From the blanket of a vast, seemingly empty, nothingness forked down a single thread of light. At exactly five seconds later, a rumbling sound emanated in the sky outside the otherwise quiet Dream Town.
Inside the cottage labeled “22,” Ryan Geller was snoring quietly. Laid open on his bedside table was a hardcover of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by the talented J.K. Rowling.
“Magic. . . wand. . .” Ryan mumbled. Drools and sweats were sipping through his checkered pillowcase.
He saw himself standing in the stormy Dream Town with two men whose faces he couldn’t make out. He narrowed his eyes, willing to see clearer but to no avail. Before he had a chance to open his mouth, the two men approached him. He saw them clearly now.
One was tall and thin with long white beard. He had a crooked nose and was wearing half-moon spectacles that Ryan realized at once as Albus Dumbledore’s. The other one was a thin, spider-like man with a large hooked nose and greasy black shoulder-length hair. He was wearing billowing black robes.
Oh my god, that couldn’t be. . . Snape!
Ryan thought quickly and took a hasty step back. He had read too much on book one of the Harry Potter series to know better than to trust a man like Snape.
“Now, what do you want, you good-for-nothing human?” Snape snarled.
Ryan cast one wary look at Snape and knew no matter what he said, he was going to be in so much trouble. But Dumbledore’s deep blue eyes caught him off guard.
“I come to you for passion,” he stated in the most casual way he could generate. “I’ve been searching for it all my life, but still, I couldn’t find that one and ultimate passion everyone is so keen on talking about. And to be honest, I’m desperate for one.”
“Do you think you could help me with this simple request?” Ryan hesitated. It sounded ridiculous just to hear his thoughts said out loud.
Snape glanced sideways at Dumbledore. The tiniest of a smile could be seen forming on the old headmaster’s face. Without answering, the two sorcerers took out their wands and pointed directly at the dispassionate young man. Taken aback, Ryan fell to the ground. He swung his arms forwards to cover his handsome face, preparing for what was to come. He was a fool to even consider trusting Snape.
Moments later, feeling no harms had been done to him, he gained back his consciousness. But dare he glimpse at the wizards? He surprised himself by opening his eyes and finding out what was going on. Water was channeling out through the end of Snape’s wand. What Dumbledore was doing was even more out of the world. With one elegant wave of the wand, he creaked open the solid ground. One more wave, the hole crumbled to let the streams of water in. Ryan couldn’t believe his eyes anymore. As a lake took shape in the middle of Dream Town, Snape reached for Ryan.
“We’re giving you a test. Pass this test and you shall find what you need. But let me warn you. There’s no turning around. Once you’re in, you’re in for life,” said Snape, whose eyes were glaring in the dark.
Ryan nodded. He didn’t even know where he had plucked up the courage. With no hesitation, Snape sent the young man down the freezing flow. With a flick of the wand, Ryan was dunked under the water. Dumbledore stood aside. A hint of worrisome showed in his blue eyes. When he let the man up, Snape asked Ryan to repeat what he wanted.
“Passion, I want passion!” he managed to sputter.
Snape’s mouth twisted into an evil grin. He brought Ryan under the water again. This time, he took a little longer to pull the man out. Ryan wiggled under the stream. Only chops of his hair were visible. Around him, bubbles formed and popped.
The wizard finally let go of the wand and asked, “What do you want?”
“Air; I want air!” the young man gasped.
“Good,” Dumbledore opened his mouth and spoke for the very first time. “There are no two ways here. If you want anything badly enough, you can find the willpower to achieve it. Now, when you want something as much as you want air, you will have it. And there you will see what passion is truly about.”
“So, congratulations! You have passed the passion test,” Dumbledore winked.
Another flash of lightning struck over the roof of cottage 22. Ryan Geller woke up with a startle. He opened his notebook and started to write.