The sun was beginning to set, giving the gray city a pinkish hue. Toby scurried towards the alleyway that housed the entrance to his small hideaway. The last thing that he wanted was to be out on the streets of Geddich after dark. He glanced over his shoulder as he ducked between the scaffolding used to keep the sagging buildings upright. The metal creaked and groaned as the sun continued to set, almost as if the city itself was settling in for the night. Toby heard the unmistakable screeching sound as the city’s spies began to awaken and start their patrol. He needed to hurry.
He ignored the people surrounding him dressed as he was, in rags. He quickened his pace as he rounded the second to last bend before his hideaway, only to run right into a harkener.
“Well, well, well. Why are you in such a hurry you little faup?” the harkener sneered.
Toby could smell spirits on his breath, and knew that he had to tread very carefully if he wanted to come out of this situation unscathed.
“My mother sent me out for the rations over an hour ago, Sir. The line was long, and they were out by the time I reached the front,” Toby lied expertly. “I had to try to run across the gorge to see if they had any on that side. She’s going to tan my hide if I’m not back before dark.”
“Perhaps I should save her the trouble and tan your hide for her,” he grinned, revealing a yellow smile.
“I’d really rather you didn’t, Sir…” Toby glanced around him looking for anyone who might help him.
The few people who were left outside at this time of the evening refused to make eye contact. They were, just as Toby was, later getting home than they intended, and wanted to avoid trouble at all cost. The sky continued to grow darker as the smog obscured sun dipped lower towards the horizon. There were no street lights in this part of the city, as the regency didn’t want to encourage the people of Geddich being out past dusk. The harkeners would soon be relinquishing their posts to the more sinister spies used at night.
Toby looked up at the winding scaffolding that supported his world. The shiny and polished metal of Upper Supremus sparkled as the last bit of light from the retreating sun disappeared. The street lights illuminated far above him, giving Geddich an even darker feel.
“Please,” he pleaded with the Harkener, “just let me go.”
The Harkener released him, giving him a shove hard enough that his teeth knocked together as he crashed into the building behind him. He shook his head, trying to clear it of the ringing the impact had caused, and sprinted the rest of the way towards his safe haven. He did a full spin as he got closer to the rubble and wreckage that hid the lower entrance to his alleyway, making sure nobody was around. He ducked underneath a fallen pillar, squeezing through a tunnel of debris, crawling towards the clear space near the entrance to his home. Standing upright, he looked longingly towards the other entrance to his alley. The soft glow of the street lamps revealed how close to Upper Supremus he really was.
He reached his hands upwards, stretching to pull himself up onto the window ledge, pausing for an instant, looking both left and right to make sure he was alone in the narrow alleyway. Wiggling the middle two security bars free, he dropped his pack through the opening, sliding through after it, replacing the bars, and dropping into place the piece of cardboard he had hung when he had first found the hideout. The alleyway was easily accessible to anyone wandering the streets of Upper Supremus, but his home looked like any other abandoned building, and almost any citizen of Upper Supremus would hurry past. It was broken, deserted, and impervious.
He pulled his tattered, sweaty shirt over his head bringing his dirty grey hat with it, revealing a thick mass of brilliantly red hair. Grabbing his small blade kershaw from his left back pocket, he flung the sweater bundle to his right, where it landed on the dirty floor in a crumpled mess. He paused, put his kershaw back in his pocket, and walked over to his shirt and sweater to turn them right-side-out, placing his hat on top of the pile. He’d had to run too many times to add any life-threatening seconds to a time-sensitive escape.
Standing over his ready clothes, he grabbed the kershaw back out of his pocket, flipped open the blade, and drew it purposefully down his chest, slicing through a rough combination of polyethylene plastic and mesh. This he rolled up in a tight ball and stored in his pack, for later. He itched methodically and carefully, so as not to disturb and infect the heat rash that had made its permanent place on his frail, moist chest.
He picked up his sweater pile and pack, making his way to the dark corner that was his own, for now. He leaned back against the dusty, solid wall of brick that was a rarity in Geddich and let his legs flop out, rubbing his budding chest. There they were, the very evidence of who he had once been, who he didn’t want to be. They reminded him every night and every morning that he was as vulnerable and as wanted as anyone could be.
He spat just long of his feet, hitting the exact spot which he’d been eyeing, allowing himself a small smile of satisfaction. He reached into his bag and pulled out a moldy hunk of bread, biting off too much to chew, heaving the manliest sigh he could muster.
He closed his eyes as he chewed, outlining the memories of his parents’ faces, as he had done every single night since he realized he had begun to forget the only faces in the world who had ever loved him. He tried to remember them as they were when they were full of life and joy, wincing as the vivid memories of their bloodied faces flashed before his mind’s eye. But he would never forget. And he wouldn’t forget who he had been when they knew him. Her. He wouldn’t forget what they made her become.
My target age range is young adult. Between 9-14
My hobbies are painting, playing the violin, exercise, cuddling my dogs, and watching food network with my fiancé
I was born in Canada, but grew up for part of my life in Vermont. Moved back to Canada at the age of 14. Lived without power for three years in the deep woods of Nova Scotia. Now living it up in the warmth and craziness of Florida.