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Fiction Fantastic 2018 Winning Story: “Happy Daze” by Clayton Su-Parker

The story below is a winner from our Fiction Fantastic Young Writers Contest, open to all youth in Lane County. For more information on this contest, including how to enter, visit here. Support this program with a donation.

You can purchase this story in the 2018 Winners Anthology, Secret Keepers here.

“Happy Daze” by Clayton Su-Parker, Arts and Technology Academy

Second Place, Middle School Level, 2018


Happy Daze

Clayton Su-Parker

Arts and Technology Academy

PROLOGUE

The wind whistled through the trees as Bart trudged up the path toward his uncle’s farm. Bart’s eyes were searching the ground for anything of value that he could sell at the market the next day.

Bart’s life had been a living hell since some bullies had taken all his money, including a gold coin he had found while farming one day. Money was all Bart cared about, at least since his parents died of sickness when he was a kid.

Bart glanced up and cursed. Rising up from the direction of the village and his uncle’s farm, were towering columns of thick black smoke.

Bart broke into a run, dropping the mushrooms he had just found. As he rounded the last corner, he saw his house in flames, and staggering away from the barn, with a lamb, Fluffy, in his arms, was his uncle, blood dripping from numerous cuts and blisters.

Bart rushed to his uncle and yelled, “Who did this? Where’s the money? What happened? Did they take the food, too? Was this your fault?”

John collapsed and whispered in Bart’s ear, “It… was…Ted….”

John closed his eyes and his chest stopped rising and falling.

CHAPTER 1

Bart swung the backpack over his shoulder, tightened his belt, and set off for the along a trampled swath of grass from the soldiers’ tread. With the smoking remains of the village and villagers behind him, his old life was now destroyed.

As the hours ticked past, he thought of how he would kill all the soldiers and Ted. After that he would explore the wild eastern plains and he would defeat several dragons, buy a castle, and have more wealth than Brandomere the Great. Perhaps then, he would feel content.

When the sun started setting, Bart got out his tent and blanket, then ate some dried meat. As it got darker, it also got colder. Bart crawled into his tent, wrapped himself in the wool blanket, and fell into a troubled sleep.

Bart woke with a start. Something outside was sniffing loudly around the flap of the tent. Bart quietly took out his dagger and waited for the creature to make the next move. Suddenly the tent was ripped out of the ground and a huge furry wolf-like humanoid was silhouetted in the full moon.

Bart scrambled out of his blanket and slowly backed away from the beast. The monster lunged for Bart’s throat. Bart closed his eyes and held the dagger in front of him. Suddenly, there was a heavy impact on the dagger and it was jerked out of his hands. Bart opened his eyes and saw the dagger lodged in the right eye of the beast.

With a blood curdling scream, the werewolf fled into the woods, a trail of blood betraying its path. Bart bent to pick up his dagger but remembered that it was still in the werewolf. Bart swore explosively.

Some minutes later Bart gathered up his camping equipment, stuffed them into his bag, and, while sitting on a log, waited for the sun to rise.

CHAPTER 2

When the sun rose, Bart got off the wet, mossy log, dusted off his pants, and started after the blood trail. Bart picked a nice sturdy stick to fight with. 

The trees cast strange shapes on the ground and the whistling wind made Bart jump regularly. As afternoon wore on, rain clouds rolled in and soon it was pouring. Bart put on his cloak and continued on the fading trail.

When the sun had almost set, Bart saw a light in the trees ahead. Bart picked up his pace and went toward the light, which at closer examination, came from a house. Bart glanced down and realized that a few drops of blood led up to the house. Bart stopped, then quietly crept up to the window and peered in. 

Inside, crouched by the fireplace was the werewolf in human form, a bandage around his head. Bart’s dagger was on the table. Over the fire there was a pot, and Bart could smell the aroma of lamb stew with herbs wafting through the cracks of the house. Bart’s stomach growled at the smell of the stew.

Bart went over to the door and kicked it by the handle. The door held. Inside there was the sound of moving furniture and leather sliding on wood. 

Bart hit the door with his stick as hard as he could. The stick broke, jarring his hands painfully. Nothing happened to the door. 

Bart ran at the door with his shoulder braced for impact. Bart crashed into the door and fell backwards onto the ground. The door stayed the same. 

A branch snapped loudly behind Bart. Bart whipped around quickly and saw, to his dismay, a large hairy man with a bandage over his eye holding a huge axe.

