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The Anxious Hero, Chapter 1

by Charles Boyd about a month ago in Fantasy · updated 29 days ago
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Attempted Inquiry, Attempted Abduction

Content warning: The fact that this story features an under-18 protagonist does not mean that it is necessarily suitable for younger kids. It contains strong profanity, sexual humor, significant violence, and depictions of bigotry by villains.

Note: Reading the prologue first is recommended.

December 3, 2011, Portland, Maine

The snow had been falling in Portland for weeks by now. Earlier, Randy Gowen had gone outside with his friends, Tank, Mike, and Terkel and had a snowball fight. Now, with night having fallen, they were sitting inside. Randy, Mike, and Terkel were drinking hot chocolate, which Terkel periodically took a break from to jump on her pogo stick. At age eighteen, Amy “Terkel” Metzenbaum still loved jumping on her pogo stick, and she cared little whether it was inside or outside. She was 5’5” with spiky, red hair and glasses. When she was not jumping on her pogo stick, she usually had a toothpick in her mouth. Due to turning eighteen, Terkel had just become a full-fledged magician. Before the death of Randy’s maternal grandmother, Dafna, three years ago, Terkel had been her latest trainee. While studying magic under Dafna, she had quickly established a close friendship with Randy, who had been nine when they first met. Randy was something of an old soul, and the two of them had bonded over shared interests. Instead of drinking hot chocolate, Tank was drinking his fifth beer. At ten feet, six inches and fourteen hundred pounds, Tank was large even for a polar bear. Tank had been living with Waldo and Randy for as long as the boy could remember. Now forty-two, “Uncle Tank” maintained most of his youthful immaturity, consuming copious amounts of beer, saying and doing whatever popped into his head, and riding a custom-made Harley around the city of Portland, Maine. As a member of the Nannuke subspecies of polar bear, Tank could speak, use opposable thumbs, and make himself appear to be a very large, bearded man in public.

Tank offered the beer can to Randy. “Hey, Little Buddy!” he said. “Want some of my beer?” His booming voice revealed his Manitoba roots—while they lived all over the Arctic, the Nannuke were most common in the Canadian province.

“Tank, I don’t think that’s a good idea, he’s only twelve,” Terkel said.

“Bullshit, it’s never too early to enjoy a beer!” the polar bear said. “I started when I was younger than Randy.”

“Bears mature faster than people,” Terkel pointed out.

“Thanks, but I don’t think I’ll have any,” Randy said. His physical appearance was altogether unremarkable. His hair was a mop of brown, and his legs were skinny enough to make a self-respecting chicken extremely jealous. Despite his youth, his facial expression was an odd mix of friendly and world-weary, as if he was prepared to have a good day but thought it unlikely. His facial features revealed a mix of white Norwegian and white Scottish heritage with a smattering of Ashkenazi Jewish thrown in. His ears were the only part of his body that was not small. At twelve, he was only 4’3”, well below average for a child his age. His upper body matched his legs with its skinniness.

Mike snickered. A thin, thirty-year old black wizard of medium height with peach fuzz and dreadlocks, Mike had been living with the rest of them for the last eight years. It was not uncommon for magicians to live together as a way of coordinating their work more easily, and Mike was the most recent magician whom Waldo had trained. He spoke with a heavy Staten Island accent. While he had been born in Orangeburg, South Carolina, he had been adopted as a baby and raised in Staten Island. “Tank, if you died, and they cremated you, it would burn down half the state.”

Tank finished the can and belched so loudly that it seemed to shake the room. “Don’t be jealous aboot how you can’t hold your alcohol like I can. You know, Randy, I used to try to get your Dad to drink all the time. I even bought him his own mickey, but he never got into it.”

Wendell’s head perked up, and he smiled at Randy, tongue hanging out. As a Saint Bernard that, aside from an abnormally long lifespan, had no apparent magical properties, he naturally could not speak. As Wendell was smaller than most bears but larger than most dogs, Tank called him an honorary bear and had attempted to feed him brandy on a number of occasions. Wendell always looked at him confusedly when offered brandy but was happy to shower Tank with kisses the way he did everyone else. Still, Randy was his favorite of all. When Randy had been three, and what he now referred to as “The Calamity” happened, Wendell had heard him crying and hopped right into his tiny bed trying to comfort him.

