Creator

Written By Matthew Tolbert

 

Published in Dreams & Visions #31

 

 

“It’s time for Volant to die.”

 

            Once again, Scott Reardon’s thoughts uncontrollably become spoken words. Yet this time, the words come out stronger, with more conviction than his usual self-conversations. And it feels good.

 

            The writer quickly looks around the kitchen, listening. “Oh jeez, I hope I didn’t wake the...” Reardon’s thoughts end as he remembers that there is no one to disturb in his house anymore. April and the children moved out two years ago. “You know,” he says quietly, “it still feels like they are all asleep in the other room. Damn it.”

 

             He goes back to staring at the coffee-maker, as he does every morning; as it slowly pumps away. Scott calls this his “morning manna.”

 

            Finally, the machine calls out its last gurgling dirge. However, this time it goes unanswered. The writer is so deep in thought that he doesn’t even notice. As in a trance, Reardon walks into his den and over to his large, wooden desk. He turns on his Macintosh Performa computer and slowly sinks to the chair.  As the machine warms up, he looks at the last family picture taken. It sits with pride upon his desk, neatly separated from the piles of papers and books. He still smiles when he sees his children, Ulric and Elektra, dressed as Santa with April and him on their laps. His attention goes to his ex-wife and he tells her picture, “See, April, I can change. I’m about to begin today’s writing withOUT my coffee, and BEFORE I read the morning paper. Hope the world survives.”

 

            Still waiting, Scott walks over to the cabinet and picks up his Hugo Award. He reads it to the empty room, “The 1995 Hugo Award for Excellence- Scott Reardon for ‘Volant, The Cosmic Knight.’ ” He gently places it back and looks over at the original covers from the Volant series. All ten covers have been enlarged, framed, and are hanging in order. All of them have the logo, “#1 Best Seller.”

 

            “I’m sorry, old friend,” the writer apologizes to the covers, “Hey, it’s not your fault. Look, Volant, I’ve been writing about you now for eighteen years. It’s time to move on . So I’ve been told.” He pauses. “I need to change.” Pauses again. “What I need is a cup of coffee.”

 

           The morning manna resumes as Scott pours his coffee into his old “Greatest Dad” cup and adds his usual two teaspoons of Coffeemate and three ice cubes; always the same and in the same order. He sits down at the computer again and turns to his wife’s picture, “Hey, I still haven’t read the paper yet, so back off.”

 

            Reardon opens the “Book 11” folder, then the “Chapter 27” file. He reads to himself,

 

            “With the speed of near invisibility, Volant’s space-wings sprang up from his jet-white, living armor. The famed golden wings shook as though they felt the rage building inside the last of the Cosmic Knights. The power of the elemental-gloves grew  intense- the one of solar-red became unbearably hot and the one of glacial-blue produced a covering of ice. Volant was ready for the biggest and, possibly, last battle with his most bitter enemy, Mrn.

 

                        “ ‘Stay here, children of mine. You are safe now,’ the last hope for the universe turned to his two meanings for life. ‘I am sorry Mrn brought you into this battle-raged life of mine. I must stop him now and forever. He has become too dangerous to all. Loracy, Terrian, if something should happen to me, remember always that I love you both and that I will always be with you. No matter what. Remember the power and soul of a Cosmic Knight shall never die.’

 

            “Before Loracy and Terrian answered their infamous father, Volant was gone, streaking through the halls of Mrn’s Death-stealer ship. In order to get the revenge he so craved, our hero knew he would have to put aside his morals, his teachings, and, most importantly, the code of the Knights. Yet, Mrn was worth it.

 

            “As he flew toward his destiny, many of Mrn’s soldiers tried to stop him. With each one Volant defeated, he thought of the cause for the burning hatred inside of him. Mrn. Mrn, the son of his first enemy, Braxxus. Mrn, the killer of his wife, R’een’a. Mrn, the kidnapper of his children. Mrn, the one that now obtained the ultimate power that could obliterate the entire universe. Yes, this Mrn was the one that Volant wanted dead more than anything else in existence.”

