The Hero's Apprentice

By NixValorian All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Adventure

Ch. 1 Summoning Spell

Walter sat backwards in his uncomfortable chair. Staring at the clock ticking away in the corner of the room. Like other days, he sat for a time thinking about why he was still in his study and not out doing the things he’d always wanted to do. He was getting on in years now, and it seemed that it would still be many years before he would finally get a chance to see a world full of adventure. But here he was, filling his journal with yet another empty entry of what the weather had been, what trivial events he had completed, and what day, month, and year it was. Each line a simple bullet point. No reflections, private thoughts, or a single enthusiastic remark dotted any of the countless pages of historic text that might as well been thrown in the trash cause no child in their right mind would ever find it interesting. But that was Walters’ life up to that point. A giant textbook sized volume of meaningless data. No epiphanies, no insights, and not even a quick and brief happening like falling down the stairs or buying a coke at the convenience store.

It wasn’t that Walter hadn’t tried to lead an interesting life. It was simply that nothing had happened to him, and he had in spite of genuine efforts not gotten anything to happen. Walter had finished school, found a job, and tried to date like everybody else was doing. Only Walter couldn’t learn the things he wanted at school. The job he wanted was not an option, and dating was in his opinion an out dated form of courtship like arranged marriage that was overdue for a replacement fad. Walter knew this story. The one where nothing happens, nothing is recorded, and so it is as if there never was anything to begin with. But Walter had made the best of it. He had broken no laws, no hearts, and no bones. Walter wondered why projects failed, why chances were denied, and why no one in his small but known universe cared to see if he was worth anything more than giving the time of day, or retrieving some object fifty feet away that the voice was too lazy to get themselves. Walter believed he wasn’t alone in his belief that somewhere there was a world that had finally gotten sick of boredom, sick of some ridiculous status quo where everyone ate the same meal each day, and did the same tasks a hundred times in a row before the sun finally went down changing the scenery only long enough for the reset button to be pushed. Walter had spent time looking, searching for this world in books, religions, even fiction, because he knew that the same lessons were contained in a story whether it was titled non-fiction or not. These authors, inventors, explorers, they had found the answer, found some means to escape the awful fate that was now his. Only he had not found it in the prime of youth, he was older now, old enough to teach classes, raise kids, and yet he wasn’t even getting to do that.

Walter had prayed earnestly that this stage would pass, and it had not. He had tried moving countless times, tried different hobbies, and yet the emptiness was still there everyday, and even worse at night when the colors of nature and the sounds of life lessoned. So Walter found himself utterly defeated that evening at his desk. Wondering how he had lost to nothing? Why all the learning in the world, and all the acquired skill of a competent athlete and scholar was still no match for the most simple of circumstances. Loneliness, emptiness, and bored to the point that even death seemed a welcome experience, cause at least there was a chance that it would be spectacular beyond all belief. It was too bad not many people felt that way in the stories though. The clock continued it’s now infernal chant and Walter decided there that he would write a simple warning and that would be the end of that particular journal. He would acquire a blank one the next day and hopefully at least the buying of a new journal would start him in some direction better than the one he had been looping around time and again in a perpetual circle. Walter wrote a page. He wrote flawlessly about how awful life was without fun, without love, without tests to see if life truly was worth living. When he finished he tore it out of the journal and placed it on his desk. He would use it as the bookmark to the new journal he would buy tomorrow morning after a morning run and a healthy breakfast. Walter had a routine, but tomorrow he would have an additional task at hand, and he would continue to add tasks until he got out of this spell of a situation.

Luckily that’s not what happened. For Walter had scarcely risen from his desk to turn in when he vanished without a trace. When the landlord forcibly opened the apartment three days later to complain that the electricity had been on too long, he was confused beyond measure. Walter never left the lights on. Walter was nowhere to be seen. The police investigators eyed the journal entry and puzzled over the date that had scarcely been written. Walter had not missed a day of journal writing, and so it was that Walter Redd was finally seen on the news, posters, and the milk cartons of every child in the state, for about a month. The police presumed it was suicide, citing the journal entry as his final confession. But no body turned up, and for a while, the neighborhood imagined many theories about Walters demise. Aliens, ghosts, you name it. It was one of the reasons that almost nobody wanted to rent Walters apartment. And for ten days, the single solitary journal entry lie still on Walters desk, the only evidence that he had ever existed recently in the world at all.


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