Hello once again to week 2, day one. And, thankfully this week is going to be a short week for me, so that means more time to goof off….. I mean work…. more time to work. Yeah, let’s go with that. Word count: 17,100. Here you go, chapter 9 of “Home For The Unwanted”.
“Lorna!” Ryan was suddenly brought aback as he heard a voice call for Lorna. It was a voice of a child that he had never heard before. What made it even stranger was that it was a voice calling for Lorna, which Ryan thought was something no child would ever want. Or perhaps, it was his own scared conscious that told him he didn’t want to be teased around with by Lorna. Although, his image of her has lightened, and he wouldn’t mind talking with Lorna, as long as she stays relatively calm.
“Lorna!” The voice called out again.
“Quick! Spark’s in trouble!” Ryan began processing the names in his head and came to the conclusion that the one currently yelling out for Lorna was Carrier. Ryan was the only one in the living room at the end of the right wing, which prompted the panicked child to be in surprise.
“Where’s Lorna?” Ryan lifted his shoulder in complete ignorance, as he did not know the whereabouts of where Lorna was. The young boy that had ran in had short light brown hair. His large black eyes seemed to stand out, and his clothes were very tattered. The child seemed bigger than someone like Runner, and it prompted Ryan to wonder whether he really was older than Runner, who had a relatively slim build.
“You’re Ray, right?”
“I’m Carrier. Have you seen Spark around anywhere?” Ryan shook his head. He was the only one in the living room when he opened the door, and he was the only one to still be there as he worked. Ryan was curious as to what was going on, but more than that, he wanted to finally meet Spark. To Ryan, meeting each child of the building was an important piece for him. It was a milestone that would inevitably help make this norm more comfortable. It was something that Ryan couldn’t pass down.
“I’ll help you find Spark.”
“Really? I mean…. this is kind of an emergency.”
“If it’s an emergency then all the more to help, right?”
“Yeah….. but….” Carrier spoke in a very meek manner. Ryan wasn’t sure whether it was because of the situation that he was very mild, or if it was his actual nature. What made Ryan even more confused is what kind of situation Carrier and Spark had found themselves in if he was hesitating help during an emergency. More so if the first person he needed help from was Lorna.
“I don’t know where Lorna is. But then again, who really knows, right? If it’s urgent, I’m sure I can help.”
“Alright.” After much hesitation, Carrier agreed.
“Spark is missing. I need you to help me find him!”
“Yeah! I was hoping he found his way back, but if you haven’t seen him then he’s still out there!”
“Out in the forest?” Carrier shook his head.
“It was a dumb dare. I told Spark not to do it, but…. he wouldn’t listen.”
“It was Hailstone. She started fighting with Spark after she lost in an arm wrestle.” Ryan nodded his head, in complete belief of that situation. Hailstone would be angry if she lost an arm wrestle, Ryan thought. Even more so that she would want to prove her better strength by resorting to a tactic such as daring Spark. However, Ryan couldn’t figure out what kind of dare Hailstone would make that would cause such a ruckus.
“What was the dare?”
“She told Spark to go–”
“To go into town and buy her some bread.” Ryan almost gasped at the horrifying dare that Hailstone had contrived with her evil mind.
“Buy some bread?” Ryan soon realized that it was more chore duty than dare duty.
“So….What’s the emergency? Not enough money? Wrong bread? What?” Ryan was utterly confused. It was the most confused Ryan had ever been in a single day, he thought.
“You don’t understand!”
“Please make me.”
“Spark is horrible with directions!” Ryan’s confusion soon faded into empathy.
“Alright, I think I get it. The dare was to have him go alone into town and buy Hailstone some bread. But he still hasn’t come back, right?”
“Exactly! He could be anywhere!” Ryan wondered how far a lost child could go in the town, and the possible dangerous implications of that notion. Most lost children would have learned to stay put, Ryan thought. But there were many things that Ryan had realized were wrong, many things that he himself had to find through his new norm. Ryan was trying to find his own understandings with the world, and through those understandings, find his own norm. There can’t be too many places that Spark would have wandered off to, Ryan thought.
“Well, let’s think about it first. If Spark is looking for a convenience store, then he shouldn’t be too hard to find, right? He might be lost at the shopping district.”
“That’s the problem. Spark has never been to the shopping district.”
“He’s never been to the shopping district?” Carrier didn’t seem to want to talk about the topic, and so Ryan didn’t press on.
“No use talking about it here. Let’s head into town and see if we can’t find him.”
“And if we can’t?”
“If we can’t…. I guess we’ll need more help. You were asking for Lorna right? Why is that?”
“Because Lorna said that she always knows where we are.” Ryan could believe that Lorna had the special ability to instantly go to where each child was, however, Lorna was nowhere to be found.
“Lorna aside, let’s try out best to find Spark. I’m sure he’s fine. And I’m sure we can find him.”
“Okay. Thanks, Ray.”
“Save the thanks for later.” Ryan and Carrier both headed into town. At this point, Ryan had memorized how to get back to his school path and back. He wasn’t too proud of his groundbreaking revelation however as most of the memorization came from muscle work. Ryan had simply remembered the trees and the shape of the ground beneath him to guide him along. Quite literally, Ryan felt his way towards his destination.
“Are you and Spark good friends?”
“I’m more like his big brother than a friend. He’s always up to no good. Always messing around, always up in the mud. But that’s why he’s so fun to hang around.”
“I think I get it,” Ryan replied as he gave a small chuckle. It was like Lorna. No matter how much she teased and infuriated Ryan, she was still fun to be around. And without Lorna, his norm wouldn’t be as interesting.
“I don’t want to ask if you don’t want to answer, but do you guys not go into town much?” The idea of not knowing the shopping district was astounding for Ryan. Even he understood the basic layout of the town that he lived in. That much was common knowledge, Ryan thought.
