The Littlest Hero


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Scene Title The Littlest Hero
Synopsis Aura's night terrors come back to bite.
Date March 3, 2020

In Dreams

Decrepit buildings with broken-out glass windows surround the place where the small sandy-haired girl squats not too far from the rusted carcass of a car whose hood is open. A fire barrel rests nearby, burning something that is probably trash so as to put off a little heat and warmth. It's quiet here in this space, but outside… there are sounds that Delia is all too familiar with from a war zone. Faraway gunfire. It's nighttime outside the windows, and here in the dream the little girl is holding tightly to a stuffed animal, her face buried in it. It might have once been a dog — it's a bit frayed now. She has a small purple backpack on her own back and she's gripping tightly to a Hello Kitty backpack. Static comes from a radio up in the seat of the old car. But overall, the pixie seems to be alone. She's curled back into a half-crate where it's hard to see her. And outside, the sky is green and pink, improbable colors but brilliant and shading the world.

”What’s here?”

Aura can hear the whisper of another small child coming from somewhere over her shoulder. Given the pixie’s position, it should be impossible to get behind her. Yet that’s where the yellow ribbon of sunshine comes from. Not exactly a body, not yet, just a breath or a thought that curls around the small girl, wrapping around her neck and shoulders, like a scarf on a cold day.

It’s a familiar yellow.

”Why are you here?”

Because company always makes sense in a dream. Aura peeps up, peering out of the crate to see around the corner. She doesn't even look over her shoulder. "Sssshhhhhh! They can hear you when you talk!" she hisses at her companion. "Unca Kain put the static on and went to get ev'ybody, but he's comin' back for us. It's time to go again." He's coming back for her. They're meeting Mummy. He promised.

Even though her heart is beating so hard in her chest that it feels like a drum in terror that she'll be left here all alone. But he never breaks his promises. "It's safe here. But we gotta be quiet. Embly tol' us they can't hear as good as Mummy over static."

But she's not so sure. She's shaking very badly.

The little yellow ribbon tweaks up and the end pivots a little, like a radar or antenna, like it’s listening before it dives back down and nestles against the shivering little girl’s cheek. ”You don’t need them,” it whispers, the tone turning from curious to a soft caress. ”I’m here.”

It unwraps itself from around her, going from particle to solid in a shower of sparkles until the little girl with springy red hair, the pirate, forms solid in a crouch beside her. “We don’t need nobody,” she whispers, her smile a little mischievous. She winks one of her impossibly blue eyes at the other little girl. “Come on Angel Baby, let’s go save some ev’ybodies.”

Because it’s not the little girls who need help. Not this time.

With a blood curdling shriek, the little redhead jumps from the crate. Llama sentinels lift their heads and turn in the direction of the noise and Aura can hear the steam just before the foghorns begin to sound the alarm.

"No, wait!" But the little pirate is up and out of the crate so fast that Aura can't stop her. She makes a smaller ball of herself … but then she frowns. Pirate Girl. She had a name. "Lia!" Scrambling out of the crate now, Aura chases after the sword-wielding redhead. "Lia, bots ain't scared of nobody's sword 'cept Dessa!"

Why are there llamas instead of Hunters? The foghorns are going off and Aurora finds herself just as suddenly in her pirate tutu with a hat on her little head and her faithful Blossom in the crook of her arm. Llamas are much better than robots! "Here we come to save the day!" Aura shouts, whipping her sword right out of its belt, forgetting that Unca Kain told her to Stay. Put.

It’s like Lia’s not even listening to Aura’s protests (she’s not). Still sounding out that shrill scream, the dreamwalker leaps onto the car and launches herself off its roof. Gliding through the air like a flying squirrel before landing in a shower of pink glitter onto one of the robots.

When the air clears, Aura can see that Pirate Captain Lia is hanging onto the mane of a rearing … llamacorn? Its fluffy tufted wool is a soft comfort in this post-apocalyptic cityscape. Turning her gaze to the little blonde girl, she pulls a tin foil covered cardboard sword and raises the charge. “FARRAH ABOO!!” The hooves of the llamacorn strike back down to the pavement like a crack of thunder.


