The Boy. [Short]

It was in the darkness that he found his silence. When all the village was asleep, the town quiet, his family sailing away into the phantasm of their dreams, it was then that he would make his escape. Bundled in tall socks and leather shoes, heavy stitched khaki pants, and the pullover sweater with hood. He wandered into the night with abandonment of principles and conventions. He wandered past the smoke stacks barely breathing their last wisps of burning fog, the fence lines marking property of one owner and the next. He sought the places beyond these borders. He went to the edge of his small rural town beyond the pastures of his father and the lines of wire that brought the power over the hills held fifty feet up by logged trees felled in a time before him. His shoes made the small light imprint of the boy nine years aged. His pace was quick and quiet and steady as they came down the paths he had walked many a night in his travels. There was a great woods far from the town and before one reached it there was the sparse uprising of the wild bushes and knotty youngling saps, the odd fern parents away from the rest seemingly watching over the youthful sprouts. He first went through the wheat field that had been in the not too distant past the farthest he would go from home. The night brought with it it’s chills and the imagination could further these chills into moments of exhilaration with the rushing of the wheat dancing like the wild dogs come to prey upon a lone wandering boy. He delighted himself in the fancy of his courage over the beasts of the night and those wild wisps of eyes and movement never quite fully seen but once thought of held very real sticklings of hair running from arm to neck. As he walked through the young trees he now knew of his own bravery here and felt quite accomplished in his knowledge that he was comfortable a mile away from town on the edges of the dark forest creaking and hooing and howling with its echoes of the nocturnal. He had taken his pocket knife with him as he always did and from time to time brought a book though he had a small notepad that he always jotted his interests of the moment in. Sometimes just doodles of the swaying layouts of bush and tree, sometimes his most profound thoughts, “I have went out again into the night and still I will go further”. He liked that one, it had a certain ring to it that he knew meant he was being profound. This would be his second night to come to the forests edge and watch it’s boundary lie eerily confrontational. He sat down and watched it from the base of an elder tree fifteen feet from the forest line. He sat and waited, listened, moved his head across the features of the forest front, his eyes growing watery from his unblinking study. He stared until he rubbed his eyes of their toil, rolling his head in a stretch from the stiffness and just then he felt it; The whispered bristles of hair follicles followed by the hard exoskeleton spine and the soft skin rubbing his chins side as he stretched. His eyes were open as ever they had been watching the woods and his neck pulled to the side as he eyed the thing upon his shoulder. A caterpillar as long as his hand and stretched out with a quarter of its body lifted to most certainly gaze up at him laying motionless except for the two antennae that bugged back and forth on his head like pendulums gathering information from his mind and feeding this mighty insect with all the information he needed to know more than this boy even knew of himself. The two stared at each other for what seemed to the boy an eternity that lacked not in interest or curiousity but held both in the trance of engagement that took them into channels of thought never given breath but only fired like synapses of thinking that were as invisible as the power of their energy. The boy by way of manipulation of the all knowing mind of the wise and strong and mighty caterpillar named….Loki; Yes that was was a perfect name for him,  put his hand to his shoulder and encouraged the mighty beast to climb upon his hands so that he might study the great Loki better. After a fair share of study and mild deliberation and most sure, no howling or hooing from the woods, the caterpillar instructed the courageous boy to stay steady and begin the exploration of the exterior forest. He walked decisively into the woods and felt the change of lighting slowly take hold as his eyes saw differently while adapting. The moon was at its full glow but sparse clouds let It’s shine be shadowed unceremoniously time after time. The boy walked confidently forward with the occasional check to look back at the dimming brightness that was his path back out. He paused and consulted with his new and wise friend once again clinging to his shoulder like the parrot of some commanding ship captain only, and of course, this was the great Loki, not just some stuffy dumb parrot. The boy ran his finger over the soft tufts of pointy hairs that stood up and ran down the caterpillars spine, rooting into a black carapace spine shell and the bright apple green of his gummy skin covering all else. He had the strangest sets of feet like little suckers with tiny orange hair like hooks. You are an impressive creature Loki, and you have my respect. Let’s say I have your back and you have mine how’s that sound? Loki communicated as he always did, silently subconscious,  and with a resounding yes. The boy gripping his hands together momentarily continued on into the forest. After as many paces as can lead to not seeing the exit and expanse and freedom of your entrance into a great wood, that is how many paces he had went. He had tried to stay as true to straight as he could but had wound and weaved around brambles and areas to thick for him to commute through. To be honest the only bravery left was Loki’s, the boy had pulled his notepad out and attempted a trace of his path with the lines of the town and the field and the bushes and the forest edge all begging him for his return. It was while he distracted himself from his slightest sense of being lost or the fear of that occurring that his ears came across the rustling of forest floor twigs in the distance unknown by the woods darkness. This gave him the distinct knowledge that he did not want to move or look into or find any eyes watching him from the the nights shadow. Loki told him to remain calm and the courage within the mighty creature held the stronghold of that greatest comfort, not being alone. How many heart beats had gone by, the boy could not say, but soon, after a seeming eternity of held breath, the movement away in the darkness ceased. “It’s very simple”, said the caterpillar, “one foot in front of the next and so on until you see the edge”. The first step was like the crash of a once great pillar, the next the breaking of it into pieces, but after five steps or so, each step was the slaying of a dragon. His pace was again his own and he let a toothless grin catch his face. What happens next then is a terrifying disaster. Tap-tap. Right above him? Tap. Screee. At these times of fear typically Loki was at his finest, however this was no ordinary fear. This was a bird. Run! The antennae of his just minutes ago courageous companion now twitched with the necessity of survival and wasted no thought on plan or pomp or directive, only, and ever excessively, RUN! Scree. Flap. Stomp. Snap. Twig under foot. Rush. Wind beating against the ears with a constant woosh. Loki held on with every clawed sucking foot he had ducking into the collar of the boys shirt. The woosh is all he knew, the woosh and the slowing speed of his legs and the sweat that dripped down his forehead. He collapsed half tripping half willing himself to trip and lay on the ground face first with his now silent companion as he shut his eyes and let the back of his eyelids lead him to the void, his breathing slowed, he surrendered to the darkness.

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