Hey all! Things are beginning to happen now as we meet some new people. Enjoy this week's update inspired by the prompt: Wonder of Wonders
He was bedraggled and dirty. And very hungry. Good thing I’d brought a large bag of cured meat, cheese, and a thick roll of bread. I figured, if he grew up in a city, he’d probably miss fresh break. It smelled amazing. Teddy’s stomach growled, and I pulled out a sandwich I’d made up for him from the supplies I’d filched from the kitchen after the servants had gone to bed.
Wildman licked his fingers and stuck them in bag, picking up crumbs and sucking them off his fingers. I winced; his nails were broken and black, and I could only imagine where they’d been. “Good,” he grunted.
In a move I didn’t expect, he popped up and jumped for a branch of a tree just outside the tunnel opening. “Wait!” I stood up, startled he could move that fast after stuffing himself. We hadn’t even had a chance to ask him for help.
He dropped back down, holding something. “Bad.” He shoved it at me. The leaf wrapped, muddy bundle proved to be the tiny lantern we’d left with the signal. It was still glowing under the muck.
“Sorry, but we needed to talk to you.”
Squatting down, he cocked his head. “Talk.”
I didn’t want to loom over him, so I sat back down next to Teddy. I wasn’t sure if that was a question or a demand I hurry up and speak. “We need help. There’s a bad man in the city hurting people. People like us”—I waved a hand between me and Teddy and then gestured toward him—“and like you. It’s not right.”
He didn’t say anything.
“A guard who works for Anna… remember her?” I pointed toward the abandoned city we’d found. “That guard said you were part of a group of boys who lived in the wild, and that they’d been capturing you and making you stay in the city. The others stayed, but you didn’t. You went back to the jungle, alone.”
Wildman shrugged a shoulder, but he nervously avoided eye contact.
“See, I think you didn’t stay because you aren’t alone out here. I think there are more like you. You can speak because someone taught you. I call you Wildman, but you’re not feral like you’d be if you were all alone all the time. No one could stand that, much less out here, where it’s so dangerous. You try to escape because you have someone to go back to. Someone they don’t know about, and maybe more than one person.”
The longer I spoke, the more agitated Wildman got. He’d narrowed his eyes and was staring at me, a snarl curling up his lips.
“Hey,” Teddy said softly. “Don’t worry. We’re not going to hurt you or them. We don’t want anyone to be hurt, that’s why we’re asking for help. The king, he plans to take our abilities and use them to control all the people in the city. To take away their choices, like how Anna tried to take away yours. We just want to know if they have any information, if they know something that could help us. We need you.”
Teddy’s calm pleading went a long way into easing Wildman away from the edge. He stopped sneering, but he wasn’t really talking either to us either. “You said it before. City bad. We agree, but we can’t just leave. We have to do something to help everyone.”
Wildman picked at a rock embedded in the dirt at his feet, not looking up at us. Finally he stood, and I stood with him.
“No! You stay.” He practically hissed the words before he was up in the tree again and gone before I could track which direction he went in.
“Do you think he’s going to get someone who will help us, or he’s just leaving and doesn’t want us to follow him?” I asked Teddy.
Teddy shrugged and then winced. “I don’t know. I suppose we just have to wait to find out.”
How long was that going to take? We were running out of time.
“Wonder of wonders.” The sun was rising above the trees already. I had no idea how we’d explain our absence to my parents, but I’d figure it out. I’d started to lose hope, but Wildman dropped to the ground in front of us with a soft thump.
He wasn’t alone.
“You wanted to talk to me?” Wildman’s friend wasn’t dressed any better; his close were ragged and dirty, but his face and hands were clean. And he could actually speak in sentences.
I stood up and held out my hand. “We did. My name is Will, and this is Teddy.”
“John.” He eyed my hand, and I slowly let it drop. “What do you want?”
“Your help. Did Wildman tell you anything?”
“Wildman?” John eyed him where he crouched next to Teddy, scarfing on the little bit of food we had left. “That fits, but he doesn’t really share much.”
“You’re clearly from the city. We don’t want anything to do with them. We left for a reason. If you’re smart, you’d never go back.”
I shook my head. “I can’t do that. My family let me believe I was something special when all I really meant to them was a source of cash. If I just leave, they’ll find someone else to hurt.”
He shrugged. “Their problem.”
“Really? You care that little about someone else being stripped of their abilities you’ll just leave them to be mentally raped?”
“I’ve lived it. I can’t go back there, and I have responsibilities to take care of my people.”
“Damn it!” I snapped. “That’s what they say in the city too. It’s all about salvaging the shreds of humanity people have left after the king uses them up. Why can’t any of you see that we have to stop it before it happens to anyone else!”TBC
Do you think they'll help Teddy and Will? Okay, on to more flash! And make sure you swing by the blog of Mann Rambling's as he pops his flash cherry!