A New Beginning


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A New Beginning

(This is a short story I wrote a while ago in high school and I thought I would share it with you all. Enjoy.)
The year is 2245 in the world of our future. Cities have extended their reach to the edges of Australia’s red centre. Massive rocket-like structures reach up into the clouds high above the thick smog layer and into the fresh air which is fast depleting. Man has cut down tree after tree to create a world of concrete, glass and steel. It is a world of sickness, of corruption and greed. It is the world of our doom.
Zak woke to the sound of his alarm clock beeping, seven o’clock on a Monday morning. Though it was summer the morning was still dark and the sun had not yet climbed above the smog layer to brighten the day. Zak sighed heavily and stared at the grimy ceiling, it was the start of another week, another tedious series of days. Nothing interesting would happen this week. It would be exactly like the others: wake up, go to work, come home, and go to sleep. Only the weekends offered some variety and gave him the chance to hit the clubs and bars with his friends and if he was fortunate maybe spend the night with a random woman.
Zak was in his mid-twenties but still had no serious relationship, but in truth he liked the bachelor’s life. He did not have to spend money on expensive gifts or do things a girlfriend would want, he was free to play video games and cause havoc with his mates.
The only thing that was ruining his life was this boring job.
His alarm clock beeped incessantly again, an unwanted reminder that he needed to get up and head to work. Of course his job would not be so boring if his employer actually tried to invent something of interest instead of new ways to build alarm radios, not unlike the one he had.
Ignoring the alarm clock again Zak continued to lie in bed, his head throbbing from last night’s drinking. Suddenly his phone began to ring, forcing him to get off his lumpy mattress and answer it. Staggering from his bedroom into the kitchen next door Zak reluctantly answered the phone.
“What took you so long, my lazy assistant?” screeched Zak’s employer, Nort.
The man’s voice sounding like nails on a chalkboard, and making Zak recoil from the phone in pain.
“Hurry up and get here,” Nort continued angrily, “You’re already late.”
Nort suddenly hung up the phone without giving Zak a chance to respond.
With another sigh Zak put done the phone and got himself ready to leave for work. After having a quick shower he ate a handful of Fruity Loops and choked down several headache pills. Sculling a cup of black coffee, which tasted like dirt, Zak hurried out his door into his garage.
Out of the garage Zak merged straight onto the main highway which ran east-west across the entire expense of Australia, from Brisbane to Perth. The levitating jets of Zak’s cheap car hummed loudly as he made his slow way along the highway towards Brisbane. Zak’s cheap apartment was near the very centre of Australia, but it still only took roughly fifteen minutes to reach Queensland’s Capital.
Coming over a rise in the road the massive city of Brisbane spread out before him, its great skyscrapers disappearing up through the smog. Traffic was thick as usual and many people beeped their horns expecting the other cars to simply move aside so they could pass. But Zak just sighed and looked up at the international trains running on rails above the road, weaving in and out of the tall buildings and sometimes even through them.
Sitting there in the traffic jam Zak began to wonder why Nort had called him up that morning, his world famous employer had never done that before.
“World famous,” Zak laughed to himself.
Nort was the son of a famous inventor and had never moved out from his father’s shadow, and the way things were going it seemed as if Nort never would. The man never invented things of worth. It was always another way to make an iron, or a fantastic new design for an alarm clock. Zak was convinced that the only reason people invested in the ideas was in respect for Nort’s father.
By the time Zak got to Nort’s lab it was not even eight o’clock and Zak looked with bleary eyes around at the mess the laboratory was in. Nort preferred to call it an ‘organised chaos’, whatever that was. Whatever it was called the place was a mess. Hundreds of blueprints were piled around the place in corners or up against the wall, tools littered the floor along with half built inventions that would never work.
“Finally,” Nort exclaimed as he walked into the main room, a stack of books in his arms, “What took you so long?”
“Traffic was bad,” Zak shrugged and began playing with an invention on a desk.
