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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19. Home Again

         Christi sat with her arms cross, dozing slightly against the back of the one-piece front seat of the pickup. The groan of the engine was as much a sedative to her as anything they could provide at the Institute, and much more relaxing. She preferred it, really.
         Without opening her eyes, she spoke to Carl. “So wurr we goin’, ol’ man?”
         If he was upset by the old man comment, he didn’t show it. He wasn’t in denial about his age, that was for sure. 
          “To my house,” he stated plainly.
          “Innit a bit obvious?” she said, raising an eyebrow. She opened her eyes and looked at him, but he was concentrating too hard on driving to give her a reaction. 
         They whizzed a semi-truck labeled Tradewinds. Christi gave it the honking gesture, but it was too dark for the driver to see. She stretched and pulled down the sun shield to check her hair in the mirror.
          “You gotta hairbrush in hee-yah?” she asked, trying to make her short auburn hair less like a nest for some rodent. She usually didn’t mind her consistent bed head, but she didn’t usually leave the Institution. She frowned, displeased.
          “I have t’pick up some things,” the man replied.
         Christi looked at him, confused.
          “That’s why we’re going to my house,” he finished.
         She didn’t reply, but hoped they weren’t staying very long. The cops would be all over the place looking for them, not to mention the FBI and CIA probably.
          “Do y’think they gon’ send the S.W.A.T. team?” she asked, her eyes widening. “Maybe they’ll call their alien allies from Mars.”
          “What are you talkin’ about?” he said, gruffly, furring his brow.
          “Oh, nothin’,” she replied with a frown, crossing her arms again.
         He didn’t show it, but Carl was actually glad to have her along. Though they were over twenty years apart in age, she was one of the few people that she could stand at the Institution. She provided a somewhat sane approach to every day life and was able to engage him in real conversation, unlike 90% of the rest of them. He didn’t even mind she was a little wacky.
         He drove for almost an hour before Christi decided she needed to use the bathroom. While he was impatient and worried they were being followed, he allowed her the time to use the restroom while he filled up the tank at a Sunoco off of I-71. 
         The air was cool, but not chilly. Carl hadn’t brought a sweater, but the breeze was warm enough. Northeastern Ohio weather was unpredictable at all times, but it was safe to say that mid-May would usually be warm.
         A misty rain began just as he finished filling the tank. Christi trotted out of the mini mart, brushing her hair with a barber’s comb.
          “Where’d you get that?” he asked, concerned she had picked it from the garbage.
          “The guy gave it t’me fer a dollerr,” she said.
          “And you got the dollar from…?”
          “Yer pockitt,” she replied matter-of-factly.
          “If you’re gonna travel with me, you cannot do that. We’ll be broke sooner ‘an you can say ‘dollar,” he scolded, trying to not get too angry. He knew it best to not yell at her, but explain things.
          “Fine, fine.” She plopped onto the seat and closed her eyes again, crossing her arms across her chest.
          “Did you take anythin’ else?” he asked, looking at her before he started the truck again.
         At first she didn’t say anything, but after he demanded to know, she produced a quarter, a candy bar, and a roll of duct tape from her surprisingly deep pockets.
          “Candy bar from th’ mini mart, duck tape from yer tailgate, and quarter from the toll draw’.”
         He sighed and took the candy bar. It was too embarrassing to go and return it, so he stowed it in the map compartment on his door.
          “Put th’ tape in th’ glove box and th’ quarter back where you found it,” he instructed. She reluctantly obeyed, and huffed like a scolded teenager.
          “Can I have th’ candy bar later?” she inquired with a hopful expression.
          “You can’t have th’ candy bar ever,” he said sternly, and started the engine.
         Feeling a little awkward that he had had to scold a 27-year-old on not stealing, Carl drove the next twenty minutes in silence. Christi had gotten over the scolding in a matter of seconds and was now simply looking out the window, watching the street lights whiz by above their heads.
          “So y’don think th’ FBI is lookin’ fer us?” she said finally. “They might’ve tagged th’ truck er sommin’. They could be waitin’ fer us t’park so they can just look up our GPS location.”
          “No, Christi,” he stated. “We’re not being followed.”
          “Are y’sure?”
          “You only worry this much when you’re tired. Try to get some sleep.”
         He was right. She was rather tired. She leaned back again and closed her eyes.
         Within minutes, she was snoring softly. Carl allowed himself a small smile. When his wife passed away five years ago, he withdrew into himself, filling the hole she left with material objects. It was nice at first, but in the end he was still an angry old man. Christi was having a strange effect on him. This was the first time he had really been somewhat happy since then.
         He grunted and shook his head, pushing the feeling aside and turning the radio to NPR to distract himself. It was Jim Blum, the folk music host introducing a rendition of “Honky Tonk Blues.” He shrugged, accepting the song. It at least passed the time.
         When they arrived at Carl’s home, it was already 2am. Reluctantly, he shook Christi awake. If he let her sleep in the car, it might give him a few hours of peace, but then he’d have to hear her talk about how he left her in the car for the next two days. She grumbled and blinked.
          “This’s yer house?” she said, sleepily, peering out the window.
“Yup,” he replied plainly, sliding off his seat. He closed the door as softly as he could, but the familiar thump was just as loud as usual. He shook his head, reasoning no one would notice anyway.
         He heard Christi stretch audibly and hushed her.
          “Oh yeah, sorry,” she whispered. “CIA bugs.”
         He rolled his eyes and lifted the doormat up for the spare key. In the darkness, it was hard to find the lock, but a few minutes of feeling around the door later, it squeaked open.
         He flipped on the light and watched Christi to make sure the door was closed. He blinked, holding back a gasp. The place was still a mess. No one had even come back in to clean it up after he was ported off to the hospital. There were still feathers and bird poop littering the wooden floor. A few roaches skittered across it, stopping briefly to “smell” the mess.
         He groaned and tossed the car keys on the table, making his way to the kitchen. He was almost afraid to open the fridge.
          “I’ll do that tomorrow,” he said to no one in particular. He turned to Christi. “There’s a second bedroom down the hall across from the bathroom. It’s not normally used, so it may be a bit messy. Clean sheets in the closed left of the door.”
         She didn’t say much of anything. What she mumbled was not understandable. She made a dismissive hand motion and shuffled off to the guest room. He didn’t hear anything else, so he assumed the sheets were clean enough.
         Sighing, he frowned. Tomorrow was going to be a big cleanup day.

