Lucas to the Rescue

The big kids are boring. Dav is showing off for Callie and her friends. ‘Course, his dad Pen is saving practically half the people in the whole world by letting them stay in his house during the storm, so it’s okay to brag. Lucas wonders if Uncle Russ has ever saved any people. He bets that he has.

He stands at the foot of the stairs, shifting from foot to foot. Okay, where’s Mom? With Mister Two Horses – bet she’s gonna kiss him or something. He doesn’t wait to find out. Mr. Gerritson? He’s helping two little girls zip their sleeping bags together. No other adults look like they’re paying attention, which is good, because he knows he looks guilty. His mother would say he looks like he’s about to do something he knows is wrong. He’d get caught for sure. With a last sneaky look around, he darts up the stairs. Something is going on up there, and he wants to know what. Like right now.

Somebody is playing something. It sound like a violin, but… different. Cooler, maybe, even. They’re playing a bunch of notes like they do during the part before the curtain rises. Lucas likes that part best. It’s kinda messy, but cool. The notes dance around like colors, they swirl like dandelion puffs in the wind. “Flap your hands all over!” dancing. After the curtain rises, all the notes march along like they’re supposed to. Like holding your neighbor’s hands when your class takes a field trip.

But parts of it don’t sound right. He can tell where they are, and it makes his ears itch. Oooh, his throat itches, too. Well, good! He opens his mouth and closes it a few times before the Invisible Centipede comes out from the notch of his throat and crawls away on its invisible leash. It feels hot, the place where it’s come from. It will, until it crawls back in.

Mom doesn’t know about the centipede. If she did, she’d freak. That’s why it’s a centipede — it’s supposed to be a joke. Can you make jokes with yourself? Lucas thinks so. His face smushes up in concentration, and he grunts a little, and the centipede skitters across the air in the liviing room, jangling Dav’s Sounding Apparatus. If it wiggles just right, it’ll make the right notes, the notes Lucas hears in his head, and then the itching might stop.

The notes ring out, loud enough to hear over the wind, and Lucas grins. Last week he couldn’t do this from all the way upstairs, not even if he used the Awesome Tentacle of the Kraken instead of the puny centipede. He’s getting stronger. The notes from the bedroom have drawn him closer, so that he’s in serious danger of Interrupting the Adults and getting punished. He can’t seem to help it; his sneakers just keep taking him closer to the door. Well, if he gets in trouble, he can say that it’s Mom’s fault. She made him put the shoes on, after all.

Yeah, and saying that would get his butt spanked for sure.

Some of the notes sound good, but some of them don’t. He hops impatiently on one foot and tries to itch his ear, which just makes him lose his balance and almost fall on the ground. Whoah! He pushes himself upright against the wall, and the centipede’s leash snaps. The chimes jangle. Oops, well, he’s gone. Invisible Centipede on the Rampage! This thought makes him giggle uncontrollably, which makes a chime-like sound of its own.

The music repeats what it did before, like it’s asking a question.

They still don’t have it right! Well, no hopping this time. Lucas groans a bit from the effort, and the Mighty Tentacle of the Most Awesome Kraken unfurls itself from his throat. Mom says that there’s a chakra in his throat there. Lucas has no idea why, but sometimes adults don’t make any sense. Maybe it just is.

The Kraken slides down the bannister and winds itself around the biggest set of chimes. They clang so loud that a few of the people downstairs yell. Sorry! He doesn’t get it right, so he tries again, while it’s still ringing, and this time he slides the tentacle around the chimes as they ring, adjusting, until they make just the right noises. It makes his ears feel better, and he does it again, humming it loudly so that it rattles his head a little bit. Yes! He shoots, he scores, he wonders if he could play basketball with the Kraken thing! Maybe.

boy gazing up at stars
Looking Up

The door in front of him opens. Mister Barret bends down and looks at him. He has to, Mister Barret is very tall. “Would you like to come in?”

Lucas’s eyes bulge. Would he? Heck, yeah. He nods energetically. The room is full of grownups doing mysterious things, and there’s a guy with a… whatsit. It’s not a violin.

“Please,” says a voice from inside the room. Somebody he hasn’t heard before. He remembers how people sound. “Please come in. What’s your name?”

So he trots in to see who’s talking to him. Mister Barret’s vest smells interesting, and looks more interesting, but that doesn’t distract him for long. “I’m Lucas. Pleased to meetcha!” He grins widely.