 

            “Hmmmmmm, not bad,” Scott looks up from the computer screen and sips his coffee. He holds up his worn hand-written outline and skims the final pages. He then wads it up and throws it towards the trash. It misses. He’s actually enjoying this feeling of freedom in taking the story in a different direction than originally planned. His writing agenda has always required that he stay with his outline. But not this time. With renewed energy, Reardon starts typing:

 

            “Flying through the metal doors of the control room, Volant finally faced his foe. The force of his meteoric entry sent the doors flying across the room into the myriad of machinery within the room. The impact of the huge metal doors

caused sparks and electrical explosions everywhere. Despite all this happening in a matter of seconds, Mrn was ready. ‘Nice entrance.’

 

            “ ‘Trying to kill the rest of my family was the last straw, Mrn,’ screamed the knight of the living armor. Though the helmet covered his face, Mrn could still picture the expression of pure anger on his foe’s face.

 

            “ Even more reason why he responded, ‘And here I thought destroying everything in the universe was the last straw. I guess I don’t know my Cosmic Knights as well as I should. Alas.’ Mrn walked over to the window, gazed out at the vast stars, and then, much to Volant’s surprise, slowly held up the Key of the Gods. ‘You see, hero, I am willing to destroy everything in order to kill you. That’s the kind of guy I am.’

            There is a knock at the front door. Scott continues, hoping whoever it is will go away. For the first time in years, he’s deeply involved in telling a Volant story and the flow must never be interrupted.

 

            “ He pointed the Key toward the stars and smirked, ‘As you know, Volant, dear enemy, this large key has the power to suck up this entire dimension into total nothingness. The Key of the Gods will make everything nonexistent. Everything: life, planets, atoms, hopes, dreams, etc, etc. Poof! No third dimension means no Cosmic Knight anymore, ever again.’ ”

 

            The knocking continues.

 

            “ ‘Hey, it was fun while it lasted. Good-by, killer of my father.’ ”

 

            This time, the knocking is so hard, Scott jumps and worries that his door was damaged. He saves the document, hitting the keys with force, and yells, “IF YOU BROKE IT, YOU’RE GOING TO PAY FOR IT!” His short temper rages with each step away from the computer, “This had better be good.”

 

            Not caring that he’s still in his cotton robe and cotton pajamas, Reardon quickly jerks open the front door.  “OH JEEZ!” he yells and jumps back in total amazement.

 

            “Praise to you, Creator!” There, kneeling at Scott’s door step, head bowed in reverence, is Volant.

 

            “Wow, this guy looks just like him,” thinks the confused writer. He is so amazed by his visitor’s appearance that he just stares at the man’s shiny white armor, his colorful gloves. In fact, the entire visage resembles the exact way he has always pictured Volant. However, none of the covers or drawings had ever fully captured this look.

 

            “Thanks be to you for all your gifts, oh mighty one. It is an honor to meet you face to face,” the Volant character continues, still not moving from his subservient position.

 

            “Okay, the fun is over. I admit you caught me off-guard,” the writer says after the shock wears off. He looks around his front yard, “So where are the cameras? Is this one of those practical joke shows? Let me guess, ‘Candid Camera?’ Or,” he yells out, “good one, Bob. This is your best one yet.”

 

            Volant looks up, “Creator, it is me, your faithful servant, Volant.”

 

            “Of course you’re ‘Volant.’ I have to admit that the costume is fantastic.” Scott yells out, “Nice touch on the costume, Bob.”

 

            He turns his attention back to his guest, “Okay, ‘Volant,’ get up. You want some coffee?” Now noticing the neighbors gathering around to watch and murmur, Reardon yells out, “Anybody else want a cup of coffee?”

 

            Volant rises, slowly bringing up his helmeted-head. He gazes into Reardon’s eyes and offers his hand, “Thank you, Creator. Forgive me if I have broken your door. I will gladly pay for it.”

 

            The smiling writer goes to shake hands and the Cosmic Knight firmly grabs his forearm. Scott is at first surprised, but then smiles even wider than before, “You are very good! You even know the Knight-handshake from my books.” Looking around, “C’mon in. How do you like your coffee?”

 

            Volant follows Scott into the house, leaving the front door open. Reardon goes back and shuts it while shaking his head side to side. The costumed man walks meticulously, taking in the entire front hall, family room, and then the kitchen with awe. He is amazed at how neat and orderly the whole house is.

