Adventure Coming of Age Thriller

Val smiled. He smiled a smile that reflected the light of the Summer sun, just like the rippling light dancing on the waves as they played along the rocks of the shore.

Trent took in that smile and wished that he could give something of such worth to his friend. He stifled the sorrowful frown that threatened to break across his face and ruin the moment. Val was a delight. Trent knew Val was too good for him and it shamed him that he kept the secret of Val’s delight to himself, fearing that if he were to tell his friend, their bond would break and Val would drift off for far away shores. Shores where he belonged. Shores filled with the bright happy people that were the tribe that Val so richly deserved.

Part of the trick, Trent knew, was to keep moving. If he ever stopped then he would be found out. The lies he contained were more difficult to spot when he was in fluid motion. Never mind sleight of hand, it was better to use the entire banquet of body.

Leaping from rock to rock he let forth a joyful laugh. The truth of that simple sound escaped him. His truth eluded him and he lied casually to himself in his mistaken belief that he had mislaid it. Val saw it alright. Val saw it and revelled in it. 

If only he had told his friend this or at least a part of the truth that they so readily shared between them. But then, a lifelong friendship can leave these most important of words left unsaid. Love unspoken, but ever present all the same.

The two lads leapt along the line of rocks. Each time they ventured along the coast they went that bit further. Cautious dare devils sharing the secrets of their brave adventures. Not wanting to get into trouble with their parents for being here at all, let alone pushing the boundaries of their childhoods away from the watchful eyes of those responsible for the bubble of innocence they resided within.

Neither of the boys had noted that this was the longest of days. The sun carried away with the game the lads were engrossed in, lingering a little more each time. Reluctant to return home for its well earned slumber. 

There was a magic to this day and the boys breathed its briny taste in as they laughed and shouted their way all the way to the very end of the coast. 

This was the day that this series of adventures would come to its conclusion. They both felt it as they reached their destination at last. Tired and happy, they slowed to a reverential walk towards their Summer objective. Unaware that they were in step as they walked side by side. A democracy of two. Neither wanting to be the first to touch the tangible goal of their Summer of fun. This was to be shared. Neither of them had spoken of this. Some truths needed no words. Some magic spells are silent.

Stopping, they turned their head to look at each other. Solemn, they stood before their church and nodded. Right hands raising, they sought to touch the door at the very same moment. 

But before they could, it swung towards them in one fluid motion until it was wide open.

This shock invitation both terrified and thrilled the lads. Another truth they would not bring themselves to give word to. Looking again at each other, they missed the pleading mirrored in their eyes. This was the point at which they could have ended this day’s adventure. This was good enough. More than good enough. There was no defeat in turning back now, but a looming feeling of shame triumphed over their fear. Neither of them wanted to back down. An impasse that had furthered the human race time and again. An impasse that had also sent many a young buck over a cliff that in the cold light of a dispassionate day it should never have ventured near. But that was a heartless and ignorant day that brought a grey reality with it. The grey was envious of the fanned rainbow tail of life, and its envy left it insensible and hateful of the vibrancy of those colours.

Never would Val and Trent establish who it was that walked through the inviting doorway first. To argue that point would be to miss the point; they were in this together. Two parts of the whole. Perhaps they had been two boys right up until they made their silent pact and issued forth into that most sacred of places. That and much else changed in an unremarkable moment that they would not mark until they found an oasis of unremarkable again.

One of them closed the door behind them. Again, as to which one, there was no noting. That it should be done was all that counted. The closing door plunged the boys into darkness. A darkness that was a counterpoint to the place they had entered. A darkness that held no fear for them. They felt a warmth of welcome, besides which, they were never intended to remain within the darkness. Their place was far higher than where they now stood. 

As one, they climbed cold, stone steps that wound around the tower they had entered. Painstakingly, they took each and every step together. The staircase was wide. Designed for big men and large items that would need to brought to the very top of the structure.

Time sat beyond the walls of the tower and having lost sight of the boys and the delight of their youthful fun, it moved churlishly to punish them for leaving without a backwards glance or a by-your-leave. 

By the time the lads reached the final steps they were curious to witness the changing of the guard. The last of this Summer Day was nigh and the sun had become red with embarrassment as it peered at them from the horizon.

Val was already looking askance at Trent as Trent turned towards him. They had lost the best part of the day in walking the stairs and they were on the cusp of losing themselves to a maelstrom of emotion when they were distracted in the most wonderful of ways.

Heralded by a thunderous click that shook the floor under their feet, a blinding white light crashed into existence. This light was so intense that the boys could feel it shining through them so that they cast no shadow. So bright was that light that they instinctively turned their backs to it, even as it moved around the tower in a slow and purposeful circle. 

The boys gazed out at the world from their perch and were filled with an unspeakable joy. They had been transformed into giants. Lords of all they surveyed. They had gone upwards and with each step they had grown up. Grown and grown until they were all they could be and much, much more. This tower was their chrysalis and they were now emerging as something beyond the imagining of the grubs they once were.

The light moved around the land. A finger pointing out the lad’s kingdom. On the third sweep, they heard the coming of the dragon, but they did not see it. At first it was a whisper. A whisper that promised so much more. Then it was a groan. A herald of dark and hard times. By the time the screaming started, the boys knew that nothing would ever be the same again.

This was the counter to their beautiful transformation. The dragon’s wings brought the winds of change and those winds were fierce. And they were hungry.

The lads watched as far off trees bent double like elderly shoppers shambling along the promenade as they searched for all those they had lost. Always looking down. Never up. A sad sight made worse by their sad sight.

