Their Memory of Escaping

  

From the moment Slone knocked the uniformed man clear across the cabin with a simple swat, the people treated them with fear and apprehension. All during their trip inside the land vehicle, Embrie listened as the three adults spoke with increasing agitation, sometimes yelling at each other, and always with a glance back at her and Slone as they remained huddled in the back seat.

She remembered very little about that trip. There was a parade of taking them from one place to another. She and Slone never remained too long anywhere. The longest wait was when two men wearing the same uniform as the men who’d taken Slone’s mother away brought their big boxes to confront Embrie. At first, Slone tried to protect her, but the Donna managed to calm them enough to where the men were able to set Embrie’s broken arm.

Donna also brought them more water and something else to eat. Except this time, whatever it was upset Embrie’s and Slone’s stomachs, and they ended up vomiting up their meal. Fortunately, another woman brought them another object she called a banana, and the children were able to keep it down.

Several times, Slone asked them about his mother. What had they done to her body? Could he go see her? Unfortunately, the language gulf was too vast, and there hadn’t been enough time to build any bridges. Nor did it seem as if anyone cared to try.

The nighttime became day. Exhausted, she and Slone fell asleep in their chairs. A woman in a uniform woke them up and led them to another room where there was a small bed. There, Slone wrapped himself around her, and they slept until someone else woke them up again.

This time they were taken back outside and put into another land vehicle. What followed was a blurring series of buildings, rooms, cabins, and endless trips in land vehicles, until they found themselves inside a big empty room. Four big men entered it, and two of them started to take Embrie away. Slone tried to follow her, but the other two stopped him. By their gestures and actions, they made it clear he wasn’t going to be allowed to go with her.

Embrie panicked. Crying out, she held out her hand for him. Slone tried again. This time when the two men barred his way, he gave them a shove with his hands. The men rolled and tumbled across the hard floor, and the two men holding Embrie pulled devices from their pockets, aiming them at Slone.

Believing these men intended to hurt him, or Embrie, or both of them, Slone charged the men. Slamming them against the wall, he grabbed Embrie and lifted her up into the air, taking her to a spot in the crossbeams overhead where they were safely out of harm’s way.

The people below began shouting at each other. At one point, Embrie turned to him with tears running down her face. “What are we going to do?”

Slone glanced around. The only way out of the room was through the one door where they’d entered. However, there was one window high up on the opposite wall. It was small and narrow, but large enough to accommodate two slight figures. On the other side of the glass they could see vegetation and a road. He nodded in that direction. “We go out.”

“And go where?”

“Anywhere but here. If we don’t, they’re going to want to split us up again.” He gave her a worried look. “You’re sick. You can’t fly when you’re sick. You don’t have any strength when you’re sick, either. So I’m going to have to do all the fighting, all right?”

Embrie nodded. Her arm had never stopped throbbing, and other than wrapping it, no one had given her anything to help her deal with the pain.

Wrapping his arms around her, he launched himself toward the window and ducked his head so he’d take the blow across the back of his shoulders. The glass exploded outward as they passed through as the people yelled behind them.

Slone took them above the vegetation and kept flying. Like her, he had no idea where they were going. All they knew was they had to get away from those people in uniforms.

He didn’t land them until they spotted a source of water below. There, they drank their fill before cuddling again to sleep. When they awoke again, it was beginning to get dark, and the strange sounds around them were getting increasingly louder.

They took to the sky again, keeping close to the tops of the vegetation. By this time they were beyond tired. They were long past being frightened, and they were starving. So when they approached the outskirts of what looked like a village, their main priority was to find something they could eat.

They found a cabin that was empty and broke in through a window. Their noses led them to a room where they could smell food, but were unable to find it. Frustrated, they left the cabin to continue searching. Inevitably, they found a building where people were coming and going. Those who were leaving carried bags that reeked delicious odors, and Embrie and Slone realized the building dispensed food. Leaving Embrie hidden a short distance away, Slone ran inside, quickly grabbed the first thing he recognized, and ran away from the store. The quick dash prevented anyone from spotting him or the theft, so no one chased after him.

Taking the two bananas back to Embrie, they gobbled the fruit, which somewhat assuaged their hunger. Embrie licked her fingers. “I wish we knew more about this planet’s food.”

“There is a lot in there,” Slone told her. “I can get us a little of everything to see what we can stand.”

Over the next couple of days, he regularly ran inside the store to steal whatever he could get his hands on, mostly fruits and vegetables, although at the time they didn’t know what the objects were called. And he only took one or two of them. Just enough to feed them, like they had on their ship. They didn’t know they had to pay for the items.

Some of the items were too tough on the outside, but the insides were edible. Sometimes the food made them throw up, but most of the time they were able to stomach it, even if the taste was less than pleasant.

Two more days passed. She and Slone made a small home for themselves in a part of the vegetation outside the village. They took great care to avoid being seen, but they also knew that sooner or later someone might spot one of them. In addition, the creatures which inhabited the vegetation were sometimes vicious, but neither could they seek shelter in one of the empty cabins. To them, someone had built it, which meant at some point that person would come back to it.

Inevitably, the day came when Slone was approached by a man in a uniform as he was about to take a bottle of water from a shelf. From that moment on, more men in uniforms lay in wait at the store for Slone to appear again. And since Embrie’s arm hadn’t completely healed, she wasn’t able to run inside in his place. It was time to move on and find another place to stay. Crawling underneath their blankets, they made plans to leave come daylight, and went to sleep.

In the middle of the night, they were awakened by the sound of footsteps approaching their site. Lying still, they watched and waited to see whoever it was. If it wasn’t so cold, Slone would have taken them immediately away from there. If they were lucky, the person would walk past their makeshift home and keep going.

A light suddenly appeared. Its beam struck Slone and Embrie right in the face. Slone reacted immediately and grabbed her to take them up into the sky, when a gruff voice spoke.

“Slone? Embrie?”

They froze in surprise, when another voice, a gentler voice, repeated. “Slone? Embrie?”

The light dipped, and they were able to see the people who’d found them. It was the same man and woman who had taken them in at the large body of water a week ago.

The woman knelt and held out her arms as she gave them a warm smile. “It’s Mary. Remember me?”

Embrie saw tears glitter in the woman’s eyes. Climbing out from beneath the blankets, she approached the woman, who wrapped her in a comforting hug. Slone followed, and the woman embraced them both, not caring that the children were dirty and bedraggled.

The man said something, a sense of urgency in his voice, then bent over and hefted Slone against his chest as the woman lifted Embrie onto her hip. Together they took them to where a land vehicle was parked. Together, they left the vegetation, left the town, and went far away to where no uniformed men ever came after them again.

And thus Embrie and Slone came to know, accept, and love their new parents, Cyril “Pugg” and Mary Jones— camping enthusiasts, expert hunters, superb trackers…

And registered bounty hunters for the state of New York.