A Terrible Journey
I was roused from a somewhat peaceful slumber by my ever-so-faithful alarm clock. It always amazed me how it was never late. It did what it was programmed to do exactly on time without fail, every day. Except Saturday and Sunday. Those days I let it have off so it too could sleep in. But today was a Monday, which meant I must soon embark on a perilous journey down yonder, where I would spend some torturous few hours, before returning back to my humble lodgings. Thus, I must rise early to prepare myself.
First: food. If I am to preserve suitable energy levels for the voyage, I must eat well beforehand. Second: supplies. For the trip there and back, and my stay in between, I would need the appropriate gear to ensure my survival. Thirdly: cover scent. I must mask my regular smell with a deodoriser in order to evade being detected by creatures who would wish for my destruction. Having completed these tasks, I bid farewell to my fellow lodgers, and begin my journey.
The walk to the main pathway is rather tense, for dwelling beside my cabin, is a dragon. This ancient beast has resided there for as long as I can remember, and being so old and unable to fare for herself, she has employed the talents of an evil, four-legged creature.
Summoning most of my courage (I would use all of it, but it has not been uncommon for me to need some later on in my journey), I surreptitiously made my way to the main pathway, all the while keeping my head low so as not to be spotted over the hedge by the dragon or her malevolent accomplice. Having arrived at the main pathway, I let out a sigh of relief. Now – I say this at the risk of sounding a little cliché, but – so far so good.
The path I travel on is not my own. It is used by many people and creatures of all shapes and sizes. Some are small, timid, less threatening folk. Some are pretentious and malicious ignoramuses who live only to make the lives of others, mine included, miserable. So I must tread carefully to circumvent crossing paths with the latter.
I now close in on what I consider to be one of the most perilous parts of my passage: the crossroad. At this point, two large paths, one of them my own, traverse. At this crossroad, countless capacious, cretins race past at extraordinary speeds, leaving dense black smog in their wake.
Getting through the smog without being run-down or devoured by these behemoths is a feat that requires certain skill. You must wait for a gap in the never-ending traffic, a small period wherein the noise dies down just a little. Then, you must run through the blackness, and, if the mistress Fate smiles upon you, you will emerge safely on the other side. And smile indeed she did, as I get through without incident, although my complexion has become slightly darker due to the staining qualities of the choking black cloud, making me almost look Middle-Eastern.
As I leave the hectic crossroad behind me, the loud rumbling is soon replaced by cries of panic and jeering laughter. Squinting, I see a number of the aforementioned ignoramuses harassing one of the weaker of their kind. This situation presented me with two options: intervene and hope they don’t turn their interests to me, or I could take a detour and hope I haven’t been spotted. Being the brave chap that I am, I decide to arbitrate.
“Look, guys,” I say, striding purposefully towards the bullying fiends. “I understand there’s no one of your own size to pick on, but leave the poor guy alone.” Their reply was in a tongue I am unfamiliar with, so I retort with a stolid silence. Evidently my lack of response was unappreciated, as they turn their attention onto me and advance. Slowly at first, but they progressively increased their speed into a run, giving me just cause to do the same. This also gives the assailed person a chance to escape relatively unscathed. I only hope the same could be said for me.
Turning on my heels, I sprint away from my pursuers then turn away down a side alley in the hopes of evading capture. The path is thorny and overgrown, and a number of homeless, sleeping trolls lie spread-eagled at various places down its length. Talk about the road less travelled. Stumbling down the track, I feel the thorns biting at my legs, and I can hear that the same is happening to those behind me. The ruckus we make awakens the slumbering beasts, frightening them and purging the alley of their presence, making it slightly easier to get through.
Soon I emerge from the end of the small passageway and break into a full sprint. I pause quickly to glance behind me in order to determine how far away my malicious followers were. They appear to have given up the chase. I stop, bend over with my hands on my knees and try to resume a normal breathing pattern.
Then, as I look up to try gain an awareness of my location, I see that the forlorn alley has led me much closer to my destination than I would have thought. The realisation of this gives me many mixed emotions. I am all but overwhelmed with joy that I have nearly arrived, yet at the same time grieved by the thought of having to spend any length of time there. Not to mention the return journey afterwards. In all, a miserable outlook if ever I saw one.
I continue walking and as I approach the school gates, I join the rush of students, crushing together in an attempt to all fit through at once. It was like trying to force a tree trunk into a pencil sharpener.
Why does it always seem that I am the only one discouraged by the thought of a day at school? Am I the only one who envisions trolls and dragons and other nonsensical creatures to get through this daily grind?
Perhaps not. Perhaps the reason they all seem so cheerful is that they continue their fantasy into the school day, not allowing the entering of the gates to shatter their fantastical illusion. Or maybe it’s just me.
Maybe I’m just weird.
If you’ve read thus far, thank you. I would really appreciate any comments or feedback of any sort (primarily as I intend to enter this short piece into a Short Story competition. Also, I have been told I could perhaps make it more ‘ridiculous’ or ‘crazy’. So any ideas on how to do this would be greatly appreciated. And again, thanks for reading.