Beyond the Blade
Ryan Masterson refrained from looking back as he sprinted down
the narrow hallway and hurried through the forum located
outside the school’s dilapidated auditorium. The doorway to
the nervous adolescent was currently fleeing to could only be accessed
with a key, something that Ryan did not have at this intense moment in
time. And yet, even without a method for gaining entry, Ryan still
reached for the room’s doors, grasped the wooden handles, and
squeezed them as tightly as he could.
Ryan said this as he felt the brace of immovable
He nervously glared over his shoulder and looked back at Reggie Samson
and Bryce Thomas, two ninth graders who were both swiftly approaching
from the other end of the hallway.
“Get the fuck back here!”
shouted Reggie while Bryce ran alongside him.
Ryan was near the entrance, his hand trembling as
pulled the handles again. His eyes were twinkling with fearful tears
and he was uncertain as to whether he would get to safety or whether he
would be laying on the floor, getting his face pummelled by two
assholes who chose to torment him for no reason other than the fact
that he was too small and too weak to defend himself.
“Open up. Open up.”
Ryan’s fist lambasted the door but there
no sign that anyone was hearing his cries for help or that he would
make it before the boys reached him. He turned back, looked over his
shoulder, and then stepped to the side, around the theater, and to a
door that opened near the side, a door that he didn’t see
He waited for Reggie and Bryce to come forward and
soon as their arms opened, he ducked, cut through the space between
them, and listened to their bodies as they clashed against the surface
of the varnished wood.
“Shit!” shouted Reggie while
Bryce was lying on the floor.
Ryan then raced in the other direction, cut around
tight corner, and snuck in through one of the side doors. He hoped the
boys would be finished with him, so he peeked in through the window to
be sure they weren’t.
The hallway outside was quiet.
Ryan exhaled and touched his arm and looked around
the rows of chairs and the stage that appeared in the distance. He
rubbed his hand and crept along the front of the theater, to the other
side where the exit was located. He was still trying to catch his
breath and fortunately for him there was no one in the room other than
He raised his hand and scratched the back of his
He felt a few droplets of sweat lingering around his forehead before he
saw something else hidden in the shadows. It was small but large enough
to capture his focus as he walked. It was also shining, like a silver
coin or other glistening metal that caught what little light had found
its way underneath the stage.
Ryan sidestepped in the direction of the bright
and hunched forward to look underneath. He could see the metal more
clearly now, though it was still relatively small. He looked back to
make sure no one was close, despite knowing already.
Ryan coughed harshly into his hand, for the space
was filled with dusty air that seeped into his nostrils and forced him
to cough and then inhale. It was also black and he could see neither
his feet nor his hands as he crept inside. With each careful step, he
nudged and nicked the equipment that was being stored there. He
continued to step through the shadows and as he scoured the blackness,
he spotted a pile of old stage equipment and a sword lying in the
center of the heap.
Ryan stared intently at the weapon.
Its blade was thick and short; a Gladius wielded
knights and gladiators alike. As Ryan gazed at the item, he eased his
hand carefully towards the handle, which felt warm to the touch. It was
banded in leather and had a golden cross-guard and symbol at the base
of the handle that was formed in the shape of a diamond.
Ryan was surprised by how light the weapon was,
he lifted it from its place, he tightly gripped the handle and swayed
it gently through the air. His reflection glimmered in the side of the
blade. He thought such a thing could only happen in cartoons and comic
books. He was ready to crawl from underneath the stage and surrender
the weapon to one of the teachers, but that’s when he felt a
of energy zap his tiny hand.
“Ahh,” he said.
His hand shuddered and the blade fell, clashing
floor but not disappearing completely into the shadows. Instead, it was
glowing, emitting an energy that lifted the darkness and illuminated
the entire room. Ryan moved to recover the weapon but stopped when he
heard a vibration rumble from beneath his feet.
