Felix clenched his teeth against the thick air Above. He had Gracie wrapped in the soft coat of one of the fallen faeries. He’d grabbed it carefully, while Marlon kept his sister occupied. He had tried to pretend he was grabage rummaging as he normally would have. That image had done very little to comfort his deed. It was clear to the young faerie that they were involved in some war between faeries and humans, and he didn’t understand the ins and outs of war. His friend Marlon, however, appeared to have a good handle on it. Once they hit the Outworld, he took complete control of the situation. It didn’t surprise Felix. Marlon had spent several years Above before his family had moved into Brick. Now he stood crouched against the building they’d come out of. He looked up at his friend, who was half an inch taller than him. “Where do we go from here? Those freaks are probably everywhere, Marlon.”
“I can sense them, yes.” Marlon’s magic was some of the strongest youth magic Felix had ever witnessed. It had once been speculated that Marlon’s faerie bloodline probably ran into the Grand Fae’s. “I think we should find more of our kind, and stick together in a large group.”
“I don’t know. I think a large group is more noticable. Let’s just keep it us for now.” Marlon shrugged his miniature leather jacket off, and wrapped it around Terri, who had complained a bout being cold. “There.” He took his hand again. “There has to be a safe haven somewhere.” He glanced at Felix, who was talking softly to Gracie. “Hey, is she alright…?” It had dawned on him that Gracie had said a single word since they’d fled the massive explosion of bodies.
“I don’t think so.” Felix said, his expression grim. “Those humans are going to pay for this! You trust me on that.” His free hand was balled into a fist as Felix’s tried to reign in his fury. “It wasn’t called for. The slaughtering of innocents just becasue of a few?”
“They do it to their own kind. Why should we be different?” Marlon’s voice was ripe with venom as he began to move the group away from their former home. The human atmosphere was far too thick with metallics. They wouldn’t be able to fly for long periods of time, and Marlon suspected that little Gracie wouldn’t be able to fly at all. He often wondered how their adult parents had managed to work outside of the home. Even though he and Felix had often gone garbage diving for things the fae community could use, they had never been able to stay out long. Felix in particular had a very intolerant system for the metals of the Outworld. For him, iron wasn’t the only thing that hurt. He glanced over now, as Felix stopped, leaning against a plastic garbage recepticle. “Fee? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” Felix braved a smile that the other faerie knew was for Gracie’s benefit. Felix didn’t want to scare the little girl anymore than she already was. “I just needed to rest a minute.” Felix’s eyes roamed the immediate area, trying to figure out if there was any Safe Haven nearby. He couldn’t remember where he had heard Old Mrs. Gillroy mention one. His eyes landed on a peculiar scene in the schoolyard directly across the street from Brick Colony. “What’s going on over there, I wonder….” He unhitched himself from the receptacle, and looked down at his sister. Gracie had yet to utter a word. She had begun to communicate with incomprehensible whining, and tugs of the hand. “Do you want to go see?”
Gracie shook her head. She wasn’t interested in anything in the Outworld. She wanted to go back home, but home wasn’t safe anymore. Nowhere was safe. She looked up at her brother, clinging tightly to his hand as he took hers once more. She glanced over at Teri, who was playing with a pile of sand nearby. She pointed to him. She wanted to go over and see him. He didn’t seem to mind what was happening.
“Sure, go ahead for now, while Marlon and I figure this out.” Felix let go of Gracie’s hand, and watched as she went over to sit next to Marlon’s brother. Then he turned to Marlon, as there came a shouting from across the street. He heard the word “fae” a few times, and he tensed. Could whoever it was really see them from all the way across the way? The chant began to pick up intensity, as several other adult humans came to see what was going on, and Felix’s view was obscured. “Damn.” He dared to lift himself into the air, ignoring the dizzing sensation and the nausea that followed it. He refocused his attention on the scene going on across the street. Adult humans were now shouting what appeared to be a group of children. They didn’t appear to be doing anything wrong… He had to glide back down quickly as a hot gust of exhaust from a city bus blew. He coughed as he landed, gasping. Felix retched then, and scowled.
“Fee!” A hand grabbed his wrist firmly, and jerked him back as a pair of human children dashed down the street, just barely missing them. Marlon let him go when the danger passed. “Whoa. That was close.” He turned to see Teri and Gracie staring at them with wide eyes. “It’s okay, you guys. They’re just children. They weren’t going to hurt us.” He blinked then, as another human child, this one apparently close to being a teen stopped just at their resting place. He whispered to Felix. “She can’t see us, right?”
“I’m…I’m not sure.” Felix swallowed hard, and watched as the girl knelt down near the pile of sand where Gracie and Teri sat motionless in fright.
“Aw, you poor things…” The girl spoke now. Her voice was soft, as she was accustomed to talking to people smaller than her. “I bet the exterminators ran you out of your colony.” She very tenderly picked Gracie up, and sat her in her palm. “Sh, it’s alright… I won’t hurt you… are you alone?” She had apparently not seen Felix and Marlon by the garbage can.
