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The Feral Boy 2
Amelia bounced on the balls of her feet. It was freezing - winds were howling all around her, whipping and shoving her clothes in all directions. There was a thin layer of frost on the ground. Her eyes scanned the horizon desperately. Javen said he would meet her at the old station at ten o’clock. Where was he?
“You don’t think he’s stood you up?” Amelia turned round and frowned. Jessica stood beside her, warm and snug in a woolly jumper and purple mittens. “I mean, you’ve know each other for weeks, and for him just to not turn up, especially when he suddenly wanted to move places...it’s a bit suspicious.”
Amelia stamped her feet. “Oh, shut up, Jessica. He’ll come! He’s just late because of the weather, that’s all.”
Jessica nodded and turned back to face the road. It stretched out in front of them, a silent grey river. It was lined with derelict houses and shops, frozen grass sprouting from the gutters. Behind her was the old train station. It was rusted and cracked, disused ever since the new gravity tubes had been introduced. Moss coated it like a coat and the darkness that grew inside it was blacker than coal.
It wasn’t that far away from where she and Javen had first met, over three months ago. It seemed much shorter than that though. She visited him every day after school and a couple of times at the weekend too. They talked about everything - his life, her life, whether chocolate was the best thing ever (he said yes, she said no...but only because she’s tasted truffles), why the sky was blue...
“Look, look! He’s here! Amelia, he’s here!”
Amelia glanced up and a smile spread over her face. Javen was walking down the road, waving. His brown hair floated around his face, moved by the gale. He started jogging towards the girls.
“Hey!” Amelia could just hear his voice and grinning, she turned to Jessica.
“Bye, Jess. I’ll talk to you later, ok?” Jessica hugged her friend once more and vanished, swallowed by Amelia’s imagination.
“Hey, Amelia,” Javen said, slowing to a stop. Amelia felt her heart beat faster. She still had a crush on him, even if he did have a girlfriend.
“How are you?”
“Good. Cold, mainly.” She smiled and Javen laughed. He was dressed in his pair of tattered jeans and an old vest top, as usual. Amelia had wanted to buy him some warmer clothes for the winter, but she doubted he would accept them. “How are you?”
He shrugged. “Same old, same old.” He paused and wrapped his arm round Amelia’s shoulder. She felt warm immediately as the electricity sparked and flowed through her arm and back. “I have something to show you.”
Amelia grinned. “What?”
Javen pulled her round. “I’ll tell you when we get there. Now, come on!” He walked forward, into the train station.
Amelia pulled back and stood still. “W-we’re going in there?”
Javen nodded and grabbed Amelia’s hand. “It’s safe. I promise.” He paused and rummaged around in his pocket. “Here. You can use this.” He pressed a tiny torch into Amelia’s hand and then smiled. “Come on then!”
He pulled Amelia into the train station, laughing. She stumbled after him, her finger touching the pad that would start the torch. She had never liked the dark. It scared her to think of all the beasties and monsters that might hide in it. She felt safer with the torch and Javen of course, but there was a great feeling of horror rising from the pit of her stomach.
“Turn the torch on.” Amelia pressed the button and the world around her lit up. They were standing in a hall, full of old shops and broken turnstiles. Glass was scattered across the floor in pointed daggers, piercing bags of chips and old bottles. Amelia moved the torch round. There was a scurry of movement, and Amelia spotted a tail disappearing into a hole in the wall. Shivering, she turned to Javen.
“Can we go now?”
Javen shook his head. “I haven’t ever shown you the best part yet! Follow me.” He walked towards a wall
and slipped through a metal grate in the floor. He was gone in an instant. Amelia walked forward hastily, her eyes trained on the ground.
“Javen?” Her voice was shaking, and fear was squeezing her heart. She edged closer to the grate. It was
huge, easily big enough to let some pass through it, but it was flooded with darkness. “Javen?”
“I’m down here! Just-eh- give me a second!” A bright light suddenly filled the grate, and Javen’s face stared up at Amelia’s. “Down here! Just jump. It’s not deep and I’m here to catch you!”
Amelia gulped and closed her eyes. Her legs moved forward and she slipped down, down, down through the floor. She felt Javen’s hands press into her back and lower her to the ground.
“That wasn’t that too bad, was it?”
