After the Fantasy

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


What happens after a hero saves the world? Should they continue on? What is the reward the nameless hero who fights?

Submitted: September 09, 2017

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Submitted: September 09, 2017

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After the Fantasy

 

Part 1

“My hero, thanks to you we’ve been saved!”

“No. It’s thanks to everyone here! Nicolai, Darien, Whimly and Cross, it’s thanks to you all, my friends…and…I sadly must go.”

“Go?! My hero, you can’t! You saved the entire kingdom – no, the entire world of Auhliem!”

“This is not my world, princess. I must return home.”

“But…but my hero…I love you! You cannot leave, after everything we’ve been through together! You saved my father, vanquished the fiend Dugallus, and ended the thousand year war between the tree people of Mushi and the colonist of Tanjuu, and most importantly of all you slayed the Demon Queen Likavera and her dragon, Sun Eater! Is there any reason to return home? Stay here, with me! You’ll become a king. People will sing songs of your name as the greatest hero to have ever lived!”

“No… I have things back home, that I must do. People are waiting for my return. I wish I could stay, but this…is not where I belong.”

“Oh my hero…at least give me a kiss goodbye.”

“…No…I’m sorry. There is another. I must go. This is…goodbye.”

Part 2

“Billy! Honey, come down and get breakfast!” An older woman called up the stairs of her two story house to the lazy son that laid in bed unmoving. She shuffled up to her son’s room trying to not exert herself. Entering the lazy man – Billy’s room, she pulled the covers off of his head.

“Huh? Oh, mom. Sorry, I was just…you know…”

“Billy, come down stairs and get breakfast.”

“William – Mother, please.” Billy, or as he preferred William, followed his mother down to the breakfast table. Before him sat an average breakfast which consisted of eggs, sausages and toast. William looked at his food feeling a little displeased; not because of the lack of quality, but more because of the way he was given it. He didn’t have to work for it, or hunt, or even pay for the food. It was just given to him.

“Aren’t you hungry?”

“…Yeah.” Begrudgingly William ate his food. All the while thinking back to no less than one week ago when he wasn’t just some john off the streets – he was a hero, and not just any hero, but a hero who’d saved an entire world.

William finished his food and aimed to return to his room, but his mother intervened. “Billy, where are you going?”

“Uh…bed?”

“No, no, no. I think…you should go outside.”

“I don’t really feel like it. Haven’t even set foot outside since I got back.”

“Which is why I called your brother.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“Bret will be here soon.”

“Aww, Mom! I’m not…”

A sudden knock came from the door. Upon William’s mother opening it a little girl with hair as black as night rushed in grabbing the elderly woman’s legs with a hug. “Grandma!” The child exclaimed, her long dark pig tails swaying from side to side. Following the little girl was a tall handsome man with brown hair and skin just as pale as the little girls’.

“Tamara, be careful! You don’t want to knock Grandma over.” The man pulled the young girl – Tamara away from her grandmother. “Hi Mom.” He gave his mother a warm and heartfelt hug. “Hey Bro!” He walked over and extended his hand to William, to which he responded with a handshake.

“Hey Bret.” This left William feeling a bit dejected, but he tried not to read into it.

“I’m so happy that you’re safe! So, Mom tells me that you’re going to be joining us today on our trip to the park! Aren’t you happy to get to play with Uncle Billy today, Tamara?” Bret spoke to his daughter in a soft tone. She looked at her Uncle William; his fierce eyes, gruff stature, and physique built like a warrior frightened the tiny girl. To her, this uncle looked like a big, scary monster. She backed behind the leg of her father gripping tightly for security. “Don’t worry. She’ll warm up to you soon.”

William didn’t really mind his niece’s awkwardness. He grabbed a jacket hanging near the door and put it on leaving Bret, Tamara and his mother still inside the house.

