The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

Author: Dennis Page 3 of 121

The Oak Tree Box

After months of dreaming about a mysterious figure burying a box in front of a gnarled oak tree, Sydney stumbles upon the same oak tree during a jog. 

Ripped away from the loving embrace of the comforter, Sydney fought to hold onto the dream as she tried to get a clear look at the mysterious person who had been regularly haunting her. She thought this would be the grand reveal. The faceless stranger would develop a face. This time she would succeed! But when that cover came off, Sydney drifted out of the dream, dragged backward by a giant invisible hand from her answer.

For the past few months, her dreams would start randomly (or be inspired to replay something stressful or embarrassing like dreams tend to do), but inevitably, the plot would shift toward her witnessing a small box being buried under a gnarled oak tree by a hooded figure, wrapped in red. Whenever they noticed her, it was dream over. 

Sydney groaned, and she opened her eyes to her girlfriend, Chloe, standing beside her. Chloe sported a pair of bright, purple leggings (with the most enormous pockets she’s ever found on workout pants) and a tank-top with a creepy purple eye from some weird podcast she loved.

“Adventure!” Chloe declared as she tossed Sydney’s running pants in her face.

“I was so close,” Sydney mumbled with the pants on her face.

“To beating me in a race?”

Sydney tossed the pants on the floor as she sat up. “To getting a good look at the stranger burying that box.”

Chloe pitched a tank-top that read, “Adulting is Hard,” at Sydney, which she caught.

“That’s what you said last time.”

“And you woke me up early then too,” Sydney stated with a yawn. “Perhaps I should solve the mystery of how you can function this early without any coffee.”

“I’m freak like that,” Chloe winked. “Now, come on, adventure!”

Sydney did enjoy her morning jogs (and cycling on the weekends) with Chloe. They had been running together before they started dating. It was during one of their jogs when Sydney confessed her feelings for Chloe. She peered over at Chloe, who was wandering around in her imagination. She smiled, thinking of how happy she was with her.

Chloe tended to take random routes while jogging, cycling, car drives–it didn’t matter–she would get lost on purpose. “Adventure!” she would often proclaim as her excuse and defense. Today was no exception when she took an unannounced sharp right through a prairie grass field.

Sydney followed, making a mental note to check for ticks when they returned home as Chloe plowed forward. Shortly through the field, the ground dipped down to reveal a creek.

“A creek,” Chloe cheered. “This is so picturesque. Syd, you want to follow it up?”

Sydney shrugged. “Sure.”

Had Sydney known the path would lead them up a steep hill, she would’ve said no. Had Sydney known that the top of the secluded hill had an abandoned cemetery, she would’ve said hell no.

“Let’s see who can find the oldest tombstone,” Chloe challenged and raced to the nearest one.

There weren’t that many tombstones to inspect. Sydney’s best guest was 20. None of the grave markers stood out, but the gnarled oak tree off in the corner made Sydney freeze. Chloe shouted some date as she moved to inspect another, but Sydney drowned it out as she focused on the tree from her dream.

“No fucking way,” Sydney mumbled.

Chloe popped her head up. “What? What did you say?”

Sydney pointed. “It’s the same tree from my dreams.”

As Chloe turned to look, a person wrapped in a red cloak stood from the tree, coming into their view.

“No fucking way,” Sydney mumbled, again, louder this time for Chloe to hear. The stranger noticed them and ran off. Sydney bolted after them, shouting. “Hey! Stop! Who are you?”

Sydney chased them into a patch of prairie grass. A windowless, metal red door stood in the middle. The stranger was fast, faster than Chloe even. The stranger opened the red door and went through. When the door closed, it blinked out of existence.

Sydney stopped where the door once stood, with Chloe caught up. 

“You saw that, right?” Sydney asked.

“Yeah, I saw that. That was the person from your dreams, right?”

“I think so.”

“Do you think they left that box behind too?”

Sydney paused. “You know what, we should go check.”