 

            Scott is snickering as he pours a cup for his visitor, “Take your helmet off and stay awhile. The least I could do is visit with you for awhile. After all, somebody went to a lot of work to make that costume.”

 

            Volant adjusts the rim of the red medallion around his neck. Like liquid metal, the helmet quickly melts away into his collar. Scott jumps, dropping the cup and spilling the coffee onto the linoleum. He yells out, “Oh jeez! How did you do that?”

 

            Volant brushes his long, red hair out of his face and looks surprised by his reaction, “It is as you wished.”

 

            Like a one-two punch, Reardon is hit again with another surprise- seeing the exact face of the character he created. All of it fits his profile: the strong jaw, the flaming curly hair, the innocent yet tired eyes, the hawk nose. “I ... I can’t believe... could ...” He forces himself to stop and return to the “this is just a TV show” theory.  Scott’s usually quiet facial features quickly go from disbelief to admiration, “I don’t know who you are or how anyone has the technology to make something like living armor, but I am impressed.”

 

            “Creator,” Volant says in a soft voice, “it is I. This is no joke and I do not know anyone named ‘Bob.’ This moment means so much to me. Please believe me. Please believe in me. For I, I believe in you.”

 

            “Okay, ‘creation.’ Let’s see the rest of your powers.”

 

            Immediately Volant’s armor flows out from his collar, covering his now smiling face. His enormous, golden space-wings spring out, knocking over a kitchen chair. Suddenly, Volant moves so fast that he becomes a blur as the coffee is cleaned up with a towel and the fallen cup is filled with more coffee. All done in two seconds.

 

            Volant now stands proudly in front of the shocked, unmoving writer. Scott’s eyes and mouth are wide open. The Knight offers the cup to him in his solar-red glove, “Here, let me heat this for you.” The glove glows bright red. The kitchen warms up and the coffee starts boiling. Too soon, the mug starts melting and then suddenly explodes.

 

            Scott throws up his arms and ducks as the debris flies across the room. Filled with anger, he roars, “Look what you’ve done to my kitchen! You NEVER think things through. Never! You’re always jumping into battle before...”

 

            “Forgive me, Creator, for disappointing you. I will gladly clean this up.”

 

            “No!” Now starting to calm down, “No, it’s okay.” Scott collapses into one of the kitchen chairs. He holds his forehead with both hands and shakes his head. “I’m either having a nervous breakdown or I’m still asleep.”

 

            Pushing back the few hairs he has, a defeated Reardon sighs and looks up at Volant. He hasn’t moved, yet the kitchen is clean. All the coffee is cleaned off the walls, the pieces from the mug are gone from the floor, and even the chair is upright beside him. Scott‘s only thought is, “I wish the kids were here.”

 

            “It would be an honor to meet the children of the Creator,” Volant responds, while pushing his chest out and standing taller. Once again, unbeknownst to himself, Scott had spoken his thoughts out loud.

 

            Volant offers his blue-gloved hand to his idol, “May I provide more proof for you?”

 

            “Sure, why not.”

 

            Surprisingly, the Knight grabs the writer’s hand, pulls Scott toward him, and cradles him up into his arms. Scott panics, “Listen, whoever you are. This isn’t funny anymore. Put me down.”

 

            The space-wings shake open, and immediately they fly towards the closed front door. Scott screams, “WATCH OUT! OUR DOORS DO NOT SWING ...” They crash through it, shattering the entire door into little fragments across the front lawn.

 

            “I have forgotten that your doors do not open automatically. Forgive me, Creator. I shall pay for it.”

 

            They quickly fly higher into the morning sky, leaving behind trails of Scott’s screaming obscenities. Finally, Volant swirls them downwards to land gently in Griffith Park. He sets the writer down on a bench and stands alert, positioning himself as a bodyguard over him. “Now, great one, may I provide more proof for you?”

 

            Scott sees a group of joggers stopping and staring at the two of them. “You

 stupid idiot,” he rises from the bench and starts pointing his finger into Volant’s chest repeatedly. “I’ve had it! I just shot across the city in my pajamas and now I’m in LA’s busiest park where people are staring at me. And all of this is so I believe a character I created is standing in front of me now, alive? Right? RIGHT?”

