The Lonely Traveller

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is the first section of a stroy I am thinking of enlarging. It may seem a little strange in the first few paragraphs as I am practising a new technique with the narrative. Let me know if I give away too much (or not enough). All feedback will be very welcome -I can take criticism.

Submitted: May 12, 2011

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Submitted: May 12, 2011

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Why did people hate Harry so much? He wasn’t at all like his brothers and sisters, or any of his other relatives, or anyone else in their neighbourhood. But people still hated him, and they hated him with a passion. It was the fault of their ancestors, his father had claimed. They had started everything; it was they who had migrated to the big city from a small town on the coast. All the people in the city hated Harry. And Harry hated the city.

“I don’t like fish and chips!” He protested one night over tea.

“It’s all we could get!” His father snapped.

Harry’s brother joined his father in a menacing glare.

“But why fish?” Harry protested. “That’s what cost us our home in the first place. That’s why we’re here in this big, smelly city. All the people here think I like the rubbish and the filth, but I don’t, I hate it!”

“Well,” said his mother. “You’re old enough to go out on your own. Why don’t you go find

something better?”

Her tone was softer than that of the others, but Harry could detect traces of contempt.

“Fine!” He answered. “I will.”

And he took off into the streets.

The wheelie bins were out that night, their funk churned Harry’s stomach. Sometimes his family took rubbish from them. He passed through a series of streets, all of which looked the same. The houses were bleak, monotonous. On the third street he spied a man with a buggy. Something was on the ground between them. Harry went over to investigate. He had seen one of these small plastic objects before, it was for babies his mother had explained, a “dummy”. Harry picked it up and hurried after the man with the buggy. For a long time he went unnoticed, it was only as he closed the last few feet that the man became aware of him. Upon spying Harry the man’s expression soured beyond any bitter complexion his father could muster. The man released the buggy and came at Harry, kicking with his feet. Harry fell back dropping the “dummy” on the ground. He turned his back and took flight. The man screamed after him and spat on the ground.

The rejection had left Harry saddened rather than embittered. Still, he had no desire to return home. He travelled a few more streets. With each new street the buildings shrank, they looked cleaner and cleaner. He had never been this far from his home before and the change was spurring him on. Eventually he came to something he had never seen before. Harry knew the green stuff to be grass; he had seen it before in gardens, in small, concentrated patches. However, this was the first time he had seen it on such a scale. There were trees as well. He had seen them in gardens before too, but they were never anywhere near as big as the ones he could see now. Harry moved to the fringe of the grassland. He paused to reflect on this new frontier.

“Pretty isn’t it.” Came a voice.

The newcomer seemed to have appeared from nowhere: a tall man with a beard, as dirty and smelly as the rubbish Harry’s family craved. He studied Harry’s surprise for a second before speaking.

“Welcome to the neighbourhood.” He studied Harry a little longer. “Cat got your tongue?”

“Cat! Where?”

“A turn of phrase good sir. Do forgive me.”

“Oh, sorry… You’ve acknowledged my existence without making a threat. I’m not used to that at all.”

“Threats? That does not surprise me at all. You sir will be as unpopular as I am.”

“Why?”

“Because you are different. Tell me sir, where do you live?”

“On a roof. Where do you live?”

“I live here.” The raggedy man said and gestured to the grassland. “Here, amidst the trees.”

Harry looked around again. Why had he never been here before?

“Perhaps I could live here too?” He offered.

The man cocked his head back and laughed. “I am sorry sir but I do fear you will be received with hostility.”

“There’s no one around aside you, and to be honest you don’t seem that hostile.”

The man’s expression sobered, he opened his mouth to reveal a grim set of teeth. “They live in the trees.” He muttered.

“The trees?”

“The trees!” The man pointed across the grass. “Watch over there.”

A squirrel was hurrying across the grass. Harry had seen squirrels before, albeit rarely. They sometimes came up to his roof, and to be fair were not the worst of company.  They got less resentment from people, however, about which he was grudgeful. As Harry watched a series of black shadows ripped from the trees. They fired down onto the grass and swarmed around the squirrel until it was lost from view. For a few seconds the shadows almost resembled one cohesive mass. The mass pulsed. Then the shadows dispersed. The squirrel was gone.

“Crows.” The man explained.


© Copyright 2020 Gavin Smith. All rights reserved.

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