At the base of the gnarled oak tree was a patch of freshly moved soil. Sydney dropped to knees, declaring, “Fuck it,” as she started to dig with her bare hands. Without hesitation, Chloe kneed down and joined in.

After digging a foot deep, they unearthed a rustic wooden red box the size of a person’s head. Sydney lifted the lid off. Inside were a pair of red fabric facemasks and an index card. Sydney grabbed the note while Chloe took out a facemask.

“This handwriting looks like mine,” Sydney commented.

“What does it say?”

“You’ll both need these in three years for 2020.”

The red metal door opened. The stranger ran through, closed the door behind themselves, and took off their hood. It was an older version of Sydney by about five years. Together, under the night sky in an empty field, was a tall, slender man in a pink suit she knew as Loki and a woman named Raven with a similar slim build, but a little shorter and in a red dress. Behind those two was a door the same color as Loki’s suit.

“It’s done,” Sydney stated before she rapidly deteriorated into ash.

Raven tossed Loki a gold coin, which he ceremoniously caught. She tapped notes into her tablet.

“You won that round,” Raven graciously conceded. “She was willing to alter time, knowing it would cause her death, just to create a future with Chloe.”

“Don’t worry,” Loki teased as made the coin disappear from a sleight of hand trick. “You’ll get more opportunities, especially since those two live longer now.”

Inspired by the writing prompt, “Every night, you have the same dream. A small box being buried under a knarled oak tree, by someone you don’t recognize. The dream always ends when they notice you there. You don’t think too much of it, until one day, you spot the tree from your dreams, in the centre of a local graveyard.”

For this story, I decided to feature Sydney and Chloe from The Spiral Staircase in the Woods, to see them together as a couple. I struggled to decide what to put in the box. One of my first ideas was one of those personality cards from the Little Shop of Personalities, but then the whole face masks and 2020 warning came into my mind and I couldn’t think of anything else. I re-read their first story to make sure I didn’t anchor it at any time and then I ran with the idea. Originally I was trying not to feature Loki and Raven (and perhaps a new end-timer), but I liked that nice callback twist at the end I came up.

Thank you for reading!

Temple Guardian

After escaping to an underwater ancient temple, Nerine jokingly asks the temple’s god to save her from the mechanical mercenaries. Someone responded.

Another explosion. Nerine bolted out of the boulder’s path–narrowly avoiding getting her fin squashed–as parts of the ceiling collapsed in the underwater cave. Before she could return to hiding, her entire body became engulfed in a red beam of light from the eyes of one of those responsible for the destruction. She thought the mercenary looked like a centaur, but with a crab body instead of a horse and the whole creature was mechanical. They pointed at her, triggering a swarm of mechanical crabs the size of octopuses to march after them.

“Go! Go! Go!” Nerine’s best friend shouted.

Nerine followed Océane as the two mermaids swam out the tunnel they came through.

“Keep going straight,” Océane ordered. “I’ll take the path on the right at the fork.”

“Split up? No!”

“It’s for the best.”

“But, you don’t know where that other path goes!”

“I’ll be fine. I’m faster than you. Now go!”


“Just do it for me!”

Océane turned right at the fork while Nerine continued straight down the familiar path. As Nerine got closer to the exit, the tunnel narrowed slightly, but she knew it wouldn’t be tight enough to stop the mercenary. She swam through the neon pink seaweed that concealed the cave’s entrance, emerging beside an ancient temple in Neplor’s Historic Square District.

Due to the holiday, the local shops were closed, making the district deserted. With no alternatives, she swam into the Hall of Poseidon to hide. The building had an extensive open floor plan when the merpeople modernized the temple to become a vendor market space. The temple got built initially when the Atlanteans’ first arrived to the Blue Planet after being exiled from Earth thousands of years ago. After some freak storm soon after the temple’s completion, it sunk to the bottom of the ocean where the merpeople claimed it. Nerine only knew all this because she recently turned in a report about the district for history class. 