 

            “Excuse me, dudes,” one of the runners comes over, “Are you filming a movie about Volant?”

 

            The Cosmic Knight gestures to the man, “See. He knows who I am.”

 

            Ignoring him, Scott answers the jogger, “Yes, we are and you just ruined the whole shot. Now ‘Volant,’ get me out of here.”

 

            Volant and Scott were on top of the Wells Fargo building, over looking downtown Los Angeles, before the runner could apologize. Scott sits down at the building’s ledge, dangling his feet over the side, and laughs out loud. He looks at his deer-skin slippers and notices he’s only wearing one. His laughs echo as he sits on top of the city’s tallest building, overlooking the morning rush hour below, talking to a character he created, and wearing only one slipper.

 

            “Okay, let’s say you are the real Volant ... what am I saying? I made you up! I created you out of my mind! How can you be real?”

 

            “Then, Creator, how did we get on top of this small monument?”

 

            No response.

 

            “Creator, ask me anything, any question. Please give me the chance.”

 

            “Nice try. You could have memorized the whole book series.” He pauses. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll ask you something that has never appeared in any of my books. Okay, ‘Volant,’ what is on the back of your medallion?”

 

            Volant turns the edge of the bright, red medal hanging around his neck and his entire armor melts away into it. For the first time, Scott gets to see what the man looks like without his entire armor. As he suspected, this guy looks just like the Volant character- very muscular, dressed simply in black, skin-tight clothes, and ... and this person also has a right arm made of living metal. Volant walks closer and turns over the medallion, “I have never known its true meaning but now, I can surmise that this Saint Christopher is an important person to you. Is he a Creator too?”

 

            Reardon’s eyes tear up with amazement at seeing the symbols of a Saint Christopher medal. The same one he wore as a child. He reaches under his pajama top and pulls out his necklace. The same one he still wears.

 

            “There is no way anyone could know this. Not April, my children, Bob, not even my publisher. This is impossible.” He continues holding up his medal while staring at Volant’s medallion.

 

            “Creator, I have come to ask for your mercy.” Volant bows and kneels before the still overwhelmed writer. “Please Creator, I have served you well. I have always done your bidding. Even when I was thought to be a traitor of Telegard, even when I lost my

arm, even ... even when my wife, my R’een’a, was murdered before my eyes, I have never lost faith. I ask you now, Creator, please spare my life. Do not kill me.”

 

            “How could you know ...” that was all Scott says before he finally loses all control and faints. He falls over the edge of the building. As he plummets downward, Volant becomes fully armored and catches up with him easily. He carefully grabs the writer so no harm will come to him. Now carrying him like a sleeping baby, they fly off.

 

            Volant looks at Scott’s tired face and smiles, “This is not what I expected gods to be like.”

 

            Scott wakes up peacefully from under his covers. Feeling disoriented, as though he awoke from a long sleep, he looks around his room to confirm his whereabouts. He smiles and breathes a sigh, “What a strange and vivid dream that was.”

 

            He puts on his robe and slippers and walks towards the kitchen to begin his morning manna. Reardon stops in the hall when he hears the turning of a page. The groggy writer shakes his head then painstakingly peaks around the corner. The unarmored Volant is sitting at his desk, reading Reardon’s tenth book, “Blood Wrongs.” He looks up to see Scott, standing there in total disbelief. Volant puts the book down, “Why did she have to die, Creator? You know how much I loved her.” A tear comes to the eye of the warrior.

 

            “Because my wife fell in love with someone else and divorced me. I’m sorry.”

 

            “Is that why you want to kill me now? Are you going to kill yourself?”

 

            “No, that’s not ... I still can’t believe I’m talking to a person I made up.”

 

            Volant springs to his feet, slamming his fist on the desk, “Forgive me, Creator, but I have lost all patience.” He starts pacing the room, “Who says I do not exist? Do the readers of these books not know who I am? You gave life to an idea, a character, as you will. Your fans feel like they know me. They believe in me, why is it, you cannot?”

 

            Volant quickly walks into the hall and holds out his outstretched hands, “Touch me. Am I not alive? You have flown with me. You have personally seen and felt the gifts you gave me. Is this not life, where I can be seen, touched, and believed in?”

