Closer to Home

Chapter 7

It seemed as though days had past again, but Peter had remained trapped.

After Michael had subdued him with chloroform for the second time, Peter had been unconscious for hours, and it had been the middle of the night when he had finally come to, disturbed to find himself shut in the small dark room where Michael had revealed his identity and told the story of Wendy’s fate.

That had been at least three days ago, by Peter’s reckoning, and no means of escape had presented itself. Although Peter had been allowed to move about the house freely again, Michael rarely left him alone for long, and was always lurking somewhere in the house. And even when Peter was alone, he was convinced Michael was watching him.

It had come to the stage where Peter thought he would go mad; he was tired… he was hungry… and he was getting desperate.

He needed to think of a way to get Michael out of the way… or to keep him distracted long enough for Peter to escape. If he could get Michael out of the house for a while, that would be perfect. But how?

Michael was scuttling about the kitchen, attempting to clean up again before that woman came back. Peter watched from the doorway, then let his eyes fall to the dining table in the centre of the room. His gaze focused on the tiny wing that still lay on it, and his heart jerked with grief as he remembered the fairy it had belonged to. Hanging from the chair nearby was Michael’s Indian headdress…

That an idea occurred to the boy. A plan suddenly formed.

Taking a deep breath to calm his nerves and keep his voice casual, Peter stepped further into the kitchen.

“I’ve been thinking...”

“Hmm?” Michael absent-mindedly acknowledged the boy without looking up from his task of hunting down cutlery.

“Perhaps…” Peter felt his nerve waver, so took another deep breath before forcing himself to continue, wary of the man’s temper.

“Perhaps there is a way you could fly.” The boy flinched as Michael swiftly spun round to face him, letting several knives, forks and spoons fall from his hands and crash onto the tile floor.

“To fly?”

“Y-yes.” the frightened child stammered.

The piercing stare Michael had fixed him with was deeply unnerving, but Peter knew he couldn’t stop now; the man wouldn’t let him.

“When I was really small, I lived in Kensington Gardens with the birds. When I got too big and forgot how to fly, they asked the fairies to help me...”

“There were fairies in Kensington Gardens?”

Peter nodded anxiously, growing increasingly uncomfortable under the man’s intense gaze.

“There were then… and they might still be there now. Pixie dust might not work on you any more, but if you found enough fairies, they could carry you.”

“Carry me?”

“Yes… They’re very strong. You’d probably only need five or six to manage it.”

Peter squirmed as he waited for Michael to respond. The man seemed to have turned to stone, except for the occasional blink.

Suddenly he stepped forward and was standing very close… much too close for Peter. The boy was about to step back, and had to fight down the instinct to scream when Michael grabbed hold of his arms.

“You really think… if we find some fairies… we’ll be able to leave? Together?”

“Yes. Of course.”

Another long moment past, and Peter forced himself to keep eye contact.

“Then there’s not a minute to loose!”

Peter was released and watched as Michael hurried out of the kitchen and up the stairs.

“Where are you going?”

“I must go prepared!” he called back, returning quickly with a butterfly net in hand.

Peter couldn’t help the smile that appeared on his face at the thought of how clever his plan was; it was working perfectly.

“Good thinking.” he said encouragingly, reassured by the beaming grin Michael wore.

“Let’s go.”

He started to walk to the front door, but Michael put out an arm to stop him.

“You can’t come, Peter.”

“What?!” The boy was indignant. “But it was my idea!”

Michael dropped the net and grabbed Peter’s arms again, crouching so they stood nose to nose, staring into each other’s eyes. Again, Peter had to fight back the urge to look away as Michael’s gaze pierced into him.

“You don’t want to find fairies...” he proclaimed, after a long moment of silence. “You just want me to let you outside so you can escape!” Michael’s voice steadily filled with anger until he was growling through his teeth.

“No… Michael! I want to help...”

“You liar!”

Peter gritted his own teeth as pain shot through his arms, the man squeezing them too tightly.

“Michael, please! You’re hurting me!”

Peter screamed again and started to struggle as Michael dragged him back into the kitchen and forced the boy into a chair.

“Ow! Stop! What are you doing?!”

The man ignored the child’s words until he had finished securing him to the chair with the rope that still lay there from his capture. Satisfied that the knots were sound, Michael finally responded;

“You will stay here while I go and hunt for fairies.”

“But I can help!”

“No, Peter. I cannot trust you. It will be better if I go alone.”

“But…” Peter searched desperately for an argument. “But… What if someone comes to the house?! When you’re gone?”

“You’ll just have to be quiet, won’t you.”

“What if I won’t?”

Peter almost immediately regretted his words as Michael looked at him in astonishment. He had obviously taken it as a threat.

“Good point.” he said at last.

Walking to the worktop, he picked up a wash rag, and Peter’s heart sunk. He didn’t think he could bear being knocked out again; he always felt terrible when he’d finally wake up.

Michael looked about for the chloroform… then froze as he noticed the bottle on the floor, and the useless pool that surrounded it. Glancing up at Peter with a perturbed look in his eye, he marched forward, grabbed up a roll of duct-tape from the table, and forced the wash cloth into Peter’s mouth.

The boy had never seen duct tape before, and was startled by the load sound it made as Michael pulled at it. He quickly ripped a piece off and stuck it over Peter’s mouth, preventing the boy from spitting out the cloth.

Thus tied and gagged, Peter could only watch as Michael retrieved the butterfly net, donned his coat, and left the house.

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