Ben had just sat down for lunch with his parents, Mr Robert Harrison and Ms Jenny Harrison. Ben took up his fork and knife, eager to cut up the chicken in front of him. But Robert stopped him.
“What do we do every Vanishing Day, son ?”
Ben sighed, “We thank the stars that the World Ender has vanished and remember the countless victims that he killed so that their deaths weren’t in vain.”
“And ? What else ?” Jenny prompted him.
Ben sighed again, “We wish that the Champion of Ages be returned back to us, so that we may all see her in her glory one more time” he said, reciting it all from memory.
Robert nodded his head, satisfied. “You may eat now.”
Ben dug into his food gladly.
It was the middle of winter, which meant that it was Vanishing Day – the day where the evil World Ender and the just Champion of Ages both vanished out of the world, as if they had never existed to begin with. That day following that strange year, Vanishing Day was celebrated. It was the day where people went en masse to the many temples erected to honor the Champion of Ages. It was also rumored that it was also the time where people gathered to honor the World Ender, though this had never been proved.
Ben wasn’t that interested in the World Ender or the Champion of Ages. They were both before his time. Stories of both of them were often told to him, but he had trouble believing most of them. He couldn’t believe that the world had been in such dire straits in the past when everything seemed to be just fine now.
Ben finished his meal quickly and put the dish in the sink.
“Look at our son, being so quick and efficient . “ Jenny said, beaming at Richard
Richard laughed, “He’s a growing boy. He needs to eat a lot. “
Ben rolled his eyes as he went upstairs. “I’ll be in the attic. “ He shouted as he sprinted up the stairs.
“Have fun up there !” Robert shouted back. He turned and looked at his wife. “I don’t know what he finds so fascinating about that place.”
Jenny just grinned at him, “Maybe he’s looking for our wedding pictures. I know I put it up there somewhere.”
Robert grinned back, “Yeah maybe. You know, that wedding was the best day of my life because I got you as my wife.” He took her hand in his and squeezed it.
“Oh you flirt !” Jenny playfully slapped his hand away.
“It’s true.if I went back in time to that day, I wouldn’t have changed a single thing.”
Jenny became misty eyed. “That day really was perfect. But then, every day is perfect when I’m with you.”
Robert blushed and looked away.
Ben was up in the attic, an unwilling listener to the conversation that his parents were having. From a young age, he always had exceptional hearing, so he could hear the conversation his parents were having crystal clear. His parents were being so lovey dovey that he wanted to barf. He was going to become eighteen soon and he couldn’t wait to leave the place and make it on his own just so that he didn’t have to hear that sort of talking.
But before he left home, he needed to explore the attic more. He hadn’t even known that they had an attic until his dad had mentioned to him offhandedly a few months ago. He couldn’t believe that so many things had been kept right over his bedroom and he had been none the wiser. First chance he got he went up to explore the place.
What he found blew his mind. There were swords and mystical scrolls, miniature paintings and life-sized statues – there were wondrous things no matter where he looked.
When he asked his parents about them they just had a blank look in their eyes, as if the things weren’t that interesting at all. He suspected they were hiding something about them from him but he couldn’t figure out what that something was.
He opened his box and saw a bunch of junk which wasn’t too typical for the attic. But of course, not every single box in the attic had to have something exciting. He was about to put it back when he noticed that something was glowing in the depths of the box.
He shifted the things in the book to get the glowing object. He pulled it out and stared at it for a while.
It was a glowing crystal and it was pulsating.
Ben gingerly turned it around, fascinated by the light. It glowed a rich, deep blue, so soothing he could feel it deep in his heart. He could feel a light similar to that of the crystal emanating from deep within him.
Why had he been up here in the first place? He was preparing to leave this place so why was he so fixated on the attic? He was going to put the crystal back into the box. Yes, he’d put it right back in and put the box in one of the deepest corners so that no one else could reach it. He would then go down to his room and forget about the attic. All the swords and the mystical objects didn’t concern him. He would never mention this place to anyone ever again.
A loud bang broke him out of his reverie and he dropped the crystal. It fell down and smashed into a million pieces.
“What was that ? A rat ?”, He thought, startled. As if in response, a rat appeared and scampered off. Why had he thought about forgetting the attic ? That had been so strange.
Now, he had been still hearing the chat that was happening between his parents and he had managed to tune out most of it. But he couldn’t tune out what he heard now. They were shouting at the top of their lungs that the whole house seemed to be shaking.
“Why was I trying to feed you ? World Ender ! What are you doing here ?” He heard his mother shouting.
“That’s just what I wanted to ask of you, Champion. What are you doing here ?” He heard his father raising his voice to a level he had never heard of him before.
“Is this one of your tricks ? Did you put some spell on my mind. Answer me !”
“You’re just acting aren’t you ? It was you who put some spell on my mind ! Isn’t that right ?”