“We don’t tend to go into town, no. Lorna says that we shouldn’t. But sometimes we go anyway. Then Lorna yells at us, because–”
“Because she always knows where you guys are.”
“Yeah.” Carrier still upheld his mild attitude. Ryan figured that he wasn’t soft spoken in nature, but he couldn’t figure why Carrier was acting so meek. Perhaps it was the topic, or the fact that they were in town now. Carrier didn’t seem like the quiet type to Ryan.
“First order of business is to find some kind of footing. We can ask around to see if anyone has seen Spark, then we can get a pretty good idea. Although, I’ve never seen him before.”
“Lorna told us not to talk to strangers. She said not to draw attention from outsiders.” Ryan thought back to when he first met Runner, and figured that what Runner did was completely breaking that rule. He probably got a mouthful from Lorna, Ryan thought.
“If we can’t ask anyone, then I guess we’re just going to have to split up to cover more ground.”
“How will we find each other if we do find Spark?”
“We’ll meet back here in an hour. How about that?” Ryan looked around him. They were standing in a fairly open area in the middle of the streets. There was a lamppost, a bench, and a trash bin nearby. The shopping district wasn’t too far from where they were standing.
“I’ll head into the shopping district and see if he actually made it. You look around and see if you can find him still wandering around.”
“Okay. Good luck.”
“Yeah. You too. We’ll find him, I’m sure.” Ryan set off towards the shopping district. It was a long street that had stores lined up on every side. Book stores, clothing stores, arcades, restaurants, there were all kinds of things to buy and do in the shopping district. It was probably one of the most visited places in town, which made it even more strange if a person didn’t know where it was, Ryan thought.
“Lost child. Lost child.” Ryan repeated to himself as he walked along the district. Ryan didn’t know what Spark looked like, so he risked getting confused with children that weren’t lost. Ryan wanted to get the job done with as few complications possible, he knew that if a person asking around for a lost child blew up, then their silent guise would be more than gone. Ryan focused hard to make sure he didn’t let any face go by as he walked down the district. Although he wasn’t particularly looking inside the stores unless it was a convenience store, Ryan couldn’t help but notice that there were a few of them that he couldn’t recognize. Ryan thought it was because the district had changed and left Ryan behind. But what he failed to see, was that walking down the district wasn’t something he usually did. It was never part of the norm that he abandoned. Walking down the shopping district with friends afterschool was a normalcy that never shot behind anyone’s head; except Ryan. Something like that was rare, an anomaly. To Ryan who had never stepped into the shopping district on his own time, everything slowly started becoming bigger. Ryan could praise the shopping district for its traffic, claim its normalcy, and state that he had walked down those aisles; but not in his current norm. In his current norm, none of what he can say held true. Ryan wasn’t swept behind times, he just wasn’t seeing it.
“Looking for something?” A voice loomed over Ryan, a voice that he had never heard before. It was very crisp, very authoritative, and very stern. It was the voice of an adult woman, and probably one of great status or power, Ryan thought. Ryan turned around, and saw a towering woman in front of him. She was quite tall, taller than Ryan, no less. She wore a blue long sleeved uniform. It had buttons arrayed in the middle, and two breast pockets, with a symbol patched above one. On the side of the sleeve, was another patched symbol.
“I’m–” Ryan thought about his words, and knew that if he were to slip up now, it would all be over. Ryan remembered what Lorna had said about the ‘bad guys’, about the blue uniformed people. She was referring to people like the one Ryan now faced.
“Just walking? It didn’t seem like that to me.”
“What makes you say that?”
“You were eyeing everybody anxiously. Almost like you were looking for something.”
“Well, I’m fine. Thank you.” Ryan tried his best to avoid further interactions with the woman, lest he be caught.
“You know what they call that?” Before Ryan could walk off, the woman had walked in front of him, blocking his path before finishing her sentence.
“Dodging the law.”
“And what laws am I breaking?”
“None. But, I do have a job to do. And I think you need help. Either that, or you’re going to break the law. Eyes like yours aren’t normal eyes.”
“My eyes aren’t normal? But they aren’t special either.” Ryan spoke brazenly towards the person in front of him. He tried his best not to spill any important information, and simply played to the woman’s tune; except, he used his own instruments.
“That’s not what I meant. You know what I meant.”
“And what did you mean?”
“That you had wandering eyes. I explained this.”
“My eyes, are here. They have never wandered.”
“Perhaps not now, but you were looking at every single person you passed quite prudently. You even eyed people from across the street, at the other side of the district.”
“Have I now? That’s strange. I’ve just been admiring the stores, admiring the wares. I haven’t been here in a while, you see. Everything is quite new to me.” Ryan wasn’t lying.
“Oh? The shopping district of all places. I find that hard to believe.”
“You would find many things hard to believe.”
“Perhaps. This….Not so much.”
“Well, have an open mind. Anything is possible.” Before the woman could answer, the walkie-talkie on her belt begun buzzing in. She answered while keeping an eye on Ryan.
“Amanda! We need some help at the fourth district. It’s a closed box, setting sun, pellet!” The voice from the walkie-talkie was very fragmented. Whoever was speaking seemed unsure of what he wanted to say. Either he was being very urgent and was tripping up on his words, or he was scared of who was on the receiving end.
“Copy that.” The woman named Amanda stepped aside, “You’re off the hook for now. But I’ll remember you. Don’t cause any trouble now, you hear?”
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Ryan went on with his way, not looking back towards Amanda. It was a close call, Ryan thought. However, Ryan had no time to revel in his supposed victory, and continued on his way in search of Spark. Although Ryan dismissed his encounter with Amanda, he would come to regret it. Ryan would soon realize that the things he did and the people he met were all under one big norm; the norm of fate.