Aura and Evie used to play pretend all the time; this is familiar and safe. Drawn away from the aspect of her dreams that are memories, horror-filled and terrifying, into the fantasy of llamacorns(!) allows the child who is doing the dreaming such an immense sense of relief that the green and pink aurora overhead shifts suddenly to a blue sky, a shade of blue only really found in the autumn. The lighter atmosphere casts a bit of harsher view of their surroundings, but the tiny pirate with her stuffed dog joins the fray.

"Farrah Aboo!" Aura shouts, whatever that means. It sounds primal.

She and Blossom bound toward her captain and she shouts, "To the rescue!" Because obviously two pirates with swords have to save … everybody. They're the heroes in their own stories! "Llamacorns, to me!" Because she saw it on a cartoon once, someone telling everyone else 'to me!'

A puff of glitter erupts from every one of Aura’s bounding steps, leaving a circle of fairy flowers when the small clouds disappear. The foghorns around them are still booming low, warning the hunters that the pirates are coming. For some reason, it’s not frightening to the duo, it’s empowering. The enemy is afraid.


Lia’s llamacorn bounces into a hunterbot, close enough that the dreamwalker can whack it with her little sword. When she strikes, the hunter is concealed by a cloud of smoke and silver tinsel. As the little ribbons swirl to the ground, the bot liger lifts its head and lets out a mighty roar, answering the pixie’s call. Aura didn’t earn herself a llamacorn, not this time. She’s a fierce little lady, so she got something with a bit of a bite.

Dread Pirate Captain Lia is really really brave — because although Aura sounds brave, as soon as the llamacorn faces off with a Hunterbot, Aura freezes in place. Panic. Her hazel eyes go wide and she stares. But then there's tinsel and ribbons. And it dawns on the petite pirate princess that she gots a LIGER.

Holy botswarf!

Her tinfoil sword comes up and she is now undaunted in her bravery! "We gots to save the 'dults! Hunters gots laser beams, but we got glitter an' teeth! We got this!" Pivoting on her heel, she races for the liger and scrambles up on top of him. "Onward!" She points toward… is that a giant flying … what would you call that thing? It looks like a dragonfly, sort of, hovering there over the wall. And there's lights and wailing sirens and gunfire there. It's a strange cross between nightmare and cartoon.

Lia’s head swivels to follow the direction of the sword. With a kick of her heels, she spurs the llamacorn into action. “Onward!” She echoes, swinging her sword wildly in the air. Her llamacorn bounces on four feet instead of two, like a little rubber ball being thrown from a tall height. The redhead’s tatter of a white sundress flutters with every sproingy boing, looks as excited as her squeals of joy sound.

She drops her sword on one of those jumps, but doesn’t seem to mind because on the next, she reaches into the air and a small cupid’s bow materializes in her fist. The dreamwalker reaches behind her, as if about to scratch that infuriating spot in the middle of the back. Instead of relieving an itch, her fingers twiddle and sprinkle a bit of glittering dust. From there, she pulls a little golden arrow with a suction cup end.

“DIE FLY!!” She yells, knocking the arrow and drawing her bow. There’s an audible pyooooinnngggg as the string is loosed, sending the arrow in a graceful arc toward the hovering robot.

Aura doesn't like guns. They're loud. Swords are great fun and Lia's arrows are primal! But the little girl has seen Hunters fall before and well… this is her war, right? "Hakuna Matata!" she shouts into the air, her sword pointing at the floating horror. *Whoosh!* A rainbow flies away from her in brilliant waves of color. And then she starts singing, "What a wonderful phrase! Hakuna Matata!" *Whoosh!* Another rainbow is cut loose. "Ain't no passin' craze!" The lyrics in between apparently have different single colors. "It means 'no worries!' For the rest of your days…" Now she's firing different bolts of color from her sword, and each color rattles the flying robot in a different place. "It's our problem-free… fill-ah-soap-y!" The things starts to rattle in the air, similar to the way Delia has seen Elisabeth blow some things up. Apparently Aura thinks her Mum has some serious mojo. With a soundtrack! Because now the music to Hakuna Matata is playing as they race into battle.

Straight into


accounting department?

