The Adventures of an Average Nerd

by Luna Peters

Part One: Dream

Miles sat staring at his computer screen, where his GameMaker video game creator was open, but blank. He wanted to make this game perfect, but he didn’t know how. He sighed and place his ice pack back over his black eye. Hector the Bully struck again after robotics club, demanding money that Miles didn’t have. It was frustrating, but he knew that he would just have to live with this stuff. It was another part of being your average, everyday nerd.

He leaned back in his desk chair and looked at his poster-covered ceiling, groaning. He wasn’t getting anywhere with this dumb game. Finally, he turned off his computer out of frustration and glanced at the clock. Holy crap, he thought. It’s 2:00 AM. He’d been staring at that screen for three hours. His eyes drooped with exhaustion and he could barely stand. Bedtime, he thought as he collapsed onto his bed. He went to sleep immediately without even taking off his glasses, let alone changing into pajamas and preparing for bed.

When Miles opened his eyes, the first thing he noticed was that he couldn’t see. His glasses were on his face, but not over his eyes. He fixed them, then realized that he wasn’t in his room anymore. He was lying on a beach on an island somewhere, in his Batman pajamas. Then he remembered that their were no pajamas; he had fallen asleep in blue jeans with holes in the knees and his Green Lantern t-shirt, his glasses still on his face.

Miles sat up and looked around. The beach was white sand, and behind him a cliff rose up to a thriving city. The sea crashed onto the shore in front of him. Disoriented, he stumbled to the cliff. Even half asleep he knew that someone in the city would know where he was. He also knew that he wouldn’t be able to climb the cliff.

Now fully awake, Miles decided that the best way to get to the city would be to look for a path. Just as he made this decision, he was shocked by something in the water. It didn’t look… human. It was almost like a mermaid, but he knew that they didn’t exist. Suddenly the thing’s green tail turned into legs with a green skirt floating around it. The thing walked out of the water, where he could get a better look at her. That’s right– her.

The thing in the water was a blue-skinned girl who could go from having a tail to having feet. “Hello,” she said as she wrung her wet hair.

“Um, hi,” he said. “I’m Miles.”

“Neptune,” she replied. “The ocean is pretty, isn’t it? Probably best to get into the city, though. It’ll be getting dark soon.”

Sure enough, the sun was getting low on the horizon, setting the sky in hues of reds, oranges and yellows. “You know the way into the city?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said. “Don’t you?” he shook his head. “Follow me,” she told him. She started walking without looking to see if he was behind her, the skirt of her green dress swishing around her ankles. Miles hurried to keep up with her.

After walking for about thirty minutes a path opened on the cliff that led into the city, precisely as Miles had predicted. The path reached dizzying heights, but he started walking despite his fear of heights. “So,” he said to Neptune, “do you know what city this is?”

She laughed. “It’s Polaris, of course,” she said, still giggling. “Where else would we be?”

“Right,” he said awkwardly. “How silly of me.”

The rest of the trek was spent in silence. Miles tried to think where there was a city on an island named Polaris, but all he could think of was the star. This wasn’t a real place. And he was talking to a mermaid. He had to be dreaming.

Now that he knew this was a dream, Miles was more confident. It seemed nice, so he didn’t bother waking up. Who would wake up from a dream on a tropical island? It was like a vacation from all the failed video game making he’d been dealing with lately.

“Here it is,” Neptune said, gesturing to the city. Miles thought he heard something and he tilted his head, listening. Sure enough, there were shouts coming from a nearby alley, not two football fields from where he stood. He ran toward the sound, shouting a warm “thanks” to her as he went. When he reached the alley, he stopped in his tracks.

Some big men were beating a smaller man, who was helpless against them. The scene was horrifying, so much so that it made him forget for a moment that it was a dream. He ran up to them and grabbed the small man’s arm. “Come on,” he shouted. The bigger men looked at him menacingly. His eyes widened in terror.

“I’m not going anywhere,” the small, aging man said.

“You have to come,” Miles said.

“I can’t,” the man replied. Miles looked up at the men.

