Chapter 6: The Monster Nobody Loved
It was 3:30 when school got out. As Jericho and I were walking out of school together we saw Cassie sitting by the flagpole. There were a bunch of other kids sitting around the flagpole, although none of them were talking to her. We walked up behind Cassie and I tapped her on the shoulder to get her attention. She turned around, looking a little startled but when she saw it was me and her brother, she smiled.
"Hey guys." Cassie said.
Jericho and I sat down next to her.
"So how was your first day, Jake?" Asked Cassie, folding her legs up.
"It was pretty good!" I said with a smile. "The best part was that I got to make some really awesome friends!"
Jericho and Cassie started laughing together. I laughed along nervously, not sure what I said that was so funny.
"So me and my little twin brother are pretty awesome, huh?" Cassie asked, smiling back at me.
"I agree with Jake. We are pretty awesome! And Cassie, I'm the older twin." Jericho added.
I just found it kinda funny when they argued about who was the older twin. I started to giggle a little but then I remembered how upset I made Cassie when I laughed at them last time so to keep myself from laughing, I turned away from them and bit my lip as I tried to think of something that wasn't funny. After awhile, I started to calm down. I took a couple deep breaths and turned back to Jericho and Cassie. They were sitting there, looking at me, wondering what was going on.
"You okay, Jake?" Asked Jericho.
"Yeah, I'm fine." I responded. " Uh…Hey Cassie?"
"What's up?" Cassie asked, unfolding her legs.
"I'm really sorry for laughing earlier."
Cassie chuckled. "You dummy, you don't have to keep apologizing for that! It's okay, really!"
"I know, but it's just…" I paused.
"During lunch, Jericho told me that some mean girls used to pick on you when you were in first grade. I know how it feels when kids pick on you." I said, folding my legs into a diamond shape and putting my hands in between.
I explained to Cassie and Jericho what happened at my old school. I told them how I accidently burnt one of my friends and how as soon as the news spread around the school, teachers started treating me differently and kids would call me names like "Fire Boy" and make jokes about how I was going to burn down the school. They both had looks of surprise on their faces. They didn't say anything for a minute. Then Cassie spoke.
"Wow…That's…that's horrible." Cassie said, not sure how else to put it.
"Yeah." I said dully, nodding in agreement. I folded my legs up and buried my face in them.
"Hang on—You said you burnt your friend, right? Well how'd you do that?" Jericho asked, standing up and leaning against the flagpole.
Uh oh! As soon as Jericho asked that, I jerked my head up. I really hoped he wouldn't ask that. This wasn't good. What was I supposed to do? How would they react if I showed them I was really a half-dragon? What if they became scared of me or hated me? I didn't wanna risk it. I finally made some friends and I didn't want to lose them.
"It's nothing…" I said under my breath.
"What?" Asked Cassie.
"I said it's nothing." I said more clearly.
"What isn't?" Jericho asked.
I sighed and buried my head between my legs again, wrapping my arms around them.
"Jake, what's wrong? Why can't you tell us?" Jericho asked, sounding a bit worried.
I really wanted him and Cassie to stop asking about that. But I knew they'd keep annoying me about it unless I told them. Although I didn't want to, I decided to just give up…and show them the real me.
"I've got something I want to show you guys." I said, unfolding my legs. "But first, can we wait until most of the kids are gone?"
"Sure." Cassie answered, sounding confused about why I wanted to wait.
We waited for about three hours before most of the kids had gone home. Once there were no kids around, I led the twins to the back of the school. They sat down on a bench and I stood in front of them, looking nervous, the palms of my hands becoming sweaty.
"So what did you want to show us, Jake?" Asked Cassie as she sat back on the bench.
"Promise me you guys won't get scared?" I asked very worriedly.
"Why would we get scared?" Jericho asked.
I turned away from them and closed my eyes. I took a huge breath and relaxed as I felt myself start to transform. My tail slithered out of my shorts and my wings ripped through my shirt. I could feel my ears become pointy and then turn into fins.
Opening my eyes, I turned around and saw Jericho and Cassie sitting together, wide eyed, mouths open. I would've said something but I was starting to get used to kids reacting like that.
"Jake…" Jericho started to say. "H-how did you?"
"What are you?" Cassie asked.
"I'm…" I stopped. I wondered if I should just tell them the truth. I guessed it was a little too late to say anything else.
I sighed. "I'm a half-dragon."
"A what-dragon?" Asked Jericho as he scratched his head, confused.
"A half-dragon. That means I'm part human and part dragon." I explained.
"So then that means that your mom or dad's a dragon, right?" Jericho asked again.
I nodded. "My dad is."
"No way…" Cassie and Jericho said at the same time, their mouths forming smiles and their eyes lighting up.
Just then, I heard someone call my name. Turning around, I saw that it was Theian. I was surprised to see him at my school. I walked over to him, still in my half-dragon form and asked him what was up.
