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...

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3. Revenge and a Rescue

“So, where you’re from eh-leak-triss-tea powers the horses...?” asked Sparrow after Reese had explained his situation as best he could. The trio were sat in a crowded room overflowing with boxes, boxes Reese found contained bags of flour when he looked into one. From the rafters hung odd sheets of fabric in dull unremarkable colours; it was very different from the home Reese had been running around just this morning where everything was clean and orderly.

“No, the horses are just horses; they run on grass and things. Our...carts run on electricity.” Reese said growing frustrated at having to repeat himself.

“Okay.” Sparrow rolled her eyes. “I think the little boy is deluded, do you think he hit his head?” she whispered to Moose still loud enough for Reese to hear.

“I’m not deluded!” Reese yelled turning slightly pink.

  Sparrow’s next words were drowned out as the door slammed open, sending a cloud of dust tumbling over the room. Framed in the midday sun stood a very out of breath Jim, his hair sticking up in every direction like a porcupine, a look of thinly veiled terror on his face.

“What’s wrong Jim?” said Moose getting to his feet.

“Howard sent me to tell you Halvard has a warrant for your arrest...” Jim explained, “I don’t know what he thinks you’ve done but he’s looking for you.”

“Thank-you Jim, you should go.” Moose announced sending Jim on his way. “You two should really go too.” He said after turning back to Sparrow and Reese.

“No way!” exclaimed Sparrow while Reese nodded his agreement, there was no way he would abandon Moose.

  Moose let out a long sigh through his nose; he clearly hadn’t expected to be defied on the issue. Reese had a feeling Sparrow usually did as she was asked in situations like this. “Will you at least hide?” asked Moose. “Please, I would hate for anything to happen to either of you.”

  Sparrow stood defiantly, her arms crossed, a scowl on her face staring straight at Moose. Reese couldn’t help but feel sorry for him, “Come on Sparrow, he’s right we should hide. Everything will be ok.” Reese said pulling on Sparrow’s arm. After a minute that stretched on for hours Sparrow gave in and allowed Reese to guide her to the back of the room where they hid behind a precarious stack of boxes.

“I hope you know what you’re doing.” Whispered Sparrow, her voice buzzing like an angry hornet, as tears threatened to spill from her eyes.

  Reese wanted to reassure her, tell her Moose would have a plan, that he wouldn’t allow himself to be arrested for no reason; but truthfully he, himself, was just as worried about Moose. “Don’t cry, you told me Moose always knows what to do in an emergency?”

“Yes, that’s right.” Sparrow smiled wiping her eyes. Reese returned the gesture but it felt oddly hollow, he had a bad feeling about the whole thing.

  Crouched in the gloom Reese didn’t have a good view of anything but cobwebs, he heard the dull tread of shoes and hopped Moose was barring the door. Moments later the door crashed open again, its soft thud mixing with the sound of many feet traipsing across the threshold. Reese felt Sparrow tense beside him and placed a hand on hers in silent reassurance.

“Well, well, well, isn’t this a lovely surprise.” Halvard said, his voice filling the quiet room like poison. Reese shivered; it was all too easy to hear the glee in his voice. I wish we could knock his smug grin off his stupid face, Reese thought bitterly.

 “What do you want this time, Halvard?” asked Moose sounding more relaxed than the situation called for.

“Surely you’ve heard by now you’re under arrest. It’s so kind of you to wait for us to call.” Halvard answered, one of the men he had brought with him cackled maliciously. Sparrow balled her free hand into a fist, her face becoming a mask of pure rage.

“I haven’t broken any laws anyone who tells you differently is lying.” Moose said, a hint of annoyance creeping into his voice giving it a dangerous edge.

“That’s a serious accusation to casually throw around.” Halvard laughed, giddy as a child in a sweetshop. “Now, where have your two young friends run off to?”

  A long silence stretched out thin as paper, Reese could feel the tension in the room spiral before Moose spoke again. “Sparrow likes to play in the farmers fields to the west, maybe they went there.”

“No matter, it’s just as well you’re alone.” Halvard said moving close to their hiding place, he had a wicked gleam in his eyes. “We intend to have a little bonfire.”

  The sound of clinking metal drowned out any reply, Reese guessed Moose was being handcuffed. Trampling footsteps filled the room once more as Moose was lead away, the following silence hung heavy in the air and was only broken by a very faint creaking.

“Reese, we have to get out of here.” Sparrow insisted in a hushed voice.

“We don’t know if they’ve gone yet.” Said Reese fighting to be heard over the increased creaking noise; he hardly noticed the smoke creeping into the room, slinking into every nook it could find. The temperature rose steadily and a strange flickering red glow sparked into life near the door, his brain registered what was happening seconds before the flames jumped up on all sides. “We have to get out of here!”

