Wish Carriers

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Liffon Foxglove, the youngest in the Foxglove line, travels to Greenbrook to become a Wish Carrier. Upon arriving, he finds his father, the famous Fens Foxglove, has gone missing on a very important mission. Where has he gone? It's up to the young hummingbird and his new friend Lissa Gentian to find out what's going on. What they find may even be a threat to the Carriers, let alone Greenbrook and perhaps all of Herald itself.

Please feel free to comment. I have divided the chapters up according to basic word count, so they are rather long. When I totally finish everything, it will probably look a bit nicer.

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14. Carl's Escape

 

          Carl blinked at the new morning sunlight streaming in through the barred windows of his room. It was a rather nice room, he had to admit, but it was nothing compared to having his own room in his own house. He turned on his side and frowned at the sight of his roommate, the loudly snoring Lawrence. While overall he was a nice guy, he was entirely convinced that his name was Betty White and that he was also the wonderful, short, white-haired lady that his name implyed. It was sometimes amusing, more so because Lawrence was rather dark to actually be close to being Betty White, but other times Carl had the urge to give the younger man quite a slap.

          Carl had found himself in this institution, as they called it, after his episode at the hospital. Being attacked by birds, then claiming he could hear them yelling at him with human speech was enough to send anyone to a place like this. There was nothing more annoying, in Carl’s eyes, to tell the truth and not be believed. While he wasn’t a kind or decent man, he was never a liar.

          What made it worse, though, was the fact that he could still understand the birds. Instead of a simple chirp every morning, which he would have much appreciated, he heard things like:

           “Good morning? Who wants to be my sugarplum seedcake? I’m totally available and in need of some love!”

           “Oh, nectarblossom. You have the prettiest feathers of them all. I promise.”

          He really began to feel like vomiting after every morning he heard these various avian flirtations.

          In the end, he was the sanest one here, much to his dismay. And this made it even harder to deal with. While he would occasionally shout at birds and tell them to stop trying to get with each other, which often caused bouts of laughter from the other residents, he began to grow frustrated at being the most normal here.

          He was forced into daily sessions of group therapy where he was to talk about feelings and how to act in social situations. Sometimes one of the residents would start yelling like they were having an attack and some people in white coats would come over and move them away from other people until they calmed down.

          The therapists said he was rather well adjusted. He insisted that he didn’t belong here, and that he wanted to go home, but they always told him if he wanted to go, he would have to wait until the doctors said it was okay for him to. No doctors had told him it was okay to go yet, so he was forced to sit here like an old fool.

          He grimaced, sitting up in his bed. It all felt rather Coocoo’s Nest-y. Was he going to have to have a lobotomy, too? If that was the case, he would have to get out of here as soon as he could, be it via doctor, or escaping himself.

          Lawrence rolled over and a line of drool began to droop down his cheek. Carl grimaced.

          A knock on the door interrupted Carl’s musings. Lawrence snorted; Carl wasn’t sure whether this was a genuine snore, or a non-verbal protest for what came next.

           “Carl? Lawrence?” a woman’s voice said. “Time to get up!”

           “Come on in,” Carl grumbled. “Lawrence is doin’ his snortin’ thing.”

           “Lawrence,” the woman repeated, clapping her hands softly. The younger man snorted again and opened his eyes.

           “Oh, good morning, Sally,” he yawned, sitting up slowly. “But I told you. My name is not Lawrence. It’s Betty.”

           “Alright, Betty,” Sally said with a smile. “Make sure you’re dressed by 8:30. We have a nice breakfast.”

          Carl mumbled something and stood up, ambling over to the set of drawers to find a suitable shirt to go with his fashionable bleached pants.

 

          Breakfast was the same as always - oatmeal, OJ, some bacon, and a bit of eggs. It wasn’t all that bad. On Sundays they got pancakes and sausage.

          Lawrence, currently dressed in a flowery dress shirt to match his uniform cloud-colored pants, gingerly placed his tray on the table next to his roommate. Carl groaned, but Lawrence poked him and twittered.

           “Turn that frown upside-down!”

