Dangerous Playgrounds

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When all was said and done, he still felt shitty about the whole thing. He knew he was saving the world, but he was also stealing, hiding and sneaking all around. He alone carried the Orb, hiding it from the Dark Lord. This burden was so heavy that only a few close friends in class could he share this with. But they had all just looked at him like he was crazy, and so he stopped telling people. Not even his family knew what was in his school bag, and he began realizing that he was all alone.

In fact, he woke up one morning and realized that he had pretty much stopped talking altogether.

He ate his cereal, drank his orange juice and packed his lunch into his school bag. It was in there, staring cold and metallic right back at him. He waved goodbye at his mom and dad. He was not sure if they saw him. He had been carrying the Orb for so long, perhaps, that he had gotten just a little too good at sneaking around.

The school bus picked him up outside their house. It was yellow, like an elemental of light. He sat right at the back. He felt safe inside the bus. But, all too soon, that bus drive was over and he had to walk into school. This was the most dangerous moment each day. He felt so vulnerable out here. The crowds of kids and noise swarmed around him on the playground. Enemies could attack from any angle, but he would not see them coming. The Dark Lord’s assassins could shoot any arrow into his back or sneak a snake along the ground to bite him…

He started walking then running and, eventually, he was sprinting across the playground to get inside. His heart was pounding in his chest. He ran past a group of girls and heard them giggle. He had to get to the library or the toilet, somewhere small, safe and hidden.

And then the bell went.

He felt the assassin’s arrow wing by his ear. A soft and deadly whoooosh. The Sun darkened a bit and the world suddenly slowed down. They knew where he was. His legs felt like lead. He could not move. He was screaming inside. Screaming. He had to move. He alone carried the Orb, hiding it from the Dark Lord…

In this moment, he knew what to do.

He was nearly inside the school building, but he turned around. The playground was moving inside, throngs of shuffling kids were all slowly walking inside. The Dark Lord was always out there somewhere and his assassins were hidden in the trees, under the bushes, and in the crowd.

He was done running. He was done hiding and carrying this secret all alone. He was done being silent and scared. He was done saving the world and being pushed in front of in the cafeteria queue or having his food stolen.

He flipped his bag around in front of him. He unzipped it and reached inside the inside apartment, where the Orb was hidden. It was cold and metallic. It always felt heavier than he expected. He was ready for a fight. He knew there was no going back, but he also knew that this was all that he could do.

He took the Orb out of the bag and held it before him.

Everything was silent for a moment, and then the kids started screaming.

***

The TV news flashed to the onsite reporter. It was a lady with blonde hair, touching her earpiece and currently wearing a confused, surreal expression.

“Thanks, Bill,” she began speaking, her tone of voice just a little too high pitched, “Uhm, yes, I am at Weatherly’s Highschool. Behind me the paramedics are dealing with the injured kids–two school teachers and a bus drive are all hurt as well. At this stage, we do not think that there were any casualties, but the extent of the chaos has also made any detailed accounts uncertain.”

She smiles and turns to her right. The camera pans to a police sergeant’s face.

“Captain Reynolds,” the reporter introduces him, “You were first on scene. Can you please describe what exactly happened here?”

The police officers looks at her and then the camera. He hesitates, his eyes wide open. A sirens blasts in the background as red and blue lights flash through the scene.

“Uhm, Ma’am, I–I’ll tell you what I radio’ed in…” he begins, talking slowly, but then it all begins to pour out, “The kids were all running away from this other kid. You know, the school shootings. They are terrible, and so I am thinking I must stop this. But there is this light and then things are attacking. Things. You know, like those sort of things you see out of the corner of eyes at the bottom of the garden late at night, but you never tell anyone about them because they won’t believe you. Those things. They attacked. And this kid, standing right up on the steps has this thing, this other thing, in his hand. Light and stuff! And, and, and…”

The policeman runs out of words and his voice fades away. He nods at the bewildered reporter, and reporter turns back to the camera to conclude her report.

“And there we have it, Bill. Weatherly’s Highschool was attacked today. While this remains speculation, the immediate threat has been resolved. But, and I cannot stress this enough, the Dark Lord still remains undefeated and lurking out there, just in reach of our nightmares. What is he looking for? Why won’t he leave us alone? Who knows. Right back to you, Bill.”

And then the TV cuts back to the studio.

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