1

The sun beat down heavily on the neck of a tall, lanky, dark-haired boy as he made his way, hands in his jeans pockets, to Game Stop. On that day in July, the hottest day so far of the summer, Benjamin was wearing jeans, heavy boots, and a black and faded ACDC tee shirt. As he made his way down the street towards the gas station, he didn't notice people's incredulous stares as they sat on lawn chairs in shorts and tank tops, some sitting with their feet in a wading pool. But of course, Ben usually kept his eyes on the ground when he was walking.

Dragging the showing silver tips of his steel-toed boots across the cemented sidewalk, Ben's thoughts strayed away from what he was going to buy at the gas station when he got there, but to where he was going with his life.

At seventeen years of age, Ben had no idea what he wanted to do for a living. He didn't really enjoy school, and although his grades weren't terrible, they weren't great either. He wasn't involved in anything extracurricular – speech, math league; all those academic activities weren't exactly his bag. Sports weren't really an option either. Underneath the baggy clothes, he had the slight build of an athlete, but he didn't really fit in with the athletic crowd. Not enough to want to participate in sports.

About the only thing Ben liked doing was playing video games, watching movies, and surfing the Internet. So far that summer, he had spent the majority of his time in his room in the basement of the house. About the only time he had left the house was to go to get some food, just like he was doing now. Other than that, he had gone over to friends' houses to play Halo 2.

Not that he did that very often anyways. Most of his friends had jobs. And unlike him, they participated in school things. Or they did something other than play video games all day long.

"Hey! It's the dweeb!" The cruel voice pulled Ben out of his zombie-like walking trace. He glanced up. Driving next to him on the street was a yellow Ford Mustang convertible. Behind the wheel of the brand new sports car was Dillon Phillips, the football team's all-state, star quarterback. Next to him was Alysson Stone, the blonde captain of the tennis team. In the backseat was Sean Johnson and John Jenson, two of Dillon's buddies. And squashed between Sean and John sat blue-eyed Winnie Davids. Despite the fact that Dillon was heckling him, Ben's heart did a flip-flop at the sight of Winnie.

He had sat next to her in a film appreciation class the semester before school let out, and although she was very pretty and popular, and everything he wasn't, she had still been decent to him. One of the only people who ever had been.

"What are you smiling about, ass wipe?" Dillion yelled out of the car. Ben blinked. Had he been smiling?

"Nice day," he said, his voice light and cheery.

"What the hell? You have issues," Dillon said. Behind him, Sean and John laughed loudly.

"Well of course he has issues," Alysson said with a sneer. "He's out in the sun. I thought I'd never see the day that we would find Ben Parker outside!" Everyone in the car laughed loudly, or rather, almost everyone did. Ben noticed gleefully that Winnie had pursed her lips, and turned rather red.

"So what are you doing out in the sun, dweeb?" Dillon asked. Ben thought of something good to say to Dillon, but rather, he decided against it. Giving his shoulders a shrug, he gave a little noncommittal grunt and said, "Gas station."

"That's still about half a mile from here," Winnie said.

"Yeah," Ben replied.

"Well, what, do you want a lift or something?" If Ben hadn't seen Dillon's mouth form the words, he would have hardly believed it.

"Uh…"

Alysson burst into laughter. "He thinks you're for real!" she shrieked. "Gawd, what an idiot!" Once again, the car burst into laughter, and like before, Winnie didn't laugh with the others.

"C'mon guys," she said quietly, checking her cell phone. "If we don't go, we're going to miss the movie." Dillon looked at the digital clock in his car.

"Shit," he muttered. "Well, it was nice seeing you again, ass wipe! Have a nice day! Don't fucking melt out here!" He spun his tires against the asphalt, and drove off.

As the yellow car sped off into the distance, Winnie was still looking at him, and Ben did something he would have never dared to do before. He put his hand into the air, and waved. And he might have imagined it, but he thought he saw a smile on Winnie's face, and even a small, insignificant wave back at him.

After several blissful minutes in the cool, air-conditioned gas station, Ben had bought his large box of Hot Tamales, and his large bottle of Mountain Dew. Sadly leaving behind the cool air. Although the sun had gone down, it was still blistering hot outside.

About halfway back to his house, Ben regretfully opened his pop. With a hiss, the cap came off, and he took a big swing. He had wanted to save it for when he got back to Final Fantasy XII, but it was just too hot outside not to drink any. It was like watching movies with the captions on. He didn't want to do it. It bugged the crap out of him to have those yellow words pop up on the bottom of the screen. But sometimes you just didn't know what the heck anyone was saying! Many of his favorite movies were adventure sci-fi/fantasy movies. He especially enjoyed the Star Wars saga, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Ben was much happier in those worlds than he was in his own.

Now, if he could do something like that for a living. If he could write the storyline for video games and movies. That was something. Ben could see it now. His ideas, his characters, on the big screen. Heck, on any screen. It was an idea.

Ben was so caught up in the fantasy of creating fantasies, that he didn't notice the loud noise coming up behind him. Above him, the street lights flickered on, and to the east, the faint remnants of a blood-red moon shifted between the clouds.

There he was, on the red carpet, going to the premier of his first big film. He was Ben Parker, a nobody, or rather, somebody who used to be nobody. Now he was knowbody. He knew every big star in Hollywood personally. They were smiling, taking photos with him. Paparazzi grouped around him just to get a picture of the newest filmwriter. Quite suddenly, everything was overwhelming. He was actually there! The air left his lungs, and the impossibility of it all seemed to crash into him from behind.

And then just as suddenly, there were flashing lights. And he felt as is something had crashed into him from behind.