Blake and Carl: A Tale of Foul Friendship
The football player sat alone in the locker room, still wearing his grass-stained jersey and cleats.
“It’s my fault we lost. My dad is going to kill me.” He thought to himself. As he untied his filthy shoelaces, the room, poisoned with the stench of sweaty teenage males, began to tremble. The locker beside him quaked uncontrollably, giving way to a purple-tinged black hole.
The teenager watched with wide eyes as a dwarf with a long, scraggly beard stepped calmly out of the portal.
“Hello. I am Carl and I am your guardian.” said Carl with a gravelly voice.
“I..uh..I’m Blake,” stuttered the jock. “What are you exactly? Why are you here?”
“I was sent by one of King Notevil’s advisors. According to him, your presence will be ‘greatly needed’ soon,” the tiny man explained. “You must come with me, Blake. Jump into that portal after me.”
“Yeah..uh, no thanks,” Blake said slowly. “I don’t even know you.”
I thought that might happen, thought Carl. With that, the bearded dwarf shoved the bulky jock into the glowing purple hole.
When Blake came to, he was sitting upright in a luxurious bedroom. He looked about him, curious as to where he was. Ornate tapestries hung from the damp stone walls.
As he swung his legs off the side of the bed, a sharp pain in his temple made him cringe. Suddenly, he remembered yesterday’s bizarre events. Must have knocked myself out when that annoying little dwarf pushed me through that portal, Blake thought. Turning his attention to the immense doors once again, the boy braved the pounding in his head and pushed himself off of the padded comforter.
Taking several steps forward, Blake began to notice sounds he did not hear before: the pounding of metal on metal, hooves stomping on cobblestones, and the joyful yells of children at play. He rested a hand on the florid handles of the doors; noticing the intricate patterns embossed on the golden knobs.
Abruptly, Blake threw open the doors to reveal the scene below. Underneath the balcony was an extensive courtyard filled with busy people. Vendors shouted their wares at passerby as a blacksmith pounded out a horseshoe, filling the air with a loud, rhythmic clanging. Children darted through the crowd like fish, interrupting clients as they battled the vendors for a bargain.
The scene was very surreal to young Blake, and it looked more like a documentary he would be forced to slump through in history class. As sweet smells wafted up from a fresh fruit stand below, Blake’s mind verified that the scene was in fact very real.
“Why, hello lad! Glad to see you’re up and moving around!” exclaimed a voice from behind.
Blake whirled around, surprised to see Carl standing by the bed.
“You surprised me! I didn’t even hear you come in,” grumbled Blake.
“I see your teenage attitude is still present; a good sign, I suppose,” the small dwarf said as he struggled to climb onto the bed. “The entire kingdom is very excited to see you, Blake. Once they heard that another human had arrived from the Other World, parties were thrown throughout the castle!”
Blake seemed confused as to why the entire kingdom was celebrating simply because he had been shoved (against his will!) into some strange portal. It’s not like I wanted to come here. Blake’s brows furrowed as he considered the conundrum.
“When can I return home?” the teenager questioned the tiny dwarf.
“You may return home when the Other World deems you fit to return,” replied Carl in a bittersweet voice. “I must be going now; get some more rest.”
With that, the dwarf hopped off the bed and strutted out the door. I can’t believe that boy. Barely even been here for a few hours and already wants to go back home! People are celebrating his mere existence; something I can only dream of, Carl thought as he wandered through the labyrinth of the castle’s stone corridors. I will put an end to him if it’s the last thing I do.
Three days later, Blake was well enough to emerge from his cell-like chamber. He dressed himself in loose-fitting canvas pants with a plain white shirt and pulled on a pair of leather boots. The boy wanted to blend in with the townspeople so he could explore it without a medieval paparazzi storming him.