With the venue’s open concept, Nerine’s only option to hide was behind the towering white marble statue of Poseidon. In this depiction of the ancient god, he stood tall with human-like form complete with legs and chiseled chest as he warmly looked down at those in the temple. The metal trident spear stood erect in his hand, which Nerine had often seen it used to hang banners and flags whenever Océane and her came to the market.

The moment she got behind the statue’s base, the mercenary made their presences known with the sound of the mental claws dinging against the marble floor. Nerine clenched her fists, resisting the urge to sneak a peek. Océane crossed her mind. She hoped her friend was safe. As a yellow beam of light scanned the area, Nerine looked up at the statue.

“I wish you were real and here to defend your temple,” Nerine prayed.

The sounds of the claws clink, clink, clinking on the marble floor echoed louder and louder in the waves as the mechanical crabs crept closer and closer. Then the tapping came to a halt. The light turned red, followed by sounds of metal ripping and bashing against the walls.

“Is that the best you got?” a voice provoked.

More metal clashed as the intensity ramped up. The mercenary’s light flickered out, and silence followed.

“You’re safe now,” the unfamiliar voice welcomed.

Nerine popped her out. Floating above the pile of metal wreckage was a merman wielding a trident who bore a striking resemblance to the statue of Poseidon, but with a merman body and luxurious, curly sea-green hair. He ripped off the mercenary’s head from his trident and added it to the scrap pile.

“Thank you,” Nerine spoke as she swam out, still on the alert for any danger.

“It was my pleasure,” the merman replied. “It’s been ages since someone called out to me for help.”

That can’t be Poseidon, she thought. He’s just a character.

“My brothers are going to be upset for interfering,” he rambled. “Worth it, though.”

“Why would your bothers be mad at you for helping me?”

“We’re supposed to work in ‘mysterious ways,’” he mocked with air quotes. “But Hades is one to talk with what he’s been doing lately for Cassie. Families, am I right?”

“Yeah, families can be tough,” Nerine remarked. “Is there anything I can do for you?”

“Don’t drown people with a statue of my head as a tribute,” he joked.

“I can do that,” Nerine responded, confused, not understanding the reference. “Anyway, I don’t mean to be rude, but I really need to go find my friend. Thank you again.”

“Safe travels, Nerine!”

Nerine swam out of the temple, but when she reached the entryway, Nerine paused to look back when she realized she never shared her name. The merman was gone.

I wrote a second story featuring Nerine and Océane for this week’s short story. To me, this could work as the last half a chapter for a book about their adventure. In case you missed it, read Upgrade Cave for the first story I wrote with them. I also made a subtle reference to another one of my previous short stories, Sacrificed, and a nod to one of my books I’m writing.

This story was inspired by the following writing prompt: “On the run from mercenaries, a young girl stumbles into an old Greek temple and in a last ditch effort to save herself, begs for help from whichever god or goddess it belongs to. She didn’t expect them to show up in person.”

Thank you for reading!

Body Drop

A surprise date night takes a turn when a dead body falls onto the dance floor. The couple tries to solve the mystery using a music player that allegedly predicts the future using song titles.

Nervously gripped around her date’s arm, Robin Bee squinted as she walked into the Kruder Hotel courtyard decked in red neon lights. Surrounding the dance floor, was a colosseum like stage with three stories. People wore various red themed outfits on the ground level, enjoying themselves by dancing, talking with friends, and flirting with strangers at one of the five bars. Scattered on the second level was private red tents for more intimate activities, which Robin didn’t have access to visit. Exclusively on the third floor was DJ Red House as he used his orange tentacles to mix popular songs from around the Five Following Planets. The DJ adored in his trademark red overcoat covered with a dozen pouches, a giant zipper track along the entire length, and a hood.

Robin considered reading more her jam, while Haley Riot was a feisty human filled with the energy of a burning star who could dance until morning. Robin wanted to do something special for Haley, and so she told her to wear a red outfit and to meet up at the Crossroads Station for their date tonight. Both Robin and Haley ended up with similar casual outfits of red pants and red t-shirts that matched the event. 