"You were late so your dad wanted me to come and get you. These friends of yours?" Asked Theian.
"Mmm-hmm! This is Jericho and this is his twin sister, Cassie. Jericho, Cassie, this is Theian. He's my…dad's friend." I said, introducing them to each other.
"Nice to meet you Theian!" Cassie beamed, jumping off the bench with Jericho and putting her hand out for Theian to shake it.
Theian nodded. "Same. Jake, we need to be going." He said impatiently.
"Alright. I'll see you guys tomorrow!" I said.
"See ya Jake." Said Jericho as he and Cassie waved to me.
Theian changed into his dragon form before the twins which surprised them and caused them to shout "Wow!". Theian unfolded his wings and rose into the sky. I flapped my wings and soon took to the sky, following behind Theian.
We soared just high enough above the houses so that the people below couldn't see us. As we flew back home, I heard Theian shout my name.
"Yeah?!" I shouted back, having a bit of a hard time hearing him.
"Do you remember when you asked me if I'd take you hunting?"
"Umm…Yeah?" I responded in a confused voice.
"Well how would you and Alex like to go on a hunting trip with me this weekend? I think it'd be good practice for you two."
"Really?!" I said excitedly.
Theian turned his head to me and nodded.
"YES!! AWESOME!!!" I shouted, flapping my wings faster and flying up and down.
This sounded like it was going to be fun. I thought that maybe hunting animals would make me feel more confident about using my powers. Like if I found a bear I'd use my powers to defend myself against it. Then I had another thought: since I was becoming friends with Jericho and Cassie, maybe I should see if they wanted to go hunting with us. If they really wanted to see my powers, maybe this would be the best way.
The next day during lunch, I asked Cassie and Jericho if they wanted to go hunting with me, Theian, and my brother this Saturday. Jericho said that he'd be able to come. Cassie, however, couldn't because she was going to a slumber party at a friend's house. After we were done eating, Jericho went to call his mom to see if he could go. He returned about five minutes later and told me he could. Jericho told me that he would be waiting for us by the school. And with that, our plans were made. Jericho, Theian, Alex, and I were going hunting!
That Saturday evening, me, Alex, and Theian stepped out of my house and headed down to the sidewalk. We were just about to fly to my school when Z'haer came walking up to us.
"Hey, Z'haer, what's up?" I asked, just about to go half-dragon.
"I heard you guys were going hunting. If it's okay, can I come along?" Asked Z'haer.
"Sure. Theian?" I said.
"I don't have any objections." Theian answered.
"Me neither." Alex added.
"Alright then! Let's go!" I said with excitement.
Z'haer and Theian changed into their dragon forms and me and Alex changed into our half-dragon forms. We hopped onto Theian and Z'haer's backs and made our way to my school to meet Jericho.
"So Z'haer!" Theian said. "What made you want to go hunting with us?"
"If you want to know, it's because I don't want to be around Girido!"
"Who does?" Theian said in an irritated tone.
"I do feel a little bad though, leaving Eig'nia to deal with that idiot all by herself." Said Z'haer.
A minute or two later, we arrived at my school. I could see Jericho, standing on the grass, looking around, probably looking for us. I hollered down to him and he looked up, waving at us. We landed on the ground and I walked over to him.
"Ready?" I said anxiously.
"You bet!" Jericho replied, just as anxious as me.
"Oh yeah! Jericho, this is Z'haer, another one of my dad's friends. And this is my brother Alex. He's a half-dragon like me."
"Hey guys." Jericho waved.
"Hello." Z'haer greeted.
Alex didn't say anything. He just stood by Z'haer and Theian, arms folded, looking angry. I knew he wouldn't like that we were bringing a human with us but I thought that maybe if he and Jericho got to know each other, then maybe Alex would see that not all humans are bad.
With the five of us together, Z'haer opened a portal and we all stepped through it.
"Where are we?" Jericho asked.
"This is a portal that connects the dragon realm to the human realm." Z'haer explained.
"The 'human realm'? 'Dragon realm'?" Jericho repeated. He sounded confused.
Z'haer laughed. "You'll see in a minute."
Just then a flash of light appeared before us and we found ourselves in the dragon realm. Only, it was a part of the dragon realm I had never seen before. There was a giant hill to the right of us that had ten rows of large mud houses, five rows on the left, and five on the right. A row of stairs sat in between the rows of houses that med up to a very giant stone building. I couldn't tell what it was for but it must have been something important if it was that big.
"This isn't good. No, it's really not good." Theian said. For some reason, he sounded really worried.
"Why? What's wrong?" I asked, not understanding why Theian was so nervous.
"Jake, do you see those houses? Those houses belong to the Guardians. The Guardians are a clan of unique dragons whose ancestors built that giant building you see before you." Z'haer explained.
