Lost Memories: Part Four
“Where am I going?” thought Firreter, silently, as he followed his new owner and her Zafara down the street to her neohome. Remembering his mother and the Gelert, he thought, “That’s two friends I’ve lost since I was here... My only two friends...”
Unlocking the door, she led them inside. “Kai, why don’t you go tell Kara about our new family member,” Lori asked, referring to her Xweetok, Kara. “I’ll show Firreter his room.”
His new owner led Firreter down a hallway to an empty room, with nothing but a closet in the back.
“Well, here’s your room,” she told him. “I can buy you some furniture if it's too empty for you.”
For the first time since she had met him, he spoke. “No thanks, this is fine.”
“Empty,” he thought darkly. “That suits me. Empty, just like my heart.”
“You’re sure?” Lori asked, concerned. “Well, if that’s it, I’m going to go get dinner started. Let me know if you need anything.”
“I don’t think I will, but thanks for your kindness,” he answered, as she left for the kitchen.
Exhausted from his long day, he closed the door, turned his light off, and clambered into the closet.
“This isn’t so bad,” he thought, curling into a corner. “Better than that soggy box, or the pound. I still miss my mother, though.”
Suddenly, he heard a loud squawk from something inside the closet.
“What was that?” He looked around, his eyes adjusting to the darkness. A tiny Albat was staring at him from the other side.
“Where’d you come from?” he whispered gently to it. The Albat walked cautiously closer.
“I won’t hurt you, promise,” he coaxed, touching its feathered head softly with one claw.
Chirping happily, it bounced over and jumped onto his head.
“Do you have a name?” he asked.
The small bird nodded, and chirped, “Chkkkkaaaaa! Fwwweeep!”
Translating her answer, Firreter replied, “So, you’re called Skycleaver?”
Skycleaver nodded again and flicked her ears happily.
Smiling, he curled back against the wall and closed his eyes, happy with his new friend.
A few minutes later, he woke up to the sound of someone knocking on his door. Gently placing the Albat back on the floor, he opened the closet and saw a female Xweetok standing in front of him.
“What are you doing in the closet?” she asked, curiously. “And what’s that Albat doing in here?”
“You didn’t know she was here?” Firreter questioned, placing the small bird on his shoulder. “I found her here in the closet.”
“Hmmm...” the Xweetok sighed. “We had no idea she was here. Oh yeah, I’m your sister, Kara. I guess you’ve already met Kai.”
Firreter nodded, painfully. “If she was the Zafara who doesn’t like ghosts.”
Kara laughed. “That’s Kai. Don’t pay any attention to her, she’s scared of everything.”
As if to prove her point, a scream came from the living room. “EEK!! A spyder!! Somebody squish it!!”
“Firreter? Kara?” Lori called from the kitchen. “Are you coming? Dinner’s ready!”
“Well, are you coming?” Kara asked, stepping out the door into the hallway.
“Of course!” Firreter replied, and gestured to the Albat sitting in the closet. “Can I bring her?”
“Sure, maybe Lori will know where she’s from,” the Xweetok answered, strolling into the kitchen.
“What’s for dinner?” Kai questioned, bouncing up to the table.
“Omelettes!” her owner exclaimed.
“What’s for dessert?”
Kai stared down at her plate, glumly. “We had omelettes and jelly yesterday! And the day before! And the day before that!”
Lori placed a steaming bacon and broccoli omelette on her plate. “If we’re going to paint your sister starry, we can’t afford to spend too much on food. Plus, it’s healthy! And anyway, we don’t eat omelettes all the time! Just last week we had Pyramibread and Tchea fruit!”
Kai sighed, unhappily. “Why can’t we go to the Kelp for dinner one day?”
Her owner replied, “You know we can’t afford to spend that much! Maybe later.” She then turned to see the Albat sitting on Firreter’s shoulder. “Where’d that Albat come from? I don’t remember buying one.”
Kara said, “We hoped you’d know. Firreter found it in his closet this afternoon.”
“Hmm, oh well.” Lori passed around omelettes to all of them. “Here, have some omelettes!”
Unhappy and disheartened, Myrrta walked through the moonlit streets of town, avoiding humans as best as she could. She was completely lost.
