Mr. Merlin, sir, I’m super flattered that of all the eighth-graders in the world, you chose me to help you save Camelot. When that interdimensional chasm appeared in left field, I could never have imagined the unforgettable friendships or rip-roaring adventures awaiting me on the other side.

It’s only been a week, but already I’ve learned so much about archery, jousting, talking to girls, how to fashion a selfie stick from a heretic’s fork, and siege warfare. No matter what happens, I’ll always be thankful for my time here in King Arthur’s court.

All that said, I’m just wondering if there might have been less life-threatening ways for me to learn self-confidence or fiscal responsibility or whatever lesson I’m supposed to learn here.

Whatever virtues you’re trying to instill in me, can’t you do it without repeatedly pitting me against axe-wielding guards or the mysterious Black Knight?

I’d like to expand on the part about my life being in peril because I think it’s key. My safety has been in constant jeopardy since the day I arrived. After falling thousands of feet through the portal you conjured without my consent, I miraculously landed in a wagon transporting a tall stack of woolen blankets. If I had landed six inches in any other direction, every bone in my body would have shattered like the stained glass window I fell through while spying on the villainous Lord Belasco.

I feel a panic attack coming on just thinking about it.

My compulsory knight training has been no less traumatic. I’ve narrowly avoided impalement by flaming arrows, barely outran three horse-drawn carriages, and been unwillingly drawn into seven duels to the death, all of which I’ve escaped by kicking my opponent in the balls. Every groin hit causes an unseen bell to ring out, as if there’s something inherently comical about an asthmatic middle schooler fighting for his life.

Now the sound of any bell gives me PTSD. I am 14 years old.

Despite these myriad near-fatal experiences, I don’t feel any braver or more responsible or closer to being able to balance a checkbook.

Because that’s the real reason I’m here, right?

Be straight with me, Merl. I might be flunking algebra and swordsmanship, but I’m not an idiot. You keep talking about how I’m this savior foretold by prophecy, “the boy hero fated to protect the King’s throne,” blah blah blah. But I gotta tell you, I can smell the didacticism a mile away. This is about me having to discern some invaluable lesson through a climactic act of courage and, I suspect, nailing a few more guys in the nads.

If this is the case, won’t you sit me down and teach me the lesson like a normal wizard mentor? Whatever virtues you’re trying to instill in me—humility, altruism, respect for the elderly—can’t you do it without repeatedly pitting me against axe-wielding guards or the mysterious Black Knight? Couldn’t I have joined a racially diverse dance troupe or befriended a handicapped war veteran instead?

Wait a minute. How do I know I was the one destined to fall through the portal in the first place? I thought I heard it calling my name, but maybe that was the crowd directing my attention to the popfly soaring toward me.

Was this glorified abduction actually meant for Jamie Feldner whose parents are going through a protracted divorce? Or maybe Tommy Wilkins whose confidence at the mound has been shaky since his dog Nacho ran away? Is this whole straight-to-VHS nightmare one big misunderstanding?

Fine, whatever. I’ll keep playing by the rules of your sadistic game.

But when I do eventually grasp the importance of family or civic duty and rematerialize on the baseball field, I damn well better catch that game-winning popfly and the crowd better jump to their goddamn feet and I better lose my virginity that very same night. To Tommy Wilkins. Twice.


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