“I see you know Barret,” says another tall man. Lucas knows his voice already. The new guy is different. But the tall man says, “I’m Drin, this is my lady Emma, and my husband Dance.”

“Hi, Lucas,” says Emma, with a nod.

Something rasps on the floor, and then the new voice says, “Pleased to meet another musician. You made the chimes sound?”

What’s on the floor is a length of…something… that flashes blue and green with little flecks of purple, rapidly, in little chasing patterns, as if it’s breathing. Above that, is the man holding a bow and the curved wooden thing that looks sorta like a violin.

“Uh-huh.” Lucas nods, then looks at Dance’s face warily. “Did I screw something up? Was I Interrupting?” He looks worried, and says the word with the capitol “I”.

“Not at all,” Dance says.

“Wow.” A million questions chase across his brain. He squints at the something on the floor, goes over and stares at it, reaches a hand out, then stops shy. “Coolio.” He looks up at Dance. “Is this your pet?”

rainbow colors in abstract fishscales
rainbow scales

Dance throws back his head and laughs. It’s a loud laugh, a big deep roaring laugh, bigger than the room can really hold. Then he calms down, and he smiles at Lucas, and he says, “Thank you, I needed that very much.”

“You’re welcome.” Lucas says soberly, although he smiles. That guy’s laugh is bigger than the room. Scarywicked.

And the very end of the glittering thing lifts up, comes right off the floor and coils into a little spring, and Dance says, softer, “You can touch it, if you wish.”

Wow, really? He reaches out, very gently, and pets the glittery surface of the — whatever it was. It felt… it felt like… “This feels like a snake. We went to the zoo once and a nice lady let me pet one. She had a mole on her nose. It was reeeeeeally big — the snake, not the mole — but not as big as this one.” He pats it a bit, like it’s the neighbor’s dog. He hears the lady, Emma, chuckle. So does Mister Barret. That’s good.

“Do you want to tell him?” Drin says.

Dance gives a little shrug. “He lives here. He’s used to –people like me.”

Emma says, “I’m not sure anybody ever gets used to you, Dance,” but she’s laughing.

Ohh, Lucas wants to ask what they might want to tell him, but he’s too polite to ask. No, that wasn’t right. If you ask, they’re less likely to tell. If you wait, sometimes whatever it is comes right out. Lucas waits, looking between Drin and Dance.

Dance smiles. “Can you be brave?”

Lucas nods emphatically. “Yes, I can. Mom says I’m always brave. I’m almost seven.”

Dance looks at him doubtfully. “I’ve frightened some very brave men, you know.”

That gives him pause. For maybe like half a second. “I’m brave enough.”

The tail comes up and pokes him. “Are you sure?”

He giggles like a maniac, and swats at the silly snaky thing. “I’m sure sure, ok?” Are snakes supposed to be smart like this? Maybe if they’re talking snakes like in that Disney movie. If it started singing “Trust In Me”, though, he was running. He didn’t want his eyes to go all swirly like Mowgli’s. No.

“Good,” says Dance, and the tail sweeps up and takes the bow from his hand, and draws it across the viola’s strings, and begins to play.

It sounds terrible. That nasty off-tone. Lucas makes a face. “How did you teach a snake to play a vio- instrument?” Then he remembers Mister Two Horses. “Is it a circus snake?”

Emma starts to laugh. She flings herself down on the bed, and laughs.

After a moment Drin starts to laugh, and so does Barret, and then Dance is looking at Lucas, and he’s starting to laugh too.

Lucas shakes his head, bewildered. These people don’t look like kids, Mister Drin even has grey hair, but they sure don’t talk like grownups. “I thought grownups aren’t ever supposed to be silly.” Amazing. This is fun!

“Oh, you haven’t met the right grownups,” Emma says, and reaches over and pokes Drin, grinning.

Drin says, “I blame it on musicians, myself,” and looks down his nose at them. Somehow it looks so silly they laugh harder.

“Can you teach my mom how to be silly like this? She’s been sad lately and I don’t like it. Maybe it would help.”

Drin looks at him. “We’re hoping to, yes. We have hopes for Mister Two Horses, who is good for people. He makes them laugh.”

“He gave me a marble.” Lucas says.

Barret says then, “You remember how some of the circus people have to be careful with people, or they’ll scare them?”

“Uh-huh. Because they’re like way different than people are supposed to be.”

Mister Barret looks up at Dance and wiggles his eyebrows, and they all crack up again. Even Lucas laughs this time. Mister Barret has way silly eyebrows.

