by Isaac Linnen
“Pick up the sword, Miguel.”
Miguel, sprawled out on his bed, opened his eyes and focused on the glowing blade in front of him. It sizzled as it floated in the air, its orange hue radiating heat. Miguel sat up and studied the sword. After a while he called to his roommate, “Tom! What kind of twisted joke is this? You know I have work in two hours!”
He began to swat the air above the sword looking for strings. When he found none, he walked around the bedroom, searching for speakers.
“Tom, this isn’t funny!” Miguel yelled again.
“Seriously Tom! Can’t face the music now, huh?”
As Miguel walked to the door and opened it, he looked down into an abyss. His entire apartment was gone. Miguel slowly walked to the window that supposedly overlooked the parking lot. Nothing but darkness. Miguel pinched his nose and muttered, “I’m dreaming right?”
“There are no dreams in the abyss, only despair,” a voice said.
Miguel looked around and shouted “Yep, I’m just dreaming! This is all a dream and I’ll wake up any minute now.”
Miguel hopped back into bed and covered his head as he went back to sleep. He woke up a few minutes later to the sword still glowing, and the darkness around the room festering. “Well I guess this is a nightmare,” he muttered.
“Pick up the sword, Miguel.”
“No,” a tired Miguel said.
The voice responded, “Why not?”
“Because you’re a figment of my imagination.”
The sword moved and floated right above him. “This is neither a dream nor a nightmare,” the voice responded. The sword’s light began to glow even more harshly.
Miguel stood up, ignored it, and walked to the door. He knelt to touch the darkness and was immediately in pain. “God! That burns! Well it’s good I didn’t jump!” Miguel yelled, clenching his hand. He turned to the sword and glared. “A warning would have been nice!”
The sword approached him and spoke. “A warning you would’ve ignored.”
Miguel began to protest until he realized he wouldn’t have listened. Miguel walked across the room to look out the window. He quietly stood there for a while and muttered “So it isn’t a dream.”
The sword approached. “Pick up the sword, Miguel” the voice said.
Miguel pushed the sword away. “No.” he said forcefully.
“I will ask again, why not?”
“I don’t know, maybe because I’m just normal? Just a random guy. Maybe because–”
He stopped. He couldn’t even find an answer, even if he felt that an uneventful life up to this point wouldn’t warrant this. Even then, there were millions of others more qualified, special people who were willing to do whatever this person wanted.
The voice of the being returned. “No response, I see.”
Miguel put is hands together and sighed. “There are more than seven billion people on this planet. Out of all those people, you came to bother me. I probably can’t even do anything you want!”
The voice repeated “You can. Pick up the sw–”
Miguel cut it off. “No!” he shouted.
Miguel collapsed onto his bed, and the two stayed in silence for what felt like eternity. “Why do you doubt yourself so much?” the voice asked, a twinge of pity in its voice.
The question hit Miguel in the gut. Of course, he doubted himself. He didn’t know how to do anything meaningful. He wasn’t good at anything. There couldn’t be a way Miguel could have something of value to give to a being with ulterior motives. What if he did though? No, if he had it, someone else must have it, too.
Miguel put his face in his hands and asked, “Is there no one else to help you?”
The voice responded with a soft, “No.”
Miguel threw his hands up. “Impossible!” he yelled, “There’s no way you couldn’t find someone better for your stupid plan.”
“Why do you continue to doubt your own uniqueness?”
Miguel looked at the sword. “Excuse me?”
“You are who I decided to choose, but in hindsight, I do regret choosing a fool.”
“A fool?” Miguel said confused.
The sword began to radiate more heat. “You act as if there is a mold that all of humanity fits into. That you have had the same life experiences as everyone else. That the life you have lived has been borderline pointless because you haven’t already found a calling. You are wrong. You are more special than you could ever imagine. The very fact that you exist shows how different you are from everyone. You are unique. You’re just to foolish to see it.”
Miguel sat in silence. The voice was right. What was stopping him? If he was the only guy to do whatever the being needed, why shouldn’t he. He stood up and walked towards the glowing blade. He stood before the sword, its heat almost unbearable; his heart beating faster, his knees trembling. Fear? No, he wasn’t afraid. It was anticipation. To see what lay behind this sword. To find out why all of this happened.
One last time the voice said, “Pick up the sword, Miguel.”
He grabbed the sword with a hand and lifted it up right to the ceiling and he closed his eyes. Was this his calling? That was the only thought in his mind
Miguel woke up in a cold sweat in his apartment. He looked at his trembling hands for the sword he just held. Nothing. Everything else was normal. The window looked out on a beautiful sunrise. Birds chirped away as they always would. The void was gone. He called out for the voice, but there was no response. He walked to his apartments main hallway looking for Tom. He caught him with a prank book, supplies, and a wide smile on his face. He stopped and frowned “It isn’t what it looks like, I swear.”
Miguel smirked. “Well then, I guess it isn’t.”
Tom dropped his arsenal to the floor. “Don’t you have work?”
“I’m taking today off,” Miguel said happily.
Tom asked, “Well, you sure are in a good mood.”
Miguel put his hands behind his head and made his way to the kitchen.
“Yeah, I guess I’m just special.”