Charlie Zelazny -“Albert and the Wizard”

Albert was an average high school student. Every day he would wake up to his alarm clock, brush his teeth, and rush out of the door. He lived in a huge family where he had about eight brothers and sisters. His parents barely noticed him and never realized when he was out and about past his curfew. Everyday, he would drive five miles down the highway to school in his Honda Accord. He was happy and satisfied with his everyday life, little did he know, that was about to change.

It was just an average Thursday afternoon in the Bay Area. When Albert woke up, he did his average routine and rushed out of the door. When he was driving down the highway on his way to school, he got stuck in a huge traffic jam. He then got really nervous because he knew that he was going to be late for first period, and this was a major problem. If he was late again, he would get suspended because he had already been late two times that week.

As he was sitting in traffic, he noticed something in the sky. He couldn’t depict it clearly, but it looked like a man who was flying through the sky. He became puzzled at this and thought that his eyes were deceiving him. He continually rubbed his face and his eyes trying to make his vision go back to normal again. He looked around at the people in the neighboring cars around him and it seemed that no one else could see what was going on. He looked back up into the sky and it appeared that the mysterious person was flying directly at him.

The creature then flew down and came into his car. Still, it looked like no one else could see what was happening. Albert could now tell that the mysterious creature was indeed a man, and that he was wearing a long robe and had a weird stick at his side. The man introduced himself as Ribbly and told Albert that he was from Jonkland. He said that he was a wizard and that he wanted to Albert to his homeland and teach him about the art of wizardy.

Albert was still in shock and barely heard a word that the man was saying. He was confused at what was happening and was confident that this was all a dream, and that he was still sleeping. He started pinching himself, to try and wake himself up. When he finally realized that this wasn’t a dream and that this was actually happening he started to ask a ton of questions like, “what is happening?” and “who are you?”,

Ribbly told him that he would answer all of his questions later, when he accepted his offer and agreed to go to Jonkland with him.

Albert spent much time thinking and trying to understand what was going on. He was confused and had no idea what he should do. After about five minutes of just sitting and pondering, Albert came up with an answer. He told Ribbly that he would accept the offer and travel to him to Jonkland, but only under one condition, that he would be able to travel back to his normal life and to the normal world if he didn’t like it. Ribbly accepted this offer and told him to hold on. In a matter of milliseconds, the car was floating in the air and traveling fast into the sky. This threw Albert around the car and he went sliding from side to side. He closed his eyes and thought that this was going to kill him.

When the car came to a halt, Albert opened his eyes and looked out the window. What he saw was a beautiful green land, that was covered in fertile hills and animals running about. It was the most beautiful that he had seen. He also saw a mountain in the distance, covered with snow and rocks. It was calling to Albert but also looked like one of the most dangerous things that he had ever seen. There was no possible way that a person could climb that thing. When he turned around and looked out the other side of the car, he could see a bunch of people gathering around and staring at Ribbly. They were asking him a lot of questions about if he had found the new necromancer, but all of this went over Albert’s head and he had no idea what they were talking about. He was too focused on the grand house in the back of the village. It was gold and covered diamond and emerald jewels. After seeing how the people of the village treated the wizard like royalty, Albert thought that this was where the wizard lived and where he would be staying and learning magic.

Ribbly called to Albert and told him to follow him. He went walking towards the great golden house, and Albert got excited, but to his surprise, the wizard walked right past it to a little shack in the distance. Albert became really confused but realized that this was where the wizard lived. Ribbly told him to get some sleep, because tomorrow was going to be a rough day, and they would start their training.

Albert woke up the next day, full of excitement. He was ready to learn a bunch of magic spells and gain power. He thought that he would be learning spells on how to change the weather, and how to move things without touching them. Ribbly though, had other ideas.

Albert came running down the stairs and was full of questions, he was ready to begin his training. Ribbly told him to calm down, because there were some tasks to do before he could start his learning. Albert thought that he would have to do something magical, like learn some basic spells or go find his magic wand. Ribbly had different plans though, he told him that he would have to look after his sheep for the day while he went to the town. Albert was confused and thought that he heard Ribbly wrong. “You want me to look after the sheep?” He said. Ribbly replied with an affirmative yes, told him what to do, and left to go to the town.

Albert was really confused and angry, he thought that he was going to learn wizardry and magic spells, but he was just the sheep farmer. This made Albert question if he made the right choice, was it really worth leaving his normal world to do this? After much thinking and a long day, he came to the conclusion that he would give it another try the next morning.

After a long day of clipping, shearing, and feeding sheep the wizard finally came back home. Once Albert saw Ribbly, he asked him why he made him do this ridiculous chore.