“Well,” Dance says, “I’m way different.”

“How different? You look… regular.”

Dance takes the bow out of the grip of the snakey tip and sighs. Then he plucks a tissue out of a shirt pocket with it, and wipes his nose, and coughs into it. “This is–” he gives a silly little flourish of the tissue, “my tail.”

Mister Barret mutters, “This is your tail on drugs, this is–”

Emma cracks up again, rolling a little on the bed.

“Your — t… tail?” Sheer amazement. For a moment. Then horror. “It’s on your butt? I was petting your butt?? I’m. Really. Sorry.”

“I did say you could,” Dance says, mildly.

“Wow.” A guy with a snake tail that can play the vio-whatsis. “I bet you can play piano with it, too.”

Dance blinks at him, surprised. Then he says, “I hope to grow into it enough to do that, yes. Thank you.”

Lucas regards Drin then, head tilted. “May I ask a question? Ummm, I mean, like another question?”

“Of course.”

“Why is Emma your lady and Dance your husband?”

“Well, I call her my wife, but the law would not recognize it as we do. Dance and I are domestic partners, under the law. We are a trio, to have and to hold, until…” and he smiles at them both.

“Oh, ‘kay.” Lucas nods. Sometimes adults made sense, too. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Dance says then, “Can I ask you a question, Lucas?”

“Sure! It’s only fair.”

“Did you make the chimes sound like that to give us the tuning?”

“What are you tuning? Oh, the vio-whatsis.” He looks apologetic. “Yeah, sorry, it wasn’t quite right. It was making my ears itch.”

Dance coughs into his hand, and wipes his face with the cloth that gets folded on the chin rest of the thing he’s playing, and he smiles at Lucas. “It’s a viola, a larger cousin of the violin. It needs your help. We need your help to get it right. Shall I try to get it right again? Can you make the sound, in some way?”

“Ok, it goes like this.” Lucas’s voice is pure, clear boy soprano. He sings the notes. “Like that.”

Dance’s fingers pluck through the strings, and when he hits the wrong one, Lucas shakes his head, waving his arms. Dance smiles, and begins adjusting the tuning peg. Ding-ding-sing-sing, the note sounds. Lucas nods hard enough to make his bangs flop up and down. Yes yes yes!

The bow lifts gently in Dance’s hand. “Tell me, please, if it continues to sound correct.”

He’s got it.

“One more time.” Lucas says. His face scrunches as he listens. Dance obliges. “It’s PERFECT.”

Dance bows deeply. “We are obliged to you, Lucas.”

“You are very welcome,” he answers carefully, and bows, too, giggling a bit.

He turns to Drin with his eyes shining. “I want to learn how to play the viola, too.”

“I think that could be arranged,” Drin says gravely. “We should warn you that it is a lot of work. Very hard work.”

“Ahh, but what’s work, when you really love it?” Dance says, smiling, and the bow sweeps down across the strings, and amazing, sparkling, intricate things begin singing from the viola.

“Whoah.” Lucas whispers. The sound is doing something to his eardrums, and the inside of his head, it’s thrumming. It feels crazygood and really wierd a the same time, like… like — well, not like anything else he’s ever heard in his life. This is the coolest thing everever.

In a pause where Dance is using the cloth again, Emma murmurs, “You can tell your mom we said we’d help you learn viola, if you want.”

Lucas whoops and slips out the door with one last smile at Mister Drin, to go tell his mom that he’s going to learn to play the viola. Mister Drin said he could.

Turning into A Real Boy

Barret has an idea that maybe Dance wasn’t joking when he said that turning the pages for him, helping him play Locatelli’s music in the little Moleskin notebook, might not be the safest thing in the world.

But when Dance grins, and asks him if he wants to risk it, he grins back. “Hell yes!”

“Anybody else want to leave?” Dance says, lifting the bow.

Emma just folds her arms and snorts at him. Drin chuckles, wraps his arms around her, kisses her.

“Pen?” Dance says then, looking down.

Pen shakes his head. “I can at least stay to see what we, together here, created.”

Dance nods. He looks at Barret, and the tail raps the floor with the rhythm like a conductor’s baton.

Barret hears the first three staves of music, turns the page, and grins up at Dance. It’s good. It’s so damn good it hurts. Dance’s concentration is just as ferocious as before, so complete that his facial expression is almost neutral, as before. But the playing is totally different. There’s a swing and softness and eliding of notes. Dance is easing one bit to the next in the very tight quarters that his beautifully re-built Locatelli collaboration demands. It is not just a wild hostile jumble of identical Dresden roofs now.

