05.22Hey, Look! I Wrote A Thing!
As a warm-up before I start doing some proper writing, I wrote out what follows below. It’s nothing great and was attempted with little ambition. Just something to get the fingers dancing around the keyboard again. It seems like it might be somewhat allegorical, but that wasn’t the intent. Should it actually mirror anything in my personal life, it’s purely coincidence.
So, anyway. Here’s a thing.
He stared ahead, trying to make sense of the blank, dull wall in front of him. He reached out and touched it tentatively, as if it might be intensely hot or electrified. But it was neither. It was quite nothing, in fact, aside from roughly the same temperature as the room. The wall was smooth and bare and held no evidence as to the fact he’d just come through it.
Only moments ago he’d been racing through the palace at the top of the mountain, the artifact intended to save the entire kingdom held under his arm with precious care. He had placed it onto the Altar of Hope, creating a brilliant explosion of color and light, eradicating the misshapen army of the Underneath once and for all. But that was moments ago.
Now he was on his bedroom floor, surprisingly dry (it had been raining in the palace, you see) and no longer smelling like ammonia from the blood of the fearcats he’d slain. He was just…there. And confused.
He tried to stand up, but his legs wobbled. He braced himself on the bed, remembering doing very much the same some time ago when the Randarg had floored him with its great hammer (before he realized the Randarg’s weakness behind its ears and dispatched it, naturally). But here the walls didn’t glow with the light of a million luminescent beetles. Here the walls were painted off-white and didn’t seem to writhe when stared at. Here the walls were just walls.
Finally on his feet, he stood in the center of the room, taking it in. It all felt incorrectly normal. He was sure he’d been in the kingdom for years of planning and fighting and saving the world. But everything here, in what should feel like home, seemed exactly the same as when he’d left. He picked up the cell phone he’d left on his nightstand and saw the charge was full and he’d missed no calls. He tossed it gently onto the bed as he’d so recently tossed the small Fair Duchess down from the Little Towers to her freedom waiting below. He had, right?
After a quick walkthrough of his unimpressive apartment, he returned to the wall he had crawled through as he slipped out before the celebrations could begin and he was to be named king. He dropped to his knees and pressed his ear against it, waiting to hear the whoops and hollers of freedom that mark the death of oppression. He heard the washer and dryer running in the apartment next door.
Only briefly did the thought come to him that perhaps he’d made it all up. That his overtaxed brain had simply disengaged for a while and he’d either hallucinated or dreamed everything. But he looked at his hands, which felt stronger. He felt prouder, more accomplished. The feel of the Steady Armor on his back and the grip of the Darksword burning his hands before his pure intentions cooled its heat. He remembered it all. Every victory, every loss. He remembered his tears soaking into his coarse beard scruff when the queen fell to her death and the anger that followed. He could recall everything. What it was, how it felt and how each step forward had changed him.
But the wall didn’t remember. Or his clothes. Or the fact he no longer had any beard scruff to speak of. He stood in the middle of his adventureless room for a long time, listening and waiting. But all he heard was the sound of the air conditioning unit clicking on and off. And he was apparently waiting for nothing.
He laid himself across his bed, on top of the covers. Staring at the ceiling (and not the multicolored stars and near planets of the kingdom), he realized he had truly returned. That everything had certainly happened and that all he’d felt and learned and suffered was as true as anything can be. And yet somehow it hadn’t. He had returned from nowhere stronger and better and smarter and sadder.
Again he regarded the ceiling. Folding his hands across his chest, he quietly spoke to it.
“So what happens now?”