A sasquatch in a puffy red dress with three rings around the waist approached Robin and Haley with a tray filled with complimentary drink shots. Robin and Haley each clinked glasses and downed a shot. While Haley hollered with excitement, Robin’s face clinched up from the bitter taste of the alcohol.

“So, what do you think about this party?” Robin asked Haley.

“You slayed it. I love DJ Red House!”

“This concert was a last-minute deal since he was in the city for a business deal. Were you surprised?”

“Well, I might have cheated…”

Robin resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “You still think that device predicts the future with song titles?”

“It’s been eerily accurate since I got it,” Haley explained as she pulled out the palm-size white metallic device from her red jeans.

Haley was hastily gifted the digital music player by an older woman with long gray hair. When Robin first heard about Haley’s encounter, Haley described the mysterious stranger as wearing a wrinkled purple robe and gold chains with purple jewels hanging from her neck. This stranger said the song titles would help Haley “right wrongs” before she floated into the sky on a cloud. Robin did admit she had never seen a music player like it when she first saw it, but people had hobbies making one-of-a-kind devices. Without much evidence for either side, Robin shrugged it off and let Haley enjoy her belief. 

“How does Robin feel about this party?” Haley spoke to the device and hit the shuffle button on the music playlist. “‘Comfortably Numb’ it says.”

“I think that’s an accurate description,” Robin admitted as she played with Haley’s rainbow dyed hair. “The music is making me numb, but I’m doing okay because I’m with you.”

“Aww,” Haley teased. She kissed Robin on her blue skin neck. “Good comeback. Let’s see, what is going to happen at this party?” Haley tapped shuffle. “‘Let the bodies hit the flood.’”

Robin mauled over her opinion as the DJ tossed fog bombs onto the dance floor and cracked the volume up. “That’s rather vague. I can attribute a literal meaning to people falling on the floor, drunk.”

“Fine. I’ll ask a more specific question to prove it. What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen at this party tonight?” Haley hit shuffle. “Oh.”

“What? What did it say?” Robin prodded with genuine curiosity.

“Dead Man’s Party,” worried Haley as she stuffed the music player back in her pants while attentively scanning the area for danger.

“You don’t think someone is honestly going to drop dead?” Robin questioned with sarcasm.

A scream erupted from the dance floor, causing the music to the stop. Haley rushed over to the scene with Robin following behind, cursing under her breath because she had the feeling she was about to be proven wrong. In the middle of the dance floor was a dead human with his hands tied behind his back.

Haley let out a tiny joyful squee. “A mystery!”

As the hotel staff intervened and began pushing people away from the crime scene, Haley got out her music player.

“You think it can tell you who did this?” Robin asked without sarcasm.

“I’m going to give it a try. Where is the killer?” Haley hit shuffle. “’High Noon.’”

Haley and Robin looked up at the DJ booth and noticed that DJ Red House was gone but didn’t think much of it. High Noon was a vague clue. Neither of them noticed anyone else acting suspiciously on the second or third floor. 

“Perhaps I can flat out ask, who killed the person on the dance floor?” Haley tapped the player. “It just says, ‘Stranger in a Strange Land.’”

“That’s helpful,” Robin commented as she crossed her arms. “Maybe ask why?”

Haley asked why and tapped the button. “‘Taking Care of Business.’”

“This isn’t going anywhere,” Robin mumbled, resorting back to her belief that the music player couldn’t predict the future.

“Wait. It has to be DJ Red House. Think about it. He was up high in the center. He is a stranger in a strange land since he isn’t from any of the Five Following Planets. He was only doing this concert because of some last-minute business.”

“Maybe,” Robin hesitated. “How are you going to prove all this?”

Haley consulted her music player. “‘Telephone Call from Istanbul.’”

“What’s a telephone, and where’s Istanbul?”

Haley shrugged. “I’m going to question him.”

Before Robin could object, Haley ran off. Robin sighed and followed. As a precaution, Robin activated her danger app on her networker strapped around her wrist. The app had the authorization to record audio and visuals and send all relevant data to her predetermined list of contacts should it detect any harm.