“Our brothers are right over there.” Teri pointed helpfully. Marlon groaned. Then he straightened up as the girl approached. Her eyes were kind, though slightly hidden by overgrown bangs of bleach blonde hair. She knelt on the sidewalk, carefully moving out of the way of pedestrians, while concealing the fearies she had come across.
“Who are you?” Marlon demanded. The girl seemed kind enough, but he wouldn’t trust any human right now. Not after what they’d done to his family. He watched Felix all but snatch Gracie from her palm.
“I’m Tracie Hyatt. I’m the head The Fight for Faerie Freedom. Triple F. My friends and I have been trying to stop the harassment and murdering of faerie colonies for months. It’s really silly. Sure those others were manipulative and angry, but they don’t equal the entire fae population.”
I like how this girl thinks. Felix decided, and he stepped forward slightly. “I’m Felix, and this is my little sister, Gracie. She doesn’t talk right now. They exterminated our entire colony. Only us four were able to get out alive.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry…” And Tracie looked like she was going to cry real tears for them. Then she stood up. “My friends and I are keeping a Safe House for those orphaned by the exterminations. Many of the children weren’t even home when they occured. You and your other friend are the oldest fae children I’ve ever seen.”
“I’m about to be nineteen in two and half weeks.” Felix told her, proud of the fact. “Gracie is four. Marlon is seventeen, but he’s a genius, and his brother Teri is eight.”
“Will you let me take you to safety?” Tracie was looking around anxiously. “Please? I don’t know how much more time we’ll have left to stand around here, and your sister looks like she’s going to be sick.” Tracie turned to Felix then.
“How do we know you are who you say you are?” Marlon challenged then. He wasn’t ready to agree to anything with a human, no matter how trustworthy they appeared to be. He pulled Teri closer to him, regarding the human sternly through his deep eyes. “You could be leading us to our deaths.”
“Marlon!” Felix felt Gracie’s grip on his neck tighten at his friend’s words.
“Sorry,” Marlon amended himself, “into the hands of the enemy.”
Tracie swept her unkempt bangs to the side again. “I give you my word. Do you want me to write in blood, or do you want to just trust the words of a girl who’s best friend was a faerie? I had to watch her die. They made me watch.” Her voice trembled slightly as if just speaking about it brought about a terrible flood of memories.
“I believe you. ” Felix said. “You do understand why it’s hard for any of us to trust your kind.”
“Yes….” Tracie stood up then. “I have a litte pouch you four can ride in. It’s got holes. But at least you won’t have to walk and it will block out the metallics in the air.” It was clear to the older faerie boys that Tracie had to be telling the truth. The girl pulled out a little softly cloth pouch that resembled that of a hip pack. Felix had seen other human children wearing them before. Now he wondered if those pack carried their faerie friends safely. She knelt again, and reached to take Gracie gently, but the little girl wouldn’t let go of Felix. “It’s alright, Gracie. I’m not going to hurt you. We’re just going to go for a little walk.”
“Go on, Gracie. I’ll be following you.” Felix untangled her grip from his neck, and watched with admiration at the care by which Tracie gently set her in the pouch. He gracefully let her put him in next so that he could sooth his sister. Marlon and Teri were soon situated next. They braced themselves against the sides of the pouch as Tracie fastened it around her waist.
“Are you guys okay?” Her voice came out muffled to them.
“Yeah, we’re fine.” Marlon told her. He had a smile on his face. “She reminds me so much of that one little child I used to play with on Market Street. Do you remember Rebecca, Felix?”
“Yeah…” Felix held Gracie’s trembling form in his lap, and played with her hair. “I promise I’m going to make things okay for us, Grace.” He watched as her soft eyes fluttered shut, lulled by the rythm of Tracie’s walking. He held her even close then, burying his face into her hair. He was worried. He worried about their future, and about how he was going to take care of a child alone. Sure they had magic, but other than that, Felix and others of his kind were very much like the humans that now hunted them. They had to fend for themselves, and find ways to live and get what they needed.
“Hey, Fee….” Marlon spoke softly. His brother Teri was also asleep, though not in his lap. “Do you think we’re ever going to be able to go home to Brick?”
“I don’t know. Even if we did, what are we going home to? We have nothing.” Felix felt his voice catch, as a familiar sense of uncertainty haunted his next words. “Marlon, we’re alone. We’re probably the last of the colony alive.”
“But there have to be more of us. Maybe they won’t be from Brick Colony, but maybe we can form a new Colony, when this is all over.”
“Maybe.” Felix’s voice’s echoed the exhaustion that was plain on his face. He leaned back against the canvas wall of the pouch, and shut his eyes. He knew he would not sleep, but being able to close his eyes to the terrible future that might lie ahead.