Gently he cracked open the oaken door and peered into the castle’s winding hallway. Again he was astounded at the sheer massivity of the structure. Tapestries, much like the ones within his personal chamber, adorned the damp stone walls. Blake slipped through the narrow crack and softly closed the door behind him. Looking both ways first, he padded down the hallway trying to make as little noise as possible.
This castle has to have a thousand rooms! As he toured the palace, a high-pitched scream bore into his eardrums like a termite into wood. Frantically, Blake’s eyes darted from side to side trying to locate the source. He began to run towards the noise. Tapestries became a blur as he sprinted down the stone hallway, the scream still resonating in his brain. The sound got closer and closer until Blake looked to his right and noticed yet another door. This door, however, was studded with rubies and its hinges were cast in gold. Peeking through a crack in the wood, Blake watched a medieval court unfold before his eyes.
“Banished! You are all banished!” howled a rotund man seated on a golden chair. Blake guessed that he was the ruler of this establishment.
Glancing to his left, the boy watched as armed guards dragged peasant after peasant out of the room. The assumed king sat lazily upon his throne, watching with contempt as his subjects were thrown out of the castle.
“Squire,” he bellowed, “fetch me a turkey leg!”
A young boy not much older than Blake emerged from a throng of bystanders. Nodding, the boy took off towards the door where Blake stood. Not being an especially intelligent individual, Blake continued to stare through the crack in the door until the squire opened it, hitting Blake in the forehead.
“Ouch!” Blake cried, “What did you do that for?”
“I didn’t know you were there!” the squire protested. “What were you even doing?”
“I heard a scream and wanted to know where it was coming from. What happened in there?”
“It’s the king...He banished 39 of his subjects simply because they planted their potatoes in the courtyard instead of the community garden,” the squire’s eyes widened as he remembered the task at hand. “I must be going! If the king doesn’t get his turkey leg soon, I may be banished along with the potato planters!”
As he watched the squire sprint down the hall, Blake sought to dethrone this unfair ruler. A potato lover himself, he sympathized with the potato planting peasants. He found his way back to his personal room, locking the door behind him so no one could come in, not even Carl. Blake had seen enough of this strange land for one day.
The next morning, Blake awoke bright and early to the sound of trumpets piercing through the early morning solitude. As if on cue, he popped out of bed and threw on yesterday’s clothes in a hurry. Opening the glass balcony doors, he searched for a way to escape the smothering walls of the castle. Spotting a drainage pipe to his left, the teen promptly climbed over the balcony’s stone walls and slid easily down the pipe.
Straightening his posture, Blake eagerly surveyed his surroundings. From the balcony, the courtyard looked very small. Now that he was on the ground, the courtyard, teeming with human interaction, seemed bigger than ever before.
While Blake stood in awe watching the courtyard’s early morning hustle and bustle, Carl the dwarf kept a vigilant eye on the teen from the balcony above, waiting. If only he would move a tad to the right, then I could easily kill him with this stone block. It would look like an accident! No one would know.
Suddenly, a fight broke out in the courtyard. A merchant’s cart was flipped by some mischievous children, the merchant himself shaking an angry fist as he stooped to gather his soiled fruits off the cobblestones.
Blake turned to his right, watching the scene unfold in front of him.
Carl the dwarf seized the opportunity and shoved the stone block off the balcony’s wall, making a beeline for Blake’s head. The dwarf’s eyes widened as he watched the block miss the teen’s head, but nail his shoulder instead.
Blake, in a temporary state of confusion, stared first at his stone attacker and then turned and looked up at Carl, still perched on the balcony.
“Why’d you do that?” questioned the teen, his face contorted with confusion and pain.
“Because,” the dwarf turned around to face the balcony doors. “Literally the entire kingdom is feasting due to your arrival. I will never receive that kind of recognition, even though, personally, I feel as though I deserve it more.”
While the dwarf droned on, Blake picked up the stone, favoring his right shoulder. It’s a good thing Carl loves to talk about himself. Taking a deep breath, Blake hurled the block up at the dwarf, knocking him out. Blake climbed back up the pipe to inspect the damage he had inflicted.
