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I edited the entire thread, so that each chapter is spread throughout. I realized that keeping them all in the first post wasn't the best idea, so I changed it. Press the links to be taken to the chapter. If you're reading through it, let me know! I would love to hear from you, even if you don't have much to say. Without further ado, here is my non-pokemon related story, entitled Alien Poverty:
The floorboards creaked as a figure moved through the old house, avoiding the squeaky floorboards one at a time. A dark green, reptilian creature standing on two legs stopped in front of a mirror by the front door. He reached for a hat, which then found its place on his smooth, scaly head. With a swing of the door and one last inspection of the gray t-shirt and cargo shorts he was wearing, the creature found himself outside. He carefully closed the door to avoid jamming his tail, and walked down the driveway. He turned in the direction of the tall skyscrapers that signaled downtown, and walked down the street past houses that looked not much newer than his own and just as tired. The creature was passing a house that looked like it hadn't received a coat of paint in decades, when he heard a shout.
"Hey Nolafus!" A lighter green creature that looked quite a bit younger came out of the door right beside Nolafus.
"Hey Kolski, anything exciting happen this morning?" Nolafus asked continuing his pace down the dusty road.
Kolski rolled his eyes. "I slept through my alarm again. I even have that thing close to full blast."
"You better not sleep in, you might get fired." Nolafus said shaking his head.
"Well that's why you're here, to wake me up when that does happen." Kolski said and they both laughed as they continued to walk. "So anything new with you?"
"I'm not sure if I told you or not, but I'm not going to be showing up to work on Friday." Nolafus responded gazing into the distance.
"It's the fifth year anniversary isn't it?" Kolski said quickly dropping the humorous tone in his voice.
Nolafus sighed and said, "I miss her sometimes and it's been hard for the kids, but we're doing alright now. I know my kids aren't the only kids to lose one of their parents and I'm not the only husband to lose his wife, but sometimes I look back and wonder how we made it this far without her."
Nolafus and Kolski reached the end of the street and the bus stop located on the corner. The two of them stood in silence as the bus came screeching to a halt, and they boarded.
"Hey, check it out." Kolski nudged Nolafus and pointed to a couple empty seats, "We can sit down."
Nolafus responded pointing to a sign at the front of the bus. "We can't, remember?"
"I hate that ru-" Kolski started to say, but was interrupted by a shove from a middle aged human.
"Move" She blurted out as she made her way to one of the empty seats, followed closely by a middle aged man who took the other seat.
"That was awfully rude of her." Kolski whispered to Nolafus. "Maybe I should talk to her about the meaning of manners."
"Don't start," Nolafus said putting a hand on Kolski’s shoulder, "You know the humans don't treat us the same. It's something we just have to live with."
Kolski sighed and nodded his head. Thirty minutes passed until their stop came. Nolafus and Kolski stepped off the bus and into downtown surrounded by skyscrapers as far as the eye could see. The fire station was just a block down the road and they soon stepped inside.
"Hey Nolafus and Kolski!" A human shouted from across the room, waving with a smile, "You took long enough to get here, bus running late this morning?"
"Yeah Joe, it was." Nolafus said with a nervous sigh.
Nolafus and Kolski made their way past Joe and into the chief's office.
"You're late, again!" The fire chief exclaimed his muscular face growing red, "Explain!"
"The bus was running late this morning sir." Nolafus explained trying to defuse the situation.
"I don't care, you show up to work on time. I don't pay you to be late." The chief shot back and signaled for them to get out of his office.
Nolafus and Kolski left without another word and went back to the main room.
"Well that was pleasant" Nolafus muttered to Joe.
"I don't know what we do to make him overreact like that" Kolski piped in.
"I'm just afraid that we're going to get fired. It's hard these days to find a job, especially for Srains like us." Nolafus said gesturing to Kolski and himself.
"I wouldn't worry too much about that." Joe said putting his arm around Nolafus’ shoulders, "I mean, you two are the only Srains that are willing to put up with Chief Baker here, and whether the chief is willing to admit it or not, you guys do make excellent additions to our team here."
"Thanks Joe, I can always count on you to say something good." Nolafus said taking a deep breath.
Kolski opened his mouth to say something, but a loud alarm started blaring all throughout the station.
"Here we go!" Joe shouted above the noise reading an address scrolling across a screen, "1153 West Waterstone Road! I call driving there!"
All the firefighters came rushing out of various rooms and down the pole to the fire truck. A couple minutes later, the truck was speeding down the road with Joe at the wheel. Five minutes later and the truck was pulling up to a one story house engulfed in flames. Everyone immediately sprang into action, from hooking up the truck to a fire hydrant to controlling the crowd that had already begun to appear.
A woman came running out of the house shouting "My baby! Someone save my baby!"
Nolafus immediately took off toward the house. He knew he needed clearance in order to go in there, but he didn’t care. There was a life that needed help, and Nolafus wasn’t about to let someone die because the house might be unsafe. Joe noticed Nolafus heading towards the house, and followed him inside. The living room was engulfed in flames, fire harmlessly lapped at the pair’s fireproof jackets.
"Do you have any clue where this baby is?" Joe asked Nolafus shouting above the crackling of the flames.
"How am I supposed to know? Just check every room until we find it!" Nolafus responded darting into a hallway.
Joe and Nolafus checked room after room with no luck finding the baby. Finally, at the end of the hall they found the nursery with the baby crying in its crib. Nolafus reached down and scooped up the baby in his arms.
"Now let's get out of here!" He signaled to Joe.
The hall was now engulfed in flames with no way to walk through. Nolafus quickly took off his fireproof jacket and covered the baby. He took a couple steps back, and leaped through the flames to the other side his scales preventing any damage that was too serious. Joe followed suit and they both bolted through the front door with the baby, still crying, safe and sound.
The mother immediately broke from the crowd and came racing over to Nolafus and Joe. She snatched the baby from Nolafus with a wrinkle in her nose and showered Joe with thank you’s and praise. Joe put his hands up and kept telling the woman that it was Nolafus that saved her baby, and she finally muttered out a small "thank you" in Nolafus' direction and rushed back towards the crowd.
"Well it looks like this dynamic duo saves yet another life." Joe said, puffing out his chest, and sounding quite pleased with himself.
"I guess so." Nolafus muttered and started walking back towards the truck. An empty feeling took root in his stomach. He felt sick, sick of everything. He just wanted to get away.
"Oh come on," Joe replied following Nolafus, "You know she was thankful that you saved her baby, don't be like this. She was just, just..."
"Just what!" Nolafus exclaimed whipping around to face Joe. His voice shook as he continued. Without realizing it, his tail lashed against the ground. "Just ashamed to admit that a Srain helped her! When will you humans get it? We have feeling just like you! We're not just meatbags, we're not too tough to sit down on the bus, we're not inferior, and we're not aliens anymore! We live on this Earth just like you and we were born on this Earth just like you! Why don't you humans get it?"
"I get it." Joe said, looking Nolafus straight in the eyes, dropping the humorous tone in his voice.
Nolafus let out a long, exasperated sigh. "I know you do, I just get, frustrated sometimes about all this. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to yell at you."
"It's alright," Joe said patting Nolafus on the back, "I mean you guys have every right to be frustrated, this inequality has gone on for a while now and it doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon. Come on, I think they might need help with the hose."
It took me a while to think of a way to comment. I knew what I wanted to say, but had no way to say it.
Currently, I read only the first chapter. It reads rather dry, where Nolafus goes through his day and there's nothing really exciting going on. Even when they're at the fire, the writing doesn't give the reader any tension. Nolafus and Joe just head in, find the baby, and escape. It's just rather dry to read, and doesn't capture the reader's interest that well.
What you could do is add in some emotions. If you want to tug on the reader's emotions and make them see that these alien Srains are pretty much like humans, spend some time showing that they have the same feelings and lives as humans do. They just have scales and tales. Don't just have people giving overreactions to the Srains as they're out in public, but have scenes where it shows that the Srains are kept separate from others. That there are "No Srains allowed" signs. That people cross the street when they see a Srain approach.
Maybe you do that in the later chapters though.
Still, the writing should have a little more action to it. Some emotion.
You're a great writer but I'd like to say that you (as do I) tend to go into too much detail with some aspects that might not be important to the development of the story.
I changed itself to himself and thanks for giving me some feedback! I feel that I give more similarities between srains and humans in the later chapters, but if you still feel like I need some more just say so and I'll see what I can do. I'll agree with the more tension and emotion with my writing. I'm trying to get batter at it, but I'm having trouble with it. Could you revise a sentence or two in a way that shows more emotion? I've read a few books trying to dissect just how they convey emotion, but it's hard.
I hope that you can read the rest sometime Astinus and thanks for the support xdwasdx!
I'll try to skip out on the extra details, but (as you probably know) that's easier said than done.
Nolafus turned a knob and let the hot water run down his scales and wash away his worries. He enjoyed this time after a fire. He could finally slow down and think without anyone coming to interrupt his thoughts. Nolafus reached for the soap and tried to wash off all the ash and debris. After a while, Nolafus never kept track of the time in the shower, he stepped out and grabbed a towel.
Nolafus could still scent the lingering smell of smoke on him, it never really went away. Some people couldn't stand it, but Nolafus wore it as a badge of honor. The smell was a mark that identified him as a life saver, someone who put others' lives before his own. Nolafus got dressed and walked into the main living space of the fire station. He and Joe sat down at a table and Joe shuffled a deck of cards and dealt Nolafus a hand. A couple minutes later, the chief came into the room.
"Joe! Nolafus!" Chief Baker boomed "In my office, now!"
Joe and Nolafus exchanged glances and followed the chief back into his office. They took a seat and the chief glared back at them.
"What you did today was reckless and stupid. I can't believe you would even think about doing anything like that." Chief Baker shot at Nolafus and Joe.
"What did we do wrong?" Joe asked cautiously, leaning forward in his chair.
"You two ran into a burning building without waiting for confirmation that it was safe." Chief Baker barked out his face growing red, "Do you know what could have happened!"
"We could have saved a baby, which we did." Joe replied with a smile, leaning back in his chair.
"This isn't a joke Joe!" Chief Baker was at a full shout now, "I'm in charge of all your lives here and if one of you guys die because of a stupid mistake I get the blame for it! Each one of you is a valuable part of this team here, and I don't want to go to another firefighter's funeral again." Chief Baker stopped talking abruptly as if he had revealed some secret he was trying to bottle up.
"I didn't know you felt that way chief." Joe remarked.
"Well," Chief Baker started, but stopped and thought about how to continue, "Get out of my office."
Nolafus and Joe got up and left the office. Kolski was there on the other side.
"Well what happened?" Kolski asked after a brief silence.
"I think Chief Baker just admitted to actually liking us." Joe said puffing out his chest.
"I'm not sure if I would go that far, but he does seem to think we're actually useful around here." Nolafus broke in, glancing out the window, "Uggh, look who decided to show up.”
Kolski and Joe turned around to look through the window. A large group of people and srains were marching up and down the street carrying sign and posters. The signs were painted with various sayings such as "Equal rights for all" and "Srains need liberty".
"Well there goes our ride home today." Kolski said his shoulders dropping, "There is no way the bus will make it through that."
"Hey" Joe said slapping Kolski on the back, "Maybe they will break up before work gets done, we still have a couple hours left."
The three of them walked back to the table and continued playing cards. The next two hours passed by and the crowd still hadn't dispersed. Nolafus sighed and got up out of his chair.
"Well we might as well get started." Nolafus said gesturing to Kolski, "No use waiting for them to leave first.
Nolafus and Kolski got up and said goodbye to Joe. They collected their things from their lockers, and walked outside. The scene was chaotic. People were roaming around shouting and hollering as far as the eye could see. Nolafus and Kolski braced themselves and headed out into the crowd. They were about halfway out of the crowd when Nolafus felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Hey!" A human shouted at him, "Aren't you going to stay for the protest?"
Nolafus turned around to face him and said, "No, I got to get home to my kids."
"Come on, your wife will take care of your kids. Stay and fight for your rights!" The human said trying to whip everyone around him into an even bigger frenzy.
"My wife is dead." Nolafus said starting to turn around.
The human just stood there as Nolafus and Kolski butted people aside to get through. In a few more blocks they would be out of the crowd and heading home at a steady pace. Two hours later Nolafus said goodnight to Kolski and they both headed inside. Nolafus closed the door behind him and let out a big sigh. The sounds of little footsteps came around the corner and two srains, one about half Nolafus' height and the other one a little taller, ran to greet him.
The shorter one reached Nolafus first and said, "Hey dad! How was work today? We missed you so much!"
Nolafus knelt down to the little srain's height and said, "Hey Kren, I missed you too! We’ll talk about everything at dinner."
The taller srain stopped a couple feet in front of Nolafus and said, "So anything exciting happen at work today?"
"I'll tell you more about the fire at dinner Badron." Nolafus said, "I missed you guys today."
"We know dad." Badron said chuckling to himself, "You tell us this every day."
"C'mon, just give your old man a hug." Nolafus said embracing his two kids.
After a while Badron spoke up, "Uhh dad? You can let go now."
"Ohh, Sorry." Nolafus said letting them go. "Dinner will be ready in thirty minutes."
Nolafus stood up and headed for the kitchen as the kids ran off. Thirty minutes later and Nolafus had called the kids to dinner.
"So what happened at work today dad?" Badron asked stirring around his peas.
"Well let's see," Nolafus started. "There was a fire and Joe and I saved a baby."
"Really?" Kren asked his eyes widening, "You actually saved a real baby all by yourself?"
"Well Joe was there too and yes, I'm pretty sure the baby was real." Nolafus said chuckling to himself.
"All my friends at school think it's so cool that my dad is a super hero." Kren said.
"Is that so?" Nolafus said, "Well I'm not sure if I would go so far as to say I'm some sort of super hero."
"I would!" Kren started excitement building in his voice, "You save lives and run into fire all day. When I grow up I want to be exactly like you."
Nolafus paused for a second and looked at Kren.
"Wow," he thought to himself. "I'm gone all day and Kren still want to be like me."
The dinner went on with various conversations from firefighting to school. Once dinner was done Nolafus washed the dishes and played with the kids until bedtime. After a little fuss, Badron and Kren were soon sound asleep and Nolafus was crawling into bed himself. Nolafus turned a picture of a slightly lighter green srain toward him.
"Oh Anaria," Nolafus said to himself. "If only you could see the kids now. They're growing up so fast and I don't want to miss a second. Kren looks exactly like you and Badron has your eyes. I just wish there was some way I could be with them more."
Nolafus stared at the picture a minute longer then rolled over and went to sleep. He just had to make it through tomorrow then it was Friday. Nolafus was determined to spend the entire day with Badron and Kren, and make sure it was a day they would never forget.
I'll try to check out the rest of your story when I get a chance! Good to hear that you already covered one of my comments.
