Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Option

The knuckles hidden beneath the knight's gauntlets were white, much like the breath that escaped his lips in quick succession as though a dwarven smith worked feverishly the bellows within. His heart too seemed part of that forge, pounding like hammer on anvil, the blows resounding in his ears. Held out before him was his great sword, entwining gold dragons blooming from the hilt as pommel guards. He had always fancied the sword thanks to those dragons.

Now, as the great black wyrm rose up, gathering the coils of its body about it, swelling and shimmering obsidian scales, and with teeth each the size of long swords that cracked together while claws clacked upon marble in great chipping assaults, the knight wished he’d never even known the word 'dragon.'

To run was futile. There was no turning one’s back on a beast such as this. The knight would stand his ground. He would mount his feeble offense. Perhaps he might cause the serpent a wound before he was rent in two, before acid reduced him to a bubbling mass of goo upon the hall’s marble floor.

The bold man’s prediction proved accurate. Even as he screamed and rushed the dragon, he was met by a stream of viscous red. Turning his head away, he met the foul creature’s assault with shield. But the steel of the legion was no match for the dragon’s fetid spit. Like boiling water meeting spun sugar, the shield as well as the better portion of his arm evaporated away in a red mist.

The knight fell to his knees. His sword clanked onto the marble. He fought to bring it before him. He could not. The great wyrm opened wide slathering jowls and reared back to take him in whole.

And then the world froze.

A large black tile appeared in the air between them. Upon it were words rendered in gold lettering which read: ‘Resume, New Game, Options, Credits, Quit.’ A golden arrow appeared next and moved over the word ‘Options.’ The tile changed once more and among new words the phrase ‘Immortal Mode’ was chosen followed by ‘Resume.’ The large black tile blinked away then as suddenly as it had appeared.

The knight was restored. Shield and arm both made whole once more. He rose from his knees and roared. His was a mighty voice and the strength of it rippled the air before him causing the creature to wince back in both pain and fear.

The knight rushed. The great wyrm lashed out. Claws were cleaved away as it did. More red spit spewed from its throat. But this time the foul discharge was displaced by shield and armor. This time the knight stepped in and drove his blade until the golden entwined dragons on its hilt were one with the scales over the flailing beast’s pierced heart.

The wyrm withered and fell dead. The large black tile appeared once more above the triumphant knight. This time reading: ‘You Are Victorious! Play Again?’

Monday, March 14, 2011


The old man waited for the mail to arrive this day, same as every day. Not too many days left. The window was closing. It wasn't the mail in general he waited on. He waited, sentry-like on the front stoop, an old soldier prepared for the arrival of one very specific letter. It was almost ten years to the day in coming. No, he calculated as the afternoon waned, this was the tenth anniversary. Oh how apropos if it should arrive today of all days.

The woman who had replaced the man before her brought her little jeep to a gravel grinding halt, skidding up to the weathered tin mailbox like a ballplayer stealing third. The mail went in with a resounding 'thunk' and she and her jeep were off. The man she'd replaced used to wave. No matter. Just something to mutter about in the amble down the drive to the box.

Yes, a letter. Not a bill. Addressed by hand! His wrinkled fingers quivered as he drew it nearer to the thick of his glasses. Ten years to the day! To the day! He knew it would come! And here it was....

No. Not his letter. Wrong address.