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The Road Less Traveled

The towering mountain rose above him, jagged, unforgiving.  Alex found his thoughts wandering -- why did he choose this path, or why did it choose him?  A series of missteps, regrets and miscalculations had brought him to this point.  Why didn’t he just take the regional transit, why did he eat so many tacos for breakfast? and how come he forgot his jacket?  He knew the answer at least to the last question, he forgot almost everything in life, important or not.  Whatever the case, Alex knew he had no choice but to take the direct, but most difficult path towards his future… directly over the mountain. 

The climbing started easily enough.  His legs, worn out and feeling aged from his quest, seemed to feel suddenly and inexplicably rejuvenated.  While he couldn’t place his newfound strength, he certainly would take it.  He even began to whistle a bit with a comfort and warmth that reminded him of the old times, before the invasion of the Bantans.  Why they picked this solar system he had no idea.  One thing Alex knew, they seemed only intent on destruction of humanity. 

As the sun rose higher, Alex’s thirst grew while the climbing only became more difficult.  Yet Alex continued his climbing and seemed to even increase his speed.  The path was windy and covered with giant boulders and trees.  He knew this could be bad.  Alex had been ambushed by Banta before and would be prepared for whatever they would come at him with… or he would run. 

He came around the bend and saw an old codger.  What on earth was the old man doing here?  Alex hadn’t seen a living person for the last several days and the ones he had seen were too busy thinking about the aliens to pay any attention to him.  “Hey there young fella!”

“What can I do for you old sir?” Alex replied.  “Well, I can use a good toothbrush.”  “Can’t we all” Alex said – though he said this while feeling out his own toothbrush in his front pocket which he had no plans to share.   “Well you got one to spare or not?”  could he be more brash? Pondered Alex.  “Well I don’t carry any extra kind sir.. good day to you now.”   But the old man was undeterred.  “Well look son” … “Alex, my name is Alex”  “Well look Alex, I need a toothbrush badly and I have no idea how I got here.  But my teeth are dirty and I could use a good flossing and mouthwash to boot.  Can you help me to the nearest grocery store?”  Alex thought it over for a second, the old man seemed to have his wits and some kind of strength about him… could he hold his own against a Bantan attack?  It wouldn’t hurt any to show him to a grocery store and he could use the company anyways.  “Sure old friend, feel free to travel along my way, but I don’t really know where this quest will lead me, and I forget almost everything that happens to me.  And, if I don’t get lost and both of us killed, then it is likely the Banta will finish us off.”  “Very kind of you young Alex!! Much obliged much obliged!  Say where did you get those socks at?”  Alas Alex remembered what he always seemed to forget, his socks of course!  Alex wore only Sox Box socks.  Socks known for their comfort, strength and resiliency.  Alex’s a kilt man of course, always was… so people could see him coming and more importantly they could see the socks.  “Old man, these are Sox Box socks… can’t say I remember much where I got ‘em from but I can tell you they’ve saved my life more than a few times.”  “I’ll bet they do… and what exactly is them socks sayin’ on em?”  As usual, Alex had forgotten which Sox Box socks he had on and needed to look down to see the words ‘Faster’ and ‘Stronger’ on each leg.  It also occurred to Alex that his new company was either illiterate or suffering poor eyesight. “Well old friend these are my ‘Faster’ ‘Stronger’ socks.”  Of course! His remembering rushed back to him like a tidal wave.. the magical Sox Box socks gave him the power of their words.  He realized quickly that his hiking which puzzlingly seemed so effortless was only because the sox made him both ‘Faster’ and ‘Stronger’.  “Old man I don’t have any toothbrush… but I always have extra sox”  As he reached into his backpack of sox, he pondered a bit.  Giving great power requires some responsibility… he couldn’t give out just any sox willy-nilly.  His new friend seemed a bit curmudgeonly and bitter on life.. though Alex would be too if he hadn’t brushed and was stuck on a mountain not knowing where to go.  He handed the gent a pair of the ‘Suck it up Buttercup’ socks.  The old man, who went by the name John seemed mightily pleased by the gesture.  But Alex knew the power of the world’s most comfortable sox he possessed, for so long as John had the sox on, Alex would hear not a single complaint.  Such the added benefit that Johns lack of complaints might limit the release of bad breath.  John, a fellow kilt wearer, grinned a wide, yellow grin towards Alex while admiring his new most comfortable socks.  “Let’s go to that grocery store!”  “Alex knew the journey would be difficult, and he would again forget everything; why he ran, where he went, maybe even who he was with… but none of that mattered really.  So long as Alex had the magical Sox Box socks he would be able to conquer anything… human, alien, mountain… it mattered little to him.  “Let us go good John!  You have a problem with breath and your possibly slightly blind or illiterate; while I forget exactly why I am here… but whatever stands in our way, we will overcome it”  “Hooyah young Alex”  The old man was gratefully succinct and surprisingly cheerful.  The magic of Sox Box was already at work.

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