As for adding some more emotion to your writing, there's more to it than revising sentences. You'll probably be adding more words to your work when you include emotions. I'll take a scene from your first chapter and add to it a little of what I mean.
I hope this helps a little bit.
Alright, I think I understand it more. I'll try practicing around with adding the extra details since that's the only real way to get better.
Oh, and Nolafus' wife died, not Kolski's. Kolski isn't married, with your last comment it made it sound like Kolski was the one who's wife died.
Nolafus stepped out of the door and smelled the morning air. Rain had fallen over the night and the air felt damp and heavy. Nolafus walked down the sidewalk and paused a few houses down. He looked at all the homes and everything was still. The whole neighborhood looked like it was asleep. Nolafus rolled his eyes and walked up the path to Kolski's front door. He knocked on the front door with no response from within. He reached down and felt for a key under the door mat. Nolafus found a key, inserted it into the lock and made his way inside.
"Hey Kolski!" Nolafus shouted into the dark hall.
Nolafus heard a rustle, a few curse words, and an even louder rustle from behind a closed door. A few seconds later, Kolski emerged. They walked out of the house and jogged their way to the bus stop to make up for lost time.
"So how did you get into my house?" Kolski asked Nolafus.
"I found your key under your door mat," Nolafus answered nudging Kolski in the arm. "You know you should find a better hiding place for that."
"Well where do you hide your key then?" Kolski asked between breaths.
"That's for me to know and you to never find out." Nolafus responded, jogging ahead of Kolski.
They reached the bus stop just in time to board. The bus was unusually crowded and Nolafus and Kolski had to nudge their way to an opening. Nolafus grabbed hold of a bar and all of a sudden something changed. The world started spinning and going dark. Nolafus felt a hand on his shoulder guide him to a seat and he sat down in a heap. Nolafus shook his head and everything went back to normal. The bus was traveling along the street and the sun was shining.
An old man stared at Nolafus and said, "Are you alright?"
"Yeah, I think so." Nolafus responded rubbing his head, "I don't know what happened. Everything just started spinning. I guess I can't run like I used to."
"Well I think you're fine now, or at least you can sit up straight." The old man responded smiling.
Nolafus thanked the old man and gave him back his seat. Nolafus looked around for a bit and noticed that a lot of humans were giving him dirty looks.
"What happened?" Nolafus asked turning to Kolski.
"It was so weird," Kolski started. "First you started stumbling a bit and then your eyes rolled back into your head and that's when the old man stood up and pushed you into his seat."
Nolafus took a deep breath and sighed. "Man, this whole getting older thing is going to kill me someday."
The bus eventually reached their stop, and after thanking the old man one more time, they managed to squeeze their way off. Nolafus stepped inside the fire station, followed by Kolski, and was immediately greeted by Joe.
"Look who finally decided to show up on time for once!" Joe announced giving the Srains a round of applause.
"Very funny," Kolski said. "You should have seen Nolafus on the bus this morning. He nearly passed out!"
"Well that can't be good." Joe responded looking at Nolafus.
"I'm fine now, don't worry." Nolafus said reassuring Joe.
"If you excuse me," Kolski said as he started to walk away. "I didn't have breakfast this morning and that bagel over there has my name on it."
Kolski walked over to a table with a basket of bagels and plucked one off the top. Nolafus continued talking to Joe with his back to the door when a human male a little taller than Joe, but not taller than Nolafus came walking in.
"Well isn't it my favorite lizard!" The human exclaimed.
"Go away Jacob." Nolafus said without turning around.
"Hey, that's not how you treat your best friend now is it?" Jacob said with a false sense of hurt in his voice. "I can't even believe you would talk to me like that."
"I can," Nolafus said turning around to face Jacob. "So where has pretty boy been off to these past couple of days?"
"None of your business, that's where." Jacob responded. "So I heard you'll be skipping work tomorrow. Care to explain?"
"Not to you I won't, so don't ask over and over again. My kids are more grown up than you especially when you do that." Nolafus responded turning back around.
"Listen pal," Jacob started. "I didn't show up to work today to be disrespected by some lizard. You need to start showing some respect for your superiors."
"Oh give me a break." Nolafus said, "I've been working here longer than you have and I’m not about to start listening to someone who doesn’t show up half of the time.”
"Whatever," Jacob said as he walked away colliding with Nolafus along the way. "I need to talk to the chief."
"I just want to wring that little neck of his." Nolafus said looking over at Jacob.
"You know he just does that for your reactions." Joe said, "Try to not let it get you down."
Kolski came back over and the three of them looked over the chore list posted up on the wall. Kolski sighed, picked up a broom leaning against the wall and headed for the garage dragging the broom behind him. Joe walked over to a drawer, got out a spray bottle and a cloth, and proceeded to spray the windows. Nolafus walked over to the kitchen and started gathering various items.
"Any requests?" Nolafus asked Joe from across the room.
"Is it your turn to make lunch today?" Joe responded still wiping the windows.
"Yeah, I was wondering what I should make." Nolafus said inspecting the various items scattered across the counter.
Joe whipped around and exclaimed, "How about your lasagna?"
"I made that last time."Nolafus said.
"It's so good though! It's a firehouse favorite." Joe said as another firefighter came to check the chore list. "Hey Anthony!"
The firefighter turned around and faced Joe.
"Don't you think Nolafus should make his lasagna for us?" Joe asked.
"Definitely!" Anthony turned to Nolafus. "You can't cook and not make lasagna."
"Alright, alright. Lasagna it is then." Nolafus said turning around towards the fridge.
Lunchtime came around and everyone, including Jacob, ate as much lasagna as physically possible. Nolafus was washing the dishes afterwards when Chief Baker came out into the room.
"Nolafus, there's a call for you on line two." Chief Baker said gesturing towards the phone on the wall.
Nolafus looked at Joe who was sitting on a couch. Joe threw his arms up in the air and started doing the dishes as Nolafus answered the phone. A couple minutes later, Nolafus hung up the phone.
"So what was the call about?" Joe asked Nolafus.
"Badron got into a fight at school." Nolafus said shaking his head, "I'm supposed to pick him up soon."
"Better go tell Chief Baker, I'll do the rest of the dishes." Joe said.
Nolafus went into Chief Baker's office and a couple minutes later, was walking down the street towards the bus stop. Nolafus boarded the bus and was down at the school a half-hour later. Nolafus walked right into the building and up to the office. A secretary led him into the principal's office where the principal and Badron were there to meet him.
"Please take a seat Mr. Simolson" The principal said as he gestured to a chair beside Badron.
"What happened?" Nolafus asked staring at Badron who was now shifting in his seat.
"Badron fought with another boy during lunch today." The principal said, "I was waiting for you to arrive to get Badron's side of the story."
"Well Badron," Nolafus started saying shifting his focus towards the little srain. "Is there anything you would like to add?"
Badron shifted uneasily in his chair and said, "The other kid was making fun of me."
"How so?" Nolafus asked encouraging Badron to continue.
"Well I was in the hall where I usually eat lunch when this kid tripped and spilt his lunch all over me." Badron said.
"Is that when you hit the kid?" Nolafus asked.
Badron paused for a moment and continued. "No, the kid apologized right away and even offered to buy me something out of the vending machines to make up for it, but at that moment a big kid stopped walking by and said that no human should ever apologize to a srain. The bigger kid scared the other one away and continued harass me. Eventually things got heated and he tried to punch me, but I dodged it and punched him in the face in self-defense. He went crying to a teacher after that and now we're here."
"How much trouble is he in?" Nolafus asked the principal.
"School policy states that Badron must be suspended for at least one week. Since this is Badron's first issue and no one was seriously hurt I think the one week suspension will be fine." The principal said.
Nolafus got up and left the school with Badron following close behind. Eventually the two of them arrived at the fire station and Nolafus led the way inside. The room was completely empty. No one could be heard or seen.
"They must be at a fire." Nolafus thought, "The only thing to do now is wait."
Nolafus entertained Badron for a couple hours before the rest of the fire crew came back. Everyone filtered into the living space and the showers.
"So what did I miss?" Nolafus asked Joe as he came into the living space.
"Nothing major, just someone's shed caught fire when their kid decided it would be a good idea to practice his pyrotechnic skills in there. The shed was a total loss, but we did manage to prevent the flames from reaching the house. So how's Badron doing?"
"I'm fine," Badron piped up. "I'm suspended from school though."
"It looks like you got a little blood on your shirt there." Joe said pointing to a red spot on Badron's shirt.
"It belongs to the other kid." Badron said.
"Looks like you got yourself a fighter there." Joe said as he nudged Nolafus on the shoulder.
"Who's this little guy?" Jacob said coming out of the shower room. "Is he yours?"
"Jacob I'm not in the mood for your attitude." Nolafus said looking Jacob in the eye.
"Hey lizard, I asked you a question. You better answer me." Jacob said glaring back at Nolafus.
Nolafus stood up quickly and walked over to Jacob. Nolafus was a full foot taller than Jacob and he was making sure to emphasize every inch.
"Can I talk to you alone?" Nolafus said looking down at Jacob.
"Whatever," Jacob said "I've got nothing better to do."
Nolafus and Jacob walked to an empty hall on the other side of the living space and closed the door.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" Nolafus shouted as Jacob took a step back. "Calling me lizard in front of my own kid! I should knock some manners back into you! Didn't your mom teach you anything?"
"Looks like I touched a nerve there." Jacob said smiling, "I didn't know you could get riled up like this Nolafus. I like it."
"Don't you take anything seriously? I should smack that smile off your face right now! I put up with you in the past, but this was a new low even for you!" Nolafus shouted back taking a step towards Jacob.
"Lizards don't scare me." Jacob said taking a step towards Nolafus. "It's not like you're going to do anything about it anyway."
Nolafus grabbed Jacob and threw him down the hall. Jacob slid across the floor until he collided with a wall. Jacob sat up and smiled at Nolafus. Nolafus took a step towards Jacob and Jacob flinched. Nolafus paused, took a deep breath, and walked back out into the living area leaving Jacob sitting against the wall.
Nolafus walked back out and Joe came over to him.
"Is everything alright? I heard a pretty loud thud." Joe asked.
"I lost control." Nolafus said walking back to Badron. "I did exactly what I'm trying to teach my kids not to do."
"You know he deserved it." Joe said putting a hand on Nolafus' back.
Nolafus shook off Joe's hand and sat down in a chair next to Badron.
"What does lizard mean dad?" Badron asked getting out of his chair and over to Nolafus.
Nolafus sighed and looked at Badron. "You know what a lizard is."
"Sure I do, but he called you a lizard. Did he call you that because you kind of look like one?" Badron asked looking over at Nolafus.
"It's true I do look like a lizard in some ways, but that isn't what he meant. You see, lizard is a slang term for srains. Lizards are stupid creatures who rely on instinct to survive. They are incapable of learning anything significant and are surpassed in every way by humans. That's what he meant by calling me lizard. That I was stupid and below him." Nolafus said pulling Badron closer to him. "I hope you never have to see that again."
"That's not very fair. If I were you I would've beat him up for saying something like that to me." Badron said imitating a punch with his right arm.
"Don't talk like that." Nolafus said glaring at Badron. "You know that violence is never the answer. Look where it got you now. You're going to be a week behind in school and now you get to wake up early and come to work with me."
"Wait, you mean I have to come here every day?" Badron asked dropping his shoulders.
"That's right." Nolafus said, "I'll wake you up in time so we can catch the bus."
"But that's not fair." Badron said, "The other kid started it."
"In that case you get one day off." Nolafus said.
"Fine." Badron said sighing and slouching into the chair.
Nolafus waited till the end of the work day and took Badron home. Nolafus was ready for tomorrow.
Glad that I could help. And yes, practicing will help you get better.
Haha, whoops. That's what I get for not paying full attention! I mis-remembered that it was Kolski's wife. Sorry! But at least you caught my mistake, which means that you know your characters well.
Kren came storming into Nolafus’ bedroom while Badron stood and leaned against the doorway.
“C’mon dad!” Kren exclaimed jumping all over the bed, “It’s time to get up! You promised to take us somewhere today.”
“Okay, okay, give me a moment to get up.” Nolafus said, yawning and crawling out of bed.
“So where are we going?” Badron asked.
“We’re going to your grandparents’ house.” Nolafus responded stretching.
“Oh boy!” Kren exclaimed jumping off the bed. “Wait, your parents or mommy’s parents?”
“Mommy’s parents.” Nolafus responded.
“Does that mean we’re taking the bus?” Badron asked dropping his shoulders.
“That means we’re taking the bus.” Nolafus responded patting Badron’s back. “We’ll be there before you know it.”
The bus was surprisingly empty except for a couple people here and there. Nolafus found a seat and sat down.
“Aren’t we going to get in trouble if we sit down?” Badron asked looking around the bus.
“No one cares if there aren’t many people on.” Nolafus responded patting a seat next to him. “You’re not going to stand the entire time, are you?
Badron took a seat next to Nolafus and stared out the window. The scenery changed from buildings and people, to plains and fields as the bus headed out of the city. A while had passed before Nolafus tried to make a conversation.
“So what are you thinking about?” Nolafus asked Badron, who was still staring out of the window.
“Nothing really,” Badron replied not taking his gaze off of the passing scenery.
“No one stares that intently out of a window and doesn’t think about something.” Nolafus replied nudging Badron with his elbow.
“Alright,” Badron said turning towards Nolafus. “I’m just trying to remember how mom was before she died.”
“Do you remember anything?” Nolafus asked.
“I remember she would read to us every night and stay home while you went to work.” Badron said, “Didn’t she go out and pick flowers sometimes?”
“Yes, she loved flowers.” Nolafus said reaching over to pick up Kren, who had found his way over to one of the other passengers. “Sorry about that.”
“I also remember talking with her a lot.” Badron said shifting his gaze back towards the window. “We would talk about whatever I wanted to talk about. It didn’t matter how upset or sad I was, she would just hug me and say that no matter what, she was there and that she loved me.”
Nolafus sat there and remained quiet. The bus continued along the highway and eventually came across a small town. When the bus stopped, Nolafus lead the way off and started walking down the main street toward a group of houses. Nolafus approached one of the houses and knocked. A light green srain came to answer the door.
“Oh Nolafus! I’m so glad you could make it.” The srain exclaimed.
“Hi mom.” Nolafus said taking his mother-in-law in a big embrace. “It’s been a while since we’ve been down for a visit.”
“Who is it Marta?” A voice asked from down a hall.
“It’s Nolafus and the grandkids Jerran!” Marta called out.
A very dark green srain rounded the corner into the entryway and came up to the door.
“Well the whole gang is here.” Jerran said eying the group on the porch. “Come on inside so we can catch up on things.”
Everyone made their way into the house and the halls were filled with conversation.
“How have things been since last year?” Marta asked sitting down on a couch.
“Oh, nothing has really changed.” Nolafus responded, “Still the same old thing. I would ask you the same thing, but nothing here ever really changes does it?”
