A Hero's Journey by James Martin-Harper

Chapter One: The Encounter

To tell the story of how Hammock Hero was born is difficult, there are many myths of how it all began. Some believe it began in the old days, before TV, when a real wizard enchanted his hammock with the powers of wind and flight. Others believe an ancient, chivalrous warrior laid to rest on his favoured hammock after years of battle, and so his spirit lives within it.

Before we begin the story, you should know that the identity of said Hammock Hero remains a mystery. A secret whispered through the empty halls of lost heroes… until today.

Our story begins on a chilly Friday evening 10 years ago in Richmond North-Yorkshire. Rain thundered across the rocky, northern hills trampling every flower, plant, and old granny in its path. The sun attempting to break through the murky smudge of ash clouds that covered the sky. An alarm summons the pack of adolescent youths from their classrooms into the pouring courtyard, racing to the maze of brightly orange coloured buses in the carpark. But one mysterious boy doesn’t. He walks slowly, weaving through the collection of parked cars, admiring a single green leaf as it floats down the carpark, carried by the ripple of the puddles.

The rain trickles down his face as his mind races, the surreal enjoyment of finishing school brings a smile to face. His phone pings, a message from his best friend, “We still on for games night tonight?”, typing hastily to not get his phone wet “Yeh, I’m heading over now” the mysterious boy replies. He rushes through the on-pour of rain to the house. After pushing the seemingly polished doorbell, a muscly boy answers the door. “come on Liam, I’ve got Minecraft ready to go” barks the muscly boy, “okay, okay, let’s go Barry” Liam cheerfully snaps back. The relationship between Barry and Liam was hard to explain. Since Barry came out as gay last year things hadn’t been the same, it’s not Liam wasn’t accepting, but it was hard to deny the chemistry that had begun to flourish between them.

Time flicks by like the melting of a snowflake. The night, packed with adventure, new achievements and McDonald’s, is coming to an end. Liam packed his controller and phone charger back into his Nike bag, heads downstairs and began twisting the front door’s handle. Barry hearing the creaky door handle, raced downstairs “wo, where’d you think you’re going without saying goodbye?” he exclaimed, “You know where I’m going stupid” Liam jokingly replied – Barry smirked- “I’ll see you tomorrow though yeh?” he continued, “Course, I’ll meet you in the normal spot” Liam said closing the front door behind him.

The rain had stopped, but nevertheless, that made the journey home no safer. Deciding upon taking the short cut home, he put one foot in front of the other and began the journey. Trenching through the remains of the earlier thunderstorm, he passes a row of old houses and arrives at the abandoned park hidden in the corner of the estate. The green gates that once stood strong against the attack of wild animals, were now withered - lost in the jungle of vegetation that thrives. Combating the blades of grass, Liam pushes forward, determined by the warming thought of his cozy bed and Netflix. The eerie creaking of the ancient oak tree’s echoes through the smashed fence at the back of the park, a noise that evokes the hairs on the back of Liam’s neck. Provoked by fear, his senses heighten.

The quiet wind softly rattles delicate leaves at the top of the ancient oak tree’s, his shoes now squelching from the muddy water, he pauses. His right ear twitches, “Aurelius” the winds whistles. Startled by the noise, he turns abruptly to find its source, but no one is there. Nothing can be seen except his path back through the shards of grass. “Aurelius” he hears again, but this time to his left. Shocked, he turns again to find the source of this noise. Nothing can be seen. Now facing the smashed fence, he gazes deeper into the portal of darkness behind it. Shrouded in curiousness he creeps closer – “Hello… Is anyone there?” he exhales, the emotion of fear evident from the fluctuation in his voice. His feet slowly pushing the blades of grass down deeper into the soggy ground, his gaze frozen into the darkness. The wind rattles once more through the delicate leaves above as the voice comes again, “come Aurelius”. “My names not Aurelius” he bats back.  Grasped by interest Liam approaches the smashed fence, using his hands to maneuver himself through. Unbeknown to him, his finger catches on a sharp fracture of the fence and draws blood. The moonlight that once allowed vision of the jungle, was now fading, swallowed by the jaws of darkness.  

Standing, encased in darkness, an eldritch voice whispers into his ear “I’ve been waiting for you”

This story was written by James, who works in the Simply Hammocks marketing team. Chapter two will be coming very soon!