Only You Can Save Us
by Will Fagan
I was milking the cow beside the barn when the old man appeared from behind the stone wall and spoke to me.
“Hello, Rhys.” The old man was tall and thin, with a long white beard and blue eyes that twinkled mischievously. He wore a long grey cloak and a pointed, wide brimmed hat.
“Who the are you?” I asked.
“I have many names,” the old man replied. “Sometimes I lose track of who I am.” He held a white wooden staff in one hand, with a blue gemstone embedded atop it.
“How do you know my name?”
“The wind tells me all I need to know,” the man said.
“What is that supposed to mean?” I asked.
The wizard (he was a wizard; you had to be blind to not deduce this) seemed taken aback. “Beg your pardon?”
“That sort of pseudo-mystical bullshit may fly where you come from, but I asked you a direct question, and I want a direct answer. How do you know my name?”
“I read of you in a book,” the wizard said.
“What book? The phonebook? That’s not very likely, as that would be a pretty blatant anachronism.”
“It has been written in the books of fate that we would meet at this location, on this day,” the wizard said.
“Are you trying to sell me something?” I asked.
“No,” the wizard said.
“There’s a sign by the gate. ‘No Solicitors’.
“I’m not trying to sell you anything.”
“I've already got a dictionary. And a family bible. And I already bought the annual milkmaid’s fundraising calendar.”
“I have been sent to give you a message,” the wizard spoke.
“Who are you? Postman Pat? What’s the message?”
“There are dark times ahead.”
“Ah, so now you’re the weatherman.”
“Evil lurks in the shadows, awaiting the signal to return--”
The wizard huffed. “Look, will you please let me speak?”
I nodded my head and began to roll a cigarette. “Fine, fine, go on with your little speech.”
“Thank you,” the wizard seemed a little confused. “Where was I?”
“‘Evil lurks in the shadows, awaiting the signal to return…’”
“--to return and spread chaos and destruction across the land. Thank you.”
“Don’t mention it,”
“Shhh. The Dark Lord Ozykardion arises from his immortal slumber. Long banished from the land of the living, he seeks to return and spread havoc once more.
“Prophecy tells of a young man of simple birth who will rise to defeat his sinister machinations and bring light and peace to the kingdom.”
“What are you getting at?” I cut in. “What does this have to do with me?”
“The prophecy instructed me to travel to this exact location. Here, the savior of humanity awaits his destiny.”
I cocked my eyebrow. “Some prophecy.”
I stood up. “Right, well, thanks for the story. I’d better get back to work.” I picked up the milk pail and turned back towards the barn door.
“Wait!” the wizard said.
“What?” I asked, turning back.
“Well, what about the prophecy?”
“What about it?”
“The savior of humanity? That’s clearly supposed to be you.”
“I don’t think so.”
The wizard seemed annoyed. “What do you mean? The prophecy isn’t wrong!”
“Look, I’d love to help you slay the Dark Lord Ozzy Osbourne--”
“Whatever. I’d love to help, but I’d rather not.”
“You can’t refuse!” the wizard said.
“Why not? It’s a free country, isn't it? I don’t have to do what I don’t want to do, and I’d rather not be the savior of humanity. Thank you for visiting, goodbye, shut the gate on your way out.”
“You cannot escape your destiny!” the wizard said, pleadingly. “The darkness gathers.”
“Then I’ll buy extra candles. Good day,” I walked into the barn and pulled shut the door behind me.
The next day I woke to discover a large boulder in the center of my yard, where the watering trough normally sat. Embedded in the rock was a sword, a very snazzy one at that, with gems in the pommel and gold inlay on the blade.
“God damnit,” I looked around and quickly noticed the top of a pointed hat sticking out from behind a haystack. “I can see you.”
“Good morning!” the wizard said, trying his best to act nonchalant. “What a strange rock formation. Is that a sword. It looks quite powerful. Yes, I can feel the magic radiating from it. It looks stuck fast in there, but I bet you could pull it out of there if you gave it a good strong tug.”
“Look, clearly the sword can only be claimed by one chosen by fate to rule. I can infer that you intend for me to pull out the sword and claim my destiny as the one to defeat the Dark Lord Doctor Oz. I’m not falling for it.”
The wizard frowned. “Look, you have to listen to me. A terrible calamity is about to befall us. You can see the portents all around. Birds are congregating above us and vanishing in the night.
“They’re probably just migrating for the winter,” I said, rubbing my forehead in frustration.
“A child was born in the village with no eyes.”
“You’re referring to the Johnson’s kid? They’re first cousins, so I’m not surprised. There first kid eats rocks and masturbates in public.”
“You must take action and accept your fate! The prophecy cannot be ignored!” the wizard shouted. He jumped over the stone fence and vanished down the road.
I walked over to the stone and inspected the sword. Sure enough, it came out of the rock quite easily when I tugged it. I threw the blade down the privy pit.
That night, I was roused from my sleep by a fevered banging on my door. I opened it to find, who else, the wizard. “Rhys! You must come quick!”
“What the hell do you want?” I shouted angrily.
“There is a dragon in the barn! You must follow me! We must kill it!”
I grabbed my jacket and pulled it on. “This oughta be good.”
“I followed the wizard to the barn. “Look! There it is!” He pointed through the doorway.
“That’s the dragon?” I asked.
“Yes, behold its mighty terror!”
“That’s not a dragon.”
“Be not afraid! You must overcome your fears and slay the beast!”
“That’s an iguana.”
“Look at its eyes!”
“You glued chicken wings to its back.”
“They bore into your soul.”
“You’re a loonie.”
“This is your first test of character! You must do what you know is right.”
“I’m going back to bed.”
“Foolish child!” the wizard suddenly bellowed. “You think you can escape your destiny? Ozymandias--”
“--grows more powerful everyday. Millions of lives are on the line, and yet you, the proclaimed Savior of Mankind, defy the gods through pride and impudence!”
“Get the fuck off my farm.”
“Can I have the sword back?” the wizard asked, seemingly humbled.
“Get it yourself.”
Then I dragged him to the privy and shoved him into it head first.