Earthbound: A Hero Chosen (book 1)

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PSY 25: Freedom




I came from the bottom of the stairs, and the man with the mustached still sat there. He looked as frightened as ever when I appeared from the hall. I exchanged glances with the guy and he stood up, removing his blue bowler hat. He tossed it to the side and came over to me, looking down at the ground.

“Hey, I don’t want anymore trouble,” I said, “So—“

He cut me off.

“So you’re the boy that… that…”

I gave him a nod, and wondered if I would need to fight him too. I hadn’t the energy. I really needed to get Paula and rest.

He continued his rambling, “You went after Mr. Carpainter and…”

I nodded again, “Yes.”

“You’re awesome!” he said and held up his hand for a high five.

I chuckled under my breath and slapped his hand.

“Thank you so much!” he said, suddenly wrapping me in a tight hug, so tight my ribs were threatening to crack.

“You’re… welcome.” I choked out.

He kept hugging me and I started to have trouble breathing.

“Can you let me go!?” I pleaded.

“Oh sorry!” he said, and dropped me.

I landed on my feet, stumbling backward and taking a deep breath. He ran around back to his desk, pulled out a briefcase and started singing a song about leaving and never coming back. Smiling was all I could do. But when I approached the door out of the office, I gripped my bat tight. What if the blue freaks were outside and ready to attack me as soon as I exited? What then? I had no energy left in me since even before the fight with their psychotic leader.

Before I could reach for the handle, the mustached secretary burst past me and threw the door open. He ran out through the large church hall, and cheering and even jumping up and clicking his heels together.

To my surprise the hall was almost entirely empty now. The battle, and the booming of thunder and crackling of lightning must have scared them all away. Or it was possible they just all snapped out of it and left.

With a renewed hop in my step, I rushed across the hall, and burst out the front door into the village. The sun was still setting and would be down soon. It was disappearing past the mountains to the west, leaving a trailing ray of beauty upon the blue structures. I was sure the villagers were going to have a lot of work to do, repainting and all.

“Yes,” I said, “I did some good here.” 

It was more than a tiny accomplishment and for a moment I basked in the remaining rays of sunlight rejoicing. But that moment of brilliance was stolen from me, because the smell of donuts wafted on the wind, and made my stomach growl.

“What a horrible nightmare!” I heard the voice of my nemesis say.

When I turned I found Pokey hobbling toward me like a penguin. He looked even more robust than normal. In his hand was a glazed donut that had a bit of red jelly dripping from it.

“Pokey…” I said, growing unhappy once again.

“I somehow woke up!” he cheered, waving his donut around and splashing the jelly all over the grass.

“Are you sure that’s how it happened?” I asked, crossing my arms and leaning on my bat.

“Of course good buddy!” he said, “Listen, Ness, let’s be friends again!”

I glared at him, and frowned. What did he expect me to say? He had kidnapped Paula! He tried to have me killed! And I was still quite sore about the fate of Buzz Buzz.

“Please answer me,” he whined, “I promise to be good. …uh …okay?”

With the roll of my eyes and a chuckled, I held out my hand to shake.

“Sure,” I said, “I forgive you.”

He took my hand and smacked it with jelly fingers. He smiled and pointed at me with both index fingers and walked backwards, keeping his eyes on me. When he reached the dirt path that led out of the village he spun around.

“Hah! I lied!” he cried, “See you, sucker!”

The jerk took off running with all the strength he could muster. He was lucky Paula was waiting for me, otherwise I would have beaten him to a pulp. Something deep inside told me it wasn’t the last I was going to see of him. I was going to regret letting him go.

Nonetheless, I let the jerk flee like the coward he was. 

As I walked through the village, people were coming to. Some were standing up and stretching as if they had been under a long sleep spell, which I guess was kind of what had happened. One man was walking around a grassy patch of the field playing a saxophone. The music was far from the sad haunting air that had infested the village before—now it was hip and happening. I almost wanted to start break dancing—but I knew I’d make a fool of myself.

My sad mood was quickly dissipating. So I burst into a sprint toward the cave. I passed the drugstore and ducked inside the hole, never stopping but to lower my head. I ran out into the field where the shack was waiting. Quickly I pulled open the door and went inside. 

Paula was kneeling down inside the prison cell with her head lowered. Was she praying?

“Paula!” I cheered, holding out the key to the cell.

She immediately popped up and jumped to her feet, and dove at the cell, grabbing the bars.

“Ness! You got the key!” she said, looking me up and down, “Are you hurt?”

I shook my head and smiled, as I started putting the key into the lock.

Jake A. Strife

Edited: 15.10.2019

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