After a long, arduous journey, Gareth found the crumbling steps at the north edge of the Silver Sea and began climbing. Hours later he wondered if he was in the right place. His legs trembled from exertion and his breathing grew shallow. With all his will, he forced himself to keep a tight grip upon the handle of his lantern; if he dropped it, he was sure he’d die. The steps had become even more treacherous at this height. Plus, the winds circled him with icy tentacles.
Finally, he saw a faint circle of light ahead. It grew brighter with each step he took until it outshone the sun. Gareth felt filled with energy from its golden radiance. As he reached the platform, he was pulled into the circle as if by a thousand magnets. Even though he thought he might burn up, he felt powerless to resist and oddly unafraid.
Once inside the circle, Gareth took deep gulps of the clean, fresh air as if it were the sweetest wine.
“Whaddaya want, kid?”
Turning to his left, Gareth saw a grumpy guy scowling over the New York Times.
Yes! It was him! Retired police lieutenant and advice maven extraordinaire, Stan the Help Man!
“I need some advice,” Gareth said. “I’ve been dating this really great girl for like five years and she wants to get married. Everyone thinks we should get married. But I got this job offer to study penguin poop in Antarctica for a year. She says I have to choose between her and the birds. I love penguins so much, but I guess it would be dumb to choose penguin poop over a lifetime with a great girl, huh?”
Stan looked up from his paper and shrugged. “If ya gotta ask, you already know the answer.”
“Whoa!” Gareth said. “You are as brilliant as they say. I guess I do know! Thank you so much! I’m totally making a big donation to the Stan the Man fund.”
“Happy to help, kid.” Stan returned to his paper. “You know a five letter word for big fat idiot?”
Prompt photo via Helene