Theian stepped forward. "This is sacred land. The only time that "outsiders" are allowed here is if there's a dragon realm crisis."
Quickly, Theian turned around and opened another portal.
"If the Guardians catch us, there's going to be trouble. We need to be going." Theian said, forcing us into the portal as quickly as possible.
We traveled through the portal to, what I guessed was the place where we were going hunting. I looked back and wondered to myself who these Guardian guys were and why it was such a big deal we were there on their land.
"Hey Theian! What kind of guys are the Guardians?" I asked.
"They're dragons that have different characteristics than us. Their bodies are long and slender like a snake's and they have small legs. The most interesting part about them though is their whiskers. From what I've heard, their whiskers allow them to control water, hurricanes, rain, and even floods." Explained Theian.
"They sound pretty strong." Jericho responded.
"They closed themselves off from the rest of the realm and normally only allow the Leaders and the Champions upon their land. Because of this, very few dragons know of their existence and some even doubt they're real." Z'haer added.
"Then what kind of building is that? I mean what are they guarding?" Alex asked.
"It's a summit. The only time anyone has ever been in the summit is when a major crisis that affects the stability of peace within the dragon realm arises. However, because of how peaceful our world has been, the last time the summit was ever used was more than two hundred years ago." Z'haer continued to explain.
Suddenly, just as Z'haer finished his explanation, another flash of light appeared and we found ourselves standing in the parking lot of a park. I had no idea where we were. I'd never been here before. It was dark and quiet with trees surrounding us. A cool breeze of wind whistled past us, going up into the trees and making them shake a little.
"Where are we now?" Jericho asked, walking around, trying to figure out where we were.
"We're at a forest park in Wisconsin." Theian answered.
"W-w-w-w-w-WISCONSIN?!" Jericho stuttered then said in shock, his eyes wide.
"Don't sound too surprised." Said Theian. "Traveling's nothing when you're a dragon."
"B-b-but!" Jericho stuttered again.
"Aww what's wrong, human? Ya scared? If you want, we'll send you back. But you'll have to wait in the dragon realm for us and most of the dragons there like to eat humans." Alex said meanly.
What was that about I wondered. What did Jericho do to make Alex say something so nasty to him? I was just about to open my mouth and tell Alex to be nice to Jericho when Theian told us to follow him. He led the way into the woods with me and the rest of us following behind him. I looked over at Alex and Jericho and saw the two of them walking side by side. Fearing that Alex might try to do something to Jericho, I stepped in between them, trying to make sure nothing went on between those two.
We went deeper and deeper into the woods. Theian told us that for our training tonight, me and Alex would be using our powers to hunt wild animals. Any animals we caught we would then get to eat as a reward. I knew that Theian and maybe even Z'haer had eaten animals before but the only animals I ever ate came in the form of meat. I wondered if they'd taste as good as they do as food.
Together, the five of us started searching for our first animal. All we found at first were a bunch of squirrels. I didn't want to eat squirrel. I wanted something bigger, like a bear…or a fox. …A fox actually sounded better…and safer.
Speaking of foxes, as we continued through the woods, we saw a family of foxes run past us; three kids, a momma and a poppa. Not wanting to let them get away, Alex flew over the foxes and shot a wave of fire out of his mouth, creating a box of fire and trapping them inside it. The fox kids ran to the edge to try to get out, running back to their parents when they realized what it was.
"Alright Jake, it's all you little bro! Go get us some fox food!" Alex cheered.
I ran towards the fire cage, intended not to disappoint Alex or the others. I didn't know what I was going to do or how I was going to do it. All I knew was that I was going to do it.
I stood in front of the cage and looked down at the trapped foxes, ready to finish them. They looked up at me with fear in their eyes. I watched them for a moment. That was when I realized…
I couldn't do it…I couldn't kill them…I just couldn't…
They looked so scared. They were just little animals; they didn't know what they did wrong. They didn't understand why they were going to die. I looked down and shook my head.
"I'm sorry…" I said quietly to them and walked away.
I walked past everyone with my head held low. I really wanted to make them proud of me but…I just didn't have it in me to kill anything.
"Jake, what are you doing? You got 'em!" Alex exclaimed.
"I know…I just can't do it though." I said, looking at Alex with a sad look on my face.
Alex groaned. "Fine! I'll do it!" He growled.
We watched as Alex went over to the trapped foxes. He stood there for a bit, just standing there, watching them. He changed into his human-dragon form and raised his claws at them, about to strike. He held his arm in front of him for a minute, then it started shaking. Alex's arm dropped to his side and he turned back into his half-dragon form. He flapped his wings rapidly, putting out the fire and letting the fox family escape. Everyone, including me, watched, amazed at what we just saw. I never thought I'd see Alex do something like that.
Alex walked back to us. He rubbed his eyes with his thumb and finger and let out a loud sigh.
