Saturday, March 27, 2010

Crystal and Shadow

            I jolted awake. Sugar was standing over me, eyes wide with alarm and her tiny deformed wings raised.
            “What?” Sleepily, I raised myself to a sitting position.
            “Tourists,” breathed Sugar again. She withdrew two sweatshirts and pulled on one while tossing me the other. “They’re coming today, so we have to look like them.”
            Another person poked their head into my area. I recognized Tex. He glanced around my area before re-fixing his gaze onto me. Rummaging briefly in his white coat pocket, he tossed me a small object. I reached out and caught it. It was a small device.
            “To conceal your area to look like another empty part of the ruins,” Tex explained before he whisked away. I glanced at Sugar.
            “Press the red light until it turns green,” she turned, “I have to go see if Spark knows yet, be ready in five minutes.”
            I quickly found the red light and followed Sugar’s instructions. Then, tossing it onto my cot, I rushed outside. Tex was honestly one smart experiment. My area looked like an exact copy of one of the abandoned areas. Then, when I turned around, I came face to face with Shadow. Holding his hand was Reilly. Stifling a shriek of surprise, I stepped back. Shadow chortled, and beckoned for me to follow him.
            “Let’s go to the entrance of the site so we can look like other tourists,” he explained. Reilly smiled at me, so I had to smile back.
            “Why are there tourists?” I asked.
            Shadow sighed. “It is a tourist attraction, Crystal. Luckily it’s only for one day. They have some sort of system where you visit for a week and everyday you do something. Tuesday is the only day they do it, so we’re safe as long as we blend.”
            I nodded as we slipped under a rope. The sun was still rising in the sky, and no one seemed to notice us. Crowds of families clustered around the entrance, moms holding babies or toddlers on their hips, children standing on their toes trying to get a view of what were ahead, brat girls whining about the heat, dads talking to their sons about the history, sons rolling their eyes…
            I was awed. Never had I seen so much commotion, not even when a girl was in a fight with another girl at school. I felt my wings fluff in distress. I struggled to keep them from rising from my back.
            Shadow smiled at me tightly. “Let’s get this over with,” he sighed. I managed to smile back. Reilly let go of Shadow’s hand and reached for mine.
            “It’ll be okay, Crystal,” he reassured me. I squeezed his hand back.
            Let the tourism begin.

            The sun slowly receded into the darkness. I loved the feel of wind through my feathers. From below, Shadow watched as I flew. After a long day of dealing with so much noise, the calm of the sky was so welcoming. Reilly had gone to Chef’s to get come of his milk and was soon asleep after that. Shadow and I then walked to the main area so I could get a good take off.
            Spark had hung around Sugar all day, not even giving me a glance. He only had eyes for Sugar. I couldn’t help but feel slightly sick, but maybe that was the bad peanuts some guy was selling. My stomach was feeling bad until we left Sugar and Spark to their own devices. Once or twice I saw Tex or the three Tess’s. We waved to them; we talked a little, and then went our own ways.
            Sighing, I banked and flew back down to Shadow. I noticed that Spark had joined him. Once I landed, I didn’t reach out for Spark’s hand like I normally would. It didn’t seem right after seeing how he acted with Sugar. Ice formed in my stomach as I approached them.
            “Hello,” I called out. Shadow waved and Spark smiled.
            “Let’s go see if Chef is serving any specials,” Spark invited. The ice melted at his smile. I warmed up to him, smiling.
            “Are you coming too, Shadow?” I asked, taking Spark’s hand and forgetting his moments with Sugar. Shadow nodded.
            We walked the path to Chef’s. I was starting to get the path down, so that was a good thing. In Chef’s area, the usual nighters were there: Tex, Tess-one/three/four, and Cougar. Cougar gave me a sly smile, and I grimaced back. One of the Tess’s, Tess-one, departed from the group to come over to us. She pulled a face as she grew nearer.
            “Change your emotions,” she suggested to Shadow, “it tastes like foul licorice and it’s making me sick.” Shadow blushed.
            “Sorry, on it,” he muttered. Tess-one looked at me and Spark. She frowned slightly, opened her mouth to say something, but before anything came out, Chef came up to us.
            “Still hanging out with the guys I see,” she eyed me and I giggled, “So what will it be?”
            “Anything you want to give us for all of us,” Spark told her. For me Chef gave Mexican tortillas chips, for Spark a sandwich in the form of a battery, and for Shadow a bottle of toxic waste.
            I raise an eyebrow as I bit into one of my chips. Shadow shrugged.
            “I’m half-cockroach,” he twisted the cap off the bottle, “what can I say?”
            I put a hand to my mouth. Spark held his breath. Tess-one silently vibrated. But none of us could hold back our laughter as Shadow chugged the whole bottle.
            “Having fun?” a soft voice snarled in my ear. My wings flung themselves at the voice in defense, and I whipped around to see Cougar smirking at me.   
            “How about a ride to the city?” he purred.

No comments: