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The Fear Landscape Series: Hiccup

12 Jun
The Fear Landscape Series: Hiccup

A slight, unnatural breeze. A sharp intake of breath. Hiccup’s eyes widened, his body went cold, and he suddenly had to fight to stand up straight. He knew those warning signals. It could only be one thing.
Nightfury.
Glancing to the right and then to the left, Hiccup searched for someone else—anyone else!—to tell him what to do. But Hiccup was alone in the forest. And he was defenseless.
As the nightfury flew closer, still invisible against the night sky and barely audible between the rustling of trees, Hiccup forgot how to breathe. Pure instinct found him curled up on the dirt, face against the grass and eyes shut, silently willing death to come quickly and painlessly.
“Leave it to me to die in a simulation. The first fear of the simulation. Heh,” whispered Hiccup in such a small voice that the sound never reached his own ears. Leave it to him. Hiccup. The coward of cowards. Afraid—not ready to fight, but just downright scared—of his tribe’s longstanding enemy. Afraid of a dragon.
Not that death by dragon was a bad way to go. Honestly, around Berk death by dragon was one of the best, most honorable ways to go. But that was only if you went down fighting. And Hiccup wasn’t fighting.
But it didn’t have to be that way. As the nightfury descended and let loose its blast of lightening and death, Hiccup did what was for him unheard of. He would conquer his fear.
Hiccup stood up.
Clenching his fists and pressing his lips together into a tight line, Hiccup stared up at the Nightfury just as the blast exploded and all became flame. The fire tingled against his skin, but Hiccup hardly had time to feel it before being plunged into icy waves.
Hiccup kicked and fought to get on top of the water. He kicked off his fur boots and, against all odds, made it to the top of the water, where he found himself gasping for breath.
“So,” he panted, trying his best to keep his head above water. “I guess I passed the first test. That wasn’t so hard,” he reasoned, suppressing his shivers as the frigid water took it’s toll. “Still, out of the frying pan and into the fire. Well, out of the fire and into the frozen, anyway. There isn’t actually any frying pan.”
Hiccup looked around. Nothing but water in every direction. His legs started to kick more slowly and his arms became more lethargic. His strength gradually gave out, and again Hiccup found himself below water, with no way to get back up, and no air.
Wriggling his body every which way Hiccup tried to get above water. He didn’t float, he was frankly too weak to propel himself upward, and he didn’t know how to swim. He may have only been in a simulation, but it sure felt real.
He had to breathe. He needed air. His lungs took on water and the fiery feel of suffocation took over.
Will it to be over. Will it to end. That’s all there was to it, right? It was just a little mind game.
But mind games didn’t feel like that.
Conquer it. Control it, Hiccup ordered himself. His mind was willing, but his body was weak, and he continued to struggle for breath, his breathing much faster than it should have been. If you’re not going to cooperate, he ordered himself, then you’ll have to go down.
With the last of his energy Hiccup forced himself lower into the water. Letting go he went limp in the water and allowed the liquid to fill his lungs. This is it, were his last conscious thoughts.
Before waking up in bed. He immediately sat up and coughed up water until he could cough no more. Even then it felt like he needed to cough, but that was easily the result of going that long without air. While allowing his throat time to rest before the next coughing fit, Hiccup breathed in from his nose, filling up his diaphragm with air, and letting it out. He’d survived. He’d made it. Was it over?
No. It couldn’t be. No way did he only have two fears.
Hiccup wiped his mouth and stood up next to his bed. He’d gotten his boots back, and none of his clothes were wet. Dragons, check. Drowning, check. He wasn’t scared of his bed. So what would the next fear be?
In, out. In, out. Hiccup stood in his dark room for a minute more, simply breathing and enjoying the sensation of air entering his lungs.
“You never know how good you have it until it’s gone,” Hiccup muttered. The saying apparently went for oxygen too. When his body felt as close to normal as it was going to get, Hiccup walked slowly and cautiously into the living room, out the door, and into Berk. Normal. So far so good.
The Vikings all went about their business as usual, pushing past Hiccup and generally just ignoring him completely. Until the “peers” showed up.
