Speed Run: Shovel Knight
by William Hoffacker
It’s harvest season, but his crops come up rotten. Tomatoes have withered on the vines, corn cobs shriveled inside husks. His grief sours his fruits. The soil has spoiled in his care.
The farmer—former knight, ex-hero—has no one to turn to for help. He has made himself a hermit since She disappeared. He builds his fences high, shuns the townsfolk, ignores the orders of a man he once called King.
He wears simple clothes that feel like nothing compared with the armor he used to carry. His spade overturns the brown-black earth. He keeps no animals for plowing. He cannot trust himself with any life but his own.
Losing Her felt like shedding his own skin, exposing every muscle and nerve. She was the more defensive fighter, he the reckless bull charging into the fray. Her discipline elevated him in combat.. He should have been the one to succumb.
In his seclusion, foreign enemies seize the throne. A plague spreads through the kingdom, as do rumors that the disease is unnatural, man-made. Undertakers work overtime. The poor cry out for a champion. The farmer boards up his windows and hides his face under a beard.
The land heeds not his pleas for mercy. He tills a barren field. He has no farm folk in his bloodline, no earthly wisdom passed down through generations. His failure enrages him. His spade pierces the dirt like a blade carving flesh. His is not a nurturer’s spirit.
He stops planting seeds and digs only in search of treasure. He buys ripe apples at the market and refuses the villagers’ calls to adventure. He would sooner watch the world fall away than fight alone. He would rather die a peasant than lift a sword again.
William Hoffacker was born and raised in New York City. He received his M.A. in Creative Nonfiction from Ohio University. His work has appeared in Noble / Gas Qtrly, Cartridge Lit, matchbook, Sundog Lit, and others. He currently lives and works in Tucson, AZ. He tweets @YoungestOfOne.
Photo: screenshot from Shovel Knight, courtesy of Yacht Club Games (all rights reserved)