Be a Hero
drew Slayhammer and killed the robber with a single stroke. Finally, the way
to the dragon's cave was clear. He was going to face the fire-breathing dragon
and cut him to pieces. If he could, that was!
be a hard fight and he wasn't sure if he could win it. You never know what
might happen, when you confront one of these stinking brutes. It doesn't matter
how often you've done it before and Richie had slaughtered his share
but every dragon was different, and there was a first time for every
thing. This could be the dragon who fried him for breakfast!
fighting was bloody. In the end, though, Richie's sword found its way through
all three of the dragons hearts. The monster had terrified the whole
kingdom by turning everything to grey ashes, but it would do so no more!
came out off the cave with the dragon's head in his hand, the still steaming
blood dripping onto the burnt ground. Standing outside, he watched his companions
creeping out of their hideaways, shame for their cowardly behaviour showing
clearly. On the way back to the castle the people cheered him for saving the
kingdom from the dragons fiery breath...
of the clock tore him out of his dream. Not now!, he grumbled
into the pillow.
was angry: I hate school! he mumbled hitting the duvet with his
fist. I don't want to be a child! I want to be a hero!
no dragons or evil sorcerers in real life. There was only school. The only
way he could have an adventure was by reading a book, which was just not good
enough, not by far.
Richie continued his daydream instead of paying attention. Even his favourite
subject science could not attract his attention today. He went
on chasing evil sorcerers, killing dragons, and anything else his vivid imagination
could come up with.
way home he told himself off: It can't go on like that or Ill
just go mad! The woman, he passed at that moment, gave him a strange
look. Now he was speaking to himself, like some looney! It really was time
for a change.
Richie went to his room, to do his homework and he did not do a very good
job of it. After that he read his favourite book, yet again, as if he had
not read it about a thousand times already. He just could not get enough of
a really brilliant story. There was anything in it you could only wish for.
It was about this boy who was, like Richie himself, eleven years old. This
boy, Simon by name, got accidentally lost in a big department store. During
the search for the exit and the way home the boy had to go through another
world. He fought against just about everything you could imagine: orks, dragons,
evil sorcerers and monsters. In the end, the boy was celebrated by the people
he had rescued, as if he was one of King Arthur's knights.
wished more than anything else to be somebody other people look up to, who
is asked to find solutions for life-threatening problems. James Bond on Secret
Mission would fit the bill nicely.
through the book he could sit still no longer. Richie walked through his bedroom
like a panther in a cage. Suddenly, he had an idea: Simon, the boy in his
book had accidentally lost his way in a department store, and then he had
all these brilliant adventures! Why should he not lose his way, too? Just
by mistake, of course?
thought about it seriously: He would need something to put his stuff in...
maybe his rucksack? No, a rucksack was too conspicuous, people might think
he was a runaway and inform the police! Hmm... better take his school satchel.
It had all these handy little pockets on the sides and on the front, and he
would look like any other pupil on his way to school.
congratulated himself to having worked out the first of, he was sure, many
more problems to come. Then, he considered the rest of his equipment: A weapon
that was absolutely essential. No weapon, no hero! A kitchen knife would have
to do, though. Maybe he could pick up something better on the way. Food and
a warm jumper. Who knows how long his quest would take? It might be winter
before he came back. A change of clothes, just in case it might rain and he
got all wet. Not to forget, matches, a torch, and his book for advice. Heroes
always knew what to do, but then this was to be his first real adventure.
was pleased with himself so far. The only problem now was, how to get away
without alarming his parents? All his careful preparations would be good for
nothing, if his parents realised what he was up to!
would say: You are much too young! and There are dangers
out there you even havent dreamt of! and, worst of all, What
about school? There was no way that they would just let him go. Richie
decided to solve this problem later. First, he would pack his things. So he
did. It did not take him long to put everything in, apart from the food and
knife. They had to wait until he had the kitchen to himself.
his mother rummaging in the kitchen. This is just the opportunity I need,
Richie thought. So he went straight in the kitchen to help his mother doing
the washing-up. His mother was mildly surprise, normally she had to blackmail
him to help her. She was glad, though, and left Richie alone, finishing off.