“Hey dad?” Badron piped up walking over to the couch where Nolafus was sitting. “Can Kren and I go outside, we’re bored.”
Nolafus looked over at Marta and Jerran, “Only if grandma and grandpa say it’s okay.”
“Of course it’s okay.” Matra responded, “Jerran, why don’t you go and show them where everything is?”
Jerran mumbled something under his breath and stood up from the couch. Badron and Kren followed him down a hall where a door was heard opening, and then closing.
“There’s a human family who just moved in up the street.” Marta said in a hushed voice.
“Really?” Nolafus asked, his eyes widening a little. “I thought humans didn’t like to live in the same small towns as us.”
Marta glanced down the hallway to make sure it was empty. “They’re a part of that srainian right’s group who think it’s their duty to make sure we are happy. I think they’re just trying to break down that social barrier.”
“Are you okay with them living here?” Nolafus asked, shifting forward in his seat to hear her.
“Oh, I’m fine with them.” Marta said, taking another look down the hall and still speaking in a hushed tone. “It’s Jerran that has the problem with it.”
“Is he still having problems with humans?” Nolafus asked leaning back into the couch.
“Unfortunately, yes,” Marta said. “But, can you blame him? After all they have done to us, it’s a miracle a civil war hasn’t broken out. Plus, he’s not the most forgiving person in the world, you should have seen what he did when he found out about the neigh-“
Marta was cut short by the sound of the door at the end of the hall opening. A few seconds later, Jerran popped into the room and took a seat by Marta.
“So what did I miss?” Jerran grunted out as he sat down.
“Nothing really, just telling Nolafus about the new neighbors down the street.” Marta responded placing a hand on Jerran’s shoulder.
Jerran shook the hand off of his shoulder and sat up. “Oh, you mean those humans that just moved in? No one wants them around, I’ll give them a month before they move out.”
Marta sat up and looked Jerran in the eye. “That is enough, we won’t talk about this anymore.”
Jerran mumbled something under his breath and slumped back into the sofa. No one talked and the room fell dead silent. Marta looked around at everyone for a while before speaking.
“So Nolafus,” She blurted out. “How’s that one friend of yours, the one that lives right next to you. His name was Kosbi, I think.”
Nolafus looked at Marta, “Oh, you mean Kolski.”
“Yes, that was his name,” Marta replied saying the name to herself again. She nudged Jerran in the arm, “So what do you remember about Kolski dear?”
Jerran looked at Nolafus, “I remember both his parents were shot shortly after he moved out, by humans.”
“Well, uhh, yes, urm” Marta stampered looking at Nolafus.
“It was because the humans didn’t have a choice.” Nolafus responded sitting up and looking Jerran in the eyes. “Kolski’s parents were part of the group called The Protectors, remember? It was either they defended themselves or die,”
“Are you saying what the humans did was right?” Jerran sat up as well raising his voice a little.
“No,” Nolafus responded, “I’m not saying shooting anyone was right, but neither is storming the streets killing whatever human that’s unlucky enough to cross their path.”
Jerran stood up and shouted at Nolafus. “Shut up! You don’t get to defend them! Remember what they did to us, this family, you, Anaria? How dare you try to justify their actions!”
“I will never forget what they did to us.” Nolafus shouted back, standing up as well. “The important thing is that we move on and forgive. Otherwise, we’ll never learn to get along.”
“Don’t you preach at me boy!” Jerran responded a fire igniting inside his eyes. “If it weren’t for you, moving to that awful city of yours, Anaria would still be alive!”
The last sentence rang out and hung there in the silence bouncing around in Nolafus’ skull. A full minute passed before someone spoke up.
“We’re leaving.” Nolafus responded calmly walking towards the backyard.
Marta extended her arm to try to stop Nolafus, but pulled it back immediately and bowed her head. Nolafus came back into the living room with Badron and Kren. Jerran turned his head away, but Marta followed them to the front door.
“You don’t have to go.” Marta said as Nolafus stepped through the front door.
“Do we really have a choice?” Nolafus asked turning around. “Look, we’ll see you next year where maybe things won’t get as heated.”
Nolafus turned around and started to walk down the porch towards the steps with Badron and Kren still following.
Marta stepped out onto the porch, “Wait!”
Nolafus stopped at the bottom of the steps and turned around.
“You’re a good person Nolafus, no matter what you used to do. You’ve got a good heart.” Marta said calmly.
“Thanks mom, I’m sorry things turned out like that.” Nolafus responded as he started walking towards the bus stop. Nolafus waited till he was out of earshot, “I’m sorry about Anaria.”
The bus was nearly empty on the ride back to the city. Nolafus. Badron, and Kren were all sitting in seats watching the scenery zoom past the window.
“Hey dad?” Badron said as he took his gaze away from the window. “How exactly did mom die?”
Nolafus froze, he couldn’t take his gaze off of the window. He knew this question would come up eventually, he feared that he wouldn’t be able to make it through the answer, he feared that he might not remember the entirety of the story, but most of all, he feared that the answer would spark a fire within Badron, a fire to hate all humans just like Jerran.
“Well, uhh, it started.” Nolafus stampered, but couldn’t find the words to begin.
Badron turned his gaze back out of the window. “If you don’t want to tell me, that’s fine.”
“No,” Nolafus responded after a pause, getting Badron’s attention back. “It’s time I told you the story. Do you know of the group called the protectors?”
Badron shook his head.
“Well they were a group of srains who banded together to protect everyone else from inequality and mistreatment. When they were in their prime, around ten years ago, everything was going smoothly and even some humans were let into the group. Just when everything finally started to look up, a human member of the group was charged with murdering a srainian member. The human was tried, and found not guilty. Instead of things settling back down, an extremist branch turned and started picking off the human members one by one. Things escalated and it almost broke out into civil war. Luckily so many members dropped out, that they were reduced to nothing but a street gang, infamous for trouble.”
Badron shifted his seating, “Umm, not that I don’t appreciate the history lesson here, but how does this tie in with mom’s death?”
“I was just giving you some background knowledge, sorry, I have a tendency to make stories longer than what they should be.” Nolafus responded patting Badron on the back. “Well Anaria had gone to the store to pick up groceries, when the attack started. The Protectors had begun another street raid and begun killing humans wherever they could find them. The police were called and a huge fight broke out. Anaria had gone into an alley, I presume for shelter, when The Protectors began fighting police, many with the intent to kill. A few srains ran into the same alley as Anaria was hiding and when the police came running in after them, they found her. Wanting to avenge their fallen officers, they… they, I’m sorry,” Nolafus said blinking back tears.
“You don’t have to continue, I get it.” Badron said.
Nolafus turned and looked at Badron, “Or at least that’s what the police told me.”
“Is that what you and grandpa were yelling at each other about?” Badron asked, “We could hear shouting from the backyard.”
“Somewhat, I’m sorry we couldn’t have stayed longer, grandpa and I don’t exactly see eye to eye.” Nolafus responded blinking the last of his tears away.
“Well we were there longer than last year.” Badron replied shrugging his shoulders.
Nolafus chuckled, “I guess you’re right, maybe in ten years we’ll be able to stay the entire day.”
Nolafus, Badron, and Kren stood at the bus stop as the bus drove away.
Badron looked at Nolafus and paused before saying something. “Uhh, dad? You know that wasn’t the nearest stop by our house, right?”
“I know,” Nolafus replied looking down at Badron. “The day isn’t over yet, I figured that we wouldn’t stay too long at the grandparent’s house so I had other things planned.”
Nolafus started walking down the street with Badron and Kren following close behind. The bus had dropped them off in the outskirts of downtown. It seemed that everyone had their lunch break at the same time as hundreds of people crowded the sidewalk and the streets. Nolafus ordered Badron and Kren to stay close. People were pushing and shoving eachother to get where they were going when Badron lost sight of Nolafus.
Badron turned around in all directions, but couldn’t find his father. He started panicking and jumping to try to catch a glimpse ever everyone’s head. Badron had no idea what to do when a hand came shooting out of the crowd and pulled him inside a building. Nolafus was there with Kren and Badron sighed of relief. The building that Nolafus had pulled Badron into, was a flower shop.
“Let’s wait here a while,” Nolafus suggested. “At least until the crowd dies down a bit.”
“Sounds good to me.” Badron said.
The group spread throughout the store looking at the various bouquets on display. Nolafus picked up a particularly colorful bunch and proceeded to buy them at the register. Most of the crowd had seemed to filter back into the buildings from which they appeared. After a few minutes, Nolafus led the group outside.
“So where are we going now?” Badron asked catching up to Nolafus.
Nolafus looked down, “You’ll see.”
Nolafus kept walking down the street and disappeared around a corner. Once Badron rounded the bend he noticed a cemetery that he had never known to exist. He saw Nolafus enter and stand near one of the tombstones. Badron waited for Kren to catch up and headed for the cemetery himself.
“What is this place?” Badron asked once he caught up to Nolafus.
Without taking his eyes off of the tombstone Nolafus answered, “This is where your mother is buried.”
Badron looked at the tombstone and back at Nolafus. “How come we haven’t been here before?”
“I couldn’t bring myself to.” Nolafus responded blinking.
“I don’t quite understand.” Badron said tilting his head.
Nolafus sighed, “I know it sounds stupid, but I partly blame myself for Anaria’s death. I should have been there.”
“There’s no way you could have known.” Badron said shaking his head.
“No,” Nolafus replied still staring at the tombstone. “We always went shopping together. It was one of those things we planned around my schedule, as something we could do together. I just happened to get called into work that day. I insisted she go. I should have been there, I could have done something. I would have saved her.”
“Just stop it.” Badron replied staring Nolafus in the eye. “It’s no use beating yourself up over something you had no control over.”
Nolafus took his gaze off of the tombstone and looked at Badron. “I know, it’s just hard.”
“I miss mom too.” Badron replied, “It’s hard around the house without her.”
“You’re a good sport.” Nolafus said patting Badron’s head, “You’ve really stepped up since mom passed. I just wished things were easier.”
“Me too.” Badron replied.
Nolafus took Badron in a big embrace and closed his eyes. A while later Nolafus spoke.
“Wow,” Nolafus said still hugging Badron, “Normally you tell me to let go by now.”
“We’re having a moment.” Badron said, “Don’t ruin it.”
“Hey dad?” Kren spoke up bored from walking around the cemetery. “I have to pee.”
“Moment ruined.” Badron said stepping away from Nolafus.
“All right, just give me a moment.” Nolafus replied.
Badron and Kren stepped away as Nolafus took one last look at the tombstone and memories of how they met flooded back into his brain. It was a normal day in Delwood. Srains were going about their day and Nolafus was hanging out in the alley with a friend.
“Hey Nolafus,” A slightly darker green srain called from across the alley. “You got anything going on today?”
“Not really Rineon.” Nolafus responded looking up, “I never have anything planned.”
Rineon was about to say something when a light green srain walked across the opening to their alley. Nolafus looked up and his heart beat a little faster, he had never had this feeling before and didn’t know what to do.
“Well hello there sweetie.” Rineon said as she passed. “You look awful nice, did you dress up for little ‘ol me?”
The female srain put her head down and quickened up her pace.
Rineon stood up, “Oh come on sweetie, you know you find me attractive.”
The female srain kept walking and disappeared behind the wall on the other side of the alley.
“Well that sucks.” Rineon said sitting down on a nearby crate. “Hey, I’m getting hungry, you want to go down to the store and get some food?”
“No,” Nolafus replied looking at the entrance to the alley. “I think I have something planned after all.”
Nolafus got up and started walking to the entrance to the alley. He rounded the corner where the girl had disappeared and kept walking. He kept walking and searching until he finally caught sight of her. Nolafus caught up to her and tapped her on the shoulder.
“Hey,” Nolafus said as she spun around. “You’re new to Delwood right? The family who just moved in up the street?”
“Yeah.” The female srain said as she kept walking.
“Well my name is Nolafus, can I ask you for yours?” Nolafus said walking behind her.
The female srain turned around. “Well you could, but that doesn’t mean I’ll tell you.”
Nolafus took a step back. “Why won’t you tell me?”
“Do you always treat girls like that?” The female srain asked looking up at Nolafus.
“Oh that’s just Rineon, he’s an idiot.” Nolafus said.
“So why do you hang out with him?” The female srain asked.
“Well, I don’t know.” Nolafus said, “Maybe it’s because, okay fine. I act like an idiot too.”
The female srain turned around once again. “That’s what I thought.”
Nolafus stepped in front of her. “But there’s a reason I didn’t do that to you.”
“Oh is there now?” The female srain said stopping.
Nolafus paused for a moment and took a deep breath. “I find you very attractive and I want to get to know you better.”
“Okay.” The female srain said shrugging her shoulders.
“Well, do you like me?” Nolafus asked.
“Maybe,” The female srain responded walking past Nolafus. “I haven’t completely made up my mind.”
“Can you at least give me a shot?” Nolafus asked walking along beside her.
“Since you’re so persistant, fine.” She responded nodding her head.
“Can I finally know your name?” Nolafus asked.
“Anaria, my name is Anaria.” Anaria said continuing to walk down the sidewalk.
“Alright, I’ll drop by your house at nine then Anaria.” Nolafus responded.
“Sounds good to me.” Anaria replied.
Nolafus stopped walking and started heading back towards the alley. He found a new spring in his step and his heart was nearly exploding out of delight. Nolafus entered the alley where Rineon was still sitting on the crate throwing a ball against the wall and catching it.
“Well if it isn’t Romeo.” Rineon said sitting up. “How did it go?”
“I have a date at nine tonight.” Nolafus responded puffing out his chest. “Didn’t you want to go get some food?”
Rineon leaned back against the wall. “Oh, I’d figure I would wait until you got back.
“Well I’m back,” Nolafus responded. “Let’s get some food.”
Nolafus and Rineon walked a couple blocks down to the local store and went to the snack aisle. Nolafus picked out a couple bags of chips and paid for them at the counter. Rineon followed Nolafus out the door and back to the alley where Rineon lifted his shirt to reveal three bags of chips.
“Three bags?” Nolafus responded taking one. “Someone is getting risky with their shopping, I thought we settled on two bags.”
Rineon shrugged, “I felt like taking three today.”
Nolafus was brought back to the present by the tugging of his shirt, he looked down to see Kren.
“Are we going to go?” Kren asked.
Nolafus placed the flowers down at the base of the tombstone and sighed. “Alright, I’m ready.”
They all walked out of the cemetery together and towards the nearest bus stop. The bus was crowded, but Nolafus didn’t mind. There was still one thing that he had to do today.
“Dinner!” Nolafus called out.
Badron and Kren both came racing down the hall towards the dining room.
“So what did you make daddy?” Kren asked taking a seat.
“Tonight, we are having steaks.” Nolafus replied taking the cover off of the plate. “I hope they turn out okay, I don’t really cook them a lot so I don’t know how to make them perfectly.”
Everyone piled food on their plates and began eating.