The screaming winds whipped this way and that, besieging the tower of light, but unable to enter. Unable to drag the boys away from their sanctuary, dash them on the sharp, cruel rocks and then feast upon their carcasses in the depths of the sea. In the underwater cavern that the dragon had made its lair. A place away from the prying eyes of a disbelieving population that had lost its way when it lost those beliefs. 

Trent fancied he felt the tower move a little as the dragon beat its wings all the harder. He sought the hand of his friend and was relieved to find Val’s seeking hand. Fingers entangled they bore witness to the coming battle.

Cheated of its prize, the dragon threw itself upon the small, seaside town. It lifted the seas high into the air and threw them over the scant defences. Each onslaught saw the shops and houses disappear only to defiantly reappear moments later. The brave town stood bold and proud, but there was only so much it could take. After all, it was not built for war, whereas the dragon was created only to destroy. Flanks of impenetrable shields. A vast array of teeth the size of a man and a fire in its belly that must be fed.

It was the pier that went first. The dragon broke it’s spine and it lay helpless as the roiling seas pulled and harried at it. It clung on valiantly, but there was no denying its end. Waiting under the surface, the dragon opened its mouth wide and swallowed the broken half in one gulp, steam bubbling from its nostrils as the pier burnt in its midst.

The Odeon was next. The once glorious façade had grown old and wrinkled over the years and those who had once loved it and gloried in its presence were long gone. Even the bent and crooked elderly of the town could not remember the Odeon’s youthful heyday. As it collapsed into the maw of the dragon, there was something of a sorrowful mercy in its demise. The town lost much in that moment though and the watching boys knew that things could never be the same again. A place needs its monuments to its makers. Just the same as a child should never forget the face of its parents, a place has to be grounded in what counts and where true obligations lay.

The seafront face of the town doubled down in grim determination. The fallen Odeon galvanised it. But the dragon was not done. Not yet. There was a price to pay and it would take what it was owed.

Wings beat the wind down into the town like an invisible volley of spears. There was a terrible whooshing that the town responded to with gruesome groans and teeth shattering rending and wrenching. Clinging on for dear life the town hunkered down as the dragon did its worse.

The canopy of a service station let go like a ragged chocolate wrapper. Floating this way and that it was carried across town until it crashed into and through a large house in the most surreal juxtaposition the boys had ever witnessed.

In an odd, choreographed dance, five house roofs rose from their structures and cartwheeled over the town and into the hillside that hid this drama from the rest of the land.

Then the lights of the town blinked three times as it began to send out an SOS. But the distress signal was smothered by the dragon and the lights went out.

All that was left was the light from the tower that swept around in a painfully slow and deliberate arc. Illuminating comic book frames of destruction each time. Freeze frames of violence that became more awful with every passing.

The boys squeezed each other’s hands in unison, willing the end of the battle. An end that would not come. Their feeling of helplessness and impotence weighed upon them a little more with each sweeping revelation until they could stand it no longer. The growing weight of the unfolding horror threatened to crush them. 

There was only one thing for it. To heed the suggestion of that foul gravity and go down to meet this dragon head on. They ran hand in hand down the steps. Down into the bowels of the tower and the waiting darkness. A benign darkness that went unnoticed. The lads knew there was much worse awaiting them on the other side of the door.

At the door, Trent pushed down the doorhandle and they both shouldered the door in an effort to open it. In the scant light provided by the wandering eye above them, they looked at each other incredulously. They understood the conflicted nature of their plight even as they went at the door again with all their might. It was not the tower holding them inside in a protective act, but the dragon’s anger holding the door shut as it attacked everything about it in its fury at having been deprived of the boys.

Again and again they tried to open the door, leave the tower and confront the hungry dragon. But the screaming dragon thwarted their each and every attempt. They did all they could and would have sacrificed themselves for the town if only the dragon had let them.

It was with heavy hearts and even heavier steps that they climbed back to the top of the tower. Time relented as they travelled upwards, understanding that it had behaved badly on the previous occasion and wanting to make amends. This time as they reached the last step, the dark and stormy skies were beginning to soften.

Again the thunderous click and the eye of the tower winked out and ceased its movement. This heralded one last roar from the dragon and then the sighs of wind as it travelled away from this place to a slumber that should have been for a hundred years.

Val and Trent retook their place at the top of the tower. Trent fancied he heard the belligerent door swing open as they stood and awaited the coming of the sun to provide them with a view of what was left of the town.

They had awhile to wait and when the sun began its chores for that day, it took its time in revealing the dragon’s work. This kindness was wasted on the lads. Sometimes words are not needed in order to reveal truths. Other times, seeing is not required for believing. They both believed they knew that the town was no more, and once the sun illuminated the truth in all its terrible glory, they knew they were the only two souls to have been spared from the worst storm in a century.

The Dragon Storm they called it. A storm that only came along once every hundred years or so. The Odeon had been a lad itself back then and had laughed at and goaded the dragon in its youthful defiance. But the dragon had a long memory. And the dragon would always have its due.


They called Val and Trent The Miracle Boys, but those boys knew the truth, and the truth was that the dragon was still hungry and they were living on borrowed time. Even if they stayed well away from the seas and oceans, the dragon would find them and the dragon would have its due.

March 02, 2024 15:11

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Mary Bendickson
23:58 Mar 03, 2024

Full of amazing imagery once more.


Jed Cope
07:30 Mar 04, 2024

Thank you!


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Alexis Araneta
18:29 Mar 02, 2024

Such vivid imagery, as usual, Jed. Great job !


Jed Cope
21:28 Mar 02, 2024

Thank you, I wanted to hit the imagery and make the story other worldly. I also never wanted to refer to the place the boys went to as a lighthouse...


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