          Carl, though he had tried to dislike “Betty,” he couldn’t help himself letting a slight grin pass his lips. To hide it, he shoved a spoonful of oatmeal in his mouth, hoping Lawrence wouldn’t be paying too much attention.

          After a few minutes of silence, Carl looked at his friend/

           “Hey La-I mean ‘Betty,’” he said. “D’ya ever think of gettin’ outta here?”

           “Dear me,” Lawrence gasped, looking back at Carl. “Why would you want to do that?”

           “I don’t belong here,” Carl explained. “Just because I can legitimatly hear birds doesn’t mean I’m insane.”

           “You can hear birds, too?” Lawrence’s eyes went wide.

           “You can?”

           “They aren’t very nice to me,” the younger man said. “They tell me I am ugly and mean.” His lower lip quivered.

           “Oh snap out of it, Lawrence,” Carl growled. When Lawrence didn’t know what he was talking about, he corrected himself. “I mean Betty. Sorry.”

           “I don’t think you could get out of here unless a doctor says it’s okay,” Lawrence continued, taking small bites of his eggs.

           “Of course not,” Carl sighed. He leaned forward, talking more quietly. “But what if we could break out?”

           “Sweet Jesus that would be a horrible idea!” Lawrence-Betty gasped dramatically. “What if the bears get us?”

           “What are you talking about? We’re in northeastern Ohio. There aren’t any bears!” He realized he had spoken a bit too loud and now a few people were looking at the pair of them. But he sat back in his chair and stayed quiet until he was sure they were too busy with their food to take further notice.

           “I don’t care what you do, but I’m outta here,” Carl grumbled, shoveling eggs into his mouth.

           “The security is pretty tight, you know,” Lawrence stated, paying more attention to his food than his friend.

           “But I don’t belong here!” Carl hissed. “I made a wish to understand birds, and I haven’t wished it away!”

           “I made a wish to fly, and I never got anything!” Lawrence complained.

           “What’s going on, guys?” It was Christi, the slightly schizophrenic and pasty white neighbor on the other side of the hall. She was always nosing in on other people’s conversations, and seemed to have taken a liking to Carl. Even though she was a little strange, always ranting about conspiricy theories and how the doctor’s put her here to study her brain, she was overall rather nice.

           “Carl is scaring me with his talk about escaped bears,” Lawrence said with a slight gasp.

          Christi shoveled some bacon into her maw and pointed her fork at Carl. “T’aint nothin’ out there but mean ol’ dogs and dudes in white coats.” She swallowed and downed her glass of juice. “I think they’s got some electric fence er sommin’, too.”

           “Oh dear me, Christine!” Lawrence exclaimed. “Don’t say such things!”

           “Either way, I’m outta here tonight. Sick of this place,” Carl added, finishing his bacon. “This place is like a prison. I miss my real bed!”

           “If’n y’let me come with ya, I’ll show ya th’ back way,” Christi offered.

           “You two had better watch it,” Lawrence frowned, drumming his manicured nails on the table.

           “Don’t worry about us,” Carl frowned, finishing off his food and standing up with the empty plate. “You wouldn’t want to come anyway.”

           “I dare say!” Lawrence exclaimed, rather offended.

           “I dare ya t’not say!” Christi said with a mischievous grin.

          Lawrence opened his mouth to retort, but nothing came quickly enough to his mind and Christi scampered off toward the common room, giggling like a southern belle.

 

          That evening, after all the therapy nonsense and rather mediocre meals, the lights began to shut off and the day staff began to leave. The only one left was two overnight staff sitting in the common room, the TV turned quiet and Cartoon Network running. Carl peeked out the door, catching a few moments of Adventure Time. The two staff were chatting with each other, both on a cell phone or something.

          He looked right, then left, initially not seeing anything. But then, a silhouetted figured just across the hall and down a bit waved at him. It was, of course, Christi. She paced over to him, not making a sound.

           “Sorry, Arlene jus’ now fell asleep,” she whispered. “She’s been havin’ trouble sleepin’ lately.”

