By Agustin Servant
Long ago, in the desolated world
Everyone and everything was bored
It was all gloomy and dark-red
I got out from my bed
And every day was the same
Everyone was in shame
No, there was not any joy
Because Laughter was taken away from every girl and boy.
I looked at my notebook and read the poem I’d written for my son, Jack. So many memories came flooding into my head of my adventure to save Laughter. The rugged mountains, the stormy seas, the terrible creature called Hatred, his burning eyes and all the hardships I needed to face. Like the loss of a companion… A tiny tear slid down my cheek at that thought. I wiped the droplet away and left my bedroom to finally show the poem to Jack.
“Jack, where are you?” I called. Then, as if teleporting, I saw Jack come running to me.
“Papa, did you finish the poem?” Jack asked anxiously.
“Yes, I did!”
“Yeah!” Jack shouted enthusiastically.
I led Jack to the sofa and I began to read the poem to him.
When I’d finished, he asked with an inquisitive expression on his face, “So… your childhood life was like that? With no joy and no laughter?”
“Yes, it was,” I responded soberly.
“But how did laughter come back, Papa?”
“I never told you the story before because you were too young. But now you are old enough. Would you like to hear it?”
“Please tell me the story, Papa, please tell me!”
“Alright, I will tell you all about it.”
“In a kingdom, far away, there lived majestic Laughter. She brought joy to the hearts of all, and no one had hatred, no one had fear or sadness. Everyone had something to do, and everybody enjoyed their peaceful lives.
But one sunny afternoon, a terrible creature arose from the depths of the sea. His name was Hatred, and he had red-hot eyes, hair dark as night and he showed no mercy to anyone. He jumped out from the depths, and when he landed on the ground, an earthquake struck.
Everybody in the kingdom knew that Hatred had arrived. So, Laughter with her army of Light set out from the castle to defeat Hatred, but they didn’t know that he had an army too.
When the army of Light spotted Hatred on a hill, they saw there was an army of demons standing behind him against a gloomy and dark-red sky.
The army of Light looked in horror at what had become of the people of the kingdom caught in Darkness. Their clothes that had once displayed a colourful beauty, were now all black and grey. The sound of joy was gone. Hopelessness and desperation had taken their place.
‘How dare you, Hatred, carry out such merciless acts?’ Laughter shouted at Hatred.
‘Old Laughter, caring for people all the time,’ Hatred mocked.
‘I don’t want to hurt you,’ Laughter said calmly.
‘Fine, don’t hurt me. But I will hurt you!’ Hatred responded angrily.
And at that very moment, Hatred threw a boulder straight at Laughter. Laughter couldn’t it see coming because of the smoke and she took a direct hit, causing her to fall from her horse. Hatred then came running down the hill with two of the worst creatures that ever existed, Sadness and Fear. Behind them came the army of demons.
The army of Light charged at Darkness. But the demons were too strong, and the army of Light lost. Hatred left no survivors from Light’s army and the rest of the people were left in the town to suffer because they had lost their light and their joy.
Laughter was taken captive because Hatred knew that if the people were aware that she was alive, but unable to save her, they would fall into despair.
Light had fallen, and the world became the slave of Hatred, Fear and Sadness. Darkness took over, joy was lost and everybody gave up hope.
Except for one.
His name was Peter. He was a royal guard in the army of Light, and Peter, with his quick thinking, was able to survive the massacre of the soldiers.
Peter had hope when everyone else did not. He knew there was always hope, so with his friend Edmund and his dog Joe, they set out to save Laughter.
They went through many trials. They had to sail on the rough waters of the Sea of Despair, where the only thing they could hold on to was hope.
After that, they needed to climb the Mountains of Revenge that were higher than Mount Everest. The biggest challenge they had to face in the mountains was not to get drawn to Revenge. Because if they did, they would have become slaves of Hatred forever.
Peter, Edmund and their dog Joe were very courageous and survived the rough sea and kept their hearts safe from Revenge.