He tried to finish his thoughts but was left
reeling in search of someone- anyone
-who could help him. Then, in the midst of preparing to exit the darkly
space, he saw tendrils of smoke rising from beneath the stage followed
by a wave of heat that shook the blade and caused the entire space to
Ryan’s lips were moving and he tried to
only word that he felt he needed to, but the power to understand was
fleeing, and whatever force was lurking below, all of it was beginning
to assimilate- attaining power that he could neither comprehend nor
“Ryan, you in here?!”
Ryan’s knees bent and stood in a partial
he held the pose that he thought would keep him stable during the
“I’m in here,” Ryan
He gripped the sword handle and listened to the
shuffling footsteps inching through the dark. There was a boy
Ryan’s age stepping inwards. He was shaking and struggling to
stay balanced the same as his friend.
“Matthew,” said Ryan,
“I saw you running from Reggie and
Bryce, then I
saw them hit the door before you took off. I was wondering where you
went. Didn’t know it was here.”
Matthew’s head turned and he saw the
Ryan was breathless and weary.
“Don’t know,” he
said. “I found it hidden here.”
Matthew stared at the weapon, then stepped forward
to help Ryan to his feet.
“Wait,” he said, quietly.
“Don’t go just yet.”
“Why, what are you doing?”
“Just wait,” said Ryan.
He headed back to where he was once standing and
over while Matthew turned and looked past the opening at the bottom of
“Dude, someone’s coming. You
have to hurry.”
Ryan in his dreary and weakened state slumped
forward and retrieved the sword from the ground and then shuffled up to
“Okay,” he said,
Matthew and Ryan rushed out of the theater as the
quake began to settle and diminish.
* * *
“What was that?” said Matthew
as he and Ryan stood in the obscure hallway outside the auditorium,
Matthew was exhaling loudly while Ryan sat
straight and held the sword.
“Yeah,” he said,
breathlessly, “you can definitely say that again.”
“So,” said Matthew, still
leaning forward as he breathed, “what is that?”
Ryan’s head tilted and he looked down at
“I found it…under the
“Well is it like a prop from the drama
club or something?”
Ryan shook his head.
“I don’t think so.”
“Here, let me look at it.”
Matthew stepped towards Ryan and reached for the
“No,” said Ryan, and he
pulled the weapon away.
Matthew raised his hands and eased back with meek
“Whoa,” he said,
“it’s all right. Take it easy.”
Ryan lifted the blade, which was now grey and
stripped of its glowing light.
understand,” he said, “when I touched
His gaze deepened as he spoke and
Matthew’s expression turned curious.
“When I touched it,” Ryan
“something happened to me. There was like
that I felt. It jolted me, like I was being electrocuted, before I
heard this quake from underneath. Did you see that, did you feel
Matthew’s expression turned curious.
“Did it hurt?” he asked Ryan.
“No,” he said, “but
it did knock me
down. That’s why I was weak when you came and found me,
of this…this thing, whatever it is.”
Ryan raised the sword up to his face.
“I don’t think
it’s…just a sword. I think it’s
“What?” asked Matthew.
Ryan was still examining the object, and when his
opened to respond to his friend’s question, the boys turned
saw two teachers approaching.
“Shit,” said Matthew.
“We have to go.”
Ryan and Matthew exited the school; Ryan bringing
the sword with him.
* * *
The following day, Ryan was sitting in the
with three girls who were eating French Fries off a paper plate.
Matthew was sitting in front of Ryan, eating the sandwich that his
mother had made for him.
“So, are we going to talk about what
“I already told you what
happened,” Ryan answered.
“Well, where is it then?”
“The sword,” said Matthew.
Ryan dropped his sandwich and glared at his
“Do you still have it?”
Ryan turned and leaned in to whisper.
“Why?!” Matthew snapped,
raising his voice,
and forcing the girls to look over. “You can’t keep
It’s too dangerous.”
“What do you mean?”
“Man,” said Matthew,
you read any sci-fi? You don’t take stuff that
belong to you. You have to get rid of it.”
“Yeah, but how?”
“I don’t know, but-”
A new voice intruded into the conversation and it
caused Ryan and Matthew to turn.
