Hey Arnold! – an Adventure Fantasy Epic

Note: This story is inspired by the artwork of CTW36

"I can't fall asleep!"

"Huh?" Gerald turned away from his show. His parents went on a weeknight date, and since Jamie O. was at wrestling practice, had tasked Gerald with babysitting his younger sister Timberly. Wally doll in hand, she looked at her big brother with big plaintive eyes.

"Shouldn't you be in bed by now?" grumbled Gerald.

"I know, but mommy and daddy usually tuck me in at night and I miss them."

Gerald sighed and muted his episode of "Pop Daddy" then stood up from the couch. "Come on," he said, leading her back to her pink-themed bedroom.

As she nestled back into bed, Timberly looked hopefully at Gerald. "Read me a story?"

Gerald looked at her dubiously. "A story?"

"Mommy always reads me a story. It helps me fall asleep."

Gerald glanced at Timberly's bookshelf and frowned. "Yeah, but you must have read these like a million times."

"Ooh ooh! That one is my favorite!" she pointed to a rather fat, felt-covered book practically jutting out of the bookshelf.

Gerald pulled it out and scoffed. "Fluffy Bunny Saves the Day? Uh, yeah – no. We're not reading that."

"Then tell me a pretend story. Pleeeease?"

"All right, all right. Settle in, kid," Gerald sat down on the bed and Timberly got herself nice and cozy. "So where should I start?"

"How about 'once upon a time in a land far, far away?'"

"Sure…once upon a time in a land far far away…."

Arnold awoke to a bright light in his modest bedroom. A young woman with shoulder-length blonde hair in a white gown stood at the foot of his bed.

"Young harbinger of peace," said the woman. "Fear not, for I bring great tithings of joy to you. War is fast approaching, and an unstoppable force threatens to level your lands. But you have the key to unlock an era of prosperity and happiness. Trust yourself, for you will do great things."

The woman kissed Arnold on the head and he promptly fell back asleep.

The next morning, Arnold joined his grandparents at the dining room table.

"What's up, Shortman," said his Grandpa, not bothering to look up from his newspaper.

"Howdy, Tex!" greeted his eccentric grandmother. "Why, you look like eight miles of bad prairie!"

Arnold yawned and rubbed his head. "I just had the strangest dream."

"Uh-huh, you don't say. About what?" asked Grandpa as he sipped his coffee.

"Well," Arnold struggled to recall his memory. "I was visited by this woman dressed in white, and she told me I was the 'harbinger of peace', or something like that…."

Grandpa immediately spat out his coffee. "Mama Leone! The Lady of Perfection!"

"Huh?" But Arnold didn't have time to react, because his Grandpa stood up and dragged him into another room. "Grandpa, what is this all about? It was just a dream I had."

"Not just any dream, Shortman – you've been CHOSEN!"

"Chosen?"

Grandpa held Arnold by the shoulders, knelt down and looked him dead in the eyes. "You were visited by the Lady of Perfection! Legend has it that the hero of our land will be chosen by her in a dream and destined to embark on a grand quest to rid us of the evil Warlord that rules over us!"

"Wait a minute – why have I never heard about this Lady of Perfection before?"

"Because, if I told you, then of COURSE you'd have the dream, because you'd be thinking about it. It's like if I told you not to think about a panda playing the fiddle, what's the first thing that pops in your head?"

Arnold rolled his eyes and shrugged. "Okay, I see your point. But, Grandpa – I'm only nine!"

"But nothing! The Lady chose you, that means it's your quest! And besides, boys love grand epic adventures! Now stop lying around, Shortman – it's time to get packing!"

"Grandpa-!" But Arnold was already yanked into another room by his elderly patriarch.