“Then I’ll fight with you,” he said. The men ran at them, but he dodged, pulling the man along with him.

Miles put what he knew about fighting to use. Of course, everything he knew came from video games, but it was enough. He tripped the slow, giant men and pulled the old guy out of the way just as motorcycles came by. It was backup for the big guys that now lay on the ground. He cursed. Their only way out was blocked.

Suddenly something came from above and he was snatched into the air. “Hey,” he said, squirming to get free. “Hey yourself,” said his rescuer. Her blonde hair flew out behind her as she landed on the roof.

“That man down there–” he started. The girl interrupted him.

“Was a conmman who conned the wrong guy,” she finished for him as she dislodged her grappling hook from the side of the building they stood on.

“That’s not–”

“It is,” she said. “I’m Sara,” she added. Miles didn’t say anything, so she continued talking. “You’re lucky Neptune told me where you washed up. That’s the only reason you’re alive right now.”

“Where am I?” he asked. What kind of screwed up world was he in?

“I knew it! You’re an outsider,” Sara said excitedly. “What’s your name? Where are you from? Are you human?”

“I’ll answer your questions when you tell me where I am.”

“Promise to answer my questions?”

“Yes.”

“You are in the lovely land of Cassiopeia, in the water kingdom of Aquarius, Polaris City,” Sara said very specifically. She grabbed Miles’s wrist, looking directly at him as she said her next words. It was then that he realized how pretty she was. Her shoulder length hair matched her curious grey eyes perfectly, following the smooth line of her jaw. She was slight, but that just made her seem younger, almost innocent. Suddenly he realized that he was staring, and that she had said something.

“What was that?” he asked.

“I said it five times,” Sara said, rolling her eyes. “Come on, let’s go!”

Miles didn’t question her, just followed her over the rooftops of Polaris. Soon they were on the other side of the island, where there was another sudden drop. This cliff didn’t seem to have a path anywhere, but that didn’t seem to bother Sara. She just started climbing down. When she realized he wasn’t following, she looked up and called to him. “Come on, get a move on,” she said.

“I can’t,” Miles said, paralyzed with fear.

“Why not?” Sara asked, seeming fearless.

“I’m afraid of heights,” he mumbled.

“What was that?” Sara asked, having not heard his quiet statement.

“I’m afraid of heights,” he shouted.
“Shush,” Sara said. “We don’t want any enemies to find us.”

“Enemies?”

“Shush.”

“How–”

“Shush. Get down here or I’ll have to drag you.”

“Why–”

“Shush.”

Miles rolled his eyes irritatedly, then took a deep breath and started climbing down. Thankfully, he got to where Sara was without any problems. “Now what?” he asked.

“Look down,” she said.

“Are you crazy?” he screeched. The last thing someone with acrophobia should do in a high place is look down.

“Shush,” she said. “Look down. Directly beneath you is a cave and you need to swing into it from the handholds I’m holding onto.”

“I can’t do that,” he said.
“Yes, you can,” she replied. “Now do it.”

“No.”

“Watch me.” She swung into the cave. “See, easy. Your turn.”

Miles carefully moved to where Sara had been a moment ago. Then he snuck in a glance down… and immediately looked up again. He was so high up, if he fell he would break something. He was sure that if he fell, then he would die.

“Hello,” she said from below, “we haven’t got all day!”

“I’m coming,” he snapped. He swung into the cave – and landed on Sara. He immediately rolled off of her. “I am so sorry,” he said. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” she said. “That was my fault, I shouldn’t have been standing in the way.”

He took in his surroundings. There were paintings and furniture. The place was decorated like a house. How did they get that stuff here? he thought.

“Visitors?” said an older voice from the back of the cave.

“What, no hello?” Sara joked.

“What’s he doing here?” the woman asked impatiently. She was older, with graying hair and wizened eyes. She wore a long dress and sat on a leather sofa. Her question seemed more like a demand.

“He’s from the outside,” Sara replied excitedly. The woman slowly smiled.

“Is he now?” she said with a smile.

