“It is no coincidence that you were able to find me. Few can hear my voice, and the ones who could were unable to find me. I have been here for thousands of years, and you are the person I was waiting for. You are the only person that can stop the destruction of the world.”
I walk into the public library and sit at a small table. The library is very small, with only a couple of tables, but with bookshelves on every wall. Most of the bookshelves are full, giving me the impression that the library is infrequently visited. I absently scratch my leg and select one of the books that is conveniently on top of a bookshelf next to me. I open the book and try to start reading, but I get this feeling that someone is watching me. I look around me, but see no one, so I try to ignore the feeling and get back to my book.
I get midway through the first chapter, but become bored with the book, realizing that it is completely non-fiction. I scratch my arm and scan the bookshelf. I don’t see any books that are interesting, so I put down the book I was reading and start to walk around. My footsteps echo loudly, so I try to walk quietly. All of the sudden, I hear a quiet voice coming from somewhere. I can’t really hear it with the noise my feet are making, so I stop moving and listen.
“Help,” I hear, coming from somewhere to the right of me. I start walking slowly and hear it again.
“Please, help me!”
I walk to the corner of the library and hear it much louder.
“I’m trapped in here!”
I walk up to the bookshelf where I think the sound is coming from. I hear rustling on the other side, and I pull the bookshelf out of the way to try to get behind it. I try to move it. The bookshelf moves away and reveals a small hole in the wall. A tiny creature walks out of the hole and smiles. Its eyes and face are visible, but its body is in the shadows. I sense someone behind me, but see nothing as I turn around. The feeling is still there, but I ignore it and call out to the creature.
“Who are you? What are you?”
The creature’s smile broadens and asks me a question. “Who are you?”
“My name is Aaron,” I answer. The creature’s eyes grow brighter, and a shiver goes through my body. It steps out of the hole, and I gasp. It looks like a mouse, but it’s completely blue, with speckles of purple around its eyes.
“I am not a who, but a what,” it says. “Also, my name is Bill.”
“Well, that’s a dumb name.”
“I didn’t choose it.”
“Whatever. Why did your eyes just glow?”
“I read your mind and viewed your soul to judge if you were worthy of learning what I am about to tell you. It is no coincidence that you were able to find me. Few can hear my voice, and the ones who could were unable to find me. I have been here for thousands of years, and you are the person I was waiting for. You are the only person that can stop the destruction of the world.”
“I have to apologize for one thing. You did not come to this place on your own. I sent you a telepathic message so that you would come here on this exact day. It had to be this exact place, for this is one of the few places in the mortal world that magic is at its strongest, and this is one of the only days that I am able to enter the mortal world. Magic is everywhere in the world, and everyone is able to see it, they simply don’t care. Many years ago, before I was even born, humans started to ignore magic, and slowly, they lost the interest in it. Once a century, a person is able to care enough to see magic, and even then, some of these gifted people never even realize that they can. Anyway, I’ll tell you more later, dinner’s almost ready, and you should get home. Your parents will get worried. I’ll visit you in a couple of days,” he says, his eyes swirling.
I nod numbly, too many thoughts going through my head to take in at once. I turn around and walk out of the library.
I ponder those words while walking home. I arrive at my apartment and knock on the door.
“Aaron! I was so worried! Where were you?!” my mom exclaims, as she opens the door.
I roll my eyes and walk inside.
“Don’t worry, Mom. Everything will be okay,” I respond, as I walk towards my room.
“Whatever,” my mom mumbles.
I sigh and flop onto my bed. Before I realize it, I’m dozing off.
“Dinner’s ready!” my mom yells, as I am unceremoniously shaken awake.
“Stop! I’m awake!” I yell, as I stand up and stumble to the kitchen table.
I groan. Dinner tonight is meatloaf. My dad anticipates my complaint before I can even talk.
“Don’t complain, Aaron. This is the only thing that I know how to make with the limited amount of ingredients we have,” my dad says, as he glares at Mom.
“What?! I said I would buy food tomorrow!” she exclaims.
My dad sighs and proceeds to devour his meatloaf, while I have barely eaten half of mine. After a couple minutes of speed eating, I finish my food.
“Done!” I exclaim, as I stand up and go back to my room.
“Only an hour!” my dad calls after me, but I barely hear him.
I run back to my room and take out my phone. I unlock my phone and check my messages. I have a text from my best friends.
“Did you go to the library that we dared you to go to?”
I respond to both of them with a “yes” and lie on my bed, replaying the events that unfolded at the library. Bill’s words echo in my head. “You are the only person who is worthy enough to stop the destruction of the world…” As soon as the echo stops, he appears in front of me.
“What are you doing here?!” I exclaim in surprise.
“I don’t have much time,” he says, as his form flickers like a broken flashlight.