“How could this have happened?” she thought, miserably. “If that catcher hadn’t gotten Firreter, we’d be back to the herd by now.” She sighed, and looked over at the wasteland far, far away, and tried to imagine what they were thinking. “I hope Xireei’s okay...” she thought, thinking of her daughter. “They’re all probably worried sick...”
Brushing a tear from her eye, she continued down the street. “But I’m not going back without Firreter.”
Back at Lori’s neohome, Firreter was asleep in the closet, oblivious to all around him. In his dreams, he was wandering through a dark forest, lost and alone. But the forest didn’t look like any he could remember. His vision was clouded by a red haze, and details on the foliage and area all around him were blurry and unfocused. Not a single living being was anywhere in sight, and Firreter was consumed in a terrible loneliness and sorrow. Ancient trees sprouted from the damp earth, withered and dead, and a carpet of moss, mildew, and plant matter coated the ground.
The depressing scene continued for miles all around, and the sky was dark grey, almost black. Suddenly, a monstrous beast leapt out from the undergrowth, snarling and baring its talons. The enormous monster had blood-red eyes, dagger teeth, and a coat of shaggy, filthy fur, and glared at Firreter with a gaze laden with hatred and anger. Roaring outlandishly, it leapt from its crouched position in the bushes, snapping and swiping its claws.
Frantically, Firreter ran through the trees, trying to escape, but the monster followed, with remarkable agility for its bulky frame. He ran until his lungs burned, and he was gasping and breathing raggedly, but the beast chasing him never seemed to tire. Finally, he collapsed on the ground, unable to go any further. As soon as he stopped, the monster was on top of him. In desperation, Firreter managed to get in a few bites and scratches of his own, and had a split second to make a run from the beast again. Starting off into the trees again, he weakly limped as fast as he could, but it was no use. The giant attacked him again, even more fiercely than the last time.
All Firreter felt was deafening fear; his right eye was completely useless. With a cry of anguish, he felt a blackness consuming his mind, clouding his emotions.
Suddenly, he awoke, terrified and breathing heavily. Unable to speak, he leaned against the wall, exhausted and weak. “What was that?” he thought. “What did that forest and that... that monster have to do with me?” Trying to calm down, he lifted his paw to his right eye, and felt a scar there. For as long as he could remember, he had been blind in that eye. “Is that what happened to me?” He froze. “Wait! In the beginning of that dream, I could see out of both eyes!” Filled with fear and confusion, he lay back against the wall, shivering. “And... I wasn’t a ghost!” Silently, he recalled that in his dream, his hide had been a muddy brown color, with twisted, mutated flesh, and he had felt rather sickly.
“Skycleaver,” he whispered to the Albat, almost silently.
She woke, and lifted her head, ears fluttering attentively.
“I can’t stay here any longer,” he whispered, looking longingly out the window. “I have to find out more about my past, and my family.” Lowering his head, he began, “I love my new family, but I can’t live here without at least knowing what happened to me, and what’s become of my mother.”
The tiny Albat ruffled her feathers and clicked quietly.
“Will you come with me? You don’t really have a home either, and you’re welcome to join me if you’d want.”
Skycleaver blinked her large green eyes and stared intelligently at him, and uttered, “Chrrrrp!! Chrrrrp!” She then leapt onto Firreter’s shoulder, clutching his black mane in her claws.
“Thanks, Skycleaver,” he whispered, silently peering around the edge of the door. Seeing no one, he continued, hardly daring to breathe, in case he woke someone. When he neared the front door, he heard a door opening and froze. Sighting the tip of a long, bushy tail, he ducked between the wall and the couch, and lay there motionless. Crouching further into the shadows, he watched Kara look around.
“Kai?” she called quietly, glancing around. “That’s funny...” she muttered to herself, checking under a chair. “I was sure I heard something.”
Holding his breath, Firreter watched the Xweetok inspect the room.
“Well, it doesn’t look like anyone’s awake,” she decided, heading back to her room. “I must have been hearing things.”
As soon as he was sure she was gone, Firreter crawled back out from under the couch. “Ready, Skycleaver?” he asked, standing in front of the door.
The little Albat clacked her beak and screeched, “Kakiiiiir!!!”
“Okay then.” Firreter nodded, opening the door silently. As he stepped outside, he turned back and whispered, “Goodbye for now, friends. I hope I’ll be back soon!” With that, he turned to the dimly lit streets and set off into the darkness.
To be continued...