The Case of the Misplaced Hero, p.1Camille LaGuire
The Case of the Misplaced Hero
A Serial Novella from The Daring Novelist Blog
by Camille LaGuire
Copyright 2012 Camille LaGuire
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The Case of the Misplaced Hero
Table of Contents:
The Story Begins Here
About the Author
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This story was first published as a twice weekly serial on The Daring Novelist blog. Part of the challenge I set myself was to write super-short episodes, quick to read like a comic strip. As a result I often had to squeeze scenes or cut myself short. For the most part, this book is as the story originally appeared, but I have expanded and edited a few things, simply because I could.
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The Case of The Misplaced Hero
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Aunt Flavia Jumps In the Lake
Alex began life only twenty-three years ago, in Michigan. He was the son of wealthy parents, who were always a bit mysterious and distracted. They died before he was old enough for them to explain anything to him.
They left him in the hands of lawyers, who took care of his estate, which was large, and mostly pretty boring. He would have much rather have been left in the custody of his Great Aunt Flavia, but apparently his parents, or their lawyers, had been concerned that she would be a bad influence.
And they were right. She was a bad influence, and she managed to influence him very well, in spite of the lawyers. She was all the family he had, so they could hardly keep her away. He got to spend summers and holidays with her.
And she was anything but boring.
Aunt Flavia lived in a world of her own, a world full of imagination. When he came to visit, they would play at pirates all summer long; and at spies and castles and swordplay at every week end. He learned to ride horses, and became a passable swordsman.
His aunt had even made up a secret language she called "Awarshi," which they spoke to one another all the time, like a secret code, even in public. This much annoyed the trustees who acted as Alex's financial guardians.
One summer Alex and Flavia were out boating on Lake Michigan, when a wind came up, and she fell overboard. It happened so fast Alex didn't even hear the splash. She was simply gone. Alex was frantic. He circled, and called for help.
The authorities and local fishermen searched for hours and found no sign of her.
She turned up on the beach that evening, weak and suffering from exposure. She had a gash on her side, and bruises on her wrists.
The injuries looked suspicious to the police, especially since she was vague on how she got them. That is, she was vague until she realized that the police thought Alex had attacked her and thrown her overboard. She bristled at the very idea, and suddenly she could remember every detail of her ordeal:
"That's nonsense!" she said, energy flooding back into her whole body. "I fell in, and was sucked under, that's all. There must have been an unusual undertow."
"An undertow that grabbed you by the wrists?" asked the policeman.
"Don't interrupt," she said, and she fixed him with a look that made him look away for doubting her. "When I came up, the boat was no longer in sight. I could see the beach, so I swam for it. But I'm an old woman, and not strong, so I suppose I mostly drifted. I very nearly didn't make it, so don't question me like a criminal."
"No, ma'am, of course not --"
"There was a pontoon or a raft a little way from shore," she continued, with another sharp look at the cop to silence him. "I tried to climb up onto it, but I lost my grip. That's when I hurt my side. So then I just held on and rested until I was strong enough to stay afloat and let the waves push me to the beach."
The policeman looked doubtfully at the bruises on her wrists, but she pulled her hands away and crossed her arms.
"When I tried to climb up on the pontoon, I wrapped a rope around my wrist to get a better grip."
She could not be shaken from her story, and no one wanted to badger a sick old woman, so they let her go home.
Alex rode with her as the police drove them home. Her energy faded then, and she closed her eyes, almost dead, he thought. He took her arm and cried.
"I tried to save you but I couldn't," he whispered in their secret language, so the police wouldn't know.
She smiled and squeezed his hand. "It wasn't a job for you."
"It was," he said. "I was the only one there. That's what you've always said about a hero, right? He's the person who's there."
"Kinchura," she said, which was her word for dearest. "I wasn't there to save, so it wasn't your job. Quiet for a little now. I'm too tired. I must rest. I have something to give you. Later."
That night Alex fell into a fitful sleep, filled with nightmares of wind and water. He tossed and turned and in the worst his dreams, a hand grabbed his arm. He pulled away and sat up, half-awake.
Aunt Flavia was standing by his bed, gently shaking him by the arm.
"I'm all right," she said. "I'm safe. Are you all right?"
Alex rubbed his eyes and tried to wake up. This itself was like a dream, Aunt Flavia standing over him in the moonlight like an apparition.
"I have something to tell you," she said. "And something to give you."
She sat on the edge of his bed and played with the ring on her finger, and didn't speak again for a moment.
"Alex, I want you to always remember the games we play," she said at last. "And the movies we watch and the books we read. Don't ever let something like what happened today make you think they are silly, or useless. When you grow up and see how muted and barren this world is, you may think there is nothing really great or true or wonderful."
She paused and looked down at her hand, and then, suddenly, she looked up again, straight at him.
"But you would be wrong!" she said passionately. "I tell you great things exist!"
"I know," said Alex.
"You won't always know. The world is so persistently cynical, that it will rub the belief right off of you. They make great things like heroes seem ordinary. They make them invisible. It's like Zorro when he's Don Diego. When he is a student in Spain, he's nobody. He's just a rich kid who nobody thinks about. Even he doesn't. But that's because he's misplaced. The hero inside is invisible until he finds his place and sees what he must do."
"I tried to save you...."
"Alex, that wasn't a job for you. You haven't found your place yet. But you will. Someday. Don't judge by one event, Alex. When something bad happens, you might do something right, or you might do something wrong. That is true of anyone, even heroes. But when you find your place, it will be something more. I know it. And when you do, it won't be through fear or doubt. You'll find your place because you got so sick and tired of this world and its muted reality. It will make you want to go jump in the lake."
She pulled the ring from her finger, and pressed it into his hand. It was gold and glinted in the dim light. Alex couldn't see it well, but he'd seen it so many times as they'd played. It was fat and plain, except for some etching and two tiny rubies, like the eyes of a beast biting its own tail. You'd think it was a snake, but the pattern in the etching didn't look like scales. It was more like the ribs of an armadillo.
"I encourage you to do it, Alex. Jump in the lake. But when you do, you must wear this ring and remember all that I taught you. All of it. Even the silly things."
She kissed him and w
Alex was so sleepy, he wasn't sure it wasn't a dream, except he had the ring. He looked at it for a long time, in the moonlight. Did Aunt Flavia believe that ring had saved her life? Was that why she said he should wear it if he jumped in the lake? He pictured the ring becoming a magic rope, which took her by the wrists and dragged her from the deep. That was why she didn't want to tell the police about it.
And what did this have to do with invisible misplaced heroes? Maybe the ring called up an invisible hero, deep in the lake, who grabbed her by the wrists and flung her onto the beach.
The image was weird, but still cool. Comforting even. And that was why she said saving her wasn't Alex's job. She had the ring's hero to do it. A hero who only shows up when he's needed.
Alex felt comforted, but not much like a hero himself. The fact was, saving her should have been his job.
But that feeling faded.
Years later, after his aunt died for real, and Alex went off to college, he tried not to think about much of anything at all any more. Certainly not about his aunt's
The Case of the Misplaced Hero by Camille LaGuire / Fantasy have rating 2.5 out of 5 / Based on35 votes