by Keay Davidson

This is the story of how Ester the apple farmer and her trusty sidekick Nick became the heroes of Boson. Of course, I must inform you that once you enter Boson, you are a Boson. So, welcome to Boson, friends.

Boson was a peaceful and joyful realm, where people gathered and made merry amongst friends and family with music, dancing, and food. Laughter abounded beyond the borders and outsiders joined the frolic. Boson grew and grew in people, in joy and in size.

Till one day the sunniness of Boson touched Alkyne, the land of the witchdoctor Malic. Malic noticed the beauty and growth of Boson and desired it for himself. More than to rule it, he wanted to consume it. And so, he did. He walked the realm of Boson and stripped the sunny energy from the living, only to return a decrepit energy to the creature, plant, or person. Half of Boson was consumed within a few months. It looked like a dry husk, eaten, sucked, and spit out.

Everyone lived in fear. There were no longer any gatherings in the center of Boson. There was no more laughing, dancing, and singing. Everyone went to their homes and boarded up their doors before dusk. Not a cricket was heard. No fireflies lit the night sky anymore. Despite the ill-fate that had befallen them, no one stood against Malic’s steps. No one knew what to do.

Of course, the tragic facts did not stop the orchard owner’s daughter Ester from voicing her opinion. From the rooster’s crow at the crack of dawn, she stood on her soap box trying to coax the crowds to action, action against Malic’s sweeping hand of decay. No one stopped to listen. Her father was concerned for his daughter’s health and safety, but she had a mind about her, and she still worked harder than anyone else on the apple farm. Now, with her days spent on the soap box, she spent her evenings in the fields chasing the bugs from the trees, hoping the buds would have a chance to bloom in the next couple of months. That is, if the orchard survived Malic’s roundabout. She feared for her father’s life and for his farm. Someone had to do something. She decided that if no one would act, then she would stop speaking and do just that: find a way to stop Malic.

In the dark branches of an apple tree, she brainstormed, fumbling with a profusion of ideas, when a dark form tripped on the roots of her tree. It was the fruit nabber Nick. He’d been grabbing apples all of his life without permission. Ester rolled her burnt-brown eyes, recognizing the friendly neighboring thief. He stood tall and lanky, and his skin shone light despite the darkness of nightfall. He brushed the dirt off his clothes and leaned against the tree trunk. He was seeking something.

“They aren’t in bloom, yet, you idiot.” Ester startled him from her perch above.

“I knew that! I was looking for you. There’s a man who rode into town. He’s dressed in military garb.”

“How would you know what a military uniform looks like?”

Nick shrugged and continued, “He said that he’s here to save us from Malic.”

“Oh, he is, is he? Well, where has he been these past few months?” Ester dropped from the tree.

“I don’t know. I’m just the messenger.”

“Then, we should see what the hullabaloo is about,” she nodded toward stream of lights in the distance. The realm’s valley was slowly coming to life in the darkness. People were curious. It was odd to see a suited stranger on horseback tölting through Boson’s heart during such a despondent time. Firstly, because Bosons’ community had never seen military attire except in books and tales. Secondly, Bosoners’ rarely rode horses, or any animals for that matter. They figured their feet were the best and brightest mode of transportation.

Bosoner’s speculated from the safety of their home, but no one opened their doors. No one approached the man ambling his way through Kardiá, the center of Boson realm. Fear held in the heart. Ester was unimpeded. She padded her way onto the valley’s overworn and softly strewn emerald zoysia floor. Her hair was wild from spending time in the trees. Jade leaves contrasted her apple red colored curls. Her face was flushed from the sprint.

“How?” She called. Her voice shattered the silence in Kardià. “How are you going to defeat Malic? Do you have a plan?” Every word brought her closer to the stranger on horseback.

He dismounted and extended a hand with a smile. “Ethan.”

“Yes, yes, Ester. How–“

“Ah HA!” Nick arrived with his rubber chicken weapon at the ready. “My name is Nicholas Koine, and how dare you–“ He lost his train of thought and his breath. He was still winded from the sprint. He bent over his wobbly knees gasping air. He shook for fear, but he wouldn’t leave Ester unguarded. She was his best friend.

“Anyway,” Ester turned back to Ethan. “How–“ “–you intrude on our town, minion of Malic.”

“Nick,” she didn’t have to continue. Nick passed out from lack of oxygen. She shook her head. He was certainly the oddball of Boson. Why he remained in the realm was a question of everyone’s mind. But as you will soon see, everyone has a purpose in Boson, whether small or large. Ester continued. “What’s your plan?”

