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Ben lifted his backpack with both arms to avoid any further embarrassing fabric tears. But no sooner had he stood up when he became fully aware of the empty playground and the immense sky above him. He was all alone, at the completely mercy of the emptiness around him, unprotected and vulnerable.


His head swam around dizzyingly and his vision blurred. Ben clung on to his backpack for dear life. His heart raced and his breath came out in gasps as he experienced the burden of a full panic attack. As soon as he shut his eyes, the nightmare erupted through his brain without pity: a dark mass falling from the night sky, a threat, his Grampa shouting in warning, twisted eyes, the shadow of a man with white hair reflected in the fire…



Tike’s snout on his cheek.

“Ben!” Someone shouted, shaking him by the shoulders. “Wake up! Ben!”


Ben opened his eyes. Tike’s paws were on his chest, the dog’s face close to his own. Above him his mother was calling him anxiously. He blinked and found himself lying in the middle of the playground, surrounded by Tike, Laura and a couple of teachers.


A school assistant came running up to them, a cellphone in her hand. “I’m calling an ambulance.” She announced, holding the phone up to her ear.


“No!’ Laura objected. “Please don’t! I’ll take Ben to our family doctor. He’s familiar with Ben’s condition.”


The assistant hesitated, then put the phone away.


“Are you ok?” Laura asked Ben, frowning worriedly.


Ben nodded slowly.


She helped him up carefully, adding: “The school called me and said you were standing by yourself in the middle of the playground. I came with Tike as quickly as I could. You were completely paralyzed.” She accepted Ben’s backpack from one of the teachers.


Ben was excruciatingly aware of the adults staring at him strangely. From inside the school, students were pressing their noses against the windows, pointing in his direction.


Oh great! Nice way to blend in…

Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall: Project
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