Dawn and Dusk: Part One
It was a gray morning as I ran full tilt through the Neovian graveyard. I had expected my morning to start a bit easier than this, but now I was running and trying to hide among the headstones. I truly wished I hadn’t eaten so many pancakes for breakfast. She was chasing me. She would eventually find me. If I could make it until Six O’clock this evening then I would be safe. I would win.
The rules were simple; No hiding in the buildings and always keep moving. The only exception was curfew, I had to be home by Five-thirty PM on the dot. Ducking behind a large headstone, I evaded notice. I saw my pursuer run past, quick as lightning. She was searching. I could hear the sound of her quick steps.
“Here I come, I’ll find you.” Those steps told me.
When she was out of sight I snuck out and began to creep towards the graveyard gates that lead to an ancient tomb. I looked over my shoulder, no sight of her. I kept close behind the row of battered, ancient headstones of Neovian’s who had lived long ago. I was careful not to fall into any of the holes left by Zombies who had decided to get up for some misty morning air. Outside of my seeker and me, no one and nothing else was walking through the graveyard.
I heard the rustling of the leaves from the spooky, ancient trees that lined the cemetery. A gentle swishing sound, that turned into a haunting wailing noise as the wind picked up a bit. It was very early in the morning and the sun was just starting to dawn, as I crept near the gates that led to the ancient tomb. It wasn’t a good hiding place, but I had hoped to lure my seeker back here in order to escape. There was enough space for me to hide and for my pursuer to spend a good ten minutes searching. I was rather small for a Vandagyre, but that made hiding easier.
Suddenly, I heard the snapping of a stick and the rumpling of dry leaves under a heavy step. I jumped behind another headstone and listened as the frantic, searching footsteps danced around the path in the graveyard. Her footsteps seemed to say “I know you’re here. “
Within minutes she was out of sight again and I ran in the opposite direction towards town, not wanting to take my chances with hiding near the Sepulchre anymore. My plan had worked and she was investigating the area. It wouldn’t take her long before she realized I had gone back to town. I knew full well she’d find a way to beat me there. I started to walk when I figured I was far enough away, still keeping close to the headstones and using them for cover. I started walking as quietly as any ten year old could. A sight in a puddle caught my attention and startled me badly and I picked up my pace, only stopping to realize my own reflection spooked me.
“Will,” I said to myself quietly, “Now is not the time to be spooked by your own reflection. If she had seen that, she’d laugh herself into one of these graves.”
I wondered if my purser got frightened just the same when I was the seeker. I wondered if she planned out where the best hiding spot in Neovia was. These kinds of thoughts were the most important things rattling around in my mind right now. I was now coming upon the exit to the graveyard that I had run into in an attempt to hide. She knew every inch of the graveyard, just like I did. It was better to sneak out while she was busy hunting around the giant tomb at the very back. As soon as I got to the gate I ran as hard as I could into Neovia.
* * *
It was only seven-thirty in the morning. Hardly anyone would be in the streets. Each sound I heard as I entered into the main part of Neovia made me jump.
I kept thinking she was behind me. My own reflection across shop windows and water y surfaces spooked me again. I noticed everything, from the few people walking around town so early in the morning, to the shop keepers arriving at their stores to begin another day. Suddenly I heard a thunderous set of footsteps trumpeting across the cobblestone streets. I ducked under a fruit stand in the small market. I saw her shoes from my hiding spot. They were covered in graveyard mud and the smell of rotting soil. A large stain caused by a puddle had soaked the hem of her pant legs and her socks. She quickly moved on from the fruit stand and bolted down the street.
How on Neopia had she figured out where I was so quickly?! I wondered.
I crawled out from under the fruit stand and headed down an ally-way. I had to be quick if I didn’t want to be found. I heard a hard pattering of footsteps again and bolted to the bridge that was on the other side of the street near the park. I quickly thought about running back to the graveyard in the hopes of throwing my pursuer off and quickly changed my mind. Bart and his Apple bobbing stand were in sight now, so I ducked in the doorway where his barrel was placed. It was a pretty good hiding spot for a tiny ten year old. I thought about trying to make for the mayor’s office in the center of town. There were so many ally-ways and shops; I would definitely lose my pursuer in the cluster of winding ways. I could even squeeze into the hedges and bushes. I heard Bart’s voice over my thoughts.
It sounded like he had said; “Didn’t I just see you five minutes ago?” and shooed me from my hiding spot.
I had been running close to his home, he probably had seen me whiz past in my race to hide. He was setting up the apple bobbing stand and really didn’t want me hiding there in his way and in the way of potential customers to his game. So I left.
I carefully snuck down another ally in Neovia, no one was in sight. It was about eight-fifteen in the morning now. I walked past the isolated shops that were in the allies. A few ancient pottery shops, a boarded up old toy store and the remains of a candy store from when my parents were children, which had relocated to Neopia central. As soon as I reached a side street, I made a mad dash. I ran in one big circle around the block. I had come back to the start of my circle and had rushed past Kell and a Shadow Kacheek. I think I made her angry. It was the first time I had ever seen her.
I didn’t quite hear her, but I thought I heard her shout; “That’s the second time in ten minutes that kid has ran past us. She almost ran into me the last time!”