"Alex…" I smiled, feeling proud of him for letting them go.
"I admit it: I can't do it either. I don't have it in me to kill something smaller and weaker than myself!" Alex said, looking a little angry.
I wasn't sure why Alex looked so angry. Was it because he couldn't kill those foxes? Or was he upset with himself for almost doing it? Either way, I was really glad he didn't. However, we still didn't have any food. I worried that Z'haer and especially Theian would be angry with us for what we did.
"So, shall we set up camp then?" Asked Z'haer.
In just five minutes, me, Alex, and Jericho gathered a ton of sticks and set them in a pile. A circle of stones were set around them. After that, Theian used his fire to light our campfire. We then went to get five logs for us to sit on. Jericho and I carried two while Alex carried three. We placed them around the fire.
Jericho, Alex, Theian, Z'haer, and I sat around the campfire, trying to warm up. I looked at Theian and Z'haer, who were sitting by each other, watching the fire. I looked down for a second then looked back at them.
"Theian, Z'haer, I'm sorry we didn't get any food. We really screwed up." I said sadly.
Z'haer looked at both me and Alex and smiled.
"I wouldn't say you screwed up. If anything, you boys did really well." Z'haer smiled.
"We did?" I asked, not understanding what he meant.
"Well sure! Listen, while I think it's important to be strong, I also believe there's a greater, inner strength in showing kindness towards your enemy." Explained Z'haer.
Suddenly, we heard some noise coming from the bushes which startled each of us. From out of the bushes came the fox family. They stood, looking at us. I wasn't sure why they'd come back after we just tried to kill them. It didn't make sense to me.
Alex stood up and slowly walked over to them. The foxes backed away, their attention fully on Alex. He crouched down and stuck his hand out to try to get them to come to him.
"It's okay." Alex said softly. "I'm not gonna hurt you."
The foxes slowly approached Alex. The daddy fox sniffed Alex's hand and looked up at him. The fox sniffed Alex's hand one more time before sitting down and looking back up at him. Alex put his hand over the fox's head and started petting behind its ears. The entire fox family gathered around Alex, one of the kids licking his other hand.
It was really weird seeing Alex like this. He seemed…happy. I never even knew he was so good with animals, especially wild ones.
Alex stood up, patted each fox on the head once, and came back over to us. We watched as the fox family ran off and disappeared into the night.
"Wow Alex! I said, impressed. "I didn't know you were good with animals!"
"Neither did I." Alex said, also surprised, looking at the hand the fox kit was licking.
"That was pretty cute." Jericho smiled. "Those foxes really liked you."
"Yeah, well if a human like you tried to get close to them they woulda bit you or run off." Alex said sarcastically.
"ALEX!" I yelled in an angry voice.
I apologized to Jericho for the way Alex was treating him. Jericho said it was okay although I could tell by the look on his face that he didn't know what he did wrong to make Alex be so mean to him. I stood up, went over to Alex, and whispered into his ear that I needed to talk to him privately. Grabbing him by the shirt, I pulled him over to a tree that was a little bit away from the campsite. I didn't want them, especially Jericho, to hear us talking.
I let go of my grip on Alex's shirt and looked at him angrily.
"Geez, what's your problem?!" Alex said, glaring at me.
"What's your problem?!" I asked back. "Why are you being so mean to my new friend?!"
"Your friend?! He's a human Jake!" Alex exclaimed.
"So?!" I asked. I didn't know what that had to do with anything.
"So! He might be your friend now but he'll turn on you. Trust me." Alex said, looking at me with a terrifyingly angry face.
I didn't know what to say. I just stared at Alex, not believing anything he was saying. Without saying anything, he turned and started to head into the woods, away from the camp. I was tempted to ask him where he was going but something kept from doing that. I looked down, closed my eyes and sighed. I looked back up at Alex and said to him…
"You know Alex, you hate humans so much, sometimes I wonder if you forget you're part human yourself." I said sadly, turning away from him.
"I don't forget. It's just the part of me I hate the most."
I didn't have anything else to say to him. I went back to the others, not even caring about going with Alex to make sure he'd be okay. My head felt heavy. I wasn't sure how to feel right now: I was angry, sad, disappointed, irritated. I didn't know why Alex hated humans as much as I did and I really wished he'd tell me. If he did, maybe I'd be able to help him.
I laid down on my log, my back turned to everyone.
"Where did Alex go?" Asked Theian.
"I dunno." I said, shrugging, sounding like I didn't care.
"Jake, are you okay? What did you and Alex talk about?" Jericho asked.
"It's nothing." I said in a toneless voice.
Alex returned about twenty minutes later with some fish that he had wrapped in his shirt. He was completely drenched from head to toe. He shivered a little, opening his shirt and laying it out on the ground. There were enough fish for all of us and even some if we wanted seconds. I got a sniff of his shirt and plugged my nose. It smelled bad. With the only thing close to being a washing machine out here being the lake Alex got the fish from, Theian told Alex to go wash his shirt wherever he got the fish and come back. Once Alex returned with a wet but better smelling shirt we sat down and started eating.