“These steaks are really good.” Badron said taking a big mouthful. “I remember last time you made steak the meat was dry as a bone.”
“Yeah,” Nolafus said recalling his last attempt. “Let’s not focus too hard on last time. I finally made good steaks and that’s what matters.”
Before long there was nothing left on the table but a few scraps. Kren had gone off to play leaving Badron and Nolafus alone at the table.
“So what did grandma mean when she said you’re a good person, no matter what you used to do?” Badron asked lokking up at Nolafus.
Nolafus sighed and looked down at Badron. “I wasn’t exactly a saint when I was younger.”
“What kinds of things did you do?” Badron asked.
“I don’t really like talking about it.” Nolafus said leaning back in his chair. “Brings up a lot of bad memories I would rather you not know about.”
“Alright,” Badron said looking back down. “Just thought I would ask.”
Nolafus and Badron cleaned up the dishes and wiped off the table. They sat down in the living room and talked. They talked about various things, but nothing specific as Kren played with his toys. Before long they were all getting ready for bed. Badron’s question still bounced around in Nolafus’ skull about his past. Nolafus tried hard to forget about it, but the memories were constantly floating in the back of his mind, waiting for an excuse to come into the spotlight. Before long, Nolafus fell into a troubled sleep.
“Hey Nolafus!” Rineon called out walking towards Nolafus who was sitting on a crate. “We got a new recruit who thinks they’re ready for the big leagues.”
Rineon walked a male, army green srain, no older than thirteen, to the center of the alley and pushed him so that he stumbled in front of Nolafus. Nolafus got up and walked around the young srain eyeing him from head to toe.
“What’s your name?” Nolafus asked after a few laps.
The young srain stiffened up at the sound of Nolafus’ voice. “Dregar, err… sir.”
“How good are you at fighting?” Nolafus asked taking a few steps away from Dregar and turning around.
Dregar stood up as tall as he could, “I’m the best. No one can best me in a fight. I’ve beaten much bigger guys than you. Just the other day I was ambushed by two guys from your rival gang and by the end I practically had them running. One of them was even crying. I’m better than you’ll ever be.”
“Punch me.” Nolafus said turning around to face Dregar.
Dregar stumbled a little, “Err, what?”
“You heard me.” Nolafus responded nodding.
“Well, okay.” Dregar said getting himself pumped. “But you have no idea what’s coming!”
Dregar took a few steps back and took a running start at Nolafus. Dregar threw his fist towards Nolafus’ head with all his might. Nolafus quickly moved out of the way and grabbed Dregar’s outstretched arm. Before Dregar had time to react Nolafus spun him around and threw him against the wall. Dregar fell down, but quickly got back up. Dregar screamed as he charged Nolafus. Nolafus grabbed Dregar’s shoulders and fell down with his foot against Dregar’s abdomen propelling Dregar into a pile of trash cans with a loud crash. Dregar stayed laying down in the pile of trash with his head down.
Nolafus got back up on his feet and turned towards Dregar. “Don’t come in here talking big and making up stories about how tough you are. In here you can talk all you want, but that doesn’t mean a thing when you get into a real fight. If this were a real fight with our rivals, you’d be dead right now. Get out of my alley.”
Dregar picked himself out of the pile of trash cans and trudged towards the entrance with his shoulders dropping. He looked back into the alley and disappeared around the corner.
“Well you showed him.” Rineon remarked settling down on a crate.
Nolafus walked over and sat down on a crate next to the pile of dented trash cans. “Yeah, where do you keep finding these guys? Now he’s going to go across town and join up with the Justers like all the others. Like they need an even bigger number advantage over us. We’re barely holding onto this neighborhood as it is.”
“I guess you’re right.” Rineon remarked leaning forward. “Who runs that gang again? Oh, that’s right, Juster does! It’s so easy to remember when he names the gang after himself. We need to change our name from the Black Claw. It’s so cheesy.”
“We came up with that in middle school, remember?” Nolafus said picking up a trash can trying to pop out the dents. “Besides, we couldn’t come up with any better names and this one is stuck now.”
“Yeah I know.” Rineon said leaning back onto the wall. “Ready for the meeting tonight?”
“Oh crap,” Nolafus said tossing the trash can aside and leaning forward. “I forgot all about that. I have a date with Anaria tonight. I can’t cancel again, she’ll kill me.”
Rineon looked over at Nolafus. “I’ll cover this meeting, go ahead with your date. I’m sure I won’t screw things up too badly while you’re away.”
“Thanks Rineon, you’re a life saver.” Nolafus said leaning back and picking up the trash can. “You know our one year anniversary is next week.”
Rineon rolled his eyes and leaned back. “No, I missed the first hundred times you’ve told me.”
“Well, I’m excited okay?” Nolafus responded. “This isn’t an everyday thing you know.”
“Okay, okay.” Rineon responded putting up his hands. “What time is it anyway?”
Noolafus looked at the watch on his wrist. “Four forty-five. Just about time for me to leave to pick up Anaria. I’ll see you tomorrow and good luck with the meeting.”
“Thanks, good luck with that date.” Rineon responded.
Nolafus got up and left the alley pausing at the entrance to wave to Rineon. The evening air was crisp and light as Nolafus walked down a couple blocks to a house with a light green srain waiting on the porch. Nolafus walked up to the srain and took her in a big embrace.
“Well are you ready to go?” Nolafus asked after a pause.
“One moment,” Anaria said as she ducked her head inside the house and called out to the occupants inside. “Okay, now I’m ready.”
The two of them held hands and walked down the street back where Nolafus came. Nolafus looked down an alley and saw Rineon throwing a ball against the wall and catching it.
“I remember I didn’t like Rineon at first.” Anaria said once they passed the other side.
Nolafus chuckled, “Well he certainly has his style with the ladies.”
“He certainly does.” Anaria remarked. “A little strong at first, but he calms down once you get to know him.”
“Don’t tell me you’re falling for my best friend.” Nolafus said nudging Anaria.
“Maybe just a little.” Anaria said nudging Nolafus back. “You know he has just the dreamiest eyes.”
A cool breeze came drifting through the street forcing Nolafus and Anaria to huddle together as the continued to walk along the road. They rounded the corner and came out onto Delwood’s main street filled with restaurants, neon lights, and little shops.
“Here we are.” Nolafus said as he guestured to a neon sign reading “Del’s Diner”.
Nolafus open the door for Anaria and they both stepped inside. The diner was full of srains laughing over their different conversations being held over classic rock while various waitresses went from table to table writing down orders and taking dishes away. Nolafus lead Anaria to the last empty booth and took a seat. Soon a light green waitress appeared with a nametag that read “Kailery”.
“Well hello Anaria and Nolafus.” Kailery said rather loudly over the hustle and bustle. “Do you want the usual today?”
“I’ll take the usual.” Anaria said nodding.
“The usual for me too.” Nolafus responded.
Kailery wrote the orders on her notebook and made her way to the kitchen stepping in time to the music.
“It’s always so crowded here.” Anaria mentioned looking around at all the srains.
“Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this place not filled to the brim.” Nolafus said looking at the crowd himself. “Maybe during closing time.”
“You know what next week is right?” Anaria asked looking Nolafus in the eyes.
“Our one year anniversary.” Nolafus replied looking back at Anaria.
“I can’t believe it’s been a year already.” Anaria remarked placing her hand on the table.
Nolafus took Anaria’s hand into his. “The time sure flies.”
Kailery came back with two root beer floats and sat them down on the table. “The burgers will be right out for you.”
“Sounds good,” Nolafus replied. “I’m getting hungry.”
“Well in that case I’ll tell the cooks to step on it.” Kailery said as she walked away.
“So where do you want to go next week?” Nolafus asked Anaria, still holding hands.
“You mean you haven’t figured anything out yet?” Anaria asked giggling to herself.
Nolafus rolled his eyes. “You know how I am with these things, I never plan things out very far ahead. Keeps things interesting.”
“Yeah, I know.” Anaria responded. “I remember that one date where both diners were full to the brim and we ended up going back to my place and eating frozen dinners.”
“So that wasn’t my greatest moment in life.” Nolafus said chuckling.
The conversation eventually faded and Nolafus and Anaria sat there in silence listening to the classic rock playing overhead.
“Hey Nolafus?” Anaria asked as Nolafus took a drink of root beer. “Do you ever see us getting married?”
Nolafus eyes flew open as he quickly put down the mug and started coughing.
“Are you alright?” Anaria asked leaning over the table.
Nolafus put his hand up and coughed a couple more times. “Yeah, I think so. You caught me off guard with that question.”
“Well do you?” Anaria asked.
Nolafus paused for a second. “Well, I-“
“Burgers are here!” Kailery said setting down two burgers on either side of the table as Nolafus let out a quiet sigh. “Let me know if you need anything else, okay?”
“Sure thing.” Nolafus said as Kailery turned around and walked away.
Nolafus and Anaria were walking home when Nolafus walked passed an alley and looked inside. Rineon was standing on a box surrounded by twenty srains. Rineon’s mouth was moving, but Nolafus was too far away to hear what he was saying. Anaria noticed Nolafus had changed his gaze to the alley and looked over herself.
“You know I don’t like you being a part of that gang.”Anaria said, tugging at Nolafus’ arm.
“I know.” Nolafus responded still keeping his eyes on the alley.
“Then why don’t you quit, just walk away.” Anaria said stepping in front of Nolafus.
“Well, because…” Nolafus stampered. “I don’t know. Look, can we talk about this some other time?”
Anaria stepped aside and they continued to walk along in silence. Eventually they reached Anaria’s porch and they turned to face eachother.
“I had a really nice time tonight.” Anaria said wrapping her arms around Nolafus’ neck.
“Me too.” Nolafus responded looking into Anaria’s eyes.
They closed their eyes and started to lean closer together when the front door opened to reveal Jerran.
“That’s quite enough.” Jerran said opening the screen door. “It’s about time you two said goodnight to each other.”
“Well, goodnight.” Anaria said as she darted inside the doorway.
“Goodnight.” Nolafus said under his breath as Jerran closed the door, glaring at him.
The next day came and Nolafus walked into the alley and took a seat next to Rineon.
“So how was the date, Romeo?” Rineon asked nudging Nolafus’ arm.
“It was nice, nothing too fancy, but nice.” Nolafus responded leaning back against the wall.
“Hey, check out what I sneaked out of the house today.” Rineon said, lifting up his shirt to reveal a pistol.
“What?” Nolafus responded, his eyes wide-open.
“Yeah, sweet isn’t it?” Rineon said picking it up and pretending to shoot things.
“Put that down before someone gets hurt.” Nolafus said.
Rineon sighed and looked at Nolafus. “Man, relax will you? I’m not going to hurt anybody.”
“I know, it’s just. That kind of stuff makes me nervous.” Nolafus said.
Anaria came walking into the alley and Rineon scrambled to put away the gun. Anaria walked over and took a seat by Nolafus.
“Hey, what brings you over here today?” Nolafus asked putting an arm around Anaria’s shoulders.
“Oh nothing,” Anaria said. “Just thought I would stop by and hang out. I’ve got nothing else going on today.”
“Well I’m glad you’re here.” Nolafus said.
Rineon mimicked a gagging motion to which Nolafus promptly punched him in the shoulder. A dark green srain came into view at the entrance to the alley. After a moment, two other srains joined the first on either side and followed him into the alley.
Nolafus stood up and nudged Anaria behind him. “What do you want Juster.”
“I want to talk.” Juster said, “About last night.”
“What are you talking about?” Nolafus replied taking a step forward.
“You know very well what I’m talking about.” Juster said, raising his voice.
“I suggest you leave, you know you can’t beat me in a fight.” Nolafus replied.
“That’s why I have this.” Juster said pulling out a pistol from his pocket and leveling it at Nolafus’ head. “You want a problem solved? Take it out at the source.”
“Now hold on here.” Nolafus said raising both his hands and turning towards Rineon. “What did you do?”
Rineon shifted in his seat. “After the meeting I took a couple guys to mess up their hideout. Oh, and I wouldn’t shoot him if I were you.”
Rineon stood up and pointed his pistol at Juster’s head. No one moved, each one calculating their next course of action. Juster turned to take a better look at Rineon when Nolafus ducked and swept his feet out from under him. Juster fell down with a thud, wrapping his tail around one of Rineon’s feet and taking Rineon down with him. The fall had caused both their guns to go sliding away in different directions. Nolafus had picked up a gun and pointed it at the two srains who had accompanied Juster into the alley. Both of them took off running, leaving Juster to fend for himself.
Juster had managed to get both of his legs under Rineon and sent him flying into the trash cans nearby. Nolafus turned around to see where Rineon had landed, and when he turned back around, Juster was there, holding a gun. The two of them stood there, each wielding a gun aimed for each other. No one moved a muscle for a full minute.
Anaria let out a scream from between a couple of crates. Nolafus looked down at his chest, his eyes flying wide open. However, when Nolafus looked down, not a single bullet hole was to be found. Nolafus looked up, just in time to see Juster, falling down to the ground in a heap. Blood trickling down from a hole in his chest unto the floor of the alley.
Nolafus awoke with a start. He was breathing heavily and sat up straight. Nolafus let out a big sigh and laid back down. He brought his knees up under his chin, and wept.
“Hello Bristol! It’s currently six o’ clock on this fine Monday morning. The sky looks clear and it’s expected to stay that way for the rest of the week. Prepare those swimming trunks and hoses, because it is going to be a scorcher today. Coming up is –“
Nolafus pressed down on the alarm clock and groaned as he slowly began to crawl out of bed. He trudged over to his dresser and began dressing for the day. The scent of morning coffee hung in the kitchen like a blanket when Badron came walking in with a big yawn.
“I didn’t have to get you up this morning.” Nolafus said, pouring himself a cup of coffee.
“I’m starting to get used to it.” Badron replied grabbing a box of cereal from a cupboard.
“It’s supposedly going to be a pretty hot day today.” Nolafus said.
“Does that mean that a fire is more likely going to happen?” Badron asked.
“Well, that means everything will dry out faster.” Nolafus said taking a sip of coffee and leaning back onto the counter. “Hopefully, everyone will have their hoses on and getting everything wet.”
The fire truck raced through the city, sirens blaring loudly as cars swerved off to the side of the road. The truck rounded a corner and came screeching to a halt outside a house already engulfed in flames. Various firefighters hopped out of the truck and jumped into action. Nolafus immediately started to control the crowd outside and began moving them back to a safe distance. A firefighter came over to Nolafus and tapped him on the shoulder.
“Yeah Derek?” Nolafus said, turning around to face him.
“Grab Kolski, there’s a little girl trapped on the second story, we need you two to go get her out.” Derek said motioning to Kolski, who was working on the hose.
Nolafus grabbed Kolski and raced inside. The blast of heat hit Nolafus and forced him to take a step back.
“Maybe this isn’t as safe as we had originally thought.” Kolski yelled above the crackling of the flames.
