Kyle Crane vs The Hulk

If he’d had the strength left to stand, he’d have done just that. He’d have stood there, raised his— Ah shit. —now missing pipe, and bellowed at the top of his lungs, loud enough to put Russell Crowe to shame.

As it were, Kyle barely had enough left for a muted mutter of “Are you fucking entertained now you mother-fucking shitmuffins?”

Kyle Crane vs the Hulk

Kyle Crane vs The Hulk, as seen in Latchkey Hero. This amazing illustration is by hummingdead, who has been an absolute treasure bringing scenes out of Latchkey Hero to life for me.

Thank you, Techland. Thank you, Dying Light.

With a side of Thanks, CDPR!

Dying Light 2: Stay Human (CGI Trailer December 2021)

Alright. Hear me out (or don’t, this’ll be a ramble).

*clears throat*

I’ve had three notable rough spots in my life. I’m talking under the filthy floorboards kind of rough, at the bottom of the ladder rough and the ladder is on fire rough.

Rough Spot Number Two was the worst of them, all things considered. When I say Kyle Crane saved my life back then? That’s not hyperbole. That’s me being literal.

To be fair, that’s a bit of a story old as time for me; Taff in distress, fictional character to the rescue. He wasn’t the only one either, but I digress.

It’s also a story relevant to so many other people and my heart goes out to anyone else who needed to be pulled from the darkness by a movie, game, book, you name it. You’re valid. Your experience is valid. You’re worth so much.

Anyway.

I wrote Latchkey Hero back then, a story that helped me sift through my trauma boxes and fight my demons. And a story that I have missed ever since I’d finished it, with a yearning deep in my soul to return to Kyle and Zofia that I didn’t know how to satisfy.

One thing I tried to wrap my head around was how to turn it into an original novel, but nothing ever quite fit.

Then I played Cyberpunk 2077 and it clicked. I mean it clicked SO HARD, it took me an hour and I had hammered out a concept for how I could reboot Latchkey Hero in a Cyberpunk-lite setting situated right in my own world that I’d built since I was a kid.

Aphelion was born.

I’m never going to pretend Aphelion is anything else than a reboot of a Dying Light Fan Fic. And I am never going to pretend Varrett isn’t 80% Kyle as I’ve written him in Latchkey Hero.

Because that is what I need.

I needed a story where a group of people is faced with unimaginable hardship but doesn’t give up, and Varrett (just like Kyle) gave me that. Live or die trying; it’s one of his (and by extension Aphelion’s) taglines, it’s the foundation on which the story is built.

But~ even as Aphelion took shape, Bad Times Number Three came. It wasn’t just one thing, but a perfect storm that left me battered and grieving. That, ultimately, led me to almost dropping Aphelion right then, convincing me that I was undeserving (of Kyle, of Varrett) and that my integrity was compromised.

Yesterday, I was one more bad night’s sleep away from putting the pen down.

I spent that bad night’s sleep watching the Game Awards. And I caught the Dying Light 2 CGI trailer.

Now I sit here writing this because of a line painted on a fictional wall in a game that isn’t even released yet and that I know very little about because I don’t like getting swept up by the hype.

Now I sit here telling the void that Techland did it again. That, unintentionally, they’ve put the wind back into my sails.

And I’m grateful for that.

Because I need this story. I need it because I need to pay my respects and thank Kyle for what he’s done for me. And giving him a second lease on life in my heart is the least I can do.