Kain's Dreamscape


Paperwork goes flying off several desks when Aura comes bursting through the open doors of an elevator into an open-office floorplan in a skyscraper. There are a dozen desks, each with computers set upon them, and literal faceless people in suits typing away in synchronization to one-another without acknowledgement of the young dreamer or the surreality surrounding her. The floor-to-ceiling glass windows show the Manhattan skyline.

A muzak version of Hakuna Matata plays over the loudspeakers in the elevator at Aura’s back.

“Look Ah’m not sayin’ y’have t’do it now…” Kain Zarek’s voice is the only familiar thing in this space. The dark-haired woman sitting on the corner of one of the desks is unfamiliar to her, but Kain seems invested in talking to her. “But Ah’m just sayin’, Gladstone ain’t got what you need. Y’hear me?”

Kain looks younger than Aura knew him, less gray in his beard. His hair is long, like the vague memories she has of him from her youngest years. He’s dressed nicer than she’s used to as well; a sleek suit and a nice necktie. Kain leans in to the woman he’s talking to with a knife-like smile. “C’mon, what’s one drink?”

Maybe this isn’t appropriate for children.

"Oof!" Lia forces her steed to a skidding stop right out of the elevator. An explosion of glitter covers the office like craft herpes the moment the liger collides into the llamacorn's rear-end. The dreamwalker's eyes widen at the unfolding scene and in an effort to protect her little charge from seeing anything wholly inappropriate, she reacts.


Aura, Kain, and the entire dream freeze.

"Should've vetted this place before we hopped in," the springy haired little girl mutters to herself. The avatar she chose for the little pixie may look young, but inside she's fully aware. She walks a slow circle around the office, tapping things here and there. Each touch of her finger brings a little piece of Aura's dream into the office.

Wasteland meets a Manhattan she hasn't seen since… too many years to count.

"Naughty naughty Unca Kain~" she sing songs as she leans in to inspect the man's guest. "Here… let me get that for you.." That offer ends with a bit of a snicker as she busies herself with buttoning up the lady's blouse, no need for a wardrobe malfunction. She straightens and considers the guests for a moment before shaking her head.

Tiptoeing over to Kain, she blows a breath of lavender and mint into his face. He comes back to life, facing a fully grown Delia. "Sorry for the interruption," the tone behind the apology sounds more sardonic than sincere. She comes closer, raising her hands to adjust the man's tie. Where she touches his outfit, it turns to a color palette a little more in tune with pastel llamacorns and ligers."I need to help a little lady through her nightmare and she wants you. Are you ready for this?"

She dusts the shoulders off of his new suit. A snappy powder blue tux with black sequin detailing on the lapels. She tucks a white rose into the buttonhole and gives him a dazzling smile. "Be a good boy and play your part."


"FARRAH ABOO!!" the little redhead shrieks as she spurs her llamacorn into the office. Her miniature sword coming down to slice a fake fiddle leaf fig in half. "Hurry Aura, save him from the math monsters!!"

Pirate Princess Aura, dressed in her long, sparkly pink tutu with a pirate hat thunked on her head rides her liger right into the middle of the office! She howls, "Unca Kain, we're here to save you!" brandishing her tinfoil sword high.

The typists out there look like … well, sort of not-as-scary cartoon versions of Centurion drones, which makes sense given that the room looks sort of like the Wasteland only not nearly so bad.

The liger snarls with a real good impersonation of the Lion King roar. All the heads of monsters in the typing pool come up. Their eyes are all math symbols glowing evil red.

"Hakuna Matata!" The little pixie pirate sings out, and *Whoosh!* there's a rainbow that wraps itself like vines around the first Math Monster, squeezing it like a boa constrictor. "Jump on, Unca Kain! We gotta escape 'fore a tunnel gets opened an' we get sucked through!"

Kain turns and looks at Aurora with furrowed brows and a downturned expression. Dream logic means that Delia’s intrusions and Aura’s presence don’t break his suspension of disbelief, and he just presumes everything makes sense and fits. Of course all of these things are happening in his office, of course Mischa let someone button her up, this all makes sense.