         Carl was up early, cleaning up all the soiled paper, cages, and stray bird droppings that had encrusted themselves onto the wall and floorboards. After he was done with the dining area, he opened the fridge to find some eggs, and nearly fell backwards. The smell of old milk and molded vegetables hit him like a wave.
         Donning a pair of rubber gloves he had under the sink and holding his breath, he emptied 90% of the contents of the fridge into a trash bag. With a sigh, he opened the back door and went to put it in the outside garbage bin, but paused. If someone caught wind (no pun intended) that someone was in the house, they might alert the athorities. With a grunt, he set his jaw and crossed the driveway and dropped it into the neighbor’s trash bin. It hit the bottom with a sickening plop.
         The door must have been enough to wake Christi, because she was stretching and yawning in the hallway when he came back in. Without much warning, she raced over to the door as he came in, made sure it was closes, and locked it. He blinked at her, but she only responded by peering out the window on the right side of the door.
          “What are you doing?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
          “Aliens,” she replied simply.
          “Right, well I’mma make some breakfast. I only have quick oats. Everything else is expired an’ spoiled,” he explained, getting out a pot and flipping on the gas stove.
         Without a word, Christi pushed past him in the thin kitchen-hallway to the bird shop on the other end of the house. She flipped on the light of the front room and let out a elongated “eeeew!”
         Carl glanced past her and his stern expression melted into shock. The room was a complete wreck. All the cages were empty, flopped over onto the floor, their contents scattered: used newspaper, perches covered in droppings, and seed mixed with water. The plants were all dried and cracked and the blinds ripped apart. One the front curtaains was on the floor, now covered in seed-water goo, and the other hung limply on the rod, its maroon shade now faded from the sun shining through he ruined blinds.
         The sound of his oatmeal boiling below him drew him back to reality, and he realized his jaw was gaping open. He closed it quickly, but it gaped open on his own again.
          “If’n I clean this up fer ya, what’re y’gonna give me?” Christi offered, turning back to Carl, her hand son her hips.
          “If you clean that up,” he said, looking at the cooking oatmeal, “I’ll give you that candy bar.”
         She glared at him for a moment, then set her jaw. “Done,” she decided with a nod.
         The old man blinked, surprised at her reaction. Perhaps he’d let her stay around a while longer. If she liked to clean this much, they might be able to work something out.

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