For today's post, I present you a short story I wrote recently about Peter Pan. If you have any comments on how the current ending could be improved, I'd greatly appreciate them.
When Luke woke up, he was in a clean, white place. He vaguely remembered being in a place like this. He had seen a little boy sleeping in a big bed, but he couldn’t remember when. But this place wasn’t like the other. It was bright and cold, and Luke was alone. Luke shivered. There were no humming monsters; just cold, clean, white walls.
But then Peter came. He was dressed in green, red, yellow and orange leaves, like the ones in stories, and when he turned a somersault, Luke just knew it was Peter. He giggled at the other boy’s antics.
“Where are we, Peter?”
Peter cocked his head. “You’re right here. And I found you! Isn’t that clever?” He grimaced, and it wasn’t so cold anymore.
“But Peter, how did I get here?”
“Does it really matter? We’re going somewhere else now,” Peter said carelessly.
“Really, Peter? What is it like?” Luke moved closer, mouth open in anticipation. Peter grinned.
“Well, there are people and everyone’s happy and nobody is afraid. And it’s warm and bright, and it’s wonderful!” Peter started hopping on one foot. “Come on, let’s go!”
Luke tried imitating Peter, with little success. But before he could tumble off balance, Peter grabbed his hand, and they set off.
“Peter, tell me again!” Luke fairly danced.
As Peter expounded on their destination, the boys walked through many rooms of unchanging white. But now the rooms were replaced by a long hallway. Doors lined the walls, and in the dim lighting, they could see pictures hanging on each door. Looking back, Luke couldn’t tell which they had come through; he shivered, but Peter moved on. Trotting to keep up with the bigger boy, Luke glanced at the pictures on the wall. They passed countless pictures, but certain ones captured Luke’s attention.
He tugged at Peter’s hand, who stopped for the younger boy. There on the wall, a beautiful woman and a smiling man looked at a fuzzy bundle held in the woman’s arms. Luke stood, entranced, unable to look away. Peter gently moved Luke into motion, drawing him down the hall. They passed more pictures. Sometimes, the beautiful woman gazed down on the boys, and sometimes it was the smiling man. However, in all, a little boy with brown hair and green eyes chortled. There, in that one, he took his first step. Farther on, he used a tricycle. Over there, his father gives a piggy-back ride to an enthusiastic cowboy, and in another, a big black dog guards the sleeping child.
The tunnel grew dark, and intermittent lights shone on the pictures. Sometimes, the walls were dark for hundreds of paces. Peter passed them without comment, pausing only to bring Luke along when he gazed for too long. Finally, the lights went out, and only the sound of footsteps invaded the deathly quiet.
Peter felt the hand in his tremble, just slightly, and he broke into a little ditty, humming and skipping to distract his charge.
“Peter, I’m scared. Tell me again.” Luke’s clear voice broke the song. Peter glanced down, and then knelt beside the child.
“Hey Luke, you know a secret? I can do magic.” Luke’s eyes grew larger in the darkness. “Now, if you shut your eyes really tight and count to ten, a light will go on.”
Sure enough, when Luke opened his eyes, a pool of light gathered ahead, illuminating part of the wall.
Luke couldn’t get to the light quickly enough, but as he approached the edge of the puddle, he hesitated. On the wall were three photographs; no doors accompanied the pictures, and they waited, forlorn, for Luke to examine them. He looked back at Peter, who stepped into the light and nodded encouragingly. Luke cautiously approached the picture, but ran the final steps, eager to see the little boy again.
But this picture was different. A wrecked car, tumbled off the road, was barely visible in the swarm of flashing lights, and beacons lit the scene with a red glow. Cars whirred past as the little boy was wheeled into an ambulance. The smiling man stared into space, clutching the boy’s jacket in trembling hands. Firemen were dragging the beautiful, battered woman from the car, while medics readied a stretcher nearby. Luke took this in at once, and recoiled. He grabbed Peter’s hand, and tugged to go back into the darkness, willing to endure darkness rather than see the other pictures. Peter gently turned him around.
“Hey, Luke. It’s alright.” He grinned reassuringly at the small child, and whispered. “Only two others.”
Luke reluctantly turned to the second picture.
The green-eyed boy was sleeping on a bed much too big for him. His room was grey in the darkness, but Luke could see machines surrounding the bed. He touched the little boy’s face. It was half-covered by bandages, but Luke still recognized it.
Luke closed his eyes, and took a big breath. He sighed, and then looked at the picture. Little was different: The boy in the large bed still slept, but a sheet had been drawn over his head, and the lights glared down on the man and the woman. Luke’s green eyes widened as the picture began moving. A nurse entered. She started talking to the parents kneeling by the bed. They exited the room, and the nurse shut lights. Luke stared hard, and did not notice Peter step behind him, gazing at the little boy with an indescribable emotion. As the lights in the little room shut off, the puddle of light in the hall disappeared, and the tunnel grew dark again.
Luke jumped. It suddenly was very cold. Two strong hands grabbed Luke’s shoulders. Luke could feel warmth and vitality leaking from those hands, and Peter’s voice spoke near his ear.
“Luke, we’re almost there.”
“Peter, I’m scared!” Luke’s voice trembled like a leaf.
“I know, Luke. But it’s an adventure. Now, see that light in front of you?” Sure enough, a pale glow filled the end of the hall in front of the boys. It was far away, but it was there.
“Luke, you need to walk toward that light. I’ll be behind you, but don’t turn around. You got that? I’ll be right behind you, but you mustn’t look.”
“Peter.” The little green-eyed boy pleaded with his voice. He shook.
“Shh, it’s alright. That light is the place I told you about. It’s warm and everyone’s happy there. Just like I told you.” Peter hugged Luke, wrapping him tightly in warmth. He straightened, and pushed Luke toward the light.
“Are you sure you can’t come with me, Peter?”
“No, but I’ll watch you. You won’t get lost.”
“Good bye, Peter.” Luke walked slowly toward the end of the hall, where he could see an open door, inviting him in. Quicker and quicker, his feet hit the ground. He could feel the warmth now, embracing him like a comforter. He broke into a run, pushing the door open, and disappeared inside.
Peter Pan watched as Luke entered the door, and then departed himself. Peter didn’t take many things seriously, but this was one of them. He’d been lost, once, many years ago, but no one had helped him find his way home. But Luke had found Never Neverland now, and for now, that was all that mattered.