DEFEAT. 012 – Stars Above. Sword Below.

[DEFEAT. is Rendar Frankenstein’s truest attempt at fiction.   Presented in weekly episodes, the novella tells the tale of Daryl Millar – a hero who dies at the intersection of pop culture, science-fiction, war epic, and fantasy]

Daryl Millar spent this particular Monday night sleeplessly staring at his bedroom ceiling. Despite what many would call a more-than successful day, Daryl couldn’t shake a feeling of discontent. Something much weightier was on the horizon.

Treating a friend to pizza. Getting a girl’s phone number. Enjoyable activities. But it was learning one of his grandfather’s secret origins that induced the temporary insomnia. Gramps’ tale wasn’t an anecdote or a flapping of the gums.

It was a revelation.

Although Daryl didn’t believe in fortunetelling or soothsayers yet, this night found him second-guessing. The day’s events were resonating within and he could feel them trying to point him towards some goal. Problem was, Daryl wasn’t exactly sure what the goal was or how he could go about reaching it. But an understanding that there was something much more important for him to do — or at least, there could be — was firmly planted. And beginning to sprout.

Something had shot this seed right into his mental uterus.

There was something about the way Gramps described Bill Jonas. Daryl just couldn’t shake it, remembering the tone of Gramps’ voice as he described his friend’s utter lack of hesitation in hopping on top of a grenade. Any trace of survivor’s guilt was washed away by a tsunami of gratitude. The tears he had seen welling up in his grandfather’s eyes were not of remorse or sadness or regret, but of an appreciation that Daryl had never before thought possible.

Bill Jonas had the awareness of being in a position to make a difference. To provide possibility for a friend. To give the gift of life at the price of death. And so he did. Hell, what would’ve been the point of not? As Gramps said, that moment in which the two of them ran through a battlefield as the world seemed to end was the greatest of their entire lives — everything afterwards would have simply paled in comparison.

Tossing and turning, Daryl started to think of how the life of his grandfather’s savior would have unfolded had he not hugged shrapnel. Maybe they both would have died. Maybe only Gramps would have died and Bill would regret his inaction for the rest of his life. Maybe they both would have lived, but only after being horribly maimed. Maybe they would’ve ended up killing each other in a barroom brawl.


Bottom line, Daryl figured, was that the death of Bill Jonas was of an immeasurable advantage to Gramps. And it had indirectly ensured his own existence. “Having reaped the benefits for so long, doesn’t it stand to reason that the favor be repaid? Isn’t that how the universe works? Isn’t that how it should work?”

With life going as good as it was, Daryl began to think that maybe it was time to sacrifice a little — or perhaps a lot — for those who would otherwise go without. He wasn’t sure how he was going to go about doing it, but he entertained ideas as he finally started to doze.

Drifting off, Daryl Millar’s dreams only encouraged him. He tightened his grip on the hand-decorated scabbard which held the samurai sword Gramps had brought home from World War II.