“I don’t care.” Nolafus said, bracing himself. Nolafus wasn’t about to let someone die under his responsibility, not again.
The two of them entered the house and it immediately became clear the structure wasn’t going to hold for much longer. Nolafus and Kolski found the stairs and darted up, being careful not to step on the really burnt spots. The path forked off in two different directions. Nolafus was about to run to the left, when he heard a scream coming from his right. He raced down the hallway, the heat burning his scales through his jacket, and burst through a door. A little girl was sitting in a corner crying. Nolafus ran over and scooped up the girl in his arms. He turned around and motioned to Kolski to get out of there. Nolafus was just about to take a step forward when he heard the floor under him start to creak under his weight. Nolafus threw the little girl at Kolski just in time as the boards gave way and Nolafus fell down into the room below.
He landed on the oxygen tank strapped to his back with a thud. Nolafus looked up just in time to see board after board falling down after him. The boards landed directly on top of him, one board came directly down on Nolafus’s head. The strike broke open Nolafus’ mask and caused a severe gash right above his left eye. Smoke began to seep through the cracks and into his lungs. His vision began to blur. Nolafus noticed his body was covered with burning boards. He struggled in vain to get the boards off. He could feel his body being burned through the jacket. Blood was spilling into his eye and onto the floor. Nolafus looked around him, he noticed he was in the garage. A car sat to his left, he knew that if the flames managed to reach the car, it was all over. He used every ounce of his draining strength to move the boards. The boards didn’t move, and Nolafus collapsed.
When Nolafus opened his eyes, he wasn’t burning, he wasn’t surrounded by fire, and he wasn’t even in a building. Instead, he was floating. Nolafus looked around and he found himself in a sort of void. He remained floating there, looking out at the deep abyss. He tried to remember what he was doing, but the search through his memory was inconclusive. He couldn’t remember a thing. Nolafus felt like he had memories, and indeed he had, but he felt like they happened so long ago. Besides, he was just happy to be floating here, it was relaxing. Nolafus decided that he must have been here his entire life, he couldn’t remember anything else that would tell him otherwise. A deep peace overcame Nolafus as a bright light suddenly flashed.
Nolafus raised his hand to shield his eyes from the bright light, but it soon died down. Nolafus lowered his hand to reveal a dark hole where the light had been. Rays of light showed the outlined of the dark hole, and Nolafus smiled. The dark hole seemed so inviting, he even thought he could hear music. Nolafus thought about trying to remember the clouded memories, but it just seemed like so much work. Why spend so much effort when it was so easy just to give in? Nolafus gave up on his thoughts and began to drift towards the hole, he was still a ways away, but he had time. It’s not like anyone was expecting him anywhere. He had no responsibilities and all the time in the world, he could go anywhere, do anything, but right now, all Nolafus wanted to do was go through that hole. He could just simply fall in there.
Wait, “fall…” why does that ring a bell? Nolafus stopped to ponder this thought which had invaded his mind. The thought was just a whisper, but it kept repeating itself. Each time it grew louder and louder, eventually the thought was shouting in his head. Nolafus raised his hands to his head in an effort to drown out the screaming. He winced, he felt pain dart through his entire body. What was happening? What is this place? Why am I here? Nolafus’ eyes flew open. His memory, foggy a second ago, had now began to appear. He had a wife, wait, she died a while ago. Yet he still felt love, and loved. How can this be? Nolafus remembered two srains, sons? Yes, definitely sons, one was twelve, the other seven. What were their names? Badron and Kren, his two sons. Another srain and a human appeared in his thoughts, Kolski and Joe, my friends. Firefighters, they were firefighters. That one word, fall, why did that word feel so real? Fall, I was falling. Falling from where? There was a fire, and I was falling. All of Nolafus’ memories came flooding back to him in an instant and he remembered everything. He remembered finding that little girl, he remembered falling through the floor, and he remembered not being able to escape. The void that had once seemed so safe, began to fade, and the hole that once looked so inviting. Nolafus noticed it wasn’t a hole at all, but a mouth. Everything around him seem to melt as he was shot up, into a bright light.
Nolafus took a deep breath and immediately started pushing everything off of him. The boards were easier to move for some reason. He shot up and started running through the door. He took off through the hallway where he saw a woman standing there, wearing nothing. She was surrounded by fire and turned away from him, but she didn’t move. In fact, she seemed to be wearing the fire. Her entire body was adorned with a cloak made entirely of flickering energy. Nolafus called out to her, and she turned around. Her first look was one of shock as she walked towards Nolafus and started pushing him back towards the burning garage. Nolafus tried with all his might to escape from her grasp, but it was no use. She wouldn’t let go and despite the struggle Nolafus was putting up, she was able to drag him back into the garage. She lifted up the boards and started to push Nolafus back under them. Nolafus wasn’t able to escape, and not willing to give up the fight, he screamed. Nolafus screamed so loudly and with such intensity, he had to close his eyes and he felt the grip of the woman loosen, and release.
When Nolafus opened his eyes, the boards were gone. Nolafus looked down and saw sheets, bed sheets. His eyes darted around the room. The fire was put out. In fact, there didn’t seem to be a fire at all. The woman was still there, but she was wearing something different. She was wearing a nurse’s outfit. She was clamping her hands over her ears like a loud noise had just been plaguing her. Nolafus took another look around the room. The walls were white and the sound of humming could be heard coming from various machines. Plastic tubes extended out from these machines into his wrist.
“Beep… Beep… Beep… Beep…”
A constant, steady beeping broke the silence as Nolafus looked over to a machine with a light that danced every time the beeping rang out. Pain shot up through his entire body as he tried to get up again. The entire room spun around faster and faster until Nolafus collapsed back unto the bed, and fell asleep.
I've only just started reading this (first chapter) and I might get back later with some things, if I think of stuff that hasn't already been said ;)
But the first thing I'm wondering is: why are you putting all your chapters in one single post? What will happen when you reach the character limit for posts? :p How about posting every chapter in its own post and then link to them from a list in the first post?
I now have edited it throughout the thread. I knew it wasn't the best decision, but I was waiting until I finished my next chapter in order to do something about it.
Nolafus awoke to the same room he was in before. The machines were still buzzing, but the room was dark and empty. Nolafus took a look around and saw a window. It was dark outside, and the moon was out. Nolafus looked around for a clock.
“Great,” Nolafus muttered out loud, “Three o’ clock.”
Nolafus sighed and leaned back in the bed. When he hit the mattress, pain shot up through his body. Nolafus winced and waited for the pain to fade away. He felt like he had this dream, a weird dream. He could see a void, a woman dressed in fire, but nothing else. Nolafus felt like it was more than a dream, but he soon gave up on trying to remember.
A streetlight outside of Nolafus’ window shined through the blinds and down on a table. The light bounced off of an object and into Nolafus’ eye. He turned to see what was on it. Nolafus was surprised to see a bouquet of flowers, he was shocked to see the entire table adorned with various cards and gifts. He began to count the people in his head that would send him these things, but no matter how many times he counted, the number of cards seemed to quadruple the number of people Nolafus could think of. He leaned over to try to take a few, but pain shot up through his body. Nolafus winced and was able to swipe one card. He looked at it, but it was too dark to make out any of the words. Nolafus looked around once again and was able to find a lamp within easy reach. He turned it on, and began reading.
Dear Mr. Simolson,
Thank you for saving my niece. I can’t express in words how grateful I am that you would risk your life, to save another. You are a true inspiration and it’s srains like you that give me hope for the others. I can’t imagine the pain and the suffering you went through, and I do sincerely hope that you wake up one day to read this. Please get better soon.
“Wake up one day, what does that mean?” Nolafus asked to no one in particular. Nolafus looked around for a calendar, but couldn’t find one. “How long have I been out?”
Nolafus’ attention suddenly turned to his kids. He wondered where they were, if they were worried, if they knew he was alright. Nolafus thought about these questions for a long time, but then, he thought about that little girl.
“I guess she’s alright.” Nolafus thought, turning his attention back to the card. “I mean, if her uncle wrote that she is.”
Nolafus gazed back through the card again, but froze. He couldn’t get past a certain sentence.
“You are a true inspiration and it’s srains like you that give me hope for the others.”
Nolafus shook his head, annoyed that the person would even consider writing that.
“Give me hope for the others,” Nolafus said, throwing the card across the room. “Oh give me a break, I’m sick and tired of all that-“
Nolafus paused and took a deep breath. He cautiously leaned back into the bed and closed his eyes. He couldn’t get mad, the guy probably meant well, but there was no use getting mad. Anger only made things worse. Before long, Nolafus fell into a dreamless sleep.
When Nolafus awoke, the room was filled with light and he could hear birds chirping outside of his, now open, window. In fact, there was a nurse putting the bouquet of flowers in a vase on the table.
“Excuse me,” Nolafus said trying to get her attention.
The nurse turned around, “Oh, you’re awake! I’ll get the doctor right away.”
“Wait,” Nolafus said trying to reach out an arm to stop her, but the pain prevented him from extending it out too far. “Can I ask you a few questions first?”
“Well, I suppose it’s okay.” The nurse responded walking towards Nolafus and sitting down on the foot of his bed.
“How long have I been out?” Nolafus asked.
“Well, it’s been a couple days since you had your little episode, but it’s been about a month since the fire.”
“A month!” Nolafus said sitting straight up. “I’ve been out for a month!”
“Try to calm down, it’s not good to get all riled up like this.” The nurse said trying to ease Nolafus back into the bed.
“Calm down? I’ve been out for a month and you want me to calm down?” Nolafus asked pushing her away. “Where are my kids? Where have they been living? For pete’s sake I’ve been out for a month?”
“I’m going to get the doctor.” The nurse said scrambling out of the room.
Nolafus plopped back down on his bed. For the first time, he noticed a knot in his lower back. It throbbed and emitted waves of pain. Nolafus winced as the doctor came in.
“I wouldn’t move much if I were you.” The doctor said as he came over, whipping out a pen and began writing something down on a clipboard. “You’re in pretty bad shape, moving might make it worse.”
Nolafus settled down, the pain in his back still throbbed, but he could bare it.
“Okay, I want you to describe how you feel right now.” The doctor said, sitting down on a chair.
“I don’t even know how to begin.” Nolafus said, looking at the ceiling. “I mean, it couldn’t have been a month. I wasn’t out for that long, a couple days maybe, but not a month.”
“How about pain, do you feel that?” The doctor said after looking up from his notes.
“I feel pain all over, but there seems to be this giant knot of it in my lower back.” Nolafus responded, wincing.
“Can you move your legs?” The doctor asked taking off his glasses.
Nolafus looked down, after a moment he turned to the doctor. “No, what does that mean doc?”
The doctor jotted something down on his clipboard, got up, and left the room. Nolafus was left there listening to the hum of the machines and looking at his legs. The sheets clearly showed the outline of two legs, but Nolafus couldn’t feel them. He carefully put his head back down.
“Oh man,” Nolafus thought, “What’s wrong with me?”
Nolafus was woken by the sound of a closing door. He looked up the reveal a nurse, checking on the various machines around the room.
“Umm, hi.” Nolafus said, looking at the nurse.
“Hello there, don’t mind me, I’m just checking the machines.” The nurse responded, not breaking her attention.
“You say the dumbest things in this place.” Nolafus chuckled.
“And what do you mean by that?” The nurse asked, jotting the last of her notes in her book.
“You say to calm down when I hear that I’ve been out for a month, and now you’re telling me not to mind you when I haven’t got a single clue to what’s going on here.”
“Okay then, fair enough.” The nurse said, sitting down in the chair next to Nolafus’ bed. “What questions do you have?”
“Well, let’s start with my episode, I’ve heard I had one, but I don’t remember it.” Nolafus asked, pleased he was about to receive an answer.
The nurse thought for a moment. “Well, I wasn’t there personally, but I have heard about it. I think you got out of bed, walked out into the hall, and got a nurse’s attention. Naturally she tried to put you back in your bed, but you were fighting her every step of the way. You were pretty weak, so it was obviously important we get you back in the bed, but right as she was about to pull the covers over you, you screamed. I was working on the floor above you at the time, and even I heard that scream. After that, you passed out.”
“There’s no way.” Nolafus said looking around the room. “I don’t remember any of it.”
“The truth is,” The nurse started, “We weren’t sure if you were going to wake up at all. It was the weirdest thing.”
“Okay then,” Nolafus continued, his eyes settling on the stack of cards on the table. “Explain that.”
The nurse looked over at the table, “That’s easy. You’re quite the popular guy.” She said walking over to it. “There’s also these letters under here.”
Nolafus’ eyes bulged when he saw two bins under the table completely full. “How is that even possible? I don’t have that many friends.”
The nurse walked back over. “Well, the story was shared all over the local news about a local firefighter in the struggle of his life after saving a little girl.”
“Really, they shared that on the news?” Nolafus asked, “Can you at least bring the letters over here or something? It would be nice to have something to do here.”
“Anything for a hero,” The nurse said as she scooted the table and bins within easy reach. “I have to go now, but if there’s anything else, please don’t hesitate to ask.”
The nurse turned around and walked out of the room before Nolafus could thank her. He looked at the table and bins. He couldn’t believe how much mail he had received. Nolafus picked up card after card and started reading. Nolafus skimmed through each card, until he came across a card using his first name. A friend for sure.
I really hope you get better soon. The fire station isn’t the same without you. Looking back on it all, I’m amazed at your selflessness. You just did something hardly anyone else would do. I’m not exactly sure what happened, Kolski isn’t telling much, but all I do know is that instead of trying to save the both of you and possibly hurting the little girl, you threw her to safety and took the fall yourself. The doctors are being dumb and won’t let me see you until “you’re in proper condition”, but just letting you know that I’ll be there the first chance I get. Don’t worry about your kids, they’re staying over at Anaria’s parents’ house. We tried to find your parents, but they wouldn’t return our calls. Don’t give up, I’ll see you soon.
Nolafus closed the card and set it on the corner of the table. He was glad the kids were safe. Nolafus yawned and rubbed his eyes. He was surprised at how tiring being in pain was. Nolafus closed his eyes, and before long, fell asleep.
“No,” Nolafus said to the doctor, who was standing next to the bed. “There’s no way.”
“I’m afraid I’m not lying.” The doctor said, adjusting his glasses.
“You’re wrong.” Nolafus replied trying to get up. “I walked earlier when I had my episode, I’ll show you.”
“Stop, don’t get up.” The doctor instructed stopping Nolafus in his tracks, “I know.”
“Well then how come you keep saying I’m paralyzed.” Nolafus responded laying back down.
“Because you are.” The doctor said, “We don’t know how you were able to walk. Before your episode, we ran some tests and concluded that you were paralyzed from the waist down. Later that month, a nurse reported seeing you walk, you were pretty weak, but walking.”
“How am I paralyzed then?” Nolafus asked. “What caused it?”
“That’s what we were hoping you could tell us.” The doctor responded whipping out a clipboard and pen from his jacket.
