Puddle Boy

Reese is an ordinary boy with a big imagination, he can often be found inventing new worlds to explore, in each adventure he invents for himself the danger is never real.
But one day Reese finds himself alone in a world he didn't create with no idea how he got there and no way home...


2. A Strange Place

  From out of the muffled quiet came the click-clack of hooves over a cobbled road. That’s strange, thought Reese; there are no horses around here. He could smell them though, an earthy smell heavy with more unsavoury aromas and just a whiff of salty sea air. But the coast was hours away, wasn’t it?

“Hey?” said a voice above him. “Don’t you know not to sleep in the street?” Before Reese could open his eyes someone took hold of him and shook him, jarring him into consciousness. The voice belonged to a small girl with fly-away hair and intelligent blue eyes; she was dressed plainly in a loose shirt over three-quarter length trousers.

“I...What?” spluttered Reese confused, “Who are you?”

“I’m Sparrow, see?” the girl said holding up her left arm so Reese could see her wrist, on it was a simple bracelet adorned with a small wooden bird, Reese guessed it was a sparrow but he couldn’t be sure. Sparrow grabbed hold of his arm, dragging him to his feet.

“What an unusual name for a girl.” said Reese. “My name is Reese, by the way.”

“So, where is this?” asked Reese puzzled as to how he had ended up in what appeared to be a medieval town.

  Sparrow looked at him sceptically, “This is Castleport, a fishing port. We’re fairly close to the sea, you can probably smell it faintly but on a good day it’s all you can smell.” She explained. “Are you here with your family?”

“N-no, I’m alone...” said Reese, his voice breaking slightly. “I don’t even know how I got here.” He felt the prickly sting of tears beginning in his eyes, he was very close to crying and he hated it, it was humiliating.

“Hey, don’t cry!” said Sparrow, concern creasing her brow. “It’ll be ok; Moose will know what to do.”

“Moose?” sniffed Reese raising an eyebrow.

“Yes, Moose is my friend, come on I’ll introduce you.” Sparrow smiled brightly.

  Sparrow took Reese through crowded streets, dodging speeding horses and the occasional cart, scurrying between them like mice. They passed bakers shops pouring the sweet rich odours of pastry and cake out over the populace inviting them to step inside. Reese would have stood there all day drinking it in but Sparrow insisted they kept going.

  As they moved further into the centre of Castleport the already full streets congested to an almost impenetrable wall of market stalls, traders and customers. It was easy to see how quickly someone without a guide would become lost in the sea of colour, Reese smiled a little very glad he had Sparrow to follow. They turned down a narrow back lane that curved round the throng and brought them out safely at the edge of a large square.

  Once the pair moved closer into the square it became apparent things were not as they should be. Reese caught scraps of a heated conversation up ahead; a smartly dressed merchant with a round face appeared to be shouting at an old sack on the ground. “I’ve had enough of thieves like you ruining my business, you hear me!” the merchant bellowed.

  What Reese had taken to be a pile of rags was in fact a young boy covered in mud and grime. The boy on the ground shrank back as the merchant advanced, threatening to crash down on him in a wave of fury. Reese opened his mouth to ask Sparrow why no one was helping the boy when a man stepped in front of the merchant blocking his path. The man was tall and broad shouldered with a mop of sandy-brown hair, he had a commanding aura.

The man knelt down next to the boy, “What’s your name?” he asked kindly.

“J-Jim.” the boy squeaked, clearly terrified.

“It’s nice to meet you, Jim.” the man smiled. “You seem to have upset our mutual friend, Howard over here.”

“Upset my foot!” interrupted Howard the merchant.

“Is this true Jim?” said the man, Jim hesitated then, reluctantly, gave the tiniest of nods. “Then, I think, you had best say sorry at once.” He continued, helping the still shaking Jim to his feet.

“I’m sorry.” Jim muttered with tears in his eyes.

  Howard seemed to consider this for a moment, then said nothing, acting as if Jim had not spoke; the man walked closer to Howard and the two began conversing in a hushed whisper. Reese stood mesmerised waiting to see the outcome of their exchange; he didn’t have long to wait. Howard shot the man a withering look then approached Jim, “Listen, sonny, I’m sorry I yelled at you like that...it wasn’t very kind of me considering you’re only a child.” Howard paused to rub his temples, “You must be very hungry, so why don’t we find you something nice to eat?” Jim considered this for a moment before following Howard out of the square.

  Sparrow ran up to the tall man pulling Reese along with her, “I almost thought you weren’t going to help that boy.” She scolded sternly. Up close Reese could see that the man had a kind smile, as if he was used to being reprimanded by children, and that he was wearing a necklace similar to Sparrow’s bracelet.

“I had every intention of helping him.” Laughed the man, “You’re late, by the way. But I see you’ve made a new friend?” he asked noticing Reese for the first time.

“Moose, this is Reese.” Said Sparrow, nodding “He’s lost and I told him we would help.”

“Perhaps you can call him Coyote and adopt him into your menagerie, Moose, although from what I hear your ship won’t be sailing for much longer.” Said a voice from behind Moose, the voice belonged to a man with blond hair that flowed past his shoulders and a terrible scar on his face that ran from his left cheek towards his nose.

“Is there something I can do for you, Halvard?” asked Moose, a hint of annoyance in his voice.

“No.” Halvard said with a wicked grin. “Although, it would have been a shame if that poor boy had had to face true justice.”

“Your justice would have found that poor boy at the end of a rope.” Moose snarled taking an involuntary step forward.

“You really shouldn’t care so much what happens to these orphans...” Halvard answered, clearly thrilled to have got under Moose’s skin. “It won’t end well for you.” He called back to them as he stalked off.

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