Hey all. It’s Friday so I thought I’d let Max go play. I was aiming for 1,000 words and ended up with 1,055. I’d say not too shabby. This piece is also exciting because I found my first continuity error between this story and the others. I decided to leave it in as these shorts are just practice. If you catch it, post it in the comments. Enjoy!
Max smiled as his pencil traced an arc across the page. He wasn’t quite sure what the arc would form – maybe a wing, or a claw. Ooh the hump of a roller coaster! – but it felt good to sit at his desk, drawing to kill the time until his friend Tim came to pick him up. It felt good to have time to kill on the weekend.
A little red stone near the end of Max’s desk began to buzz insistently. For the third time in three weeks, it was Ms. Pine. Reluctantly, Max placed his palm on the table, and listened to the message.
Are you avoiding me? Anyway, I have another job this weekend. Please get in touch!
Max sighed and spun around in his chair. As he had last week, and the week before, Max made no move to reply to the message. He was done with putting his life at risk, done with being scared to go to work, done with Ms. Pine. From here on out?
No more monsters.
The doorbell rang and Max ran down the stairs and greeted his friend Tim. Immediately they began to talk about how much better today’s adventure would be as compared to last week’s. Max tried to match Tim’s excitement, but something was off.
They’d gone to play laser tag two weeks ago, and that’s when Max had noticed it. Though he was running, and jumping, and shooting, he felt as if something were missing.
He’d felt it again, at the pool party over at Kimmy’s house. The other children laughed as they splashed each other with water from the pool or ate cake and ice cream. But Max couldn’t bring himself to join them. If Tim hadn’t dared him to jump off the high dive, he might never have felt better.
Now, as he looked out at the neon flashing signs, and a thousand bulbs of light which arced into the sky, Max knew he’d be able to get it back. Whatever it was.
“Which ride do you want to go on first?” Tim asked as they waited to enter the amusement park.
Max looked around and saw a large tower that stood higher than all of the other rides in the park. At the top of the tower, was the statue of a woman with long golden hair, looking down across the park. Her golden hair cascaded down her back, flowed off the edge of the tower and eventually became the track for the ride which looped and twirled its way down to a knight who stood near the ride’s exit.
“You can’t go on that ride first Max, are you crazy? It’s the tallest one!” Tim said, putting his arms around Max’s shoulders. “You have to build up to it. Let’s try something a little easier first.“
Max allowed Tim to lead him away from Rapunzel’s Tower and onward to something that looked like a caterpillar chasing a leaf held by ants. It was just ok. The next one they tried covered almost the entire park, soaring on the wings of a Pterosaur, feet dangling high above the earth. Tim looked more exhilarated than Max had ever seen him in his life. Max supposed it was nice for him too.
Finally, they returned to Rapunzel’s Tower.
An attendant pulled the padded harness down over them and checked to make sure it was secure. With everything in place, the car began to slowly spiral upwards as if the passengers were walking up a spiral staircase to the top of the stone tower.
Max looked over at Tim who seemed to blanch a little more with each floor they ascended. Max’s anticipation was twofold. Would this thrill be the one? When this car finally dropped, would he finally feel that missing something?
They crested the top of the rise, and glided smoothly towards the drop. Max’s heart was butterflies in his chest. This was it!
There was a resounding crunch and the car stopped.
Max and Tim hung suspended over the tracks looking down to the pavement bellow. The other guests looked the size of ants and Max longed for the safety of the caterpillar ride. This was too much. It was too high. How on earth had he thought that this was what he was missing?
Max pushed against the padded harness holding him in place but it wouldn’t budge. Somewhere in the distance, an attendant was explaining into the loud speaker that the ride would need to be evacuated. Just remain calm.
When the fire department arrived and began to bring everyone down, Max was shaking as he descended the rungs. As soon as his foot touched the pavement, he ran towards the exit. He didn’t make it very far though; for some reason, it was too hard to breathe.
As Max stood with his hands on his knees, bent forward, trying to catch his breath, he heard an “Oww!” cried from somewhere in front of him. A second exclamation allowed Max to find its source: a young girl standing in front of a glass aquarium of Jebalix. She reached inside and their snapping beaks moved to nip at her hands.
Max was surprised by the fluidness of his motions as he approached the girl. His hands didn’t shake at all as he removed some leather strips from a hook on the wall and laid it within the aquarium. The jebalix bit into it, as he knew they would, and he pulled the leather back towards himself, removing their beaks. The girl was delighted, a grin spreading across her face as she reached into the aquarium to pick up one of the now harmless monsters.
Max realized he was delighted too, for as he’d helped the girl everything seemed to fall into place. The missing piece had been found! It had been the monsters all along that he’d been missing.
Tim walked up looking shaken, and stressed. “Is everything OK with you Max? You were shaking as you left the ride and now you look like you’ve just won an endless supply of free ice cream.” Max blinked a second looking at Tim. “What? Uh yea, I’m fine. Wonderful actually. But we should get going. I have a message I need to reply too . . .”
Hey again, I hope you enjoyed Rapunzel’s Tower. If you’re at all interested in reading more of my writing, or what goes into these stories, I’ve started a newsletter (which is hopefully released quarterly) so people can get a more “behind the scenes” look of what I’m doing and what’s going on in my world. Please consider subscribing. Just for signing up, I’ll email you the first story I ever wrote, about a Warlock Doctor. Fun times. Thanks again!
See you next time!