          Carl nodded and followed her as she lead him behind the two staff. He held his breath, hoping to not make any sound. Much to his delight, the overnight staffers made no move to turn around or react in a way that even indicated they even heard the pair of them.

          When they were about three fourths of the way down the hall and sure out of earshot, Christi whispered to Carl.

           “Why’n’t Lawrence come?”

           “You think that crazy ol’ man would even be able to be silent?” Carl hissed.

           “I guess y’right,” she nodded, leading him around the corner.

          The hallway was only dimly lit; a few lights from the rooms spilled from under the doors. Other rooms, though not many, had small windows (for which the staff had provided equally small curtains for privacy) in the doors. Most were dark, but a few also had dim light shining through.

          It all gave the place a rather eerie feel. Carl’s eyes constantly scanned the area, expecting someone or something to jump out at them. But nothing did, not even when they drew near the deliveries door on the other side of the kitchen.

          This was too easy, Carl thought. There had to be a catch. Something was going to go wrong. His experience told him this over and over.

          He watched the back of Christi as she lead him out the service entrance, her long blonde hair bouncing with her movements. He glanced back and forth, expecting something to happen.

          But, nothing did. Carl was growing more and more apprehensive now, half expecting something to explode in front of him. But Christi simply stopped, as if waiting for him.

           “This’s it,” she stated, standing akimbo like a proud child, just showing her best friend a new hideout.

           “Do y’know how to get outta here?” Carl asked. The back parking lot was empty, save about six cars - they would be the evening care staff and security.

          Security - where were they? Don’t they usually pace around the outside of the building? Or was that just a myth Christi had made up? The back parking lot was at least fenced in. That was something, he guessed.

           “This street,” Christi said, pointing to the left end of the fence, “is Carson Avenue. If’n we take it to th’ main street, we can hook up with the highway an’ take it ‘cross town.”

           “How d’you propose we do that?” Carl frowned.

          Christi grinned, producing a pair of keys from her pocket. Carl’s mouth gaped in surprise, his usual surly facade shattered like a glass dropped by a clumsy child. She grabbed his arm without a word and dragged him toward a big white van that was used to take some of the more independant residents for day trips.

          She clicked open the door and reached over to unlock Carl’s side. The beast started up with a grumble and a groan, but finally roared into mechanical life.

           “Are you sure y’know how t’drive this thing?” Carl said with a slight grumble.

           “Sure, I driven these things all the time back home!” Christi exclaimed zestfully.

          If Carl had a hat, he would have gripped it tight to keep it from falling off. Be he didn’t, so instead he gripped the seat until his knuckles turned white. The beast of a van shot out of the parking lot and Christi shouted a mighty “Yee-haw!” as if it really were a beast to be tamed.

          Carl turned around just in time to see some very angry security guards chasing them. Carl snickered. Someone was going to lose their jobs over this. That is if he was alive to even see the results!

 

          The van didn’t last long. Sooner than Carl had hoped, Christi crashed it into a telephone pole out of the main road. She got out and started ranting about something, screaming at the van. Carl shushed her quickly, and pulled her off the road, explaining the cops would be here soon. She quietly obeyed.

          Soon enough, as predicted, the sound of the familiar siren began to blare. The lights were still far away, but that didn’t mean they would be far away for long.

          Carl, still grasping her wrist, yanked her into the bushes of a nearby house. He was glad it was early summer. Otherwise the bushes wouldn’t provide so much as an ounce of cover.

          The police cars drew closer to the wreckage, seemingly not slowing down at first. Then, as the headlights fell on the van, one of them slowed to a stop, presumably radioing the information back the the station.

          The policewoman got out of the car, brandishing a flashlight and began to search the wreckage. The logo on the side of the van must have surprised her, because she jumped and said something into her radio that the pair couldn’t hear.

          It didn’t matter, though. They were off.

          The only place Carl could think to go was the lot where they kept the cars of people that had been commited to the institute. It was rather far away because it had to be gaurded like an impound lot. In fact, it was a little bit like that except they didn’t put that giant block on the cars. The keys were kept in a safe inside the office as required by law of the state. But if he knew anything about Christi, she could crack a lock fast than a squirrel could crack a nut.

