The Man in the Sky

by Ben Foster

The leaves fluttered in the moonlight. Twirling and spinning, past and under the treeline, landing on the rusted and corroded masses of steel below. The roots of the trees clung to what little soil they could find, amid the pathways of concrete and cement. The moonlight glimmered off the broken cars and trucks, wasting away in the forgotten junkyard. Now, it was only used by lowly scavengers, hoping to find something valuable or useful in the wasted metal. Perhaps the only good thing about the old junkyard was that it had many great places to hide. There was even someone running through it now. 

William darted between the pieces of rotting metal quickly and stealthily. He knew nobody would find him here, but he was cautious, and the light of the moon would make it incredibly easy for someone to see his face. He could always run. The junkyard was massive and stretched out for miles, and he knew it better than anyone.

He ran through the maze like a cheetah, stopping for nothing, only slowing slightly when turning corners. He tripped over a tree root, but caught himself, and continued on, unscathed. Suddenly, he slowed to less than half his previous speed. He glanced around him quickly. He had made a wrong turn. Making a split decision, he resumed his pace, and continued ahead. He ducked under a particularly odd shaped tree that had branches that hung low, and at a very steady line. He stopped. It was almost like somebody had trimmed the tree. He approached it slowly, but under the shade cast by its huge branches, he couldn’t see the slope in front of him. 

He slipped and tumbled down the hill. Spinning, he tried to right himself, and dug his heels into the ground. But he was going too fast, and ended up flipping himself over from the momentum. He slammed back into the hill. Finally, he began to slow. He rolled to a stop at the bottom of the slope. His nose was bleeding. It was probably broken. He got up, slowly and stiffly. His entire body ached. Picking his head up, he pressed his palms into the ground, and pushed himself into a squat. He stood. He was in pain. The kind of pain that would pass, but would make it hard to get back up the hill. He turned, glancing back up at the hill. The odd tree cast a shadow on him. He was still intrigued, but wanted nothing to do with it now. Grimacing, he turned around. 

A strange courtyard sat before him. It was surrounded by more of the odd trees, which blanketed the entire thing. The moonlight shone through the treeline, but not as it normally would. The light didn’t glimmer through as before, but instead, it was just there. He couldn’t tell where it was coming from. The ground was a thick layer of stone, all cobbled together in a massive cluster. Debris littered the ground, which was weirdly level for a bunch of rocks. The stones were riddled with burns, and a strange, dried, brown substance caked the ground. Standing in the middle of it all was a massive, rectangular, pitch black frame.

It was at least a foot thick, and two and a half meters high. It kinda looked like a door frame, and it seemed to be the center of all the chaos. He inched toward it. Swords, bows, and all kinds of medieval-looking battle armour were scattered everywhere around the thing. Slowly, he bent down, and picked up a sword with a golden hilt and a blade that looked as though it had also been golden, but was now black. Not like the odd frame, which looked naturally black, but almost as if it had been scorched. Suddenly, and out of nowhere, the blade burst into flames. He dropped it, and began to stomp on it to put out the flame, but it had extinguished as soon as it had hit the ground. Hesitantly, he reached down for it again. It ignited, but this time, he did not drop it. He just stared at it, awestruck.

He squeezed it tighter, and suddenly, glowing, green letters seemed to peel off the blade, and hovered horizontally in front of him. He whispered the words. “Sword of the Pyrotechnician”. He put the sword back down. A glimmer on the ground caught his eye. He reached down, plunging his hand into a pile of armour, and came up with a sword that glinted a beautiful blue. The instant he touched it, a surge of power flowed through him. He squeezed it, like with the other sword, and more letters, blue this time, floated in front of him. “Oracion”, they read.

This sword, he put in the bag slung over his shoulder. But as he swung the sword behind him, it glanced off the edge of the frame. Sparks flew through the air and onto the bottom of the frame. They ignited. Suddenly, a colossal, powerful blast threw him back at least ten feet. There was a sound like a thunder clap, and then all was silent again. He looked back up at the frame. It was glowing, or at least the inside of it was. It glimmered with a magical, purple sheen. 

He got up, aching even more now. Embers were burning across the ground, spread over the entire courtyard. He approached the frame slowly and cautiously. Drawing the sword from his bag, he held it steadily in front of him. Every instinct in his body told him to turn back, but he continued forward. He was drawn to it, he didn’t know why, but he was. Even as resonating, demonic noises emanated loudly from the purple shimmer, he walked slowly forward. Tiny, magenta wisps split off of the glowing, purple mass, and floated lazilly through the air. 

The shimmer rippled. Alarmed, he stepped back, keeping the sword held high. Suddenly, from within the magical frame, a hand reached out. He jumped back, and watched, as from the strange, purple glow, the hand extended, and reached farther out. The arm came out, then the shoulder, then the entire, armoured figure stepped out of the frame. The portal, he realized now. Black wisps of smoke surrounded the figure, and it was cloaked in a deathly black aura. It had a golden sword in one hand, and a bone, long and picked clean, in the other. Around its waist hung several dirty, glass bottles with pins stuck through the top, like grenades.

Suddenly, it lunged, raising its sword mid-air and swiftly bringing it down. William raised his own sword to meet it, and they clashed in a shower of sparks. Feeling the power in his own blade, he shoved the blade forward. The odd figure was thrown back into the portal. But it would come back, he realized. A trident, lying on the ground near the frame, caught his eye. He glanced back at the golden, flaming sword that he had picked up earlier. He wondered, if that bright, golden sword had the power of fire, than the light, blue trident might have the power of water. He recalled that the portal had ignited when the spark hit it. If fire could turn it on, water might turn it off.

He ran for the trident, even as he saw the figure begin to re-emerge from the glimmering portal. He scooped up the trident, which began to glow. Immediately, he could feel its vast power. Holding it, he felt like he had an entire ocean at his command. He pointed it at the portal, and immediately the power channeled into the trident’s prongs. A powerful jet of water burst from the trident, and collided with the portal. There was a flash of light, a sound like glass shattering into millions of tiny pieces, and suddenly, all was still. 

For a moment, he thought the blast had blinded him, but then realized that his eyes were squeezed shut. Slowly, he opened them, to the sight of the black frame, now dormant once more. Blue letters glimmered before him. He had been holding the trident tightly, and, like with the other weapons, its name shone in the air. “Trident of Poseidon”. He smiled. “Thank you,” he whispered to it. He raised it, and slammed the single, lower prong on the end of the trident into the stone. It stood tall, with its three prongs facing the sky. He looked back up at the slope. He turned, and started back up it.

photo by Myles Krull

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