Randy chuckled. He loved hearing stories about his parents. He had no memory of his father, Duncan, a twenty-seven year old regular who had died when Randy was seven months old. But retrospectively, he wished very much that his father was still alive. In many ways, Duncan had been like Randy. They had resembled each other physically, and Duncan had possessed his son’s kindness and gentleness mixed with immense fear and anxiety. Unlike Randy, he had never been diagnosed with Asperger’s, but everyone suspected that he had it. Randy remembered all too well his mother. Katie had been on a mission two and a half years later when it had happened. Katie had been doing some sort of reconnaissance in Atlantic City, though nobody would ever exactly say what, when she had been attacked. Katie had died at a local wizards’ hospital before Waldo, Dafna, and Tank were able to get there with Randy. If Randy lived another ten thousand years, he would never be able to erase the image of his deceased mother from his mind. Unlike with Duncan, Randy had plenty of vivid memories of Katie before her death holding him, playing with him, singing to him, and bathing him. In some ways, that made the memory of her death easier, in other ways harder.

This might be the opening I’ve been looking for, Randy thought. “Hey, Tank, do you know what happened to Mom and Dad? How they died, I mean?”

Terkel stopped hopping so suddenly that she almost lost her balance. Mike whistled, loudly. Tank, however, was too drunk to be uncomfortable with the question, though he might not have been uncomfortable even without being drunk. “The whole thing was all kinds o’ fucked up. And the truth is, we still don’t know exactly what happened. Your Dad was workin’ at Barnes & Noble at the time. That night, he didn’t come. Katie started thinkin’ somethin’ was off aboot two hours after he was supposed to be back. So, Dafna stayed here to protect you while your Mom, Waldo, and I went lookin’ for Duncan. We looked all over town for him that night.” Tank picked up another beer, took a large gulp, and continued with the story. “Waldo and Katie couldn’t sense his brain activity with any o’ the spells they tried. That was a real bad sign, because it meant that he’d probably either been captured or killed. Finally, around six a.m., we found his body. It was in a dumpster, and it looked he had died from a heart attack. There were no marks on the body, and he had no history of heart problems, so we all figured he’d been murdered by a magician. But we never caught the bastard who did it. I’ll tell ya this, though, if we ever did catch the killer, I’d beat their ass for what they did to Duncan. I’d beat their ass so bad they’d have to look South when they walked North.” He took another swig and kept talking while Terkel stared in unease. Mike tried to interrupt, warning, “Uh, Tank, maybe the kid’s a little young for this,” but the inebriated polar bear ignored him. “We know a bit more aboot what happened to Katie. She went to Atlantic City to do reconnaissance on some sorcerers, didn’t even think she needed back up. Then, some motherfucker used a spell to launch a knife into her back from behind. She tried fightin’ back, but she was losin’ so much blood. Finally, he left her for dead. She told the doctors he was wearin’ a mask, so she had no idea what his face looked like. They figured they could use the right spells to stop the bleedin’ and do a transfusion. But that knife had a poisonous blade.” He shook his head. “We never figured out who that killer was either. It might have been the same scumbag who killed Duncan.”

Randy was shaking with emotional pain and anger. Who could have done this? He thought. Does this mean we’ll never know? That we’ll never catch them? Before he could process any further, his grandfather, Waldo, walked into the room. Both Waldo and Randy were older than they looked. Randy looked eight or nine due to his small size but was actually twelve years and fifty weeks old. Waldo looked to be in his eighties but was over eight thousand six hundred years old. Despite his advanced age, he maintained a lean, 6’6” frame. His hair and beard were both snow-white. His hair went would have gone past his shoulders but was kept in a ponytail. His beard, which usually had a leaf, twig, or crumb in it, went all the way down to his waist. He wore a dream-catcher, jeans, a tie-dye t-shirt and sandals. As his appearance suggested, the old man was a passionate liberal activist, particularly involved in the abolitionist, women’s rights, Civil Rights, LGBT rights, and American Indian Movements. During the Middle Ages, he had also supported peasant rebellions. Sometime during the eighteenth century, he had become a Unitarian and remained in that faith ever since. He carried several large, brown paper bags. “Good evening, everyone!” he said. Randy leaped up and threw his arms around the old warlock. “Waldo!” he said, joyfully. For as long as Randy could remember, the ancient wizard had always been “Waldo” to him, never “Grampie” or “Grandpa.”

“You all are in luck,” Waldo said. “I just received a massive amount of new treats from the bakery in Nashua Falls.”