Bart ran at the man and swung his stumpy stick with all his strength. The man tried to sidestep but stumbled and fell. Bart smashed the man’s head in with one vicious swing of the broken branch.

Bart tossed the bloody stump of the stick into the bushes and went around to the back of the house, where there was a leather back door. Bart walked into the house, retrieved his dagger from the table, and proceeded to destroy the house in search of money. He found several gold coins in the mattress, which was more money than he had ever seen in one place.

Bart messily devoured the lamb stew and mopped up the remains with some bread he found in the pantry.

After he finished eating, Bart relieved himself, went back to the bedroom, and slept on the ruined mattress. In the morning, Bart ate a small breakfast and then left the house. He quickly went through the forest and back to the path that the soldiers were on. The hours slipped past uneventfully until midafternoon, when he came to a bridge that spanned a large swift stream.

As Bart approached the bridge, a heavily armored knight came out from under it and hailed him from a distance, “If thou wantest to crossest my bridge, thou must givest me all thy treasures.”

Memories from the past came flooding into Bart’s mind as he remembered how that gang from his childhood had beaten him up for some money. Rage built up in Bart and all of a sudden, he whipped out his dagger and charged the knight. 

The knight slowly pulled out a five-foot long, two-handed sword, and twirled it around in a dazzling display of strength and skill. 

Bart swung his backpack onto his left arm to act as a shield; he was about fifteen feet from the knight. The knight swung his sword, but it hit Bart’s makeshift shield instead of Bart, causing him to stumble. 

The sword got stuck in the bag, so Bart stepped forward and stabbed the knight in the groin. The knight fell to the ground whimpering and crying for his mommy. 

Bart carefully wiped the blood from his weapon, tied up the knight, and started searching for the man’s stash of money. 

After ten minutes of searching, Bart found a tent, a fire pit, and several sacks in some bushes by the side of the road. When kicked, the sacks produced a metallic clicking noise. Bart ripped the bags open with his bare hands, imagining all the gold he would find. Copper coins spilled out of the bag. Bart looked in all the other sacks and discovered more copper in each one.

In his anger, Bart threw the undamaged bags of copper at the defeated knight. They hit him one after another, bruising his flesh and breaking his bones. The knight cried in pain as he was beaten, then fell silent after the fourth bag struck him. 

Bart took all the food; the tent, as his was damaged; and a few handfuls of copper. After he got what he wanted, he crossed the bridge and continued on the trail that Ted had taken.

CHAPTER 3

When evening drew on, Bart started to look for a place to camp. After about fifteen minutes, he still couldn’t find a spot. As the last rays of sunlight went over the mountains, Bart saw a glow on the horizon to the north. Bart noticed a change in the path as it veered that direction. 

After half an hour, it was almost pitch black, but Bart stumbled on toward the glow that now looked like many bonfires lit in a circle. As Bart drew nearer, he heard cries, yells, and the clash of arms.

Bart started to run toward the sounds. Suddenly, he burst into the outskirts of a flaming village with soldiers and countrymen fighting with swords, knives, scythes, spears, and other makeshift weapons. The house next to Bart crumbled in a burst of glittering sparks, making him jump. Bart drew his dagger and charged a soldier that was advancing on some children backed against a burning house. Bart stabbed the soldier in the back several times and let the corpse fall to the ground, where it lay face down in a spreading pool of crimson blood. 

On the far side of the village, a horn sounded, and all the soldiers fell into a defensive formation and started jogging away, killing or injuring anyone in their way. After five minutes, all the soldiers were gone.

The villagers gathered in a group in the town square, surrounded by smoking foundations of their houses. The two children that Bart saved went up to an elder and whispered something in his ear. The elder nodded several times, looked through the crowd, and motioned for Bart to come toward him.

Bart walked towards the elder. The elder cleared his throat and croaked, “Young Ashton and Ashley said that you saved their lives from the soldiers. Is that true?” 

“Yes sir, it is,” answered Bart.

The elder said something to Ashton, and the boy ran off. After a minute, he came back with a well-built man no less than six feet tall. 

The man said, “Hello, my name is Corbin. Thank you for saving my children. I was fighting with Ted, the leader of this band of ‘soldiers,’ and I was about to kill the bastard when he retreated. I hear that you killed a soldier all by yourself. Good job.”

