Do you remember me? I was once a great adventurer, journeying to distant lands, exploring lost ruins and chronicling momentous events. Now I’m trapped in a decaying ruin. If I show any weakness, my fellow prisoners will try to take everything from me.
“You’re sitting in my chair, Henry. I reserved it because it has a view of the driveway and I want to know when my family arrives.”
It was the anniversary of your mother’s death yesterday. Alice used to get annoyed when I told my stories, but now they’re all I have left. Most of my captors assume that because I’m old I must be stupid and torture me with cruel games.
“Residents are reminded that bingo starts at two o’clock.”
When I was younger, I loved sleeping by a campfire under the stars. Now, an unlocked door doesn’t feel like enough protection. Each time I go to sleep, I wonder if I’ll survive the night. So many of the prisoners don’t. Some of the others get confused and walk into the wrong room. I’ve pleaded with my captors to let me have locks installed.
“What if you have a heart attack in the middle of the night, Henry? We need to be able to get into your room as quickly as possible.”
I never hoarded gold. Memories were my most precious treasures. Exploring the tomb of a king who ruled more than one thousand years ago. Running across the snow at midnight and leaping into a mountain hot spring. Walking on frozen sea near the great southern continent. Almost everyone I shared these memories with is now gone. It gets harder to remember.
One of my captors is different from the others. She is kind and has taught me how to use magic. I think she used to be an adventurer as well. At least she knows how to wield a weapon.
“Okay, Henry. Roll over, it’s time for your injection.”
The other prisoners dismiss magic as evil or at best a distracting illusion that ensnares children. I know it holds the key to my rescue. It was a battle to unlock its arcane secrets, but I don’t give up easily.
“Just click this button and you’ll have finished creating your profile, Henry.”
“Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!”
I know you think I betrayed you and your mother by leaving, but I had always wanted to be a travel writer. When I was younger, people told me it was important to follow your dreams. I wanted to explore the world. I couldn’t bear the thought of sitting in the same room day after day, doing the bidding of a wraith-like overlord. I looked at the old maps marked Here Be Dragons and couldn’t understand why dragons would spend their time in dark caves when they could fly anywhere. Now I wonder if adventurers that are too old to move become dragons.
I pleaded with your mother to come with me, but she didn’t want to give up her comfortable life. I think she had already decided the relationship was over, but it was easier to blame me for leaving than to admit we had failed to make things work.
Do you remember anything of the time before I left? I used to tuck you into bed and read you stories of magic and kingdoms by the sea. One night you told me you were tired of stories about princesses who needed rescuing. You wanted to read a story where a princess rescued a dragon.
“My daughter works so hard and lives so far away. She doesn’t have much time to visit me.”
“Click on your daughter’s profile, Henry. Then click the send friend request button.”
“And then I’ll be able to video chat with her?”
“Once she accepts the request you’ll be able to chat as often as you like.”
My new powers allowed me to send a message to you last month. I still haven’t heard back. I know you’re busy, but please reply soon. I’d love to talk to you and my grandchildren. Please.
Aidan Doyle is an Australian writer and computer programmer. He has visited more than 80 countries and his experiences include teaching English in Japan, interviewing ninjas in Bolivia and going ten-pin bowling in North Korea.