The boy who would be the next Electric Snowflake was quite unaware of the council and its decision. He played a game of Shards & Sparkles in the Ice Crystal Garden with his friends. It was a close one and just as his turn began, a guard came up and blocked his light, causing him to score poorly. He turned to protest as his friends laughed but the guard cut him off by informing him that his father, the king, wished to see him – AT ONCE. Castell knew from the man’s tone that it was something very serious. He dropped the icicle baton from his hand and ran to his father’s chambers.
When Castell arrived, he saw his father looking sadly at a freeze-frame of his mother. He hesitated for a moment not wishing to intrude upon his father’s privacy. The guard at the doorway coughed twice before announcing Castell’s arrival to the king in a soft tone. His father put the freeze-frame back on the shelf and caressed it lovingly before turning to greet his son. His father informed him of the council’s agreement with the choice of the next Electric Snowflake.
Castell sat down hard on the polished frozen floor in shock. It was a childhood fantasy come true. The Electric Snowflake was the greatest hero in the eyes of all citizens of the cold regions. He alone controlled the snowfall for the world below. He could travel at incredible speeds and coordinate snowstorms in dozens of places at one time. The sight of a shining blue spark racing though the sky inspired cheers from everyone in sight. It was unbelievable that he, Castell, would be the object of such adoration. The thought thrilled him beyond comprehension.
His father brought him back to reality with the next few statements. The Electric Snowflake could never marry, have children, or even fall in love. It was believed such actions could weaken his power to the point where he may not be able to perform the duties of the appointment. There was no other suitable replacement anywhere in existence. If anything should happen to him, the fate of both their worlds could be at stake.
BLACKNESS! Train heard a roar surround him and felt as if he was being sucked into the guts of a jet engine. At first, he could see nothing. Then, he noticed streams of light rushing past him like laser beams on track to the edge of the universe. He was spinning and tumbling out of control through space at unbelievable speed. He screamed but could not hear himself over the roar which vibrated through his bones. Galaxies, planets, solar systems whizzed by in the blink of an eye, but he could do nothing. Time seemed to slow down to a crawl. Train didn’t know how long he endured the trip. He realized it was over when he came to on the surface of some strange moon.
The grass had been mowed just yesterday. The smell was fresh and exciting. The field at Brown’s Corner Recreation Area was alive with the warm-ups of 30 twelve year-olds getting ready for the game. The Falcons were hot this year. They had the best pitcher in the league. A left-hander named McDery who threw a natural inside curve. The Dodgers were on a three-game winning streak Just last Saturday, they had creamed the Giants 8-1. Their big first baseman was a power-hitter they called Train. His real name was Terry, but his nickname stuck after the first game of the season when he shattered the catcher’s collarbone while stealing home. He’d run him over like a steam engine and didn’t even look back when the stretcher came. Train had stretched many easy singles into doubles and triples through the way he chugged around the bases. He put his head down and charged full-throttle until he got there. Not many kids stayed in the way once he got going.
The fish weren’t biting half as much as the mosquitoes as I sat on the dusty west bank of the pond. The saw grass rasped each time I shifted my seat. I stared at the muddy brown water and wished for a bite, a nibble, something to break the boredom. Nothing. I reeled in my line once again to check the bait and saw the washed-out remains of a drowned night crawler that had been my latest hope of fishing success. I peeled it off the rusty hook and tossed it in the water, making note of where it landed.