We wasted no time eating. As soon as we grabbed our fish, at the same time we bit into it, chewing its flesh in our mouths. I swallowed the bit of fish then bit off another piece. While I chewed my second piece, I looked at Alex who was staring down at his fish with a sad look on his face. This put a sad look on my face as well. I continued watching him until he noticed me.
"What?!" He said, sounding angry.
I flinched. "Nothing! I'm sorry!"
Alex growled and bit into his fish. I sighed and bit another piece off my fish.
After awhile I finished my fish and grabbed another one, still not feeling too full. I saw that Alex was almost done with his. I watched him grab another one and almost bite down on it when he noticed me looking at him. He pulled the fish away from his mouth and gave me a very mean, angry look.
"Will you stop staring at me?! Let me guess: You want to know why I hate humans so much…right!" He said in a voice that grew louder and more fierce with each sentence.
"Well…" I said softly.
Alex groaned. "Fine. I'll tell you."
"Wait just a minute." Said Z'haer.
"Your father taught me a spell that lets you see into someone's memory. I think this may be the perfect time to test it out…that is if that's okay with you Alex?" Asked Z'haer.
Alex groaned again. "Sure."
Z'haer instructed us on how to do this: First, me, Jericho, and Theian had to sit on one side next to Z'haer while Alex sat on the other. Two, Z'haer would place one hand on Alex's head and the other on mine. Three, the three of us had to hold hands in order for us all to see into his memories. And finally, for the last part, all we had to do was close our eyes.
When we opened our eyes, we saw that we weren't in the woods anymore. Now we stood in front of a large building that looked kind of like a school. Slowly we let go of each others' hands and looked around, trying to figure out where we were. We soon realized that if we weren't in the woods then it must have worked: We were in Alex's memories! But where was Alex? And Z'haer?
We looked around some more, and we saw that next to a jungle gym there was a group of kids who looked like they were probably around four, five, six, and seven years old crowded around. They were laughing and shouting and it looked like some of them were kicking something. I rushed over to them to see what it was and what I saw when I looked down made my eyes widen and my mouth drop.
It was Alex! These kids were kicking and hitting a littler version of Alex! It had to have been Alex. This kid had wings and a tail that looked just like his. And his hair was the same color.
Little Alex put his arms over his head to try and protect himself as they continued to kick him. Seeing this was making me incredibly furious.
"Hey!" I shouted. "Get away from him!" I tried to grab one of the kids by the shirt but my hand right through him.
"It's no good Jake." I heard Z'haer's voice say. "You can't talk to or interact with Alex's memories. You can only watch."
"But!" I said, not able to do that.
"That's enough!" I heard a little girl's voice say.
The kids stopped and looked over at the little girl, who looked back at them. She didn't look any happier at what just happened. She walked between the bullies and pulled Alex up, holding him close to her as he sniffled and cried.
"You guys need to leave Alex alone! I'm telling Sister Sarah!" The girl cried.
The kids just stood there and watched as the girl and Alex went into the building. Jericho, Theian, and I followed Alex and the girl as they went up the stairs and into a room where a woman who was dressed like a nun was sitting at her desk. When she saw the beaten Alex, she gasped and rushed over to him, holding him in her arms as he cried on her shoulder.
"Thank you for bringing Alex here, Laurie. I can take care of him. You go play with your friends." Sister Sarah said in a sweet voice that I imagined was like a mom's.
"But I wanna stay here with Alex." The little girl named Laurie said.
Sister Sarah smiled. "Okay."
Sister Sarah looked pretty young. I guessed she was in her twenties at least. She had light brown hair, beautiful blue eyes, and a warm, kind smile. Laurie had long brown hair. She wore a headband and overalls that looked like a dress with a green shirt underneath them.
I was really surprised. Alex always told me that he never liked any humans and that they were always mean to him but here were two humans that were taking care of him and standing up for him. It didn't make sense to me.
Suddenly, Alex's memory changed and it was now night. Alex was in Sister Sarah's office, sitting in a chair that was beside her desk.
"Are you feeling better Alex?" Asked Sister Sarah.
"Mmm-hmm." Alex said, playing with his tail, kicking his legs back and forth.
"That's good." Sister Sarah smiled at Alex.
Holding onto his tail, Alex got out of the chair and walked in front of the nun's desk. He looked down, making a nervous sound.
"Hmm? What's wrong Alex?" Sister Sarah asked, stopping what she was doing and going over to the younger version of Alex.
"Sister…" Alex said sadly. "Why do the other kids hate me so much?"
"Aww sweetie!" The kind Sister said, hugging Alex to try to make him feel better. "They don't hate you!"