 

            The Cosmic Knight brings his unanswered hands down, “Consider this then. Whose life is it? Is my life my own? Or is it yours? Who decides whether I have a right to live? You, you are the Creator. Yes, you make the ultimate judgment. So if I have no voice about my life, go ahead and kill me. Have Mrn do your work for you. GO AHEAD!”

 

            Volant slams his armor-fist through the hallway wall into the den, causing the framed covers to crash to the floor. He slowly pulls it out and intently looks at his fist. “Did you expect that?”  Volant turns to the writer, who still hasn’t moved since discovering Volant in his den. “What about free will, Creator? Do I have free will? Do you? Are you also just acting out parts that have already been written? Does your god have everything planned for you so you are just going through the motions? Is there only destiny? Only fate? Is there no free choice to do what you want? Are your decisions expected and planned accordingly? My life may be written in words you created but what about your life? I can tell by your expression that you have no answer. But you and I know you have an influence on my life. CREATOR, GIVE ME LIFE! AT LEAST, GIVE ME CHOICE!”

 

            The tired writer remains motionless. He looks at the angry yet scared hero, whose fists are shaking. He looks at the whole in his wall. He looks at his kitchen. “I need a cup of coffee.”

 

            As a new pot gurgles away, Scott looks over at the front door that has been repaired, kind of. He doesn’t want to know where Volant got the metal.

 

            Reardon enters the den to see Volant hanging the last of the pictures that fell. Scott notices how much slower he moves without his armor to enhance his speed. Volant stares at the cover from the fifth book, “One Against a Planet.” He passes his human hand gently over the glass, trying to feel the picture. After a while, the Knight backs up to behold all the covers. He studies them as each one shows a drawing of himself. He smirks at the “Volant the Cosmic Knight” cover, contemplates the “Cosmic Knights No More,” and stares at “The Lost Princess of Telegard.”

 

            The writer stands in the doorway, watching his creation like a proud father. “What a great scene this is,” thinks Reardon. “This would make a great story. Now if I were writing it, it would happen ... oh jeez, it would happen just like it is happening. Okay, let’s see. If I were writing this, the next thing he’d do is study the book on the desk.”

 

            Volant finally pulls his gaze away from his deceased wife’s picture and looks over at the desk. He walks over, picks up the book again, and studies it like a new found treasure.

 

            “Let’s talk,” Reardon offers the Cosmic Knight a cup of coffee as he enters the den, calmer now.

 

            “Thank you, Creator. I would like that.” Volant takes the cup and tries a small sip. “I remember this now. Coffee is a very important drink to earthlings. I developed a taste for it when I was here.” He looks over at the cover, “Earth’s Past, My Future,” and continues in a softer voice, “when I was in the tenth book. Creator, is that all that I am? Am I just a character in a series of books?”

 

            “Yes,” Reardon sits down at his desk.

 

            Volant walks over to the bookcase, pulls out one from the series, “Knight and Daze,” and shows it to Scott. “Are you saying I had no choice in marrying R’een’a? You decided it and therefore it happened?”

 

            “Yes.”

 

            “But Creator, remember how I wrestled with that decision? I was so afraid that if we married, something ...”

 

            “And something did happen to her. Look, I’m sorry, Volant. You married because I wanted to get married. R’een’a died because my wife divorced me. You see a lot of your life was the life I wanted, or didn’t want. When I hurt, I made you hurt worse so I’d feel better.”

 

            Reardon walks over to Volant and pats him on the shoulders with both hands, “But hey, look at you. You look exactly the way I wish I looked. You have long flowing red hair. I’m losing mine. You have muscles on top of muscles. I have a spare tire that covers my body. So you could at least thank me for your good looks.”

 

            “Thank you, Creator. There are things I have wanted to ask you. What if I had married Ceslian?”

 

            “I don’t know. I never gave it any thought.”

 

            “What would have happened to my life if I had not joined the Cosmic Knights?”

 

            Reardon starts losing patience, “Volant, you’re a science fiction character that only exists in books. You don’t have any ‘what if’s.’ There are no other options in your life. Your whole existence is only the way it is written. I’m writing your eleventh book now. Can you imagine writing eleven books on one character?”