“He is,” Sara said. “And his name is Miles. Remember what the prophecy said?”

“He will have miles and miles to go,” the woman quoted.

“You guys are crazy. This is just a dream,” Miles cut in. Then he realized what he said. “That means I’m crazy, because I made you up.”

“You didn’t make up anyone,” the woman said.

“Then who are you?” he asked.

“Wouldn’t you know that if you made me up?” the woman snapped. He shut up. “My name is Benetrice. I am– I mean was– advisor to Andromeda, Queen of Fire.”

“But I thought this was the water kingdom,” Miles said, glaring at Sara.

“It is. I am running from both water and fire,” Benetrice replied.

“Isn’t he the Chosen One?” Sara asked, her eyes shining happily.

“Miles, is it?” Benetrice said. He nodded. “If you could go on an adventure to anywhere, would you do it?”

“Why would I?” he asked.

“To help someone,” she said.

“Of course,” he replied automatically. “Why would I not?”

“This is him,” she smiled to no one in particular.

“I’m no chosen one–” Miles started, but she interrupted with a strange poem.

He who stops the eternal war

“Will come knocking at Water’s door.

“He will have miles and miles to go,

“Walking through fire and snow

“To end the war between the two

“Fire and water will be at peace soon.”

“What was that?” Miles asked.

“The prophecy,” Sara said. “The one about you.”

“It’s not me.”

“No, the last boy wasn’t it. But this time I’m sure that it’s you. I know it is.”

“I’m going to wake up now.”

“You can’t.”

“This is just a dream–”

“It most certainly is not ‘just a dream,’” Benetrice cut in. “It is real, at least to us. You have to help us. How else will this dream world become better again for all who reside in it?”

Miles took a deep breath for the millionth time that day. He had to. “What do I have to do?”


Part Two: Dance

Miles stood staring at Sara and Benetrice, who were grinning from ear to ear. Sara started jumping up and down and squealing. “Yay!” she said happily. She ran up to Benetrice and hugged her. “He said he’d do it, isn’t that great?”

“Yes, dear, that’s wonderful,” Benetrice said. “Could you please calm down so I can tell him what he needs to do?”

“I’ll do it!” Sara volunteered excitedly. She turned to Miles and continued, “youseethefirequeenandwaterqueendon’tgetalongwellsoweneedyouto–”

“Slow down,” he said, struggling to keep up.

“Sara,” Benetrice said. The girl stopped to look at the old woman.

“Yes?” she asked innocently.

“Why don’t you wait outside?”

“Okay.” She walked away with her shoulders slumped and climbed out of the cave. That’s when Miles remembered that not only did he climb into the cave, but he had to climb out of it. And then he would have to do it again. And again. He shivered and put the thought out of his mind, turning to Benetrice to listen to what she had to say.

“So, what do I have to do?” he asked again.

“Let me tell you a story,” she said, motioning for Miles to sit down. He chose a green checkered chair that stood near the sofa. “Once, many years ago, there were four elements that worked together in harmony. They had no rulers, no inhabitants other than small animals and bacteria. It was a lovely, happy world.

“Then nymphs came along, as well as more intelligent life. Humans were included among this new intelligent life, but they were not as intelligent as they might seem. They were cruel to each other, and sought to control the elements to which they were born. Soon four royal systems came into existence: the sky kingdom, the water kingdom, the earth kingdom and the fire kingdom.

“The fire kingdom and the water kingdom never got along well. They immediately began to fight, for the water kingdom had the most land and the fire kingdom had the least. The fire kingdom wanted power and the water kingdom refused to share.

“It always seemed to make sense to me that the two lands would be so opposed to one another. Real water would put out fire, and real fire would evaporate water. It’s almost poetic, in a sad, twisted way.”

“I still don’t understand my role in this,” Miles interjected.

“You are their savior,” Benetrice replied. “Fire and water need a go-between, someone to help them learn to get along, or make one win over the other. The fighting is tearing the kingdoms apart, and if something doesn’t happen soon another element might get involved. This needs to end quickly, and you are that quick end.”