This was the chance Richie had waited for. He took some ham and cheese out
of the fridge and put both in a lunch box. Several slices of bread followed,
together with his weapon a not too big kitchen knife. His mother would
miss the big one, so he decided against it, although he would have felt safer
(and much more like a hero) with it. Finally, he found two bars of chocolate,
three cans of lemonade. This would last for a few days. After that, he just
would have to go hunting.
problem solved. Now for the last one, how to get away without his parents
noticing. Mothers seemed to have a sixth sense for things like this!
went back to his room to ponder the problem. There was only one chance, as
he saw it: He had to pretend he was going to school like usually. If he left
at night which was just the thing he would like to do his parents
probably would inform the police in the morning. However, if he pretended
to go to school, then he would have the whole day, maybe even part of the
evening. This would allow him to cover quite some distance. By the time they
miss me, Ill be out off reach, Richie grinned, pleased with himself.
Now, everything else would be a piece of cake!
he smiled in his sleep, dreaming of all the great adventures awaiting him.
before the clock the next morning, and singing he dressed and went to the
kitchen to prepare breakfast. His mother was grateful that, for once, she
did not have to drag him out of bed.
had finished, he went back to his bedroom and put all the money, he had saved
up during the last few months since Christmas in his pocket and he was on
2: On The Way
made his way to the tube station. This was the first time he played truant,
and he was a bit scared somebody would realise and stop him.
the last station and found himself in the country side. Although, he had been
here before visiting relatives it still felt different. Richie was excited
and afraid at the same time. Still, it felt good, even if he did not have
know where to go from here. Everything will fall into place, he told himself.
was grey and dull, and after an hour all by himself Richie felt less excited
but lonely. He assured himself that this was probably part of being a hero,
although it would be nicer to share the adventures waiting just round the
corner for him. He wondered if he should have asked one of his mates to come
along? He could not think of one who would have been up for something like
this, though. Anyway, it was too late for that.
was a little disappointed. He had expected, adventures to pile up the minute
he was out off the door. Well, this was real life not a book, but all the
excitement was bound to happen soon.
began to rain. No, not rain!, Richie said aloud. He slowed down
as he began to tire. He was not afraid anymore that his parents would catch
up to him, so there was not really any reason to run or even walk fast.
he put one foot in front of the other, not looking around very much, because
he did not like the rain in his face. He lost himself in another daydream.
It did not last very long, rain and increasing hunger distracted him too much.
Richie thought, I did not really expect to be just wandering around with sore
feet and rain dripping down my collar! At least, his satchel was filled with
food. Richie looked for a barn or something where he could eat his sandwich.
Half a mile down the road he saw a bus station with a roof. This would have
a little faster again, and soon arrived at the bus station. Sitting down,
he rummaged through his satchel and eventually managed to make himself a sandwich.
A can of lemonade helped it slide down easier.
he was sitting under the roof, feeling a lot better. The only problem now
was that he did not feel like getting up again. It was still raining
not cats and dogs but a steady drizzle. It did not look as if it was
going to stop soon either, and here he was at least a little protected.
thing that made him leave his shelter again, was the fact that the bus station
meant people. They might find it suspicious that he was sitting here in the
daytime when he should be at school. It was just half past one in the afternoon,
nowhere near the time school finishes.
packed his satchel, and then was on the road again like it said
in one of those old songs his dad was always listening to. Richie tried to
convince himself that it was still a lot better to be here in the rain, than
at boring, boring school.