He found Carl laying face first. Blake was relieved to discover that the tiny man’s pulse was still pounding out a steady rhythm. He decided to carry Carl to the dungeons deep below the castle where he belonged. As he draped Carl’s small but sturdy frame over his shoulders, Blake was instantly reminded of the injury the small man had inflicted. He really belongs in those dungeons. Blake scanned the castle’s outer walls for a way into the dungeons below.
Three days later, Blake awoke in his chamber once again. He recalled the plan he had spent the last two days preparing for, smiling to himself at his own genius. It was simple, really.
After dumping Carl into the dungeons, Blake had scoped out the entire castle. He found the king’s personal chambers, the servants’ quarters, the kitchen, everything. He also learned from a few talkative servants that most everyone in the kingdom despised their gluttonous king. After discovering this information, Blake ventured into the peasants’ villages. Upon revealing his idea, Blake gained many loyal followers.
Blake planned to throw the king a huge feast, fully aware of his love of food. It was to be the biggest feast held in the castle since King Arthur’s reign. Having connected with several of the king’s royal cooks, His Majesty’s drink was to be tainted with a poison. The king would be no more. Today was the day of the great feast, and Blake was more than prepared.
As he ran through the castle, the trumpets sounded announcing the king’s arrival to the feast. Blake was able to easily slip into the Great Hall, unnoticed by guards. Losing himself in the large crowd, he pushed his way closer and closer to the king. Blake wanted to witness his scheme firsthand. After securing a spot right at the edge of the long table, Blake watched as the egg-shaped man sat down, giving permission to everyone else in the room to take a seat as well. After eyeing the massive amounts of food placed before him, the king took a huge gulp of his water and immediately slumped in his chair, the lethal poison flowing through his clogged arteries.
Murmurs bounced off the stone walls, the subjects unsure of how to react to their leader's demise. Slowly, Blake rose from his seat, stepping onto the table to address the kingdom.
“I know how much all of you hated that king, and how unfair he was,” the teen stated confidently. “I hope you all are not angry about this. I will be your new king.”
After several moments of silence fostered by disbelief, cheers erupted from the crowds. Blake looked at his new subjects in wonder, amazed at their acceptance. He decided then and there that he would be the ruler that they deserved. And for seven long years, he was indeed that ruler, until one fateful night.
Blake awoke with a start, his entire room illuminated by a strangely familiar purple glow. Sitting up abruptly, he noticed the portal that had replaced his door. Blake realized sadly that his time in this strange land was over. Wistfully, he grabbed his crown as a souvenir and sighed. With one last look about his chambers, Blake closed his eyes, trying to burn the memory into his eyelids. He took one last breath of the medieval air and catapulted himself into the portal.
When Blake opened his eyes again, he was sitting in a locker room. With a closer inspection, Blake realized that it was the very same locker room he was in when Carl first graced Blake with his appearance. “Unbelievable! The time I spent in the kingdom has no effect on me here,” thought the perplexed teen, still clutching his crown.
He grabbed his duffel bag and burst out of the locker room, the chilly October air stealing his breath.
Locating his dad’s truck, he sprinted towards it and opened the door, eager to escape the cold wind and its thieving hands.
“Hey son! Nice game you played tonight.”
“What? Oh. Yeah, thanks Dad.” Blake replied in a dazed voice.
“I know you didn’t play your best, but you tried your hardest and that is all that matters to me.” Blake’s dad grinned and slapped his son on the back.
Blake held the crown in his hands and gazed out the window, ignoring his father’s sports chatter and focusing on what happened to him. Realizing quickly that there really was no explanation explaining the recent events, Blake turned and focused on the road ahead. What happened happened, he thought. There isn’t an explanation, and no one would believe me even if I told them. There’s no point focusing on the past.
And with that, Blake turned to his father and chatted about a football game he remembered nothing about.