A dream away, p.1
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       A Dream Away, p.1

           Bruce Valentine
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A Dream Away

  A Dream Away

  Chapter 1


  The party had been over for a few hours now and the lights down the hallway had darkened. Thomas sat up in his bed and listened to the heated argument coming from his parents’ bedroom. He laid back and buried his head in his pillow to block out the screaming but it didn’t work. The fighting would keep him up most of the night as sure as it would most of their neighbors in the trailer park.

  His mother had started the fight tonight. She was upset at his father for being out drinking with friends instead of attending his own son’s birthday party. Usually, however, it was his father that created the most raucous. Nearly every night he would come home drunk screaming, yelling, and usually hitting him and his mother. Those nights usually ended with him and his mother running off to one of her friend’s houses only to go back home so his parents could make up the next day. His mother didn’t care tonight though, his father had missed his twelfth birthday party and she was furious. The fighting would probably last all night.

  Thomas rolled over on his side and played with one of the action figures he had gotten as a present from his Grandmother. She always sent something even though she lived in Florida now and didn’t have much money since Grandpa died. He played with it a few minutes more and remembered there was something else in the card she had sent him.

  He crept out of bed and slowly and quietly snuck down the dark hallway. The screams coming from the back bedroom did little to quell his fear of the dark. He knew that if he wasn’t quiet and his father heard him out of his bed after bedtime his anger would be turned on him and he would get a beating for sure. His bare feet padded along the old worn out carpet into the living room. He increased his pace towards the kitchen since there was a light above the sink. He nervously grabbed the card from his grandmother and sucked in his breath as he looked back at the long dark hallway. The yelling from his parents soon gave way to the pounding of his own heart. Still holding his breath, he clenched the card and raced back to his bedroom and shut the door silently and quickly as possible.

  He lay on his bed wiping the tears from his eyes and let himself calm down before he opened the card. His heartbeat slowed and the yelling from down the hall was quieting down. He rolled over on his side and opened the card. “May this magical pendant make all your dreams come true,” he read the end of the card and looked at the thing taped inside. It was a metal object in the shape of a moon, star, and a weird looking curved knife. I wonder what that means, he thought to himself. His Grandmother always sent the best gifts, but she always managed to throw in something weird. She had sent a bag of voodoo dust, mojo she called it, last year for Christmas as a stocking stuffer.

  The mojo had only made him sneeze when he accidentally dumped it from the bag. This gift, however, was the most promising. Probably just another worthless trinket, but Thomas turned off his light and gripped the pendant as if his life depended on it. The yelling was becoming loud again and he heard the sound of stuff being thrown and glass breaking. He gripped the pendant tighter and drifted off to sleep.

  Chapter 2

  Thomas awoke in a pile of hay. He groggily sat up and looked around as a goat began to lick the back of his neck. Startled, he jumped and yelled for his mother. He appeared to be in some sort of barn, a decrepit barn at that, and full of all sorts of smelly animals. The fight between his parents must have gotten pretty heated last night, which resulted in his mother taking him in the middle of the night and running off to hide in this barn.

  The silent, dew drenched morning was loudly interrupted by a young boy running into the barn yelling. The boy was wearing an old torn tunic, pants that he’d long since outgrown, barefoot, and disheveled hair. Thomas looked down at himself and realized he was dressed very similar. His pajamas had been replaced with these ragged clothes.

  “Thomas! Thomas! Hurry up outta the sack or ya gonna be late, you dolt,” the ragged boy almost ran him over.

  What in the world is going on, he thought to himself. Looking out the barn doors, or where the doors should’ve been, he noticed a large gathering of people all bustling about. He took a step closer to the doorway in disbelief, all the people were wearing medieval clothing, and he swore that was a knight that just rode by on a horse and carrying a shield, sword, the works.

  Still in shock, he turned to the boy. “What am I gonna be late for?”