“So what I’m hearing,” Miles said, “is that I need to find my own way to stop the fire and water kingdoms from fighting.”

“Not on your own,” she reminded him. “Sara and I will help you.”

“Right,” he said quickly.

“Now, there is an elements ball where Queen Andromeda and Queen Coraline meet only once a year. This year it will be taking place in Aerotopia, the sky kingdom. It will take place in three weeks.”

“And I’ll be attending this ball?” he guessed.

“Not necessarily,” Benetice said. “Raymond Garand, a young man of royal blood who couldn’t attend this year, will be going.”

He smiled. “Then I suppose that make my new name Raymond.”

“I suppose it does.”


As the weeks passed, Benetrice and Sara taught Miles all they could about how to act like royalty. They joked around and laughed, and soon they were a very close group. Miles slowly developed a crush on Sara, but was too much of a wimp to tell her.

During one such lesson, Benetrice was napping on the couch and Miles was hanging out with Sara. They were supposed to be studying, but they were talking and laughing instead. At that moment they were playing a game of Truth or Dare.

“Truth or dare?” Sara asked.

“Truth,” he said, playing it safe.

She thought for a moment. “What is your most embarrassing moment?” she said at last.

The more he thought about it, the more embarrassed he was. He had so many humiliating moments that he couldn’t decide which one was the worst. And he certainly didn’t want to share any of these stories with Sara. Sure that his face was beet red, he replied, “Dare.”

“Go jump off the cliff into the ocean,” she dared with an evil glint in her eye. He struggled to decide whether to do the truth or the dare, but neither option sounded great.

“Okay,” he said nervously. She smiled and followed him out of the cave and up to the top, Miles repeating “don’t look down” the entire time. After twenty minutes of this, they reached the top of the cliff. He clambered up, then reached his hand down to help Sara. She smiled and took his hand, making him blush.

They ran for a few minutes to an area where the beach faded away and the cliff dropped into the ocean. Miles took off his shoes and socks and ran for the edge, jumping into the cold ocean below. He screamed like a little girl the whole way down as Sara laughed maniacally above.

“You’re evil,” he yelled from the water, bringing another round of laughter from Sara. “I mean it. Why don’t you try jumping into the freezing ocean from thirty feet in the air?!”

“Okay,” she said. She backed up a little, then ran to the edge of the cliff and dived. She spun and tumbled as she fell, smiling the whole way down. She squealed when she hit the water.

“Wow, you weren’t kidding,” she giggled.

“You think that was fun?” Miles said incredulously.

“Of course,” she answered. “I do this all the time.”

“Now what?” he asked, shivering in the cold water.

“Race you to the beach,” she replied. “On your mark, get set, go!”

They swam as fast as they could to the beach. Sara swam quickly with a butterfly stroke, whereas Miles flailed around, unable to swim in any specific stroke. Sara reached the beach long before he did.

“You’re slow,” Sara said playfully.

“You’re fast,” he replied.

They walked along the beach for a while, talking. Then they sat and watched the sun set over the ocean.

“It’s beautiful,” Sara observed.

“Yeah,” he said lamely.

“Do you ever wonder whether this world is real?” she asked. “Am I real, or am I imagined by your dreams? Or is it the other way around? Is your world a dream?”

Miles frowned. He had never thought of it this way. “I don’t think this is a question we can answer,” he finally replied. “For now, I think we should assume that we are both real, watching this beautiful, real sunset.”

She smiled. “I like that,” she said. She leaned her head on his shoulder and they continued viewing the sunset in a blissful silence that said everything that they didn’t.



The last few days flew by, a dark countdown to the day on which Miles would complete the prophecy and find his destiny. It was as if the ball glared at him down its nose, teasing him. Thousands of worries filled his mind. What if he couldn’t stop the war? What if he wasn’t the one from the prophecy? What if he were just like all the others who came before him, a fake who could never complete this impossible task?

Finally the fearful day came, and with it the pressure on Miles’s shoulders reached its max. He was dressed in a simple black suit with a white shirt and a tie with zig-zagged lines on it, the only color in the outfit. It was simple, yet stylish, with a splash of personality.

