Two boys entered the woods, one dark and one fair.
Though their journey from home had been a long one, both boys felt exhilarated as they traded the safety of the road for the confines of the forest.
The boys finished setting up their camp in the remains of the day.
Their contest was meant for the night.
Once the campfire burned steadily, each boy sat cross-legged, positioned on one side of the fire pit, facing the other. Flames danced in the dark between them.
“I’ll go first, since it’s my birthday.” The fair boy said.
“Fine. Remember, though, only thirteen words a turn. Go over and you forfeit.” The dark boy replied.
“I remember.” The fair boy returned as he stared intently at the topmost burning log in the fire. He had started to formulate his strategy during their walk to the campsite.
“Okay. Go ahead, then.” The dark boy said, also staring into the burning logs.
No sound was heard outside of the crackling fire. Even the woodland creatures, both animal and spirit, gave pause to watch and listen to the two boys. Finally, the burning log sparked the fair boy’s imagination and he spoke.
“I see a girl. An armed super spy with green hair. She’s Sapphire.”
Having described what he imagined in the ash thoroughly, the fair boy relaxed and waited for his opponent. After a few minutes, the dark boy went.
“I see a magician. Runic’s his name. He banishes Sapphire to another dimension.”
The fair boy sighed. His super spy hadn’t even gotten to fire a shot. He redoubled his focus on the fire until he imagined seeing his next move.
“I see a dead man, but not. Phantom Stalker. His gauntlets blast Runic.”
The dark boy grimaced. He had really liked the mage, but now that the Phantom Stalker had blasted Runic, the dark boy could no longer see him in the embers. He looked for his answer to the fair boy’s move.
“I see a giant one-eyed, monster with many tentacles. He eats Phantom Stalker.”
The fair boy looked around the fire at the dark boy and started to speak, but the dark boy interrupted. “One-eyed has a hyphen. Hyphen’s count.”
The fair boy looked back to the fire, mumbling to himself about additional rules and last minute change ups. Finally, regaining his focus, he pulled his next player.
“I see a giant robot. He smashes your monster with his giant fists.”
The dark boy smiled as he stared into the fire that had finally started to burn low. In its lingering orange, he finished the game.
“I see rust. It’s devouring your entire giant robot from without and within.”
The fair boy grunted. He tried and tried to find something within the all but dead fire that he could imagine to life. Something that beat rust. He gave up as the fire’s last light escaped into the starry night above them.
“You win. Again. You really just make up rules as you go along though. I mean, hyphens count? Since when?”
“No need to be a sore loser.” The dark boy said, making his way toward his sleeping bag in the pitch black woods. “You did well.”
The fair boy crawled through the dark toward his sleeping bag on his side of their camp, saying nothing.
“Goodnight.” The dark boy said.
“Would that be good hyphen night?” The fair boy returned.
The dark boy’s laugh echoed off into the night around them. Finally, the fair boy started laughing too. He looked up into the stars, already contemplating their next battle.
“Dragons.” He thought, “Next time I’ll open with dragons.”