As Snotlout, Ruffnut and Tuffnut, Fishlegs, and Astrid came closer, Hiccup braced himself. Even though these guys usually just left him alone, this was a simulation. He’d found his next big fear.
“What are you doing here?” asked Astrid accusatorially.
“Um, I…” Hiccup gulped.
“You don’t belong here,” she pressed, raising her axe the tiniest bit and thrusting her face into his.
“I live here,” he squeaked out. Why was he acting this squirrly? It’s not like any of this was real. Of course, a lot of good that had done him, back in the water.
“Oh? Did you here that one, guys?” Astrid called to the rest of the group. “He says he lives here!” She laughed a light, airy laugh and then waiting for the group to finish, staring Hiccup down with a soft smirk the whole time.
“He has no idea!” chuckled Snotlout quietly as he stopped laughing. The rest all nodded, like they were all in on some great joke.
Not real, not real, not real, not important, not real…
“You wanna get in on the big secret?” asked Astrid in a stage whisper. “You won’t be around for much longer. I hear your dad’s finally doing it. Exile. We all knew it was coming, and now the day is finally here.”
What? No. He wouldn’t. He couldn’t. Dad wouldn’t actually… No. Just a simulation. Not real. Conquer it. Control it.
“Haha, that’s a good one,” laughed Hiccup in as strong a voice as he dared. Astrid’ smirk slowly changed as Hiccup’s control broke that stage of the simulation. The Viking teens disappeared, as did Hiccup’s front yard. He was back in the common room of his house, and Dad stood on the other side of the room.
“You are a failure!” yelled Dad, slamming his fist into one of the wooden walls for emphasis and leaving a large mark in it. “A disgrace to this tribe!”
“Dad, I-”
“No! I’ve heard enough,” Dad roared. “There’s nothing you can say that could make me love you, Hiccup!”
Even though Hiccup had been forming a heated reply as Dad spoke, the words caught in his throat and all he could do was stand there, empty. He’d said it. He’d actually said it. And now there was nothing Hiccup could ever say to patch it up.
So he said nothing.
Stoick sucked in a few deep breathes, leaving the silence hanging in the room. Hiccup remained standing, but slouched a bit more and brought his arms in closer to his body in an attempt to become even smaller than he even was. “You are not a Viking. You are not my son,” said Stoick, simply.
Outwardly, Hiccup did nothing immediately. Inwardly, he screamed. Not that. Not that. He was afraid it was that, but he’d never really thought it was that. He was that much of a disappointment. So much of a disappointment that Stoick would give up his only heir.
Dad was the last person who had cared about him. And now Dad was gone. The word slipped out before Hiccup had a chance to catch it. “Dad.”
“Don’t use that word around me,” growled Stoick back. “Now get out of my house.”
Hiccup turned and ran.
Ran out, down the street, and into the woods, where he kept on running. Running, running, running until his legs gave out. He was far away from Berk now. He’d never be going back to Berk. He was a failure. He’d always been a failure, sure, but now it was real. It was spoken. So much a failure that Stoick wouldn’t even have him for a son.
Vikings weren’t allowed to cry. But Hiccup was no longer a Viking. He curled up in the tall grasses under a few pine trees, and he cried. It may have only been a simulation, but Hiccup was beginning to think that that’s how Dad felt anyway.
But no. No. Hiccup stood back up and sniffed once. It wasn’t like that in the real world. It was just like that in the simulation. Little by little Hiccup’s breathing became regulated and his heart beat became normal.
A bright white light flooded the area and erased the forest around him. In it’s place was black, from his eyes being shut. Hiccup was too weak to open them.
“You have passed your simulation,” stated a woman Hiccup’s didn’t recognize. “With only four fears. To date there is only one other person with that record.” Only one other? But, that would mean… that four wasn’t normal. He’d expected to have way more than your average person. He couldn’t possibly have only had four fears.
“We did not expect this of you,” continued the woman. Hiccup had to agree. “But then again, sometimes the people we think are weakest are actually the bravest of all.”

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2 responses to “The Fear Landscape Series: Hiccup

  1. Maggie Rice

    June 12, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    Ahaha! That’s right, Hiccup! You are brave!! :”D Tahnks so much for this! It’s awesome!

     

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