Charlie walked slowly down the steps to his garage with a garbage bag in one hand and a broom in the other. He surveyed the mess in front of him warily. You never could tell what might be living in this junk heap. After all it had been sitting there for half of a year.
"Charlie!" His mother called after him. "Stop dilly-dawdling and get to work! I want that garage cleaned out by supper!" Charlie grumbled for a few second and then shouted "Okay Mom!" back up the stairs.
What a mess. Old camping equipment, file cabinets, and tools were piled on top of each other in one huge jumbled mass. There wasn't even room to park the car anymore. What was the point of a garage if you left the car outside so you could keep your junk safe.
Charlie moped for a few moments and then sighed and started sorting. He divided each item into a different category. For example, a screw driver would go into the tool pile and then in turn be put in the tool box while a flowered apron would be sorted into the "useless junk" category and then more than likely the garbage can.
At about noon he took a break for lunch, moped for a few more minutes, and then set back to work. Three hours later he was done, and after passing a mother inspection was left to use the rest of his day as whimsically as he pleased.
When cleaning the garage Charlie had found a old file cabinet labeled "old stories". His father used to write stories, though he rarely seemed to anymore. He said that he was "too busy" or would "write when there isn't so much work to be done". Once his dad had been writing a novel. He had been working on it for years and said it would be "the best thing this side of Hemingway" and that it would "knock readers off their feet". Suddenly one day it all stopped. Charlie's dad started making excuses like, "The story died." or "I'll try to work on it when I'm not so busy."
Ever since the writing had stopped, Charlie wanted to read this lost legend for himself. He went over to the cabinet and slid open the old drawer. The files were arranged in alphabetical order starting with something called "Alien Encounters: The true stories." Charlie shook his head and replaced the file without giving it another glance.
The same thing happened with several other files labeled obscure and dull sounding things that he didn't even bother to take out of the cabinet. He couldn't figure out where his dad had come up with these ideas, though he could imagine him coming up with them. His father was rather, how do you say, weird.
He took off work at random times and said "they would see the world and after that the universe!" They usually got to about Colorado before his mom would calmly explain there would be plenty of time to travel when the bills were payed. They would go home and live almost normally until his father got another notion and bravely set off to do what no man had ever done before. Not with a wife and son at least.
When Charlie reached the S's he began to give up hope. None of the stories were interesting and he was running out of letters. After he came to the file "Universal Destruction" he was about to find something else to do (after all, not much comes after U) when thick brown folder caught his eye.
It was labeled "Warlord" and contained a wad of papers neatly stabled together and a notebook. Charlie flipped quickly through the wad and concluded it to be some kind of notes on a government class. He shrugged and took out the notebook.
The Warlord was written in black marker on the front, and he opened it to find every one of the pages filled with his father's neat handwriting. Charlie frowned. He didn't know his father had ever finished a book.
Just then the front door slammed, and he expected to hear his father's voice call "I'm home!" like he always did. But today for some reason he just heard him slowly walk to his office and lock the door. A moment later he heard his mother gain admittance and then the lock click once more.
This was his chance. He stuck the file under his arm, closed the file cabinet, and snuck stealthily up the garage stairs. As he tiptoed by the office he heard voices arguing inside. His parent usually weren't the fighting type unless it came to in-laws or garbage.
His dad never seemed to like the idea of his mother's family coming over and so they never had. Whenever Charlie asked about his mother's side of the family his father scowled and his mother said that they were "eccentric". His father also didn't like the idea of taking out the garbage so Charlie usually got stuck doing it.
Charlie cleared the entree hall and dashed up the stairs, home free. He quickly shut himself in his room and set the folder on his desk, excited to get started. He spread the file out, once more putting the papers in categories. One stack held the package of notes along with some loose leaf paper he discovered, and the other contained the glorious notebook itself.
He set the novel directly in front of him, smiled recklessly as people often do when diving into unknown pages of a book, and opened the front cover.
The Warlord, it began.