Dance the artiste emphasizes one part over another, presents something to view, and then the next, making sense of the complexities in a way that a precise mechanical recital cannot. It is very human.

Just once, Barret has time to glance away, and to see that Emma is crying, wiping tears from her cheek; and he understands completely, with a deep unfolding happiness, why it would do that to her.

This music teaches you something. There’s some surprise on every last damn page of it. He remembers working with Dance on the repeated motifs, and marveling, but it’s not the same as hearing the threads rise and fall and surface back to view, rotating and changing hypnotically, like a kaleidoscope.

He is on the second to last page when he notices the rest of them tensing, shifting position. They’re expecting something.

Pen struggles up on his knees, breathing hard.

When Barret glances up on the very last page, he sees that Dance is grinning, a very wide grin that shows all his teeth, and there are a lot of teeth. There is abandon, joy, as that deadly runup of sixteenth notes become rapid pounding full-out sprinting into those demonic thirty-second notes–and Dance flies through them as serenely as if he’s capable of playing so fast he can’t be seen at all. Perhaps he can. Perhaps he can make sounds that become too fast to hear at all.

The bow flings itself joyously off those weather vanes at the top of the roof– and Dance gives a happy, “Oh!” of pleasure into the silence, tossing the viola away at Drin and the bow at Emma. He does it so perfectly that both of them catch the pieces, astonished.

pastel spiral fractal design
fractal in pastels

Then Dance gives a little sigh, and arches backward, and his entire body begins to glint, to flicker, to spin prisms of light. His skin glows out through his clothes. His whole body glows, his face, his hands, his tail, the keeling and ridges, everything he is, all of the details are brilliantly lit up.

Everything glints of rainbows and flares and startling playful runs up and down chromatic levels of light frequencies, and then he opens his mouth and it’s not singing that comes out of him. Noise is coming out of him. Loud, loud noise.

Orchestral, not just a single man’s voice singing, but entire batches of stringed instruments all roaring at the world at once.

Barret covers his ears, grinning.

When Emma looks round at him, Barret’s lips move. She knows what he’s saying, under the racket: “Pachelbel’s Canon.”

Emma just nods at him, squinting a bit against all the light glaring out of Dance’s body.

Dance hangs there as if he’s being held up by the backbone, shimmering, and when the Canon finally releases them all, the noise stops. The lights stop boiling along his tail quite so intensely, and his head droops forward, and then his hands rise up, and he roars, “Yes! Yes!” across a dozen different harmonics, with a bass note in it loud enough to thrum echoes through the timbers of the house.

Surf the Wind

Samadhi, the small moment of enlightenment, is not spoken of that often in the Western traditions. That brief moment of surprise, of joy, of understanding, happens while a soul is alive. Whether they are wearing a body like a penance, or like armor, or like one of the world’s most wonderful toys, it bursts past the limits. While alive, that is the most common experience of the perfect empty-mind, the beginning and end of all things, the perfection of things just as they are at that moment.

It’s a strange moment in which to hear the random violence of another tornado cell coming, from a long way off, the extra wind twisting on itself, embedded deep in the eyewall, marching on monster boots across the woods. It’s becoming a freight train noise heading directly at them, rumbling the house, shaking the joists under them. Some of the people on the first floor could get down the basement in time, they might survive a direct strike from the fury. Nobody up here has time.

And then they can all feel the little skip, the change in direction, something tweaks it, and it jerks aside and just clips the upper corner of the house, on the other side. The bedroom where Estelle has been huddled up in bed, mostly with Pen holding her tight, a room stinking of depression and lack of sleep. There is a loud crumpling noise like a car wreck, even louder than the deafening howl, and the whole house shudders.

“Estelle–” Pen’s mouth is screaming, unheard, just like the rest of them.

Then Dance feels himself smiling. Estelle, marvelous hollow-boned bird-thing that she is, read that wind perfectly well. She knew the storm was coming for that corner. She left the room in plenty of time to throw herself down the hallway and slam herself into the room with Pen. Perhaps she wants to live quite a lot, if she’s ever given a respite from the chemistry that is drowning her soul.

She screams in fury and rage and terror, totally unheard, mouth wide open.

He thinks he knows what she’s saying, though.

Bugs.