“What are you two nerds doing
Ryan and Matthew turned and saw Reggie and Bryce
standing by their table, looking down in the leather jacket and torn
“Bryce, Reggie,” said Matthew.
“Nice to see you two again.”
talkin’,” said Reggie,
“we know you two pricks tried to run from us yesterday and
now…” he grinned, “there’s
just no place left
Bryce chuckled manically and Reggie placed his
knuckle on the table and leaned forward.
“No place left to run,” Bryce
sang in off tune melody designed to tease and taunt.
Matthew shot a look at Ryan, who was timidly
looking down at his half-eaten sandwich.
“Guys, come on, just leave us alone and
let us finish our lunch, okay?”
“Leave you alone? Bullshit. I
so. You tried to run from us once, and you ain’t
from us again,” said Reggie.
Ryan looked sternly at Matthew and upon receiving
look, both boys could read each other’s intentions quite
Matthew cupped an apple underneath the table and held it as if it were
a pool ball.
“Ready to play?” said Reggie.
He cocked his fist back and Matthew leapt forward.
“Shit,” said Bryce.
He could read Matthew’s movements clear
as day and
the second he saw him move, he lifted his hand and slugged Matthew in
the side of his jaw.
He stumbled into the table and Ryan was
immediately up from his chair.
Ryan resentfully moved to the trio of bullies and
listened to them as they hissed.
Ryan raised his hand and the blow he was hoping to
was one that would cause his opponent to cease and desist; an act that
was not quite so different than those committed by teachers whenever
students were about to fight. Yet, the moment Ryan’s fist
into Reggie’s chest, the bully was sent flying across the
and into the school vending machine positioned six meters from where
they were standing.
The students rose from their chairs and gazed with
Matthew was standing in front of Bryce, who was turned to look across
the room, toward the machine. The machine cratered and several soda
cans from the dispenser bopped onto Reggie’s head.
“Holy shit,” said a chubby
boy with big glasses.
The students were still, as were some of the
but before either one could comment on what happened, Ryan and Matthew
were missing from the school cafeteria, leaving two empty chairs in
“Holy shit,” said Matthew and
hurried along the sidewalk. “Holy shit, holy shit, holy
Ryan was steady alongside him, peering over and
watching as his friend leaned forward and looked down at his trembling
said, breathlessly, “how did you do that?”
Matthew was exhaling loudly.
“It was the…it
He couldn’t catch his breath and he was
struggling to process what he was saying and the sense it was making.
“Come on,” said Matthew,
nudging his shoulder. “Let’s get out of
Both boys hurried down another street and raced to
Ryan’s home, which was only a few blocks from the school.
* * *
They snuck in through the garage, knowing quite
that neither boy was expected to be home at this hour as it was still
the middle of a school day. Ryan’s home was big, smelled of
air freshener, and was as quiet as a library. Nonetheless, both boys
rushed to the stairs and moved into Ryan’s bedroom, which was
decorated with dinosaurs and superhero posters, and where the sword
rested in the middle of his flushed bed.
“Time out,” said Matthew,
“what the hell are we doing here?”
Ryan slipped off his shoes and looked down at the
“There it is,” said Matthew.
He marched to the weapon and extended his hand.
“No,” Ryan said before pulling
Matthew’s hand away. “Don’t.”
“Don’t what?” asked
“Don’t touch it.
Don’t touch the sword.”
Matthew’s hands moved to his hips.
don’t know what it does.”
Matthew looked at the sword, now glowing like a
freshly installed lightbulb.
“Well, we need to find out,”
said Matthew. “We need to find out what it is.”
Matthew looked at Ryan with an empty expression
moved to the desk with a laptop computer sitting on a stand and with a
mouse resting on a Star Wars trackpad.
“What should we search for?”
“I don’t know,” he
said, “but I think that’s a good place to
Ryan pointed to the cross-guard and to the
symbol that appeared above the handle. Matthew nodded and pulled out a
chair and sat next to his friend as they searched. The first result
they explored was less about the sword and more about what Ryan had
pointed to earlier. There was the symbol and it matched what was found
in medieval culture; the knights that Ryan studied while he was in
“Whoa,” said Matthew, upon
seeing the first
image of one flash in front of the screen. “Are you seeing
Ryan nodded again.