“Please be patient with him, honey. He was missing for two whole years, and he’s started to fill in the missing time with…these stories.” William’s mother pleaded with her youngest son. He responded with a warm smile, a kiss to the forehead and a wave goodbye as he grabbed his daughter’s hand.

“Don’t worry, Mom. He’ll be fine.”

Part 3

William’s eyes stung from the bright, gray cloudy sky. He shuttered from the cold weather as he sat on a park bench next to his younger brother, Bret. Bret tapped away on his smart phone sending messages and e-mails to people. William looked off towards the children running about and playing on the playground equipment.

“Okay…right…goodbye. Esh! How you doing Billy?” Bret finished a phone call and attempted to engage with his stoic older brother. Said stoic older brother didn’t make eye contact, but sighed and relented.

“I’m fine, for the most part.”

“I see. Have you…uh…”

“Have I ‘remembered’ anything? Is that what you were going to ask?”

“Yeah. I did mean to…”

“You don’t need to hold back with me. I know you all think I’m crazy.”

“It’s not that I think you’re crazy, okay? I think whatever happened…must’ve been traumatic.”

“You know what? Never mind. Let’s drop it there.”

“I’m sorry. We’ll drop it. How’s the job hunt going?”

“…I thought we were going to drop it?”

“I’m just making conversation! I haven’t seen my older brother in nearly two years!”

“Yeah, yeah. I haven’t found anything, okay?”

“What about the ones that Mom set up for you?”

“You mean the retirement home? No thanks.”

“You can’t be picky. Look, I’m going to be honest with you here for a second. Mom can’t support the both of you off her retirement alone. Eventually you’ll need to find a job.”

“Heh…and here I thought this was supposed to be a day at the park.”

“I’m sorry, it’s just you’ve got to have some sense of urgency.”

“Believe me; I know more about taking care of myself and others better than you could imagine.”

“Right…” Bret stood up from his seat. “I need to go to the bathroom. Watch Tamara.” He walked off leaving William on the bench alone.

William watched his niece playing alone in the sandbox. The other children weren’t avoiding her – in fact the children seemed to want to play with her, especially the little boys as she was dressed cutely in her almost all pink ensemble. However popular she was, Tamara was shooing people away from her; rather aggressively. She was playing with the sand and appeared to have found something. Intrigued by what his adorable, young niece, William went walked over to Tamara with a smile.

“Uh…Hey, Tamara.” A very awkward smile sprawled itself across William’s face. Tamara looked at her uncle and then covered her sandcastle. “What you got there?”

“Nothing…” She replied bluntly. William scratched his head a bit trying to think of something to say.

“Oh! I know!” Suddenly an idea came to him. “Do you want to hear a story?”

“No.”

“Uh…” The second blunt response from the little girl was immediately disheartening for William. “W-Well it’s a cool fantasy story…you see, Uncle William…was once a hero!”

 “…”

“…” Uncomfortable silence occupied the air. “I…I…Uh…”

“…What did you do…to become a hero?”

“Oh! I…haha!” William openly laughed which Tamara misinterpreted as him laughing at her; so she pouted and punched him in the knee. “Sorry, sorry. Well, Uncle William used to be a hero in a place called Auhliem. It was a beautiful place. I got to stay in a palace, eat with a princess and even fly through the skies on a boat!”

“Really? Did you fight any monsters!?”

“Yup! I fought against Dugallus! A really, really big fiend – a big bad…troll thing…”

“I know what a fiend is! I saw one in my game!”

“Oh…what kind of games are you letting her play, Bret?” William said under his breath. Then he resumed his story. “The purple monster’s belly was even bigger than me. Everywhere in his lair gave off the smell of a bleached trash can. With his twisted horns and horse like legs, he would terrorize the small town near his dwelling. He carried his giant club that was never cleaned, so you could still see pieces of people on it.” It didn’t hit the enthusiastic storyteller until just then, but he was telling this to a little girl. However to his surprise, young Tamara looked more and more interested as the story continued.