"Yeah they do!" Alex exclaimed. "They always kick me and try to pull my tail and rip my wings off!"
We watched as little Alex started crying. Sister Sarah rubbed his head and brought him closer to her.
"Shh, shh! It's okay Alex. I'll always be here to protect you." She said in a soft voice.
Suddenly, a knock came at the door. It opened, revealing an old woman. She had a mean, ugly looking face and was pretty short and a bit fat. I saw her nose wrinkle in anger as she looked down at Sarah and Alex.
"Mother!" Gasped Sarah, letting go of Alex.
"Sister Sarah, please see me in my office. And you, go to your room!" The mother huffed.
"Y-yes, Mother Superior." Alex said in a nervous voice.
The Mother Superior and Sister Sarah left the room before Alex who followed shortly behind them. Instead of going back to his room, Alex followed them to Mother Superior's office where he heard the two of them talking.
"Sister Sarah, I do not want you getting close to that thing." Mother Superior said in a commanding, unpleasant voice.
"'Thing?'" Sister Sarah said, angered by what the Mother said.
"That boy, Alex. The one with the abnormalities. I want you to refrain from getting too personal with him. He's not like the other children. He's a monster."
The more I heard this woman talk, the more I hated her. I couldn't stand hearing her talk about Alex…about my brother that way. Angered by her, I stomped into the office and was about to go up to her and try to smack her in the face but stopped when I heard Sarah speak.
"How can you even say something like that?" Sarah said, who sounded like she was growing even angrier than I already was. "Listen to yourself, calling a little boy a 'monster'. And for what? Because he has a tail and wings? Well I, for one don't see him as a monster. What I see him as is a little boy who just wants to be loved."
Mother Superior snickered at Sarah's statement. She put her hands together, placing them in front of her mouth. "You're deluding yourself, sister. No one would ever love something like him."
While they argued, I looked at little Alex who was standing next to the office. He held his hand over his chest and had on what must have been the saddest face I ever saw. He looked like he was going to cry any minute. Seeing poor Alex like this, all I wanted was to be there and try to make him feel better. But unfortunately I couldn't.
"I think I understand the real reason why you care about Alex." Mother Superior said. "When you came to this orphanage as a child, you were in the same boat as him: Kids picked on you, took your dolls, and even hit you. Perhaps you see a bit of yourself in that thing?"
"Maybe I do." Said Sister Sarah, turning around to leave. "That doesn't change anything though. Now I bid you goodnight Mother."
Sarah closed the door. She saw Alex standing by the wall, looking up at her with sad, almost tear filled eyes. Sarah kneeled down and picked Alex up to take him back to his room.
Alex's memories changed again. Now we were standing by the front door of the orphanage. Light entered in through the small windows on the door, bringing some light into what was normally a dark, stuffy hall.
Sister Sarah, carrying a suitcase, came down the steps with Alex following her from behind. Just as she opened the door, Alex begged her to wait.
"Where are you going?" Alex asked in a worried voice.
"I'm going to be leaving Alex. I have to go take care of my mom. She's sick." Sister Sarah explained.
"Well, can I come with you?" Alex asked.
"Alex…" Sister Sarah said sadly. She kneeled down and hugged him again. "I can't do that sweetie."
"Why not?" Alex asked, not understanding why she couldn't take him.
"I just can't. I'm really sorry."
"Please take me! I don't wanna be here! I hate this place!" Alex cried, sniffling.
Alex looked up at her, tears falling fast from his eyes.
"Please…take me with you…." He said through his tears.
"I'm sorry…" Sister Sarah said as she stood up, grabbed her suitcase, and headed out the door.
Alex sat on his knees and cried. Tears rained down his face and soaked into the carpet. From behind him came Laurie, who put her hand on his shoulder and hugged him closely. Still crying, Alex hugged her back.
The two of them sat together for a bit as Laurie continued to hold Alex while he cried. Shortly after, she helped him up and led him outside. Wiping away his tears, Alex went with Laurie and sat with her in the grass, still wiping some tears away.
"Sister Sarah left." Laurie said.
"Yeah." Alex responded, sniffling.
"Alex, even if Sister Sarah's gone, I'm still here. And I'll always be there for you." Laurie smiled, putting her arm around Alex.
"Thanks." Alex beamed at the little girl, her words obviously helping to make him feel better.
Suddenly, a ball flew through the air, hitting Alex in the side of his face. Laurie gasped as Alex caught the ball in his hands. Laurie looked over and saw that the ball was thrown by three older boys. The side of Alex's face was bright red. He sat there with the ball in his hands, looking surprised.
"Hey Alex, you got hit so you're out!" The boy in the middle said.
"Come on guys! Leave Alex alone! Do you always have to pick on him?!" Laurie yelled.
"He's a freak! Of course we have to!" The boy to the right answered, throwing another dodge ball up into the air and catching it.
