Jett shivered, glaring ahead at the ongoing train tracks. Goosebumps climbed up her arms and legs, for a tutu and a tank top weren’t much help in blocking out the cold. She looked down at the baby in her arms, which was shaking as well. At least, the crying has died down, she thought, hugging the baby closer to her. The baby garbled some nonsense happily, reaching one hand out to pat at Jett’s cheek.
Suddenly, she felt a tug on her tutu. She turned around to see Finn holding out his too-big suit jacket. “You look cold.”
Jett released a surprised sigh, her breath hovering before her in a white cloud in the chilly air. “What about you?”
Despite his shivering, he smiled. “I’ll be okay.”
Jett pushed his suit jacket away. “I’m supposed to be the big sister, Finn. You can keep the jacket.”
Finn thought for a moment before grabbing Jett into a hug. “Body heat!” he laughed happily.
Jett was shocked at how much he was enjoying this non-enjoyable situation, but she couldn’t help but giggle as well. “We better keep moving. Keeping your body moving will keep you warm as well,” she pat his head. “Let’s keep going, Prince Finnegan.”
‘Prince Finnegan’ laughed as his step sister turned and started to walk again. Unbeknownst to either, there was a rustling in the trees above them.
Jett hummed from a place deep in her throat. Her head was starting to spin again, and there was a ringing in her ears that was annoying as all get-out. She felt herself stumbling around a bit, but was desperate to hold onto the baby.
“Are you alright?” Finn asked.
“Yeah, I’m just cold. And...my head hurts,” Jett could feel her bandage getting looser and slipping about her forehead. The trees above them rustled once more. Something small dropped in front of Jett and she yelped, skidding to a stop. She was stuck, frozen, staring down at the thing resting in the grass. Being too dark to see anything, she slowly bent down, cradling the baby in one arm and using her free hand to pick up the object.
“What is it?” Finn asked.
“A...lighter,” Jett breathed, rising to a stand, staring at the lighter in her hand.
“A lighter? The kind that makes fire?”
“It fell from the sky…” Jett looked up at the trees.
“It did? Like...magic?” Finn asked excitedly.
“No, no, not magic,” the ever-logical Jett denied, walking over and patting a tree trunk. “Like it was in the trees and it just...fell.” Jett flicked the lighter to see if it worked. A tiny orange flame sprung up, slightly illuminating her face. She turned to her step brother, the flame dancing in her blue eyes. She grinned.
“Find some sticks. Dry ones, that can break easily. We’re making a campfire!” she announced.
“Do you know how?”
“My mom used to take me camping. I remember a little bit. Besides, it can’t be that hard! Go on, we’re in the woods, there has to be sticks all around here!”
Finn leapt to action, bending down and gathering sticks. Jett carefully laid the swaddled baby on the ground, making sure it was comfortable and sleeping before she tore at the grass in a section of the ground. She tossed handfuls of grass to the side, clearing out a small circle of dirt. She took Finn’s sticks and piled them up, leaving a separate pile of twigs. She took a chunk of dead grass and tossed it into the middle of the pile, lighting that part on fire with the lighter. It was a sad, pathetic little flame, and she began to lightly blow on it.
“What are you doing, trying to put it out?!” Finn gasped.
“If you blow gently enough, it makes the fire bigger. Too hard, and it goes out,” Jett explained. The baby garbled beside her, waking up and wanting attention, and began to cry again. “Oh, no, shush now,” Jett picked up the baby and cradled her gently. ”Rockabye baby, by the campfire...” she sang softly.
”Jett will blow, and make it higher!” Finn added.
“Nice,” Jett nodded, beaming proudly. ”When the fire grows, then we can be warm.”
”And fall asleep...” Finn thought for a rhyme. ”Doo doo doo darm!”
“Darm?” Jett chuckled.
“I’d like to see you do better!”
Jett giggled, gently bouncing the now sleeping baby in her arms. “We can’t take too long of a break, I said we’d be walking tonight.”
“But the fire is warm!” Finn objected, leaning closer and holding his hands out by the fire.
“I know, but you know what’s warmer? Our home!” Jett said, leaning her back against a tree trunk. She curled her knees to her chest, enveloping the baby and keeping it warm. “Just rest for a few minutes, alright?” she mumbled, closing her eyes. “Ugh, my head is killing me. Stupid knights.”
“Alright…” Finn groaned, curling up into a ball next to the fire. He tried to tighten the bandage wrapped around his head. The grass tickled his ear, and he rolled onto his other side. Then, he rolled onto his back, straightening his legs and staring up at the sky.
The moon was a sliver, like a creepy smile in the sky. Finn did his best creepy smile back, imagining his face the size of a giant. His black skin was the night sky, and his white smile made the moon.