 

            “How about creating different things? A little variety might help.”

 

            Reardon collapses on the couch, “I tried that. Believe me, my life would be different if any of those had been popular. I tried horror with a book called, ‘The Answered Omen.’ ” (To himself, Scott thinks, “Let’s hope that character doesn’t show up at my door.”) And to Volant, “Even when the horror market was hot and every book was selling, mine just gathered dust. Next I tried a mystery, ‘Tinsel Town is Down Tonight.’ Those sales were worse. I even tried a different science fiction type of story with ‘Body & Soul,’ but even that didn’t sell. So I was stuck with you. Until now. I’m retiring. I’m going to quit writing and live a little. My wife, I mean ex-wife, always told me that I spent too much time writing about life and not enough on living it.” He pauses, “So in order for me to live, you have to die.”

 

            Volant walks over and sits on the old couch next to Reardon, “Creator, please re-evaluate. I have so much of life left. I have two children that need me. I am the last Cosmic Knight. If I die, the order dies too.”

 

            He shakes his head and says softly, “I’m sorry. My two children need me, too. They always have. I just put my needs before theirs.”

 

            Looking down, “What will become of me?”

 

            Reardon looks up and smiles, “Volant, you will live forever in these books and in the hearts of your fans. Everyone seeks immortality. Whether in works or others’ memories, we want to always exist. You will leave a proud legacy.”

 

            The knight reaches over and grasps Reardon’s shoulder in a friendly manner, “Thank you for that, Creator. If I should die, would you please look after my children? Terrian and Loracy are the most important things in my life. Grant them a long, happy life, and forever let them know how much their mother and I love them.”

 

            “Volant, it doesn’t ...” the writer stops as he sees the full love and concern on the warrior’s face. “I promise.”

 

            “One more thing.”

 

            Scott starts enjoying this feeling of power, “Of course.”

 

            “Make sure I get my revenge on Mrn.”

 

            Scott smiles, “It will be my pleasure.”

 

            The last of the Cosmic Knights kneels before the tired man in the pajamas and bows slowly, “I believe in you, Creator. I do have faith that you know what is best for me, better than I. However, may I still offer some alternatives to my death?”

 

            “Very clever, Cosmic Knight. You got your back-up plan agreed upon then went in for the primary objective. Wait a minute, didn’t you do the same thing in...”

 

            “Against Sazurra, True Monarch of the Knights.” Volant smiles cleverly then looks up at Scott’s weary, old eyes hidden behind the glare of his small glasses. “Creator, you could still get your wish to retire if I too retired. Take away my medallion and have me spend the rest of my life powerless and quiet on a small moon. I could raise my children there and I would never again be a ‘book character.’ ”

 

            Reardon stands up, “Too many loose ends. Too many openings for fans to think you’ll return. Then everywhere I go, everyone would ask me when Volant would be coming back. No, Volant, I am sorry.” With that, the writer stomps out of the room.

 

            Volant follows him into the family room, “How about ...”

 

            “You’re not real! Look around you. This is what’s real. This is,” Scott walks over and touches the curtains. “This is,” touching the lamp. “Jeez, even this is more real,” as he turns on the television.

 

            The screen comes on and a newsman is standing in front of a fire burning out of control in a residential building, “...no word yet on the cause of the fire. Because the building is so old, it is making it difficult for the fire-workers to reach the people still trapped inside. When ...”

 

            Volant turns to Reardon, “Will you kill them too?”

 

            Scott laughs, “I don’t control this world. We don’t have any Cosmic Knights here. There are no super beings with special powers that will fly down and save them.”

 

            As Volant reaches for his medallion, he says to the writer, “Forgive me, Creator, but you are wrong.” As the last words are spoken, the living armor quickly covers his body, his wings spring outwards, and he flies away through a window. All within three seconds.

 

            “Now’s my chance,” thinks Reardon as he runs to his den. He flies into his chair and turns on the little TV beside his desk.

 

            As the television picture appears, the same newsman is now pointing at the home, “...out of the sky. It was some kind of blur that some eyewitnesses are saying looked like a man in a suit with wings...”

