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#10. Ben Darcy, Champion of Atolu Minnejaja

November 10, 2009


In 1933, Ben Darcy was a member of John Dillenger’s gang and laying low in Minneapolis. One night, Darcy and five or six cohorts were drinking in Minnehaha Park.

Darcy wandered off to relieve himself and heard what appeared to be a small child being attacked by a fellow gang member. Hurting children was intolerable to Darcy, and so he intervened. There was a struggle, and Darcy killed the attacking gang member. The child escaped into the night. But when the rest of the group came running at the sound of the shot, they only saw that Darcy had killed one of their own. In retaliation, they shot him as well and threw his body into the river.

He was mortally wounded, but yet Darcy clung to life as he was carried away by the current. But instead of the icy hand of death, he felt the warm hand of the child that he’d rescued. He was pulled to the river bank and out of the water by what now felt like a dozen hands. He was propped against a rock, pale, sweating, and leaking blood from three gunshot wounds in his chest.

Before him sat the small boy, flanked by a couple of tiers of other children. The boy looked at him gravely. “We cannot save you, but we can offer you a choice. You saved my life. You are a hero. And I offer you the chance to take up the mantel of Champion of Atolu Minnejaja.”

Ben coughed up some blood, unable to voice. The boy continued. “You will die. You will be dead, but instead of going on to the spirit world, you would be…diverted. You will wake up with us, in our Atolu. You would be treated like a god. A life of ease and pleasure that few have ever experienced. In exchange, you would serve as our Atolu’s protector, our champion.”


An Atolu is a pocket world that shares space with ours. The Atolu Minnejaja occupies roughly the same area as the Minnehaha Park, a few square miles. It’s invisible to all except those who are of the Atolu or who are specially attuned to that sort of thing.

However, an Atolu is closely tied to our world. If something happens, like, say the events that will be occurring in Minnehaha Park when Anthony Berenger arrives and attempts to annex Mundaris’ copse of trees, the Atolu will be endangered as well.

An Atolu’s Champion is most often a former occupant of our world who somehow crosses over to an Atolu. He or she is treated very well, like royalty, but they are compelled to take up arms and repel any danger that threatens the Atolu.

Ben Darcy is a character from For The Trees, a large and unwieldy collection of index cards, outlines and snippets of dialogue that will one day be a graphic novel. I hope.



3 Comments leave one →
  1. Crash! Landen permalink
    November 10, 2009 1:54 pm

    Your story gets more interesting….

  2. November 12, 2009 12:24 am

    I can’t wait to see how your story’s characters interact. Ben Darcy’s story is cool and he has a great look that gives the impression of a 1900-1920’s hero.

  3. November 12, 2009 6:23 am

    Thanks guys!

    I’m happy with the way this guy turned out, very much based on the 1930’s Superman with the barrel-chest, and Bruce Willis’ character from Last Man Standing, a 1930’s gangster-era take on Yojimbo.

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