“How’d you beat him!?”

“Thanks to my friends, Nicolai and Whimly! Nicolai was great with a bow. He could shoot the wings off of a bee at more than one hundred feet! And Whimly was the best fencer in the whole kingdom. She was a beautiful woman with long blonde hair. She was also the first ever girl to become the kingdom’s knight captain!”

“Wow! She sounds really cool!”

“She was! If it weren’t for her taking out Dugallus’s ankles we’d have been done for sure!”

“What else happened then!? Is there more!?”

“Haha…I haven’t even told you about the Mushi, they were people made from trees!”

“Cool! My teacher told me that if I plant an acorn then I could grow a tree.”

“Wow! I bet the Mushi would’ve loved you for helping them make more of themselves. Because, they were fighting against the Tanjuu. The Tanjuu wanted to cut down all the trees and the Mushi along with them.”

“Did you stop them?”

“Of course! Your Uncle William wasn’t just a hero…he was the greatest hero the world had ever seen! I made them sit down and discuss how to work through their problems.”

“That’s boring. You mean, you didn’t fight at all?”

“Uh – well, you see…I also made a new friend from the Mushi! Cross! His name was Cross! He was over twelve feet tall! That’s almost two of me tall! His hair were made of vines and moss. There was also a cute little squirrel that lived in his hair named Twigly. He really liked Whimly and if I’m remembering right, he stayed with her when we finished our journey. But before anything else, let me tell you about my rival…”

“Hey!” Bret ran up to his daughter and brother, currently in the process of becoming friendly carrying drinks in his arms. “I see you two are getting along.”

“Yeah, Uncle William was telling me of when he was a hero!”

“Oh…” Bret looked at William with some pity which he immediately picked up on. “Well, that’s nice honey. What do you have there?” Bret pointed towards whatever Tamara had hidden behind her.

“N-Nothing…” She replied skittishly.

“Come on now…Tamara.”

“…” Tamara remained silent despite her father’s questioning.

“Come on, Tamara. I want to see what it is too.” Tamara relented when her Uncle William asked to see the mysterious item. She pulled out a small bird. It was hidden in her sand castle and seemed that it couldn’t fly.

“I think he’s hurt.”

“No, he’s fine.” William placed his hands under Tamara’s and she passed the bird to him. There was a tree a very short distance from the sandbox. The tall man walked over to it seeing a nest, reached up and placed the small bird into it. “There was a lot of wind earlier. I bet a sudden gust blew the poor guy over here.”

“Will he be okay?”

“I’m sure he will.” William patted his sweet niece’s head and grabbed one of the drinks from Bret.

“Right, I’m sure he will sweetie. Look, we need to go. I got called in to work, so I’m going to take you home and drop off Tamara to her babysitter.”

“Why not just leave her with me and Mom? We can watch her.”

“Uhh…no. I don’t want to stress Mom out. Come on, sweetie. Back to the car.” Bret grabbed Tamara’s hand and walked towards the car. William sighed and followed suit.

They sat in Bret’s expensive, black, sports utility vehicle listening to the radio play as they drove back to their Mother’s house. No one was talking, but it was obvious that Tamara wanted William’s attention as she kept trying to get out of her children’s car seat. She used a toy that sat in the back to poke William’s shoulder.

“Hm? What’s up Tamara?” William turned his head and asked with a soft voice and warm smile.

“You didn’t finish your story!” The little girl, now fully engaged in the story, urged her uncle to continue.

Bret sighed and chimed in. “You should tell her the truth, Billy.” That statement made William cut his eyes over to Bret with anger. “Tamara, Uncle Billy was making that all up.”

“…but he said it was real…”

“He just wanted to get along with you, right Billy?”

The condescending tone that Bret had taken annoyed William. “…I never said it wasn’t real.”

“See!” That annoyed Bret intensely, which William took pleasure in, noticing his younger brother furrow his brow.