Ethan laughed. “Well, I don’t have a checklist, but I’ve defeated an evil Sorcerer, the Black Octopus, and a Googly Green Goblin.”

“Say that five times fast,” Nick whispered to Ester.

“I even took down my grandmother’s sink.” Ethan winked. He was charm incarnate. His smile could make a blind man see, and his sea eyes made the oceans envious. His toffee hair held a light of its own. In stature, he towered above Ester and Nick, but he didn’t seem conceited. He seemed genuinely generous.

“Impressive resumé. Did you kill the Siamese, too?” Nick piped up. “Is he someone who needs defeating?”

“No, but your shoulders are as big as their hea–“

“Ignore him,” Ester interrupted. “I was thinking, we could appeal to Malic. Give him something in exchange for sparing the rest of Boson. While Nick and I settle on terms, you can sneak up behind him. Capture him, stab him, whatever you typically do to defeat a sorcerer or witchdoctor.”

“I figured we’d just talk to the guy,” Ethan shrugged. Nick nodded, whether in agreement or disbelief can’t be determined; nonetheless, he nodded.

“Yea, we can try that, too. Who needs a plan when you can appeal to the better nature of a mass murderer,” Ester added. Ethan nodded in agreement, ignorant of her cynicism.

Ester decided that three people were better than one or two, so they set their feet toward Malic’s most recent conquest. They hoped to reach him before he discovered their presence on the grounds of Linoleic. The land once flourished with the freshest water. The Blubbers and Aves lived here with fish, birds and marine life of every kind. Now, the ground cracked with every step the cluster took.

All smell and sun was sucked from the atmosphere. The ground crumbled and dryly gushed beneath their feet. Nothingness lingered in the air, but the friends brought fear with them.

“Nick, stop whining.”

“I’m not whining. Its wheezing. I have dirt in my nose.”

They fumbled and weaved around pillars of salt as large as a man. The salt was once Bosoner’s who were caught in the wake of Malic. A single centipede slinked on the cracked earth and slowly slithered to sand.

“That doesn’t bode well,” Nick indicated with a finger.

“Shhh. We need to hurry before Malic’s land claims us before reaching him,” Ester whispered.

“Sweet smelling, living energy.” A smooth voice echoed from grayness ahead. A rock formation towered above the friends like a hill of stones. “Well, look at this, the prey have come to me.” Malic stepped from the shadows. He was beautiful. He glowed and flickered with lights and colors of every ray, like a prism. His robes wrapped around him like a shield and contrasted the darkness. He was an eye sore. The friends could barely behold the brightness. His movements mirrored the timbre of his voice, cloudlike. No wonder the sun did not shine in his direction, Malic was his own fire ball of gas. “What can I do for you three?”

“You’re killing our realm and everyone in it!” Ester yelled. “We want you to leave and never return.”

“I thought that once you enter Boson, you are accepted as a Boson, hmm?”

“How can you be accepted if you leech the life out of every Boson in the realm? No one will be left! Then what will you be? You’ll be completely alone. What kind of life is that?”

“Hmm, this is true,” he didn’t think on it long. He shrugged, “Ah, well, that’s all I’ve known. Too late to change now. Correction: I don’t want to change. Now, go on your merry way. It’s not your time to die yet.”

“But it is your’s,” Ethan barreled toward Malic, sword at the ready. He pierced through the thick robes. Red spilled from the mark.

Malic laughed. He grew three feet. The crimson color licked across his garb, changing colors and shape. He was unaffected by Ethan blade.

Realizing his mistake, Ethan left the sword in place and dashed away, muscular arms in the air. A high pitched scream accompanied his frightened flee. He didn’t get far before Malic’s wrappings reached out and whipped him, turning Ethan into a drunk billy goat. The bleating goat stumbled and rolled. Helpless, the ol’ goat flailed like a cockroach caught on his back.

Malic was still laughing when Ester and Nick advanced. Nick smacked Malic upside the head with his handy-dandy rubber chicken. Ester used Malic’s attire against him. She wrapped the robes tighter around Malic, like a tootsie roll wrapper.

“What the–“ Malic tried to move, but only succeeded at slinking a few inches. His hands freed themselves of the robes. Both were as grey as the drained land. His right hand differed from the left. The nails were as long as a tibia (that’s the bone in a person’s calf). They extended further and pierced Ester through the…well, not the chest per se…the circular wound was closer to her clavicle. She dropped. Green and red blood streamed from the wound. Blood cells and platelets sprang from the stream like jumping beans. The platelets and particles burgeoned and flew and buried their way into the ground. Green feathers of grass spring from the land where the cells fell. But let’s not forget about Nick.

