Adventures in the Peacewood
The Shadow of doubt
Co-written by Ricky Guilliams and Martin Fredskov
The following story was originally published in 2017, it never stayed online for long.
The Shadow of Doubt was the first time I dabbled into writing, something that has never been my strong suit. It is when I realized that I was fine doing the overarching story, but only really had troubles writing body text between the plot points of the story.
For this story, I wanted to make the start of a story universe, in a dream world where bullied kids could go to. A safe space.
I created a plot line and got in touch with Ricky Guilliams, who was paid to write body text following the plot line I had given him. He deliveried a result I am personally super happy about, that I hope will catch your attention too.
Lastly; I wanted this to be handled professionally, so I hired Emily Nemchick to proof read and correct gramma. I could not have finished this story without the help of both, so THANK YOU.
- Martin Fredskov
The Shadow of Doubt
Max was a young boy of eight years old. He spent his days as most young children his age do, playing in the park and pretending to be on magical adventures with his friends. However, on one special morning, he awoke to find that it was raining and he could not play with his friends. This didn’t upset Max though, because on days like this, he could do his favorite indoor activity, drawing. Max loved to draw and was quite good at it. He would draw dinosaurs and other worlds with fantasy creatures and get lost in imagining the adventures they would have. With the rain pouring down, he set up his drawing board and began thinking of what he wanted to create. After a few moments, his imagination sparked and he began drawing. Only this time, he didn’t draw dinosaurs, or monsters from other worlds. This time, something compelled him to draw a wizard. Not a tall, gray-bearded one with a magical staff, but a jolly, friendly one. The wizard was bald, with a big red beard and green cloak. He imagined the wizard to be his friend, a companion that could take him on adventures in a world where anything is possible. Max looked outside to see the rain pounding against his window and thought of his friends.
“I wish it wasn’t raining!” Max said to himself. He turned to his drawing and in a wishful tone, said, “I bet you can make the rain stop!” Suddenly, to Max’s shock and disbelief, the wizard sprang to life and spoke to him.
“I can indeed, Max, and so can you!”
Max’s jaw dropped, and he shook his head in disbelief “How can you talk? You’re just a drawing!” Max said to the wizard. The wizard laughed and eagerly explained to Max, “It’s the power of imagination, Max! Your imagination brought me to life, my dear boy. Your imagination can bring anything to life!”
“How can it do that?” Max asked.
“Well, it’s simple really,” said the wizard as he leaped out of the page and into Max’s room. “You just draw it and imagine it to life! Your imagination is a powerful gift, Max.”The wizard pulled out a large, magical pencil and began drawing a beautiful world with plains and rivers that flowed into a lake surrounded by large trees. Max looked at the drawing.
“You’re really good!” Max exclaimed, dazzled by how beautiful the drawing was.
The wizard let out a laugh. “Thank you, Max. You can do it too!”
The wizard pulled out another, smaller pencil and handed it to the boy. “Just imagine anything you think this world should have and draw it!” Max thought for a moment and said, “I think it needs mountains and some birds flying around!”
“Wonderful, of course it does!” the wizard responded.
Max began drawing the mountains and the birds, and was amazed when every stroke was the exact color he wanted.
“That’s amazing!” said Max, staring in wonder at the magical pencil.
“It is indeed, Max! So, what shall we call this wondrous world?” the wizard asked Max, eager to hear what the boy had to say.
Max looked at the painting and after a short moment he said, “How about Peacewood!” He looked at the wizard. The wizard looked upon the young boy with a pride-filled smile. “And what a splendid place it is! So, shall we?” he said. Then, the wizard jumped back into the drawing. Max looked at the wizard, once again slightly confused “How do I get in?”
“All you have to do is close your eyes and see yourself in Peacewood!” the wizard told Max, eagerly waiting for Max to join him. Max closed his eyes and tried deeply to envision himself in Peacewood. After a short moment, he began to feel the air stir. Then, he felt tingly and weightless, as if he were floating in the air. Soon after, he could feel a cool breeze and the warmth of the sun. He opened his eyes and was amazed to see that he was in Peacewood.
“Such a fantastic place, Max. A place where dreams and reality are one and the same,” the wizard told Max. He beckoned the boy to follow along as he walked around Peacewood. “You can draw absolutely anything and bring it to life here, anything at all. Your imagination is the limit.”
“Even dinosaurs and dragons?” Max asked.
“Of course, Max! It can be anything you can imagine, no matter if it is real, or fantasy. Here, you can bring your dreams to life.” The wizard held his pencil out and began drawing a floating chain of islands off in the distance. “There is no limit to the wondrous things you can create.”
Max looked upon the floating islands in awe, with a huge smile on his face. “This is so amazing!” he said. “Can we go there?”
“Why, of course we can, dear boy, but how do we get there from here?” the wizard asked. He patiently waited to see what Max could come up with.
Max thought to himself, trying to come up with a way to reach the beautiful floating lands. After a short while, an idea sprung into his mind. “How about we fly?” Max asked the wizard, wondering what he had to say.
“Splendid idea, Max. What shall we fly with?” the wizard asked. “Shall it be a flying creature, or perhaps an object?” Max thought to himself once again, lost in imagination.
“I don’t know!” Max exclaimed slowly. He grew upset with himself for not coming up with a great idea. “There are so many things it could be, but I can’t decide.” Max’s face lost its cheer and as he contemplated, a mysterious shadowy blob emerged off in the distance behind them. It slowly approached the pair as Max continued to think.
It’s okay, Max,” the wizard told him. “There is no need to worry, or try to rush it.” The shadowy blob continued to come closer as Max continued to think. Slowly, it grew larger as Max started to feel more upset.
“I don’t think I can come up with anything great like you!” Max told the wizard.
“Oh, that’s quite alright, dear boy! The important thing is not whether you can or not. The important thing is that you try. No one has ever made anything without trying, Max,” the wizard tried to reassure the boy. “Besides, if I am as great as you believe, remember that you are the one who made me and that is pretty great in my eyes!” Max looked at the wizard and his frown turned into a slight smile. The shadow in the background halted and shrunk in size a little as it stared at the pair.
Max looked to the wizard “Do you mean it?” Max asked the wizard. Suddenly, Max noticed the blob in the distance and, shocked by its presence, asked, “What’s that?” He didn’t recall seeing it drawn by the wizard, or by himself.
The wizard looked at the blob and back to Max “That is the Shadow of Doubt. Your doubt, Max. It manifests when your belief in yourself is faint and it becomes stronger the lower your confidence becomes.”
“Is it bad?” Max asked.
“I don’t believe so. It is simply here with us. It means no harm. In fact, quite the opposite. It wants to help you, it’s just not sure how it can,” the wizard explained to Max. “Doubt prevents most of us from doing what we would like to. Fear of failure is the greatest cause of giving up and quitting. Think, Max, was there ever a time when you were afraid of something, but managed to overcome it?” Max thought back to his time in the playground with his friends.
“When I was six I would play on the monkey bars and I always wanted to skip a bar, but I was afraid I would fall and hurt myself,” Max recalled.
“But you managed to do it one day, didn’t you?” asked the wizard, as excitedly as if he had done it himself. The Shadow of Doubt sat there watching Max and the wizard cautiously. Max jumped in excitement “Yes, I did!” he said to the wizard, remembering the joy and excitement he felt when he conquered his fear. The Shadow jumped back a little, shocked by Max’s sudden outburst.
The wizard, wanting to hear more of this tale, asked, “And what helped you to finally do it?” Max closed his eyes, thinking back to that wonderful day, while the Shadow of Doubt timidly held his ground. Its eyes were still locked on the pair as if it was also waiting to hear the answer.
“Well, at first I was afraid. I had fallen before and hurt my arm and was scared it would happen again, but my friends kept cheering for me, telling me that I could do it,” Max recalled.
“What happened next, Max?” asked the wizard, as excitedly as if it was a great mystery being solved.
“I stared at the monkey bars. My heart was racing so fast, but I knew I had to do it. My friends were so excited and I couldn’t let them down. So, I took a deep breath and swung from the first bar. I swung a few bars one by one, but eventually, I just went for it. I swung back real hard and reached for the second bar.” Max said, lost in the triumphant memory of that day. Both the wizard and the Shadow’s eyes widened with anticipation.
“And you made it?” questioned the wizard.
Max let out a big smile as he gleefully responded, “Yes! I grabbed the bar and didn’t fall. I even skipped a bar all the way to the end! My friends jumped up and down, cheering for me. It was one of the best days ever!” Max jumped in excitement. The Shadow of Doubt jumped at the commotion and fled behind a large rock to hide from the pair.
The wizard cheered for Max and was overjoyed to hear of his accomplishment. “You see, Max? You did it! Once you overcame your fear, you achieved something great. Being afraid is the only thing that stops you. It was the same on those monkey bars as it is now! Don’t be afraid; you can do anything.” The two stood there as the Shadow slowly crept out from behind the rock and once again, slowly approached the pair.
“Were you ever afraid of anything?” Max asked the wizard.
“As a matter of fact, I have been afraid before,” the wizard replied and as he did, a small purple blob hopped out from behind him, looking at Max with large, curious eyes.
“What’s that?” Max asked, looking at the small blob.
“I had a Shadow of my very own once. Much like you, I was afraid that my drawings wouldn’t be as good as others’. I would always criticize myself, telling myself that I couldn’t draw well and that no one would like my art.” The wizard looked down at the purple blob with a faint smile. It looked back happily. Max looked over to the Shadow, standing behind the rock. It stared back, peeking out from the side of the stone.
“What happened to it?” asked Max.