Since his job as a wizard and his other responsibilities left him with little time to work, Waldo made a living through a bakery that one of his regular friends operated in Nashua Falls, New Hampshire in exchange for Waldo providing the money for operations. Randy had to admit that the idea of dessert on a chilly night sounded great. They had had pot pies for dinner earlier in the evening, but Randy still had an appetite for dessert.

Tank began sniffing. “I smell whale’s tails!” he said, gleefully. One might be forgiven for assuming that the polar bear was talking about real whale meat, but it was actually the term for a Canadian dessert. All of them followed Waldo into the kitchen. Sitting in a chair at the table was Dafna. Dafna Bernstein was 5’8” and was thin, with angular shoulders, a lean, chiseled face, and curly, shoulder-length white hair. Despite being an Ashkenazi Jew from Israel in contrast to Waldo’s Icelandic origin, she and her husband looked surprisingly similar in certain ways. She had lived to be eight thousand two hundred thirty-five years old before dying of an unexpected heart attack five years ago. But unlike Duncan and Katie, Dafna had remained on Earth after her death, continuing to live with Waldo, Randy, and the others. Dafna would never reveal exactly how she had managed this, but Randy was quite grateful for it. She disappeared periodically, sometimes for a few days at a time, but Randy was grateful to have her around at all. Since dying, she had looked less corporeal, as if to remind everyone that she was now a ghost. She had already been chewing on a shortbread cookie when everyone else entered the kitchen. When Wendell walked up to her, drooling and looking up with a pitiable expression, she handed the dog a cookie of his own. Wendell devoured the dessert within seconds. As Randy took a carton of milk from the refrigerator and poured a glass, he thought, I somehow get the feeling Waldo came into the living room when he did to keep Tank from telling me any of the story and then distract me with dessert. He shook his head. Further questions could wait. The Nashua Bakery always had delicious treats.

The following morning, Randy went to All Souls Unitarian Congregation with Waldo. Religious services of any kind had never been forced on Randy, but he found that he enjoyed Unitarian Universalist meetings and voluntarily came with his grandfather. When Dafna had been alive, he had sometimes attended Reform Jewish services with her but found Unitarian Universalism more appealing. On the ride home, Waldo used a spell to cause the car to drive without hands on the wheel. “Eighty years after they invented cars, I finally got talked into buying one,” he said, chuckling. “But nobody is going to talk me into learning how to drive it when I can simply do this instead!”

Randy laughed for a minute, then said, “Can I ask you a serious question?”

“Certainly, you should always feel free to ask me any questions that you like,”

Randy took a deep breath. “What happened to Mom and Dad? You and Dafna have never told me how exactly they died.”

Waldo’s expression turned downcast. “I am sorry, Randy. The reason I never told you is because the stories of both their deaths are so disturbing that I fear you are too young. Your mind already has to deal with so much pain and anxiety that I am afraid of doing anything to add to it. I promise that I will eventually tell you everything that I know, but I do not think it would be good for you right now. I am truly sorry, I hate refusing to answer questions.”

Randy had expected this response, but he was still disappointed. “I understand,”

“You certainly should feel free to ask Dafna. I would prefer that she did not tell you that, but that is between you and her.” Waldo paused for a moment. “I do want to tell you, though, how proud both your parents would be—I should say, how proud they are watching you right now. You have become such a kind, smart, special boy.”

“Thanks, Waldo,” said Randy, smiling and hugging his grandfather.

When they got home, Randy went looking for Dafna. She was sitting in the living room reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Randy, Waldo, Dafna, Tank, Terkel, and Mike all loved the Harry Potter series and enjoyed comparing and contrasting the real world of magicians with the depictions in the novels. When Randy was five, he had dressed as Harry for Halloween, with Waldo dressing as Dumbledore. The year after that, he had dressed as Frodo, Waldo as Gandalf.

“Why hello there, Randy,” Dafna said, genially. “How was church?”

“It was fun,” Randy said. “But I wanted to talk about something else with you.”

Dafna looked nervous, and Randy deduced that she had some idea of what was coming. “What would you like to talk about?”

“I know Mom and Dad were killed,” Randy said. “But I don’t know who did it or why. Can you tell me what you know about that?”

Dafna looked lovingly at the small boy and patted him on the back. “I don’t blame you for wanting to know. And I really wish I could tell you. But that whole story is an awful lot for a boy your age to handle. The thing is, My Dear, that when you haven’t heard a story, someone can always still tell it to you. But there’s no unhearing a story that’s already been told. And I’m afraid that if I told you the story of how Katie and Duncan died, you might wish you hadn’t heard it.”