He stood shaking, ready to pee his pants. Somehow he found the courage to continue the onslaught of Malic. “Prepare to eat my chicken!” He swiped the chicken through the empty air and Malic’s nail sliced the head off the chicken. It slapped across the ground like a dead fish.

“Uh oh,” Nick held up his hands. “Wait, wait, wait, are you sure you want to do this? I mean… you don’t want to be lonely. It’ll drive you crazy. Think about Patsy Cline…”

Malic paused as Nick broke into song. Malic joined the interlude with his own tenor voice.

Both nodded in agreement at a great song, and then returned to their fighting positions. Nick lunged at Malic. But Malic’s robe wrapped around Nick’s throat. It compressed and pulled the color from Nick’s face, like python squeezing the life out of its prey. Nick placed his hand on the robe trying to free himself. At Nick’s touch, Malic released a scream. Gaseous fumes extended from where Nick’s hand held onto Malic. Malic didn’t have to release him. His robed arm grew heavy and splattered on the ground, releasing Nick. Nick coughed and tried to catch his breath. Once he realized what had happened and regained enough oxygen, he confidently rose and strode to Malic. He placed both palms on Malic who screamed at his touch. Eventually, Malic sound was garbled, and he was no more than a pile of colorful mush and chunks at Nick’s feet. White gas licked the air. Slowly, sun crept back into the sky, but Boson was still barren, Ester was still injured, and Ethan…well, thankfully, Ethan was no longer a billy goat blowing and burping bubbles of booze. He was now sleeping off the inebriation.

Nick tended to Ester, who was now surrounded by a large patch of grass and flowers. Her blood seemed to return life to whatever it touched. Nick stopped the flow of it with a stray piece of cloth torn from his clothes.

“Ester, Ester, wake up,” Nick shook her.

She abruptly woke and slugged him. “Oh, sorry. I thought you were Malic.” “Ah,” he held his throbbing jaw. “No, he’s down for the count.”

“Now, what do we do?”

The sky responded with a shower. The pillars of salt burst back to life. Bosoner’s were waking. Water returned to Boson’s Linoleic and washed away the grey. Sweet smelling nature sprung from the earth and embraced Bosoner’s once again.

“Do you smell that?” Nick asked. He slowly helped Ester to her feet. “Yea, it smells like…”

“Apples,” they said in unison. Ester cupped hand with the rain water, and brought it to her lips. “It’s apple juice.”

“Really?” Nick held his hand out and slurped the liquid. “That’s better than the kind your dad makes.”
“Take that back,” she lightly jabbed him.

“Apple pie anyone?” Ethan must have woken up, because he now stood with his hands and mouth full of colorful Malic mush. With one hand he offered his new friends some of the delectable dessert.
They shook their heads.

“No, but I know what we can do with it,” Ester proposed.

When the cluster of friends returned to Kardià, Boson’s heart, they were greeted with hearty and cheerful welcomes from family and friends. Everything and everyone returned to a greater merriment than there was before Malic, if you can imagine more jubilance than before. Bosoner’s danced barefoot in the grass again. Songs and singing resonated through the valley and into the realm and into the next. Deserted and forgotten was the fear they felt. Laughing and joyful sounds graced the features of every Bosoner.

Ester’s father made the best apple pie in the realm, and the gathering of Boson ate from the spoils of Malic’s defeat. The apples nourished the land. In the days and years after, all frolic and hullabaloo returned to normal in Boson. But no one forgot the sweetness of Ester who heroically tracked down Malic and used her lifeblood and smarts to return peace to the land. Nor did anyone forget the courageous Nick who, despite his fear and folly, defeated Malic with the touch of his hands. And Ethan…well, Ethan was just happy to settle down and find a good place to rest his feet. And so ends the tale of Boson’s Best.

About the Author:

Sloane Keay D.

Sloane Keay D. is a writer who wears many different hats. She writes fiction, nonfiction, and lyrics to her own songs. She has a background in freelance writing and editing. Currently, she attends Kennesaw State University in Georgia, where she is completing her Bachelor’s degree in English. On campus she is an SI (Supplemental Instruction) Leader for the chemistry department and a Zumba instructor. Outside of school, she enjoys philosophy, horseback riding, singing, dancing, weight lifting, and spending time with her mom, her younger brother and his staffy/lab mix Samson. Her favorite and most influential authors are Annie Dillard and Francine Rivers.