Ben ran downstairs before any thoughts formed in his head. What was happening ? His parents had never fought in their lives at all. It had been sickening how in love they were. What were they spouting off ? They were the Champion and the World Ender ? This had to be some sort of joke.
“Mom ! Dad ! Stop. Why are both of you fighting ?” He shouted at the top of his lungs. Fortunately, he couldn’t hear them shouting anymore which meant he had their attention. He sprinted downstairs so fast he was out of breath when he arrived in front of them.
He was greeted with such a strange sight he had to rub his eyes just to make sure he was seeing things correctly. His mom stood on one side of the room, in what could only be described as a fighting stance. She was pointing a fork that still had a piece of chicken on it towards his dad.
His dad occupied the opposite corner. His chair had been knocked over as if he had gotten out in a hurry. He was taking some sort of martial arts stance.
His mom and dad looked at him. That was the most startling thing of all. In their eyes was no sign of recognition that he was their son.
“Mom. Dad. What are you doing ?” He asked after he calmed down from panting.
His mom ignored him. “Is this some sort of illusion World Ender ? You think you can tug at my heartstrings by making a boy call me ‘Mom’ ? You know I can’t get pregnant ! “
His dad shook his head, “A very low chance doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant.”
Ben didn’t really understand what was happening. “Please Mom. Dad. Sit down. Let’s discuss this. We can talk it out.”
His dad seemed to like the idea, “Yes. Let’s talk it out.”
His mom seemed to have other ideas though, “What are you talking about World Ender ? You believe this boy ? That he is our son ? No, this is also a part of your trick. I can see it now.”
His dad shook his head, and held his palms up. “As you can see, I don’t have my sword Life Ender on me and you don’t have your sword Light of the Ages with you. Unless you cast a transformation spell on that fork.” His mom cursed and dropped the fork.
“Thought not.” His dad continued, “You know what happens if we fight with just our fists. It ends in a draw. Every single time. You are welcome to try though. “ His dad went and put his chair back up before sitting on it.
His mom cursed and sat on a chair. “It appears that we are at a stalemate.” She glanced at Ben. “This boy. This is some trick isn’t it. A transformation spell. He’s actually one of your minions in disguise.”
Robert shook his head, “You’re welcome to try and reverse the spell if you think so. I assure you that it is real.”
Jenny cursed and closed her eyes. She then muttered some strange syllables that resonated after being uttered. Then she opened her eyes. And stared. “That was my most powerful reversal spell. You mean that this is actually real ?” She put her head in her hands.
“Please. Why are both of you fighting ? You were both always so in love with each other.” Ben asked them again, hoping this was some sort of weird practical joke that they were playing against him.
“Love ? Him ? You may be real but you are definitely not sane.” His mom started laughing in a way that he had never seen her do in his life.
“Stop it mom. You’re scaring me. “ Ben quivered in fear.
“Don’t worry boy. I believe you. “ His dad smiled at him in such a sinister fashion that Ben felt more scared of him than his mom.
“How can you just believe all of this so quickly ? You and I married ? Both of us having a kid ? Both of us being in love is the most insane thing of all” Jenny spat at Robert as she asked him that.
Robert shook his head. “Looks like the crystal worked a bit too well. Where is it boy ? If the spell is broken then something must have happened to it.”
Ben stammered, “C–C-Crystal ? The blue one ? It’s broken.”
Robert nodded his head, “Yes, That makes sense. Champion, what year is it right now ?”
Jenny replied without thinking, “3440. Why do you ask ?”
Robert pointed at Ben, “Boy, what year is it ?”
“My name is Ben”, said Ben, “And the year is currently 3460.”
Robert nodded his head, “Thought so.”
Jenny shook her head, “This is ridiculous. Is everyone going insane !”
“I wish we were. But this is all true. Look at yourself. You’ve grown older, there’s wrinkles on your forehead and your hair’s not as lustrous as it once was” Robert stated matter of factly.
Jenny looked at herself. “You’re right. I do feel old. Oh no, this can’t be happening. Why is this happening ?”
“I can help you with that,” Robert said, rather smugly. “You remember our last battle ? You were very dashing then if I do say so myself. Anyways, if I remember, I took out a blue crystal in the fight. Do you remember that ?”
Jenny’s face had scrunched up in disgust when he called her ‘dashing’ but she did reply, “Yes, of course. There was a crystal and a bright light and that’s the last memory till this evening.”
Ben couldn’t keep quiet anymore. “Mom ? Don’t you remember me ? I’m your son. You and Dad dated for three years then had me. I’m seventeen. I like climbing trees and riding my bike. I like exploring new places. You’re always telling me to stay safe. You always say that you love me before kissing me good night. Is this because I broke the vase that one time ? I said I was sorry. Is this because I tell you that you don’t have to kiss me goodnight because I’m a man now ? You can kiss me on the forehead every night from now on. Come on, you don’t have to pretend you don’t know me. You love me. I’m your son. You know who I am, don’t you ?” Ben reached out and grabbed his mom’s hands and held them tight. He felt tears coming to his eyes.
