Image by Luke Porter
Zack had returned home via the wishing map, only to discover his sister Gina had gone “into” the Map looking for him! Now what? If he went back, he’d never find her; the Ten Kingdoms of Ismara were huge. He’d be searching for a Gina-needle in an Ismaran haystack! And if he asked the giant bird for help, well…it had vowed to bite off one of his legs! If only there was a way to…
He knew what he had to do. He climbed back in through his bedroom window from his thinking place on the roof. Then he ran to his dresser, grabbed his winter gloves, threw down his sketch book, raced over to his closet, and pulled on his sneakers. He found his big red snow jacket and put that on too, then ran out into the hallway, but turned and hollered back into his room, “Cool it!” And for a moment the mysterious objects their Aunt Aloysia had given them actually obeyed.
Zack closed his bedroom door and headed down the hall. As he was about to enter Gina’s room, Mom shouted up the stairs, “Dad just pulled into the driveway, kids!”
“OK.” He might never get to say this again: “Hey, Mom…?”
“I love you.”
He ran into Gina’s bedroom and closed the door behind him. Then he stood in the middle of the Map, took a deep breath, and said, “Take me wherever my sister is.”
It hadn’t worked. His heart began to pound. Despite the summer heat, his hands grew clammy. “ZZ stared at the mountain of death,” he recited from Zachary Zinn comics, Issue #4. “Lava poured down everywhere. Shluuuuuugggg! Foooooooom! ZZ would stop at nothing, not even Hell itself, to rescue his faithful steed El Furioso!”
He had no choice. What was his life worth if he wasn’t willing to risk it for anyone? He’d have to face the giant bird, and either convince it to help him…or die trying. He stared out at Middleton’s summer-bronzed Kleemuk Hills. Would he ever see them again? Would he ever see anything again? “Please,” he prayed, “it would be really, really great if I didn’t die.” Then he hiked up his courage and said, “I wish I could go back.”
And he was gone.
As the spinning Map settled to the ground, Zack’s mother called from downstairs, her voice suffused with momjoy,
“I love you too, honey!”
Thoughts: If it isn’t risking your life for another, then what makes you fully human? How meaningful is a life that values nothing more than itself?
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