“Really?” Nort gave him a disbelieving look, “Any way you’re here now. And you have a big day ahead of you. yes, lots of thing to do.”
“What things?” Zak asked with a sigh, “What do you mean I have big day ahead of me? What will you be doing? I’m not making your boring inventions by myself.”
Zak stopped himself and awkwardly bit his tongue, but Nort did not seem upset by the unintended insult.
“It alright, my assistant,” Nort said calmly and smiled, “I know that after your engineering degree you did not picture working here with me for the next five years with no success. But things are going to change for us. Come with me and let me show you my latest invention.”
Nort dropped the books he was carrying on the floor and motioned for Zak to follow him.
“I hope it’s better than the last one,” Zak mumbled to himself, unsurprised by Nort’s declaration.
Zal followed his boss as they made their way through the maze that was the main room and into a much smaller study at the back of the laboratory. Curiously Zak entered, after all the years he had worked here he had never set foot in this room. it was Nort’s private study and surprisingly was much neat than the rest of the laboratory, and in fact the level of tidiness in here was bordering on obsessive-compulsive. The books were stacked neatly on the shelves in alphabetical order, tools were placed on specific holders on the far wall, and pens and paper were specifically placed on the table in front of the computer. On a desk beside the computer lay the blueprint of Nort’s latest invention.
Zak leant on the table and took a closer look at the drawing. It seemed like it was a doorway of some kind, its metal frame stood upon thick rubber blocks and at the top aerials were sticking out.
“What is it?” Zak asked in bewilderment.
“A Dimensional Door, I have called it,” Nort smiled triumphantly, the light reflecting off his round glasses.
Zak’s brow furrowed, “What is it?”
“A Dimensional Door,” Nort said a again, “A doorway to another world.”
“Okay,” Zak nodded slowly, “But what is it?”
“It’s is a six foot magnet,” Nort pointed to the doorway, “We shall connect it to a high voltage negative current. I shall then alter the electric wave and divert it through different spheres. And the presto you have a door to another dimension.”
“Right,” Zak nodded disbelievingly, “That sounds extremely dangerous.”
Nort smiled, “That is why you will be going through it first.”
“Great,” Zak mumbled and ran a hand through his short blonde hair.
“I have everything in the lab,” Nort said excitedly, “We just need to find it.”
Zak sighed before he and Nort moved from the study and began searching through the scattered stock in the main room.
In truth Zak honestly believed that Nort had finally gone completely insane, he was also confident that this invention would never work. It did sound very dangerous however, so if the situation looked as if it were going to risk his life Zak told himself to get out of there as quickly as possible and call the police to take Nort away to the insane asylum.
As he planned his swift exit Zak located an Electric Pulse Alternator and the Spherical Channel. The two rubber blocks were next item he found, but he had to order the six foot magnet.
Two weeks later the magnet arrived by Robot Couriers, and a month after that they were ready to test the Dimensional Door.
In Nort’s laboratory behind a ten inch think, bullet proof glass, Zak was planning his escape as Nort went through the initial checks.
“You sure powering up this magnet is a good idea?” Zak asked and glanced towards the exit.
“Of course it is,” Nort dismissed his question. “It is going to work. It has to work.”
Zak bit his lip and took a step back as Nort began to send electric current into the magnet.
Gradually as the volts increased a buzzing sound was heard and forks of electricity jumped between the aerials. The buzzing increased and Zak covered his ears in pain. Also covering his ears Nort continued to increase the volts.
Suddenly there was a loud bang and the buzzing stopped, and the lights went out.
“Damn it,” Nort swore loudly, “Our fuse has just blown.”
“Two million volts,” Zak exclaimed in surprise as he looked at the reading, “That’s insane.”
“We need to get up to at least forty million,” Nort snorted and sighed.
“I’ll call Energex than,” Zak said and Nort waved him away as he tapped his chin thoughtfully.
“They will be a couple of minutes,” Zak remarked as he hung up the phone, “Hey what’s that around your neck?”