“Alright, my rival…I think that’s where we were. So, his name was Darien. Even though he was shorter than me, with his snow white hair, blood red eyes and curved blade sword; his presence was always felt when he was in a room. We didn’t get along at first, but after a few months, we finally got over our disagreements. We…also had a few sword fights here and there.”

“You had sword fights?”

“Yup! My sword was almost as big as me. A special type of blue-purplish metal called serpenite was used to make it. Darien was actually the one to give me the sword. He gave it to me, so that I could fight against his mother… Likavera the Demon Queen and the monstrous dragon, Sun Eater! They called him Sun Eater, because of how big he was. Whenever he flew over a town or the kingdom, he would block the entire sun. The Demon Queen…she was…beautiful…and terrifying.”

“Alright, that’s enough. We’re here.” The story was stopped abruptly with Bret pulling up to their mother’s house. Tamara groaned audibly when her now beloved Uncle William exited the car.

“Don’t worry, Tamara. You can come see me anytime. Just ask your daddy.” She nodded in response to those reassuring words. As Uncle William walked towards the house he heard the car door open and close behind him. Bret followed him to the front door. “Should you be leaving Tamara in the car alone?”

“Doesn’t matter. I’ll make this quick. Look, I’m going to need you to stop telling Tamara those stories.”

“She seems to like them. I don’t see the problem.”

“I don’t want to fill her head with…nonsense. I know, and you know that all of that isn’t real; and with you presenting it as fact to her, she’ll believe it.”

William glared at his younger, shorter brother who was chastising him as if he were a child or inferior in some way. “If you don’t want her thinking about this stuff, then why does she have video games about it?”

“Those are things that her bitc— her mother…buys for her without my permission. I want her to grow up, and have normal friends and be successful. Not be some…some…”

“Some kind of weirdo, like her uncle? Don’t worry, people normally grow out of things they liked when they were kids. Do you remember when Dad used to have us play baseball, and you hated it so much that you would try to sleep with the window open to catch a cold just so you didn’t have to play? I do.  Funny thing is, I noticed a lot of baseball stuff in your car.”

“…Goodbye, William. Tell Mom I said take care, and that I love her.” Bret walked off in a huff, leaving his brother concerned about their relationship.

William entered the house and walked over to his mother who sat on the couch watching television. “Hey Mom, those job offers…they still open?”

Part 4

“Will, man are you okay?”

“Just spacing out, Chuck. Ms. Mildred wanted me to wheel her outside for some fresh air. I'm going to take her to the restaurant near the station. I'm sure she’ll have fun there.” William entered into a warmly lit and beautifully furnished room. Unopened fruit baskets, still wrapped presents and pictures of younger people crowded the elderly woman who sat in a wheelchair in the middle of the sizable room. She greeted William at his arrival with a smile.

“Hello William. Have you decided where we’re going today?” The elderly woman spoke in such a soft voice that it was almost inaudible. William knew how lightly the woman spoke so, he knew he’d need to strain his ears just to hear her.

“There’s a café near the station Miss Mildred. I thought you’d like to visit it before the sun goes down.”

“I’d love to!” William stepped behind Mildred’s wheelchair and began pushing her out of the retirement home. The café wasn’t very far and along the way Mildred and William had a conversation making the walk feel shorter. Once they arrived at the café William went to get them something to drink, but on his way back to the table he bumped into a beautiful young woman.

“Oh…hi Billy…” The woman, obviously knew him and wasn’t very happy to see him. She looked away, avoiding eye contact.

“Hello, Wendy. What are you doing here?” William spoke calmly.

“I’m…sitting over there with a friend.” She pointed over towards a table near the window of the small café. A well-dressed, handsome man sat reading a book at one of the tables.

“That’s nice, I’m with a friend too.” William pointed over to Mildred and she waved at him happily. Wendy looked confused at the old woman’s gesture. “Now, if you’ll excuse me.”