“Please, Dafna,” Randy said, softly. “It’s already really painful for me that they died. It can’t hurt to know who killed them and why.”

Dafna tried to pull her grandson into an embrace, but her arms went right through him. “I’ll make a deal with you. If Waldo hasn’t told you within the next year, I promise I’ll tell you everything I know about the murders of Katie and Duncan.”

Randy sighed. “Deal,”

Randy spent the rest of the day playing outside with Tank, Mike, and Terkel. Late in the afternoon, Randy rode up a hill on Tank’s back. When they reached the top, Randy got off the polar bear, and Tank lay on his back. Then, Randy climbed onto his belly and rode Tank down the hill like a sled. In general, Randy was obsessed with safety and felt too much anxiety to do anything that seemed remotely dangerous. But when he had been four, Tank had cajoled him into riding the Nannuke down the hill. Despite the dread Randy felt every time he got ready to do it, he had to admit that sledding down a snowy hill on a polar bear was a lot of fun. So far, he had never gotten hurt doing it, but he never brought this point up out loud for fear of jinxing himself.

When Randy got off the bus after school the following afternoon, disaster nearly struck. The day itself had been unenjoyable. As was often the case, he had been bullied by some of his fellow students. When had been sitting on the toilet in the bathroom, a couple of students had poured a bucket of water over the stall door and on the toilet paper. This had made it impossible for Randy to wipe his rear end, and he had spent the rest of the school day with his Germaphobia going haywire. He was still breathing rapidly, struggling to stay calm, but thinking of E. Coli poisoning. As he stepped off the bus, he heard a voice from behind him. “Randy Gowen, right?” Randy turned to see an unfamiliar man perhaps five feet away. He was of average height with broad shoulders and short, blond hair. He appeared to be in his late twenties. Stranger danger, Randy thought and quickly tried to move toward to the gate to his house. But he felt something in his brain, an irresistible force preventing him from going forward. He could feel his control over his own brain slipping away rapidly.

“You need to come with me, Randy,” the man said. “I’ve got some friends who have been really wanting to meet you.”

Randy began walking involuntarily toward the stranger, who said, “That’s a good boy. I’ll try to make things as painless as possible once we’ve gotten where we’re going.” By now, Randy had no independent thoughts left. His only instinct was to obey the sorcerer’s commands.

“Hold it right there!” ordered a voice. Randy could not process what was going on. He did not even recognize the speaker, and he continued following the kidnapper. But then, like a candle being blown out, the grip that the blond man held on his mind snapped instantly. And as the realization came back to him that he was about to be kidnapped by a dangerous wizard, terror returned, and Randy ran into the gate. Standing outside the gate was Waldo, who Randy had just heard for the time ever raise his voice. A stream of lightning emitted from both his hands, aimed at the stranger, who was now fleeing. The blond wizard dodged the lightning, jumped into a nearby Ferrari, and sped off.

“Randy,” Waldo said, calmly. “Please go inside and let everyone else know what just happened. I have a sorcerer to catch.”

He doesn’t need to tell me twice! Randy darted into the house. “Guys!” he shouted. “A sorcerer just tried to kidnap me! Waldo left to chase him!” Technically speaking, there was no difference between sorcerers and sorceresses versus wizards and witches. But witches and wizard often used the terms “sorcerer” and “sorceress” as epithets for evil magicians.

Wendell had no understanding of what was happening, except that there was clearly a stressful situation in progress. The Saint Bernard bounded into the room, running around in circles and barking. Dafna appeared next. “Randy, are you okay?” she exclaimed.

“I’m alright, except for being completely terrified,” Randy quipped. Terkel and Mike came into the room last.

“Where’s the sorcerer?” Mike demanded. “Did he hurt you?”

“No, but he tried to mind control me, then ran when Waldo showed up,” Randy said.

“Where’s Waldo?” Terkel asked.

“He’s chasing the creep now,” Randy said. “Is Tank here?”

“Nah, he went to buy more beer,” Mike said. “The big lug is going to be sorry he missed this, though. He’d love a chance to beat the shit out of some sorcerer.”

“The important thing is that you’re safe,” Dafna said. “And nobody can come in here to hurt you. The magical protection on this house is so strong that there’s no force on Earth strong enough to breach it unless we let them in.”

Randy’s heart rate slowed a bit, and he collapsed onto the sofa.

“Besides,” said Terkel. “Even if that scumbag did come in here, Mike, Dafna, and I would handle him, no problem.”

