Tuesday, December 10, 2019

They Always get Found

They always get found; the kids who can do magic. Everyone says so. They always get found. But Billy was good at hiding; he always had been, though he didn’t know why. Maybe it was the saying ‘they always get found’ that spurred him to be good at hiding. He wasn’t going to be found, not unless he wanted to be.

Billy wasn’t hiding now, not yet. All the kids were being taken somewhere else tonight. They were all walking, holding hands with a friend in the dark or riding a tricycle or pushing a bike. A few walked alone. There was a grownup here and there, but Billy could only see one ahead of him in the dark.

He looked up; clouds were rolling in fast, looking like dirty cotton balls in the dark, but that wasn’t what frightened him. Up there, was four moons that he could see – all lined up like marbles, but they were close. The first one – the one most directly overhead – looked like a platter on a big blue placemat. He reached up and used his fingers to measure. The placemat was as broad as half the moon was wide. The next moon had a noticeably narrower platter, as did the next one probably; it was difficult to tell with that one because the clouds were crowding it; all of them sitting on a black table. The fourth one though… He watched it closest of all. Just before the clouds covered it from sight entirely, he saw the blue platter rush to be centered in front of the moon, generating more clouds in its hurry and then it huffed all that air toward the earth, aiming somewhere far below the horizon behind him.

He pulled at the sleeve of a girl that walked near him. “We have only one moon you know.”

She looked at him and then at the cloudy sky. “Of course. What are you talking about, Billy?”

Billy looked up again. The clouds covered everything now.

He turned around and started to walk back.

‘They always get found.’

He passed the grownup that was bringing up the rear. “I forgot my coat. I’m cold. I’m going to go get it. I’ll be right back.”

“Well, hurry up, or you’ll be late,” said Mrs. Wilson.

Billy started to run.

‘They always get found.’

He ran back to the now dark buildings where he and all the others had lived for the last two years, but he didn’t go to his room – he went to his stash. A small bag of wood chips and a heavy black quilt he’d altered so he could wear it like a cloak.

‘They always get found.’

It was easier to wear it like a cloak than it was to carry it.

‘They always get found.’

Well, he wasn’t going to be easy to find. Not until he wanted to be found. He ran to a place he’d found months and months ago. It was cold, and snow had blown to cover much of it, but very little was inside. It would be perfect for now; no one would think to look here – surely, it was too small for anyone to hide in.

A plane flew over just as he was pulling himself into his hole, heading toward where his classmates were going. With a woodchip in his hand, Billy pointed up with his finger and like he was shooting a make-believe gun. “Pishu,” he whispered and the plane exploded into a ball of flames. He dusted the ash off his hands and coiled back into his hole.

Yeah, maybe they’d find him, but he wasn’t going to make it easy for them. He’d find somewhere else to hide come morning.

Morning dawned blustery cold, but that wasn’t what woke him. People were walking around in the room directly overhead. Near as he could figure, that was the laundry room, but there shouldn’t have been anyone there. Everyone had left the night before. The rumors he’d heard boiled down to some kind of raid, but by who was never clear.

Then he hears voices out by the end of the building, only about twenty yards away. “Are you sure they searched the whole building?” asked one voice.

“We’re searching the darkest corners now. No one’s here. It’s still warm inside so whoever was here has left recently. Can’t tell for sure if it was a rogue mage school or just an orphanage.”

“That plane was shot down from somewhere close around here. It happened so quickly, they didn’t have a chance to pinpoint the location, but there has to be some sign. Find them. If you have to turn over every rock, find them.”

“Yes sir.”

Billy’s blood ran cold. So they could tell where the spells came from. No wonder they always get found. He needed to get away from here, but there was no moving now, not with a guard standing right outside. He crawled deeper into his hole and curled up small. He scooped some dirt over his quilt and then pulled it around him, covering himself entirely. There was nothing to do but wait until the coast was clear. If they used a mere flashlight to search this spot – provided they found it, he hoped they’d only see some old trash. If they used infrared, he’d have to defend himself. He pulled his bag of woodchips in close and hoped his camouflage held up.

Billy waited for hours, but the search was fierce. He was constantly catching sounds of tramping boots, or orders to search here or there. So far, no one had spotted this little mar in the foundation.

Billy waited through the night, and still there were guards everywhere, not so much searching anymore but seeming to wait for him to break cover. He waited until the sun rose yet again. His stomach was cramping from hunger and his throat was dry, but he dare not move. It was quiet outside now, but he couldn’t be sure it was quiet enough.

The third morning he knew his wait was over. Birds were singing outside, and a fox checked out his little hole. It might have been a den at one time, but this close to town, he kind of thought not. But, with wildlife in motion, people were not.

Cramping with hunger pains, Billy crawled out of his hole and headed back toward where the others had gone.

Rules of the Magic
One person can control only one kind of magic.
Fire – must be touching something combustible before something within sight can be burned – the target does not need to be combustible.
Water – must be touching liquid (or ice or steam) before any liquid (or ice or steam) within sight can be changed from liquid to solid to gas.
Air – can make it blow. Can create a vacuum in a sealed space. Can make air too thick to breathe.
Earth – must touch rock to affect products of earth. can learn to control the magnetism of the Earth to a degree. Can change rocks to mud and visa versa.
Must touch metal to be able to affect it. Can change the composition of metal if they understand how. Can do with metal the same as with rock.
Teamwork could mean that a ball of ice could be lifted from the ground, set on fire and then blown at a target. Water to make a ball of ice, Earth to lift it, Fire to set it ablaze and Air to throw it.
The team members must be touching each other in order to work together.


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