“Why did you make me look after your sheep while you went to the town?” Said Albert

Ribbly replied, “There is a reason that I had you do this while I was gone, but I cannot tell you.”

“Why?” Albert quickly replied.

“You will find out in due time, there is a reason behind everything that I have you do.” Ribbly replied, choosing each of his words carefully. “Tomorrow will be a better day, I promise.”

“It better be.” Replied Albert

Albert ran to his bedroom and closed the door, he then lied down on his bed and went to sleep. He thought about his life back home, and how right now he would probably be finishing his homework and then getting ready for bed.

When Albert woke up, he got dressed and went into the living room and waited for the wizard. After a few minutes of waiting, Ribbly walked in carrying a huge sack over his back. It looked like it weighed two- hundred pounds, the way Ribbly was hunched over and barely moving with every step he took.

“What’s in the bag?” Albert asked.

“I’ll tell you what’s in the bag.” Replied Ribbly, “In this bag, I have a bunch of hiking gear that I want you to put on.”

Albert had no idea why in the world, that Ribbly would want him to put on hiking gear, but he agreed and went to go change. He returned in a full hiking suit. He had on a big, fluffy, blue jacket. With a bulky pair of red pants to go with it.

“How the heck does this have to do with learning magic?” Asked Albert.

“Oh, it has everything to do with magic, I am sending you to go to the top of Mount Magic, to obtain the egg from a hairy eagles nest.” Replied Ribbly.

This made Albert very excited because he thought that he was finally going to get started on his journey of becoming a wizard. This was not what the wizard had planned though, because he knew that there was no magic involved in this. Ribbly simply wanted to see if he would quit, or continue to persevere through the challenges that the mountain would provide.

“Why do I have to obtain the egg from the eagle?” Asked Albert

“It is because the egg holds power inside of it, and will help you get started on your journey to becoming a wizard.” Replied Ribbly

This news made Albert really excited and eager to start his journey up the mountain. He asked when he would be making this journey, and Ribbly told him that it would happen tonight.

All day long, Albert was preparing himself for the journey he was about to do. He knew that it was not going to be too hard, but that he would have to be alert and look out for any dangers. Ribbly told him that there wouldn’t be any wild animals that could harm him, but that the ice and terrain of the mountain would be a challenge.

When Albert finally came to the foot of the mountain, he was filled with excitement, yet also fear. He thought that this would determine if the wizard would train him or not, and that if he was unsuccessful, then he would not be able to do that.

Finally, his time came, he had all of his gear and had made all of the preparations, and Albert was finally ready to conquer this mountain and become a wizard. He took his first step onto the snowy white mountain and realized something. He had no idea how to get to the top of the mountain.

“Which path am I supposed to take to get to the top?” he asked Ribbly.

“All you have to do is follow the signs that have been placed along the path.” Replied Ribbly

“That’s not too bad,” said Albert “I know how to read and follow directions.”

“Don’t be too cocky, along the way there will be signs that will try and lead you to danger.” Said Ribbly

“How will I know if the sign is trying to trick me?” Asked Albert

“You will have to figure that out on your own, I can not help you.” Replied Ribbly

“Ok, got it.” Replied Albert

Albert started to make his journey up the rocky terrain of the mountain. The whole time, all he could think about was what Ribbly had said to him. He was trying to think of ways to discover if the signs were fake, but he could not come up with a solution. After a few minutes a walking up hill, he came across a pair of signs. Albert knew that one of them would be fake and one of them would be real, but he had no idea how to discover which one was which. One of the signs said turn left for the snowy wall, and the other one said turn right for the mysterious pond. Albert stared at the signs for a long time trying to figure out which way he should go. Ribbly did not give him any directions on where to go, so he was confused on what he should do. After much thinking and deliberation, Albert decided to follow the sign that told him to turn left and to go the snowy wall. This was because Albert had remembered the wizard saying something about how the terrain was going to bad.

This ended up being the right decision because he did in fact come across a wall that was covered in snow. It was a giant wall that was probably fifty yards tall, and it was covered in thick white snow. Albert had no idea how he would get up this thing, because he had no tools that could aid him. After staring at the wall for a few minutes, he noticed something. There was thin icicles that were poking out of the wall. Albert decided that he was going to try and climb the wall using these icicles, like climbing a rock wall.