“Looks to be,” he said.
He moved the mouse to the bottom of the screen and
opened another page. The one that he selected enlarged the image of the
sword handle so that it almost filled the entire frame.
eyes opened and Ryan’s were fixed on the article in front of
“It says here that the sword once
belonged to a
great warrior, Cendril the Slayer. It says here that he got his name
because he specialized in slaying dragons.”
“Yeah, and according to this page, he
supposedly the best dragon slayer in his kingdom, using a magical sword
that he got from an old wizard.”
Ryan clicked on the picture of the wizard and
maximized it in front of the screen.
“Till one day,” said Matthew,
“he became trapped inside a cave that he couldn’t
Ryan turned and looked at his bed.
“So…you think he used the
sword to break free from that cave?”
Matthew shook his head.
“No,” he said, “I
think that sword might be…all that’s
Ryan motioned towards his mattress, leaned
forward, and brought the sword to his face.
“I think that whoever this knight
said, “the magic that he was given, it’s still
Ryan looked down and gradually closed his hands
into a pair of tight fists.
“Well…should we use
Ryan’s head turned sharply.
Matthew folded his arms and leaned forward.
“What do you mean?”
“This thing could be
dangerous,” Matthew declared, carving this last
word with vehemence and venom.
We still don’t know that.”
“Yes we do,” replied Matthew.
And he looked at the sword, which Ryan was
“At the end of the day,” said
“it’s still a weapon and now that it has some kind
in it, think of what else it might do. It could be worse, much worse,
and after seeing what you did to Reggie and Bryce back in the
cafeteria, it’s not smart to hold on to. Who knows? More bad
stuff could happen and I don’t want that happening, not to
and not to you.”
“You really think that?”
Ryan nodded also.
“You’re right. Tomorrow,
I’ll put it back where I found it.”
“No, you can’t do that
either,” said Matthew.
Ryan eased back when he saw his friend
“Someone else could
Ryan gazed at the sword.
“Well where should we put it if not
Matthew glanced at the sword and then turned back
“We’ll throw it, where no one
will find it.”
Matthew turned to the window.
“I know a place,” he said.
The boys exited the house and hiked to a creek
behind a ravine that the boys would to venture to whenever they wanted
“Here,” said Matthew,
“throw it in there.”
“Into the pond?”
“Yeah,” said Matthew,
“no one will find it there, except for us. We’ll
keep it secret.”
Ryan was holding the sword so its tip came within
inches of several flakes of grass.
“Okay,” said Ryan.
He treaded slowly towards the water, dragging the
behind him. When he came to the edge of the water, Ryan imagined he
would raise the blade and chuck it into the air like a dishonored
knight who tossed his weapon as a way of venting his frustration during
battle. However, he did no such thing. Instead, he slid it along and
brought it to the edge of the water while Matthew trailed closely
“Do you need help?” he asked.
Matthew stepped up beside him, leaned forward, and
wrapped his hands around Ryan’s.
“Come on,” he said,
Ryan’s hold on the weapon became firmer
together they swayed their arms back and forth, working the weight, and
taking long, easy strokes to gain the momentum needed to throw the
weapon into the quarry.
“One,” said Matthew.
“Two,” Ryan joined in.
Together the boys hurled the sword into the air
and watched as it created a faint whooshing sound as it cut through the
“Wow,” said Matthew, leaning
forward and exhaling, “that was tough.”
Ryan was silent.
“Hey,” Matthew said after
seeing the dreary,
disappointed look on his friend’s face. “You did
“Yeah,” said Ryan.
“I hope so.”
* * *
After the boys disposed of the sword, Ryan and
were walking through the school foyer, and along the way, passed by a
statue that served as the center point and symbolic representation of
the school’s namesake and history.
“Hey,” Ryan said as he and
Matthew began to approach the other hallway.
