Troy Knightly

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2

Mr. Rames steadied his stool to keep it from tipping over.

A dark, shadowy figure stood in front of the tall gate that led onto the subway platform. The figure traced its black-gloved hand over the bars, studying the barrier. As Mr. Rames watched, the figure slammed its shoulder into the tall gate again. BANG!

Mr. Rames flinched at the sound. “What are you doing?” Mr. Rames called, now angry.

The figure turned and quickly strode towards the ticket window. Cold, dark eyes glared at the ticket man.

Mr. Rames tensed.

“Open the gate!” the dark figure demanded.

Mr. Rames squinted through the ticket window as he tried to make out what appeared to be a man in a dark hood.

“Open the gate, NOW!” the man screamed, banging roughly against the window with a gnarled fist.

Mr. Rames sat up, alarmed and flustered by the rudeness. He took a breath to compose himself. “Sir, you must pay for a ticket like everyone else. I won’t open the gate,” Mr. Rames replied sternly.

Furious, the hooded figure stormed away from the ticket booth. He grabbed hold of the tall gate, and with impossible strength, ripped it from the concrete wall.

Mr. Rames gasped in disbelief. He watched as the dark man lifted the gate high over his head. “No, DON’T!” Mr. Rames screamed.

Too late. The dark man flung the massive gate at the ticket booth.

Mr. Rames gave a startled cry and dove off the stool, to the floor.

Seconds later, the metal gate smashed through the window, narrowly missing Mr. Rames’s head.

The poor ticket man tried to shield himself from the debris and crawled under the open space of the counter.

From a small hole in the wall, he peered out at his attacker. His breath felt loud and ragged in his chest. Lights appeared down the tunnel, indicating the subway train was approaching the station.

Mr. Rames scanned the platform. His eyes found the hooded man. From his place behind the ticket counter, he watched as the man drew back his hood, and in the blink of an eye, transformed into a dark bird. Mr. Rames gasped in surprise.

With an angry scream, the bird flew into the air and tore through the gate’s wreckage onto the platform.

The last thing Mr. Rames heard before collapsing from fright, was a boy’s cry of alarm, followed by the deafening blare of the subway horn. Someone had been struck by the train.

***

“It cannot be,” the oracle whispered. She peered intently into her crystal ball. Her head bobbed up and down in the air, for that was all she was – a floating head! She was rather remarkable for an oracle; she was older than the stars and could perform magic.

A few strands of her long, white hair swirled together to form a hand. Cautiously, she picked up the crystal ball and brought it closer to her face. She inhaled her breath as she watched the vapory clouds inside the ball spiral in and out until they shaped the face of a young boy.

“No, it isn’t possible,” she murmured. “He should be dead.” But as she gazed into the crystal, she could see the dark bird’s crumpled feathers on the subway track.

“The boy hit him,” the oracle whispered. “He h-hit him with th-that stick...that bat.” She shook so hard, her head rotated in the air from side to side. “The hunter is now dead.” She gulped loudly. “I must tell the king. He will be furious.”

Clutching the crystal ball delicately in her strong tendrils of hair, she floated with it from her high tower, and trembling, reluctantly made her way down to the great hall of the palace.

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