When he heard the first creak of the staircase, he started calculating immediately. It would take his mother thirty seconds to get to the top of the stairs, ten seconds to walk down the hall into his bedroom, and five seconds to ask him what he did this afternoon.
Forty-five seconds until he’d be telling her about his afternoon.
He’d been looking through the pile of board games in his closet when he found the glowing door underneath. He went through and found himself in a dark and slimy cave tunnel. He had to crawl through a maze until he came out in a village. At first the people were going to kill him because they thought the dragon sent him, but he told them he was from the other side of the closet, and they said they needed his help.
So he travelled all over the forest and the dungeons and the water and the part where it’s all ice, meeting dwarves and talking animals and finding magical things to use against the dragon.
Eventually he found the magical sword which was the only thing that would kill the dragon. It was an awesome fight with fire and magic and monsters, and eventually he slew the dragon. The dragon burst into flame and fell from the top of the mountain and made a little explosion and then the world was saved.
When he went back to the village, which was actually a castle, everybody was happy. They offered to make him the King of Behind the Closet, but he would have had to marry the princess. The princess was cool for a girl, and she could do magic, but he was pretty sure that girls had cooties, even Behind the Closet. So he took his magic sword with him and found a giant magic bird and rode on its back to get home.
What an afternoon! How long would it take to to tell his mother? Three minutes? Four, if he included the parts with the mushroom queen and the giant clockwork rabbits, and another thirty seconds if he got excited and his stuttering kicked in. Figure four and a half minutes.
That, plus the forty-five seconds to get up the stairs, minus the fifteen seconds he’d already spent working out the numbers, made five minutes.
In five minutes, then, his mother would smile at him and shake her head, you know, like that. She’d tell him it was time for dinner and to put down the wrapping paper roll. And he’d go, and he’d never be able to tell that story right again. Later, when his father asked him what he’d done all day, he probably wouldn’t mention the door in the closet at all.
He brushed those thoughts aside with a little shiver, gripping his sword more tightly.
He had five more minutes.
For five more minutes, all of it was real. For five more minutes, it actually happened.