Boney’s been missing for twenty-four hours now, and it’s all my fault. Mom keeps telling me that I did nothing wrong, that he shouldn’t have been outside in such cruddy weather, but- but-
Worrying isn’t going to help, I keep telling myself. But Boney- and the girl-
Mr. Greenland dropped by our house. Asked if maybe Boney left his pendant at our house so they’d know for sure that he was stuck outside the borders without it. I scoured the kitchen and living room high and low while Mom looked in the front yard and a little ways up the road, but there was no pendant, just rocks and dirt and gravel beneath her feet and carpet and kitchen tile below mine.
Mr. Greenland had such a haggard look on his face. He already looked eccentric with his long jacket and the dark circles under his eyes and insistence on staying single for the rest of his life- his wife died at Miralay while they were trying to escape. I eavesdropped on him and Mom talking when I was eleven. He said she sacrificed herself to gunfire when the guards were chasing him as he boarded the ship of a friend with his children.
I wonder where the children went. Sometimes Miralayans find wealthy families who’d love to have an “exotic” child, and sometimes the parents leave their children with rural farming families who’d appreciate the extra helping hands. Not every Miralayan knows about Heavestone.
That’s probably for the best.
I looked out of my window half an hour after Mr. Greenland left. He’d gathered up a sizable group of Heavestone adults with their pendants to go look for Boney. They’ll probably find him. He couldn’t have gone far-
But then again, four hundred million kilometers is a long ways away, and the Land of Shadows can be a scary place.
Maybe that guy in the trench coat from two days ago took Boney. Dragged him off to a secret laboratory to experiment on him. Miralayans are valuable to human traffickers. Our hearts are smaller but more efficient, so we have two- one for backup. Our bone structure is lighter due to the slightly-reduced gravity we live in… just the right physiology for whacked-up bird people making.
Go fly back to the red planet!
And, like birds, our bones tend to snap more easily.
Or I’ll bake you into a nice Miralayan pie!
And, with strong enough emotions, you’ll catch our skin just faintly glowing. It tends to make us not very good hide-and-seek players.
When I was a child, I wished that I was an angel, that someone would experiment on me and give me the power of flight. I prayed to whatever gods were out there to give me wings so I’d never have to worry about anyone from Mordern catching me. Just fly away, little kid.
Until someone brings a gun and shoots you in the wing. Then it’s game over. Then I went through an identity crisis and stopped praying altogether. Where was I going to fly to, anyways? There was nowhere in Heavestone I couldn’t already get to and nowhere in the Land of Shadows I could fly that wouldn’t get me in immediate trouble with the locals.
Although sometimes I miss the innocent passion of those days.
I know that I shouldn’t have risked wandering outside Heavestone while still recovering from my sudden illness, but I had to check for sure that Boney was gone- I couldn’t find him, even as I spent two hours wandering up and down the streets. I’ve got nothing to show for it other than a scuffed-up knee and a dictate from my mother not to leave the house until Boney’s been found.
That might be a damn long time. Weeks? Months?
I shouldn’t be so pessimistic. Maybe Boney’s just playing a prank on all of us. A terribly unfunny prank.