“There’s a thin line between being a hero and being a memory.”
— Transformers (1984), “More Than Meets the Eye, Part 3”
The room was smaller than Hex remembered.
Which, of course, made sense, because he himself had been smaller the last time he’d been in this room.
Despite the hurried exit he and his mother had made, everything seemed to be in place. The only things askew were the dresser drawers, which were open and tellingly empty. But his stuffed animals were lined up neatly on the shelf. His books were dusty but alphabetized. And — Hex smiled — his Transformers figures were on top of his toy chest, poised in a picture-perfect battle scene and ready for the day’s adventures.
Hex entered his old bedroom further, feeling old memories creep along the back of his neck. It was rather like entering a church, something sacred and not to be disturbed. The carpet was as covered in dust as everything else, and tiny clouds plumed around his shoes as he carefully walked over to the toy chest. He picked up Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots, the main character of Transformers. A hero.
“What are you doing?” Kara’s voice shattered the serene silence, making Hex jump. She entered the room, looking around and ignoring Hex’s aggrieved glare.
“Keep it down,” he hissed, gesturing toward the door with Optimus.
Kara rolled her eyes. “There’s no one here,” she said, though in a lower tone. She pointed at the toy in Hex’s hand. “At least I was scouting and not playing.”
“Please,” Hex snorted. “You were just seeing who had the bigger, fancier house, me or you.”
“Ha. Well, I must admit, you have me beat, Angara.” She moved closer to the toy chest and picked up Starscream. “And your mom had much better taste.”
Hex chose not to comment on the bitterness in her voice. “You know, this was the first toy I brought to life,” he said, putting Optimus back down. “My first use of magic. I wanted him to be alive so badly.” He smiled. “I’m sure you can understand that I was more than a little shocked when he started walking on his own.”
Kara grinned. “And then you had epic battles with the Decepticons, right?” she asked, waving around Starscream.
Hex shook his head. “Never got that good before we left. I could get them to walk around and that was about it.” He paused. “Now, though . . . ”
His magic came eagerly, licking the insides of his stomach and climbing up his torso and down his arm. It was so much easier than when he had been five years old, grunting and gasping just to feel even a twinge of magic. He reached out a finger and tapped the top of Optimus’s head.
Immediately, the robot turned its head from side to side. It looked up at Hex and Kara. It saluted, then began marching up and down the length of the toy chest, passing by the other Transformers.
With a devious look on her face, Kara put Starscream down in front of Optimus, blocking his path. The Autobot stopped short and put up defensive fists. When Starscream didn’t move, Optimus slowly lowered his hands and began cautiously circling the Decepticon, his little plastic face clearly confused.
“Are you making him do that?” Kara asked.
Hex gave a half shrug. “Kinda? Toys always have more autonomy than I initially grant them, for some reason. The result of being loved by a kid, maybe?”
Kara seemed dubious, but she said, surprisingly softly, “Magic favors simplicity.”
Hex gazed at her for a moment, unable to read her face. “I guess that’s true,” he said at last.
He waved his hand, and Optimus stopped pacing around Starscream and stood stock-still. Then something seemed to pass out of his toy body, and it pitched forward, landing facedown with a small thunk.
A thunk that was echoed by a larger, louder THUNK from somewhere in the house.
Hex and Kara both froze. They glanced at each other, then began to slowly edge their way to the door.
Time to get back to work.
A drabble for a book I’ve been working on. Actually, it was supposed to be my NaNoWriMo last year. Heh, WHOOPS. You can read the story that first inspired the idea here!
This prompt can be found in this book: 400 Story Seeds to Crush Writer’s Block.