The hero was forced a step back as the terrible stench attacked his nose. The thick scent of ground bones and sweetly decay filled the air. There was something rotting. Covering his nose with his sleeve he pressed on, silent in the darkness and unbeknownst to the terrible creature. Behind him a foot slipped on the stone and turning to the sound, he glared.
Their eyes met and Zoe mouthed a ‘sorry'. then flanked the sleeping creature. Their other four teammates were already in position. Zoe’s slip up didn't cost them a thing. Everyone here was essential to cause, and nothing could go wrong if they were going to make it out alive.
Everything, everything came down to this moment. The countless nights spent awake planning would come together. The hero took a deep breath and regretted it. It was unbearable so close to the sleeping beast.
He rose his weapon above his head, and with the help of those around him, he cleansed the world.
“Jack! Jack, we did it,” I cheered. A smile plastered on my lips. The feeling of excitement washed over the entire group, some were hugging, some sobbing. But they all felt incredible. A splatter of blood dusted his cheek, and he had a sad look in his eye.
“Uh… Sir, your coffee’s ready.” The scent of ground beans and sweet baked goods filled the air, with a trembly thank you I took it from his hands and moved on. If I wasn't quick I'd be late.
Once in my seat it didn't matter, we had just vanquished a dreadful beast. My friends deserved to celebrate, and I could manage both.
The celebration lasted for days. With the sweetest music filling the great halls and the happiest of laughter following. There was only one problem.
“Jack.. You aren't celebrating.” He was silent a moment, then turned to me.
“Who was the last person you had a conversation with?” He asked, the words coming out harsher than intended. I smiled gently, he had gone through enough.
“Well, me and Zoe were just-“
“A real person, Jason.” He breathed. I made to open my mouth but he cut me off once again “you know what I mean, humour me.”
“Well my mom called a week ago but I don't see what that has-“
“I don't think we're good for you. Not anymore, your growing up kid, and you can't hold on to childish-“
The celebration continued over the next three days, it was settling down now. The initial ecstatic energy had calmed a little, and groups had begun to break off from the main party. Our group was just one of those such, save one missing companion.
“Jace I was told Jack wanted to see you.” Zoe said returning with snacks.
“Yea? I'll go find him,” I stated. Telling them to continue the movie without me, I hurried up and out of the room, going where my gut told me. I smiled, and there he was looking just like a seldom hero, sitting under a tree and staring at the star dusted sky. “What's up?”
“To childish fantasies, but those aren't really the problem. It's us, your friends. You need to make real ones. You need to live a real life. You can find real people you like just as much and-“
“Restart,” I whispered.
The party pressed on, people were beginning to get bored. But that didn't matter, my friends stuck around me. All save for one.
“Has anyone seen Jack?” Mason was beginning to worry, his voice was shaking. “It's been days since I last heard from him.”
“I haven't seen the guy… Is… Is he okay? Jace lets go look for him,” Zoe offered sounding just as worried.
“Don't worry, I know where he is.”
“And you could have real fun,”
“Go on real adventures.”
“The real world can suck sometimes… But Jason it's beautiful if you give it the chance.”
“You could be happy. You aren't happy now.”
“I know this isn't what you really want.”
“It's… fine,” he took in an unsteady breath.
“I know you are afraid. And that's okay, you can be afraid, but you can also do this. ”
“This is safe.” He pulled me into a hug. It stole the air from my lungs.
“You have to grow up, but I promise, you’ll find a way to make it worth while. To make it incredible. Please just… Just do this one last thing for me.”
So I did, with a sob in my throat and a shake in my hands; I got up, pressed on, and tidied my room. In baby steps I tidied up my life. After a while I stopped counting the seconds, minutes, days, and then months were passing by.
The thick scent of ground coffee-beans, and sweetly baked-good filled the air. I glanced behind me and our eyes met. She smiled, and I smiled. Then stretching out her hand, I didn't catch her name.”