Nort looked in surprise at the strange device dangling on a chain.
“The key to the whole experiment,” Nort smiled, “This is what will get up back home once we step through the Dimensional Door. I call it the Returner.”
“Assuming we actually walk through the door,” Zak remarked in the darkness.
“I would have though you would be all for this idea, Zak,” Nort remarked, “You play all those video games and virtual reality things. Does a new a beautiful world not appeal to you?”
“Sure,” Zak shrugged, “I just don’t think it will work.”
Their conversation ended there and they sat in the darkness until the lights came back on.
“Excellent,” Nort shouted as the lights flickered back on, causing Zak to jump back in shock and trip over a tool box to hit his head on the ground.
“On your feet Zak,” Nort said, “Let us get this going again.”
Rubbing the bump on his head Zak grumbled to himself as stood up to begin the experiment again.
Like before, as they started up the machine, a buzzing could be heard. As the volts increased so did the volume of the buzz. Zak covered his ears as they passed twenty million volts. Bolts of lightning shot out form the magnet. Thirty million volts. The whole seemed to vibrate and the hairs on Zak’s arms stood up. Forty million volts. The buzzing was unbearable and Nort began to randomly alternate the waves, twisting dials, turning the lightning red and black.
Suddenly the buzzing stopped with a loud pop and there was a bright flash.
“Hold the volts in,” Nort shouted at Zak, who was already doing that.
There came several more bright flashes and popping noises before hundreds of green and purple swirls appeared in the middle of the magnet.
“Did it work?” Zak asked quietly as they stood transfixed at the strange swirls.
“Only one way to find out,” Nort replied with a wide smile.
Quickly Zak and Nort gathered up their pre-packed bags, which contained food, water, oxygen tanks, rope, Independent Gravital Fields, and a gun.
With his pack gathered Zak slowly approached the doorway, he could feel the energy pulsate in front of him as if it were about to lash out and strike him dead at any second.
“Are you sure about this?” Zak asked worriedly as he turned to Nort.
No answer came from Nort as the man suddenly ran at Zak and tackled him into the colourful swirls. Zak felt the immense energy envelope him, pressing on his chest and making it hard to breathe. Bright flashes appeared behind his closed eyes and his head felt as if it were about to explode. A bolt of electricity shot through him, making his joints pop and rendering him unconscious.
Zak awoke slowly, his head throbbing and all the hairs on his body standing on end. He pushed himself to his feet and looked in wonder at the strange landscape around him. All around were thin hills which shot about seven feet straight into the air. They seemed like tree trunks of stone with grassy tops. Beyond the short columns of earth stood trees in the distance, and Zak’s mouth fell open as he saw them, he had only ever seen trees on his computer.
Hearing a groan behind him Zak turned to see Nort pushing himself into a sitting position and holding his head.
“We did it?” Nort wondered aloud as Zak help the man to stand, “Yes, we did it.”
“Yeah, but where are we?” Zak wondered, though he was not overly concerned.
“It does not matter, we can go back any time,” Nort dismissed Zak’s question, “I have this remember.”
Nort grabbed at the Returner around his neck, but it was gone.
“No. no, no, no,” Nort began looking about frantically, “Where is it? Where is it?”
“What? Where is what?” Zak asked curiously giving Nort a strange look.
“The Returner you fool,” snapped Nort, “It’s lost. It can’t be lost. We can’t get back without it.”
“Maybe that thing could help,” Zak remarked and pointed behind Nort.
Nort screamed and fell backwards as he saw the strange creature behind him. It had ears as long as its face, its eyes were red and horn stuck out from the top of its head. Rippling muscles filled out its seven foot frame and in its huge hands it held a many notched club.
“Shoot it, Zak,” Nort stammered as he backed slowly away, “Shoot it.”
Hurriedly Zak pulled out the gun from his back pack as the large beast approached, but how pitiful it seemed against the massive foe. The creature roared as Zak aimed and there was a loud bang. Stunned Zak looked down at his small hand gun, he had not fired, but there the beast lay dead in the dirt.