Robin and Haley found themselves inside the hotel building, under the stairway, based on more clues from the music player. Above them was DJ Red House commutating on his networker to another person. 

“I’ll meet you at Istanbul tomorrow,” the DJ said in a whisper. “That renegade wouldn’t be a problem.”

“Good. No trouble? No one suspects you?” the other person asked.

“The protectors will be here soon, but I made it look like his ex killed him by a drunken accident. I’ll stay here tonight as not to arouse suspicion. May victory prevail.”

“May victory prevail.”

The DJ ended the call and walked down the stairs. Haley took a step up, confronting him.

“Hey, there, ladies,” DJ Red House flirted. “You looking for a good time?”

“I know you killed that person,” Haley accused. “Just ‘taking care of business,’ weren’t you?”

The flirty smile dropped from the DJ’s wrinkled orange face. “You don’t know what you’ve gotten yourselves into.”

With all four of his tentacles, he reached into four separate pockets on his overcoat, pulled out his fog bombs, and smashed them on the steps. The stairway filled with smoke, but that didn’t stop Haley from running upstairs after the murderer. The DJ escaped through the second-floor door with Haley not far behind.

“What can I do to stop him?” Haley shouted at her music player. The song title was “Anything.” Haley threw the device at the DJ, hitting him on the head, which, combined with the bulkiness of his overcoat, the DJ lost his balanced and landed face-first on the granite floors.

Haley pounced on the DJ, pinning him to the floor. She screamed for help, which Robin heard and had brought two protectors. Haley explained to the protectors how they overheard the DJ talking about killing the victim. Robin collaborated with the recordings on her networker. Both Haley and Robin intentionally omitted the hints from the music player.

Haley and Robin jumped on the subway with the questioning done, leaving the mess of Kruder Hotel behind. 

“I think this is the beginning of a new career,” Haley proclaimed as she took a seat on the pristine subway.

Robin chuckled. “You going to have some kind of alias for this venture?”

Haley hit shuffle. “Call me, The Sounds.”

For Body Drop, I had a few different sources of inspiration. I wanted to write a story to serve as an origin story for my character, The Sounds, who I have in other unpublished works. The setting was inspired by the following writing prompt: “Everything was going along quite smoothly at the hotel party seeing as everyone was enjoying themselves, that is until a man falls into the middle of the dancefloor from the roof of the building with his hands tied.”

Finally, I asked people on social media to share song titles for me to incorporate into the story. I used the following songs: High Noon by Kruder & Dorfmeister, Stranger in a Strange Land by Leon Russell, Anything from Dead Can Dance, Red House by Jimi Hendrix, Telephone Call from Istanbul by Tom Waits, Let the Bodies Hit the Floor by Drowning Pool, Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd, Renegade by Styx, Taking Care of Business by Bachman–Turner Overdrive, Staying Alive by Bee Gees, and Dead Man’s Party by Oingo Boingo. Some of the songs I used the titles as the hints Haley got while others I wove in other ways with character names.

Thank you for reading and thanks again to everyone for all their suggestions! This was fun and I’ll have to write another short story with The Sounds using social media to source song titles.

Lunch Box Roberta Powell _ Birdie Shoemaker

Lunch Box

“In the time of a global pandemic, a community gathers online and starts sharing their memories of school lunches. The Good, the Bad, and the Leftovers. These memories of the past and a little bit of fantasy will help them get through the present.”

Instead of talking about how I got involved as an editor for this project, I thought it would be best to share this press release with the full story.

NAMRON Players Theatre announces the premiere of its new Oklahoma StoryWorks production, Lunch Box, on Depot TV on Facebook at 5 pm on June 4th.

Imagine, if you had spent nine months conducting workshops, seminars and over 50 interviews with individuals, families and groups to collect their stories of school lunch. Then you spend weeks distilling those stories down into a 90 minute script for public premiere in June by a company of Oklahoma professional actors.

The culmination of 11 months of work was on the horizon.

And then someone cancelled June.

This is what happened in mid-March to NAMRON Players Theatre’s Playwright-in-Residence and Artistic Director Sheryl Martin.

