to take a look at such oddity. It was a slim dark plate from a hard but light material. The boy turned that unknown thing over. On the backside was engraved a picture, maybe a symbol for something. Our boy has immediately recognized a silhouette of an apple but one side was zigzagged as if someone has begun to eat that piece of fruit already.

It didn't do anything at all. At first. But as the child was turning it over and over, he must have pushed a button and the object lit up with a bluish glow. On the board's display appeared several colourful pictures. Tapping at few of them showed the curious boy various things like photos, maps and even a record of a sports event Steve watched on television the other day. He would like to discover what else can that weird slab do but suddenly he heard voices. He slid behind a chair in front of the tv and prayed that the house inhabitants won't catch him sneaking around their home.

In came two middle aged men. Little Steve has taken only few careful peeks from his hideout but even so he could see that the men were similar in appearance with only few differences. Could these two be relatives? Anyway they looked like humans, talked like born and raised Americans with no foreign accent and wore well-tailored suits.

The stouter one took the thin square plate into his hands and began examining it. After scanning the backside with his eyes he spoke up: "An apple someone took a bite from? Are you serious?"

"Yes, she likes them so why not," answered the bearded one. "Yes, but..." "Besides it's important for her story so you can't complain about it being irrelevant."

"It's not about that. I find it strongly distasteful to remind someone that she was poisoned, with her favourite food no less," grouched the first one.

They were talking about the last Snow White and the upgraded magic mirror they have constructed. They truly were siblings and they called themselves Grimms like the German professors of linguistics.

The second one took an examining look at his companion. They were closer than anyone could imagine and they knew secrets no one else would understand. Whenever one of them was upset the other one has noticed it immediately. The blond one has fidgeted with the cuffs on his suit. Then he made a few steps towards his sibling and laid his hand on his brother's shoulder: "You are still upset about what I have said earlier."

At first his brother didn't say anything, gradually his expression changed from a frown to a weary one: "About you wanting to throw years – no, hundreds of years – of our work out of the window. Do you expect me to rejoice after hearing something like that?" He stopped for a moment before he continued: "We had avowed to help them as much as we will be capable of. This oath applies for the Storians and this world equally."

The stories were true. All of them happened exactly the way they were written. They were happening out of the mortals' reach though. No more than a handful of beings were given the gift of being able to go through the boundary between the two dimensions. Two of which were having a conversation in a living room with a boy behind their chair. Although not all stories, not even the fairy tales, ended always happily.

"As much as we can, yes, I just ask myself if we are doing the right things," whispered his one year younger sibling.

The second one, the one with a moustache, has finally put down the weird slab and stood up. Maybe a bit too forcefully, he realised in retrospect. "They are trying to imitate them. The good examples, I must say," he turned to his sibling and friend, "when we opened the school, the education quotas in this world have risen as well."

Giles laughed wistfully: "They imitate them, yes, and then they proceed to write a story full of violence and hatred and follow that one just as diligently."

His brother Milton has looked deep in his eyes, clasping his sibling's shoulders with his hands. He was looking for support that they were giving each other those many years before: "Isn't this a reason good enough to justify continuing with our work?"

His brother Giles let his glance wander to the floor to avoid any eye contact: "You can't force anyone to sacrifice for someone they don't know."

His brother snarled: "Interesting. You didn't say that when we were building the school." Then his eyes and face softened significantly: "They wouldn't have to relive the stories of the previous generations if the Earthlings lived longer and, what's more, had better memory."

There, on the opposite side of the Veil of Imagination, diverse kinds of stories were happening and this fact brought along a very contrastive flowing of time. Places exist where the time doesn't fly at all or it runs twice as fast as on Earth.

The fairy tale characters lived their stories, lived happily ever after and then had their own children. These, too, lived their own stories. In many cases, albeit with little differences sometimes, their story was a copy of the tale their parents went through.

The idea of the Grimm Brothers – Milton and Giles – was to build a school for the characters of fairy tales to teach them how to successfully accomplish the quests of their respective stories. Due to this plan new and new generations of mortals on Earth have been introduced to Snow White, Cinderella and others, allowing fairy tales to go on like before.

On the other hand, for a considerable number of Characters it meant going through less than positive life events. Death of their parents, getting lost in endless woods or kidnappings were only few of countless examples. However, if the fairytales hadn't happen over and over again, the mortals would have forgotten them.

That's why the brothers decided to help to improve their lives however they could, even if it meant doing relatively small things.

When the brothers contemplated new ways how to change the storyworlds for the better, it dawned on them that the solution is right under their noses. The Witches and sorcerers! They are able to use mirrors for a wide range of activities. In their case you can't keep talking about ordinary mirrors anymore, of course. The spell casters are able due to their reflective tools to foretell the future, observe the past or in the very least communicate with each other over insanely long distances.

A single drop of magic blood and people are capable of doing all these tricks. Wouldn't it be wonderful to enable those who would never be able to get access to magic doing these things themselves? The ordinary non-story humans have come up with so many inventions already – the telephone, the camera, the television. Why can't there be a way how to connect all these functions into one machine?

What's more spells used to keep the mirrors working didn't need any special ingredients like chicken legs or newt eyes. That was important, the mirrors had to be simple to use and to repair. That was the goal of the Grimm Brothers. That's how the Mirrorpads and Mirrorphones were born. Those tools were working even in those storyworlds where the natural laws were unfriendly to other kinds of technology.

Two such Mirrorpad prototypes were produced for personal usage and for trying out new applications. Later, when the inventors were sure the improved mirrors work well enough, they began to produce magical technology for their friends and co-workers. If the fairy talers will take a liking to their new appliances they will start with the mass production of mirror pads and phones. One of the first to ever use a Grimm's Mirrorpad was Snow White.

Giles lifted his head slowly and looked into the same bright green eyes as were his own. His sibling elaborated: "Remember all the things we've accomplished together."

The mortals, those living in the reality, were forgetful and each and every generation had to discover the truths of life for itself anew. Despite this vicious circle, this endless, useless fight, there always emerged someone who understood what the other side tried to tell speaking with a voice of ageless tales.

That beauty isn't everything. That on a way to fulfilling a dream and during life in general one has to be clever, brave and of kind heart. That you may meet hindrances on your journey but they can be overcome with good friends and strong will.

Years ago the brothers had promised to stay each other's best friend and that promise lasted for so long...

"We've always watched each other's back," Giles said aloud what his brother has been thinking about. Then he added mentally: "Maybe it's time for each of us to take a different path."

Unaware of this last thought his older brother has patted him on his back in order to show his younger brother support. "We will talk about this again later."

Then both of them left the room.

As soon as the door closed behind them Steve has jumped out of his hideout. The boy didn't understand the meaning of the discussion between those two men but the memory of that gleaming tablet with moving pictures will be haunting him forever.

Author's note: It's another glimpse into the past of both worlds - Reality and Unreality - and the brothers Milton and Giles Grimm.

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