“I’m afraid I couldn’t fight him,” Dafna said. “As a ghost, I’m unable to fighting the living unless one of them attacks me first. Otherwise, the only thing I can do is to teleport you to another location, Randy.”

Terkel shrugged. “Well, Mike and I could handle him.”

The doorbell rang. Randy looked to see Tank standing outside, carrying several six-packs of beer. After Mike let him in, they explained to the polar bear what had just happened. “Damnit,” Tank said, shaking his massive, furry head. “I wish I’d be there! I’d’ve cracked that prick’s skull with one paw swipe!” He demonstrated by swinging his paw. The momentum was so great that his paw hit the wall, creating a massive hole. Tank stared at the damage and snickered sheepishly. “Sorry aboot that,” he said. “I think I just smashed through three layers of drywall.”

“Tank, I think your IQ starts with a decimal,” said Mike.

Tank laughed. “Mike, I take shits bigger than you!”

Randy had learned early on that insults were part of Tank and Mike’s friendly banter. With most others, Randy would have assumed that the kind of barbs they lobbed at each were motivated by animosity. With Mike and Tank, it was a game between longtime close friends.

“Hey Tank, would that sorcerer be able to hurt you with magic?”

Tank roared with laughter. “Not on your life, little buddy! Nannuke have built-in resistance to anything but very powerful levels of magic. And I’m the toughest Nannuke around. Besides, I have some powers of my own along with my size, teeth, claws, and sledgehammer-like paws. That dick weasel better hope he doesn’t run into me, or I’ll rearrange his face!”

“Randy, can you describe what this sorcerer looked like?” Dafna asked.

“He was probably the same height as Mike,” Randy said. “Muscular, white, blond, late twenties.”

“I am afraid nobody fitting that description comes to mind,” said Dafna. “But we can search the files on dark wizards to see if there is any information on this sorcerer.”

Two hours later, Waldo returned. “Unfortunately, I did not manage to catch our visitor. I was hoping that he would be foolish enough to try dueling with me, which would have enabled me to capture him. However, he was only interested in getting away, and I eventually concluded that I was unlikely to apprehend him today.”

“Waldo, if he’s still out there, Randy is in serious danger,” said Dafna. “You have to keep looking.”

“I am taking this threat very seriously,” Waldo replied. “But unless I am very much mistaken, this young gentleman will not be coming back here anytime soon. In the meantime, I have told all the magicians in or near Portland to keep an eye out for him. And I am going to make sure that Randy is properly protected.” He put a big, gnarled hand on Randy’s shoulder. “Randy, I promise that I will not let anything happen to you.”

“I know,” Randy said, even though he did not feel quite sure about that. Waldo meant what he said, but Randy knew that his grandfather could not be with him nonstop. And he had the sinking feeling that whoever this strange magician was, Randy had not seen the last of him.

For the rest of the week, Terkel and Mike accompanied Randy to school. Their physical appearances made it easier to blend in as students or school employees compared to Tank or Waldo, who were almost guaranteed to stand out unless mind control was used on everyone else at school. Besides protection from dark magicians, there was another benefit to having Mike and Terkel around: they could protect him from bullies as well. Since a young age, Randy had been a favorite target for bullies. He had not confided in Waldo, Dafna, or his friends about this due to not wanting to feel like more of a burden. Randy already frequently felt like a burden to those around him, and this thought produced significant feelings of guilt. He could not interact with Mike and Terkel as much as he would have preferred during school hours. The sight of two adults talking to a small seventh grader might be enough to make teachers suspicious. Whether due to Waldo’s chasing of the last attempted kidnapper, Mike and Terkel’s presence, or both factors, no other dark magicians tried to apprehend Randy that week. All of the school bullies left Randy alone as well. After school each day, Randy would ride home with Terkel and Mike instead of taking the bus. When they got home on Friday afternoon, Waldo asked, “How does a trip to the library sound?”

“Normally, I love going to the library,” Randy said. “But isn’t it a little dangerous right now?”

“I completely understand why you are worried, but I think you will be safe due to having Tank, Terkel, Mike, and me with you,” Waldo said. “Besides, I thought that this would be a great opportunity to look at the archives and see if we can find any records of a sorcerer matching the description of the one who tried to kidnap you.”

Randy felt a slight chill as he thought about the possibility of meeting his accoster again, possibly accompanied by dozens of other sorcerers and sorceresses. But he also had some idea of how powerful Waldo was and believed that the old man, along with Tank, Terkel, and Mike could protect him. “That sounds good,” he said.

