Chapter VIII: Zack Needham

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The boy lay on his bed with his GameStarThreeD Deluxe Video System. He was playing the new release of Batman Beyond: The Joker Calls! but he simply couldn’t get into it – even the new projection-action mode didn’t get it for him tonight. Things had been pretty rough since his parents died, but it had also been more than a year and things just didn’t seem to be getting much better. He thought about his life and the sixth grade in general. In his opinion, they both pretty much sucked. He wasn’t making many friends at G.W. Wilde Middle School and though he was bright, his grades had slipped. Of course, all the counselors and teachers whispered about his situation, so it wasn’t as if he got in a lot of trouble. 

Another thing that grated on him was his home life. His aunt and uncle meant well, and they certainly didn’t mistreat him, but they weren’t used to kids and they seemed to have taken him in more out of a sense of obligation to his mother than as an act of love. They didn’t really discipline him – again, they probably considered his situation – but they also didn’t include him in much of anything either. In fact, just to see, he asked his Aunt Sophia if he could eat dinner in his room four nights in a row –  so he could play his new game and watch his new Harry Potter DVD Box Set. Her face lit up and she gave him the gratuitous: “Why of course, dear,” and that had been it; they were off the hook for nearly the entire week!

He daydreamed about the past and tears welled up in his eyes. He was an only child and had been so close to his parents. They spent so much time together that just last year it was unimaginable that they would – or could – ever be out of his life. His dad had been a writer and his mother had home schooled him, so they were beyond just being close, they were as close as they could be. And his parents were cool. Weekends and whenever his mother declared a “school holiday” were usually spent on bikes, boats or rides at the theme parks near his home in Central Florida. And because there was no office, schoolhouse or set schedules, they did a lot of traveling. When other kids read about steam locomotives in their history books, he learned about them at the Henry Ford Museum at Greenfield Village or a visit to the Smithsonian. When the kids read a chapter on marine biology, he would be looking for Gray Whales off the coast of San Diego.  

But his seemingly fairytale existence changed ever so suddenly. One French-fry munching tourist missing the red light on Orange Blossom Trail could really ruin a family!

Now the tears were running down his face. He thought about running away to join the circus – maybe Cirque Du Soliel. What a joke! He knew he’d be stuck here until he went off to college – and that was if he were lucky. 

***

Dymorla checked the multicolored symbol that nearly covered the entire floor of her laboratory. The shutters were bolted tight to keep out the rays from the huge moon, and only two small braziers and a series of short, squat candles on a grotesque candelabra – which, she daresay added quite a bit of mystique to the room – gave off any light.

“I think it’s ready” she mumbled to herself, for she was alone. Not even Willy was allowed in the lab tonight. Trever, Djar and Cookie had turned in early. They had a bit of an argument when she let them in on her plan. She had to admit, Djar was quite strong willed and a natural statesman. However, the young man had finally come round to her way of thinking – or at least he gave up his vehement objections! She had convinced them that her plan was the only way. With Fralgarzener – and the vast power at his gnarled fingertips – in control of the goblin hordes, all bets were off. Drastic conditions required drastic actions. Of course, the entire plan could easily blow up in her face. It was pretty hair-brained. And her track record hadn’t been all-to-stellar lately.

She walked around the room, checking this and that. A series of vials were set upon the huge oak table, some of them issuing smells, smoke, bubbling and fizzing sounds. She began mixing some of the potions into a wide bowl. She also began a series of chants, starting quietly and picking up volume as she went along. This continued for several minutes and beads of sweat began rolling down her forehead. She was clearly having a difficult time.

A large poof of gray-white smoke appeared in the center of the room, then a bed, then a boy appeared. Then Dymorla fainted.

***

Zack sat up wide eyed. Clearly stunned, he really didn’t know what to think. One minute he was in the small, third bedroom in his Aunt Sophia’s house, the next he was …where?

He simply sat, starting to think he must be dreaming. Of course, it didn’t seem like a dream, but it had to be. He looked around the room. It was something right out of one of his fantasy video games. Final Fantasy XXXVII: Zack goes nuts. 

Whatever, he thought. He’d soon wake up anyway, so he may as well ride it out.

He then heard a weak whisper, “Hello there, Zachary.” He looked around, but couldn’t see where the voice was coming from. Did that happen often in dreams?

“Who are you, the invisible woman? Man, this gets weirder all the time!”

“No, Zack. My name is Dymorla. I’m a Sorceress and I brought you here to save our world.” 

He then saw an elderly lady start getting up from where she apparently had fallen down. At least he thought she must have fallen down the way she had trouble getting up. 

“Okay. So I’m going to save your world, eh? Well let’s get on with this. I’m sure I’ll be waking soon – I never nap too long these days!”

***

He lay in his bed, which was moved into a small chamber that he was told would serve as his quarters, not quite so confident now. In addition to the sorceress Dymorla, he met an old man, a – quite pretty! – girl, er, sprite, and some teenager named Djar. He was starting to think that maybe he had gone crazy because this dream was just to real – and long!

They had told him all about these goblins that were overrunning cities and small villages, pillaging everything they touched. Supposedly, he was chosen by Dymorla carefully – chosen because of his situation no less! She had told him that he actually wasn’t all that special – no super powers or not of some long-lost king’s lineage. No, he was simply plucked from Earth to fulfill a silly prophecy – a prophecy that none of them believed, but thought that if they maneuvered carefully, they could get a huge amount of help from some warrior priests that could help them win their war. What a trip!

Sleep came to him rather quickly, especially considering his circumstances. When he woke up, he finally realized that he wasn’t crazy and he wasn’t dreaming. As crazy as it appeared, he knew he really was in a new world!

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