Amelia opened her eyes. They were standing in a thin passageway, full of pipes and tubes and metal. It was lit by a single candle, hanging on the wall. Peering forward, she could see small dots of light fading into the distance. Amelia turned back to Javen. His face was smudged with dirt. “What was it you wanted to show me?”
Javen’s face lit up and his eyes sparkled. “This way.” His hand clamped around Amelia’s and they walked down the passageway.
“Watch your step,” he said. Glancing down, Amelia saw large piles of iron, rusting on the floor. She stepped over them and shoved her hands in her jeans pockets.
“So, what is this place?”
Javen pulled Amelia to the left, down another passage and said, “This place? It’s my place. These passages have been my home for years - ever since I was eight. I know them like the back of my hand. Take a right here.”
He veered off and Amelia followed him, jogging to catch up. “Since you were eight?” She pondered this. When she was eight, she had been making cookies and having bouncy castle parties. “Who do you live with?”
“No one. I’m all by my lone-some. Natalya comes round occasionally, but that’s it. This is my house.” He took one look at Amelia’s face and laughed. “We don’t live in colonies you know! We’re not beasts, or wolves or whatever else they teach you at school. No, we live like you guys. In families, or alone, or in pairs. Me and Natalya aren’t officially married so we can’t live together.”
Amelia nodded. All those lessons at school about the Unregistered being like animals, huddling together in packs. Lies. All lies.
“Just up these stairs...” Javen bounded up a metal staircase. Amelia followed behind him, a question on her lips.
“What happened to yo-”
Amelia stopped dead in the middle of her sentence. They were standing in a circular room, with an arched ceiling. It was lit by a tidy campfire, ringed with stones. There was a wooden spit hanging over it, and pots and pans cluttered the side. The walls were an earthy brown, but there was a slither of grey at the bottom, the only hint that the old wallpaper had been painted over. There was a pile of cushions in the corner, covered with neat fluffy rugs and throws.
Javen grinned. “So, what’d ya think?”
“I-is this where you live?”
Javen nodded and slumped down onto the cushions. “Yup! My crib, as it were. Nice and cosy.”
Amelia strolled around, her fingers touching everything and anything in sight. “Is that your bed?” she said, motioning to the cushions Javen was lying on.
“Yeah. Bed’s cost money...pillows, not so much.” He laughed and stood up. “It’s a kitchen, bedroom and office all in one!” He pointed to a corner full of bin bags. “I keep my metal there. So what do you think?”
Amelia had never seen anything like it. It was so...primitive yet cosy. Her house was white and black and modern. It was too clean, too perfect. Her mum employed three cleaners to keep it spotless. This, this was just nice.
Amelia grinned. “I absolutely love it. What was this room originally?”
“I have no idea. When I came, it was empty. No nothing.” He jumped back down onto the cushions. Amelia sat down beside him. “Javen? What- what happened to you?”
Javen’s face fell. “I don’t to talk about it.” He turned away and Amelia placed her hand gently on his shoulder.
“You can tell me. Please. I want to help.”
He sighed. “When I was a baby, my mum died giving birth to me. Me and dad, we lived with family for years, but on my eighth birthday he went out to get wood. I followed him, and tried to help. But he got annoyed with me and told me to go home. His shouting caught the attention of someone, and they called the police.” He paused. “I was still arguing with him when the police came. They were shouting and one of them caught my dad and handcuffed him and shot a tranquilizer dart into him...I couldn’t do anything. So I ran. I ran and ran and ran. I could hear the police chasing me, but I kept running. It paid off. I was used to running over the stones barefoot and I was fast. The cops weren’t and they stumbled. I ran in here. I couldn’t go back to my family. They hated me for killing my mother - their sister and daughter and cousin. I was helpless. So I stayed here and built it up. I cleaned and cleared out. I looked for metal to sell, and I managed to survive on my own. Ok? You happy now?”
Amelia wrapped her arms round Javen. Tears welled in her eyes as she felt tiny splashes of water drop onto her arm. “I miss my dad. And it gets so lonely up here...”
Javen turned round and wiped his eyes. “Sorry. It-it just brings back some memories I’d rather forget.”
Amelia let go and smiled sympathetically. “I know. It’s ok.”
Javen stood up and clapped his hands together. His face was red and blotchy and his eyes were swollen with forced back tears.
“So, yeah, that’s my story and my house. You ready to go? Your mum will be wondering where you are.”
Amelia sighed and pushed herself to her feet. “I guess. I really like your house, by the way. Thanks for showing me it.”