He slides a blue-eyed look over to the unfamiliar woman, then back to Aura. He picks up a stuffed elephant from his desk with a honk-squeek and brandishes it at her. “Ah’m in th’ middle of important work.” He says with a wave of the stuffed elephant in one hand. “Now scram y’brat, b’fore Ah’ get Manny an’ Dixon down here t’throw yer ass in a closet or somethin’.”

Without the filter normally put on him by consciousness, the unfiltered and unpleasant side of Kain he suppresses around Aurora is just left out hanging in the breeze. Kain looks back at the brunette sitting on the corner of the desk. “She’s from th’ legal department.” Kain says of Aurora. “Ignore her.”

Delia's sword drops as she turns her head to give Aura a skeptical glance. "He's really boring, Aura, are you sure you want him?" The way she says him betrays her real intention. They could have literally anyone else. Half sliding/falling from her llamacorn, she marches right back to Kain.

stomp stomp stomp

"You!" The little cardboard sword stabs him in the knee "..sir…" It stabs again. "Are really boring." She says in an authoritative tone.

Then the voice of another man joins in the conversation. "He really is, isn't he?" And with that, the brunette sitting on the corner of the desk stands, turns, and with a swift roll of her neck, flips her hair. When the brown swath clears her shoulder, Delia lets out a shrill scream and hides behind Kain.

There stands Mischa's body…. wearing the face of Don Kenner. Beard. And. All.

Math Monsters are not as scary to Pirate Princess Aura as that voice. Mr. CrazyPants!! That explains everything! "No-no-no!" The little one scolds while blasting another math monster! "Unca Kain, it's Mister CrazyPants!! Ruuun!!" We gotta stop the CrazyPants and his colorful tunnel!

She jumps up, standing on the liger's back like a bareback acrobat in the circus, and sings in a slightly off-key series of notes, "Let it go! Let it go!" Brilliant icy blue lashes of ribbons come from her sword as she points it at CrazyPants.

"CrazyPants has him under a spell," she tells Captain Lia. Kain has never said a mean word to her, after all. "We need glitter bombs to break it! Hit him hard, Cap'n! 'Afore CrazyPants opens the tunnel in here!"

Squinting, Kain looks at Kenner-Mischa like he’s seeing her in the harsh light of day for the first time after a hard night of drinking. It’s a scenario he’s unfortunately familiar with. “Y’allways been so uh,” Kain wrinkles his nose, “homely?”

Before Kenner-Mischa can say anything back, Kain’s distracted back over to Aura and Delia with a frustrated expression that one might give to a noisy cat, not the cavalcade of circus shenanigans happening in his peripheral vision. “Hey, Ah’ ain’t the one who invited y’all t’my office!” He finally thinks to shout at Delia, though it lacks the heat an immediately placed rebuke might.

“Damnit, y’all ruined the mood.” Kain grumbles, scratching one hand at the back of his neck a moment before he finally parses the word glitter bombs. “Wait what?”

There’s a small, sparkly grenade in Delia’s hand as Kain yells at her. Her somber expression includes wide, bright, blue eyes and she takes in the protest as seriously as their host makes it. “I’unno Unca Kain,” she replies with as much gravitas as a child of about 6 or 7 can manage. “I think you need this.”

The pin is pulled.

A slow, wicked smile spreads across the little girl’s face and she throws it upward at the ceiling.


As the glitter falls, the office’s colors and lines turn from photo-realistic to the monotone scribble of a pencil on plain paper. A squeal of delight emits from Delia as she twists her hand to and fro in front of her. “This is NEW!!”

With the change to monotone, the glitter is the only colorful thing in the room, too — and it's sparkly! All pinks and purples. Amid all the black lines, it twinkles, even in Kain's hair! Craft herpes, indeed. And Kain's outfit changes, so that he's wearing pirate garb a little more piratical than the normal clothes they wore in Flood. Scuffed jeans and a bandanna now. Standing atop the back of her liger, Pirate Princess Aura strikes a pose with one hand on her hip, the only other thing colorful in the room is a battered pink Hello Kitty backpack that she's wearing over her shoulders. She has all their gear, and they're coming to save the day!

"The spell is broken, Unca Kain — watch out! The math monsters are tryin'a grab us an' throw us all back in the Tunnel of Light! They almost got you an' are tryin'a make us leave ev'ybody behind!" Aura lowers her voice and stage whispers, "It's okay, though, cuz we're gonna save you like you awways saved me! That tunnel won't get you! I promise!"