Richie kept on going. After a while he came to a crossing. If he followed
the road straight on he would reach the village where he had been for his
mothers birthday meal half a year ago. He fondly remembered the lovely
steak and kidney pie... Adventures not pies, he told himself firmly.
on his left led to a motorway.The only choice that made sense was the path
on his right. There was no sign saying where it went.
turned to the right and followed the path up a little hill. Some cows lying
under a big tree, watched him pass by with chewing grass with bored faces.
From the top of the hill he could see that the road would soon lead into a
forest. Richie was glad about that, at least he would be out off the rain.
the slightly tangy flavour of the firs, and the rather musky smell of rotten
leaves and mushrooms. The forest was silent apart from the raindrops hitting
the leaves of oak trees and, occasionally, the chirping of a bird. Richie
felt lonelier than ever, he was used to the busy streets of the city. Since
he had left the tube he had scarcely seen a living soul at all.
this way nobody would find it suspicious that he was not at school and there
would not be anybody to give his description or whereabouts to the police,
sooner or later would contact the police, Richie felt sure. Usually, he got
on very well with them, and they were not too bad as parents go, but they
would draw the line, when they found out he had run away.
lost himself in yet another daydream. Before his inner eye, he saw police
men in their uniforms; blue lights flashed; shouts from his parents: Richie,
Richie, please come home! How could he go home? He had a special mission
to fulfil! Hiding behind a tree, momentarily out of sight, he waited for the
right moment to run, using the natural cover of the trees and bushes, always
aware that one wrong step might give the game away...
in his daydream, he found himself deep in the woods without even noticing.
His tummy brought him back to reality. He found a big stone with velvety moss
growing on it and took the edge of the hunger with a bar of chocolate. He
could not afford to eat all his food on the first day, especially, as there
did not seem to be a village or town with shops nearby to get more.
he might need the little money from his piggy bank, for something more important,
like armour or a horse, or a decent weapon! Although, he did not think twenty
pounds would be enough money to buy any of these. I might find a treasure,
hidden under the roots of a tree, he cheered himself up.
had eaten half the chocolate, he put what was left back into the satchel again,
and went on. The forest grew darker and darker, and Richie suddenly realised
that he had to find a place to sleep. A barn, filled with hay to keep him
warm, would be lovely, as he had forgotten to bring a blanket or sleeping
bag with him. Luckily, it was early summer and the nights would not be too
on and on, still following the squelchy path under the drip-dropping cover
of the trees. The end of the forest was still not in sight, and Richies
hopes to find shelter diminished.
light began to fade, Richie realised that any shelter at all was better than
nothing. He had to find something before it was too dark to see. He had his
torch, but he was not sure, if the little thing really would be of much help.
carefully looked around. Afraid to leave the path, he searched for a place
to sleep close by, so he would not loose his way. After a while he found a
big fir tree with branches hanging down all the way to the ground and a hollow
filled with dry leaves underneath. Richie crawled in, resigned that this was
the best the forest had to offer.
teepee was cozy and Richie felt protected from the wind and anything a bit
more dangerous. The only time he had ever slept under an open sky had been
on a weekend fishing trip with his father. They had lit a nice fire near the
river and had slept, huddled together for warmth and comfort, in their soft
sleeping bags. It had been great and he had been looking forward to go again
some time soon. Now, it would have to wait until he got back, if he did. You
never knew on adventures.
tummy began to rumble. Time for more food. A bit of warmth would be nice,
too. He switched the torch on and looked through all the pockets in his satchel:
no matches! He was so sure, he had put them in. How stupid of me to forget
the matches!, he thought. It probably wouldnt be a good idea anyway.
The tree might catch fire, Richie consoled himself.
put his jumper on, glad that he at least had thought of that, and ate. Then,
he curled up to go to sleep too tired even to read a few pages in his book,
as he usually did. Despite his exhaustion, the sounds of the forest kept him
awake for a long time: branches scraping at the ground or against each other,
the cry of a hunting owl, the rustling noise of leaves, the squeaking of a
mouse or other little animal. [...]
Sybille Sterk 2002 - 2004
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