“Got ‘em,” shouted a squeaky but gruff voice.
Zak’s eyes widened even further as another strange creature walked out from behind one of the narrow hills. It was much smaller than the hulking mass which now lay dead. It was fury and white, with black stripes randomly over its big head and gangly form.
“More Biggits,” the small creature exclaimed happily as he spotted Zak and Nort. “Wait a minute yous ain’t Biggits. And you definitely ain’t Mights like me. So what are yous?”
Both Zak and Nort stood dumfounded and speechless.
“Well?” the creature asked angrily and pointed his gun which had a strange skull on the end of the barrel at the two of them.
“We…We are humans,” Nort managed to stammer, holding his hands up submissively.
“And we come in peace,” Zak quickly added.
“I don’t care what you come in,” the Might replied and calmly aimed his gun, “And I don’t care for humans.”
“Behind you,” Zak shouted as another Biggit came around a hill.
As quick as flash the Might dived forwards and turning in the air aimed his gun. A huge ball of electricity burst forth from his rifle and out the mouth of the skull. As the Might landed in a roll the ball of electricity thundered into the Biggit’s chest and exploded, killing it.
“Hot damn,” the Might shouted with glee as it jumped to its feet, “Nice call, Hume.”
“Not…not a problem,” Zak stammered, his knees shaking slightly, “I guess.”
“Anythin yous want done, Mugus will get it done for ya,” the Might pronounced and slapped himself in the chest.
“Anything?” Nort spoke up as he sat on the ground.
“That’s what I said,” Mungus replied, “Didn’t ye understand?”
“Yes, of course,” Nort replied as he jumped to his feet and took a small contraption from his pocket, “Well, you see, we have lost something, and this gadget here tells me it is in that direction.”
“West ay. Sure I’ll take you that way,” Mungus nodded and stroked his narrow chin.
The Might invited them back to his campsite as Nort explained how he and Zak came to be here, but Mungus blatantly did not believe him. They soon moved from the cluster of pillar hills and down an embankment which looked across a wide and flat valley where a river ran from the mountains in the distance. All the while as they walked Zak gazed about in wonder, never had he seen such beauty, never had he viewed a panorama which was not filled with massive city buildings.
Soon they reached Mugus’s campsite down by the river where Zak ate some strange food and the three of them talked. Mainly the conversation was about Mugus’s world and life, which Zak found extremely interesting.
Mungus explained that his people, the Mights had been warring with the other main race in this land, the Biggits, for many centuries. It had once been all out warfare but now the fights had reduced to skirmishes and gorilla warfare. Although the Might’s were winning significantly the Biggits refused to surrender and now it seemed as if Biggits were on the verge of total annihilation.
Now that there was very few Biggits around the Mights went back to their old way of life in peaceful existences, but Mungus decided to enter the bounty hunting business. Most of the time he travelled around from village to village finding people to pay him to hunt done monsters or Biggits and kill them.
The next day Zak woke early, refreshed from a good night’s sleep and together they all set off towards the west.
“Looks like your gadget thingy is all the way to the Forgotten Mountains,” Mungus remarked as Nort explained how his device worked.
“That doesn’t sound good,” Zak remarked with concern.
“It’s all good,” Mungus waved away his concern, “It’s just a name innit.”
“How’s it get the name though?” asked Zak.
“Well, ya see, it’s like this,” Mungus said as they walked along the dirt road which twusted through the green land. “All who ever went to those mountains never came back, so everyone stayed away. And then everyone forgot about the mountains. So we called them the Forgotten Mountains.”
“That doesn’t really make it sound any safer,” Zak remarked and Mungus laughed gruffly.
“Nah, it’s all good,” the Might said confidently.
“Regardless of how ominous it sounds, we need to go there Zak,” Nort said determinedly. “We need that Returner.”