“Follow me!” yelled Sparrow taking his hand and pulling him further into the back of the room. The chocking smoke grew thicker when they reached the solid stone wall, the rough bricks tore at his hands as Reese grabbed at them hoping desperately one of them lead to a secret exit. “Over here, help me move this box.” Sparrow said, coughing pitifully.

  Together they managed to scrape the heavy wooden box across the flagstone floor, its wailing screech adding to the symphony of hell playing out around them. The poisoned air in their lungs made them sluggish but eventually the box moved far enough to reveal a trapdoor, the silver handle shining like a torch in the gloom.

  Reese held the door as best he could for Sparrow then jumped through himself, the door bounced in its hinges above their heads echoing along the narrow tunnel they had just landed in. It was made of earth packed smooth and after the heat of the fire it was refreshingly cool. They followed it blindly for several feet, forcing themselves onwards, until they emerged into the harsh sunlight.

  Behind them the house was ablaze, smoke curling into the sky like a monstrous hand. The neighbouring buildings where mostly unaffected for now but the people who lived there where evacuating none the less, calling out to each other to ensure no one was still indoors.

  Sparrow lurched to her feet, unsteady from the ordeal. She took a shaky step forward then another clenching her teeth as she forced her tired legs to move. Reese couldn’t believe she was seriously attempting to go back into the still burning building; he grabbed her arm and pulled her back. “You don’t understand!” she protested. “Let me go!”

“Sparrow listen to me, the place is on fire! You can’t go back in there; getting yourself killed won’t help Moose now.” Reese exclaimed with a cough.

“But...that’s my home...” said Sparrow breaking into tears and sinking to the ground. Reese slumped down beside her, happy to be breathing clean air again, and waited for her to stop. Whenever he had cried like that his mum would hug him tightly, making him feel safe and protected; he couldn’t imagine how awful it would be to have no one.

“Moose took me in when I was just a toddler, he looked after me when so many others would have left me to starve, he gave me a home and a place in this world...and he’s never asked for anything in return.” Explained Sparrow after her sobs had subsided enough to allow words through.

  Reese was surprised to find a smile on her face when he looked at her. “You never knew your parents?” he asked, he knew it wasn’t polite to ask someone a question like that but his curiosity got the better of him.

“If I did I can’t remember them, Moose is the only family I have.” Sparrow said solemnly.

“Then we’ll just have to rescue him somehow.” Reese assured her; he couldn’t help but feel very protective of her. “We should go and talk to Howard.” Reese decided the merchant may know more about where Halvard had taken Moose.

*

“That was a complete waste of time.” Exclaimed Sparrow agitated by the lack of help they had received from Howard. He had ushered them away with apologies and regrets but ultimately he could not do anything. More like would not. Reese had thought.

“Maybe not...at least we know why they arrested Moose.” Reese said trying to look on the bright side. “Maybe someone will know who really committed the crime.” They had discovered Moose had been accused of stealing from a rich nobleman.

“I doubt it...we should just bust Moose out of jail.” Sparrow suggested.

Reese suspected she already had a plan cooking in her head. “That would be breaking the law.” He said. “They really would have a reason to lock him up then.”

“I guess.” Sparrow said, reluctantly. “What are we going to do now?”

“I don’t know...” admitted Reese.

  They walked aimlessly through the streets of Castleport lost in thought, each one trying to find a solution to their predicament. What we really need is a clue, a sign, something that would show us who the real thief is. Reese thought rounding a corner. In the path ahead of them stood a man with sandy hair, for a moment Reese believed it was Moose, from a distance the resemblance was uncanny but looking closer Reese could see this man had a painfully thin face and sunken bloodshot eyes.

  The man watched them silently like a lion assessing its next victim, then, deciding they weren’t worth the trouble, he staggered to the dirty floor. “Excuse me.” Said Sparrow inching forward, “May I have a look at that?” the man held out a small square of heavy silver for her to inspect. Reese stepped closer; he hadn’t noticed the man was carrying anything.

“Where did you get this?” Sparrow asked politely turning the silver over in her hands, Reese caught sight of a horse dancing across the end of it when the light caught it.

“Why, I stole it from a big house. It had a lot of sparkly objects inside.” Wheezed the man, “I don’t think they’ll miss this one tiny thing.” He smiled revealing crocked teeth. “Anyway, I was asked to steal it by someone; a tall man with a scar.”

“Would you come with us sir, please?” asked Sparrow still holding onto the silver object. The man nodded slowly.

*

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