I slammed the book shut. As usual, that one crucial word was missing. It was meant to read ‘and they lived happily in Ever After.’  How was the island meant to recruit new members if no one knew it existed?

Ever After would never be found on a map. Defensive measures had also been taken to ensure no one could find it, on purpose or by accident. Even though the island was impossible to locate, it didn’t mean no-one should at least try to discover it. There was a prophecy after all. It claimed an outsider would find their way in, without invitation. The outsider would bring change and believe me, we needed change.

Living in Ever After came with a few ‘perks’. Inhabitants were immune to aging, though they were not immortal. The moment they left the island, the aging process would resume. Along with most of the others in Ever After, I had lived for centuries. The decline in possible recruits had burdened us with time. Lots and lots of time. We could only leave the island for 72 hours at a time. After that our memories would be wiped and we would forget Ever After. To make sure we didn’t put Ever After at risk we weren’t meant to leave until our replacements had been found.

That one stupid misprint, centuries ago, still haunted us. Of course by the time we realised there was a problem, it was too late. The new ending ‘happily ever after’ had become wildly popular and there was no way to fix it.

As time went by on the island, we became complacent. You couldn’t really blame us though, living this long and being cut off from the rest of the planet had its disadvantages. We slowly lost little bits of our humanity, and our work reflected this. The outside world could feel the effects more than we could. War, murder and all the nasty horrible things happening were mostly our fault. Our hearts and souls were weary and we needed the Outsider. They were our only hope, but even more than that, they held the fate of Earth in their hands.

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