I was completely shocked when I first began to dig into historical accounts of Giants and Dragons in an older wing of my university’s library. I had a 5000 word essay due regarding fact versus fiction with mythological creatures over the last 1500 years.
Needless to say, it was a massive chunk of history to sum up in just so few words. I had hoped to get the bulk of my information from the university’s library first, and then follow up with the remainder of my sources in local newspapers and the town’s library and museum (which dubiously claimed to have remains of a pot that belonged to a Giant).
Making my way to the index, I began searching titles of books that might help me along my way, but my interest was attracted to a pair of young men laughing quietly at a table very near the section I was headed to rummage shortly. They were skimming over a pair of books, and laughing! Twice the librarian hushed them, and they both apologized. I was curious, as I recognized the darker brunette from my own history class. The other one, I had seen him in my literature class, looking rather bored four seats over, practically face-planted on his desk. Although I couldn’t hear what they were saying, it was obvious they found the books hilarious.
I made note of several titles that I needed to browse, and began my search immediately. I only had two weeks to get it done, and I was determined to finish it before the deadline to get extra credit. My writing skills were not the best, so any extra points I could score would be extremely helpful. I began browsing, making notes numbers, authors, and annotations, everything that I could possibly use. Before I knew it, four hours had gone by and a quiet sound of a throat clearing nearly gave me a heart attack. I looked up, not expecting to see the brunette with midnight eyes.
“Good afternoon. Markus and I were wondering if you wanted to join us for lunch…Peter,
isn’t it? We have the same history class I believe.”
“Oh! Yes, we do. Thank you for the invitation…?” I felt awful for not knowing his name.
“Harold. Harold Rashen.” He smiled warmly, not offended at all.
He helped me put away the remaining books, having gleaned all that I could before lunch. I was shocked, he and Markus seemed surprisingly open and welcoming to a total stranger. It was that same day that I learned that Markus was attending part time, and Harold was more or less forced into school at his parents’ demands. It was that or military school, he told me.
Both were odd ducks, and that suited me just fine.
Weeks later we had become very good friends, a very pleasant surprise indeed. I learned how to use a hookah correctly from Harold, who when terribly bored was not opposed to alternate recreational activities. Markus was a bit more responsible, but did not refrain from a few hauls every now and again.
Both of them enjoyed tossing around conspiracy theories, and throwing in myths from what we had learned only made them juicier. Markus’ favorites involved Giants and Genies or Djinn, while Harold happily tossed in Greek deities and Dragons. I had no idea what to make of any of their theories, as some seemed plausible, but others were just plain nuts.
Imagine my surprise on a sunny afternoon with the hookah when Markus sneezed and the bed broke. It seemed like he literally doubled in size after sneezing for a minute, then shook his head and was suddenly human-sized again. Harold roared laughing and took another haul.
I chalked it up to smoking far, far too much that afternoon. I was starting to see things…
The next morning, the bed wasn’t broken, so it couldn’t have happened after all.
The end of the semester was a bittersweet parting; Markus had to drop out due to family obligations, and Harold it seemed was being yanked out for military school after all. (His family had somehow heard of his rampant recreational activity…) I continued on with my education for several more years, and then completed my residency. Finally I began m career as an emergency room doctor. I kept in contact with Harold and Markus through letters and the occasional phone call they would make.
My entire life changed the day I got a phone call from my pregnant wife that Harold was at the house and asking when I would be home. Needless to say I hurried home, eager to see my friend. I was shocked… Harold did not look a day older than the last time I had seen him years ago.
Literally there were no changes in his face or body, other than he had put on muscle mass and he needed a hair cut soon.
“Hello Peter, long time no see hmm?” Even his voice was the same.
“Hi Harold, how are you? It’s so good to see you!” I could not help but smile warmly.
“I am quite well. I actually wanted to offer you a job… you are a bright young man and I think you would pick it up quickly.” A lopsided smile as he sipped his tea and waited for my response.
“A job? Family business needs a new employee in the medical field?” I was surprised to say the least.
“Oh, something like that. Remember that day we were in your dorm and Markus broke the bed?”
“…That was a hallucination.”
“Nope. I fixed the bed while you were asleep, because I laced your coffee with an herbal sedative.”
I blinked, totally shocked.
Not a hallucination?
“You…you fucker. You laughed at me for freaking out!”
“Welcome to the team, Doc. Oh, and my name isn’t Harold. It’s Shen.”