The tests concluded themselves by noon and we were all free to go home, whether or not we passed. I opened my front door to find MA Suzie waiting patiently with an unopened official letter.
She held it out to me and I snatched it without a word of thanks. I tore ravenously through the thick yellow envelope and my eyes lit on the only words that mattered: "...
have passed your Summoning Qualification." As if through some magic unbeknownst to me, a bright green light began to glow around me.
It lasted only a few seconds and was obliterated with a blink. I was through and on my way to greatness.
I summoned a new phone and opened the encrypted messenger Marco and I used while in school. Finally! I opened Marco's reply eager to brag about my perfect scores to my best friend in the world.
Two sad, short words affronted my success: He's dead.
I didn't hear from Marco for almost three weeks. I was laying in bed summoning a deck of cards, one card at a time, when I heard the familiar chime of a message received.
Can you meet me? I replied, Yes, of course. The park?
The park was a vacated industrial park that no one, save for two teen friends, ever visited. Marco was crying pathetically, leaking tears all over the long cloth-wrapped bundle he clutched.
"Hey, bud?" I asked cautiously.
"I can't believe he's just... gone." Marco looked up at me, his face drenched in tears, and smiled.
The sudden redness in his cheeks told me that maybe I should let him lead the conversation for once. "Mom's doing okay, I suppose. Says dad is in a better place, but I don't think so.
What happens when we die? Anywho, what happened with the test? Did you pass?" I answered not with words, but rather with a silk handkerchief. I handed it to him and he took it gratefully.
"Lucky you. I have to wait six months to a year, depending on how therapy goes, before I'm allowed the test.
They want to make sure I can remain calm so I don't risk failing a test I'd normally demolish."
"Do you want to talk about it?" I asked, trying my best to comfort my longtime friend.
"Yes." Marco nodded, adding, "But not yet. I, well, I have something to tell you." Marco breathed in deep to calm his nerves. "Billy, I... What I mean to say is, uh, I love you, man."
"Hey, bud, I love you too!" I said, nudging him on the shoulder with my closed fist.
"No, I mean I..."
"What's that?" I asked, indicating the hidden package.
"Oh this?" Marco asked, looking down at the damp cloth bundle resting across his lap. "I actually don't know. I sort of broke into my dad's study this morning.
I didn't know what I was looking for, but I felt like I had to know, you know? What was he doing?
" He began to unwrap the package and as he did so it began to grow bright red, as if stained in blood. My heart began to race. It couldn't be...
"May I?" I held out my hands to pick up the unwrapped sword. I was very careful not to touch the blade, for I knew instantly what it meant.
A single cut from the The Dragon Sword was lethal.
I looked over the legendary sword with awe, marvelling the detailed hilt with little dragons carved into it, the literal dragon tooth protruding from the spot normally reserved for a pommel.
The blade curved back slightly at the point. I need it.
"What is it?" Marco asked, dumbfounded. Nothing I do will ever compare.
"A sword." I answered, a gleam in my eyes. "Not just any sword, though, it's also an artefact."
"What does it do?" Marco asked, looking somehow intrigued and irritated.
"Well, regular swords were used for killing. This one, however," I brandished the sword wildly, "is for deleting."
"Fuck the stupid sword, Bill!" Marco screamed in frustration. He knew he wasn't getting my undivided attention.
"I'm in lo-" I plunged the curved blade directly into my best friends heart. I pulled the sword out of a body already half gone and smiled. It's mine now.