"What kind of a kid has wings and a tail anyway? What are you supposed to be?" The boy on the left, who looked a few years older than Alex asked.
The other two boys threw their dodge balls at Alex, one after the other, both hitting him in his arm and face again. We watched as the look on Alex's face changed from shock to anger. He was breathing loudly, his teeth visible to everyone. He looked ferocious, like a wild animal. He quickly jumped up, let out a loud roar, and jumped on one of the boys.
Alex clenched his hand into a fist and started punching the boy right in the face repeatedly and rapidly, grunting loudly each time his fist met with the kid's face. Soon, all the orphans were gathered around, standing and watching as Alex beat on the other boy. This stopped when the nuns and the Mother Superior came to see what the noise was. Mother Superior pulled Alex off the boy and the nuns helped the boy up. His face was badly bruised with one of his eyes swollen. Both his nostrils had blood dripping out of them. He sobbed loudly as the nuns took him back into the orphanage.
As Alex started to calm down, he looked around, noticing everyone's surprised faces, especially Laurie's. He tried to go up to Laurie and hug her but the little girl shrieked when he got close to her and she ran into the orphanage. Alex's arms dropped and he looked around again. Everyone was quiet. None of the kids, not even the Mother Superior said anything.
Alex dropped to his knees and started crying again. He put his hands over his face, sobbing loudly into them. No one, not even Mother Superior said anything to him. Instead, they just left him there and walked away. No one looked back, no one thought to make sure he was okay. Alex…was alone.
Everything changed again. Now it was night. Me, Theian, and Jericho found ourselves in a hallway. Alex was standing by a door, trying to get Laurie to talk with him but she told him to stay away from her as she shut the door in his face. Without trying again, Alex just walked away, sadly, taking one look back and going into his room. In just a few minutes, Alex lost the only two people at the orphanage who really cared about him. I'm pretty sure that's what he was thinking.
Back in his room, he took his blanket and wrapped some of his stuff in it. He tied it in a knot and opened the window. Alex stood on his desk and opened his wings. He looked back one more time. He hopped off his desk and shut his door so that none of the nuns would see what he was about to do. Then he hopped on his desk again and flew away from the orphanage, taking his stuff with him.
And of course, things changed again as we were now standing on a street corner. It was a dark rainy day. Thunder boomed loudly in the sky. Alex walked down the streets, carrying his wet blanket full of his stuff. He coughed, looking really sick. I didn't know where he was trying to go and I think he didn't know either.
Alex walked into an alley and sat down, placing his blanket in his lap. He wrapped his wings around his body in an attempt to keep warm. He coughed and sneezed again, breathing loudly when suddenly, a shadow loomed over him. Looking up, he saw that the shadow belonged to…our dad! Strangely, dad looked the exact same then as he did today even though this was about ten years ago.
"A half-dragon! Well isn't that a rare sight!" Dad said surprised.
Alex sniffled. "A half-what?" He asked.
"You poor creature. You look terrible. You've probably been treated quite horribly, haven't you?" Dad asked.
"Yeah. But how do you know that?" Alex asked back.
"How would you like to come with me and change this world? If you help me, I can make it so that no human ever mistreats you again. I'll give you a home, a nice warm bed, and even a little brother. So what do you say…son?" Dad said, reaching his hand out to Alex.
"Okay!" Alex smiled, moving his wings from his front and taking dad's hand.
Suddenly we found ourselves back in the woods. Alex ran quickly from the campsite in the direction of the lake.
"Alex! Wait!" Jericho called out. He was just about to chase after him before being stopped by Theian.
"Jericho, before you or Jake go after him, I want you both to listen to me: I understand that you both want to help him but don't think you'll so easily be able to heal the pain in his heart. Think carefully about what you're going to say to him." Theian said, sounding serious.
"I know. I will." Jericho said as he stood up and went after Alex.
I followed behind Jericho. We saw Alex sitting on the docks, sobbing. I wanted to go over and say something to him but I thought that it might be better if Jericho, a human tried talking to him instead. Perhaps letting Jericho speak to Alex might have helped make Alex see not all humans were bad.
Jericho slowly approached Alex. He walked onto the docks and stood behind him. I followed him and stood next to a tree that was close to the dock.
"What do you want?" Alex said in a teary voice, sniffling.
Jericho sat down next to him.
"Alex, I might be younger than you, and I know there are bad humans in the world. But there are also good ones too!" Said Jericho.
Alex sniffled again. "Like who?" He asked, not believing Jericho.
"Well, my mom and dad are good. So's my cousin, my twin sister, my big brother, and my little sister. There are a lot of other good people out there too." Jericho smiled.
"I don't believe you." Alex said, wiping the tears from his eyes. "The only humans I ever cared about turned on me. I thought they were good…but they weren't."