  “Did them goats come eat out the rest o’your mind last night when you was sleepin’?” the boy laughed. “You been lookin’ forward to this all winter long. It’s Mentor day. You know? Become an apprentice and get outta that darned orphanage Ringin’ any bells yet?”

  “But…No, wait a sec…” Thomas started to say.

  “But, nothin’. We can’t wait any longer or all the good apprenticeships will be gone. Now move, already.”

  “Have you seen my mother?” Thomas asked as the boy grabbed his arm and pulled him towards the doorway. “I know she’s gotta be around here somewhere. She’ll know what’s goin’ on. Her name is Connie and she has wavy brown hair down to about here,” Thomas made a motion with his hand when he caught the expression on the other boy’s face.

  “How many times do we hav’ta go through this? You and I live in an orphanage, we have for as long as either one of us can remember. You’re name is Thomas, and mine is Grady. And, we’re gonna live at the orphanage the rest of our lives if we don’t get out there soon. Now come on!” he explained as he hurriedly pulled Thomas out of the barn and into the street.

  Out in the street, Thomas got a much better view of his surroundings. The main street was rough cobblestone with smaller roads branching off from it in many directions. The cobblestone in this area was formed in a large open circle. Thomas figured this must be the town square of sorts. Many old shops and buildings lined the main road, and other merchants setup directly on the cobblestone to hock their wares. The many smells of all sorts of exotic foods along with the most intoxicating whiff of baking bread filled his nostrils. People littered the street by the dozens; shopping, playing, and a group of people in the very center huddled around a bunch of children about his own age. This was the direction the boy named Grady was pulling him. Nearing the center of the cobblestone square, Thomas looked back and caught his breath. “Is that a real castle?” he asked in awe.

  “Of course it is, noodle brain,” Grady said looking curiously at Thomas. “That dream must’a scrambled your noggin. Remember, that’s where we’re gonna live someday when we give our allegiance to the king? We’re both gonna be knights,” he faded off as they reached the group of children in the middle of the square.

  “You boys here to be chosen by a master?” a gruff, older man from the Academy asked them.

  “Yes we are,” Grady announced as he stuck out his chest. “My name is Grady and this here is my best friend Thomas.”

  “Last names?”

  Grady’s apparent pride plummeted. “No last names, Sir. We from the orphanage,” he said, barely above a whisper. Some of the other children laughed and Grady lowered his head and stared at the ground. Today was the day when all twelve year old boys get chosen to apprentice under a master, but orphans could be turned away since most seemed destined to become vagrants, criminals, or even worse.

  The man chuckled, “Fine, whatever. Just head towards the back and don’t get your hopes up young man.”

  The two boys walked past the other children, ignoring the sneers and snide remarks from the boys with an actual lineage, an actual chance of becoming something important. Thomas walked in an almost daze, still wondering how he had gotten here. He worried about his mother, hoping she was ok. They stopped and stood at the very back of the group. With some of the boys being a little bigger, they were almos
t invisible.

  Thomas stood there reluctantly. He wanted to run away, but where would he run? This place was so strange to him, so foreign, as if he were in a different time period, maybe even a different planet or dimension. The last thing he remembered was his birthday party, his father coming home, his parents fighting, and sneaking off to the kitchen to get his grandmother’s card. That’s it, he thought to himself. That pendant his grandmother gave him. He’d wished he was gone so he didn’t have to listen to his parents fight anymore. He must’ve fallen asleep thinking about it and now he was dreaming. A dream, nothing more.

  He smiled to himself, almost laughing, when he noticed the boys were already being chosen. If this were only a dream, it was very lifelike. Thomas could hear every little noise, smell every odor, especially the man standing right in front of him. He was a sun-baked man of medium height, and very stocky. Muscles rippled where Thomas never knew there were muscles. The pungent odor was that of sweat. This man wreaked as if he’d not had a bath his entire life. Thomas did not want to be chosen by this man. Whatever he did for a living, he wanted no part of it. The man scribbled something on a piece of paper and walked away.

  Thomas glanced over at Grady who was anxiously watching one
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