Javen smiled and put his hand on Amelia’s shoulder. “I’m glad you liked it. I might meet you here again sometime. Come on, let’s go.”
The pair went down the stairs and through the winding corridors and passageways. Amelia still couldn’t believe what she had heard. Javen - without a mother or a father? Or any family he could go to? It was horrible. It was unnatural...it was cruel. And the police chasing him like that? It was disgusting.
Amelia suddenly felt a hand tug her shoulder. She stumbled backwards and Javen caught her. “Shush...” he hissed. There was an urgency in his voice, an instinct.
That’s when Amelia heard it. A voice. The sound of quiet footsteps above their heads. Amelia froze and unconsciously grabbed Javen’s hand, grasping his fingers.
“Bob. Look at this.” A female voice. There was a click and a beam of light shot down into the passage through the grate. Amelia hadn’t realised how close it was.
“What is it? A feral hideout?”
A deep male voice answered. His voice reminded Amelia of sandpaper. “Probably. I think we’d better go down and check. Have you got the stuff?”
“Yup. You go first.”
Javen yanked Amelia to the side as the man’s foot popped down the grate. “When I say so run. Follow me.
Ok? And, Amelia? It’s going to be ok.” His voice was barely audible, quieter than a whisper. Amelia nodded. She heard the man land on the ground. He was going to catch them...
“Go!” Javen flew off down the passageway, his hand tight around Amelia’s. She ran after him, ignoring the policeman’s cries.
“Stop! Stop! Natalie, we got two ferals. Request back up!”
Javen skidded round a corner, tugging Amelia with him. The policeman’s heavy footsteps resounded around them, and they were soon joined by another. It was lighter, faster and within moments, Amelia could hear the person’s breathing.
“Amelia, keep running. Come on!” Jessica was running alongside her, blending into the wall. “Keep going!”
Amelia bit her lip and pushed herself to move faster. She watched Javen run in front of her and tried to copy his easy gait. His feet padded lightly on the ground but he ran like lightning, gone in an instant.
They ran and ran, turning corners and twisting in tiny corridors. Amelia could fell sweat coming down her brow, and she was slowing. The policewoman behind them had long since been joined by others, but she remained in front. Amelia could hear her getting closer with each passing moment.
Amelia screamed as a pair of hands grabbed her round the waist.
“Gotcha! Does someone have the shot?”
Amelia screamed again, and started kicking wildly. Javen turned round and clenched his fists. His face was darker than thunder.
“Let her go. She has nothing to do with this.”
The woman glanced up and frowned. “Bob! Where are you?”
A large man huffed round the corner. There was a gun in his left hand and Amelia could clearly see blue sedative tubes poking out the top. “Here. I’ve got the gun. Who first?” He lifted the gun up and pointed at Amelia. She kicked harder and the woman shook her.
“That one. I’ve got this little one under control.”
The man grinned and changed his aim. Javen looked at him for a second. “Let her go. She’s Registered. I swear.” He placed his hand on his heart and stared into the man’s eyes. “Let her go.”
The man only laughed. “Look at this! The feral’s being civil. How...quaint.” The man clocked his gun and in one fluid motion, aimed and fired.
Amelia screamed as the syringe plunged itself into Javen’s neck. His eyes glazed over and rolled back into his head, leaving a milky white glaze. “JAVEN!” He collapsed to the ground and the man whipped some handcuffs out of his pocket. He snapped them on Javen’s wrists as Amelia sobbed and kicked. “JAVEN!”
“Do you know who has the cage? Does Drew have it?” The man scratched his head.
“Aw, for crying out loud, Bob! Get this thing sedated!”
“Oh, yeah...right.” The man slotted another syringe into the gun and pointed it at Amelia’s face. Her eyes were pinned on Javen’s limp body. Javen...Javen...Javen...
Suddenly, Jessica was bending over him. Her fingers took his pulse and felt round the bump on his head.
“It’s fine, Amelia. He’s safe. Just go. I’ll be with you. You’ll be safe. Javen said so.”
Amelia gulped back a sob and nodded. She stopped kicking and went limp in the arms of the woman.
“It’s ok, it’s ok...” she whispered under her breath. She closed her eyes and thought of Jessica.
“It’s ok, Amelia. Just let it happen.” Her voice was soft and soothing. “It’s ok...”
Click. Sharp burst of pain shot through Amelia’s neck and everything went black.