          Carl beckoned for her to come, hissing softly. She followed without a word. The policewoman didn’t seem to be aware of much besides the van itself, so the pair used this distraction to sneak away.

          The lot wasn’t as far as Carl had remembered. It was nearly midnight and the air was a bit chilly, even for late Spring. The stars were barely visible under the street lights. Carl looked back to check if Christi was still following, and he felt strangely relieved that she was. He raised an eyebrow at his own thoughts, but shook his head, dismissing it.

           “So what’s this place, huh?” Christi said, finally catching up. She wasn’t breathing hard, which was strange considering she was just jogging. Carl wondered if she was more fit than she let people know.

          Carl nodded, pushing the gate open. The office stood in front of them like a dead fish on an abandoned beach - dark and lifeless.

           “That’s where they keep the keys,” he explained, pointing his thumb at the fish-building.

           “What d’ya need keys a’fore?” she asked, following him closely.

           “We need a vehicle, don’t we?” Carl replied, struggling with the door.

           “Here, let me,” she stepped in, pulling a hair pin from her pocket. She jammed it in the door lock and fiddled around a bit.

           “Where’d you get that?” He was a bit confused; Christi wasn’t one to wear hair pins very often, if at all.

          She turned and blinked at him, seemingly confused that he had even asked her something like this. Then, realizing he was genuine, she replied. “I may not look much like a lady, but I got some stuff for when I want to.” It was a rather matter-of-fact reply.

          Carl opened his mouth to comment, but the door was already open.

           “Let’s git goin’,” she stated.

          The room was so dark, Carl had to stick close to the wall to even know where he was. He’d only been in here once before, but it was enough to know the basic layout. Christi was right behind him - so close he could feel her breath. He was glad it was her and not someone else. There wasn’t many people at the institution that he liked.

          He felt around for the light switch, and after a good few moments in the pitch darkness, he finally found it and flipped it on. Light blazed and he had to cover his eyes for a moment, blinded. Christi seemed rather unaffected, though. Spotting the safe, he pointed it out to Christi who immediatly set on it, a mischievous grin on her face.

          The sound of sirens made him jump and he instintivly turned off the lights. The last thing they needed was cops rushing in here thinking it was strange to have lights on at this hour. Christi protested, but after Carl hissed her to be silent, she set at the combination lock again.

           “Almost there,” she said, her ear against the safe door. The sirens faded away and Carl let out a sigh of relief. “Aha!” she exclaimed, popping the safe door open.

          Carl switched on the lights and raced over, grabbing his keys before she could ask which ones. Then, he slammed the door, grabbed her wrist, shut off the lights, and was out the door, her mouth still open from the question still on her tongue. He didn’t think he had ever moved so fast in his life.

          She stopped, yanking her wrist from his grip.

           “Where d’ya think you’re goin’?” she demanded. He paused, turning to her in the moonlight. The half crescent glared down at them light a giant eyeball, judging their actions. At first, he wasn’t sure what to say. Then the answer came, plain as day.

           “I’m goin’ home,” he said gruffly.

           “You’re really leavin’?” she asked, seemingly surprised.

           “That’s what I said I’d do,” he answered, pacing towards the green Ford pickup. He jammed the keys into the door and clicked it open.

           “You’re gonna actually leave leave?” Christi frowned as if she had suddenly grown unsure of what was happening.

           “You don’t have to come y’know,” he grumbled.

           “I didn’t think you was actually gonna do it,” she stated, still not having moved.

           “Are you comin’ er not?” Carl demanded, starting the car.

          Christi appeared to think about it for a few moments, then without warning, she took off at a run and leaped at the door on the other side.

          It swung open with a soft creak.

           “Careful! Too much noise!” Carl hissed.

           “Oh relax, old man,” she whispered back. “We got about three minutes until the cops come back.”

           “How d’you know that?” he said, his eyes widening.

           “It don’t matter! Just drive!”

          The empty road was a good omen, even if there were sirens behind them; they would be long gone.

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