This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This story is copyrighted by Parker Sheaffer, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.
Simon lay on the stiff, dirty carpet of his bedroom, his life's blood slowly seeping into the filthy rug. The cut on his head where he had been thrown against the bedpost bled freely, but it was the internal hemorrhaging that was killing him.
His small battered body, bruised all over, trembled as he wept in pain, but his mind was numb, without feeling, and only focused on one thought, why?
He was no longer hungry. He was now free of the ache in his tummy that demanded food but, because of his stepfather, had received none.
Simon didn't know why the man hated him so much, why he was always hurting him, starving him. Simon was pretty sure he hadn't done anything bad, not bad enough to be treated like this. He was only seven, not old enough to cause any real trouble, but ever since his step-mother had remarried and brought the old man to live in their small, run down apartment Simon's life had been hellish. Both his real parents were dead, first his mother, then his father a year later. Believing that his son needed a mother Simon's father had remarried, yet the woman had shown a disappointing indifference to the boy right from the start. When his father died suddenly the woman found herself another man, so that was how Simon found himself living in the home of two people who were not related to him, who didn't care for him, and who now at last had killed him.
Simon's father had been an archeologist and had studied the Picts, Celts and Druids of Britain. He was well known in certain academic circles for his discoveries of several ancient sites which had yielded up some beautiful and important treasures.
One of those treasures he gave to his only son, Simon. It was a small amulet made of a metal which looked like silver with the face of the Green Man on one side and a mysterious rune on the other. Simon had carefully hidden it in his room because he knew that the evil ones would steal and sell it if they found he had something valuable. Now he clutched his single treasure in his weakening little hand and cried for his father.
Darkness began to surround him as his life ebbed away,... but in the middle of the darkness was a point of light. The light grew rapidly, sweeping toward him, and brought with it a growing feeling of warmth and well-being, a feeling that Simon remembered from before. It felt like love.
Slowly an image began to form. The darkness changed to a deep green forest and the light became the glittering reflection of sunbeams on water. Simon realized that he was lying in the middle of a strange forest and was surrounded by huge, dark tree trunks supporting a deep green, glossy canopy of foliage. He felt a carpet of thick mossy earth under him. The air was warm and humid and very fragrant, rich with odors of the earth, the sweet perfume of flowers, ferns and, oddly, honey.
Sunlight broke through the thick leafy ceiling and dappled the stream with sparkling light. It was a broad stream that bubbled with the clearest water he could ever imagine as it spilled over huge speckled stones to form a wide pool. Then the water in the pool began to swirl into a strong eddy, pushed by some unseen force, and from the center there rose a mist. Simon was not afraid of finding himself here. He sat up and watched in fascination as the mist coalesced into the tall figure of a very large man who at first seemed to be made of clear water, but when he stepped onto the bank he turned green. His smiling face was covered in leaves and so was his body. He appeared to be made of leaves. Simon recognized him right away, it was the face on his amulet.
Despite the strangeness of this place and the incredible appearance of the creature before him, Simon felt no fear. An aura of calm reassurance seemed to emanate from the man, wrapping the boy's mind in peace and wonder.
"Am I dead?" asked Simon.
"Yes and no, Simon. It is not your time yet, but you had to be near the border between worlds to come to this place. And yet, as I said, it is not your time, child. I have the power to restore you, if you will."
"You're the Green Man. My dad told me about you. I have your face on my amulet."
"I know. The amulet is what brought you to me in this place."
"Oh yes, it has a very powerful and ancient magic, the magic of the earth itself. I can show you the secrets of that magic so that you may use it when I send you back."
"Do I have to go back? I don't want to. They hate me and, I, I like it better here."
"It is not your time, yet. Someday you will come here and stay if you wish it, but for now you have work to do."
"Work? What work?"
"You must protect the children, my son. As you have been abused and harmed by cruel and uncaring adults you must now try and prevent that harm from befalling others. As you were helpless, now you will help. Where you were weak, now you can lend strength to those who need it.
You were small, but now you will cast a mighty shadow. Will you do this?"
"I-I guess so."
"You are a special child and that is why you have been chosen. The amulet came to you for a purpose. On the back is a rune of great power. Let me now show you what it can do."
