Short Story: Balling

He was lying on the bed of a suite on the 23rd story of a five-star hotel in Manhattan. Far beneath him, the cars and busses rolled past hurried workers and slow-footed tourists. The buzz of the city that never sleeps filled the air of this clear night. The stars however, remained outshined by the bright lights of the man-made monuments of engineering New York City was home to.

She was sitting on the large mahogany desk and sipping on a glass of bourbon. The desk was an impressive piece dating back to the 19th century and rumored to have belonged to Governor Grover Cleveland before his ascend to the presidency. But even the most devout admirer of antique furniture wouldn’t have been able to avert his eyes from the lady lounging on it.

He opened his eyes just enough to make out her silhouette, attempting to figure out if she was indeed real or just a piece of his vivid imagination, ready to disappear into thin air in an instant. His imagination had always been at hand to play games with his mind and at this particular moment of time, he was dreading to discover that all had been but a dream.

She was staring at her glass as if it contained the answer to the all-important question of the meaning of life. And to her, maybe it did. She took another careful and measured swig of bourbon. She pushed a wisp of a long, blonde hair behind her ears before looking up and staring at the replica of an Andy Warhol painting above the bed.

He closed his eyes again and dozed off. This time, he was sure he was dreaming.

The sun was shining down on him and the voices of excited teenagers, playing children and concerned mothers was ringing in his ears. Central Park was filled as was to be expected on a beautiful Summer day. He was lying on the freshly-cut grass on one of the lawns with two elderly men sitting on a blanket nearby listening to the radio broadcast of the Yankees game (they were leading by two runs with one inning to go). And there she was.

She was shooting free throws on one of the nearby courts, hitting them with passable accuracy. Next to the hoop was a speaker blasting a playlist playing the Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Phoenix and Jay-Z. Her focus however, seemed to be completely taken by getting the ball into the hoop. She kept her eyes on the rim, kept her elbows straight and then released the ball towards her goal in a perfect arc. After every shot she made, a faint smile appeared on her face. When she missed, a look of despair and dejection appeared on her face.

At first, he just glanced over after hearing the rhythmic bouncing of the ball on concrete. But then, when everything else in the park failed to capture his attention, he couldn’t help but continue to watch the stunning girl so fully absorbed by practicing her free throws. He tried to work up enough courage to go and talk to her, wondering which words would have the effect he wished for. Just as he got up to walk over, the sound of laughter pulled him out of his dream and back to reality.

She was still sitting on the desk, but this time she was smiling and giggling. Dawn had reached New York City, with the first rays of sunshine illuminating the hotel room. With the morning, a different kind of mood had taken hold of the woman. The glass of bourbon had been replaced with a little black notebook, which she was reading intently and with the same focus she had shown on the basketball court.

He opened his eyes fully and took a moment to get used to the sunlight filling the room. He stared at the girl in front of him and a smile appeared on his face. The last night now seemed like a distant memory destined to float away in due time.

She finally noticed his awakening. A final laugh escaped her throat. She leaned back and looked at him in silence. As so often, she didn’t know what she wanted to say. Instead, she grabbed the tiny black notebook and began to jot down something. The strokes of her pen flew over the paper.

He watched her start writing and closed his eyes again. The more often he opened his eyes and saw she wasn’t gone, the more he was convinced that she wasn’t gone. He slowly counted to ten and then opened them again, focusing at the desk.

She wasn’t there. Nothing but emptiness was to be found where she had been sitting. However, the tiny black book had been thrown onto the bed. Frantically, he flipped through the pages, skimming through the back-and-forth banter of their early courtship until he reached the last page of the book. His eyes devoured the content of her writing.

He sighed. After pulling on his clothes, he took a moment to gaze upon the city where dreams came to come true or die.

He opened the closet, grabbed the basketball hidden inside and turned around.  With a hint of hopefulness in his voice he said:  “Are we leaving?”

Behind him, she looked at him with her bright, blue eyes peering into his, and smiled.


 

That’s it for today. I’m always looking for feedback, so please hit me up on Twitter or in the comments section!

Sincerely yours,

Albert

 

 

 

News, Announcements and Cookies

Hello everyone!

It has been really quiet on this blog for quite a while and I’m sorry for my sudden and inexplicable silence. However, it isn’t as inexplicable as it seems as I’ve been really busy in the last two months since my last post.

The biggest and most time-consuming project was the launch of Mirage Boulevard. You might ask: “What is Mirage Boulevard?”