They had been hiding in Aerotopia for a few days so that he would be able to go to the ball. Just when he was about to leave their hideout (an old abandoned warehouse), Sara came from behind a stack of old crates wearing a gorgeous green dress, her hair pinned atop her head. Her pretty face had slight hints of lip gloss and eye-shadow. Miles’s jaw dropped at the sight of Sara looking so pretty.

“Y-you’re dressed up too?” he finally stammered.

“I’m going as your date,” Sara said. She blushed. “Undercover as your date, I mean. Not actually a date.”

“Right,” he said just as Benetrice stepped in.

“Sara, we never discussed this,” she said angrily. “It’s too dangerous for you.”

“I’m going,” Sara said determinedly.

“No, you’re not.”

“I am!”

“I don’t have time for this,” Benetrice said, irritated. “Fine, you can go. But I’ll be watching from the security cameras the entire time.”

“How?” Miles asked. Was security that low for a ball filled with important people?

“I’ll hack the system, of course,” she replied. “I wasn’t Queen Andromeda’s advisor for nothing, you know.”

“Yeah,” he said distractedly. He turned and faced the fading sunlight coming in through the open door. It was time. He took the first step out of the warehouse and began to walk to the ball.

When the trio stood outside the king’s palace they parted ways. Benetrice took her laptop and sat somewhere in the shadows. Sara tugged on Miles’s arm. “Put it around me,” she said. “I’m your date, remember?”

“Right,” he said, putting his arm around Sara’s waist. He guided her to the doors, where a servant waited to lead them to the ballroom.

“Right this way, sir,” the servant said. The two guests were led down several passages, all elegantly decorated with pillars, paintings and vases. Huge chandeliers hung from the ceilings, flooding the hallways with light.

Finally they arrived at the grand doors to the ballroom. Real gold filled a beautiful design of flowers on it. Miles could have looked at it all day long. The guide introduced them as Wilma Smith and Raymond Garand. Then they entered the room.

The two feuding queens weren’t hard to find. They stood beside the refreshments table, arguing over who could have the last chocolate cookie. Queen Andromeda wore a dress that tumbled to her ankles. She stood in heeled stilettos. The dress itself was red and looked like fire. In stark contrast, Queen Coraline wore a blue-green dress that flowed like silk past her feet, hiding her shoes from sight. It was almost as if it were a stream. Miles walked over to them.

“Your majesties,” he said, bowing.

“What do you want?” the two women asked simultaneously. They turned and glared at each other.

“I simply wanted to say hello,” he said politely. He gestured to some tables lining the dance floor. “Shall we sit?”

The two queens looked at him skeptically. “No,” the fire queen said, turning away. The water queen looked at Andromeda, then deliberately did the opposite of what she did.

“I would love to sit with you,” she said with a small curtsy. Miles kissed her ring, then led her to a table and pulled out a chair for her. Coraline smiled and accepted the seat.

“I’m very sorry about Andromeda’s behaviour,” she said apologetically.

“It was not your fault,” he said, “but I humbly accept your apology.”

“I didn’t think she could be so rude,” she complained.

“I don’t mind,” he told her.

“I do,” she said angrily. “It makes me so frustrated.”

“Have you tried talking to her?” he asked. “Perhaps there is a reason for her behaviour.”

“Perhaps,” she replied, thinking. It was then that he noticed Sara’s disappearance. He scanned the room, searching for her. He quickly found her at another table talking to Andromeda.

“Hello,” the queen was saying. “Earth to Raymond.”

“Right,” he said, remembering that he was Raymond.

“I was saying, maybe we should go talk to them,” she said.

“That’s a lovely idea,” he replied. The queen led the way to the table where Sara sat speaking with Queen Andromeda.

“You,” Andromeda said angrily.

“I simply wish to talk,” Coraline told her.

“You are the plague that ruins my kingdom,” Andromeda said. “I never want to talk to the likes of you.”

“The likes of me?” the water queen said, becoming angry. “How rude!”

