The clock strikes midnight. Everyone is asleep except Amanda, who’s lying in her bed with her eyes open and the lights off. Ameena lies on the ground as a normal dog, then transforms by doing a front flip to stand on her hind legs. She slides into the bed with Amanda, snuggles up next to her, and licks the back of her neck.
“Hey, what are you doing in my bed? Just because you can talk and stand now doesn’t give you access to my bed,” Amanda grumbles, wiping slobber off the back of her neck.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” Ameena says in a soft, soothing tone.
“I’m not scared of you. I just feel awkward having a dog snuggling me like a human and licking the back of my neck!”
“I’m just showing you how much I like you. I know you’re not scared of me, but everything else I told you has you frightened.”
“No… I mean, yeah. I’m not a hero. I’m not even an adult yet. Being a hero is not on the list of things I want to be when I grow up. Plus, it doesn’t pay well—probably nothing.”
“You’re not a hero yet, but you will be.”
“Heroes live a short life saving people who don’t deserve it. That’s not the life for me.”
“Being afraid of something isn’t going to get rid of the problem, you know. Only facing it will. This world will need you one day. Everything may be fine now, but trust me, things will get bad. It always does. My first acolyte lived a short life. Died at the age of twenty-five by sacrificing himself to save the world from getting destroyed. My second one died of old age, but not before he saved the world from being enslaved. History seems to repeat itself, so it’s only a matter of time before it’s your turn. Hopefully not any time soon, though. We would probably lose.”
“So, you’re telling me there are acolytes out there who can destroy planets? Oh, no!” Amanda covers her head with her blanket. “Hero is definitely not the job for me. Who keeps assigning acolytes of truth to be the heroes of the world? I’m sure there are others out there who are more than capable of saving the world.”
Ameena goes under the blanket with Amanda. “Fate assigns you not as a hero, but as the savior. Without you, this world will fall into complete darkness, or mankind will barely exist, making this world a wasteland, or it will simply be destroyed. But you can stop that. The thing is, you can run, but you can’t hide. Whether you’re prepared or not, trouble will find you, and so will the acolyte that’s a threat to the world.”
“What acolyte is it?” Amanda asks.
“No one knows. Only a fool would tell others what type of acolyte they are.”
“What? Is this acolyte looking for me right now? Does he or she know that the acolyte of truth is the one that keeps defeating them? Look, I’d rather go to college than do that. The world will continue to grow and thrive without me, just like it’s been doing. Our guns are probably a lot bigger and badder than the last time you were here, so the world will be fine. I’ll be fine. Hopefully, that acolyte is dead already.” Amanda hears her dog snoring behind her ear. “Well, thanks for nothing. You’ve added to my stress. Bad dog!”
Ameena begins to growl.
“I mean, good dog. Good dog.”
Ameena stops growling.
“Leyna, bring me there,” Amanda says. She closes her eyes and awakes in darkness, then goes through a door leading into the white void.
“Welcome back. It was getting boring in here,” Leyna says, walking up and greeting Amanda.
“How did you bring me here?”
“There’s no fancy explanation to it. I just snatch your consciousness and bring it here.”
“Okay, well, I’m ready to do some training!” Amanda summons her guns.
“I don’t care what you want. You messed that offer up. Now, I want something in exchange for training you. I want to taste ice cream.”
“How am I supposed to bring ice cream in here? That’s impossible.”
“It’s simple; we just switch places. You sit in here while I roam around for a bit in your world.” A red button falls from the sky. “I’ve created this handy-dandy red button here. When we switch places and you’re in this realm, just tap this red button here. Then, you’ll be in control again. And don’t worry, I won’t change places with you until you want me to. And I’ll be able to hear you when you speak, and vice versa. Just say ‘switch’ whenever you’re ready to swap places.”
“This is ridiculous. All I want to do is train, so I’m not killed. Now you’re making things hard. What am I supposed to do in here while you’re out there and I’m in here?”
“That’s easy: practice, relax, look at your world from a different perspective. There are a ton of things you can learn from being in here. We can treat this like a trust exercise.”
“Okay, fine. We can’t do it now because there’s nothing open. We can do it tomorrow after that meeting if we’re not dead.”
“You have yourself a deal.” Leyna sticks out her hand, and Amanda shakes it.
“Alright, so I just think of a bullet and fire?” Amanda asks.
“You are correct.”
“Alright, here goes nothing.” I want you to create an explosion on impact, Amanda thinks at the gun, then addresses Leyna again, “Hey can I fire at you for practice?”
“Sure. Give me your best shot.” Leyna backs away a few feet.
Amanda fires her gun, and a rose-gold bullet comes out. When it gets close to Leyna, it evaporates. “Hey, why didn’t it explode?”
“Because it would have killed me if it did, and like I said before, you can’t kill anyone with your bullets. If you try to, your bullet will evaporate like that, and nothing will happen. Think outside the box. Pretend I’m your enemy and I’m coming to kill you. What’s one way you could immobilize me? Remember, these bullets don’t make contact with people, and whatever you think of will happen a few inches away from your target. Now, hit me with your best thought.” Leyna extends her arms, welcoming a shot from Amanda.
“Alright, here goes nothing.” Cloud of pepper. Amanda shoots her gun, and when the bullets is inches away from Leyna, it bursts into a cloud of pepper.
Leyna starts sneezing. “My eyes are burning. That was good. What would you do if that had no effect on your enemy?”
Amanda pretends to run away. “Probably that.”
“Don’t give up! I like your thought process. That was definitely creative and would have stopped someone in their tracks. Let’s keep going, don’t stop now!”
“Right! Get ready, because here comes more!” Amanda readies her guns.