A sound made him turn his head, looking into the woods next to them. It sounded like footsteps. Two glowing green eyes appeared, wide-eyed and blinking, staring at Finn. Finn slowly sat up, staring at the eyes with confusion. What kind of animal was that? The eyes disappeared, and the sound of rustling bushes told Finn that the animal was skittering around.
“Jett?” he turned to alert his step sister, but she wasn’t at the base of the tree like before. She disappeared!
“Jett?!” he called out, a bit more distressed this time. He jumped to his feet. “Jett, this isn’t funny!” The baby was gone as well, but he barely noticed. He turned to run into the woods, but hesitated. It looked dark in there. And what about that animal?
“JETT?!” he yelled into the woods, his voice echoing through the darkness. The animal skittered about again, breaking twigs and crunching dry leaves. Finn slowly took a step in, and he was instantly shrouded in darkness.
“This is not funny, Jett, come out!” he whimpered, looking over his shoulder. The fire was gone.
“Finn!” a familiar voice called from deeper into the woods. “Finn, I’m over here!”
“Jett?” Finn’s chest swelled with hope.
“YEAH! Come here, I found something!”
“I’m comin’!” Finn said, breaking into a sprint, deeper into the woods. Trees kept on bumping him, and roots reached from the ground to trip him. His tie, now hanging loose around his neck, bounced around as he ran. “Jett! Jett, I can’t see a thing!”
The animal moved around him again, still out of his eyesight. He wondered if it was the same critter that scratched the door of the knight’s shack. “Come here, Finn!” Jett called.
Finn slowed to a stop, sensing the animal’s presence close to him. “Jett?”
Finn froze. That was not Jett’s voice that had been calling. Slowly, he turned around. The animal moved out of the bushes, smiling a predator’s smile. It wasn’t an animal at all, but a human girl, barely out of her preteen years. Yet her green eyes sparkled with knowledge and age. The wind blew through the woods, making the ratty brown scarf around her neck dance.
“G-Good…” Finn recognized. “Hi.”
Good laughed, circling around the child. “No, Finn, I’m not Good.”
Finn’s eyebrows furrowed. “Uh...but you are?”
She laughed again, disappearing back into the shadows. “Hey, Good! Wait!” Finn pushed further into the woods, looking around, but the girl had disappeared. “JETT?!” he called out, looking over his shoulder. “GOOD? JETT?”
He turned in a circle. Everywhere he looked, there was nothing but trees and darkness. He was deeper in the woods than he realized. Which way did he come from?
“JETT! JETT!” Finn took off running. He wasn’t sure if he was headed in the right direction, or if he was just moving deeper into the woods. But he couldn’t stand still any longer, he needed to do something. So, he sprinted as fast as his short little legs could carry him, calling out for his sister. The world around him got darker and darker until…
He gasped, finding himself laying on the ground in a cold sweat. He blinked and squinted his eyes up at the purple sky, illuminated by a rising sun.
Jett choked, jerking awake. She nearly dropped the baby but quickly regained her bearings, holding the baby to her chest. “H-How long have I been asleep? DANGIT, Finn, I said-!” She cut herself off when Finn started to sob.
“O-Oh my g-” Jett slides on her knees, rolling on her hip to sit down in front of Finn, laying the baby down in her lap and grabbing her step brother’s shoulders. “Finn? Finn, I’m right here, calm down.”
Finn grabbed her wrists, bowing his head and struggling to control his sobs. “I-I don’t w-want to get l-l-lost...i-it’s dark a-and...I wanna go home!” he cried out.
“Hey, hey,” Jett gently tilted his chin upwards, taking the end of the loose tie around his neck and using it to wipe the tears from his cheeks. “We are getting home. I’ll get us home, I promise.”
“And you won’t disappear into the woods without me?” he asked quietly, sniffling.
“Of course not,” Jett whispered. “That was just a bad dream.”
“I was scared, Jett,” he mumbled, fumbling with his tie shyly. Jett smiled at him.
“That’s alright. You’re the toughest little kid I know,” she pat his head. “You can get through this.”
Finn smiled. “And you’ll stay with me?”
“Of course,” Jett promised. “You’re my brother, there’s no way I’m leaving you.”
“Step brother,” Finn corrected.
“We’re family now, kiddo,” Jett teased, bumping his forehead with hers playfully. “You couldn’t get rid of me, even if you tried.” Finn laughed, scooting closer to her.
“You wanna know somethin’? You’re a good sister,” he whispered, like telling a secret.
“Good. ’Cause I’m kinda new at this, I’m still figuring it out,” Jett gathered the baby in her arms and rose to her feet, helping Finn stand as well. “Now, let’s get moving.”
“Sorry for letting us fall asleep,” Finn chuckled shyly.