Mirage Boulevard

Mirage Boulevard (mirageboulevard.com) is the new website my friend Oliver Aeschimann (oaesch) and I started. It’s a German language online magazine focused on bringing you high quality reviews and articles on the world of movies, television and literature. Thanks to the help of our friends we have been able to push out content on a fairly regular basis. Please check it out!

A few days ago, “An Elusive Hero” was able to celebrate its first birthday! I want to thank all visitors who have read my posts so far.

This leads me to the announcement hinted at in the title: Thanks to the new project mentioned above and a wonderful new job in the world of online marketing, I’ve decided to narrow down the scope of this blog.

In the future, I’ll focus on my fiction writing here and hope to bring you new chapters of “An Elusive Hero” on a regular basis in the near future. For that, I’ll be relaunching this blog in the next few months including updating the design and functionality of it all. Stay tuned!

My normal commentary on pop culture and television will fully move to my YouTube Channel, where I hope to publish videos on a regular basis as summer and spring approaches.

I haven’t thought about the future of my posts on Switzerland and Zurich in depth yet. Either they’ll make an occasional appearance here or maybe I’ll outsource them completely to another platform.

As you can see, a lot of exciting changes and reboots are planned, so keep on visiting. And like I promised in the title, here is a delicious batch of cookies. (I also wanted to check out the new embed feature of getty images)

Hope to talk to you all soon!

Sincerely yours,
Albert

Chapter 32: Running and Hiding

The first 31 chapters of “An Elusive Hero” can be found here.

Laurenar immediately bolted ahead of me. We didn’t head up the staircase I had come down, but instead slipped through a hidden door behind the stairwell. It was interesting to see him move without his restrictive, silver armor. Only clad in a linen shirt and linen pants, he was extremely nimble and quick on his feet. I almost struggled with following him. My actions had left me exhausted and woefully out of breath. Thankfully, we couldn’t just barge through the fort, but instead needed to take some careful and planned steps.

The corridor we walked through was dark and narrow, as one would imagined the hidden ways of an old fort to be. However, my surprisingly loyal sphere of light provided us with enough assistance to make our escape easier. Laurenar kept on heading through the tunnels with fierce resolve and determination.

“Do you know where we’re going?” I asked him, slightly worried about being trapped underground for the rest of my life.

“Yes.”

It was good to see that his captivity hadn’t changed him all that much. He was still as tightlipped as ever. And the knight did have a plan. There were not many paths to choose from in the darkness, but Laurenar never skipped a beat, gliding through nooks and creases effortlessly and urging me to keep up with him.

“Your command over the light is impressive.” He said, while signalling me to wait.

I looked at him stunned and surprised. In front us was a slim door and he was peering through a tiny opening to make sure we could slip out undetected.

“Does Seraphina know about your powers?”

“No, she wasn’t captured with us and I only started using this sphere in the cell.”

“Interesting.”

I hadn’t thought about Seraphina in a while. I was sure she would ride through the gates of the fort to save us, but so far nothing had materialized.

“What happened to the rest?” Laurenar wasn’t looking at me, but still examining the environment beyond the door.

“Tyler got away and hopefully went to find Seraphina. Michelle and Drake were injured and captured. But they were led away from me. I don’t know where they are held.”

The knight nodded and tightened his grip on the sword we had stolen from his unfortunate guard. “Did you meet the Chosen One?”

“Yes, I did.”

“What do you think?”

“He has a lot of power, but a lot of it seems to be showmanship.”

Laurenar nodded again and flashed a rare smile.

“You’re smarter than I thought you’d be.”

I felt myself blushing a bit. Of course, he was right. When I had arrived in Illusio, I couldn’t even hold a sword correctly. Now, I had just secured my first victories in fights and freed a captured hero. Not bad for a soon-to-be college student. But we were not in the clear yet. Laurenar was still observing the outside world, while we were stuck in the darkness.

“Where are we? What are you looking at?” I whispered, increasingly curious about our exact whereabouts.

Laurenar smiled again. “We’re under a stairwell in one of the main corridors of the pentagon. But the fort is a maze. I can’t say where exactly we are without being outside.”

“Then what are we waiting for?”

“A sign.”

