Imagination gone wild!

Category A: Highly Commended (2021) Monash Short Story Writing Competition

Author:  Jagan Vinod

Title:  Imagination gone wild!

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In Alex’s imagination, he saw missiles from armed forces descending upon his tank. In real life, the ‘tank’ was playground equipment and the missiles didn’t exist. The ‘armed forces’ were a gang of toddlers, giggling and playing in the shade of a massive oak tree.

He had climbed onto the playground set and was hanging off the ledge of the climbing wall (if you asked him, he would say that it was a viewing hatch to observe the enemy), shouting orders to children who had been playing peacefully until his arrival. 

He directed his shouting upon a 7-year-old who was about his own age, who was about to go down a corkscrew slide. This child knew Alex well, which was just as well for the torrent of words that followed would probably give any other child of 7 years a heart attack. “Sherman! Open fire on the man with a rocket launcher! Prepare shields for returning fire!”

“Can I go down the slide first?” Sherman asked innocently, concealing his exasperation at Alex’s behaviour perfectly.

“Leaving the vehicle will lead to becoming an easy target for possible grenades or rapid gunfire! I repeat, open fire!”

As a young child, Sherman had an imagination. But it had limits. It was not like Alex’s. He sighed and called back to Alex, “None of them have rocket launchers!”

“You fool,” Alex's unmistakable voice screeched back. “Can you not see the one that is taunting me!”

 Sherman understood now. Alex’s habit to exaggerate occurrences in daily life had not left him yet. Sherman glanced quickly at the gathered toddlers and saw one of them staring intently at Alex. That must be his target. 

Sherman sighed again, more deeply now, and reluctantly picked up the nerf gun that Alex had gifted him from his ‘armoury’ (AKA his mother’s closet).

He knew what to do. He took aim, careful to make Alex see what he was doing. When he missed the shot, he needed it to look like an accident. He squinted at a spot near the toddler's leg and saw a shaker. He smiled to himself and shot a bullet.

As an extremely good sharpshooter when it came to NERF, Sherman saw his bullet hit the shaker spot-on. An explosion of sound issued from it and Sherman took his cue. He sighed. He had to play on his imagination for Alex to listen to him. He called over to Alex and shouted “I fired! It appears they have a bomb! They fired their warning shot, that was what the loud explosion was!” 

“You’ve done your share, captain! RETREAT!” Alex replied. Gratefully, Sherman slid down the slide and jogged up to Alex.

“Thank you, sir. Where are we to be dispatched tomorrow?”

Alex sighed. “I’m afraid our unit has been called back. We have no further work in the war.”

As Sherman walked home, he had raised spirits. With good luck, Alex might not call him back for another ‘war’ until spring!

 

 

 

 

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Last updated: 02 September 2021