On their journey towards the mountains in the west they came across quite a few villages nestled sweetly among clumps of trees, or beside singing brooks. At one of these townships Mungus stopped in to restock.
Entering one small town Zak looked about awkwardly as many eyes regarded them with shock. The people of the village were all Mights, all of them a variation of black and white fur, and all with big heads and gangly bodies.
Mungus led the way pst the surprised villagers and into a general store where there were food and weapons for sale among other travelling gear. Luckily the roof was high enough for Zak and Nort to stand comfortably as they both looked in wonder at the odd item for sale as Mungus began talking with the owner.
“What are ya pets, Mungus?” the storekeeper asked with a chuckle, “Some kind ‘o friendly Biggits?”
“Nah, Humes, I think they called themselves,” Mungus shrugged, “Got themselves lost.”
“Hume?” the store clerk scratched his fury head, “Never heard of no Humes before.”
Mungus shrugged and paid for the goods he had selected before ushering Zak and Nort outside.
“There they are,” shouted a Might as Zak walked outside, “Damn Biggits.”
A crowd of Mights had gathered outside the store, many of them baring weapons and looking angry.
“Kill the fiends,” one of the Mights jeered.
“Hey now, hold up there,” Mungus quickly interjected, “Ye can’t be attacking me prisoners. They’re going to Hegrot City, to Bogot himself. You don’t wanna be crossing Bogot.”
Instantly all of the Might relaxed and backed away quickly, clearly fearing for their wellbeing if they did indeed cross Bogot.
As the crowd dispersed Mungus quickly led Zak and Nort from the village and back on the road to the west.
“That was close,” Zak sighed heavily, “Thanks for that Mungus.”
“Don’t ye mention it,” Mungus shrugged.
“Who is this Bogot you mentioned?” Nort asked curiously.
“Leader of the capital,” Mungus explained, “Honest enough ruler, but he don’t like people messing in his affairs.”
As they travelled road that day the landscape gradually changed and the green grass became brown, the trees became thin and hardy, the temperature increased, and many more red rocks sat about the plain.
That night they camped at the foot of one of the large red stones and ate another meal which Zak found very strange, but quite tasty.
“Hey, Zak, pass me your there pee-shooter,” Mungus said when they had finished the meal.
“What for?” Zak asked as he hesitantly took his handgun from his pocket.
“Ye really think ye can be shooting Rock Cats with that do ya?” Mungus chuckled and took a fancy looking gun from his sack, “Here take this Blaster. It’s much more better.”
Seeing the new weapon Zak’s eyes lit up and he readily exchanged his small gun for the new weapon.
“Hey what about me?” Nort exclaimed.
“What about ya?” Mungus was quick to ask back.
“I want a gun too,” Nort protested indignantly.
“Here ye are then,” Mungus said and tossed Nort Zak’s old gun.
“Never mind then,” Nort said unhappily and handed back the handgun.
Mungus burst out laughing at that and Zak joined in as Nort sulked.
“Alright, here ye go then,” Mungus said and slowly handed over another blaster which Nort took gleefully.
It took another ten days until the three of them had reached the Forgotten Mountains and began to follow the path as it wound up through the rocks. As they climbed higher the day grew hotter and remnants of building could be seen built into the red rocks. Higher still they climbed and the ruins grew denser until it seemed as if they were walking the main street of a ancient city.
“What are these ruins, Mungus?” Nort asked curiously as they walked along.
“Dunno,” Mungus shrugged.
“Don’t you know any tales or stories about what they could be?” Zak asked in surprise.
“Course not,” the Might replied gruffly.
“Why ever not?” Nort looked in surprise at his friend.
“This place is called the Forgotten Mountains for a reason, ya know,” Mungus replied dryly.
No more was said about the ruins and they continued through the streets and could now see a great keep carved out of the rocks higher up the mountain. As they turned the corner to begin climbing up the wide stairs which would lead to the castle, a Rock Cat suddenly lunged at them from a high. Nort screamed like a girl and fired his Blaster at the cat. But the creature was too nimble and darted away as the energy wave of Nort’s shot thudded into the stone. Zak was ready and aiming his Blaster in a flash, but the Rock Cat darted away and disappeared into the ruins.
