The story so far:
Sweat seemed to pour from every opening in Gary's body. It was like the world was suddenly on fire, the sun beating down upon him like an angry mother finding her son doing something he shouldn't be doing. He found himself in a grass plain that looked never ending, green stretching on for as far as the eye could see.
The worst part was that even when Gary dropped his gaze to the ground in an attempt at relief from the beating sun, the grass seemed to reflect that light right into his eyes. Why he had neglected to bring a wide brimmed hat was beyond him. Now his forehead felt like it had just been roasted over a campfire for half an hour.
The crunch of grass underfoot was the only sound that could be heard besides the soft whisper of the wind kissing his skin just softly enough to not be refreshing. His slightly heavy breathing cracked the serenity of the nature that surrounded him every once in a while, but Gary just kept going. He was a strong boy after all, a farmer for years. Or at least he thought he was strong.
With the sun at its highest point in the sky and no end in sight to the heat for hours, Gary found himself face down in the grass, his eyes fluttering as bugs attacked and his body began to shut down. His lungs felt like they were exploding inside of him. His throat turned to sand, pain surging through him every time he took a single breath.
"Ma...ma..." He whispered hoarsly, his voice a product of his condition. "Pa...pa..." He could see his father scolding him for leaving, those angry eyes reflecting his hatred of knights, of swords and battle. Maybe he should have listened. If he had just followed his father's directions, he would probably be laying in a bed of cotton right now instead of in one of grass. Darkness came slowly, time freezing as all thoughts seemed to slip away.
What Gary didn't know was that this wasn't the end, but really the just the beginning.
When he finally awoke he found himself in a bed of cotton, the only light in the room coming from a single candle. From there the only things he could see in the shadows there was a bookcase just to his left by the door and a chair settled neatly in front of a desk. A knock on the door startled him out of his covers, a head slightly peeking in to reveal a girl who looked to be about his age. Her long flowing brown hair punctuated her hazel eyes, eyes that seemed to flash in the candle light. Her face was a soft one, one that could be full of compassion if allowed, yet her eyes looked strong, defying her pretty face in an obvious attempt at being angry all the time. It was obvious she had issues with something, or somebody.
"Evening." She spoke with contempt. She slowly opened the door, strolling in with a sort of defiance to her walk. "Hello..." Gary let his voice trail off. "I'm Gary." He smiled, watching the girl's eyes rolling in obvious annoyance. Somebody had made her come in here. "Yeah yeah. I'm Judith. Put a shirt on, it's dinner time." Gary looked down to find that he indeed was not wearing a shirt. In fact, he was only wearing his underpants. Luckily he had a blanket to quickly cover himself, heat coming to his cheeks in classic fashion.
Judith rolled her eyes again, this time to better effect before she disappeared behind the wooden door. Gary rose to his feet, finding clean clothes laying on the dresser. Pulling on some olive green pants and a fresh white sleeveless shirt, Gary, hesitantly opened the door to the hallway beyond his room. It stretched on for about twenty feet, doors on either side before reaching stairs. When Gary walked down those stairs he found himself in what looked to be a living room with a fireplace, a few seats placed in a half circle formation around it with a bookcase on the far wall.
Turning to his left his gaze fell upon a small table filled with various foods such as roasted chicken and fruits with mugs of water. There sat a man who looked far too old to be the girl's father, a snow white beard that stretched just a bit too long and a balding head. His nose was hooked like a falcon's beak while a pleased smile stretched across a wrinkled face.
"Please. Take a seat." The man spoke, his hand pointing at the chair across from Judith (who sat with a pouty look on her face), his hand as pale as his face. He was wearing dark green overalls over a dirty white shirt, the shirt of a working man. "My name is Johnathan and this is my grandaughter Judith." He indicated the girl to his left. "Yes... we've met." Gary smiled just a bit, shyness kicking in. "Well good, I hope you two are getting along fine. We have a very humble home here and don't get many visitors. It's good to see her making friends." Johnathan smiled, struggling a bit to get the words out but getting them out none the less.
"Go ahead. Eat, you need to get you strength up after your trials." Johnathan spoke once more, this time almost whispering. Gary nodded, smiling a bit and beginning his meal while Judith glared at him across the table. He ate hungrily, practically devouring the chicken and other assorted foods presented before him. Judith mumbled something which Johnathan quickly reacted too, but it was all in whispers and Gary couldn't hear a bit of it.
"Excuse Judith. She's been having some... problems... ever since you arrived her." Johnathan spoke with the kind of smile that a parent gave a child when they were lying but felt guilty about it. "How long." Gary spoke with food still in his mouth, taking a moment to chew it and swallow before speaking again.
"How long have I been here?" Johnathan and Judith turned to look at each other in confusion before turning back to each other. "A week. You've been asleep for a week. Grandpa has been treating you like a prince." Judith rolled her eyes again, this time annoying Gary just a bit. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to intrude in such a way." Gary smiled weakly, shrugging as he tried to rise from the table but was stopped by Johnathan.
"No no, eat. You need your strength. It's no problem at all." He smiled with enthusiasm and Gary could see it in his eyes. This man had lost something. When dinner was finally sitting warmly in everyone's stomach, Gary quickly made his way back to the bed that he had apparently been occupying for a week now. Within moments he found himself staring at Judith while she glared at him, her arms crossed as she stood in front of the door blocking any way out besides the window.
"Do you want to know why he wants you to stay so much?" Judith spoke, Gary knowing she was going to tell him whether he wanted to or not. Judith closed her eyes as she spoke, "He wants you to stay so much because you look like my brother. You remind Grandpa of a lost grandson. A grandson that was there one day, and gone the next." Gary watched a tear streak down Judith's face, her true emotions finally coming out. Judith's arms found their way around Gary, her head finding a rest place on his shoulder.
What was he supposed to do in this situation? The only thing he could do, hug her back. Obviously this family had gone through tragedy, so how could he leave them in this condition and still feel good about himself?