“The soldiers destroyed my village and killed my uncle so I came after them for revenge,” replied Bart.

Corbin laughed and said, “I don’t think you could have done much if you caught up to Ted on your own.”

“If you send out patrols to hunt for Ted, and they’re large enough, you could kill him once and for all,” suggested Bart.

“Yes, that could work, but he has close to a hundred men with him,” said the elder, “and we only had two hundred uninjured men before the fight, none with proper arms and armor.” 

“Fine, I’ll hunt him myself. I don’t need your advice,” snapped Bart. 

Corbin shook his head and muttered something about stupid young people. “All right, if you insist, but I’m not sending men after you.”

“Okay, but first I need a sword. How much for one of yours?” said Bart.

“At least this much I can do for you. What type do you want? We have long and short swords, if there is anything left. Let’s go see if we can find any in the forge.”

The small group walked through the smoking remains of the village to the forge. When they got there, the building, being made of stone, was still intact. They went inside where Ashton, Corbin, and Bart started looking for the swords. 

Corbin found three long swords and a short sword in a far corner of the forge. Bart paid for a long sword with the gold and copper coins he had found a few days earlier. 

Bart set up his tent, ate what little lamb jerky he had left from Fluffy, and fell asleep. 

CHAPTER 4

In the morning, Bart stretched, packed up his tent, buckled on his sword belt, and ate some bread and cheese for breakfast. Bart said farewell and departed from the villagers.

Bart traveled for a day and a night in a good mood because the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. In the evening of the second day out of the village, Bart saw a soldier silhouetted on a hill about a mile away. Bart stayed low until the sun set. Then he crept along a ditch towards the sentry.

The guard felt an icy chill creep up his spine. He spun around and saw a kid in his mid-teens creeping up on him, a longsword in his hands. The guard laughed out loud, thinking he would be easy prey. He lowered his spear and charged the young derp. The kid parried the thrust and swung at his exposed shoulder.

The guard leapt out of the way and tripped over a branch in his carelessness. Bart took this opportunity to quickly slit the man’s throat. Bart continued on toward the camp that was now visible on a hill a quarter mile off. 

As Bart crept along, he thought he heard someone following him. Bart hid and waited. After five minutes, he saw a silhouette drift past his hiding spot. Bart got up and whispered, “Who’s there?”

“It’s me, Ashley. I came as soon as I could. I want to fight Ted, too,” answered the girl. 

“Well, come on then,” said Bart, who didn’t want to waste any time talking. “Let’s go.”

They continued on toward the camp as the moon rose high, lighting the landscape slightly. Finally they reached Ted’s camp. They slowly climbed up through the bushes, quietly drawing their weapons as they went. When they were at the top, they nodded to each other and charged into the camp.

Most of the soldiers were in their tents, but there were still six soldiers awake by the fire. Bart charged these men. He killed two soldiers before they could get up. Ashley started setting fire to the tents. 

The soldiers by the fire jumped up and grabbed for their spears. Bart killed another as they were doing this. Then the remaining three started stabbing at his stomach, face, and groin. As Bart slowly gave ground, he started to hear more and more soldiers come out of their tents. 

A huge warrior strode out from the edge of camp. A glowing longsword in his hand. The three soldiers fell back as the man approached. Bart drew his dagger with his left hand and walked toward him. 

“Hello, my name is Bart Anderson. You killed my uncle. Prepare to die.” 

The man just scoffed, “You should know that you’re bad at everything. You couldn’t even beat a man face to face. All you ever do is stab them in the back. I challenge you to a duel in honor of all the men that you killed.” 

Bart rushed at Ted his weapons swinging. Ted easily blocked both weapons on his sword and kicked Bart in the stomach. Bart stumbled back, the breath knocked out of him. Then in a desperate ploy, he threw his dagger at Ted. 

Ted deflected the dagger with his sword and then he rushed at Bart. Bart put up his sword in the nick of time to block the stroke. Bart didn’t have time to attack before Ted was on him again.

From somewhere to the right Bart heard a scream, he looked over and saw Ashley fall to the ground, a spear buried in her gut.

Rage built up in Bart and he ran at Ted with renewed vigor and vengeance. With a flick of Ted’s wrist, Bart found himself without a sword. Stunned, he fell to his knees. Ted raised his sword and brought it down toward Bart’s head. Bart peed himself and knew no more.

End of Part One….