Two young boys ran through the dark woods looking behind them at every turn. The oldest one held the hand of his younger brother dragging him down the trail.
“This way Alex, we came from over here.” The older brother said.
Alex pulled at his older brother, “Johnathan we need to hide.”
“No, if we get back to the lake, we’ll get home. C’mon we need to keep moving” Johnathan told him. Alex reluctantly followed, hearing the bushes rustle behind them. Two large hands scooped up Alex while Johnathan clung to his brother. Another two hands separated Johnathan from Alex.
Johnathan fought his captor eventually breaking free, then ran down the trail after his brother.
“Johnathan!” Alex scrambled to get away, but he was thrown over his captor’s shoulder, unable to break free. Johnathan ran to catch up, but Alex’s captor was faster. Soon, Alex’s face disappeared down the trail. Johnathan continued running, believing he could get Alex back, but his knees buckled under him, and he collapsed breaking his fall with his hands. On the forest floor, the dirt path had turned into moss. He listened for his brother calling his name, but instead, he could only hear the soft chirp of crickets.
The sea roared as it rolled up onto the shore, breaking Johnathan from his memories. Sunlight beamed down onto the sand, and every window of the house was covered in blackout curtains.
He stood up, six feet tall, shaking the sand from his blonde hair as he opened the door to the house. “Don’t open that door so wide boy, you’ll burn me.” Said a shadow, covering his face.
“Sorry, Roy” Johnathan quickly shut the door.
The shadow grabbed a cup of water and dumped it on his smoking arm. “I saw your bags in the hallway. Are you planning on leaving tonight?”
“Probably in the afternoon,” Johnathan said.
“When its hottest?” Roy shook his head, “strange one for sure.” Grabbing a mop from the pantry, he began to mop up the spilled water.
“I need to catch up to the marketplace. Do you know which road it will change to in a couple nights?”
Roy scratched the fox skull covering his face, “beats me, but you know the Williams over the bend? You probably don’t…but they follow the traveling market. If you leave well before dusk though, they won’t be awake. Normal people sleep during this time, you know.”
“When do they usually wake up?”
“They have breakfast around 10pm. I’d recommend getting some sleep in before heading to their place.” He set the mop to the side, then went to fill up his cup at the sink.
Johnathan nodded, resting his hands on the counter. “Why do you have moth wings instead of vulture wings?”
“I was a farmer. My field was overrun by blight.” He said taking a sip.
“I see.” Johnathan said, “So what about those with vulture wings?”
“Beats me, gotta ask em about their story. I can tell you though, we all earned our parts.” He set down his cup then turned to Johnathan, “Why are you so hot on the market’s trail? Nothing good comes from that place you know.”
“I’m looking for my brother. I think he may have been sold into the slave trade.”
Roy shrugged, “Well that wouldn’t surprise me. You day walkers would be a pretty penny. Worth it though if you could keep the work up through the daytime.” Rubbing the nose on his mask, he snapped his fingers, “I got something for you, you’ll need it if you plan on getting into the market without getting caught up in the slave trade yourself.”
Roy gestured for Johnathan to follow him into the back of the house. Quietly, they went into an office and to a giant trunk that took up the floor of the closet. Roy flipped open the lid and began rummaging around, he pulled out a plague doctor’s mask and handed it to Johnathan.
Johnathan took the mask and examined it before putting it on. “That will keep you from being noticed. Put that on with a hood, and you’ll blend right in,” Roy told him.