I’m rude? You’re the one who’s ruining my kingdom.”

“How? I’ve never done anything to deserve this!”

“You have all the land! There is nowhere for my people to stay. They are hungry and cramped while you have all the oceans to work with, as well as several islands.”

“That’s not my fault!” Coraline insisted.

“It is!” Andromeda said. “You could share, or help, but instead you just sit on your mounds of money and leave the rest of us to rot.”

“You never asked for help,” Coraline said sadly.

“I knew you wouldn’t help me,” Andromeda said.

“Of course I’ll help. Anything you need, I’ll help you,” Coraline said. The two queens embraced just as the thunder began to crash.

“What is that?” Sara said.

“Thunder,” Miles said curiously. Light split through the ceiling, illuminating the ballroom. “And lightning.”

Grey thunderheads formed over the ballroom, lighting branching out from inside them. A man with hair as grey as the clouds he emerged from came forth, wielding a staff that buzzed with electricity.

“All of those in this room are no longer loyalty,” King Cumulus declared. “I no longer rule only Aerotopia, because I rule every kingdom that lives in the hearts and minds of you peasants.” He said “peasant” as though it were the most disgusting thing in the world. “It is time for this kingdom to be mine,” he yelled as thunder clapped behind it. “MINE!”


Part 3: Storm and Goodbye

Thunder rolled over the crowd and lightning split the ceiling of the ballroom. The guests inside panicked, running to the magnificent doors only to find themselves locked inside. There was no escape. Miles felt his own heart racing. He couldn’t be trapped here. Not now. Was it possible that it was time to wake up?

Sara came up behind him and yelled in his ear over the thunderous sounds and the screaming wind. “We need a plan,” she said.

“A plan?” he said incredulously. How could she be so fearless in the face of this much danger?

“Of course,” she said. “We have to stop him. I mean, it would be a shame if we stopped Andromeda and Coraline from taking their kingdoms to war only to see those kingdoms taken by Cumulus. We have to protect the people.”

“But what if they don’t exist?” he asks. “What if this really is just a dream?”

“Then you have nothing to fear,” Sara replied, “because in the end, even if you die, you’ll just wake up.”

Miles took a deep breath and nodded. He was ready.

“Hey you,” he yelled at Cumulus. The king spun around to look at him. “Yeah, I’m talking to you. You can’t have these kingdoms.”

“Oh?” Cumulus said. “And how do you plan to stop me?”

“With my own two fists,” he replied. He formed his hands into fists and shifted from foot to foot, like a pro-wrestler preparing to strike. He laughed.

“A puny little guy like you couldn’t possibly hope to defeat me,” he said arrogantly. “As long as this staff remains in my hand, I am all powerful!” He brought down a bout of lightning to prove his point.

Miles was beginning to get scared when suddenly Neptune stepped out of the crowd. Her red hair floated about her shoulders, and she was wearing a soft, light-green dress. “Need some help?” she asked lightheartedly. He nodded, thinking of how he was surrounded by so many brave people.

“That would be good,” he said. Neptune walked up to him and touched his shoulder. A jot went through him, powerful and kind of strange.

“What was that?” he asked, staring at his hands as if they must have changed somehow. she laughed.

“It’s magic, of course,” she replied. “I can only give you water magic, though. It might not be very useful.”

“I’ll make it work,” he replied. “Thank you.”

“No problem,” she said. “Just make sure my cousin gets out alive, okay? He’s just a kid, but his father was invited by Coraline so he was able to come here. Promise you’ll protect him.”

“With my life,” he answered. He feared that was what it would really take for him to win.

“What a touching scene,” Cumulus said from the clouds. “It’s very boring and almost pathetic. Are you done now? Because I’m ready to fight.”

The tyrant king sent a bolt of lightning toward Miles. He threw his hands up as if to block the attack, the last of his hope evaporating. Then he realized that the lightning never reached him.

When he threw up his hands water flowed out of them, redirecting the lightning to the door. The door had exploded and everyone was flooding out of the room. “Thank you,” Neptune said to him. Then she hurried a small child out the door and into the halls.