Albert took his first step onto the first icicle, and it was sturdy. He then took another step, and another, until he was at the top of the wall. He had made it up the wall safely, and quickly. He then walked about three hundred yards, until he found another sign. This time it was only one sign, and it read “Turn right to go to the lake”. Albert followed the sign and did exactly what it told him to do. After walking another three hundred yards, he was at the foot of the lake. Just across the frozen water, he noticed something. There was a birds nest sitting in a tree, and in it was an egg. This made Albert excited because all he had to do was walk across the frozen lake, and retrieve the egg.

Full of excitement, Albert ran across the lake to retrieve the egg and return home. After a few steps, the ice became cracked beneath him, and he had to slow down. He realized that he would have to travel carefully across the lake, to make sure that the ice did not break, so he would not fall into the lake. He took it a few steps at a time, pausing at moments to make sure that he was ok. After doing this for a few minutes, he was finally at the foot of the nest. He examined the egg carefully to make sure that it was the one he was told to retrieve. After much deliberation, he snatched the egg from the nest and proceeded to make his way across the lake, and back down the mountain.

Towards sundown, he finally made it back to the wizards house and handed him the egg. Ribbly examined it and then placed it on the counter.

“Am I allowed to start my wizard training now?” Asked Albert.

Ribbly didn’t respond as he went and got a frying pan out of the cupboard.

“Did you hear me Ribbly? I asked if I was allowed to start my wizard training now?” Said Albert.

Ribbly still did not reply, and what he did next made Albert become full of anger. Ribbly took the egg, cracked it against the side of the frying pan, and began to make himself eggs for dinner.

“What the heck are you doing?” Asked Albert, with the rage in his voice filling up.

“I am making myself dinner.” Replied Ribbly.

“So I went and traveled on a dangerous journey up the treacherous mountain, just so you could have breakfast for dinner?” Asked Albert

Albert, full of anger, then proceeded to charge at Ribbly. Albert was extremely angered and upset at all of the pointless activities that Ribbly was making him do. Ribbly could tell that Albert was going to hurt him, so he used his magic to make Albert freeze right in his tracks.

“Why are you making me do all of these ridiculous things?” Albert asked.

“I was trying to make you a tougher person, and to see if you were up for the challenge of being a wizard.” Replied Ribbly.

“But what was the point of all of them, I don’t even want to become a wizard anymore.” Albert said back to the wizard.

“That was not my intention.” Said Ribbly

“Unfreeze me right now so I can go back home.” Albert said

Ribbly, who had also become angered in the moment, unfroze Albert. Albert, not giving Ribbly another look, went back to sit in the car.

Albert kept turning the keys to the ignition of the car, but the car would not start. Even if he was able to get the car to start, it would be no good to him because he had no idea how he would even be able to get out of this place they called, Jonkland. After a while trying to get the car started, Albert reclined his seat, and simply pondered about the decision that he had made to follow the wizard. He thought about what his life would be like right now back home. He hadn’t been gone for a super long time, but he thought about what people were thinking about him, and if they were even wondering where he was right now.

Ribbly was also doing a lot of thinking, inside of his house. He thought about how this was not what he intended to do, and how he simply just wanted to make sure that Albert was up to the challenge. All that he wanted to do was train his successor, one who could be the wizard for the town, and help solve all of the problems that the town would face. After much thinking, Ribbly decided to go talk to Albert, and apologize for everything that he made him go through.

Ribbly slowly approached the car, and made sure that Albert was aright.

“What’s up?” Asked Ribbly

Albert gave him no reply, and was still very mad at Ribbly.

“Look, I’m sorry for what I made you do. I should have never made you go through all of those ridiculous tasks without telling you the reason behind them first.” Said Ribbly

“What was the reason behind that, if you were trying to find someone to train, why wouldn’t you tell them what you were doing.” Replied Albert

“I know, and I totally understand if you want to go back home.” Said Ribbly

“It’s too late for that now, I’ve already been gone for too long, I’m just stuck here now.” Albert said

“It’s not too late, if you do not want to be here anymore, I can send you home, and make you return to the exact moment that you left.” Said Ribbly, “I strongly ask you though, that you stay and learn magic with me.”

Albert said and pondered on what the wizard had said to him.

“Nobody at home has probably even noticed that I am gone.”Albert said, “I’ll agree to stay with you under one condition.”

“What is it?“ asked Ribbly.

“You can’t make me go through any of those ridiculous tasks anymore, and you have to tell me the reason behind everything that you do.” Said Albert.

“Done.” Ribbly quickly replied “If you get out of that car, we can get started with you first lesson right now.”

“Let’s do it!” Replied Albert.

Albert opened the door and followed Ribbly back into his house. He was finally doing what he wanted, he was on his way to becoming a wizard, and he was happy with this.

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