Bryce Cranwell thought himself very clever. And he was, for a quant. Most quants were narrowly focused on using mathematical abstractions to help Wall Street extract profits from the real economy, but Cranwell had been taking classes in Personal Evolution and was now on track to get his Hero Belt, having already mastered the King and Warrior archetypes. This according to Nadine Tremblay who ran the School for Evolving Nerds. Nadine was an exacting coach. It was her idea for him to take refuge here, in this cave high in the Himalayas, until he was called upon to rescue a family of Tibetan refugees.
“Would Master care for some yak butter tea?” his man-servant Melvin inquired from the chilly depths.
Cranwell frowned. Why did evolution have to taste so vile? Ah, but this was the price of heroism — authenticity.
“Well, hop-to, you wretched laggard!” he barked.
Leaning precariously on his good leg, Melvin handed Cranwell a mug of the steaming oily brew.
“Jolly good nourishment, eh, sir?”
“I’d rather be puking, you bloody fool,” Cranwell grimaced. “Any sight of our refugees yet?”
Melvin put the spyglass to his good eye and scanned the snowy passes below.
“None, sir, but I do see the gent going after his Assassin Belt coming ‘cross the ridge.“
Cranwell wrenched the peeper from his servant’s hand, snapping a few of the old man’s bones.
“Blast! You’re right. That’s old Bob Cribbage, as I live and breathe! Never knew he had the gumption.”
“Madame Tremblay is known to inspire miraculous transformations in even the feeblest candidates,” Melvin offered.
“What’s that tone I detect? Am I hearing judgment of your betters, lowly cripple?”
For years, Melvin had been treated like a subhuman by these rich pricks on their Vision Quests, with their manicured hands, symmetrical bodies and politically correct Patagonia attire. Well, no more!
Marshaling a lifetime of bitter rage, Melvin whipped his good arm about in a mad frenzy, so startling Cranwell that he slipped on a patch of spilled yak butter and slid seamlessly out of the cave and over the cliff’s edge, plummeting thousands of feet, only to be impaled on the very ice axe he’d carelessly jettisoned on his ascent.
“Pip pip cheerio, old mate,” Melvin chirped.
Wasting no time, he rummaged through the dead man’s bespoke backpack.
Melvin unfurled the Crimson Hero Belt and stroked it across his good cheek.
“Who’s to say I can’t do the rescuing?”
Melvin wrapped the belt around his waist.
He hobbled out of the cave.
Into the hard bright light of salvation.