“I don’t know.” Nolafus said, “I don’t remember.”
“Try going through the events up until you blacked out.” The doctor instructed, sitting down in the chair.
“Well, Kolski and I found the little girl upstairs in a room.” Nolafus started. “When I ran over and picked her up, the floor gave way underneath me and I threw the little girl to safety. I crashed into the garage and a bunch of boards landed on me. Nothing landed on my back.”
“There has to be something else. What did you land on?” The doctor asked scribbling on his clipboard.
Nolafus looked up, “My oxygen tank, it was strapped to my back and I landed on it.”
“That’ll do it.” The doctor said writing it down.
“When will I be able to get out of here?” Nolafus asked.
“We’re not entirely sure.” The doctor said. “It will depend on how quickly you recover from your surgery.”
“My what?” Nolafus asked lifting his head.
“You’re going to have to have surgery if you ever want to get better.” The doctor said.
Nolafus put his head back down. “I can’t pay for that. I don’t have money to spare.”
The doctor looked up from his clipboard. “Oh, you don’t have to worry about that. Someone has already agreed to pay for it.”
“What? Who would do that for me?” Nolafus asked.
“I don’t know, all I know is that they remained anonymous.” The doctor replied looking back down at the clipboard.
“Wait, who got me out of the fire?” Nolafus asked trying to change the subject.
“I’m not entirely sure.” The doctor said. “But I think you said his name earlier. Kolbi?”
“You mean Kolski?” Nolafus said correcting the doctor.
“Yes, I believe he was the one who got you out of the house.” The doctor replied, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some things I have to do today.”
Getting up from the chair, the doctor jotted a few things down on his clipboard, and left the room. Nolafus sat there with only the humming of the machines to break the silence. He looked at his legs, shook his head, and laid back down. He leaned over and picked up a couple cards. Nolafus started reading through them when the door to his room opened.
“Joe?” Nolafus said looking up from the cards.
“Yup! In all his glory.” Joe remarked sitting down in the chair across from Nolafus’ bed.
“I thought the hospital weren’t allowing visitors for me.” Nolafus said.
“They aren’t.” Joe started, “I convinced them we were brothers.”
“Joe,” Nolafus replied, setting the cards down. “There is no way in the world we would pass off being brothers.”
“Okay, okay.” Joe said putting his arms up in defense. “So maybe they don’t know I’m here.”
“So you snuck inside a hospital?” Nolafus asked.
“Well of course.” Joe replied, “You had me worried and when the hospital said you had finally woken up, I just had to sneak in and see for myself.”
“What happened?” Nolafus asked, “The doctors and nurses aren’t giving me a lot of information.”
Joe scratched his chin, trying to recall the memories. “Well, let’s see. From my perspective, Kolski was the one that brought the little girl out. He set the little girl down on the porch, told her to run to her parents, and immediately darted back inside. That’s when I knew something was wrong. After a long while, Kolski reappeared carrying you out. Probably not the best thing for your back, but it’s better for your health than dying. Kolski isn’t talking much about it, so that’s pretty much all I know.”
“What happened after Kolski dragged me out?” Nolafus asked.
“We all came rushing over, luckily the ambulance had arrived by that time, so we didn’t have to wait. I won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say it didn’t take a doctor to tell you were pretty messed up.” Joe said, grimacing.
“Badron and Kren, how are they doing?” Nolafus asked.
“Oh, they’re fine.” Joe said, reassuringly. “They were pretty worried at first, but Anaria’s parents took them in and they’ve settled down. All they know is that you woke up, and that you’re under stable condition.”
Nolafus sighed, “They must have been so worried. I should have been more careful.”
“Here we go.” Joe said rolling his eyes and leaning back into the chair.
Nolafus looked over at Joe. “What is that supposed to mean?”
“Oh, it’s that one stage of recovery.” Joe remarked. “The victim goes on and on about how they should have known, how they could have prevented it, how they would have done something different. Kind of pathetic really.”
“Are you calling me pathetic?” Nolafus asked with a false sense of hurt.
“No, well not you directly.” Joe began. “Now one could argue that I called you pathetic indirectly, but they would only be partially correct.”
“I get it, I get it.” Nolafus said, chuckling.
“Man, it’s kind of sad to see you hooked up to so many machines.” Joe said looking around the room. “All these wires and medical stuff.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.” Nolafus said, reassuringly.
“Oh, believe me, I know that.” Joe said, “It’s just a little sad seeing my buddy here cooped up like this.”
“I’ll be out eventually.” Nolafus said, “After my surgery.”
“So that’s what I paid for.” Joe said leaning forward. “I was wondering why the medical bill suddenly grew.”
“You’re the one paying for all this?” Nolafus said, looking over at Joe. “With our kind of salary?”
“Oh, don’t worry about it, you have enough to worry about as is.” Joe said. “Let me take care of the finer points.”
“Well I’m not going to let my best friend go bankrupt for me.” Nolafus replied irritated.
“What did I just say?” Joe said leaning forward. “I have everything under control. Besides, I’m not going bankrupt. Why would I do that?”
“Because you care too much.” Nolafus said.
“That is not…” Joe paused and furrowed his brow. “An entirely false statement.”
Nolafus chuckled and put his head down.
“What are you laughing at?” Joe asked crossing his arms.
“About how you always-“
“Who are you?” A nurse asked coming into the room. “Mr. Simolson isn’t approved to see any visitors at this time.”
“Well, that’s my queue to leave.” Joe said getting up. “I’ll see you soon Nolafus, don’t worry about a thing.”
Joe got up, beamed at the nurse as he walked by, and disappeared beyond the door. The nurse shook her head and started checking up on all of the machines. She turned a few dials, wrote some things down, and refilled a couple sacks with some liquids. Nolafus felt the lure of sleep come over him and decided to close his eyes. Before long, he was fast asleep.
When Nolafus awoke, he looked around him. No one was in the room, and he noticed that he had only been asleep for a couple hours. Nolafus shrugged and laid back down. Before he had time to close his eyes again, the knot in his back erupted. Pain was being shot out in torrents and each time the knot throbbed, it grew. Nolafus nearly collapsed, he was too overcome by shock to scream. He looked around him and found a button above his bed with text above reading press for nurse’s assistance. Nolafus winced, and pressed the button. He collapse on his bed, his mouth wide open, gasping for air. Nolafus laid there unable to move. The pain shot through his entire body.
A couple minutes passed, or was it a couple hours? Nolafus couldn’t tell, each second seemed like an eternity. Finally, a nurse opened the door, took one look at Nolafus, and ran off down the hall. The pain rose to even higher levels. After a few seconds, Nolafus blacked out.
Man, this chapter took a while to write out. Can you believe it? Double digits!
One thing I changed, Nolafus no longer has control of his tail. I had a plan, but I changed my mind. So no more medical mystery.
The young Nolafus looked around the jail cell. Each wall was made of white, dirty bricks with some sort of fungus growing in the cracks. All except for one wall, which was made of metal bars, containing the gate which he had been shoved through. On the wall opposite of the bars, was a sink and a toilet. A couple of beds, one on top of the other, lay against the right wall. Nolafus was sitting on the lower one while the top bed lay empty. Nolafus took a deep breath of the musty air. He could hear the shouts of other juveniles down the hall. He shook his head and laid down on the bed.
“Oh man,” Nolafus thought to himself. ”What have I done?”
A guard came over and tapped on the bars. Nolafus looked up to see what he wanted.
“You have visitors, follow me.” The guard instructed, fumbling with the keys on his belt.
Nolafus got up and waited for the guard to unlock the gate. The bars slid open, but the guard stood in the way.
“Don’t try anything stupid.” He warned, patting the baton securely fastened to his belt and stepping aside.
Nolafus walked into the hallway and continued down with the guard following after. As he walked past the various cells, humans and srains alike tried to reach through the bars and pull him closer to them. Nolafus dodged and weaved along the sea of shouting voices and snaring traps until he passed the last of the cells. Nolafus found himself at a point where the hallway split off into two sections and paused. The guard turned him down the hall to the right and pushed the young srain towards the door at the far end. Nolafus, surprised by the sudden momentum, tripped and fell on the floor.
“Get up!” The guard boomed at Nolafus, unhitching the baton latched to his waist.
Nolafus slowly got on his feet and started to make his way towards the door once again. The guard, once they reached the door, punched in a code and opened it. Nolafus was led inside and into a booth, where his parents were there to meet him on the other side of the glass. Nolafus sat down in the chair and picked up a phone that hung on the wall. His mom did the same with another phone on the other side of the glass.
“So when are you guys going to bail me out?” Nolafus asked immediately. “The jumpsuit is uncomfortable.”
“Oh honey.” Nolafus’ mom said through the phone. “I’m afraid it’s not going to be that simple this time.”
“So what?” Nolafus responded. “I don’t like being here, you guys need to get me out.”
Nolafus looked at his parents as his mom said something to his dad, who ripped the phone out of her hands.
“Listen you little brat.” Nolafus’ dad spat out through the phone. “We aren’t bailing you out this time.”
Nolafus rolled his eyes. “Oh come on, you can’t expect me to stay here.”
Nolafus’ dad took a deep breath and banged his fist against the wall. “You need to learn some respect boy! Every time you do something stupid, we’ve had to bail you out. Then you say to us how you’re going to change and leave that stupid gang of yours, but you never do. A couple months later and you’re back in here. You’re an embarrassment to our family and this time, you’re going to stay. You’re going to think about what you’ve done.”
“Oh, I get it.” Nolafus said leaning back in his chair. “You’re making me think that you aren’t going to bail me out to teach me a lesson, but you are.”
Nolafus’ dad shouted through the phone. “You just killed another srain damn it! Don’t you even care! You should just be thankful they decided not to try you as an adult! You know what? I hope you rot in here! When they release you when you’re eighteen, don’t think of coming back home. There won’t be a family to wait for you. You’re on your own. You aren’t my son. ”
Nolafus’ dad hung up the phone and started leaving with Nolafus’ mom following close behind. Nolafus stood up from the chair and started pounding on the glass.
“No!” Nolafus tried to shout through the pane. “You can’t leave me here!”
Guards came rushing towards Nolafus and dragged him away from the window. Nolafus tried to wriggle out from under the tangled mess of arms, but it was no use. He continued to struggle and fight until a guard grabbed his bottle of pepper spray. Nolafus screamed as the burning liquid made contact with his eyes. The guards wrestled him back into his cell and closed the gate. Nolafus threw himself down on his bed and punched the wall.
“Stupid parents.” He thought to himself. “I don’t need them, good for nothing.”
Nolafus looked over at the sink and walked over to it. He turned the knob and the water came pouring out. The water fell into the srain’s cupped hands and then up to his face. Nolafus tried rubbing the pepper spray away with the water, but it was of little use. He looked up at a mirror above the sink. It had been smashed by an apparently disgruntled inmate who was sick of looking at himself. When Nolafus looked into it, he was taken aback. Through the cracks, Nolafus saw a srain, but it wasn’t him. This srain had bloodshot eyes and a mouth that seemed to form a permanent frown. The srain in the mirror, Nolafus thought, looked like a murderer. It looked like it belonged in here.
Nolafus punched the mirror causing it to shatter into a million pieces. Nolafus screamed as shards were sent into his hand. He took a couple steps back and tripped over the corner of the beds, causing him to fall back and smash his head on the concrete floor.
When Nolafus awoke, he found that he wasn’t in his cell. He was still in the prison because of the guards standing by the door of this room, but he wasn’t sure where. A human wheeled his way over to the bed Nolafus laid in. This human was wearing a white lab coat and a surgical face mask, but removed the mask when he neared the bed.
“Look who finally woke up.” The doctor said, smiling.
“What do you mean?” Nolafus said, sitting up and rubbing his head.
“Well, when the guards found you, you were out cold on the floor of your cell in a pool of blood.” The doctor said, reaching a hand forward. “Hold up, don’t pick at that bandage there.”
Nolafus put his hand down. “Well, am I alright?”
“How many fingers am I holding up?” The doctor asked.
“Two fingers and a thumb.” Nolafus responded with a smirk.
“Smart.” The doctor said wheeling over to a counter and picking up a container full of pills. “You will be given two of these pills three times a day, two at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”
Nolafus looked at the pills. “What will the pills do?”
“They’ll help with the migraines you’re going to be experiencing after that fall and fighting off any infections that might occur with those cuts on your hand there.”
Nolafus looked down at his hand that was covered with bandages. “Why can’t you just give me the pills and I’ll take them myself?”
“Well,” The doctor said placing the pills back on the counter. “We’ve had problems before with inmates, umm… misusing them in the past, so we hand them out now. If you’ll excuse me, I have to treat somebody that decided to pick a fight with the wrong karate master.”
The doctor stood up and walked over to a human that had casts on both his arms and on one of his legs. Nolafus laid his head down and tried to fall asleep. Despite being here at the prison several times before, he had never been in the infirmary before. He always had his parents bail him out before anything happened. Nolafus sat up at the thought of his parents. “They can’t just leave me here, I’m their son for crying out loud.” He thought to himself. The young srain felt anger rising throughout his body, “They can’t do this to me, they don’t understand. They never understand.”
Something inside Nolafus’ head snapped and waved of pain cascaded down from his head over his entire body. He screamed out in pain and fell back onto the bed. The doctor came rushing over and grabbed a couple of pills. Nolafus grabbed the pills and downed them in a heartbeat. He laid there cradling his head in his arms for what seemed like an eternity before the pain started to subside. The srain lifted his head and called over the doctor.
“What was that all about?” Nolafus asked wild-eyed.
“You’re going to be suffering from some pretty bad migraines for a while, but that one seemed really bad.” The doctor said. “Did you get emotionally worked up or something?”
“I got angry when I thought about my parents.” Nolafus replied taking a deep breath.
“Well then, looks like we have some anger issues to work out.” The doctor said walking over to the counter and picking up a slip of paper. “Do you want to see someone about that?”
“No.” Nolafus replied immediately. “I solve my own problems.”
The doctor chuckled. “Well it’s a shame you don’t have a choice in the matter, you’ll meet with Doctor Peterson every Tuesday and Thursday to work out the anger.”
Nolafus rolled his eyes and sighed as the doctor filled out the slip of paper.
Nolafus was back in his cell. The young srain laid on his bed, staring up into space. There was a bandage on his hand, but it had stopped hurting a while ago. His head was still wrapped, but the headaches were starting to dissipate. The doctor said that he was healing remarkably fast, even for a srain. In fact, Nolafus was expected to make a full recovery without as much as a headache to bother him. There was a tapping on the bars attached to his cell.
“What do you want?” Nolafus asked without looking to see who it was.
“You have another visitor.” The guard replied.
Nolafus got up and turned down the hall. The hands reached through the bars and tried to ensnare Nolafus with their grip. One managed to grab a hold of Nolafus’ jumpsuit, but the guard swiftly whacked the hand with his baton. A loud crack bounced through the hall followed by a scream of pain as the prisoner reeled his broken hand back through the bars. The guard led him into the visitors’ room once again. He sat down at the booth and stared through the glass to see Anaria on the other side.