I looked back over my shoulder to see Kell in a fit of hysterics. He was laughing because I hadn’t nearly run her down that last time. He had earned the wrath of his friend with his laughing fit. He would explain my epic hide and seek game to her, I hoped. Until then I only hoped I hadn’t made her mad enough to chase me. She looked like she could catch me. Mom had said if more random people came to our door saying they had nearly been run over during hide and seek, there would be some serious grounding. I would not be allowed to go on our weekly trips to Neopia central!
Thankfully, she was not chasing me. From what I saw before I dashed out of sight of them, she had turned to yell at Kell for laughing. How I had met Kell, earlier last month was much in the same fashion as how I had almost met his Shadow kacheek friend. During a game of hide and seek, I had accidentally smashed right into the poor Wocky. He had been surprised when I had told him my name wasn’t Mina. My name was Wila; but people often called me Will for short. His brother, Corbin, who had been standing well out of the way of my path, started laughing like he’d gone crazy. Funny enough, they had just wrapped up a monster investigation for someone named Mina.
I continued to run and dart through the ally-ways and side streets. I ran down one Side Street and almost made a terrible mistake. I slowed my pace down just enough to avoid running smack into Balthazar the bounty hunter.
“Wila!” The bounty hunter bellowed. “You watch where you’re going or you’ll be washing my empty faerie bottles again!”
He knew me by name and he yelled it loud enough to wake Turmaculus. The only reason he knew my name was because he was the subject of a school assignment my best friend (the person seeking me) and I did last year. We had accidentally caused him a lot of trouble and busted a few of his magic bottles. Instead of telling our teacher, he graciously only told our parents. Balthazar had learned exactly how much trouble two nine year olds could cause on one school project. (One year later, on a Saturday morning wasn’t much different.) We had spent the next three weekends cleaning the discarded bottles he got back from Kauvara in Neopia central. The two of them had a rather nifty recycling program that encouraged people who opened the faerie bottles to bring them back to Kauvara, who would in turn, return them to Balthazar.
I looked over my shoulder to see if he was chasing me. He wasn’t, but he knew where I lived. If he told my mom, I’d be spending all day tomorrow helping him clean and organize his equipment. Not something I really wanted to do, because I still had to finish my book report.
* * *
I continued to run down the empty side street until I found my way to the town hall. It was a perfect place to stop and rest. I dove into the bushes and hid there while I caught my breath.
From my hiding spot I saw some people walking around. It was fifteen minutes to nine in the morning. The hourly chime on the tower would go off soon. I sat criss-cross in the bush and hunched down for added camouflage. I hoped no one would notice a little white Vandagyre with blue-black hair hiding in the bushes. I couldn’t be that easy to spot, could I?
I peeked through the leaves of the bushes I was hiding in and I saw her slowly saunter by. She was in no hurry to find me at the moment. Actually, she looked as if she had just been scolded and was in the process of brushing off the incident to pursue me again. I watched her carefully. I held my breath as she wandered closer to the bushes I was hiding in beside the town hall. She looked over her left shoulder, turned one full circle and then looked both ways quickly. When my pursuer was sure no one would stop her, she broke into a very fast and immediate run in the direction of the Neovian Printing press. That was also a good place to hide. The street with the printing press had a lot of hidden alleys. There were also a few cafes and the crumpetmonger was in that area. I watched her go and quickly thought about running in the opposite direction. That, however, was just a fanciful thought. If I had run directly south of those, I would find myself in another graveyard. It was considerably smaller than the one I had already hidden in earlier, but this graveyard would get me grounded for the rest of the year.
We were not allowed to go anywhere near the graveyard that lead to the catacombs. The Grave danger catacombs where people went to explore with their petpets were off-limits to my friend and I. Mom had told us we were too young and too many scary things lurked there. So instead of getting grounded, I peeked out from the bushes I was hiding in and surveyed the area. Hardly anyone was around now, so I left my spot. I idly walked by the town hall and headed for the part of town my pursuer had run to. Certainly she would never expect me to follow her when I was supposed to be hiding.
“Young lady,” An elderly voice said and caught me by surprise. “You better not run all willy-nilly down here again! You knocked over the sign at the antique store!”
“I’m sorry, I won’t do it again?” I apologized confusedly. I hadn’t seen this elderly Tonu yet today. I hadn’t been anywhere near the antique shop yet, either.
He seemed to accept my confused apology and headed on his way. I continued on mine, too. I saw Mr. Thatcher delivering the milk bottles to the houses on this side of town. He waved to me as he unloaded his trolley and walked up to Mrs. Henly’s door. I waved back and grinned. Mr. Thatcher was a very nice delivery man and he often stopped to chat with people. I continued on through town on my quest to stay hidden and win the game. I kept getting looks from people, some were confused and others were annoyed. I couldn’t help but wonder why. I hadn’t been down this way yet today.
I decided it wasn’t worth worrying about and continued to seek out the perfect hiding spot. I slowly walked down a side street and stopped cold. There at the end of the alley was my seeker. She had her back turned to me.
I could only hope that she didn’t turn around.
To be continued…