 

            “Jeez, I made him too fast,” Scott quickly turns away from the TV and reads where he left off on the computer screen.

 

            “ ‘Hey, it was fun while it lasted. Good-by, killer of my father.’ ”

 

            His fingers strike the keys quickly. He doesn’t care about typos, content, or style. He is on a mission and has very little time to kill Volant.

 

            “Volant screamed, ‘This is for R’een’a!’ and with that, he flew at his mortal enemy faster than he has ever flown before. Space-wings shaking, elemental-gloves bursting with intense heat and cold, every ounce of his body pulsing with intensity. He must reach Mrn.”

 

            The newsman continues, “My God. The house has just collapsed and none of those trapped inside has come out. We haven’t even seen that flying man since he flew inside.”

 

            “Mrn turned to face his foe with a smile more evil than all the hells of the universe, ‘Your speed won’t save you or this universe this time.’ ”

 

            “Wait a minute! My God, rising from the building is a man in some kind of armor. He has a women and a child wrapped in some kind of wings. They look like they are all right. But, who is this guy?”

 

            “Before the Last of the Cosmic Knights could reach him, Mrn hit the button on the Key of the Gods. Suddenly, the whole existence started to shift.”

 

            “Sir, sir. Could you come over here for a moment? Over here, please. What you did was unbelievable. Are you a real-life super hero?”

 

           “ ‘You are wrong, enemy of mine.’ And with that, Volant grabbed the Key with both hands. As they wrestled for control over the weapon, the intense heat and cold of the elemental gloves came together at the center of the most powerful magical item ever created. And still, reality started to shift.”

 

            “I am Volant, the last of the Cosmic Knights, father of Loracy and Terrian, eternal husband to R’een’a, protector of Telegard and the Nine Galaxies. And yes, I am real. But now, I must go.”

 

            “As the force from the solar-red met the power of the glacial-blue, the ferocity of this meeting engulfed the two men as they struggled over command of the fate of all. Suddenly, Mrn, being unprotected and without any armor, yelled out in such agony. He screamed as the incredible energies tore at his body, breaking it apart molecule by molecule.  Until, finally, all that was left was the echo of his scream.”

 

            Scott hears a window shatter in the family room.

 

            “Volant could not turn the Key off. It was damaged from the red and blue elemental forces. As the entire dimension started moving, Volant bent the Key to face itself like a broken circle. Now, with the power of the Key turned upon itself, and with the force of the hot and cold gloves meeting, all of this caused one massive implosion...”

 

            Volant is there beside the desk, “Please do not do this, Creator.”

 

            “...that saved the dimension but took...”

            “Let me live!”

            “...the life of Volant.”

 

            “I want to livvvvvvvvv...” as the last word is typed, the cosmic knight fades away.

 

            Reardon stares at the spot where Volant once was. His breathing is quick as he is tired from the fast typing, and exhausted from the nervousness. It feels like his heartbeat is racing, pounding against his chest. His head feels light, dazed. The suspense, anxiety he now feels, is greater than he could ever imagine or has ever described in a story. He just wants to close his eyes now and go to sleep. No, he wants to celebrate and get drunk.

 

            Instead, he cries uncontrollably.

 

            After minutes of releasing his fear through tears, he looks at the computer. He wipes his eyes with his pajama sleeves and starts typing again. Much slower this time.

 

            “Loracy and Terrian, Volant’s joys, survived. They were raised by their father’s old, blind friend, Brodir, and grew into successful, kind adults. Each gifted with their own talent, each gifted with a family, each gifted with the knowledge that they were being watched by the loving eyes of R’een’a and Volant.

 

            “Though they lived long, happy lives, Loracy and Terrian shared a secret that no one ever knew. A secret so well hidden that no one would ever discover it. For it was after the death of Volant, in all the wreckage, that they found their father’s medallion of the Cosmic Knights. The End.”

 

            The writer smiles. He leans back in his chair and breathes a long sigh of relief. He looks over at the picture of his two children, wishing he could control their fate as well. Scott then turns to see the cover of the first book that features a brave Volant standing proudly among the stars. The writer lifts his cup of coffee in salute to all the Cosmic Knight covers on the wall, and knows that the series is now complete.

 

Then he fades away.

 

 

THE END