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Short piece written in response to an I dare you to write prompt

At least this way, he’d have a view of the balcony.

Why did I even say that? Can he even see anymore in this condition? There was a time when I would insisted that no, not anymore, he couldn’t and stormed off, devastated at what happened to my beloved friend. My friend had been mutilated, perhaps even murdered, and the act was devastating to him and I would have bitten anybody who tried to tell me different. It’s funny how that belief goes away, but lingers at the same time, how no matter what you know, some things stay alive even though they never were in the first place.

How did you get this way, my friend?

The question is as much idle fancy as it is serious inquiry. I had not expected to find my old childhood friend here, having believed for so long in the malice of movers or parents, certain that they were the culprits in the matter of the loss of this one, treasured toy. However, today I have proof that it happened differently.

A slide down the bannister and a rappel down to the stairs, the intrepid Doctor Buttons, the famed but none too dextrous archaeologist sweeps his way across what’s left of a hardwood floor now littered with broken class, litter, spider webs and worst of all, splinters. With his boots and depressingly, even his trousers long gone, Doctor Buttons is particularly vulnerable as he makes his way across the expanse towards the cache.

He doesn’t know what he’ll find when he crosses the legendary gauntlet of traps in the fabled Living Room, only that it was ancient and the treasures priceless. The rest doesn’t really matter, only getting there and finding out what’s in that locked box. It isn’t going to be easy, though, not with broken floorboards to cross and mountains of moving debris to climb in order to reach his destination. Fearless and determined, Doctor Buttons isn’t daunted. He presses onward, unaware of the dreaded ant hill that has sprung up, its only purpose to guard the precious relic from intruders.

Within moments of his approach, the ants surround our hero, burying him and attacking his limbs with their vicious mandibles (was that even the word? I don’t actually remember). The whole thing takes just seconds; Buttons was unprepared for the viciousness of the insect attack and had not anticipated their sheer numbers. It takes all his strength to break an arm free and he barely manages to throw the last of his rope, securing it to a loose floorboard to haul himself out of the thick of the onslaught and to safety, but the damage is done. Doctor Buttons’ wounds are extensive and the cache still a ways away.

Don’t be ridiculous. He was tougher than that. It would have taken far more than a few insects to do away with him.

The drums beat out a slow, steady rhythm that and matched his heartbeat as he approached the podium in front of the assembled crowd and he wondered, idly, whether it was really the drums that set the rhythm, or whether the whole scene played out in time with his heartbeat. Buttons didn’t bother to wonder if it mattered, he wouldn’t have many more chances to indulge this kind of foolishness. It would all be over soon.

A fearless rebel caught in the act and imprisoned in a fiendishly clever prison, this time Buttons would not be breaking out to bring down the New Order. This time, his number was really up.

Or was it? A careless guard, a poorly tied noose, a quick, deft move. It wasn’t much, but it was an opening and the rebel seized upon it. The whole affair took less than a moment, and Buttons was up the side of the tower and out of sight!

The reprieve was brief, though, and doomed by a length of rope too weak to support Buttons for the duration of his daring escape. He climbed faster as one by one, the strands of rope strained and snapped but it was all in vain. Buttons plummeted down, his fall broken only by a patch of nettles at the ground.

Boring. Done in by gravity and shrubbery with thorns? He deserves better; dragons, at very least.

Sailing through the skies on the back of his brave companion, Sir Buttons brandished his sword as he met with the wing of the foul beast. It flinched, and banked to the side, wheeling around for another pass. In an instant flames surged from Sir Buttons’ foe, catching his arm and charring it. He ducked and wheeled around, reading himself to charge again. Not this time, this time the dragon would not get away with devouring a village.

Buttons took a moment to steel himself before the charge; he couldn’t afford to get it wrong. As it was, it was likely he’d never hunt another of these beasts even if he did make it out. He leaned down to pat his steed, urging him onward and lifting his shield against the rain of fire from the beast. He struck a blow, then another, then a third.

It was enough, but barely. As the dragon fell, it swiped its tail around, knocking Sir Buttons free of his steed, and down with him, both fell into the lake below and neither was seen again.

It’s strange and oddly saddening to think that there was a time when these would have felt like better answers than the truth, and hurts me to think that they’re unsatisfying now. Nobody’s been here in so long that it’s impossible to say what might have actually happened, but today I imagine that the fell victim to some vicious neighbour’s child and the head? It’s likely that that was carried off as a trophy by some dog who was blissfully unaware that he was chewing on my only childhood friend.

It puzzles me that I even left this behind, much less allowed it to decay, rot, and be devoured by time and the local wildlife in this way. I’ve followed the breadcrumbs of my childhood to this room, and this reminds me of just how much of it I’ve got to cover over. The view from the window is nice though, of the yard? He could stay here as long as it takes to clean this place up and sell the house, but then what? I don’t really even know.

Then again… whatever else the adventures were, they were ours. Maybe there’s one more left.


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October 2014

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