Jenny averted her eyes and took her hands away. She didn’t say anything. Even Robert seemed uncomfortable for a few moments.
“Well anyways,” Robert said, “The crystal was used to wipe out all your memories. I figured if I couldn’t defeat you, I might as well make you forget you were the hero in the first place. I wasn’t counting on the crystal being so strong though. I had set up protection spells on myself so that I wouldn’t be affected by it but that obviously didn’t work. I forgot everything about myself too. I became someone else. We both fell in love because we were two different people.”
Jenny shook her head furiously, “No, no, no, no. I refuse to believe I fell in love with you. I can’t have had a kid with you. This is not true.” Suddenly, she stopped. “Well, all of that doesn’t matter now. I know the truth. You’re the World Ender and you’ll die by my hands.”
Ben shouted, “Mom ! No ! Stop !”
Robert narrowed his eyes,”You’re not thinking about this clearly. What will the world think when they figure out that the Champion and the World Ender got married and had a kid ? You’ll be mocked and ridiculed. People will want to kill you because they’d think you’ve joined my side. There’ll be enemies all around you. And what about Ben? People from both sides might want to kidnap the kid in order to have their demands met. No, proclaiming ourselves as the World Ender and the Champion doesn’t sound like a good idea at all. “
Jenny rocked in her chair back and forth, lost in thought. “You’re right. I can’t kill you without telling everyone that you’re the World Ender. They’d think that I murdered an innocent person.”
Robert snorted, “You’re not so innocent yourself. How many of my minions did you kill to reach me ? Simon was my accountant ! He had never done anything remotely evil.”
Jenny simmered, clearly fired up. “Any person associated with you must be punished.”
“Tell that to Simon’s family.” Robert said coldly. “I have a long list of names that never participated directly in the war but still helped me that you’ve killed. As I’m sure you have a long list of names of people who weren’t directly in the war that I’ve killed. Let’s just say that there’s blood on both of our hands and leave it at that.”
All the air in Jenny seemed to deflate. “What do you propose we do then ?” she asked,
“I propose that we forget everything again,” Robert answered.
They were all in the attic now. Looking at the shattered crystal pieces. “This can be reformed really easily with a simple reformation spell” Jenny observed.
Robert knelt and surveyed the mess before standing up, “I never had any need for reformation spells so I don’t know any of them. Please get this over with quickly.”
Jenny was miffed. “Don’t you dare order me around. I’m going to do it at my own pace. And I’m not doing this for you or even me. I’m doing this for Ben. He needs to live a normal life.”
Robert just nodded.
Jenny closed her eyes and muttered some sort of strange incantation again. All the pieces of the sphere slowly flew towards each other until they were made into the crystal ball.
Ben stared agape. He had no idea that his mom knew magic. His mom had always been just a normal person before. Sure she said that her cooking was really good because of magic but this was the real thing. He couldn’t believe his eyes.
The crystal reformed in the air and slowly drifted towards Jenny. She lifted out both her hands and held it. All of them stared, waiting for something to happen.
The crystal began glowing and pulsating again.
All three of them stood transfixed. Yes, they’d put the crystal back in the box. Yes, they’d put the box in the corner of the attic. Yes, they’d forget about the attic and everything in it. Yes, they’d ….
Ben was in bed now, feeling sleepy. He had a foggy memory of being so stressed out that he was spent. But that couldn’t be right. Nothing much happened that day. They had had lunch, then he was in his room for a while before going back and eating dinner. Really uneventful. Why was he feeling stressed ? As soon as he was wondering about it, it faded away. It really was nothing.
He yawned and closed his eyes.
His mom and dad came in. “Good night sweetie.” his mom said coming up to him and giving him a good night kiss on his forehead. “Sweet dreams.” His dad was standing at the doorway, “Good night.” his dad said to him.
Ben muttered sleepily, “Good night. Love you both.” before falling asleep, feeling so drained that he couldn’t keep his eyes open for another second.
Robert and Jenny moved away from the door towards their own room. “He never says love you” Jenny said, “What happened today that he decided to say it ? He didn’t even object to the goodnight kiss like he usually does.”
Robert shrugged his shoulders.”Maybe he realized he had the best mother in the whole world. Just like I’ve realized that I have the best wife in the whole world.” He held her shoulder and squeezed it.
“Oh, you !” Jenny giggled before lightly punching him. “You’re always flirting with me. I really need to step my game up. You’re the best husband in the world, obviously, but also the best kisser.”
“Oh Really ?” Robert raised an eyebrow.
“Yes, really. I’ll show you” Jenny giggled. Then she leaned upwards and met his lips.
They kissed each other very passionately that night.