Henley & The Book of Heroes
Prologue: “rum ziddle zigh, ziddle rum ziddle zee, and a rum zrum zigh, ziddle zum ziddle ree.” Ah yes, welcome, children, wel- come. Come. Come. I was singing the song of the champions to pass the time until you arrived. Welcome to the story. I am glad you came; you’re just in time. Please, take a seat on the grass. Pull up a cushion to rest your head. It is a perfect day for a story here in the Refreshing. The sun is shining, and a breeze is blowing through the trees. In this place, you need not worry about ants biting or flies buzzing. There are no such creatures in this library. Are you all comfortable? Good.
Now, as I was saying, you’re just in time to hear how Henley Banks, an everyday boy from Shernod, enters the story of his life. You see, his story has been going on for some time, nine years to be exact, but very soon a new tale will explode into his life that will change it forever. What kind of tale? Well, it is a tale that has the power to awaken a hero’s heart, a tale that overcomes death with life, and a tale that bestows victory to the conqueror. It is the Living Tale. Something this big takes time to unfold, for within this story are many books. Today, we are starting The Book of Heroes, for what better way to awaken your heart but among champions? The other books are for another day.
I’ll be your guide through these chapters; my name is Drake. I’ll tell you more about me later, but now let’s look at Henley. There he is sitting at the dinner table. If he were standing, you’d see he is the same height as a tall dwarf. In human measurements, that is four foot, five inches. His doctor tells him he is average on all accounts for height and weight. Average is a good word for Henley on the outside. He is aver- age at baseball and football; he makes average grades in school and has an average amount of friends. He has average skills with video games but secretly wishes he were as good as his best friend, Jeffery. In many ways, he fades into the pavement of life like gray going to black. Henley, however, is excellent on the inside, and few know it. On the inside, he is the brave knight who fears nothing and no one. Inside, he is the genius who finds solutions to tangled troubles and saves the day with two seconds left ticking on the time bomb. Sadly, though, his heart can only ache to be great until the Garden’s power germinates his hero’s seed. While his mother, Julia, does dishes, let me acquaint you with the Bankses’ home. You’ll need to know your way around before we get going, or Henley will leave you in the dust, for this unremarkable boy does everything exceptionally fast. So why don’t we jump into the book?
Here in the Garden, all our books are alive, so we may tour them. It takes a moment to get your footing, but you will soon adjust. Over there, playing on the floor, is little David, Henley’s nearly four-year old brother. Nowadays the dining room has become his fortress against the evil Gorse’s robot army because Mama doesn’t have time for big dinners; but when Dad is home, the Bankses play the “guess what I am thinking game” after clearing the dinner dishes. Down the hall are his other brothers, Jake and Morgan, studying in the den. Jake is fourteen, and Morgan is sixteen. You’ll see more of them soon. On to the family room. Do you see that picture of the soldier on the mantle? That is Robert, Henley’s dad. His deployment in Iraq is now over a year. The picture next to him of an elderly gentleman is my dear friend Reginald Banks, affectionately known around here as Grandpa. He lives by himself in an apartment on the other side of town, which in Shernod means a five- minute drive. I don’t have time to tell you about everyone else on the mantle, but you will meet them as we go. I apologize for the chill, children. Robert usually keeps a large fire roaring in that fireplace, but the boys forget to start it. We won’t go upstairs right now to see their small but cozy bedrooms; just know that Henley’s is the messy one off to the right. Let’s return to the kitchen table where Henley sits slumped over his plate, a grumpy boy who misses his daddy something fierce. You see, his father was teaching him about the Living Tale when duty called him away. The Living Tale is known by many names, but to this family it is known as the Book. It is this book that keeps the Banks family going in good times and bad, but especially the bad. Why? Because this family has real adventures-not just hopeful visions- inside it. The problem, though, is that Henley wasn’t alive to watch his parents lean upon it
when lulia’s parents died in an accident, and he was too young to experience its comforting power when Grandma Rose passed in (you call it death; we call it passing in). Since then, life has been relatively quiet for the Bankses, so unlike the rest of the family, Henley does not believe the Book is alive and mocks his family’s trust in it. Deep inside, Henlev wants it to be real because his seed of greatness is stirring. This is why Dad’s deployment has been so rocky for him. It’s been hard enough to have his dad at work for over a year, but now Henlev’s heart battles between hope and suspicion. He needs his hero to show him the wav inside the Living Tale for answers. Without Dad to lead him, Henley walks around with a gnawing pain inside that he dumps on everyone outside. This is where the story gets really exciting! No, not because he is hurting, but because of how his heart gets fixed. Yes, fixed, for from my perspective, it is already finished. You, however, have some exciting chapters ahead of you. But I am getting ahead of myself again. Forgive me. I am no storyteller but a creature of action. Good thing Henley’s story is written down, or I’d blurt out the end before we get going.