The wizard and the purple blob both looked at Max. “He became my friend, Max,” the wizard replied as he looked back down to the small creature beside him. “You see, I began to stop worrying if my drawings weren’t good enough. Instead, I began to ask myself, ‘What wouldn’t be good about it?’ and ‘What could be changed to make it better?’ After a time, my drawings became better and the Shadow became my friend, turning into this charming little creature here.” The wizard bent over to pat the little purple blob on the head. It stretched up to his hand with its eyes closed and the wizard gave it a few pats. Max looked to see that his Shadow of Doubt had come out from behind the rock and was very slowly coming up to them.
“I just want to draw something that is different than what I usually draw!” Max told the wizard. “I always draw dragons and dinosaurs. I can think of other things, but it’s really hard to choose.”
“Why is it hard to choose?” the wizard asked Max.
Max thought for a moment, trying to figure out why he was never satisfied with his ideas. “I want to fly on something really cool, that no one has ridden before, but I keep thinking of birds and dragons. I thought of a magic carpet too, but I’ve seen drawings of all of those,” Max said.
“Well, it doesn’t have to be something that can fly. Here we can make anything fly,” the wizard told Max.
“So, it doesn’t have to have wings?” Max asked curiously.
“Nope,” the wizard replied, with a grin on his face. “It doesn’t even have to be a land animal. It can be a flying fish, or a seahorse, or anything you want.” Max’s smile grew as his mind filled with new possibilities. The Shadow approached Max, looking up at him, still slightly timid.
Max looked down at the Shadow “How about a flying dolphin?” he asked it. Its eyes widened as it nodded in approval of Max’s idea.
The wizard nodded with them. “Sounds splendid, my boy. Flying dolphins, how marvelous.”
Max smiled widely as he turned around with his magic pencil and began drawing a dolphin in front of him. He drew the outline first, then the eyes, fins and mouth. He went to fill in the color, but paused suddenly. Then he turned around to his Shadow. It looked back him, waiting to see what Max would do.
“Should it be a blue dolphin?” he asked the Shadow. It looked back at him and shook its head in disapproval. “Hmm, how about a red one?” It nodded as it jumped with excitement. “Good, red is my favorite,” Max said. He turned to his drawing and began to fill in the color. After he was done, he stepped back to look at his work. The red dolphin sprang to life and began swimming around, singing in joy as it swam through the air. Max jumped, cheering and laughing as the dolphin swam up to him and nudged its head against him. The Shadow behind him began to turn purple and jumped up on Max’s shoulder. The boy laughed as he played with his two newest friends.
“Such a delightful creature,” the wizard remarked. He then drew a dolphin of his very own and hopped onto its back as it flew around in circles, chirping and singing. “Well, Max, shall we?” he said, beckoning the boy to ride with him to the floating isles. Max hopped on his dolphin and began to follow the wizard. The Shadows quickly turned into birds and flew closely behind them, whistling and dancing in the air. When they arrived at the isles, Max drew rivers that flowed from the isles in giant waterfalls that cascaded into the ocean below. He then drew talking trees and flying fish that would jump out of the water and fly to the other islands in the sky. He learned to work with his Shadow of Doubt and together they created a world of magic and wonder. After Max was done drawing, he began to wonder how things were going at home. He had been having so much fun that he had forgotten how long he had been in Peacewood.
“Wizard, do you think it’s done raining at home?” Max inquired, hoping that the rain had stopped and that he could play with his friends.
The wizard, who had just finished drawing a flying turtle, turned to Max and replied, “Why yes, I think it has. Would you like to go home now, Max?”
“Yeah, I want to go see if my other friends can play with me,” Max stated. He then asked, “How do I get back?”
“You just close your eyes and imagine yourself back in your room,” the wizard told Max. Max ran over to the wizard and gave him a big hug, his Shadow following closed behind.
“Thank you, Wizard. I had so much fun with you today,” Max said.
The wizard gave him a few soft pats on his head before responding, “Anytime, lad. You can always come back and play with us whenever you would like. Just draw a picture of Peacewood, close your eyes and imagine yourself there.” The wizard knelt down and gently put his hand on Max’s shoulder. “Always remember, you can do anything if you believe in yourself.”
“I will, and I will come back every time I draw.” Max stepped back and looked at his new friends.
The wizard began to wave at Max as he told him, “Until next time, my dear boy. You will always be welcomed here.” Max waved back and then bowed his head with his eyes closed. He imagined standing in his room and when he felt a strong gust of wind, he opened them. He was back in his room, looking at the picture he drew. A wizard standing on a floating island with flying dolphins and smiling purple blobs. He ran to his drawing, took it off the board and taped it to his wall. The sun was shining outside of his window and he was excited to go play with his friends and tell them of his magical adventure. He rushed to put his shoes on and get ready to leave, but before he walked out of the door, he glanced back at his picture and smiled. The wizard winked at Max then froze in place. Max waved at his magical friend and then left to play outside, already looking forward to having another adventure in Peacewood.
All rights reserved © Martin Fredskov & Ricky Guilliams 2017-2023