He smiled at me reassuringly. Maybe captivity had in fact changed him a bit. What kind of sign were we waiting for? I looked at him and hoped to find any clues in his expression, but he had turned around again and patiently resumed his observation. If we were still inside the pentagon, we would need a lot of help to escape the walls of the fort. And would we just leave Michelle and Drake in here? Michelle had done so much to help and support me during my journey that it felt wrong to leave her here. We would have to come back later. Hopefully, we wouldn’t be alone, but with an army at our backs. I had to remind myself that I hadn’t escaped yet. Laurenar and I were stuck in dark corridor beneath a stairwell with the whole castle looking for us.

That’s when the sign Laurenar had waited for came. Three loud and roaring trumpet blasts travelled through the castle, sending the guards walking through the halls into full-blown panic mode. Their leisurely and methodical pace used to look for the knight and me had been replaced by sprints to the nearest doors and weapon chambers.

“What was that?”

“Our sign.”

Laurenar laughed quietly and motioned me to follow him as he burst through the door. He swiftly manoeuvred us into another dark corner. I motioned my sphere of light to become as small as possible and continued to be dumbfounded.

“What does it mean?”

“The Fort is under attack.”

_____________________________________________

Thank you very much for reading so far. I hope you have a great Friday and wonderful weekend. If you’ve enjoyed the story so far, don’t forget to like, share and subscribe!

Sincerely yours,
Albert

Chapter 31: Rescue

You can read the first thirty chapters here.

I had instinctively chosen the left path and was now running through a narrow, winded corridor with torches mounted to the walls at the side. The sphere of light floated closely behind me, always adjusting to my changing speeds. My body had started to ache shortly after I left my cell behind me. When I wanted to accelerate, every fiber and muscle of mine urged me to take it easy. I had never been the fittest person around, but using magic or whatever feat it was I had just pulled off, was incredibly tiring for my mind and physique.

A few cells were lined up on the left and right side of the corridor, but they were not guarded, so I assumed that they were not the cells I was looking for. Nobody was to be seen behind the small slits in the doors, so I continued charging down the corridor. It soon found its end with a small staircase consisting of about six steps inviting me to explore. This definitely wasn’t a way out, but I was sure whoever had caused the trouble earlier was held on this second level of cells. I crouched down and peered down the stairs, but it was too dark to decipher anything.

“Brighter.”

Giving commands orally was less taxing than controlling the light just by my mind. However, as I was just beginning to explore my newfound capabilities, I was not sure if had enough strength to continue controlling the sphere.

I sighed and cursed myself. “Maybe I should have chosen to go right after all.” I  whispered under my breath. The thoughts of failure pushed back by my escape were creeping back into the forefront.

Muffled laughter forced me to concentrate on my task of exploring. The sound was not only a surprise to me. I could hear two voices reacting to it.

“What the hell are you laughing about?” An older, male voice.

“Shut up!” A young, forceful and definitely female voice.

Still crouching, I inched down the first steps, trying to get a closer look at the guards. The laughter hadn’t stopped yet.

“If you don’t shut up, we’ll come and make you.” The female tone was serious and calm. Her threat carried a lot of weight and gravity. Meanwhile, I had reached the bottom of the stairs and peered around the corner. I could clearly see the two guards and the heavy cell door they were guarding. And most importantly, I could hear everything they were talking about.

The laughter stopped for a second. “I’d like to see you try.”

The female guard moved her hand through her short, shoulder-length red hair and sighed. She dropped her voice and told her partner, who was looking at her slightly puzzled. “I might actually have to go in there now.”

“He knows you’re bluffing.”

“I’m not.” She smiled and moved her hand to the short sword hanging by her side. Both guards wore heavy, grey armor, a bit different from the simple padded clothing my guards had worn. Obviously, this prisoner was considered more of a threat than I had been.

The laughter started again. The older guard reacted first, asking his prisoner what was so funny.

“None of your business. I’m just keeping myself entertained.” The voice coming from within the cell was full of confidence, which added to my earlier surprise quite a bit. Now that I had finally heard the prisoner speak clearly, I knew who was behind that door: Laurenar.

I cautiously peered around the corner again. My own disappearance wouldn’t go unnoticed for any much longer. In fact, my escape had probably been discovered already. Somehow, nobody had caught up to me just yet. It was clear that time was running for me and Laurenar.

“Grow.”

The sphere of light, floating quietly behind my back grew back to the size of a football.
I waited for a moment, staring at the two guards standing in front of the cell. The woman was furious and wouldn’t take the jabs from inside the cell much longer. Sure enough, when Laurenar said something I couldn’t quite make out, she took out her keys and told her partner: “Someone needs to be taught a lesson.”