The three of them laughed slightly in relief and continued up the stairs to stand before the grand rock encased castle before them.
“These ruins are not really the size of a Might,” Nort remarked thoughtfully, “Did perhaps the Biggits make these buildings, Mungus?”
“Don’t know,” the Might replied, a sense of curiosity showing from Mungus for the first time.
“It is quite remarkable,” Nort said absently as he looked about the place, “Imagine the research grants I could get to study this place. Imagine the money we could make from tourism?”
“What do you mean?” Zak asked suddenly, “You’re going to show everyone this place when we get home?”
“Well of course,” Nort seemed surprised, “What did you think?”
“You can’t do that, Nort,” exclaimed Zak, “Humans would destroy this land just as they have destroyed Earth. They would cut down the trees, conquered the natives and build monstrosities which would turn this amazing place into a hell.”
“No one’s conquering me,” Mungus stated indignantly.
“We would have to use restraint of course,” Nort replied, ignoring Mungus’s remark, “But my invention could change history. The human race would have a new land to live in. No longer would we be living in smog and concrete. So many sicknesses could be cured by simply living in fresh air. I would be a hero. We would be heroes. The saviours of the human race. Think about it Zak.”
“I have,” Zak was quick to say, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions, Nort. Sure everyone would start out trying to live in balance with nature here. But how do you really think that would last. Greed would overrule sound judgement and this land would turn into another Earth. Filled with nothing but smog, concrete and dust.”
“So what? We should just keep this invention to ourselves?” Nort balked, “Take weekend trips here?”
“Not even that,” Zak cut in, “We don’t tell anyone. We forget about the returning to Earth and start a new life here. A new beginning.”
“Can I just point out,” Mungus cut in, “Yous won’t be returning anywhere without ya gizmo to do so. Now I don’t know about the two of yous, but this place was forgotten for a reason. And if my experience as a bounty hunter has taught me anything is that whatever made everyone want to forget about this place is still around. So, can I suggest we get ye device thingy and get the hell out ‘o here before we find out why people want to forget this place.”
Both Zak and Nort were quick to concede Mungus’s point and Zak glanced about the place nervously. All of a sudden the ruins took on a completely different feel. The afternoon sun cast deep shadows through the broken stones and filled the air with a sense of malice.
“So which way is the Returner?” Zak asked softly, his eyes still darting around the shadows.
“In there,” Nort replied meekly and pointed to the gapping doorway that led into the mountain.
“We could just leave, you know,” Zak remarked with an uneasy laugh. “No point risking our lives, right?”
“Rubbish,” Mungus snorted and confidently led the way through the large door.
Hesitantly Zak followed with Nort beside him and they followed the Might down a long corridor and into a large chamber. Great pillars lined the sides and a single loft of light shone a beam onto a massive pile of treasure.
All three of the travellers stood in awe at the sight, but it was not the gold and jewels they were looking at, but rather the huge Sky Worm which slept soundly on top of the pile.
“On seconds thoughts, let’s go,” Mungus squeaked.
Suddenly the long Worm awoke and its eyes widened at the sight of the three invaders. Quicker than what seemed possible the beast flapped its wings by its head and rose up to glare at the trio. The Sky Worm was covered in pale scales and its huge mouth was filled with razor like teeth. Its only appendages were the wing behind its head, but that did not seem to take away from its agility.
Raising its head up high the creature released a deafening bellow which shook the very earth. Zak quickly fled to the side as Mungus did the same, leaving Nort to stand dumbfounded in front of the beast.
“We were just leaving,” Nort stammered softly when the Worm had stopped roaring, “Sorry to wake you.”
