The Silent Hero

Illuminated by the soft orange glow of the fire, the sweet faces of young Ethan and Olivia radiate a cozy warmth. Tonight is a night for families to gather in merriment, and to revel in one another’s comforting presence and unconditional love.

Deep oranges are born from the wood. Up they travel, ascending the flame’s face with inspiring youth; ever so swiftly do they climb. Entwining, merging, their eager ambitions join into one far more noble, embracing the power of companionship. But now they must forego the connection they secured so strongly, for it is with flaming splendor that they morph the bond of brotherhood into dragon’s roar and erupting crackle, until only dimly sparking embers of survivors are left to dance on the cooling ashes below.

Like the interminable roar of the fire, the hearts of Mother and Father burn for each other and their children. In harmonious synchrony, their heads turn toward the star atop the Christmas tree, thanking benevolent fortune for their food, shelter, love.

***

Such a beautiful scene may seem invulnerable to selfishness and malice, but we must remember those who have deviated from the path of the righteous; those who know nothing but their ability to inflict. Our family, then, is perhaps more unfortunate than one might expect, for one such misguided individual is making his way to their backyard.

At first just a dark speck on the distant horizon, after gliding over the snow-covered streets and approaching the family home, his prominent silhouette quickly reveals his hideous form. Onward and onward he marches. Not even the army of Christmas lights can penetrate his darkness. But after what seems like an eternity of uncompromising advance, he stops. Noting the holy white shield of protection emanating from the ground, he begins his work. Placing his hand on the shield, he channels a vile power, one that can only be born out of a dark, decrepit soul like his own, one abused and mangled far beyond repair; his will overcomes the shield with ease: it oozes and sputters under evil’s weight in rippling agony. Alas, the defenses are no match! With almost no difficulty, the shade pierces through the family’s sanctuary unfazed.

Once inside, he fixes his gaze on his mark: the nondescript storage shed near the back of the yard. If he were a creature more noble, surely his demeanor could be accurately deemed resolute. But given current circumstance and moral alignment, his nature feels frighteningly unrelenting. He proceeds to his target.

Peering down at a padlock fastened to the shed door, he chokes on a derisive cackle. It is but a moment later, however, when a horrific banshee wail assaults the eardrums of anyone within a mile’s radius. Something extraordinary has prevented him from vanishing through the door as per usual.

He shoots a glance down at the padlock once more, but this time with furious disgust.  Seeking vengeance, he summons the darkest magic he can conjure and unleashes a barrage of darkness upon the humble lock. But his darkness is failing! The lock fires an inexorable beam of light, and a white flame erupts on the demon’s hands, travelling up his sorry appendages until it burns them clean off. Reaching his core, he has no choice but to give in with an agonizing moan.

***

Did the grandiose battle really occur? Was it mere fancy? A pleasing but silly phantasmagoria. None can know, aside from the Master Lock: our protector from all that is evil. Our unsung savior. Our Silent Hero.

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