And so, all six of them rode to the Thomas Reed Library. Tank rode his motorcycle, looking like a human biker to any regulars who saw him. The rest of them road in two separate cars, though Dafna was completely invisible to regulars. The Reed Library had a large section that, like Dafna, was imperceptible to regulars. Within this section were multitudes of texts relating to magic and its history, including archives with records of all known malevolent supernatural entities. Randy had been to the regular and magical sections of the library many times with Waldo and Dafna but had never looked through these archives. “How are we going to find him if all we have to go on is a physical description?” He asked.

“Excellent question,” said a voice. Randy turned to see Sherry Loring, the librarian for the magical section. A fifty-seven hundred-year-old Penobscot witch, her graying, dark hair flowed to her waist. She wore jeans, a t-shirt, moccasins, and a pointed cap with a single goose feather. While one could not tell from looking at her, she had been born with the body of a boy and used magic in her youth to change her sex to female. “If you write down a description of that man on a piece of paper and put it on the shelf, the piece of paper will immediately find its way to a file of whichever wizard matches the description most closely,” she explained. “Good to see you all again!” She smiled at Randy, whom she had known since he was born. “Especially you. I always love kids who love the library!”

“Good to see you too, Sherry!” Randy replied, giving the librarian a hug. He then promptly wrote down a description on a piece of paper and put it on the shelf. Like a bullet fired from a gun, the sheet flew twelve feet up in the air to a file on a higher shelf. Tank’s arms (or would they properly be called legs?) were long enough to reach the file without anyone using a spell to levitate it down. He then handed the file to Randy. There was no picture inside, but there was a name listed: Jed Taney. The information on him only covered part of a single page. It read:

Birthdate: August 28, 1984

Affiliations: None Currently Known

Physical Description: ~5’10”, muscular, blond hair, Caucasian

Crimes: Killed two regulars for sport in New Haven, Connecticut; one was killed instantly by beheading after being possessed; other appears to have been slowly tortured to death with fire.

“Well, now I’m even happier he didn’t get to kidnap me,” Randy said.

Sherry walked over and looked at the file. “I remember that son of a bitch,” the librarian said, wincing. “There was a shortage of available magicians in New Haven at that time, and I was asked to come track him down. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find him before he burned the second regular to death. I was about to take him into custody when twelve other magicians showed up and held me off long for him enough to flee.”

“I wish I’d been there,” growled Tank. “I’d have torn his head off and used it as a bowling ball!”

“Do you think he was part of some kind of organization?” Mike asked.

Sherry opened her mouth to speak, then looked at Waldo and Dafna. Something seemed to pass between the three ancient magicians, and Sherry slowly answered, “Possibly. But I don’t know which organization it would be,”

There’s something they aren’t telling me, Randy thought. “Has he been seen since? Other than when he tried to kidnap me?”

“Not as far as I know,” Sherry said. “I should mention that he never struck me as a very skilled or powerful duelist, just very ruthless.”

“If he’s in an organization, that may be who he was kidnapping me for,” Randy said.

“Possibly, but you do not need to worry about that,” said Waldo, gently. “I promised to keep you safe.”

Randy tried to calm himself by taking several deep breaths. If anything goes wrong, if Waldo or anyone else makes a single mistake, I could be dead. A quick, painless death might be the better option. He imagined his flesh being burnt alive and shuddered.

As if trying to cheer him up, Sherry said, “You know, Randy, we have a new book on the real story of King Arthur, Merlin, and Morgan Le Fay. Perhaps you would like to read it? I bet you would really enjoy it, I know how much you love history!”

Randy perked up. “That sounds great,”

Thirty minutes later, they left with Randy having checked out Magic, History, and Arthurian England: Distinguishing Fact from Legend and two books about dinosaurs.

“Don’t worry, Randy,” said Tank, patting Randy on the back with a massive paw. “If that rat bastard comes near you again, I’ll choke him until he shits himself.”

“Thanks, Tank,” said Randy, ruffling Tank’s fur.

Fantasy

About the author

Charles Boyd

I'm a dog dad, historian, activist, and writer. I taught for 3 years and am starting a History PhD program. I write fantasy, mysteries, and historical nonfiction. I'm proud to get blocked by white supremacists, antigay activists and TERFs.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  • Carol Townendabout a month ago

    This is brilliant. I can't wait to read the rest.

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