Bugs on all channels. He can hear bug-chatter all over the place, panicking, as the eyewall drives water into their fragile lab buildings, as the incredible deluge drowns their low installations.

He knows Estelle can hear them too. He is not sure how he knows it; something about the way loud bursts of chatter make her legs flinch, how it’s timed with the muscles that push her through the room. Plunging for the only light in the place–the window, where the shutter has ripped free, long since.

Dance feels everyone in that room pivot toward her. How marvelous each of them is, placed just so in the room, each of them bearing a broken, dented, worn patina that shines of their history, just like the silent objects in the room. And they are yelling, all of them, as Estelle hurtles into the room.

There’s the falling-star fierceness of Emma, trying both to grab onto the shreds of what is left and also to rid herself of the disintegrating weight of the ghost who is slowly releasing himself from her grip, regardless of what she does. Wojo is gone, and she needs to mourn, but her instinct for life is so strong that she willfully throws out her prickly affection like a pulsar, in a scattering of x-rays.

Drin, the kind man, the one who does grieve his losses, the one who has had so many of his memories crushed together and biochemically pushed down so deep he may never entirely understand why he does things, but the instinct for kindness, for love, is the shining lump that resisted that smelting, and glows at his center.

Barret, he of the vast tolerance for humankind, and whose mind is so firmly in the grip of the Muse that his brain’s normal human capacity for mathematics is entirely subsumed in the calculations of ratio necessary to compose, so nothing is left over for blinking sense into his checkbook; and whose boundless energy in that Muse’s service makes him fascinated with the logic of madmen and little kids.

Pen, exhausted and ill and paranoid and totally at the end of his rope without a knot, grasping wildly as his legs swing and flair in midair, unaware, in his blurry empty world, of where he can possibly find the support he needs to provide the help that he swore he would give others, and which others demand of him without end, as they have done all his life. There is no end and no mercy in the panic of Pen’s windmilling brain, and Turner has become a boogeyman he cannot look away from.

Dance smiles. He whispers, looking down into Pen’s eyes, and he smiles. Then he turns so Pen will be able to read his lips, if Pen chooses to do so. “Turner as your enemy is nothing compared to to a fully built Naga Trio as your friends.”

And then there’s Estelle herself, all of her burning in fury, mouth open screaming, all bright staring colors like an enraged parrot, her body the most wonderful, startling blue color. She is a streak of fury and despair, shrieking across the room, exploding the glass of the window–and then the wind takes her feathery weight and sucks it out. Wind pressure hauls her whole body billowing outward with a startled shriek. Estelle, who despairs of life, finds herself tumbling, flung into a flight that will plunge to the ground, unless something, or something, intervenes.

There is all the serene time in the world to know it will happen thus. To choose.

To know how each of her steps will drive her in panic across the room to it, and to reach out, and to flow with her, gently, not refusing her the choice, and not preventing her the full knowledge of what it means to be snatched from your life. Time to let her fall, to let her know it.

And then time enough to grip her gently, to feel streamers unfurl from his shoulders, long curls of sensory tapes like brilliant Christmas wrappings unwind from his neck, ripple out onto the wind for more lift and more control surfaces. Plenty of time for terror to unzip the flap of skin along his shoulders where things have been building slowly, over years. That is where they buried his Ra-hood. There is plenty of time for schematics to pop up in his brain as clearly as if he is gazing at a sumi ink painting of a dragon at play in the clouds; perhaps they were planted there for him, emergency failsafes that were somehow left intact when he was thrown into the box.

A corner of skin streams loose, the air pressure sucks it outward, which unfurls the fluid-lined cables that help it catch the wind.

Pen said they played, when they designed; and the unknown musician-creator who thought of his needs must have deeply enjoyed himself, thinking this one out to every last calculated detail. There is joy built into it.

There is plenty of time to feel the need to save himself, which forces his body into the writhing shock of a transition it would not choose to make otherwise. Time enough for that emergency to rip the tissues free and snap them out to full stretch with a bang that no other method could have done so thoroughly, all at once.

He feels the lines snap taut, a functioning parachute, and he is yanked high and hard and screaming unheard in delight as he carries Estelle away with him in his arms. The rest of him, still back in the house, unfurls for some time, flailing around, as if he can be tied like a kite-string to the house. His tail rips loose frail old window casing, the keels tearing through the wood like a saw. He is unfurling frantically to full length with a vibration through his whole body like a metal tape measure snapping loose, as his length rattles through the window frame.