Almost immediately, Sheryl announced on Facebook, “We are going to do it online.”

She set about doing a complete rewrite of the script, a script that was then rehearsed online and recorded independently from the homes and studios of the acting company, and, finally, is being edited into a video production for air on June 4 at 5pm.

Thanks to a grant from the Oklahoma Arts Council, Oklahoma professional actors Jane Gibbons, Terry Veal, Richard Lockett, Kathy Kelley Christos and Sue Ellen Reiman are featured in the production, with “cameo” appearances by local favorites Kym Bracken and Nicholas Bartell, and the debut of recent Norman North High graduate, Moira Mosely. A Norman Arts Council Arts Projects Grant, and private donors, covered the research and writing of the script for production.

Central to the creation of this new video is the work of Dennis Spielman of The Show Starts Now Studios, who volunteered his services to Norman arts organizations through the efforts of the Norman Arts Council and its Norman Arts & Humanities Roundtable. Dennis introduced the idea of producing the play as a series of vlogs, or video logs, recorded by the individual characters / actors. Local painter, sculptor, and scenic artist, Laura Sullivan, will provide some very special artwork for the production as well.

“I could not have wished for more talented, competent, and inspiring people to work with,” Sheryl says. “They took the script and brought it to life—everyone has made brilliant suggestions that have found their way into the show that you’ll see.”

Lunch Box, while a documentary play much like her first community-based script ,Potluck, differs from the earlier work in a fundamental way, Martin says.

“Changing the medium by which we delivered the play changed the way the play had to work.

“It went from being very presentational, with actors telling what are plainly other peoples’ stories, to being a show in which characters tell their own stories. But those stories are still the stories of folks in our community.”

The Depot has been a collaborative partner with Ms. Martin since the inception of the Oklahoma StoryWorks program in 2018. The Depot was scheduled to be the venue for Lunch Box, but that live premiere was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. For this reason, and many more, The Depot then offered to host the premiere of Lunch Box on its new enterprise, Depot TV, which airs on Facebook.

Lunch Box will remain on Depot TV for up to a week after the June 4 premiere. NAMRON Players Theatre also plans to stream the broadcast on its YouTube channel as well as other platforms.

“We had planned to offer a video element to our original theatrical productions,” Norman Hammon, Managing Director, “but, we had originally planned that to be a few seasons away. COVID-19 changed all of that.”

“It’s been too exciting a process to regret not doing it live,” Martin adds. “That said, I think we’ve created a show that will stand on its own, and that we can perform live, even after this crisis is past.”

NAMRON Players Theatre and the Oklahoma StoryWorks Project: Lunch Box are made possible through the generous support of the Norman Arts Council / Arts Projects Grant Program, the Oklahoma Arts Council Project Assistance Small Grant Program / National Endowment for the

Arts, the Kirkpatrick Foundation, Armstrong Bank, 2×4 Productions, The Depot, The Show Starts Now Studios, David Slemmons and the Friends of NAMRON.

The full film is now available to watch via YouTube and as well as a cast reaction video we made via Zoom.

The Wooden Staff and the Black Envelope

Upon returning to his home office after getting a snack, Roland finds a magical staff and a black envelope with a dire warning.

Roland’s stomach demanded a tribute. The words he wrote on his computer screen taunted him with their imperfections and lack of direction. He closed his eyes for a brief moment, trying to visualize where to go next, but he knew he was stuck. 

“Might as well eat,” Roland grumbled to himself as he pushed away from his desk, imagining himself as a rocket blasting off. “This scene isn’t going anywhere.”

Roland left his home office, thinking about what to eat and not how to write to the kidnapping scene in his latest crime thriller novel. Roland found his husband, Trevor, at the kitchen table, still sorting through Excel data-sheets. While Roland was used to working from home, Trevor was still adjusting to the new normal that they both hoped wouldn’t last forever. Roland had a personal bet that it would take three weeks before Trevor would dress more casually for work. He gently kissed Trevor on the forehead to send a moment of peace to his spouse.