“Be… careful… watch out… for… the…” he starts to say, but his final words get cut off, as he vanishes.
“Watch out for the what?!” I exclaim, realizing too late that he wasn’t able to respond.
The next morning, no one wakes me up, which is odd. Due to this, I am late for school. I get up and walk around the house, but no one is to be found. The only other living thing in the house is my cat, who swipes and growls at me as soon as I get near him. I try calling my mom. No answer. I try calling my dad. Nothing. That really gets me worried. My mom is always on her phone. I try to set my nervousness aside and leave my building. I get a taxi and go to my school.
I walk inside, but there isn’t anyone there. Oh yeah, class field trip. I groan and walk outside. I have no idea where the field trip is at. I guess that’s what I get for not listening in class. I call an Uber and go back home. The ride in the car is fairly uneventful, and I get home in a decent amount of time. I walk into my apartment and sense that something is wrong. I look at my phone. It says 8:20 A.M., but that was the time I left to go to school. That’s kind of odd. I get an uneasy feeling, but decide that I must be imagining things. I check on my cat again, but he is sleeping. He never does that. Now I’m really worried. Maybe it’s because of…
“It’s happening,” Bill says out of nowhere.
“What’s happening?!” I exclaim in fear, but I don’t get a response.
Then, the realization comes to me. Something must be stopping Bill from communicating with me. All of the sudden my body feels heavy, and everything fades to pink.
Everything around me is pink. The trees, the grass, even the sky. But it’s not the kind of bright, happy pink that you often see. It is a dull pink that looks like the life has been sucked out of it. Like it has given up. Bill appears in front of me.
“I had to take you here, so that I could finally talk to you. He has been interfering with my ability to communicate with the mortal world,” he said, in a voice that sounded dull and lifeless.
“I cannot say his name, for fear of my life. If I speak his name, I will be found. He would suck away my essence, just like he did to this land. You must find the sword. It is the only thing that can stop him.”
There is a flash of light in the distance, and his eyes widen.
“Quickly! I must send you back! He has found me!”
His eyes glow, and I’m suddenly back in my apartment again. What sword could he be talking about? I get distracted by a vibration from my pocket. Josh or Melany must have texted me. I pull out my phone and check my texts. I have one new message from Melany.
“Aaron, what is going on? You aren’t responding to anything. Please answer me!!”
I respond with, “Something is going wrong. My parents aren’t at home and there is something I need to talk to you about. Meet me at Starbucks in fifteen minutes.”
I buy some coffee at Starbucks and wait patiently for Melany. She arrives a couple of minutes later.
“What did you want to talk to me about?” she asks.
“When I was at the library, I saw a strange creature. It told me that magic exists, and that I’m the only person that is able to stop the destruction of the world. And that its name is Bill.”
Melany bursts out laughing.
“That’s a really good joke!”
“I’m not kidding!!”
Everything around us stops, and Bill appears in front of us.
“Aaron is completely serious. I exist, and I need your help. You two have to find a sword. I’m not sure what the sword is or where it is, but I know from my research that Aaron has the ability to somehow sense its location.”
“Wait, how can Melany see and hear you? I thought that I was the only one able to?” I say in a confused voice.
“Only people like you can see me without any knowledge of my existence. The ability to see and hear me was given to Melany when you told her about me.
Bill disappears and time resumes its cycle.
“Well, that was odd.”
“Yeah. He’s mentioned the sword before, but never how to find it,” I answer.
As I say these words, a small shiver goes through my body. I instinctively know that it’s the sword calling me. I stand up violently and spill my coffee on my shirt. Without even noticing it, I toss some money on the table.
“Melany, follow me!” I yell behind me, as I sprint out the door.
Melany rolls her eyes, mumbling something about my rush.
Melany bursts out the door panting.
“No. The feeling that I was getting in Starbucks is gone. I think we should go back there and investigate,” I say, as I head back towards Starbucks.
When I’m only a block away, I sense that the sword is nearby. I immediately stop, and Melany runs into me.
“Ow. Why did you stop?” she asks.
“I can sense that the sword is somewhere nearby,” I say, as I look around.
I start walking towards the Starbucks, and the feeling becomes stronger. All of a sudden, the feeling goes away completely. I retrace my steps and notice that I’m standing right next to the playground.
“Aha!” I exclaim and run through the entrance.
Melany and I split up and start searching. A couple of minutes later, I hear Melany calling my name. I walk towards her, and the feeling gets stronger. As I stand next to Melany, the feeling gets to its strongest.
“This area looked strange. I think this is the place,” she explains.
I nod and start searching the wall. I can’t see anything out of place, but after some investigation, I notice a piece of the wall that looks unnatural. I push it, and a portion of the wall opens up. We walk inside in amazement, and I see a stick. Melany tries to pick it up, but she is unable to.
