“Mitchel, I’m tired of walking,” Phil said replacing the soothing sounds of nature with his uncomfortable sound of teenage-level angst. He stopped while talking as if to say that this time he was totally serious and to be listened to by his childlike partner. Mitch was none too happy about the amount of walking either, so he paused to hear out his favorite Wisconsinite from Costa Rica. “The bickering dragons, explosive sandwich bags, and chalk zone were bad enough – and that guy with the rock riddles was something I hope I forget sooner rather than later – but we’ve been walking way too far just to get to this place. How much further is her castle?” That was a fair and tough question which meant that all of Mitch’s college courses had yet to properly prepare him for it.
“I’m not really sure,” Mitch responded with complete honesty despite it being the exact opposite of what Phil wanted to hear. Even still, Mitch agreed that the vast distances they had covered in their respective fresh kicks was becoming tiresome and something needed to change. But instead of verbalizing those sentiments, he instead looked at Phil attempting to put that speech into a facial expression. “So,” Mitch finally responded aloud, “what do you wanna do? We’re almost there…probably.” Mitch’s assumption on the remaining distance was as correct as it was useless.
“I don’t know,” Phil said mildly upset that Mitch had so quickly put the burden of finding a solution on him. “Can’t you just say out loud something ridiculous and make it appear? You’ve done that on more than one occasion.” Mitch scoffed at the thought initially, but then replayed in his head the various fortunate circumstances he had seemed to find due to what could only be described as dumb luck. If he could know that dragons were afraid of water, what else might he be able to make happen, he wondered.
“AND THEN,” Mitch shouted in his best impression of someone who had a booming voice and not that of a first grader, “PHIL TYSON ESPINOZA BECAME AN ANGRY SIDEKICK NO MORE!” Mitch found his own joke absolutely hilarious as Phil simply glared at him.
“My middle name isn’t Tyson,” Phil holla’d back as the wildlife around them seemed to all at once spring to life. What began in a small way as Mitch finished his speech now become more readily apparent as a serious development. The ground around them seemed to shake as if there were an earthquake and animals were leaving in large numbers. The most interesting was the large grouping of two-dimensional blue birds that flew away.
“#AshMar,” they all tweeted as they trended back up the mountain which Mitch and Phil had only recently finished their descent to the bottom of. They were an interesting collection of both male and female birds with a common goal to head away from danger. And even though they initially struggled due to figurative bumps in the road, in the end they prevailed in their flight upwards. This was because they were champions, and when it counted, they flew in a manner that illustrated just how awesome they were. “#AshMar,” they continued tweeting all along their journey.
“Mitch,” Phil spoke while looking all around him at the rest of the critters scurrying about in a panicked manner as the Earth shook beneath their feet, “what did you just do?” His panic was growing at an exponential rate when Phil finally noticed what was creating the rumbling all around. Mitch’s shouting had woken a giant who wasn’t too far away off the side of their path. They both were startled initially, and then figured they should head in the opposite direction to just hide and wait it out. Typically their solution may be to head as far down the path as possible to get past the giant, but they wanted no part of any more walking or running of any kind for the moment. So, since they each assumed that a giant would have a tough time finding them amongst the dense forest; they took to finding a comfortable spot and remaining there.
“Who called my name?” the giant roared across the land. “Who felt the need to wake me up in the middle of my nap?” He seemed angry, but not too angry. His tone was tough to pin down in any one specific way: derisive on a level that only Phil could appreciate, but equally jovial. It was as if he genuinely didn’t want to be woken up, but more than anything in the world he wanted to mock whoever had woken him up. And if that were accomplished, he would be a happy giant once more. Mitch and Phil each noticed this peculiarity before both they both looked at each other.
“I think he’s talking to you, Mitchel,” Phil said with a big grin on his face.
“What exactly are you proposing I do?” Mitch asked a question he probably knew the answer to.
“Go greet Tyson, and see if he’ll give us a ride to Queen Brit’s castle,” Phil spoke with as much sarcasm as is allowed when whispering. The fact that they had woken up a sleeping giant with just Mitch’s shouting made them both think twice before talking so as not to attract more unnecessary attention. They had had their fill of ridiculous characters and situations already, and were each hoping that they could use their hiding as an excuse to rest for the moment.
“Really?” the giant shouted across the land. “Nobody’s gonna admit to yelling, ‘Brycen’?”
“Ohhhhh,” Mitch spoke softly while looking at Phil, “Brycen…I guess that sounds like Tyson.”