From the fridge, Roland pulled one of the curry meals he made during meal prep day. After microwaving the tray of food, he returned to his office. On the desk was a wooden staff with a black envelope under it. The four-foot long staff was carved out of a white driftwood and had five pointed tips on the top.

“Trevor,” Roland shouted. “Could you come here.”

Trevor walked up to him. “What is it?”

Roland pointed at the unknown objects on the desk. “How did those get on my desk?”

“I was with you in the kitchen the whole time.”

“I know, but how did these get here?”

“Is the window open?”

Roland sat down his curry and checked. “It’s locked.”

“What’s in the envelope?”

Roland picked up the black standard No. 10 envelope, which he only knew the formal name because of Trevor. On the back was a red wax seal pressed with an image of a pair of crossed swords. Without any tools, Roland ripped open the envelope. Inside was a handwritten letter on aged yellow paper.

“When the sun sets, a dragon will emerge at Willson Park,” Roland read aloud. “Use this staff to stop the dragon from destroying your city. May the hearts be with you.”

Trevor let a light chuckle. “This is bizarre.”

Roland sat down the letter and picked up the staff for closer inspection. “Maybe this staff is magical,” he joked as he pointed it at his peace lily in the corner. “I cast magic missile.”

The staff’s tips lit up bright orange and sparked a ball that shot out at the plant. As the plant caught fire, Trevor rushed to the kitchen and brought back their fire extinguisher.

“What did you do!?” Trevor wailed as he put out the fire.

“I don’t know!” Roland defended. “I didn’t think it would do anything. I wonder what else it can do…”

Trevor pointed the fire extinguisher at the staff. “How about you take that thing outside?”

“I should get to the park instead. The sun is starting to set.”

“Are you crazy?”

“You saw what happened. What if there is a dragon?”

“What if there is a dragon? How are you going to stop it?”

“I don’t know yet, but we should go see.”

Trevor sighed. “Fine. Let’s go. I could use the walk and fresh air.”

Tucked away behind their neighborhood, Wilson Park’s most prominent feature was their disc golf course. The playground was tapped off, closed to the public for safety. The park itself was empty except for Roland and Trevor. They stood in an open field near the pond, searching the skies.

All the ducks at the pond quickly flew away, catching Roland and Trevor’s attention as a purple dragon the size of a truck emerged from the pond. Roland pointed the staff at the dragon as the beast marched toward them. Trevor stood behind Roland, armed with the fire extinguisher.

“Keeper of the Staff, my qualm is not with you,” the dragon spoke with forbearing authoritativeness. “I only seek my kidnapped child, but I will destroy those in my path.”

“I was told you would destroy the city,” Roland explained, confused.

“My only concern is for my child, so unless you are here to help me, step aside.”

An idea struck Roland. “Maybe I can help.” Roland waved the staff in a giant circle. “I cast magic portal to the dragon’s child.”

The tips of the staff sparked purple lights. A swirl of bright colors formed in the circle Roland drew in the air until a green dragon the size of a large dog playfully jumped out from the portal. The portal disappeared, collapsing on itself with a cheerful crackle.

“Little one!” the purple dragon exclaimed. “You are safe.”

The little dragon wagged their tail and happily barked at their parent. The parent picked up their child and placed them on their back. With a yawn, the child snuggled against one of the scaly spikes and fell asleep. 

“Thank you,” the dragon praised with a forward bow. “Your wisdom and kindness are unprecedented. You forever have my gratitude.”

The dragon walked back into the pond. Roland and Trevor watched in bewilderment as the waves calmed. The staff transformed into duck feathers and blew out of Roland’s grasp, leaving him with no proof.

“I have no idea what just happened here,” Trevor confessed. 

“Me neither, but you know what,” Roland said as he put an arm around Trevor. “I think I need to take a hard left with my book and put in a fantasy world.”

This week’s short story was inspired by the following writing prompt: “You leave your room to grab a snack from the fridge. When you get back, there’s a wooden staff on your desk. Under it, there’s a black envelope.”

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