Inside My Head

The Imagineer – Book 1

by on Nov.12, 2008, under The Imagineer

CHAPTER 1 “Where Have All the Heroes Gone”

The giant, four winged dragon rose up – blowing a stream of fire at the knight charging toward it on horseback.   Sir Gavin dove from his mount avoiding the blistering flame.  He rolled forward and landed on his feet with his mighty blade at the ready.

Focusing on the knight, the evil dragon opened its mouth and exposed it’s fangs.  In one quick movement, it snapped it’s gaping maw at the valiant knight.  Gavin swung his sword and blocked the deadly attack.  Sparks flew from the clash of steel and tooth.

And an alarm began to ring.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Teddy!  Time to get up!”

As the vivid dream faded away, twelve year old Teddy Tucker opened his eyes.  Shaking his head to clear the cobwebs, his long blonde hair whipped left and right.

“Hurry up, honey, or you’ll be late for school.”

Teddy reached for the alarm and shut it off. 

“Oh, why do mornings have to come so early?”, he moaned.  Throwing off the covers, he sat up – his legs dangling over the side of the bed. 

Teddy’s room was a mess.  Not just a regular, run of the mill, everyday mess, but a disaster area, nuclear explosion, world class mess.  Half completed models, books, trading cards, games, clothing (both clean and used) decorated the room like artifacts in Pharaoh’s tomb. 

Teddy’s Mom warned him that one day she would come into his room with a Hefty bag and “really clean it up”.

“Teddy!  Hurry up!  Are you daydreaming again?”

“No, Mom!  I’m almost ready!”

Teddy stood up and stretched.  He was of medium height and build for his age, but he could tell he was ready for a growth spurt.  He had seen pictures of his father and he was a tall man.  In fact, he was named after his Dad, Theodore Tucker. 

His Mom told him that his father died when he was very young.  Teddy secretly believed that his father was a soldier of fortune, or a spy or ….  something mysterious and wonderful.  Teddy was sure he died doing something great – saving a damsel in distress, recovering state secrets, quelling a revolution, or some other noble deed.  Even though no one confirmed it, he was sure.

He stopped asking his Mom about him a while ago because it seemed to make her sad.  She used to tell stories about their high school days together.  He was a football and baseball player and she was a cheerleader.  How they went to the same college.  How they loved each other very much from the first day they met.  But she never talked about what he did after college, so Teddy had to fill in the blanks himself.   He just noticed that after he left the room, he could hear sobbing.  So he stopped asking. 

Grabbing clothing from the floor and sniffing each to determine worn from unworn, Teddy quickly dressed.  Football shirt, jeans and the cleanest socks he could find completed his outfit.  And then he was off to the kitchen.

Teddy took the stairs two at a time.  His last leap was to the rug at the bottom of the stairs.  On contact, the rug slid out from under him, his feet going in two different directions. 

He landed on his rear end with a thud.  Limbs akimbo and hair hanging down in his face, he desperately tried to catch his breath.

And then he opened his mouth wide.  With shock and hurt he shouted “The Word”.  The “I don’t believe you just said that!” and “Where did you hear that filthy language?” Word.  As soon as it was out, Teddy tried to get it back. 

He closed his eyes and prayed.

“Please, please – you didn’t hear it. Mom”, he thought.  Maybe she was slamming the door, or talking on the telephone, or in the bathroom far enough away not to have heard.

He slowly opened his eyes and looked toward the kitchen doorway. 

No such luck.

Standing there, mouths open, staring at him were his Mom and his best friends, John and Izzy Newman.

John (not Johnny or Jack, thank you) was thirteen and in the eighth grade, a year ahead of Teddy at Walter Johnson Middle School.  He was an athlete (football, baseball, basketball), had a near-photographic memory for sports trivia and movie facts, and had an innate knack for knowing how things work.  He also had a habit of giving people new names – constantly.  His favorite target was his younger sister, Izzy.  From the high volume of names he bestowed on her, she sometimes flipped out.

Izzy (short for Isabel) was eleven going on thirty.  Sometimes when you talked to her you forgot her age.  She was very bright and her conversations had a maturity beyond her years.  Breezing through the 4th grade, she was still trying out different personalities.  Tomboy.  Prom Queen.  Diva.  Little girl.  Mother.  You never knew who you would be talking to at any given moment.  This could be very disconcerting to family and friends.

Before Mrs. Tucker or John could react, Izzy walked right up to Teddy, as he sat awkwardly at the base of the stairs, and said “Quite a vocabulary you have there, young man.”

Mrs. Tucker began to laugh.  And so they all began to laugh.

Teddy stood up and straightened himself out, thinking, “Dodged a bullet there, I’m gonna have to thank Izzy later.”

As Teddy entered the kitchen, his Mom pulled him aside.

“Just so you know, right to bed after dinner tonight.  Just because I laughed doesn’t mean I think it’s OK,” she told him, “That came out a little too easily.”

“Yes, Mom, I’m sorry,” he said while thinking, “Scratch the ‘Thank You’ to Izzy.”

Teddy sat at the round table with John and Izzy.  He began shoveling his cereal into his mouth at a rapid pace.

“You kids want something to eat?” Mrs. Tucker asked.

“No, thanks,” John said, “We already ate at home.”

“And, if we don’t hurry, we’ll be late … again,” Izzy added.

“I’m done!” Teddy said through a mouthful of chocolaty, wheaty, sugary cereal.  “Let’s go.”

Grabbing their backpacks, the trio ran out of the door – shouting their farewells – into the mild spring morning.

“Bye, kids,” Mrs. Tucker called after them.  She stood at the window and watched them disappear into the distance.  Turning back, she saw the lunch bag on the counter.

“Oh, Teddy, you’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached.”

The kitchen suddenly turned cold and dark, as if the life was being sucked from the room.

“Hello, Elizabeth,” the voice was deep and raspy. “It’s been a long time.”

Elizabeth Tucker spun around.  The darkness pressed inward like a heavy wool blanket – smothering, suffocating.  She stared into it, looking toward the doorway into the hall, trying to see the owner of the voice.  In the failing light, she could make out a tall, dark shape – shrouded in a long, black cape.

A flood of recognition swept over her.

“No ….”, she gasped.

“Oh, yes …:”, the shape said, with an evil smile in his voice.  With a swoop of his cape, she became enveloped in the dark.  And just as quickly, it was daylight again.  But the kitchen was empty.

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