Philip Aldred - Mar 2012
Leo Last kicked the door closed, more than glad to be home. He was feeling this way because the whole morning had been like some kind of bad joke, at his expense.
It had begun the previous night, just before going to bed. He had logged onto the web to check out the weather report for tomorrow’s big game. However, there was some kind of Gremlin inside the computer, because strangely, the only web pages he could access were on the reign of medieval English King, Ethelred the Unready, in the year 1013.
The morning had started well. He woke up excited to be playing in the school, football Cup Final. It all went pear shaped from here.
During the game he had found himself daydreaming about King Ethelred the Unready. Needless to say he was not having a good game, being unable to concentrate. His team was losing one, nil, with ten minutes to go, when the referee awarded a penalty kick. Leo was the penalty taker. It was a chance to redeem himself. He would be the hero or the goat. He felt confident about kicking a goal, until the hallucinations started. The opposing goalkeeper became eleventh century King Ethelred, even dressed in medieval garb and crown. Leo did not say a word about this, in case everyone thought he was going crazy. He took a deep breath as he ran up to the ball. King Ethelred was trying to put him off by continually shouting he wasn’t ready. Leo struck the ball well but it was straight at the bizarre goalkeeper. The ball bounced away, no goal. The goat, Leo, was substituted. They lost the Cup Final one, nil.
The game was played under an Australian, cloudless sky, and it was hot, so before going home he decided to go to the beach to cool off.
Walking bare foot on hot sand burned. This was not too bad. What was bad, were the signs placed by the surf lifeguards: Beach Closed. The surf was too rough to swim safely. Only surfboarders were out on the waves. This is just great! I can’t surf the waves. I can’t even surf the web, thought Leo. He found himself gazing out to sea and wondering what it might be like to sail away over the horizon, to explore an unknown land. But nothing really exciting could ever happen him, because he considered himself to be most ordinary.
He had turned round and trudged back through the sand, which seemed to burn his feet even more now. He came to the narrowest part of the lagoon. The water was up to his ankles as he stepped across. A duck paddled up to him to see if there might be a crust of bread going. Disappointed, it bit him on the leg. He was across the lagoon in nine strides.
He followed the well worn grass path that ran alongside the water’s edge, leading to the park. There were houses, with gardens, trees and bushes built onto a hillside at the back of the path. Halfway along the path, just at the back of a small, wooden plank bridge was a large, grey, weathered rock, peppered with yellow Lichen. Sat upon this rock was a boy, about the same age as Leo. He held a brooding expression, despite having a Kookaburra sitting cheerfully on his shoulder. His clothes were peculiar, being dressed in a silver, conical hat and black robe, which had a resplendent, pentacle, star motif on the chest. Leo carried on walking by, even though the boy stared at him disturbingly.