This is another story prompted by this month's Conquer the Craft in 29 Days challenge.
Today we were to start thinking about characters. Specifically, we were to take an ordinary Joe - or Jane - and make them an unlikely hero/heroine. Just a regular person who happens to find themself in extraordinary circumstances. We could use a WIP, so I did another Portal story, and looked at Danny.
Just a boy and his dog. Here's a link to the others in this seies. This one is about 750 words.
Not so Ordinary
The direwolf growled as Danny clutched his fur.
"Quiet, Sparks," he said. The toddler peered into the trees. "Who's there?"
It wasn't their first trip through the portal by any means. Usually his mommy went with him, or sometimes Brom met him as he came through, and brought him to Guildford Manor. Sparks was always along too - transformed by the doorway from a yappy little Shih Tzu to a hulking direwolf. Today the boy had brought some coloured pencils and paper in his Elmo backpack, to trade with Merlin. Danny wanted to see some more tricks, and Merlin wanted to do more drawings of the dragons. He knew his friends didn't have portals to go visiting through, but he'd done this since he was a baby so didn't really think it was that different. He still had friends to play games with, and some nice grown-ups to teach him things.
Today there was no sign of his woodsman friend, and something felt different, felt wrong. The forest looked like the same, with tall trees swaying in the breeze, the musty smell from the leaves at his feet, the sound of the river nearby. But there were no other noises. There were no birds calling, no insects buzzzing about, no animals rustling in the bushes.
He called again, trying to keep his voice strong. "Hello, Brom? Are you there?"
"Brom couldn't come today, he sent me instead." The bushes parted and a stranger walked out. He was tall - almost as big as Brom - and had a big black beard and piercing dark eyes. He had a big scar from his eyebrow, down his cheek and right through his mouth. He wore a chain mail shirt, and a large sword hung from his belt. He was dressed all in black.
Danny's grip on Sparks tightened, and he felt the dog's muscles grow tense under the thick grey fur. "Shh," he said. He tried to stand tall. "Who are you?"
The stranger gave a lopsided smile, twisted by the scar. "I'm Lord Derek, a friend of Brom's. He sent me to get you. It's okay, you can trust me."
Danny was about to step forward when he remembered the talk that the policeman had given at his school.
"You're a stranger," he said, "I'm not supposed to go with you unless you know the secret word."
The man smiled, then made a gesture. "But I do know it, it's - "
Danny felt a tingling in his head. "Bluebird," he said.
The man stepped forward. "Exactly, Bluebird. See? I did know it."
The man was right, he did know it, but something still felt wrong. As the man stepped into the sunlight, his face started to twist even more, as if there was something different underneath it.
"Sparks!" said Danny. But the dog seemed frozen in place, with his ears back and tail down..
"Just you and me," said the man. "Come on, don't be stubborn." He bent over and reached for Danny.
"No!" said the boy. "You tricked me." He felt a surge of anger, building on top of his fear. He remembered the way Merlin waved her hands when she did her tricks, and tried to do the same.
"Go away!" he shouted. To his astonishment, the man flew back, right into a tree, then fell to the ground.
"Ow," said Danny. His hand tingled, like when he slept on it the wrong way. He rubbed his handm and watched in fear as Lord Derek stood up slowly and pulled his sword.
"Not so fast, Derek." Danny's friend Brom strode into the clearing, cross-bow aimed at the man. "Leave the boy alone, or I'll shoot. And these are charmed bolts, so your little tricks won't work."
The man glared at Brom, then smiled his crooked smile again. "Don't worry. I'll leave him be - for now. But there's more to him than we thought." He stepped back toward the bushes, and suddenly was gone.
As he disappeared, Sparks barked then ran to Brom, followed closely by Danny.
Brom squatted won and hugged them both. "Hi guys. Sorry I'm late. There was a sudden storm and I had to take shelter. Thanks to Lord Derek no doubt. But I'm here, and you're okay now. But how did you do that? Has Merlin being showing you things? I warned her-"
"No, she didn't show me," said Danny. "It just happened. Was it wrong?"
"No, just surprising," said Brom. "Maybe it's just something else you can do now, like catch a ball or ride your tricycle. Don't worry, I won't tell your mom till we figure this out a bit more."