"Well…" Jericho began. "I'll be your friend and I'll show you there are good humans out there! What d'ya say?"
The two of us waited for Alex to say something but he didn't.
"Well, you think about it, okay?" Jericho said.
Jericho ran back over to me but stopped halfway. He suddenly started to shake rapidly as he held up his finger, pointing to something. Not understanding what he was pointing at, I turned around and froze. There was a…there was a…a BEAR coming up to me! It was a dark furred bear, growling loudly, spit dripping from its mouth. I knew what he wanted, and I really, really, really didn't want to think about it! He wanted…to eat me.
I put my hands over my mouth to keep myself from screaming and backed away slowly. Jericho hid behind me as we both backed away at the same time. The bear continued to walk after us. I quickly changed into my half-dragon form, told Jericho to grab on to me, and just as the bear was about to attack, I flapped my wings with as much strength as I could, lifting both of us high into the air as the bear swung its paw.
The bear let out a loud roar, catching Alex's attention. I couldn't hold on to Jericho and flap my wings any longer. We descended back to the ground, landing close to the bear.
"Jericho! Come on, we gotta run!" I shouted, jolting up and running to the docks.
I looked back, seeing that Jericho was still standing in front of the bear.
"JERICHO!!" I screamed, trying to get his attention.
The bear raised into the air, held up its paw, and prepared to attack him.
"NOOOOOO!!!" I screamed, covering my eyes as I feared what was about to happen.
I moved my hands away from my face as I saw Alex, in his dragon form, dive in front of Jericho and push him out of the bear's way. The two of them landed on the ground, their heads close to the water.
"Alex!" I said, surprised and happy to see him protecting Jericho.
"C'mon, we need to get back to Theian and Z'haer!" Alex called out to me.
"Yeah!" I replied.
I flew above the bear, landing beside Alex and Jericho as the three of us ran back to the camp. With the bear following closely behind us, it was only a matter of time before it caught us. I stopped running and turned to face the hungry animal.
"Jake! What the hell are you doing! Come on!" Alex exclaimed.
"Go ahead! I'll distract him!" I said.
"What! Don't be stupid! That thing's gonna kill you if you try to fight it!"
"I'll be fine, now go!" I commanded.
Jericho and Alex ran back to camp. I opened my wings and flew at the bear, shooting a ball of fire at it which lit a part of the ground in front of it, blocking its path. I flew above it and swooped down, kicking it in the face which only made it angrier. Just as it tried to attack me, I flew higher, barely missing its deadly claws.
I stayed there in the air and watched as it roared up at me. Although I was safe for now, it was only a matter of time before my wings gave out. I couldn't just hide in the air. I had to fight back and that meant…I'd have to use my powers.
I gulped nervously. Holding my hand out, I felt a stream of fire erupt from my mouth. It sat hovering above the palm of my hand. I drew my arm back and chucked the fire ball at the bear, startling it and making it back up into the fire I lit before, scorching its butt. The bear roared in pain. I released another ball of fire and chucked it at the bear again. This time, however, I held my hand up and swished it right. The fireball followed my hand's movements. I swished my arm left this time and the ball followed it. Then I moved it up, and down, and up and down, trying to confuse the bear. I couldn't believe it. My powers…I was actually controlling them. I was controlling my powers!
I smiled widely. It was so unbelievable! Looking down at the bear and noticing the small wall of fire behind it, I quickly came up with a plan: Instead of killing the bear, I was going to trap it, just like how Alex trapped the foxes before.
Moving my hand around to where the right side of the bear, I held my hand high in the air and then slammed it down, spreading the fire into a line and connecting it to my earlier firewall. I did the same with the other sides, eventually trapping it in a small, boxlike prison of fire. The bear roared, frustrated as it tried to find a way out.
I landed back on the ground and saw Alex and Jericho, along with Z'haer and Theian coming up to me.
"Jake!" Z'haer said in amazement. "Did you do this?"
"Yep!" I said proudly.
"And you used your powers too? Amazing, kiddo!" Theian complimented. He was just as surprised as Z'haer.
"Yeah! I think…I don't think I'm scared of them anymore. From now on, I'm gonna try and learn how to really control my powers!" I exclaimed in a confident voice.
"Excellent!" Theian smiled.
"Uh…Alex?" Jericho said nervously.
"Thanks for protecting me from that bear."
Alex was quiet for a minute, then said "I didn't do it because I like you or anything. I did it for Jake. If anything happened to you…he'd be sad."
I started out giggling, which soon changed into full laughter.
"Oh come ON, Alex! We all know deep down, you do like Jericho!" I snickered.
"Be quiet." Alex said, sounding like he was becoming irritated.
And so our hunting trip came to an end. Even though we didn't really get anything other than fish, we ended up having a pretty good time. I learned more about Alex and Alex and Jericho were starting to become friends…even if Alex didn't want to admit it.