“What are you doing here?” Nolafus asked through the phone.
“Why did you do it?” Anaria asked flatly.
“What?” Nolafus stammered.
“Why did you do it?” Anaria asked again, not a trace of emotion showing on her face. “Why did you do it?”
“I… umm, erm” Nolafus struggled to answer the simple question.
“Why did you do it?” Anaria asked again.
Nolafus sighed and looked down. He could feel the guilt inside of him rise each time Anaria asked the question. “I don’t know.”
“That doesn’t answer my question.” Anaria said, tears visibly coming into her eyes.
“I said I don’t know.”Nolafus replied.
“Answer me.” Anaria insisted, wiping away tears from her eyes. “Why did you do it?”
“It just sort of happened.” Nolafus said, the sight of Anaria crying bringing tears into his own eyes.
“What is that supposed to mean?” Anaria cried, tears now coming out of her eyes and running down her face.
“I don’t know!” Nolafus shouted, his emotions came pouring out, like a dam that held too much water. “I don’t know! I never meant to do it! It just happened, I never meant to do it! I don’t know why I did it, I just did! I don’t know! I don’t know!” Nolafus plopped his head in his arms on the table in front of him, sobbing.
“Nolafus,” Anaria cried through the phone, “I don’t know what possessed you to think all your problem would simply disappear if you shot someone. I don’t know what made you pull that trigger, but there is one thing I do know. And the one thing I do know is that still love you. As crazy as that sounds, it’s true. I tried to hate you, but I can’t. We’ll get through this together. Once you get out, we’ll go away. I don’t know where, but we will. Nolafus, I still love you.”
After a break from writing to get back that spark, work on Alien Poverty has continued. Although with college, progress has been slow, but somewhat steady. This isn't my favorite chapter, and it's a little slow, but it's necessary.
Nolafus’ eyes flew open. He shot up and looked at his surroundings. The familiar hum of the various machines and the beep… beep… beep… of the heart-rate monitor filled his head. He gaze locked on the table and the stack of unread cards on top of it. Nolafus took a deep breath and let out a big sigh.
“Just a dream.” He thought to himself.
Nolafus laid back down on the bed and glanced out of the window. A bird had landed on the window sill and was looking back and forth towards some activity not visible from this angle. The bird flew off to explore the outside world leaving Nolafus behind. Some sunlight had managed to sneak in through the panes and splashed itself onto the floor. Nolafus raised his hand into the beams, feeling the warmth.
A nurse came walking in through the door and said with a smile, “Oh good, you’re awake! I’ll get the doctor.”
Nolafus continued to play with the sunlight as the doctor walked in.
“So how are you feeling?” The doctor asked, checking on the various machines.
“Alright, I guess.” Nolafus responded, not bothering to face the doctor. “I’m just feeling a little trapped.”
The doctor finished with the machines and sat down in the chair next to the bed. “Do you feel any pain?”
“No, why?” Nolafus asked.
“Well, we had to rush you into surgery, after wh-“
“Surgery!” Nolafus exclaimed, dropping his hand and facing the doctor, “You mean I already went through surgery! I dozed off for a couple minutes and I go through surgery!”
The doctor extended a hand out towards Nolafus. “Calm down, the surgery was a success and there’s nothing to be afraid of. Don’t you remember anything right before you blacked out?”
Nolafus paused and thought for a moment. “No, should there be something I remember?”
“Well,” The doctor began, “One of your intervertebral discs fractured and we had to rush you into emergency surgery.”
“English?” Nolafus asked after a pause.
The doctor sighed, “Your back cracked.”
Nolafus rubbed his back and let his hands gently touch the various scars and stitches that laid embedded in the scales.
“Please don’t rub your back,” The doctor said, “We don’t want any of the wounds to open back up.”
“So what exactly did you do?” Nolafus asked as he laid his hand in his lap.
The doctor took a look at his clipboard. “We inserted some rods to support your spine and put some extra braces on the fractured intervertebral disc.”
“So am I allowed to see visitors now?” Nolafus asked, leaning back into the bed.
“If you’re feeling up to it, I don’t see why not.” The doctor responded standing up. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some other patients to check up on.”
The doctor jotted a few things down on his clipboard and left. Nolafus was all alone in the room once again. He let his thoughts travel to the outside world and what might lay beyond. The srain tried to position himself so that he could see out the window a little better, but it was to no avail. Nolafus shook his head and laid back on the bed. He was sick of the room and everything in it. He wasn’t meant to be cooped up like this. Nolafus wanted to go outside and smell the fresh air, feel the warm sunlight on his entire body, not just on his hand through the window. He leaned over and picked up a couple cards from the table. Nolafus skimmed through the notes and pictures, most of them were just drawings done by some kids who wanted to write a letter to the latest super hero, and flung them back onto the table with the others. Before long, the srain had fallen asleep, only to be awoken by the sound of a closing door.
“Joe?” Nolafus asked, “What are you doing here?”
“Don’t worry,” Joe replied, easing himself into one of the chairs, “I’m allowed to be here this time. Sorry, didn’t mean to wake you.”
Nolafus sighed, “That’s alright, I’m starting to get a bit restless.”
Joe quickly stood up and walked out the door without a word. Nolafus laid there puzzled for a couple minutes. Joe finally came back through the door, grinning, and with a wheelchair.
“Taadaah!” Joe exclaimed, showing off what he had just brought in, “Aren’t I just the best?”
Nolafus rolled his eyes and chuckled, “Sure, whatever floats your boat. Now bring that thing over to me so I can get in. The faster I can get out of this room, the better.”
Joe pushed the wheelchair over next to the bed. Nolafus pushed the covers off of him and tried sliding into the chair. The srain reached out an arm to steady to wheelchair, when he applied a little too much pressure, causing it to shoot away from the bed and into a wall.
“I have another idea.” Joe said, his face lighting up.
Joe scooped Nolafus up with one arm under the srain’s knees while the other supported his back. Joe carried Nolafus over to the wheelchair and carefully set him in it.
“Thanks,” Nolafus said, adjusting himself into a more comfortable position, “I guess I should have asked for help from the start.”
“I guess I should have helped from the start.” Joe smiled as he held the door open. “After you.”
Nolafus pushed the wheelchair through the doorway and into the hall.
“I’m not exactly sure where to go.” Nolafus said, looking down the hall on each side.
“Outside is this way.” Joe said, pointing to the right.
“So how has everyone been doing?” Nolafus asked, wheeling himself down the hall.
“Pretty good,” Joes said, scratching his head, “Everyone is getting anxious to see you again.”
Nolafus looked up at Joe, “How long have I been in here exactly?”
“It’s been around two months.” Joe replied.
Nolafus sighed, “I need to get out of here.”
Nolafus and Joe came into the main lobby of the hospital. Doctors and nurses were running around everywhere taking care of patients and helping people just coming inside.
“Wait, am I even allowed to be out here?” Nolafus asked, looking around him.
“Don’t worry,” Joe said, “I asked if I could let you outside. It took some convincing and reassuring, but I talked them into allowing it.”
“I don’t know if I want to go outside in the hospital gown. That’s a little embarrassing, don’t you think?” Nolafus commented, looking down at what he was wearing.
“Oh, we’re not going outside that way.” Joe said, pushing Nolafus across the lobby. “The hospital has their own garden, flower, thing that they have for patients.”
“How do you know all this?” Nolafus asked.
“My aunt was in a car crash a few years ago.” Joe started, “She was paralyzed from the waist down just like you.”
“Well I’m sorry to hear that.” Nolafus replied.
“Why?” Joe asked. “You didn’t cause it.”
Joe stopped outside a glass door. Nolafus could see rows and rows of flowers on the other side with the sun casting its warmth across the garden. There were a few other patients already exploring around the space, some with various people Nolafus could only assume were visiting friends and family while others were all by themselves. Nolafus reached for the door handle when Joe yanked back the wheelchair.
“You know what?” Joe asked, spinning Nolafus back down the way they came, “Let’s go back to your room.”
“What?” Nolafus exclaimed, puzzled. “Why would we go back?”
Joe starting pushing the wheelchair down the hallway, “Why not?”
“I want to go outside.” The srain said gripping the wheels with his hands, stopping Joe’s efforts.
“Oh quit being a baby and trust me.” Joe said.
Nolafus let go of the wheels and grumbled, “Fine.”
Joe continued pushing the wheelchair with the unhappy Nolafus back through the lobby and stopped outside the srain’s room.
“Are you ready?” Joe asked, placing a hand on the door handle.
“For what?” Nolafus asked quizzically.
“For this!” Joe said with a smile as he opened the door.
“Surprise!” A large group of people shouted as Nolafus peered inside.
Nolafus’ eyes widened as he recognized all the people that has magically appeared in his room.
“Dad!” Two small srains broke from the crowd and raced over to Nolafus.
“Badron, Kren!” Nolafus exclaimed as he took both of them in a tight embrace. “Ow!”
“Sorry,” Badron said as they both loosened their hug.
“I’m still recovering from the surgery, I guess,” The father said, without letting go.
“Are you crying?” Badron asked.
“Maybe,” Nolafus said letting go and wiping a tear away. “I missed you guys so much. I love you.”
“I know dad,” Badron said with a smile. “Love you too.”
“Hey dad?” Kren piped up, “Why are you sitting in the chair?”
Nolafus paused for a second and sighed, “I’m afraid I can’t walk. My legs don’t work anymore.”
“Mind if I step in?” Marta asked coming over.
“Hey mom.” Nolafus said, stretching up to hug her.
“It’s so good to see that you’re okay,” Marta said, taking a step back.
Nolafus paused for a second as another reptilian figure nudged closer, “Hey dad.”
Jerran paused and extended a hand. Nolafus took it and the two exchanged a hearty hand shake.
“You did good,” Jerran grumbled.
Nolafus was about to say something when Joe swooped in and starting pushing the srain to the other side of the room.
“What are you doing?” Nolafus exclaimed. “I haven’t seen my family in months!”
“Oh, family will always be there,” Joe started, “You want to know who won’t always be there? Chief Baker, and look who’s standing right over there. You should talk to him, he probably has something really nice to say to you.”
Nolafus turned his head to look at Joe, “What did you do?”
Joe gave the wheelchair a shove over to the corner where Chief Baker was standing, talking to one of the firefighters. The srain had the clamp down on the wheels to avoid running the chief over and stopped quite abruptly right in front of him.
After a short handshake, Chief Baker cleared his throat, “Nolafus, it’s good to see that you’re recovering nicely.”
“It’s nice to see you too chief,” Nolafus started. “But I would be lying if I didn’t say that I’m a little surprised to see you here, with your busy schedule and all.”
“Well, let’s just say your friends are very,” Chief Baker paused a moment and scratched his chin, “Persistent.”
“What did Joe and Kolski make you do?” Nolafus asked, chuckling to himself.
“I’ve been thinking of hiring someone to help me with my paperwork recently, and word got out.” The chief began. “When Joe and Kolski found out, they kept pestering me to offer a certain someone who had just gone through surgery the job. Eventually they got entire firehouse got involved with it, and now I’m here.”
Nolafus’ eyes widened and he shifted in his seat, “Are you offering me a job?”
“The pay would be roughly the same, but you would have more reliable hours and wouldn’t have to come in as early.” Chief Baker went on.
“I don’t know what to say,” Nolafus said, flabbergasted. “I’ll take it, thank you.”
“Don’t thank me, thank those two lunatics.” Chief Baker scoffed as he pointed to Joe and Kolski across the room who were now shooting a thumbs up over at Nolafus. “Now if you excuse me, I have some work I have to do today.”
Chief Baker excused himself and nudged through the room to disappear into the hallway. Nolafus wheeled himself over to Joe and Kolski.
“It’s great to see you!” Kolski said, “How do you like your new job?”
“You guys are crazy.” Nolafus said, smiling, “But thank you, I don’t know what would have happened if you guys didn’t do that.”
Joe laughed, “Well don’t get too sappy on us. Go back to your kids, we’ll see you at work.”
Nolafus nodded and went back to where his kids were. The srain still felt trapped in the small room, but he felt better now that he could see visitors. The next few months went passed and Nolafus finally checked himself out of the hospital.
Here's the final chapter! I'll include what I thought of all of this at the end.
“Thanks again for picking me up, Joe,” Nolafus said.
“No problem,” Joe responded.
Joe continued pushing Nolafus down the concrete path away from the hospital. Despite the sun being high in the sky, a wind sent a shiver up Nolafus’ spine. He pulled his clothes tighter around him, hoping to block out the cold. The temperature had been dropping for a couple months, not that Nolafus would have noticed. He was too busy in the hospital to go outside much. Which made this moment all the sweeter.
Nolafus took a big gulp of air and smiled. It felt good to finally be out. No more doctors pestering you with questions, or lying in the same room day after day. A few news reporters stopped by his room a couple months ago to do some sort of follow-up story, but there were none today. Not that Nolafus minded, he was never really one for the spotlight.
The two reached the compact car and Joe swung open the passenger door for Nolafus. Nolafus hoisted himself into the seat while Joe compacted the wheelchair down and put it in the trunk. Joe hopped in the driver’s seat, started the car, and before long, was driving through the crowded streets of downtown. Nolafus shifted quietly in his seat.
“Are you okay?” Joe asked, “You seem awful quiet.”
Nolafus sighed, “I don’t know, I guess I just never really like cars.”
“Really? But aren’t you fine with buses?”
Nolafus chuckled, “Yeah, it’s weird. Cars just seem so small to me.”
The car continued down the road, turning off into Nolafus’ neighborhood. Nolafus eyes widened as they neared his house. Outside waiting for him was Kolski, Badron, and Kren, all standing in front of a new, wooden ramp that looked a little out of place in front of the old house. Joe quickly hopped out and fetched Nolafus’ wheelchair out of the trunk. Once he got situated, Nolafus wheeled forward and greeted everyone.
“You guys built a ramp for me?” Nolafus asked.
“Well… you can’t exactly climb stairs anymore,” Kolski said.
“Yeah, but still. It’s a nice thing to do, and I appreciate it.” Nolafus said.
“We spent all weekend working on it!” Kren exclaimed, “Joe paid for all of the supplies, and we built it!”
“Okay, hold on a second,” Nolafus said, turning towards Joe. “How much are you spending on me? First there was the surgery, then there was the hospital bill, and now the lumber? How much debt am I putting you in?”
Joe laughed, “Okay, okay. I guess I do owe you an explanation, don’t I? Well, my wife is a lawyer, and she recently got a string of high profile cases, so we had a lot of money lying around. I managed to convince her to let us pay for your expenses, which was not easy considering she argues for a living by the way, and that’s that. We’re not broke, so you can take that off your mind.”
“How come you didn’t tell me this before?” Nolafus asked.
