Short and Sharp: Fantasy
“So, Cal. How’s life?”
Callum swung around the telegraph pole. “Oh, not too bad.” He was talking to Alyssa, a good friend of his. There was a time when he would have wished for them to be something more, but not anymore. He was about to ask her the same question, when he heard the voice.
Or voices. There were multiple of them. Alyssa opened her mouth again, but Callum silenced her with a hand. He peeked around the alleyway. He probably shouldn’t investigate. It was probably a bad idea to be walking around the suburban streets at that time of night as well. But Cal wasn’t known for his ability to resist temptation.
It seemed deserted. Cal wondered briefly if he was going insane. But there was a flash of light at the very end. And Alyssa saw it too. “Woah, what is that?” Callum took off without any hesitation. “Hey, Cal, wait up!”
But Callum didn’t want to wait. It seemed to be pulling him in, flirting with his curiosity, making him want to know more, to feel more. He could hardly even hear Alyssa’s voice any more. He wondered what could be at the end of an unlit alleyway at 10 o’clock at night. Alyssa caught up as he pulled up short.
A little girl that couldn’t have been any older than twelve was lying down in the middle of the pavement. “Hello?” The girl didn’t stir. Callum placed his hand on top of the girl’s head. And the light that he had seen beforehand flashed again.
He had to shield his eyes from the pure brightness, but when he opened them again, he was not in the alleyway. And the girl was awake. Callum stood speechless, simply gawking. The girl chuckled offhandedly. “Sorry about the theatrics. But we figured you deserved some amazement. Some fun. After all, you’re a good kid.”
“How do you know who I am?”
“Magic. Karma. Some other stuff. I’ll explain some other time. But for now, I’ll give you what you need.” She grabbed his hand and pulled him along, down brightly lit streets. “You deserve your fantasy. Your pure happiness. Whether it be fame, glory, or money, we can give it to you.”
“We? Who’s we?”
“Again, Callum, some other time. But after watching you for a while, we think we know what you want. We think we know your ultimate dream.
“It’s a challenge. To be thrilled by the push and pull of puzzles, endlessly. You live for the thrill of the chase, the adrenaline of a late night out, walking dangerous streets.”
“And you’re going to give this to me?” Callum really wanted to believe her. But he couldn’t. Not with everything he knew about the world.
“Yes, Callum. In fact, as this is your fantasy, here’s someone right now, to prove it to you.” An old man was walking after them.
“Hello, Callum,” he said. “You have solved so many puzzles already for others. Could you solve mine?”
“Sure, sir, just tell me what the problem is.” But before the man could speak, a burst of sound suddenly hit their ears. People emerged from buildings, calling Callum’s name, asking him to fix their problems. They converged on him, forcing him backwards. He turned to the girl.
“I want to go back!”
The girl just laughed. “But, that would ruin the puzzle!”
And she woke up from the sidewalk. The alleyway was deserted, but that was unsurprising. She smiled, and slinked behind a bin, waiting for her next unsuspecting victim to walk down the alley.