But two more obstacles awaited them before they could arrive at the Castle of Hatred. They needed to defeat Sadness and Fear, and to Peter and Edmund, Sadness was the hardest part. As they approached Sadness, memories of Laughter kept coming at them. They remembered the sweet sounds of joy issuing from the mouths of the children, and how Laughter always played with them on the green pastures. So many memories that made the companions weep a lot. Their tears clouded their vision and Sadness was in front of them, ready to trap them on her grey cloak forever. But Joe, the dog, sacrificed his life by jumping at Sadness and taking her down a cliff, and going down with her himself.
‘NO!’ Peter cried. He was so depressed and couldn’t walk anymore. He loved Joe so much, and now he was gone.
‘Peter,’ Edmund said.
Peter did not respond.
‘Peter, we need to keep moving. Joe sacrificed his life for us so that we can save Laughter. So, come on my friend, let’s go.’
The companions were on the move again. But Peter and Edmund were weak and an invisible presence seemed to walk around them…
There he stood with clenched fists
Fear, with powerful stomps, came out of the cave
I saw his dark hair and evil eyes
His penetrating voice was as rough as his skin
I felt weak when I heard his terrifying shriek
But I felt strong when he had no hold on me.
Fear came out of the cave and walked around the companions, emitting an ear-piercing shriek that left Edmund and Peter deaf. Fear showed his terrifying appearance that paralyzed Peter and Edmund.
While all seemed hopeless to the companions, they suddenly remembered Joe. Their faithful dog had been courageous and that was the only thing that could defeat fear. So, Peter cried out with all his strength,
‘WE ARE NOT AFRAID OF YOU!’
Whereupon, Fear started to shrink until he totally disappeared.
And finally, they walked to the castle of Hatred. Hatred saw them from the top of his dark castle, and shouted, ‘You dare to come to my domain! How did you defeat Sadness and Fear?!’
Peter cried, ‘We have something you thought no one would have any more, and that is Hope!’ Edmund added, ‘We came to save Laughter and to defeat you once and for all!’ Hatred replied, shouting with a guttural and angry voice, ‘YOU WILL FAIL, MISERABLY!’
Hatred jumped from the top of his castle and together with his army of Darkness fought Peter and Edmund. It was a terrific battle that shook the earth… literately. But Hatred did not know that the companions were stalling. While the castle was left unguarded, Laughter escaped and joined the fight.
Laughter charged at Hatred and he was taken down…
‘Thank you, Peter and Edmund, for saving me,’ Laughter said.
But then she had a sad look on her face.
‘What is wrong, Laughter?’ Peter asked.
Laughter responded sadly, ‘I found out that the only way to defeat Hatred was by releasing a huge amount of energy… Because of that, I will not be with you any longer as a person, but simply as a joyful sound. I promise that when you hear the children laughing, you will know that I am with you.’ ‘No, Laughter, you can’t leave us!’ cried Edmund.
Peter tried to comfort him, ‘I know this is hard for you Edmund, but if Laughter turns into a joyful sound, light and happiness will come back to the kingdom.’
Laughter said the companions, ‘I will always be with you, every time you feel joy.’
The two friends watched Laughter vanish and a sense of overwhelming joy filled their hearts.
The only thing the two friends could see was a bright flash of light and the dark castle crumbling down. As the bright light faded away, everything became beautiful. Flowers were blossoming everywhere, trees were growing and Light took over the Darkness.
‘We did it!’ Peter shouted.
‘We did it, indeed!’ Edmund cried.
The companions saddled up their horses and off they rode, following the light all the way home.
“So, did you like the story?” I asked Jack.
He was staring at me, with his mouth wide open.
“You saved Laughter!” Jack said, with excitement in his voice.
“Well, you could say that. But remember, Edmund was also with me and don’t forget Joe, the dog, who sacrificed his life for us.”
“Well, thank you, Papa, Edmund and Joe, for saving Laughter!”
Then I looked at my watch and saw it was way passed Jack’s bedtime.
“Well, time to sleep, Jack, see you tomorrow.”
“Night, night, Papa. You are my hero and I love you so much.”
Jack got up and ran towards me and gave me a big hug. We laughed loudly together, and then he went off towards his bedroom.
I felt so proud of Jack and I felt so joyful. I remembered then what Laughter had said to my friend and me: “I will always be with you, every time you feel joy.”