There is a gradual sense of alarm slipping over Kain as he Ah-Ha’s into a two-dimensional sketch of a man. “What th’ hell’s going on?” Kain grumbles and he wheels about, his suspension of disbelief twisting in the dreaming winds of change. Rapid, unpredictable changes like this lead to a disconnect between dream logic and the conscious mind.

Math monsters?” Kain wonders aloud, wheeling about and leaving a sparkling trail of colorful glitter in his otherwise monochromatic wake. “What— th’ damn hell is goin’ on here?” He wonders with a crack in his voice, stumbling backwards toward Aura. “Wait, where am I? What’s— who’re— ” he sort of manages to ask Delia as he backpedals away from her.

“You’re fine now,” the springy-haired little girl assures Kain in a softer voice, slipping her hand into his and gaining a firm grip. Then she passes him the little cardboard sword she carries. “Aura’s here to rescue you, everything will be right as rain.”

Then she points at some blank space where the horizon should be. A small mess of scribbles is piled there and slowly begins to expand. Gradually, an abstract construct of a crowd, formed of the lost and found that they had gathered in all of the realities they had visited, unfolds into view.

“Look Aura!!” Lia’s voice regains the high pitch of an elementary school girl. “Everyone is over there!! They need you to show them the way!!” She tugs at Kain’s hand, urging him toward the llamacorn. “Come on Unca Kain, play with us!!”

Aura throws her hand high in the air, brandishing her sword. "Ev'ybody, let's go thataway!" And in the distance off the left, a crystal tower in the middle of a huge field of purple and pink and yellow flowers stands. "Lizard peoples an' evil math robots aren't allowed in the Red King's lands. I hafta get all of you into the field where the rainbow tunnel can't reach no more!" She nudges her steed — the giant cat giving Unca Kain a bit of a shove from behind — "An' when yer all safe, then I can rest an' have a juice box wif Cap'n Lia! Play wif us, Unca Kain. Say yar, like you did when we splooshed into the ocean."

Kain definitely said 'yar' in the most sarcastic tone possible after they were picked up by Mad Eve's boat. And then informed Aurora that only paaaaaaaaansies say Arr. Stretched out like that because he was definitely starting to say something other than pansies. But Aura always takes him at face value, and … he was a pirate here! So obviously he has to say Aaar!

Kain Zarek turns with a scowl, realizing too late that his depth-perception is amiss due to an eyepatch he wasn’t wearing until a moment ago. But he takes one step forward, then a clunk of his peg leg, and brandishes a hooked hand into the air and shouts, “Ah’ am not a pirate!

It’s in that moment Kain notices everything that the descriptive text discussed last paragraph. He looks down at himself, at his frilly white shirt that danced off the set of a nearly forty year old Seinfeld episode, and then looks up at Aura with complete and utter confusion painted across his face (with a little mystery kept behind the eyepatch.)

Slipping deeper into a state of whirling bewilderment, Kain looks from Aura to Delia and back again. Then asks in his most concerned and serious tone: “Yarrr?

Captain Lia, really just a mess of scribbles at this point, is much too underdressed for the likes of a crystal tower. As Kain is pondering his piratey predicament, her lines are rearranging and reassembling themselves into a better version of a little. When finished, she matches the other two a little better, but her outfit is a mish mash of different pinks and whites and her paper pirate hat has been replaced with a tinsel tiara..

He wind picks up a little, whipping her mess of curls into a poof that would make Poppy the Troll jealous. “Is the princess up there?!” the shout carries, echoing across the barren landscape. Her voice duplicates and triplicates, eliciting a wicked giggle and another call, “HELLO!!” Hello… hello…

"Helloooooo the tower!" Aura adds to the chaos, laughing at the echoes. Now that Unca Kain is a pirate, the Math Robots are no longer a threat. Waving her little sword high in a very 'Thundercats ho!' fashion… or maybe looking more like She-Ra riding BattleCat — the little pirate princess is going to lead the charge toward the tower, all the little squiggles of people surging toward them and looking like generic cartoon people.

