I didn’t do anything for the rest of the weekend.
Thankfully the day that followed the leadership application being due was Saturday, so I had a chance to be alone after the… whatever happened when I fell asleep. I didn’t have any injuries from the battle in Acacia when I woke up, but I still felt a lingering effect on my skin. The echoing sound of the wooden home I was slammed into, the screams, the infinitely extending flames throughout the entire town. Everything about that day in Acacia was unforgettably horrific, and I didn’t feel like doing after all of that.
Sleeping wasn’t even an option, either. Out of fear that I would see the sights that I did before, I didn’t sleep the whole weekend. Despite my beliefs that it would be impossible, the anxiety that shot through me every time I closed my eyes, matched with the anxiety I felt whenever I opened my eyes worked better than any coffee I’d ever tried.
I didn’t listen to any music. I didn’t watch any shows, or catch up on any anime with new episodes out. I didn’t even eat much, besides the meals that I had to have with my parents as a family. I just kept my eyes open in the darkness of my room, trying my best to sort things out. Or at the very least, ignore some of the more intrusive thoughts in my head.
And before I knew it, it was Monday. With a bit of hesitancy, I went to my closet, reached into the back, and pulled out my flute case. Gripping its handle tightly, I knew all that was left for me to do is find another path forward.
. . . . .
Trying to keep myself out of the crowds moving through the cafeteria, I put on a pair of earbuds and listened to Ambient Sounds playlists. They didn’t distract me, but they helped keep my mind from the people around me.
While I was never an extrovert, the level of pervasiveness that the students coming in and out of the cafeteria was unreal to me. It might have been because due to my lack of sleep, I was on edge. It might have been because it felt like when I looked out onto them, all I was looking out onto was the crowd of Acacian civilians being killed, dismembered, and all other kinds of horrific views. I didn’t know if it was either of them, or it could’ve been some other third thing, or even both. But the crowds weighed down on me enough for me to want to zone them out.
In front of me, I had a blank sheet of paper. I didn’t know what I wanted to write out fully, so I just wrote on the first line:Things I Want To Do:
I didn’t have much of an idea as to what would go there, as it’d been the first time in a while I thought about it. But I needed to push myself out of where I was, in the dark mindset of what happened with Destiny and what happened in Acacia, or I’d stay there forever.
I looked up, seeing Margie the Drum Major giving me an annoyed eye.
. . .
I immediately shot my eyes back down, too afraid to look her (or anyone, for that matter) in the eyes. Hands trembling, I pulled the earbuds out of my ears, and looked as close to her face as possible. She was really skinny, had tan skin, and the darkest hair out of anyone I knew… it more so resembled the shadowy darkness that flowed out of the Demon King’s hands and face than any kind of hair I was used to. It almost shimmered and echoed, cut cleanly by her neck and with a pink pin on the right side.
Margie was our Drum Major this year, and I didn’t know the first thing about her. She was a euphonium player, but always hung around the clarinets, which I rarely did. And with the band getting bigger every year, I rarely had a chance to say hi to her, let alone get to know who she was. So when she was accepted as one of the two Drum Majors we had, I was a bit surprised, to say the least.
And now she was on the other side of my lunch table, just like Destiny the Friday before, but without the extra leaning over.
“W-w-what d-do you want?”
“First, I wanted to yell at you. I heard you ran away from Destiny last week when you were talking.”
“Oh yeah…” I embarrassingly remembered the moment where I ditched Destiny to figure out if Mr. Friedman was still accepting applications. “Is she-”
“But then I heard you just went to see if leadership applications were still open, and I…” Her face grew even more furiously impassioned, and I closed my eyes in fear that I was going to get hit. Instead, I felt two small arms wrap around me. When I looked up, Margie was hugging me from across the table. “I thought that was so cute!”
“Huh?” She let go of the hug, sitting down across from me.
“I mean, you went out of your way to embarrass yourself in front of Mr. Friedman just to see if you could make Destiny feel better! Only a really good person would do that, especially since he was having a bad day.”
“I wasn’t trying to embarrass-”
“So anyways, I just wanted to let you know we accepted your application.”
“-Myself, that would be- what?”
“Yeah, I talked to Mr. Friedman, and apparently some of the clarinet applications had to be thrown out 'cause they quit the band. So, Mr. Friedman had one more slot, and I recommended you.”
“You recommended me?!”
“Yeah, of course!” She grinned. “I remember when you first joined the band, you seemed so excited for a Freshman. I didn’t make it to Band Camp that year… but I totally remember you! Also, Destiny’s a friend of mine, and I think she’s gonna be a Drum Major next year, so I trust her gut feelings.”
