A few minutes later, I found myself flat on the forest road. I sat up straight, wondering where I was.
“Daniel?” I called.
The only answer was the tweeting of the birds and the rustling of leaves.
I started breathing heavily. Okay, this was scary. I had just been thrown out of my school’s parking lot and into a mystery place where Daniel wasn’t. I stood up and took in my surroundings. I was in a forest of some kind, surrounded by ginormous fir trees. I grabbed my phone out of my back pocket and tried to dial Daniel, but I had no service. Then I realized something odd. My phone said that it was 9 am even though it was nearly 12 pm back at school.
“Daniel, where are you?” I whispered to myself.
Then I heard a great crash and the whines of horses. They sounded ravenous, and their hooves were coming closer. I glanced around frantically, trying to route an escape, until I finally decided to cling onto the nearest fir tree and climb to the high branches.
What I could see through the branches were two riders, both male and probably a little older than me. They were dressed much differently than me; instead of the yellow hoodie and pink sneakers I had, they were wearing royal garments that looked like they had come straight from a fairytale book.
“Wait up, Philip!” said a male voice. “You’re riding too fast!”
“It’s not my fault you chose to ride the slowest horse in the Moors!” Philip called over his shoulder as the two riders approached my tree.
Suddenly inspired, I swung down from my branch and onto the forest floor.
“WOAH!” said Philip as his horse reared on his hind legs and nearly trampled me. “Where did you come from?”
Both he and his friend gave my outfit odd looks.
“I’m lost,” I improvised once his horse had calmed down. “I was with my brother and then he disappeared.”
Philip and the other boy exchanged confused glances. “Your brother?” said the other boy. He turned to Philip. “Was he the one wearing the odd red garment?”
“And the strange hat?”
“Daniel was wearing a baseball cap,” I offered.
“Is that what you call them?” asked Philip. “Strange. I’ve never heard of them.”
“You’re the ones wearing some royal costumes in 2022!” I said, shaking my head.
“2022?” Philip repeated, raising an eyebrow. “What is that?”
“The year?” I said. “Two-thousand twenty-two?”
“What in the world are you talking about?” Philip’s friend asked me, looking suspicious. “It’s only the 14th Century.”
“It’s—what?” I swayed in my spot. “Huh?”
“Is she okay?” Philip asked his friend.
“I don’t know, maybe we should send her to the doctor.”
I shook my head. This had to be someone’s idea of a practical joke. I needed Daniel. “Where did you see my brother?” I asked.
“Back at the castle. I can take you there if you want,” said Philip.
“Castle?” I nearly choked on my words. “You—you’re a prince?”
“Not a prince, just a royal pain,” said Philip’s friend. “I’m his brother, Andrew.”
“So you’re both princes?” I said, taken aback. “Uh, should I bow or something?”
“Heavens, no,” said Philip, offering me his hand to jump on his horse. “Just Philip, please.”
“Okay then, Philip it is,” I said as the horse took off and we were riding down the forest. “So, are you married?” I asked, wondering when he would become king.
“Uh, yes and no,” Philip said as Andrew laughed.
“Well, my parents arranged for me to marry my childhood friend,” Philip began. “But…I never thought of her like that.”
“I understand,” I said. “My best friend is a guy and I would never think of—” I stopped myself short. I really never had thought of Daniel as anything other than a friend.
“You and Briar have such a sweet connection, though,” Andrew said. “Why wouldn’t she be a perfect wife?”
“Because,” said Philip as his horse slowed. I could see the castle in the distance. “Getting married to Briar feels like incest.”
“Gross!” I said. Then I blushed, remembering that I had just called Daniel my brother.
“Your brother should be around here,” said Philip. “We saw him before we left at the garden.”
As Philip and Andrew went to put their horses back in the stables, I searched for Daniel everywhere, feeling a little like a trespasser. I was confused, lost, and not even sure I was still on planet earth.
Then I heard an very familiar voice.
Author Notes: Stay tuned for part 3!