This is the picture for the short story prompt for Iron Age Media. You write a story based on the picture. This one is mine. Enjoy.

The Trek

Written by Tony DiGerolamo

Copyright 2023

            “What the absolute Sam Hill Fuck is this?!” Trevor spat. “After what I paid? All I paid for this shit!”

            The curb outside the airport terminal in Warsaw was blazing hot for the time of year, which didn’t help Trevor’s disposition at all. The beer bellied IT assistant had saved up money for six months for a fan con that made big promises in Poland. Now, drenched in sweat beneath a black t-shirt that said “Marvel-stan”, he was now fuming at his Polish driver, Stelios.

            The 40-something Slav barely spoke Polish and spoke even less English as he nervously smoked a cigarette. The father of six was hoping the rich American would tip him well, but the longer Trevor ranted, the more the poor Slav began giving up hope.

            “I’ve come all the way from America to go to a con!” ranted the indignant Trevor. “And this is the vehicle you pick me up in? What the fuck is this? The car that Homer bought in the Simpsons he couldn’t put into H?!”

            Stelios stared back at Trevor blankly. Even if he had understood all the words, he hadn’t seen that particular episode of The Simpsons. The driver began loading the American’s bags in the trunk of his Melex in hopes of getting him inside. Stelios was worried the engine would go off if he didn’t press the accelerator soon.

            Trevor dug around in the pocket of his cargo shorts and pulled out his smart phone. He called the number from the ad— The one that promised him an all-expenses paid convention for five days in Poland if he paid for his own plane ticket. Again, no one answered the phone.

            “This is fucked! This is completely fucked, ya know that?!” he ranted in the car minutes later as Stelios left the airport, a fresh Newport dangling. “Y-y-y-you didn’t even spell my name right on your sign! What kind of cringe-inducing, short bus retard mistake is that?!”

            Stelios understood the word “bus” and wondered what buses in America looked like. Surely not like his car. They were probably the size of houses with clean toilets and a bar, he figured.

            As the Slav drove off and out of the city, Trevor continued to rant and complain online via his smart phone. He was having trouble with his data plan— Another expense he wasn’t expecting. The fanboy was determined to let everyone on Reddit and Mastadon know the outrages he was suffering with his Polish hosts.

            Following instructions he had been given, Stelios drove deep into the wilderness in Chwalibogi, down a dirt road and stopped at a rundown cabin. Getting out, he reached into his pocket and pulled out several ancient looking keys, choosing the one with bright gems inlaid in the handle. Trevor had been in an argument in a YouTube comment thread about the MCU when he realized they had stopped and Stelios was walking toward the cabin. He got out and looked around.

            “Hey! Polish Bruh! Where the fuck is the hotel? Don’t you dare tell me I’m staying in this shithole.”

            “Hotel-hotel,” Stelios repeated. “Yes, I know. I know.”

            “What? Do they hold the registration out here or something? What the fuck is this?” Trevor asked, finally dawning on him Stelios wasn’t exactly fluent.

            “Go in, go in,” urged Stelios. “Hotel. Hotel later.”

            “Okay, fine, whatever,” Trevor agreed. “Better be some fucking food in here. I’m fucking starving.”

            Using the bejeweled key, Stelios unlocked the door to the cabin and guided Trevor inside. The fanboy didn’t notice the slight drop off and stumbled deep inside the doorway. Stelios immediately closed it, locked it behind him and headed back to the car to take Trevor’s bags to the hotel.

            Trevor, of course, had stepped through the doorway which was a magic portal to the land of Llynen’ol, a mystical world where dragons, elves and magic still existed. He had fallen forward on all fours and immediately realized he was wearing different clothes. Standing up and looking around, he realized he was in a suit of armor with some kind of ornate staff strapped to his back. The cabin and the portal that had brought him here were nowhere to be found.

            “Mo-ther-fuck-er,” he said deliberately. “What the fuck is this? I’m starving, I haven’t taken a shit since half way across the Atlantic Ocean and now this?! This was not on the ad! This is not the con I paid for!”

            Looking around at the breathtaking scenery didn’t lighten Trevor’s mood one iota, the fanboy was furious. What kind of con organizers kidnaps their customers? He was stranded in the middle of Poland and checking his pockets, he couldn’t find his phone. Silhouetted against the dying rays of the late day sun was enormous medieval castle that looked like something out of a painting. The fanboy sneered.