“Now, don’t get anything confused- Leadership Camp starts tomorrow, but your position will be determined by the leadership we already have… like the Drum Majors, Mr. Friedman, the Section Leaders, et cetera… so I need you to promise me one thing, right?”
“Tell me you believe you can be Drum Major, all right? ‘Cause if you’re not prepared to be the kind of leader me and Destiny think you can be, then I don’t think it’s worth our time to waste effort on someone who looks like they’re afraid of their own shadow. So, what do you think about that?”
I paused, thinking for the second. I wasn’t thinking about the noisy sound around me, nor lunch. I wasn’t thinking about Destiny, and the awkward situation I left in. I wasn’t even thinking about Margie, even though she was right in front of me. I needed to think about myself for a moment. What happened to me? Was I ready for such a task? Someone was putting all of their trust in me… and could I deliver?
“I don’t think I can become a Drum Major.” I plainly spoke. “But… I also know that the reason I don’t think that is because I don’t know if I can change. And at the same time, I don’t think I can change without trying to become the Drum Major next year. So… I know I can’t keep my promise, but will you let me try?! Please?!”
Margie grinned from ear to ear. “Perfect! I love that answer! No promises necessary then, but I’d still like to shake your hand.” We both extended our hands, and I gave her a confused look.
“Because it’d be nice to shake hands with the next Drum Major.”
“Well…” I smiled back, a bit of my confidence finally regained. “Don’t worry. I’m not sure, but I think you’re looking at him.”
. . . . .
By the time I’d regained my motivation, which was in the middle of Pre-Calc, I realized how little energy I had left. After a whole weekend of trying to not sleep, the overwhelming feeling of exhaustion overwhelmed me. And, as the lull of a class that wouldn’t matter took over, I realized I was finally able to close my eyes.
And then I opened my eyes again.
“Jay?!” I heard a voice call out to me. Rubbing my eyes, I saw Destiny right above my laying body, wearing a fresh set of a peasant’s dress. This time, the colorings were red.
“Yeah… what’s up?”
“Hey!” Before I could even be fully conscious, I felt a fist slam into my stomach.
“Sorry Hero… but the situation is a bit more dire than you might’ve realized. It’s been a few days since you were conscious.”
“A few days? I just-” I paused, realizing that Somnium might be more connected to me than I’d at first realized. The dream scared me so much because of its realism, such as the feelings of tragedy and pain it brought upon me, even if it didn’t ever transfer to reality. But maybe there were something more to them… what if the dreams happened in real time as well?!
“But there’s no time for that… I’ve wanted to ask you a question since you fell asleep.” “Well give me a second and I’ll answer.” Looking around, I realized I was in a small barn-like building. The walls and ceiling were all made of a rustic room, and the back half of the room was filled with simple farming tools and piles of hay. “Where am I?”
“Oh, this was the guest room at my father’s farm. We mainly just used it as storage most of the time since no one came to visit though…” She trailed off, looking around the room with a sense of longing. It was then I remembered her during the battle against the Demon King…
“HE KILLED MY FATHER, THE BASTARD!” She cried, tears running down her face as she pointed to the figure cloaked in shadows.
“I’m sorry for asking.”
“Oh no, it’s fine!” She spoke, with a lighter voice trying to ease the tension between us. “But I wanted to ask you…”
“What’s up?” She stuttered at first, before taking a moment to breath and clarify in her mind what she wanted to say.
“Will you help me kill the Demon King?”
“Oh! Okay, that’s what you were gonna ask.”
“What did you think I was gonna ask?”
“Well… I mean I honestly had no clue, I just didn’t expect-”
“I understand, it’s a weird question to come from someone like me… but I want revenge. My father was a good man, and that demon killed him in cold blood… I never thought I’d see such a vile creature in my life, someone who could kill so many of my friends and just laugh at it all. And, it’s almost like I feel more bloodthirsty myself, but I know that I just can’t do nothing. And I know you’re a good fighter! I know we didn’t win the other day, but I can’t do this alone. I need a Hero.”
“I’m no Hero…” I clarified, before realizing what I was saying.
What did I want? Did I want to be in these dreams anymore? Not really, but while I kept having them, I wanted to kill the Demon King as well. He mocked me and my fears, all while torturing and tormenting the people that I thought represented a simple purity that hadn’t existed in my life for a long time. If there was anyone crazy enough to want to kill the Demon King in the town, I thought it’d be me.
“And I don’t know if I could do this… but I have to try.”
Destiny’s eyes glowed.
“So… let’s do this. Let’s kill the Demon King.”
Things I Want To Do:
- Become Drum Major
- Kill the Demon King
Please log in to leave a comment.