That was my chance.

“Glow.”

The light which had previously burned with the intensity of the torches now fully illuminated the staircase I was still standing on.

“Divide.”

I was panting heavily now, still focused on the white lights in front of me, when I heard footsteps coming in my direction. But they were coming from downstairs and not from upstairs. The older guard had decided to check out the strange light on the stairwell.

In an instant, I jumped around the corner and pushed the guard back before he had a chance to use his drawn sword. Adrenaline drove me forward and I ordered one of my glowing spheres of light to blind my opponent. I shielded my eyes, while my ball exploded in a flash of bright, white light blinding the old guard and causing the female guard, who was standing in the open cell door, to turn around.

The older guard fell backwards against the wall. Immediately, I jumped on his one-handed sword and picked it up. With a quick move, I slid the weapon into the cell and into the hands of Laurenar, while the female guard made a step towards me. When she realized what I had done, her face turned pale. Beating up Laurenar while she had all the power was easy. Beating him when he had a sword was a different story.

I felt the need to rest. The original sphere of light was still floating next to me, but when I tried to help out Laurenar, my words failed me. He didn’t need my help. The knight deftly parried the first two clumsy strikes by the guard, before using the same trick I had just minutes before. He attacked, probing the woman’s guard with subtle blows from the left and right. While she was working hard to defend herself, he moved around with purpose and a clear plan. Laurenar dominated the fight without using too much energy. He tried to strike her chest, then her arms and then her legs, but never gave up his defensive stance. The knight was not doing this for the first time. Even though he would be more comfortable with a two-handed weapon, Laurenar had gotten her exactly into the position he wanted. He was outside of the cell and she was standing inside of it. They had danced around in a perfect circle. With far more elegance than I was used to, he shut the heavy stone door.

During the shouting and screaming of the furious, captured guard, he nodded to me: “Let’s get out of here.”

___________________________

Thank you very much for reading so far! Please share and subscribe if you liked the story. Have a great weekend and see you soon.

Sincerely yours,
Albert

Chapter 30: Escape

You can find the first 29 chapters of “An Elusive Hero” under Story.

The sounds of shouting and fighting woke me up. I opened my eyes groggily and looked around the little cell of mine. The sphere of light was floating high above me. I crawled towards the stone door and looked out of the narrow slit the guards used to check up on the prisoners. To my surprise, none of the guards normally standing in front of my cell were to be seen. Instead, the sounds of the commotion originated from the left of my cell.
I desperately tried to find out what was going on, but I could only make out excited and worried shouting without understanding the wording.

Just as I wanted to retreat back to my cot, I saw two more guards rushing past my cells, both with their swords drawn. They were panting heavily and not moving as fast as they should have been. I deducted that they had just been woken up after serving the night shift. Something big was happening. I thought of Seraphina and Tyler who had managed to escape before reaching the fort. Had they been able to return and infiltrate the impregnable walls of the building? Then I thought of Michelle and Drake. Had they recovered from their wounds and staged a revolt from the inside? I thought of Laurenar. Had he found his strength to cast off his shackles to rise up?

I looked up at the ball of light I had just started controlling the day before. The guards before my door were still gone. I stared at the sphere of light and commanded it to divide itself into four different balls. I left one of the lights floating in the center of the cell, while I made three basketball sized globes float directly over the door. From the outside, my creations were invisible.

The sounds from the commotion died down. It got eerily quiet. My thoughts again circled around what was going on. Guards passed the cells, none of them uttering a single word. They were not running anymore, just walking back, looking exhausted and relieved. Like before, two guards took their post before my cell.

“What is going on?”

I decided to try my luck. Maybe they’d have a reason to gloat or exaggerate their prowess in putting out this minor fire. But I got no reaction.

“The sounds woke me up. I’m hungry. When’s time for breakfast?”

My voice was calm and cheerful, the opposite from what I hoped they wanted me to sound. I really did feel hungry. But that was not the reason for my feeble attempts at conversation. No answer came forth from behind the doors. Instead, I heard the sounds of footsteps leaving. I took a quick peak out of the opening to see that only one of the guards was standing before my cell.

Now was my chance. Something was going on among in the fort. I looked up at the light and hoped it wouldn’t suddenly turn dark. That was a possibility I hadn’t considered at all. As easy as this power had come to me, what if it would disappear right when I needed it most? I swallowed my doubts and looked up at my strategically placed balls of light.