“It must be like Thor’s hammer. You can’t pick it up unless you’re worthy enough. I guess I’m just not worthy enough,” she says with a small sigh.
I try to lift the stick, oblivious to her feelings, but it doesn’t budge. I try again, but still no response. Finally, I will the stick to move while trying to pick it up, and it lifts easily. As I grip it with both hands, it changes from a stick to a shiny sword. I grin and take some practice swings.
“Aaron!! Be careful!! You almost decapitated me!”
“Okay, jeez! I’ll be more careful,” I complain. “How am I supposed to walk around if I’m holding a sword?”
“Try to will the sword to turn back into a stick I guess,” Melany says, quizzically.
I shrug and stare at the sword. Before my very eyes, it shrinks into a stick.
“It’s getting kind of late. I’m gonna head home. I’ll see you tomorrow,” Melany says, as she starts walking home.
“Okay,” I say, as I too head home.
The next morning, I wake up and get an idea. If I can understand how the sword works, then I can talk to Bill and figure out how to stop the person that he was talking about. I grab my phone and text Melany.
“I have an idea. Meet me at Starbucks again.”
I grab the stick and leave the house to go to Starbucks. I walk into Starbucks and see Melany in one of the corner tables.
“What’s up?” she asks.
“I have an idea. If we can figure out how this sword works, then we can talk to Bill and fight the thing that we need the sword for. Let’s go back to the playground. There might be some clues in the place where we found the sword.”
Melany nods in agreement, and we walk back to the playground together.
I press the button to the secret room, and we walk inside. I activate the sword, and it lets off a slight glow. Melany and I examine the sword, and I notice that there’s a word engraved on the hilt. I bring the sword closer to my face and say the word that is engraved.
Immediately, the sword starts glowing, and the blade catches fire. I gasp and almost drop it in shock. The fire slowly creeps from the sword onto my hand. My hand doesn’t start melting, so I assume that the fire won’t hurt me. Soon, the fire consumes my entire body, but I still don’t feel any pain. Melany looks at me curiously.
“Are you okay? How are you covered in flames?” she asks in wonder.
“I’m fine, but I don’t know how,” I respond, as I look at myself. As I turn around to walk outside, Bill appears in front of me.
“Quickly! Come with me!” he says in fear.
I turn the sword back into a stick, the flames disappearing with it. Melany and I stand next to Bill, and for the second time, everything fades to pink.
I wake up to the sound of Melany yelling in my ear. I almost ask where we are, but my question is answered when I look around. Everything is the same dull pink, but it looks even duller than the last time I was here. The trees are blackened, and the ground is scorched.
“You got the sword!” Bill exclaims in excitement.
“Now, how can I stop the destruction of the world?”
“You need to stop an extremely powerful being called The Drainer. It sucks the life out of a world and uses the energy to become stronger. It is only told of in myths, and the myth that I have heard says it is almost invincible. I did some research and have been able to pinpoint its location. I will try to help you in every way I can, but I will not be able to kill it. You must be the one,” Bill explains.
“Umm… Okay,” I say. “How do we get there?”
“Follow me,” Bill says, as he starts walking towards a giant castle in the distance. Melany and I follow him towards the castle.
I activate my sword and cut a hole through the castle doors, like a hot knife through butter. I look behind me and without words, they nod. The three of us line up and walk into the castle as a group.
The silence is eerie. Only our footsteps can be heard through the blanket of muteness. We are all tense, fearing an unknown assailant, but nothing confronts us. As we reach the end of the entrance hall, we are stopped by a large wooden door. I tentatively push it, expecting resistance, but it slowly opens up without trouble. It is all too easy. We know that we’re going directly into a trap, but we decide to continue. Bill peeks his head through the doorway and immediately catapults backwards, screaming. The screaming suddenly stops with a crunch. I wince, but my worries are quelled, as I hear Bill groaning and cursing. I try to ignore him and focus on the door. I slowly peek through the door, hoping to not go flying.
“No! Get back!” Melany yells, as she tries to pull me away.
I resist, but she pulls me back anyway. The door slams shut with a crash.
“Damn it, Melany! Now we’ll never be able to get past this door!”
“Sorry, I just didn’t want the same thing to happen to you,” she responds in a quiet voice.
“I know. I’m sorry for yelling at you, Melany. It’s just really annoying. This thing will destroy our world, and I just want to stop it.”
“It’s okay, Aaron. I forgive you. Let’s go check on Bill,” Melany says with a smile.
Melany and I walk over to Bill.
“Well, what are you waiting for?! Get me up!”
Melany and I roll our eyes and grab his arms. I pull with all of my strength, and Bill finally gets into a standing position.
“What did you see through that door? I wasn’t able to see anything,” I ask him.
“I saw a little creature that looked like a skeleton. There is a door behind the creature, and I think that it leads to where the Drainer lives,” he responds.