“They’re escaping,” Cumulus roared in frustration. He glared at Miles. “YOU. You are the reason they’re getting away. How dare you!”

Cumulus swung his staff down at Miles, who grabbed it and pulled it from the king’s grip. The thunder and lightning immediately cleared, and the clouds turned from thunderheads to peaceful, fluffy clouds. A rainbow formed around the room.

Cumulus wasn’t finished. He had fallen to the ground from his high point on the ceiling and broken his leg, but he still dragged himself toward his nemesis, reaching for the electric staff. “Give it back,” he said. “Give it back to me.

“No,” Miles said firmly. “This will never fall into your hands or the hands of others again.”

With that, he made a tornado of water with his newfound powers and let it shred the staff into dust. The dust glittered, but not with magic. There was no magic left there. The king hung his head, knowing that he had lost.

“Just tell me,” Cumulus pleaded, “what will happen to my kingdom?”

“It will go to the next in line, I suppose,” he said, “since you obviously are not fit to rule.”

“And my fate?” he asked.

“To rot in a prison for the remainder of your years,” Miles said. “Better yet, the prison of your very own kingdom, where you will be reminded every single day of what you almost did to all the others.”

A pair of men from the party took Cumulus’s arms and handcuffed them behind his back. “Take him away,” he said. And then Cumulus was gone.

Sara ran up to Miles in a fit. “How dare you,” she said, punching him in the chest. “How dare you go in there without a plan. You could have died!”

“If this really is just a dream,” Miles replied. “Then I would have just woken up.”

“And if it isn’t?” she asked angrily. “What then? What happened to assuming that both of our world were real?”

Finally Miles saw the tears in her eyes. He pulled her into a hug. “I’m sorry if I scared you,” he said into her hair.

“You did,” she pouted.

“I’m sorry.”

“I know.”

Miles pulled away. “You know, I have to leave now,” he told her.

“What?” Sara said, surprised.

“I have to go home,” he said. “I have a life, a family.”

“What about your family here?” she asked. “What about Benetrice and Neptune? What about me?”

He shook his head sadly. There it was again– that fearlessness that radiated from this girl, making her beautiful. “I have to go home,” he repeated.

She nodded, some tears escaping from her eyes and slipping down her cheeks. Miles tilted her chin up so that she looked into his eyes. “Don’t worry,” he told her. “I’ll see you again.”

“Promise you’ll come back?”

“Promise,” he promised. He pulled away from her as Benetrice ran into the room.

“You did it,” the old woman said happily. “And you saved so many people. Plus I got my job back.”

“That’s wonderful,” Miles said.

“I suppose you’ll be going home now?” Benetrice frowned.

“I’m afraid so,” he replied.

“He’ll be back,” Sara said, wiping her face with the backs of her hands.

Benetrice smiled and nodded as though she knew something that the others didn’t. “Yes,” she said confidently, “he will.”

Miles turned and looked at Sara. “See you later?” he said.

“Yeah,” she replied. “Later.”

He prepared to pinch his arm and return to reality, then froze. He had to do one last thing. He pulled her into his arms and held her for a moment, a quick hug goodbye that revealed how unsure he was of his return. Without another word, he pinched his arm and awoke in his bed.

After his adventure, Miles felt that his room didn’t seem quite right. All of the posters and pictures seemed out of place when he was used to a cave and girl who smiled warmly at him. He shook off the feeling and glanced at his alarm clock. It was twelve o’clock in the afternoon. He frowned and went to his desk. Sure enough, his desktop claimed that it had only been ten hours since he last looked at the clock. It felt like so much longer.

He sat down in his chair and displayed Gamemaker on his computer monitor. After that adventure, it was obvious where he wanted to go with his new video game. He planned to re-create Cassiopeia in all its glory. He would include Sara and Benetrice and even Neptune in the player’s journey through this mystical land. He knew it wasn’t just a dream. It was a reality, and through this game he planned to share it with the rest of the world. Smiling, he began to type.