Caliburn

Written by: Taylor Ménard

“Hey.” He shook his head, trying to find the source of the disturbance. It was quiet in the woods. The only sounds were those of the local fauna fleeing his obtrusive steps.

“Hey, kid, over here.” The voice had become more demanding, almost commanding him to act but in regards to what he did not know. “What are you, deaf? Over here.” He spun on the spot, trying to comply to the demands made of him by the unseen voice, but found nothing in his search of the immediate area.

“Are you kidding me? OVER HERE!” the voice shouted, and he spun on instinct towards the origin of the noise. He drew his attention seemingly unconsciously towards a small patch of overgrowth. Brushing it aside, a small passage appeared, just large enough for him to crawl through.

What did he have to lose? And so, he found himself on his hands and knees crawling through the underbrush until he arrived in a small glade of sorts, hidden from the outside world. It seemed to exist in a reality all its own, the canopy forming a dome around the glade only letting in glimpses of sunlight. The most astonishing thing, however, was what stood in the middle; a sword embedded in stone.

It stood in the center, glinting in the meager sunlight that was allowed through the canopy. The blade was untouched, inscribed with what might have been some sort of Celtic knot work, but he couldn’t be certain.

“Finally. Well, come on, kid, pick me up. Wield me. It’s getting lonely out here all by my lonesome.”

The voice could not be coming from the sword. It was physically impossible. Swords do not talk.

“Okay, seriously, you’re starting to piss me off. Come on, get on with it.”

He was going insane. Somewhere along the line, during his trek through this godforsaken forest, he had lost his mind. It was the only reasonable explanation.

“GET ON WITH IT ALREADY!” The sword shouted at him in what he would have described as an irritated manner. “I said PICK ME UP!”

Almost without conscious thought, his hand shot out to enclose the handle of the sword. In a moment of folly, he tightened his grip and pulled. The sword shot out of its lithic sheath and seemed to reverberate for a moment within his palm. “Finally,” the sword sighed in relief, “you would not believe how constraining that is.”

He stood stock still, staring wide-eyed at the weapon in his hand, trying to process the new reality he had seemed to have plunged head first into.

“Oh, yeah, shit, I just remembered. I gotta congratulate you. Congratulations on pulling the sword, me, from the stone, blah, blah, blah, something about one true king of Albion, or some nonsense like that. You can use me as you see fit. I, personally, favour the whole slaughter-your-enemies-and-bloody-conquest method, but I mean that’s totally up to you.” The sword suggested in a nonchalant tone. If it had shoulders he was certain it would have shrugged them.

“Um.” He finally stuttered out, uncertain of his next words.

“So, it does speak. Who knew?” The sword remarked sarcastically.

“What’s your name? I mean, do you even have one?” He tentatively asked, half not even expecting an answer. This situation was too absurd to be true.

“Of course I have a name, I am a sword of legend.” The sword responded, insulted by the mere insinuation. “Technically, it’s Welsh, so you probably wouldn’t be able to pronounce the original version, so you can just call me Caliburn. It’s fine, I don’t mind.”

“O-Okay.” He stuttered. He tested the weight of the blade in his hands, discovering that the balance suited him fine. He could wield it well enough, even with the meager knowledge he possessed of sword play. He swung the blade in a tentative arc, watching it glow where the sunlight hit its polished steel.

“Nice. You’re a natural, kid.” The blade praised after rightening once more in the hands of its new master. “Do it again.”

He swung the blade once more in a larger arc this time. The sword sheared through the underbrush, severing the leaves from their stems without so much as a whisper.

“Ha ha! I forgot what that feels like. It’s nice to be back,” the weapon cried ecstatically. “So, when are we getting out of here huh?”

He froze, he had no way to transport the blade. He didn’t anticipate meeting a talking sword when he left the house this morning, “I guess I’ll just hold you?”

“That would be preferable, yes.”

He sighed, getting down on all fours to crawl his way back through the passage he had come from. Leaves stuck to his knees and branches tangled in his hair, almost as if trying to prevent him from leaving the clearing.

He stood and dusted himself off, shaking his head as if to clear it of the fog in his thoughts. What was he going to do with a talking sword? No one used swords anymore, let alone talking ones. They were antiquated and rendered useless by the invention of gunpowder.

“HEY. I am not useless thank you, if anything you’re useless. What’s your purpose huh? At least I know mine.” The sword said challengingly.

Wait.

How did it know that?

Was the sword reading his mind?

“Not quite, sorta more like just, y’know, tuning in. It’s not like a constant feed but I can pick up when you’re thinking about me. Oh, and I should probably mention, these little chats we’re having? All in your head. You’ve been talking to yourself this whole time,” the sword said.

He grimaced. “So how am I supposed to talk to you then?”

“Well I don’t know man. Whisper or some shit, just don’t get caught.”

“Thank you for being so helpful. Really appreciate it.” He intoned sarcastically.

The sword was silent. “Hello?”

“I’m ignoring you.” The sword deadpanned.

He sighed, leaning the sword against the wall in his living room before collapsing three feet away on the sofa. He ran his hand through his hair, desperately trying to grasp the truth of the situation, and come up with some reasonable explanation.

Picking himself up he headed for his bedroom, just wanting to forget everything.

 

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