The stink of the rotten apartment was the first thing he was aware of as he returned to this world; the sensation of a rat crawling over his leg was the second. It took several moments for his consciousness to return and when he was able to sit up he realized that his hurts were gone. He wasn't bleeding, he wasn't aching and his bruises had disappeared. Simon stood up on legs that felt strong for the first time in months. He was able to stand up straight without the cramping in his empty stomach. He looked in the mirror and instead of a hollow-eyed little waif he now saw a healthy child glowing with vitality and life.
Simon smiled and felt like laughing out loud. He felt wonderful. He felt like dancing.
It seemed as if he had been gone to the magic forest for a long time, but he knew that in this world only moments had passed. He remembered everything the Green Man had taught him and knew that he would never be afraid again.
Opening the door the restored boy stepped into the hall and went to the kitchen. He opened the refrigerator and took out a carton of milk and then took a box of cereal from the cabinet. He was humming a strange tune as he poured the milk over the cereal and the sound of his humming finally drew the attention of his step-father who had been passed out drunk on the sofa in the next room. He raised his head and looked at the boy who sat smugly at the table eating a bowl of corn flakes.
Anger flared in the man's red rimmed eyes as he stood in the doorway, his mind still addled with sleep and booze. This would normally have made the boy cringe and try to hide but now he looked at the man calmly.
"What the hell do you think you're doing, you little bastard. That's my milk and my cereal. I thought I taught you a lesson, but I guess you're a slow learner. Well this time you're...."
He was raising his hand to strike the boy when Simon, in a quiet voice that echoed with power, said, "Eundevate! Komnishcrepe Fala!"
The effect of the mystical words was immediate and the man fell to the floor gasping and filled with so much pain that he couldn't even scream. Every blow he had ever dealt out to Simon, every lash with the belt, every punch and kick came back to him all at once and all of the hurt that Simon had ever felt at his hands now returned for him to endure. Through the dirt of his greasy, unwashed skin deep bruises were blossoming, his cheeks sank in from starvation and he wept, struggling for words that would not come. He thrashed about in agony, his feet thumping against the floor as tears left tracks in the dirt on his ugly, twisted face.
His tears didn't move Simon though. Simon could not feel sorry for the evil creature who had tormented him, nor did he feel anger or hatred. He remembered what the Green Man had told him. "Do not hate. Hate will hurt you more than it can hurt your enemy. Do not deal with hate and revenge... but deal out justice, instead."
"Herb! What's wrong, Herb?" screamed Simon's step-mother as she stumbled out of the bedroom, awakened by the drumming of Herb's feet on the floor, still hung-over from the night before. She rushed to her husband's side and knelt to comfort him, but her touch was agony to him and made him writhe more violently.
"Herb! Herb. Talk to me. What's wrong?" she screamed.
Then she saw Simon calmly eating and watching and she knew that he was somehow responsible for hurting her precious husband, her Herb. How she hated this little brat, always underfoot, always wanting this and that, crying to be fed. She knew he was no good from the start. Now she stood and started to step toward him, intending to shake the truth out of him.
"What the hell did you do, you little prick? What's wrong with him. Answer me before I slap the shit out of you.!"
"Eundevate! Komnishcrepe Fala!" Simon whispered again and with a shocked look on her face the witch fell to the floor beside her husband. Deep red hand prints covered her face and limbs, echoes of the many slaps she had dealt out to her step-son. Her skin became bruised and welts formed on her legs and arms, mirror images of the stripes she had given Simon when she laid into him with a belt. Gasping for breath she writhed in pain and shock beside the other monster. They didn't know that the torturous pain they now endured would last for days and leave them almost insane.
The renewed boy watched them impassively until he finished his breakfast and then he went to pack his few meager belongings. All he needed was a small plastic bag to hold his other pair of jeans, his two tee shirts and socks. The amulet he wore around his neck was tucked under his shirt. Next he pulled the man's wallet from his trousers which were in a pile beside the sofa. He took out all of the money, fifty-seven dollars and then went to get the woman's purse. He did a little better there. She had over a hundred dollars.
There was no reason to feel as if he was stealing the money. It had been his father's after all and had been left for Simon. The two creatures who took charge of his life also took his father's savings. Pocketing his new wealth Simon left the apartment and walked toward a new life.