"Take my hand, Unca Kain!" Imperiously, Aurora the Pirate Princess holds her hand out to Kain. "It's my turn to save you!" She's a self-rescuing princess, see?? "You teached me how!"

Kain turns to look at Aura, brows furrowed and lips downturned into a frown. There’s a parrot on his shoulder now with the head of a bald middle-aged white guy who basically looks like a big toe with eyes and a mouth. Reaching out, Kain takes Aura’s hand and she can hear a noise emanating from Kain, a shrill eee-eee-eee-eee in electronic screeching rhythm.

What?” Kain strains to hear Aura over the noise. “I— ”

Kain’s Apartment

New Chinatown, Staten Island
5:30 am

A single blue eye opens, the rest of Kain’s face stuffed against a pillow. There’s a glow from the face of his cell phone, angrily vibrating across his night stand in the dark, buzzing loudly with his morning alarm. He reaches out with a blindly grasping hand, slapping the phone screen several times until the alarm stops.

Kain is silent for a long time in the dark. Then, muffled by his pillow he queries: “Th’ fuck did I eat ‘fore bed?


Aura’s Dreamscape

And just like that, Kain’s world is gone.

The sparkling portal dumps the two giggling girls, scribble people, llamacorn, and liger into a pile of cloud pillows. Some explode into a mess of feathers on touchdown, but the scenery is peaceful, warm, and smells like spun sugar on a warm summer evening. Lia falls to her back and stares up at the too blue sky above them.

“Yay! You saved us all!” Captain Lia whoops and then lets out a long, happy sigh. “You’re getting real real good at bein’ a hero and stuff, Aura.”

"Woohoooooooo!" squeals Aurora as she lands in the pile of cloud pillows. Flopped spread-eagle on them, she giggles. "On'y wif Math Monsters, though," the girl tells her captain companion. Turning her head to look at Lia, her dream self is relaxed and content, the terrible things riding her dreams deterred by glitter and ligers and pirates. "I don' wanna be real heroes anywhere else. I wish we could just stay here."

The here, the realization that this isn’t real starts to niggle the edges of Aura’s mind. Though the brightness of her captain’s hair remains, the rest of the colors around them begin to wash away. One by one, their visitors dissolve like sand in the wind until it’s just the two of them on the pillows.


Now, Aura knows where she is and Delia, all grown up, is brushing the hair from her forehead. The fevered nightmares have been soothed and dawn is quickly approaching. “That’s okay,” the redhead admits, her voice a soft sing song. “You just be what you wanna be.” For now, real heroic efforts seem to terrify the child, which causes the frequency of the dreamwalker’s visits to climb.

Tilting her head, because Lia turning from a kid to a grown-up seems perfectly reasonable, Aura realizes she's asleep. "I like it when you come to play, Lia." Her dreams are so much more fun and definitely nicer when Lia comes to play. "We can play pirates and mermaids and everything sparkles." And nothing can rip her out of the universe in here.

"Do you get tired when you visit?" she wonders, pulling her knees up and wrapping her arms around them with her chin on top, looking at her friend's pretty hair. "I don' wantcha t' be too tired."


Aura's Bedroom

Raytech Apartments
6:30 am

The whispered word stays with Aura as a sunbeam shines between a slit in the shades, right on the little girl’s face, waking her.

Stretching out, the morning sun driving away any lingering night terrors, Aurora Harrison looks at the room her daddy painted for her. It's a lovely aqua color, soft and soothing. Like being underwater. And the little girl bounces up from the bed, murmuring "Bye, Lia! See ya next time!" on her way to the kitchen for breakfast. She can hear Mummy laughing out there, which means pancakes.

Turning toward the bouncing sandy-haired girl, Elisabeth is indeed making pancakes. Chocolate chip cookie dough pancakes! Those are only for special occasions indeed. "Hey there, Pixie. You're looking better this morning. Sleep well?" Because the child hasn't been — this week's been tough.

"Yup!" Aura announces. "I had the bestest dream. I rescued Unca Kain from Math Monsters. It was primal!"

Elisabeth laughs. "Math monsters, hmm? That sounds really scary." There's relief as she ruffles Aura's hair and sets a couple pancakes down. "Eat up, miss. You got school."

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