“Stand back.” The guard had returned. I took half a step back. The door was pulled open and the guard set down a tray filled with a loaf of bread, some butter and a cup of milk.

The moment the captor bent down I closed my eyes and focused all of my concentration on the spheres and shouted “Light up!”.

In an instant, the lights dialed up their intensity and heat. The young man was blinded and startled immediately. He stumbled two steps backwards out the door. I called out “Follow me” to the three globes and before the other guard knew what was going on I had tackled the first one. He was stronger than me, but still unable to see a thing. We fell to the ground together, but I used his confusion to get up immediately.

I quickly turned around and focused on one of the balls of light. With ease I directed it towards the second guard; an older, bearded man armed with a short sword. The light was shining as bright as the sun now and radiating heat. He tried to fend off the ball with his weapon, but it passed through as it had no physical properties. I gathered all of my strength and whispered “Explode”. Without making a sound, the sphere exploded, releasing a surprisingly powerful shockwave and throwing the bearded man back into my cell.

The other guard was still regaining his eyesight, so I pushed against the door as hard as I could. A jolt of pain rushed through my recently injured shoulder, causing me to wince. The door shut with a loud thump. If the struggles from before hadn’t alerted the other guards, the closing of the door surely would the trick. I faced the younger guard again, who had now gotten to his feet again. He had drawn his mace and shield and looked ready to attack.

He was still squinting and hadn’t regained full control over his eyesight yet. I still controlled two of the spheres from before. They were floating mid-air, shining brightly and quietly. I concentrated and put all of my thoughts into one of the spheres of light, getting ready to strike without saying a word. We stared at each other. He was weighing his options and if I hadn’t known better I would’ve thought he was scared of me. Time was running out. I closed my eyes and silently decided on a command. The light I was controlling immediately obeyed and shot down the corridor with speed before vanishing into thin air. Its movement was enough to make the guard take his eyes off me. I jumped on him and threw a punch with a my right arm. My first punch ever connected with his face and caused him to fall against the wall behind him. The impact knocked him out cold. I stared at him, surprised at myself and knelt down to check his pulse. He was only unconscious.

I stood up again and looked at the last ball of light I following me. “Shrink.”

The light took the size of a tennis ball. “Follow me.”

What would I do now? I looked left, to where the earlier sounds and shouts had come from. And then I turned right, where the corridor seemed to lead upstairs and towards freedom. I had absolutely no clue where to go.

I closed my eyes and sighted. Then I started running, followed by my only weapon and new companion, my original sphere of light.

______________

Thank you very much for reading so far! Please like, share and subscribe if you’ve enjoyed the story so far. It will continue next Thursday with the 31st chapter.

Until then, have a great weekend and see you soon!

Sincerely yours,
Albert

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope 2014 finds you in good health and good spirits and wish all of you the best of luck in the new year.

As for this blog, the new year bring new opportunities and new challenges. For that reason, some things are going to be changing on “An Elusive Hero”.

First of all, starting next week, I’ll be switching my posting dates to Tuesday and Thursday.

On Tuesdays, I will mostly post about Switzerland and anything of interest.

Thursdays will be reserved for my fiction writing and the continuation of my story, “An Elusive Hero”.

Changing the schedule from three times to two times a week gives me the chance to focus on writing longer and higher-quality texts. This year, I’m expecting to write more about interesting journeys within Switzerland and again have extensive coverage of the Zurich Film Festival and other high profile events in the country. As for “An Elusive Hero”, the story, this is the year I’ll hopefully be able to bring it to a fitting conclusion.

I really enjoyed making my last video and hope to publish vlogs on a regular basis in 2014. My vlog will focus on books, so my writing on that topic will probably decline. Please check out my YouTube channel and subscribe to stay updated!

Also, I’m working on a German language project with a friend, which is due to launch early this year. Even with a reduced schedule on my blog, I’ll be able to write and do something I love on various outlets throughout the Internet.

I want to thank everyone who read “An Elusive Hero” in 2013 again and hope to see you again in 2014!

Happy New Year!

Sincerely yours,
Albert

An Elusive Hero in 2013 (Recap)

As 2013 ends tomorrow, I’d like to wrap up the year with a short review of my posts this year.

First of all, I want to thank everyone who has followed and read my posts since I started writing on “An Elusive Hero” in March. The feedback and support I’ve received has been invaluable for me to improve. Wednesday will look forward to the plans for 2014. But until then, let’s recap some of the most interesting posts from this year.

Continue reading