Friday, June 5, 2009

SPOILER ALERT - Jack the Viking: Magnetic North...

Here is how the sequel to Jack the Viking begins...(if you haven't read Jack the Viking yet and don't want to spoil it - DON'T READ ON!! )

I don’t dream so much anymore. I don’t read stories about Vikings any more either. There are two reasons really. One is that the last time my head was full of Viking stories because I read about them all the time, something strange happened to me: I went there, I lived there. The other reason is that having lived as one, stories about them just aren’t as good anymore. When I was a Viking I spent most of my time being afraid: afraid of dying, afraid of never seeing my friends and my family again, afraid of living in a strange world. It was only when I died as Jack the Viking that I stopped being afraid. Stein said being afraid is a good thing. A good thing that sharpens your thinking and keeps you alive. I’m not afraid of anything anymore, except of not being afraid.

Chapter One
“Are you nuts?” Harry yelled, as he ran up to me.
I couldn’t stop myself laughing. My hands stung. “That was fun. Can I do it again?”
“What’s got in to you? You could have been killed.”
A red stain was growing on the leg of my jeans. I tried to roll them up but my knee hurt like blazes. I slowly stood up out of the gutter where I’d fallen, dusting the crud off the seat of my pants.
Harry, first glancing left then right, darted out onto the road and rescued the skateboard from its resting place, flipped up-side-down out in the middle. He scuttled back to the pavement and just stood there holding the skateboard looking at me.
“So you gonna give it to me?” I asked.
“You’ve changed Jack,” Harry said.
“It doesn’t matter. I’m okay. Nothings broken…I think.”
“You’re not bulletproof.”
Yes I am I thought. I laughed.
I looked at my hands. At the shredded palms. I shook my head. Stop being a wuss Harry, I thought.
“You know what I’m talking about.”
Yeah I knew what he was talking about. So I’d jumped off Harry’s garage and only just missed the rake lying on the ground. My ankle had been fine after about a week. And I’d jumped into Eddie’s swimming pool from their second floor balcony. I guess it was lucky my butt hit the bottom first. But it wasn’t about luck. I was doing all these crazy things and I was surviving. I was hardly getting hurt at all. And I wasn’t hurting anyone else.
“I liked the old you better.”
I didn’t. The old me had been beaten up by a bully. The old me had been too shy to ask Nikki to be my girlfriend. The old me was terrified of my own shadow, too scared to stand up for myself, afraid to take a risk. There was nothing wrong with the new me. It was a major improvement as far as I was concerned. Anyway, I couldn’t go back to the old me even if I wanted to. I was changed forever.
“That stuff,” I started, “that stuff that happened to me. You’d change too if it happened to you.”
“But it didn’t happen to you. Being with the Vikings - it was all in your head.”
“No,” I said. “You weren’t there!”
“Yeah well, neither were you.”
“You don’t know what it was like,” my nails dug into my hands as they balled into fists. I know it had been for real but I had nothing to convince Harry with. He needed evidence and the only evidence I had was my experience, and that was in my head. There was no point in arguing. “I was there. I…I went deer hunting, and rowed for like days on the ocean in a Viking ship. I fought in a battle.”
“No, ya didn’t.”
“I’d rather be there than here. Here’s boring,” I said. I didn’t say the next bit but I could tell by Harry’s expression that he knew what I’d left out.
“Yeah? Well that whole Viking story is boring,” he retorted.
I charged him, my fists thrust out in front of me. I caught him full in the chest and Harry, a stunned look on his face, fell back hard on the pavement dropping my skateboard. I stood over him; my chest heaving, my jaw tight with anger. The stunned look didn’t disappear. Harry slowly picked himself up and shaking his head at me, he turned and limped away.
“Harry!” I called but he kept going up the street.
“Stuff you!” I yelled after him. My experience had changed me but surprisingly, somehow it had changed Harry too. He was right. If I hadn’t jumped off, I might have been run over by that car, although it did slam on the brakes. But I didn’t want to hear that. I’d jumped. I was okay. He should lighten up.
At least my skateboard wasn’t broken. The man in the car had driven round it after honking his horn angrily. I picked it up and headed up the street back to my house.
“What happened to you?” Dad asked as I walked down the driveway. He wiped the back end of his work van dry with the chamois.
“I fell off.” I could feel my face turning red with the lie.
“Is everything okay, son?” Dad said, his eyebrow raised in question.
“Great,” I said grinning. At least that was true. I did feel great. The more extreme I behaved, the better I felt.

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