            “Am I in some kind of Polish God damned Disneyland?! What the fuck is this shit?!” he ranted to no one as he stomped toward the structure. “There’d better be a con organizer, an explanation and a fucking toilet when I get to this thing! And God help them if they have no Doritos. God motherfucking help them!”

            Arriving at the base of a drawbridge just around sundown Trevor was, again, frustrated that there were no con organizers to greet him. Where were the name tags? Where was the signage? Why wasn’t there at least a volunteer with a clipboard?

            After shouting across the distance, he eventually got the attention of a guard and several minutes later the drawbridge was lowered so he could get across.

            “About fucking time,” he muttered, storming across just about ready to crown.

            The LARPers inside seemed anxious but also happy and relieved to see him, but Trevor didn’t notice. He made his demands and was quickly ushered to the nearest bathroom. It was a real castle bathroom all right— Basically a hole in the stone to shit in and a filthy rag to wipe yourself. Trevor tore off a piece of his costume, wiped and then rejoined the guards.

            “There’s no toilet paper in the God damned bathroom!” he groused.

            “Sorry mi lord,” apologized the guard. “But we must get you to the Arch Wizard immediately.”

            “Is he in charge?” Trevor demanded.

            “Yes, mi lord.”

            “Good, cause I’ve got some words for him! This is fucked! This is not the con I paid for!”

            “Uh, yes, mi lord.”

            The guards escorted Trevor into a massive grand hall. It was filled with tapestries depicting the history of the castle, the mounted head of an Arkessian Dragon and a gently spinning mobile of the planet with its three moons. The Arch Wizard Flayodin sat in an ornate throne that hovered just above the raised dais, as his elf advisors stood around him holding various tomes and papers for him to refer.

            “Ah, Warrior Mage,” greeted the Arch Mage. “Welcome to Castle Red Horizon, Travis. I trust your journey was—“

            “Hey!” interrupted the fanboy. “I can do without the roleplay right this second. Where is the con organizer?”

            “Excuse me?” the wizard responded in confusion.

            “Will you drop character for a fucking second! I got no phone! No clothes! And this is not the con I paid for!” Trevor ranted.

            “Your words are unbecoming for a spellcaster of your station,” the Arch Mage bristled. “Do you have any idea where you are? The Dark Necromancer and his forces are gathering— Even now, at the edges of the kingdom. You’re our only—“

            “Yeah-yeah-yeah, I get it,” finished Trevor. “I’m your only hope. Blah-blah-blah, you have a quest for me.”

            “So you do realize where you are?” the Arch Mage asked, somewhat suspicious.

            “Yes!” shouted Trevor. “But this isn’t the con I paid for!”

            “You are not at a ‘con’, sir,” the Arch Mage informed him. “The ad lured you here— From your world, where our driver took you to a cabin that contained a portal to ours. We need your help, Warrior Mage, before—“

            “Yeah, I get it, Gandolf,” ranted the fanboy. “I’m the Chosen One that can find the magic whatever-the-fuck you need to defeat the evil blah-blah-blah. Whatever! I’m sure they’ll be trials and tribulations! Oo and a love interest!”

            “Your sarcasm, sir,” Flayodin frowned. “Is not appreciated.”

            “You’re not getting it,” insisted Trevor. “This is not the con I paid for, dumb fuck! Yeah, I answered the ad, but my name is Trevor.”

            One of the elves handed the Arch Mage a scroll which he unrolled and skimmed.

            “Oh, dear,” the old wizard exclaimed.

            At that very moment, Travis, Trevor’s fantasy fanboy counterpart, had gone into a different cabin. This one was actually hiding an alien spaceship which took off, carrying the unsuspecting fan to the mothership. There he would be briefed on why he was the chosen warrior of Earth— And the galaxy— And that he needed to defeat a race of ruthless alien cyborgs. When Travis realized the mistake, he too, cursed out his alien hosts for their error almost as much as Trevor.

            “Stelios,” realized the Arch Mage, now regretting cheaping out on the car service.

            “I’m not into all this Game of Thrones bullshit!” Trevor ranted to the wizard. “The ad I answered was about a sci-fi con! I’m here for the Trek!”