“Please wait. Can’t we at least talk?”

“Nothing left to talk about. You left me while I was gone. End of story.”

“No. You know it wasn’t that simple! I thought you were dead. Do you know how hard that was for me?”

“I lost you, I lost my job, I lost my apartment, all of my possessions…you want to talk about something being hard on you?”

“We dated…for five years. You just disappeared for two years without saying a word!”

“This conversation is over. You’re making a scene, and I’ve got someone waiting for me. Goodbye, Wendy.” Wendy stomped away in a huff. William, while walking back to his seat with Mildred stopped and looked back.

“An ex?” The elderly woman said as William sat down at the table. She began sipping the tea William brought her.

The warm sun on the back of William’s neck gave him an excuse to look back at his ex-girlfriend’s table. She’d left along with her companion. A sigh of relief made Mildred even more curious as to the disposition of her lunch partner. “Yes. We were probably going to get married…until I went…missing.”

“I’ve heard the stories on television, but not from you. Will you tell me about it?”

“Well…”

“Uncle William!!” The familiar voice of a young girl rang familiar to William. When he turned in his seat, he was met with a hug from his niece. Behind her stood a woman who looked like an older version of Tamara; obviously her mother.

“Hey, Kid. Hello…uh…”

“Terra. It’s nice to meet you, William.” Everything from her black hair to her pale skin looked exactly like Tamara, except she had the same green eyes as her father. A pin in the shape of a broadsword crossing a shield on the young woman’s backpack caught the former hero’s eye.

“Why don’t you sit down?” William stood and pulled out chairs for his niece and her mother then sat back down.

“Uncle William, can you keep telling me about your adventures? The other times I came to grandmas’, Daddy wouldn’t let me hear. Tell me now!” Tamara got more forceful once she’d gotten used to her uncle. She wanted to hear the continuation of William’s epic. He sighed and glanced over to her mother.

“Tamara keeps telling me about you being some kind of hero. She swears up and down that it’s true. Would you mind telling us about it?” William relented with a sigh then began reciting the tales of his heroism. Despite his earlier disposition, as he continued the story Mildred and Terra became more enthralled with his supposed heroics and feats of daring making him a bit happy. The alleged former adventurer finally reached the climax of his story.

“We finally stood before the Demon Queen herself. She wore a long black dress and a purple gemstone on her forehead. Her white hair and blood red eyes looked exactly like Darien’s. The gemstone gave her the power to raise the dead, so we had to fight off hordes of zombies at the same time as we fought Sun Eater and Likavera. The battle went on for almost an hour.”

“A whole hour of fighting?” The young mother, Terra interjected, now visibly on the edge of her seat.

“Yup!” William replied, puffing out his chest proudly. “After we took down all of the undead, we fought Likavera and Sun Eater. The normally pitch black scales of Sun Eater changed to a strong gold when inside. It was a long fought battle, but we started to get the upper hand when Darien and I attacked cutting down Sun Eater. As we were prepared to put an end to it, I raised my sword, but Darien stopped me. I thought he wanted to protect his mother, but then he raised his own sword and struck down the Demon Queen. Darien didn’t say anything, and simply walked out of the room. I could tell that he was heartbroken, but felt like it was his duty. The long walk back to the kingdom was almost totally silent. I remember waking up in the middle of the night before we got back and seeing Darien looking up into the sky. He asked me something, he said ‘Do you think there’s an afterlife for my people?’. I don’t even know if there is an afterlife for us.”

The sad note that William ended on left everyone at the table silent; except for Tamara. “What happened next!?”

“Uh…when we got back to the kingdom there was a huge parade! They welcomed us back like heroes. Everything, from people cheering in the streets to being brought in by a horse drawn carriage! I met with the princess and she thanked me and…asked me to stay…but I refused, because I had things back here I wanted to finish.” The sun began to set behind William’s head. He could feel the cold night begin to roll in. “I guess…that’s it. I need to take you back now, Mildred.”