“So, are we going to try to wait this out?” Phil asked completely unsure of what their plan of action should be. The next movements of the giant were unpredictable and at some point they would have to begin moving again. Mitch thought over what he wanted to do while watching the giant parading around looking for whatever woke him up. In his mind, Mitch decided that whatever they did would be largely decided based upon Brycen’s following actions. Unfortunately for Mitch and Phil, Brycen began to stomp in their direction.
“Do you think that if I admit to it immediately, he’ll let us off with some good-natured ribbing and we can be on our merry way?” Mitch asked Phil needing a response immediately.
“I think so, but I don’t know that I want to bet our lives on us properly analyzing the inflection of a man that’s 30 feet tall,” Phil retorted with his lovable sarcasm even in their moment of stress.
“Yeah, fair point,” Mitch said as he quickly weighed their options with only seconds to decide before the giant would be stepping right on them – hopefully practically but potentially literally. “I’m just gonna go for it,” Mitch said with the fatigue of someone who was tired of their journey and was simply hoping for the best. “Brycen,” he shouted to the giant who was dangerously close but still unaware of their position, “this is the guy who woke you up.” Mitch had a smirk on his face from ear to ear as he pointed to Phil.
“What,” Phil clamored in disbelief that Mitch so quickly threw him under the bus. He then immediately realized that he should’ve seen it coming, and decided to see if he couldn’t spin it back on his tiny associate. “No, it was him. He’s the guy you’re looking for!” Brycen looked down upon both of them in both a literal and symbolic sense.
“That’s it,” Brycen began as he crouched down to get closer to his unintended alarm clocks, “a toddler and four-eyes woke me up.” His laughter at his own joke was intense enough to shake the surrounding trees. And he wasn’t the only one laughing as Mitch chuckled slightly at what was said.
“You totally wear glasses,” he said to Phil while being far more amused than he should. Phil could only look at him with complete confusion as he bounced between feelings of glee and disappointment. He was happy that they indeed seemed to be correct that the giant wanted nothing more than to make fun of them for having woke him up, but disappointed that he had agreed to go on a journey with someone who could laugh so much at a simple joke at the expense of his poor vision.
“Of course I wear glasses,” Phil said with his arms extended attempting horizontally in order to accompany his next question. “How long have you known me? I’ve always had these.” Phil wasn’t upset, but he had a very genuine curiosity into how Mitch could’ve laughed at such a thing.
“I don’t know,” Mitch started with a sentiment that summed up the story of his life. “It’s just funny to hear it out loud.” He answered the question accurately, but somehow didn’t help Phil at all.
“What are you two even doing out here?” Brycen asked as he had finally finished laughing. “I know you’re not going to Queen Brit’s castle. You two would get eaten alive by the journey alone.” Once again he was very entertained by his own jokes at the expense of Mitch and Phil.
“Actually we are,” Phil announced over Brycen’s laughter.
“Yeah, she stole my Tiger Card and I need to get it back,” Mitch informed the giant that now got a rather serious look on his face.
“That’s your Tiger Card?” Brycen said with a very surprised look on his face.
“Yes, it was me. Why?” Mitch inquired.
“That girl is crazier than a midnight ride on the subway,” Brycen said going right back to the tone of his ridiculous jokes about other people to make himself laugh. “Ever since she showed up that town and this whole place has gone downhill. I left that place as quickly as I could.”
“So, does that mean we’re close?” Mitch wondered hoping that their journey might soon come to its climax.
“Close for me, but not for you with your tiny little legs,” Brycen again laughed hysterically at his jokes. “No, but seriously, it’s a ways to go before you even hit downtown. And her castle is just on the other side of the city. I’d help you guys out, but I actually should probably keep on moving. I don’t wanna be anywhere near that girl; especially if you guys make it. You two would just make her even angrier.” Underneath Brycen’s jokes was a very real point to consider for both Mitch and Phil. As Brycen head even further back up the mountain, it occurred to them that Brit was wreaking havoc across the entire land as if it were just another day. If a three story tall building for a person felt the need to increase the gap between himself and Brit, what would happen to them when they got face to face with her? The questions both swirling in each of their heads did give them each a slight amount of relief in one regard, however.
“Well, I guess that means we should rest up,” Phil said with what appeared to be an absolutely serious smile on his face.
“No argument here,” Mitch said as he sat down readying himself for a day of nothing. “Clearly we should both take a personal day if our quest is to have any chance for success.” Both were as happy as they had been at any point in the trip knowing that, at least for the moment, all that lie ahead was a full day of rest. Nevertheless, in the back of each of their minds they knew that the dangers that lie ahead would only increase in difficulty as the get even closer to the very town where Brit resides. And what’s more was they were still unaware of the perilous foes that followed their every step. But perhaps this was for the best on this day as they each lay down watching clouds until their eyelids shut for the day.