On The Run
The dewy grass was cold and wet beneath her aching body. She was shivering uncontrollably from the crisp autumn wind. Her feet were blistered from the long distances she had been running, and she could go no further. She was at the end of the line. As she lay there trying to catch her breath, she closed her eyes and went over what had happened in her mind. She had done it. After all these years, she had finally done it. It wasn't planned, but she had dreamed it would happen one day and it did. She finally escaped.
She could barely remember a time when she wasn't at the laboratory. It had been years since the day the darigan soldiers had come to take her family away. She was just a baby at the time, but she could still remember the smell of her mother, and her sweet voice. Her mother's feathers had been downy soft, and kept her warm as she cuddled up next to her. She also knew she had siblings, but they were taken away that day, along with her mother. Where they were taken was still a mystery to her. A mystery that would probably never be solved. The thought sent a searing pain through her heart. She truly felt alone.
The sky above was filled with twinkling stars, but Sansa barely noticed. She was lost in the sorrow of her life. Forced to endure experiment after experiment, she was broken and could barely move her wings. Most of her feathers were gone, and she had scars all over her worn-out body. The full moon was high in the sky, casting silver light over her. Barbats were flying overhead, and she felt jealousy course through her body. She had never flown before. She had been taken from her mother too soon and had not yet learned the art of flying. It was just one more thing the soldiers had stolen from her.
Sansa wasn't sure why the soldiers came that day. All she knew is they were talking about faerie lenny feathers being worth a fortune. She remembered her mother trying to fight them off, but there were too many of them. They forced her mother into a wooden cage and covered it with a ragged brown tarp. Her brothers and sisters were also shoved into separate satchels, and divided among the crowd.
The young faerie lenny had been delivered to a large laboratory outside of the Haunted Woods. A darigan draik by the name of Aqe had held her captive for 17 years. She was placed in a small metal cage for the first couple of years, and eventually moved to a large room filled with beakers and glass jars containing dissected pet parts. Her heart ached at the thought of what those poor pets must have endured. She knew how bad it had been for her. She was forced to drink potions, and take injections that mutated her from a beautiful faerie lenny into something horrific. She tried to block the images from her mind, as she thought of the final moments of her captivity.
A new helper had recently been hired at the lab. He was a wiry, old yurble named Danders, and he must have spent some time on a pirate ship at some point in his life. As he attended the captive pets, he would sing old pirate songs, and speak in the language of pirates. Sansa only knew this because she had overheard some of the other captive pets talk about it. She knew that the yurble wasn't bad like others though. She would occasionally see the sadness spread across his face as he took care of the pets. He would speak kindly to her when he cleaned her cage, and sometimes, he would sneak her little treats. In this place of misery, he was the one thing she looked forward to.
On this night, things had been particularly bad. She had overheard the evil draik tell the yurble to take her to the basement. It was time for her to undergo her final experiment. Terror course through her body at those words. No pet ever came back from the basement. A hushed silence spread across the room. The other pets bowed their head in sadness. They all knew what was about to happen, and no one could help her. Sansa's heart felt as though it was thudding out of her chest. The dreaded moment had finally come.
Hot tears streamed down her face as Danders placed her cage on a cart, and began to wheel it from the main room of the large laboratory. None of the other pets would look at her as she went by. They knew their fate would someday be the same as hers, and they didn't want to think about it. Sansa tucked her face under her broken wing and sobbed softly. The wheels on the cart creaked as she was wheeled down the large hall. The air was icy cold, and smelled of astringent cleaning fluids. It seemed like forever that the yurble pushed the cart until it finally came to a stop. Scared to look up, Sansa squeezed her eyes shut tightly, awaiting her final torture.
She heard keys jingle as the door was being unlocked. The tumbler inside of the lock clicked, and the door swung open. Dreading what was going to happen next, she lay very still, but her whole body was tense. She heard a rustling noise coming from under the steel cart. Sansa opened her eyes to see what was about to happen, when Danders leaned down and whispered in her ear.
"Don't make a sound. I'm gonna get ya outta here."
Before she knew what was happening, Danders reached inside of the cage, and gently picked her up. She felt a warm cloth being wrapped around her damaged body with the greatest care. Danders cradled Sansa in his arms, and began walking. One, two, three, four..the steps seemed endless, but Sansa counted each of them. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he stopped, and she heard a heavy door groan as it opened. Danders began to walk again, this time much faster, almost a jog. He began to speak as he briskly walked.
"I'm takin' ya to the edge of the woods. There ain't much time. They will be lookin' fer us. When we get there, ya better run like yer life depends on it, cuz it does."
Sansa's heart nearly stopped. He was going to take her to the woods and leave her? She had never been alone in the world before. She didn't have anywhere to go and had no clue how to take care of herself. Then she remembered the basement, and what might lie in wait for her there. At least out here, she would have a fighting chance. In there, she would surely meet her doom.
Danders suddenly stopped, and sat her down on the ground. He quickly unwrapped the blanket and helped her to her feet. Her legs were wobbly, as it had been a long time since she had stood up. He wrapped his arm around her tiny waist to steady the weak lenny. He spoke softly to her, trying to calm her fears.
"Listen, see that big star in the sky. Run as fast as ya can toward it, and don't stop until ya reach lands end. Get as far away from here as ya can. I know yer afraid but ya must be brave if ya want to survive. I've done all I can do. Don't let them catch ya, or we will both be in a heap of trouble. I will take care of the others. Don't worry. Just run, and don't stop."
Danders pulled away from her, and she had to stand on her own. She turned around to look at him, but he had already disappeared into the night.
Her body shook, and her legs wobbled as she inspected her surroundings. Tall trees towered overhead, and she could hear the croaking of mortogs off in the distance. The moonlight shined brightly in the sky, and she could see a long road up ahead. Sansa forced her body to move forward walking slowly at first. She wanted to run, but didn't know if she could. Step by step she began to gain a bit of confidence, then suddenly, she heard rustling in the area behind her. Terror took over and without thinking, Sansa ran as fast as she could. She ran through the darkness of the woods, all the way to the long winding road, and just as Danders told her, she did not stop. She ran for miles, until she thought she could not go any further, and yet, she kept running. The only thing in Sansa's mind was putting as much distance as possible between her and that lab. Nothing else mattered. Everything else she would figure out later.
As though coming out of a trance, Sansa tried to put the memories of the last few hours and years out of her mind. The feathers on her cheeks were soaked from tears. She looked up at the sky, and could see shooting stars dancing across the blackness. She wasn't sure what was happening, but would later find out it was a special night. A comet was passing over Neopia, and with it a shower of stars would pass over the world.
Remembering a tale her mother told her when she was a baby, Sansa closed her eyes and made a wish.
"I wish I was a strong and beautiful faerie lenny, like my mother, with wings that could carry me high into the sky, so no one could ever harm me again."
The words were barely uttered before Sansa fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.