Of Fire and the Void: Part Four
Posted By: SeverianofUrth
Date: 2 February 2005, 4:45 PM
Of Fire and the Void: Mithra
A small, fat boy lies on the ground. His eyes are red from crying, and tears have made tracks across his grimy cheeks. The boy is hungry, also, for he has not been able to find food for two days now.
He is curled up in a fetal position. His shirt, one of those collared ones with the label "Helljumpers" emblazoned upon it, is dirty and reeks of sweat. He shivers; the day is cold, for the clouds have covered the sun and a chill wind blows through the streets of Liverpool, a ruin it might be now.
The boy's name is James. His brother is gone, off for some war he can't understand. His parents are missing; his hands are bloody from clawing through concrete rubbles in a futile search for them. He wants them here, with him, to take care of him. But no one comes. So he is alone, lying on the ground.
And he can't dream. James wants too; he wants desperately to sleep, to forget, wants the Sandman to come and sprinkle sleep over him. But every sense of his seems to be hyper-alert. He can hear the wind blowing through the ruins, and can smell the scent of burning and charred flesh, and he can feel every mote of the chill air that he breathes, stabbing into his lungs and throat.
He hears something. Footsteps. James gets up, weakly; he looks over to the sound of the intruder's footsteps, the sound of rubber sandals flip-flopping against the hard ground.
"Hey, kid." The intruder says. He is tall, and skinny.
James does not answer. For a moment, he had thought that his brother, or his parents, had come to get him.
"Hey, kid. Get up- you're gonna die there." The intruder comes closer. James does not answer. He curls up even tighter.
The sound of footsteps, coming closer. Then-
"Well, you aren't dead after all." The intruder kicks James again, this time on the buttocks. "Come on. Get up."
James stands weakly, but falls again when the intruder pushes him back to the ground with his foot. "Faster, kid. You gotta be faster, if you wanna hang with me."
James wants to protest. He doesn't want to hang with the stranger. But he does not say anything, and simply tries to get up again.
Again, he is pushed back to the ground. "Faster, kid."
James tries to roll away from the stranger's foot. He is too slow. Kicks thud into his body. "Hey, lardass, get up! I've got no patience for this kind of shit. I've got some food for you, if y'want it."
Food. The word echoes in James' mind. Food.
This time, he gets up, while grabbing the stranger's incoming foot with both hands.
The stranger laughs. "Good, kid. You're learning."
James stands. He is as tall as the stranger's chest. The stranger motions for James to follow as he walks away. "Let's go, kid."
James follows, one word echoing through his mind: food. The stranger walks in long, swift strides. James can't keep up with him, unless his jogs. Soon, James' breath is ragged and gasping, as he jogs limpidly alongside the stranger.
The stranger halts. James stops beside him, feeling like he was about to collapse. Two days' worth of starvation has sapped his strength.
"What's your name, anyhow?" The stranger asks, disinterestedly.
James can't answer the question for some time, as he waits to catch his breath. When he finally feels that his chest won't collapse inwards from the exercise, he answers, "James."
The stranger laughs. "Thought you'd hi-fur-van-tee-lated, James. Well, the names Henry." The stranger, or Henry, thrusts his hand out towards James. The boy grabs it, and shakes; Henry's hand is oddly smooth, and snake-skin dry.
"Well, let's get on with it, shall we?" Henry says. "I got some cans back at the place, kid. Ravioli."
Ravioli. Saliva begins to form in James' mouth. Ravioli. Chef Boyardee was still up and running.
As Henry takes off, so does James, dreaming of raviolis.
The food was good. Really good. The first time I ate over at Henry's, the canned Italian cuisine pretty much melted inside my mouth, and it was sweet, very sweet. Although Henry stopped me from eating too much, saying that stuffing myself like that after two days of eating nothing would kill me, I ate on anyways, stuffing watery sauce and limp raviolis into my mouth.
Of course, I threw it all up afterwards, and Henry beat me up saying that I was an idiot and that he was an idiot for bringing me here with him. I tried to clean it up, but the basement Henry was 'refugeeing' in always stank of vomit after that, until at last we got used to the smell.
Even though Henry, as I know now, was a Covenant, he was... nice. Human. More human than most people I met later, or would hear about; many little kids orphaned were taken in by pedophiles and brothels, and used. I was lucky, in a way.
That question still bumps around in my mind: what was Henry? Just another Elite? He stayed with me for years. I think he became human.