“What?” said Matthew.
He was close when he heard his friend calling.
“Come look at this.”
Matthew approached Ryan as he stood before the
“What is it?”
“Look,” said Ryan. He
gesticulated with his chin and Matthew turned.
The statue in the school was one the boys had seen
never took the time to examine, what it represented, or why it was
selected to be in this school. However, now as the both glanced at this
man, they could see, in full view, that it was a man who was once a
knight standing over them, looking down. Matthew and Ryan’s
were tilted. Never had they looked this closely before and never did it
dawn that this was the statue of the same man whom they had seen while
they were researching.
It was Cendril the Slayer, the name of the
“Is that the…” said
“Yes,” said Ryan.
“The same one from
“Well how come we didn’t
“I don’t know.”
“What does this mean?”
Ryan’s mouth was opened and he was about
but stopped when he heard the wheels of a mop and bin screeching along
the floor. The boys turned and looked at the school’s
an elderly and grey-haired man, the custodian named Mr. Povos.
“Why you boys gawking at that
statue?” he said.
Ryan and Matthew turned.
“We were just looking at
this,” said Ryan.
“Never actually done that since we’ve been students
Ryan’s lips coiled as soon as he
“You know anything
about’em?” said Mr. Povos.
“Yeah,” said Matthew,
“found out he was a knight who got trapped inside a
“Is that what ya’
heard?” asked the custodian. “Or is that what
Ryan and Matthew were immediately perplexed by the
“Yes,” Ryan dubiously
“Yeah, that’s what everyone
says,” said Mr. Povos.
His head cocked back and he guffawed. He then
pushed the mop and bucket across the floor and laughed derisively as he
“What,” said Matthew,
“have you heard something different?”
Mr. Povos turned and grinned.
“He got trapped inside the cave because
trying to kill a three-headed dragon, or so the legend goes. Was
fighting it for a while too, until…well…until the
collapsed before the fight could finish.”
“What happened?” said Ryan.
“Did he win?”
“No one knows,” said Mr.
fact, legend also says that he lost his sword and, well…you
can’t slay a dragon without a sword.”
Silence fell over the boys, for suddenly, the
that they had both experienced was beginning to dawn on them,
especially when they looked at the statue and saw that the sword was
missing, just as Mr. Povos said it would be.
“How did the story end, the one you were
telling us about?”
“You mean…did the trapped
knight ever get his sword back and slay the dragon?”
Mr. Povos smiled.
“Nah,” he said,
“never found his
sword, never found the dragon either, but then again it is just a
story, an old town folk tale told around town--and one that we stole
and used to make our school’s mascot. Isn’t
Mr. Povos slid his hand along the top of his mop
and moved on.
“You have yourselves a nice day,
boys,” he said as he walked.
And as Mr. Povos parted from the statue, Matthew
stared at Ryan, who was still mesmerized with what he was seeing.
“When you found the sword, was that all
Ryan’s gaze was focused on the
statue’s vacant hand.
“No,” he said, “I
told you that I felt a quake too.”
But before Matthew could finish speaking, the
beneath him shifted and Ryan held out his hand and looked for something
to hold onto.
“Do you think we can get that sword
back?” said Matthew.
The quake strengthened and Ryan looked at the
“Yeah,” he said,
“I’ve always been a really good swimmer.”
© 2017 Jarrett Mazza
Bio: Jarrett Mazza is a graduate of
College’s MFA in Creative Writing Program in Plainfield,
Before completing his terminal degree, Jarrett studied writing at the
University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, and completed the
Novel Writing class at Sheridan College under award-winning writer,
Melodie Campbell. He has received extensive training in fiction in all
mediums, including screenwriting, comic book writing, poetry, academic
writing, and craft. He has also taught in a Writer’s Craft
classroom at his former high school, has had stories published in the
GNU Journal, Bewildering Stories, and Aphelion.
He currently writes for the website Sequart that
specializes in academic writings on comic books, fandom, and films.
He lives outside of Toronto, Ontario.
You can follow him on Twitter @JarrettMazza
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