Then they are an explosion of blue feathers and glitter flung up, lofted into the storm, with rain like bullets pelting into them.

They both scream. Estelle clutches him, shrieking. She may be happy, he thinks, blinded. She has borrowed from him the flight she never had, and has longed for all her life. She screams into his shoulder, with the wind. When things hit them, he rolls to protect her, he twists, feeling the battering of the air tearing away feathers from her exposed arms and legs.

ink of dragon in wind by Kano Hogai
Dragon by Kano Hogai

His tail glitters white, and then turns colors in rainbows, and then he is a gray and black dragon hatchling surfing on the wind. He makes mistakes, veering and looping wildly, learning how to tighten and release the kitelike cords that control the double-walled parasail of skin billowing over his head, the skin that howls marvelously of air pressures and temperatures and tastes and wetness streaming with them. He learns how to twist the tail into another airfoil, loops that provide lift and control surfaces. He can feel Estelle helping him, too, extending feathered arms wide into the wind to catch more lift, to veer them up higher and safer when they tumble with stray bits of metal and timbers broken like spikes.

This is a wind they could fly on.

Holdfast

Not a moment to lose– Emma braces herself out against the force of the wind, feeling the others slam into her, and then Drin has his hands on the splintered frame as well, holding firm, bracing her, and then there’s just the air howling past their bodies, tearing away tears or shouts or attempts to signal, or after awhile, any thought at all. Joints under strain drive spikes of pain up her spine. She holds. Pressing her hands on the wood hard enough to keep everyone in the room stops her hands from bleeding too much. They don’t even hurt much. Yet.

She knew better than to hold Dance’s tail like a rope, but of course she’d tried anyway. The keels on Dance’s tail tore free from her grip and cut her hands like saw blades, then the tip end tore away through the window frame as if the old wood was balsa, and then Dance was gone. His body out there in the storm went snapping free in a great thrashing recoil, that tail thumping the window like a spring stretched to full length and then released.

She saw a tumble of blue in his arms, a bare flicker of that color in her blurred sight– so he’s caught Estelle at least, but there’s no way to guess where the wind will carry them, how far. Not in the yard, where some kind of rescue party might be able to reach the bodies if they hung onto ropes. The only reason to even go looking for them at all, after the wind has gone down, is that Dance is not, and never has been, a human being.

sparrows flying over a swirling sea, painting by Shuki Okamoto
sparrows over sea by Shuki Okamoto at Harohien-zu

Thank God.

Over and over, she hears that mantra repeated.

You can’t tell.

He isn’t human. He is considerably tougher than human.

She has no measure of time for that screaming eternity of wind which ends when men’s big hands grasp her arms, five of them together while Drin stays firm, and they tap her knuckles to signal her to let go, and they drag her bodily away from the window, out of the room, and lay her down on the floor by the stairwell.

Drin stays behind, helping them wrestle the dangerous sheet of plywood into place. When he comes out, he lifts her onto her feet, guides her stumblingly downstairs, and pushes her into the grip of another woman. Grace. Emma blinks at the younger woman, stares blankly into the woman’s shocked dark eyes, blinks at the hands holding her up while she is shaking gently in place.

Still deafened by the howl, she can hear nothing while Grace and Ruby clean her hands and put bandaging on them. She can’t even hear herself. They clearly want to know what happened, what they need to do.

“Estelle and Dance fell out of the window,” Emma says, unable to guess how loud she is. “The wind carried them away. Drin and I will look when the wind goes down–” and whatever they’re saying, speaking into her gaze, hoping she can lipread, means only that they are trying to assure her of something. Help, perhaps. She will take that, certainly. She just nods blankly.

cracked painted surface, photo by Cecil Touchon
photo by Cecil Touchon

When she looks down, she finds bright little Lucas’s eyes staring up at her. It is purely the training of a lifetime–the old life which she doesn’t remember now, but which she knows led into Wojo’s crucible of fire–which impels her to say, as clearly as she can, “We will go look for them when it’s safe to go,” and she looks that certainty into Lucas’ eyes. The little boy nods, clutching his mother’s wrist.

Emma can’t bend, for the pain spiking fiercely up and down her spine, but she can nod at him. “We will find them,” she says. “We’ll need to move fast as soon as the wind goes down.”

Grace and Ruby say things she can’t hear.

Then Emma says, “I’m not just being silly here. We need Dance. We will need his help against bug troops.”

===

from googledocs