“Aww…that can’t be how it ended!” The little girl was very upset with the non-storybook like ending. Terra grabbed her hand.

“Come on, Tamara. Thank your Uncle for finishing the story.” She complied with her mother and thanked William. He smiled in return, but felt a bit sad that he wasn’t able to tell her a better ending. “Thanks William. It was so nice to finally get to meet you. I know…Bret doesn’t really like to talk about me because he finds me weird.”

“Bah…he’s always been like that. I don’t think you’re weird at all! Oh, and before I forget that pin on your bag, it’s really cool.” Terra blushed and smiled as she and her daughter left the café.

William began to wheel Mildred back to the retirement home. “William?”

“What is it, Mildred?”

“Was all of that true?”

“…Would you believe me if I told you that it was?”

“…I would, yes.”

“Then, yeah. It was all true.”

Part 5

After dropping Mildred off back at the retirement home William walked the streets. He aimlessly shuffled about, lost in thought. Once he’d realized he’d been pacing, he stopped into a bar and got a drink. The clock ticked by slowly as more people came in and then left. It wasn’t until the bartender called out to William that he noticed that everyone else was gone and that it was three in the morning. The bartender made him leave and as the door to the establishment slammed shut William’s phone buzzed. A message from Bret that read: Stay away from my Daughter! Your delusions are infecting her and making MY life harder! I don’t care what nonsense you’ve told yourself about your amnesia or whatever the doctors called it, you weren’t a hero and the reason the world moved on without you was because you didn’t give anyone any reason not to!!

William snickered, then he started to grip his phone tightly until it was crushed. He was able to hold back tears, but the words his brother said to him rang true to some degree. “That asshole! What does he know. He can’t even keep his own family together!” William kicked a trash can sending it flying. As he was starting to blow off steam a shriek came from an alley close by. The former hero instinctively ran to see what was happening. In the alley sat a man ripping the clothes off a bruised and beaten woman. The sight sickened William, as he lunged toward the unknown man who tried to defend himself, however William punched him so hard that the man was blown out of the other side of the alley. He bent down to check on the woman.

“Are you okay?” William, finally feeling like a hero again said while showing a soft expression. The woman looked at him confused.

*BANG*

The loud noise made William jump back to his feet and look out to the street seeing the mysterious man furiously glaring at him…while holding a smoking gun. William felt a hot, burning sensation in his chest. He looked down to see a hole blown into him with blood dripping out. He started to lose balance as his perception of the world began to blur. The strength in the legs of the normally strong man gave out and he could barely lift himself.

“F-Fuck man… that’s your fault. That whore ruined my life!” The man screamed as he ran off.

William sat there on the ground; bleeding and slowly losing consciousness. He smiled at the woman who sat down across from him. The last thought in his mind as he slipped away was ‘Maybe…the afterlife will take me back, to where I was a hero…’ William died with a sad smile on his face.

As the heroic man who saved her sat there, the woman crawled over to him to see if he’d really died. When she confirmed that he’d died…she began to rummage through his pockets. She came across his wallet and stuffed it into her pocket and took a necklace that sat around his neck off and ran away, leaving the body of this ‘hero’ in a gutter for someone else to find.

 

Epilogue

“Poor guy, no one found him until the next morning around ten. Some homeless drunk stumbled on him and called the police.”

“Any idea who he is?”

“Nope.”

“Welp…let’s get him together.”

 

Many years later…

A bookstore full of people lined up to get a signed copy of the newest and most popular novel from a famous author. They came up to see the beautiful, black haired, green eyed young author. She signed copy after copy of her top selling novel titled: The real fantasy. The cover read: A story of a hero that no one will ever believe, but must be told to everyone. Dedicated to my hero.

 

 

The End


© Copyright 2019 Angelo Kingston. All rights reserved.

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