“I don’t like talking about our financial situation,” Joe responded. “But this isn’t about me. This is about you finally being home.”
Nolafus smiled and turned back towards the house. The ramp was sturdy, and held firm when Nolafus wheeled up it and to the door. Right as Nolafus opened the door, Kolski stuck his hand out, preventing Nolafus’ entry.
“As soon as you enter, go straight into the kitchen,”Kolski said, lifting his arm.
Nolafus entered the house and did what he was told. When he entered the kitchen, Nolafus looked around for a minute. Nothing seemed too out of place. It took Nolafus a second, but he realized what was changed.
“You lowered the counters?”
“Yup!” Kolski replied, “Now you can continue to cook without struggling to see over them.”
Nolafus turned around to look at Kolski and Joe, “You guys, this is too much. How am I ever going to repay you?”
Joe laughed, “Don’t be silly, you would have done the same thing for us in a heartbeat. Just think of this as friends helping a friend.”
“Hey dad?” Kren said, “I’m glad you’re home.”
Nolafus bent down and hugged Kren, “It’s great to be home.”
A couple hours later, and the newly renovated kitchen was alive. Joe stood over the stovetops, heating up a pot full of water, while Kolski chopped up some carrots for a salad. Nolafus, given strict instructions to stay out of the kitchen, was in the living room, playing with his kids. The father was about to assist Kren’s rampage through the town that had just been built in the middle of the living room, when a knock came at the front door. Nolafus wheeled his way over and opened the door.
“Hello,” Nolafus said cautiously to the two people standing on his porch, “Can I help you?”
One of them, a man wearing a blue hoodie and a backwards cap, pulled up a rather large video camera and hoisted it on his shoulders. The other, a woman who was wearing a business suit, cleared her throat.
“Hello there, are you Mr. Simolsen?” The lady asked.
“Yes,” Nolafus said slowly.
The lady’s face broke into a smile, “I’m Susan Boyle from channel four news, and we were wondering if we could ask you a few questions for a story.”
“Umm… sure, I guess I could do that,” Nolafus responded, “This is about how I saved that girl, right?”
“Correct!” Susan responded, whipping out a compact mirror and messing with her blonde hair that reached down to her shoulders, “And they say your kind is slow.”
Nolafus paused for a moment. “What did you just say?”
Susan smiled, “Oh, nothing. Are we ready to begin?”
“Wait, you mean right now?” Nolafus asked, “Aren’t you going to give me some time to get ready?”
“We like to get the authentic, non-rehearsed, side of the answers,” The reporter explained. “That way, we get more accurate news.”
Nolafus wheeled himself out onto the porch and closed the door behind him. He swallowed and adjusted his seating. The father felt his palms start to sweat as Susan finished tidying up her hair. The camera man handed her a microphone and hoisted the camera up to his shoulder again. Susan cleared her throat and nodded at the camera, to which the guy responded by pressing a button and a red light flickered on.
“Hello, I’m Susan Boyle, and I’m standing here with a local hero. You heard from channel four news first about a fire that completely engulfed a suburban home that left a poor, young girl stranded on the second floor. You also heard about a brave soul that took on those flames and saved the little girl from harm, but wasn’t so lucky himself. After six, long months, the brave firefighter is finally home, out of the hospital, and ready for his first interview. Mr. Simolsen, everyone wants to know, what was going through your head?”
Nolafus could hear his heart beating rapidly, “I, uhh… don’t really know. All I know was that there was a little girl that needed saving, and I wasn’t going to let her down.”
“Fascinating. Many people are calling you a hero, do you consider yourself one?”
“No, umm… not really. I was just doing my job. I don’t think anyone would have just left her.”
“Of course not,” Susan commented, giving a sympathetic nod that was clearly for the camera. “What happened inside the house?”
Nolafus swallowed, “I, uhh… my partner and I were told that there was a girl inside the house, on the second floor. When we rushed up to the door and opened it, the wave of heat made up stagger. It probably wasn’t the smartest idea to head inside, but we decided to risk it anyway. We found the little girl pretty quickly, huddled in a corner of a room. When I ran over and picked her up, I could feel the ground underneath me start to move. Looking back, I probably should have ran, but I threw the girl instead to my partner just as I was falling. That’s pretty much all I can remember.”
“What a story. So, what kind of injuries did you sustain?”
“I had broken my back and received a concussion. The concussion is all fine now, but I remain paralyzed from the waist down.” Nolafus said, gesturing to his wheelchair.
“How tragic,” Susan said. “In the end, was it all worth it?”
Nolafus looked around him for a second. “Are you serious? Of course it was worth it. Would I have rather sustained no injuries? Of course I would have, but better me than the girl.”
“Such a passionate answer,” Susan commented. “And there we have it, answers from the hero himself. Just remember you saw it first on Channel Four News.”
The camera man flicked a switch and the red light turned off. He gave a nod and lowered the camera from his shoulders and opened up a bag.
Susan smiled at Nolafus. “We should have it all ready by eleven o’ clock! I just know the viewers are going to love you. It’s always nice to have good stories about srains.”
“Umm… excuse me?” Nolafus asked, “What did you mean by that?”
Susan shook her head, “Oh, don’t act like you’re surprised. With how much gang activity we have going on, it’s no wonder people don’t like you. But I just know that our viewers are going to change their mind about you! You’re one of the few good ones around here.”
Nolafus took a deep breath, “I think it’s time you left.”
Susan smacked her lips and turned towards the camera man, who had just gotten done putting everything away. “Leave it to me to find the sensitive ones.”
Nolafus watched as the two packed everything into their van and took off down the dusty street. The father let out a deep sigh and went back into the house. Warm smells greeted him as Kolski and Joe set the table.
Kolski looked up after setting down a bowl of salad. “Who was at the door?”
Nolafus shook his head. “Oh, just some reporters wanting an interview. You know, you think you make so much progress, only to have one person come by and prove that you haven’t done squat.”
“That bad?” Kolski asked.
Nolafus nodded and wheeled himself over to the table. Badron and Kren were both already sitting down, looking at the feast before them. All across the table lay plates and bowls of mashed potatoes, fruit salad, steak, and an assortment of vegetables. Badron quietly pushed a bowl of green beans away from his side of the table as Joe passed out plates to everyone.
“So, what happened while I was away?” Nolafus asked once everyone had settled down and began eating.
“Well, that depends. What do you want to know about?” Joe asked in response.
Nolafus paused for a moment and then turned to Badron and Kren. “How have you guys been?”
“We were real worried,” Kren said. “Badron even tr-“
“Okay, that’s enough,” Badron interrupted. “It was weird living with Grandma and Grandpa. Since they lived outside our school’s county, we had a special arrangement with the school so that we wouldn’t fall behind.”
“Oh? And what was that?” Nolafus asked.
“Since Grandpa used to be a teacher, the school just sent him everything we needed. It took a while for Grandma to convince the school, and Grandpa, to do it, but they eventually agreed.” Badron responded.
“That’s right, Grandpa Jerran used to teach,” Nolafus said. “I never had him, but some of my old friends that had him said he was really tough.”
“He was real good. I liked him as my teacher,” Kren commented.
“That’s because you were learning subtraction,” Badron commented. “He’s a lot tougher when you’re struggling with algebra.”
“Anyway, you guys are all caught up and everything?” Nolafus asked.
“Yup, I’m even a little ahead.” Badron replied.
“That’s good to hear!” Nolafus commented.
The dinner continued on, even as the sunlight drifting through the windows faded to black. Everyone was exchanging various stories from the past few months, and even a few ones they have all heard hundreds of times before. The food on the table slowly dwindled down as the group filled their plates with seconds and thirds. Nolafus had to force Badron and Kren to eat the green beans, to which the two protested, but that was soon behind them.
Once the food was gone, and the conversation died down, Joe stood up and began clearing the table. Nolafus picked up an empty bowl, but Kolski promptly took it from his hands.
“C’mon, there has to be one thing I can do.” Nolafus argued.
“If you’re going to put up this much of a fight, then can you take out the trash?” Joe asked, waving his hand in front of his nose. “It’s full and really starting to stink.”
Nolafus wheeled over to the trash can and plucked out the bag. He threw it over his shoulder, which nearly made him fall backwards. After some adjustment, Nolafus wheeled over to the door and opened it. After wheeling through and closing the door behind him, Nolafus looked up. The stars spilled across the sky, filling the black canvas with white lights.
I wonder which star my grand-parents called their sun, Nolafus thought.
Nolafus continued looking up at the sky as he wheeled down the ramp. He could only imagine the journey his grandparents must have traveled to even get here. And what they saw here that made them want to stay. Nolafus’ thoughts were interrupted when he reached the trash cans. He lifted up the lid, plopped in the bag, and turned around. Nolafus froze.
He focused on the shadow that shrouded the side of the house in darkness. He could have sworn something moved. He wheeled farther down the sidewalk in an attempt to see better, squinting his eyes as well. A cat burst forth from the shadows and ran down the street. Nolafus chuckled at the event and at how easily he was scared. He turned around and wheeled himself up the ramp. When Nolafus was about halfway up, an unseen force grabbed the back of his wheelchair and threw him down the ramp.
Nolafus skidded and crashed onto the sidewalk, sending his wheelchair flying out of reach. A figure emerged from under the ramp and slowly walked over to the father. Nolafus looked at his attacker, hoping to identify the assaulter. A scaled muzzle protruded from the hood of the culprit’s jacket, and a tail swished behind his legs. Nolafus opened his mouth to yell out for help, when the attacking srain pulled out his hand from the hoodie’s pocket, revealing a pistol.
“Don’t call for help.” The hooded srain ordered, leveling the gun at Nolafus’ head.
Nolafus gasped at the sight of the gun. He frantically looked around him, and spotted his wheelchair a few yards down the sidewalk.
“You know you won’t make it.” The attacker said, motioning towards the wheelchair.
He was right. Nolafus thought about what would happen if he did manage to reach it. What would he do? All he could do was lay there on the sidewalk.
“Who are you?” Nolafus asked.
The hooded srain laughed. “Oh, you don’t know me, but I know you, Nolafus Simolson, the tragic hero. Did you enjoy the attention from the news? They made you look like a hero. But I know, and you know, that’s not true. In fact, some might even call you a murderer.”
“Juster,” Nolafus whispered.
“Oh, you do remember? I wasn’t sure after I saw you on the news. You seemed like you were so happy with yourself for saving that little girl, but we both know that you don’t save everyone.”
Nolafus scooted away from the attacker. “You can’t be Juster, he died on the sidewalk after-“
“After you shot him! Damn you! No, I’m not Juster, I’m his father. The father that received the worst phone call any parent could receive, and then watched as his son’s murderer got off with little more than a slap on the wrist. You should have rotted in jail for the rest of your life!”
“What do you want with me?”
Juster’s father smiled. “Oh, that’s an easy question to answer. At first, I was just going to kill you, but when I saw the city lift you up on a pedestal like you were some sort of hero, I couldn’t let you off that easy. No, you needed to find out what true suffering felt like. You want to know what I’m going to do? I’m going to leave you here, helpless as I go inside your house and make you go through the exact pain I did when I lost my son. Except, you’re going to feel the pain of losing two sons. And just so you don’t get any ideas…”
The hooded srain pulled out a pair of handcuffs from his pocket, and smiled. He took a step towards Nolafus, when something struck the srain. Kolski stood where Juster’s father had a second before, as the hooded srain went tumbling into the street. Juster’s father lifted himself to all fours and looked up. A pair of headlights came thundering down the street, right at him. Juster’s father screamed and put his arms in front of his face.
Nolafus lunged forward, took a hold of the attacker’s tail, and yanked as hard as he could. The car went screaming by, narrowly missing Juster’s father’s head, and continued down the street. Nolafus took a sigh of relief. Juster’s father slowly put his arms down and looked around.
“What happened?” The hooded srain asked, his eyes wide open.
“Nolafus saved you, that’s what happened,” Kolski spat out. “I would have let you die, but you’re lucky he doesn’t have the same mindset.”
“I don’t understand.” Juster’s father said, shaking his head.
Nolafus sighed, “Look, I know this probably doesn’t mean anything, but I’m sorry. I don’t know what it feels like to lose one of your own children, and I hope I never do. One feeling I do know is the feeling of being haunted. I’m haunted by that day I killed your son. For years, I would wake up every night, panting and crying over what I had did. Even today, I still have to relive that day in my dreams at least once a week. There isn’t a day that goes by that I think about what I did. Every day, I wish I could take it all back so much that it aches. Do you want to know why I became a firefighter? I became one because I thought that if I saved as many people as I possibly could, the pain would go away. It didn’t. I didn’t ask for the news coverage, it just happened. Do I feel like a hero? No, I don’t, and I never will. Once again, I can’t imagine what you must have gone through, but just know that I’m sorry with every fiber of my being. It doesn’t do anything, but I’m sorry, and that’s all I can really say.”
Juster’s father paused and looked down at the ground. The two of them stayed laying on the ground for a few minutes.
“The police are on the way.” Joe said, walking out of the house.
“And there’s no way you’re leaving, so just stay on the ground.” Kolski added as he walked over and grabbed Nolafus’ wheelchair.
Juster’s father sighed and rolled over onto his stomach. Kolski helped Nolafus back into his wheelchair. Once Nolafus was settled, the father turned around to see Badron standing at the base of the ramp. Nolafus wheeled over and wrapped Badron in a huge embrace.
“Hey dad, is that why you don’t like talking about your past?” Badron asked, still in the embrace.
“Yeah, that’s why,” Nolafus answered.
Badron took a step back, and the two of them went inside the house. Nolafus didn’t want to see the police come. He never really liked them. All he wanted to do was head inside and spend time with his kids. He never wanted to waste another moment.
Now that it's all over, I'm very much relieved. As many of you know, this was my very first writing project that I took seriously. Looking back, I probably should have started off with a short story, but oh well. I know I have a lot to learn, but I'm proud of myself for finishing an idea. I've ditched two other chaptered story ideas, so it feels good to have one that's completed. Not to mention I can finally start working on other ideas I have!
Is this my strongest work? Not even close, you should go check out some of my short stories for that, but that's not the point. I learned a lot writing this out, like how keeping to a theme is nearly impossible. Alien Poverty got really off track of what I originally planned it to be. In case you were wondering how far off track it got, Nolafus was never supposed to go to the hospital, he was supposed to go to jail instead. So, with that in mind, I really didn't have a plan for this past chapter seven. In fact, the reason this is so short is that I just wanted to end it before it got even more off track. So, I tried my best to do with what I had created.
I'm really proud of myself for seeing this through, now I just wish it turned out better. Oh well, I'll go back and rewrite this thing once I have more experience.
Just read all of this in one sitting, lol. With that being said, you have a way of gripping your reader's attention (at least to me).
Not much else to say about your technique, as I'm not a pro. But I really enjoyed the story. I'm sort of curious about the arrival of the srains to earth, etc. Keep up the work, and good job seeing this through to the end.