With that Nort turned around and raced for the exit. But the Sky Worm was quicker and with a flick of its body its long tail slammed down in front of Nort, blocking his way. Nort screamed and spun about the face the Worm just in time to see the creature’s head snap forwards.
The beast suddenly recoiled as a ball of electricity thundered into the side of the Worm, flaking away some scales. As quick as lightning the creature spun upon Mungus in rage, but then Zak distracted it with a blast from his gun. Furiously the Worm swung its tail at Zak who dropped to his belly just in time as tail whistled past his head and crashed into one of the pillars.
Another blast came from Mungus, then one from Nort, followed by another from Zak. Enraged and confused the beast did not know which enemy to strike at first and it spun around in circles, its tail and head flailing at anything which moved.
The Sky Worm grew tired, but so did Zak and with the constant dodging and firing he was too slow when the next swing of the Worm’s tail came his way. Sluggishly Zak tried to dive out of the way but he was too slow and the tail clipped him across the shoulders sending him sliding across the ground.
His head swimming and his back aching rolled into a sitting position as he tried get away from the next attack. But it never came and he heard the yells of anger from his friends as they assault the Sky Worm with renewed vigour.
By now the sustained attacks had worn away much of the Worm’s protective scales and Mungus powered up his gun for one final attack. Nort tried his best to distract the Worm as Mungus fired a massive ball of electricity at the creature. The blast shot through the air and blasted into the side of the Worm, ripping through pale flesh and leaving behind a blackened hole.
The Sky Worm wailed mournfully as it collapsed atop its treasure horde, and everyone breathed sigh of relief.
Zak managed to stagger to his feet as both Nort and Mungus rushed over to him.
“I’m alright,” Zak dismissed their concerns, “A few scrapes and bruises is all.”
“Hot damn, that was one hell of a fight,” Mungus exclaimed happily and laughed aloud, “And look at all this treasure, we’re rich as kings boys.”
The three of them laughed merrily as they walked over to the base of the large pile of the gold coins, gems and fancy trinkets.
“Is the Returner amongst it?” Zak asked hesitantly as Nort began to search. “How’d it even get here, by the way?”
“Temporal displacement,” Nort mumbled as he tossed about some golden goblets, “I found it.”
Nort laughed triumphantly and held up the small gadget and walked back over to Zak and Mungus.
“Guess, yous will be heading home then?” the Might said sadly.
“Well, I’m not,” Zak declared, “I hate everything about our world. This place is amazing, and we’re rich and famous now.”
“My invention is going to change the world,” Nort said excitedly, “I can’t stay here.”
“Why not?” Zak was quick to ask, “Are you so desperate to be recognised as an inventor in our world that you will risk this one?”
That remarked made Nort suddenly pause and look away.
“But,” Nort stammered.
“But what?” asked Zak, “What’s so damn good about Earth? Or what’s left of Earth. Its s decaying lump of rock which will soon self-combust and everyone will tear each other apart. We can build a new life here.”
“What about everyone else?” Nort shook his head, “What about friends and family?”
“What family?” Zak asked back, “Neither of us have any, not any more. And as for friends, I got all the ones I ever need right here.”
Nort smiled sheepishly and shrugged, “It just seems so selfish.”
“Who cares, be selfish,” Zak scoffed.
“Hold up there,” Mungus cut in, “We’ll be splitting this treasure evenly I be thinking. Or yous can have a taste of me gun.”
Zak laughed aloud at that and Nort joined in slightly.
“Well alright then,” Nort sighed loudly, “And we make such a good team after all.”
With that Nort dropped the Returner to the ground and smashed it with his foot.
The three of them laughed aloud before turning their attention to the pile of gold before them.
“Might have to make a few trips, I be thinking,” Mungus remarked as they gathered as much treasure as they could and left the chamber.
“Perhaps I shall invent some new guns,” Nort mused as they made their way from the ruined castle and down the road of adventure.
Zak smiled to himself and nodded. He had left his old meaningless life behind and now he could begin a new one and with a friendship that would last forever.


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