“The Boy on the Beach”
Martin wasn’t alive the last time the City of Wonders arrived. His parents had told him it hadn’t been seen in these parts for two generations. They coached him carefully for the day of its return. Today was that day.
He rocked from foot to foot as the great stony island that moved without sail or oar approached the shore, its polished spires glorious in the morning sun. Among the spires and around the island darted the flittercraft he had only ever seen in a storybook, like flies around a ponderous ox. His stomach knotted in anticipation as one of them peeled off and approached the beach. It swooped in, screeching like a hungry gull, then pulled up sharply in a spray of sand that stung his arms and forced him to shield his face. When it landed, Martin stood in front of it and saluted, hand to heart and oak-straight as he has practiced so many times with his father.
A moment passed. Two. More. Martin dared not move. He was the boy on the beach, the one whose acceptance or rejection would determine whether the city stayed or left, whether his people would enjoy the wonders it contained or not. A bead of sweat rolled down his face. In that interminable stream of moments, Martin did not know whether he would live or die. No one ever said what happened to the boy who failed. Maybe no one ever returned to say. Maybe the city would take him and punish him in ways none could describe. Maybe the City of Wonders could also be a city of horrors.
He wanted to speak. He nearly did, a question began, but then a crack appeared in the front of the flittercraft. A door opened smoothly, formed a ramp, tapped down in the sand.
A voice boomed from inside the craft. “DO YOU DARE?”
Dare? Of course he dared. He had dreamed of this chance to be the first into the City of Wonders from the first moment the Elders told him he could be the boy on the beach. Martin whooped, shot up the ramp like an arrow loosed from the mightiest bow. His people would know jubilee. He would know the greatest adventures.
Dare? “Of course I dare!” His voice echoed off the skin of the craft and the rocks on the beach. “OF COURSE I DARE! I AM MARTIN!”
This is an experiment. The story is bigger than any I’ve written here. It promises more — a lot more. I’m not quite sure exactly why young Martin is the boy on the beach nor where the story goes for him after the flittercraft door closes behind him. What I know is Martin is in for great adventures and his people are in for more than a couple wonders themselves.
I am eager to know what you think of the story. It is clear? Is there a story amidst the promises of even more story to come? Does it dissatisfy you or make you restless? Please tell me in the comments. I’d be grateful.
Darleen’s story is not a happy one, though it could be in time.
BigGator5 revisited an old character and teased a New setting.
Smitty’s story, like Darleen’s, was not happy but promised at least a good amount of satisfaction.