“Okay. What are we waiting for then?!” I say, as I turn the doorknob and rip the door open.
The skeleton creature is standing in the center of the room, eerily still. What is it doing? I slowly creep into the room. As soon as I step into the room, the skeleton lunges at me at inhuman speed. Before I can even react, I am shoved outside of the room. As I am sent flying, the skeleton walks back to the center of the room as if nothing just happened. I hit the wall with a grunt and slowly get up.
“Guys, I don’t think we can get the skeleton out of this room. It only tries to attack me when I enter the room.”
“Maybe we don’t need to get the skeleton out of the room,” Melany muses. “Maybe we just need to attack it while we are outside of the door.”
“Yes!” I exclaim, “Good idea!”
I take out my sword and aim it at the skeleton, while staying away from the door. The sword ignites, and I shoot a fireball at the skeleton. It burns completely through the skeleton’s ribcage and continues into the door. The skeleton’s upper body caves in, and it collapses to the ground, shattering on impact. I grin and walk into the room. The skeleton bones start to shudder, and I quickly destroy them with fire. The feat of power makes me feel strong. I walk to the next door and pause. I look back, waiting for confirmation. Melany and Bill nod. I open the door and brace myself for whatever is behind it.
The door swings open easily, on hinges well-oiled. An empty white room, coated in mist, appears. I put my hand through the doorway and hit an invisible wall. I push and feel the wall slowly move. Melany helps me push the wall, and we walk through into the room. There is no visible door in sight, so we split up and start examining the walls. Almost immediately, Melany shouts. I turn around and see her getting sucked into the ground. I run to her side and try to pull her out, but the attempt is futile. Before I know it, she’s gone.
“This is all my fault!” I complain loudly.
“It most definitely is not,” Bill says reassuringly, “You couldn’t have done anything more than what you did.”
“I guess so,” I say, as I look at the place where she was taken.
I suddenly realize something. There’s a little button on the ground that I didn’t notice before. I bend over and push it. Slowly, the ground near me turns invisible, and I’m able to see a ladder going down into a dark hole. I peer into the hole and realize that it’s longer than I first expected. It goes down for at least twenty feet, and the rest is darkness. I gingerly put my foot on the top rung and start going down slowly. Suddenly, my foot touches the floor. I get off the ladder and look up to encourage Bill to follow me.
“Come on! The ladder is really short!” I yell up to Bill.
He nods and starts descending on the ladder. I look ahead and see a plain, white door, an arm’s length away. I try the handle, and it opens into a room with computers everywhere. Most of the monitors are in a fixed view of the misty white room, but a couple of them say “Project: Drainer.” Melany is tied up in the center of the room. She puts a finger to her mouth and motions for us to stay still. I raise my eyebrows, and she points to something in the doorway. I focus on where she’s pointing and see a bunch of small red lines crisscrossing the door frame. I assume that they’re motion detectors and move back slightly. Melany points to the goblin, and I see a small black remote control. I sigh in defeat. It’ll be impossible to reach the remote from where I am without going inside the room. As I turn around to leave, I hear a faint click. I turn back around and realize that the motion detectors have deactivated. The goblin must have rolled over onto the remote! I tiptoe into the room and untie Melany. I pull out my sword and blast the goblin with fire. Its body turns into a blackened crisp, and I look away. The three of us run out of the room and climb the ladder. We run back through the rooms and out of the castle. The three of us stand in a circle, and Bill warps us back into the mortal world.
The next day, the three of us meet at Starbucks. I ask Melany for her version of how she got kidnapped, and she starts talking after a moment.
“All of the sudden, I was pulled underground by a goblin. It tied me up and carried me down the ladder. I was dragged into its control room and put on the floor. It sat down in a chair and turned on a computer. After a couple of minutes, it left to go to sleep, but it forgot to turn off the computer. I waited a couple minutes and started using it. I read about a secret project called, “Project: Drainer.” It said that the Drainer is actually a robot controlled by the goblin that kidnapped me. The room that it took me to was the control center. After that, the computer died, and you came to rescue me,” she said.
“Wow,” Bill exclaims, “I was led to believe that the Drainer was some sort of monster. I guess not!”
Out of nowhere, my phone starts buzzing.
“Sorry guys, I have to go!” I say.
I get up and run home for dinner.
One year later…
Melany and I are sitting down at a table in Starbucks. I drink the final drops of coffee with a straw, listening to the sucking sound that it makes when the cup is empty. I have bags under my eyes; it took forever for me to finish my homework last night. I can’t believe that my life is finally normal again. Just as I’m about to get up for more coffee, Bill appears in front of me.
“Aaron, I have another mission for you,” he says in an upbeat voice.
“Not again!” I exclaim, as I roll my eyes.