Chapter 14 Horizon
It’s midnight I wake up with Miles sitting on the end of my bed. He is watching me, as usual, around this time of night. It doesn’t phase me at all that he is sitting here.
“We need to go see Red and tell him about the fury.” Miles whispers to me.
“Ok I just need a minute.” I say, yawning.
Miles walks to the window and jumps to the limb of the oak tree. I smile and put a sweatshirt on and jeans. And I put Louie in my pack with his head sticking out of the top.
“Maybe we can find you some flies or something.” I smile at him.
Miles is scanning the yard, making sure no muck demons or fury are around.
“Ready.” I say after I watched Miles for a few seconds. He still has said nothing about me kissing him. He pulls me over to the limb, holds on to my waist and we jump down.
“You ok?” Miles asks as I brush off the end of my pants.
“Yes, I’m fine, just wet. Did it rain?” My shoes and my cuffs on my jeans are all wet. I look up to see if I can see the moon or the stars, and I can’t.
“Yes! It did rain.” Is all Miles say’s. He is looking at the sky too. He looks at me from foot to toe, then he notices Louie in my pack and pats him on the head.
We walk to see Red in silence. Miles is scanning everywhere, looking in every crack and turning his head to every sound he hears. Ty helps us to get to Red’s cage, and it looks like they are all standing around. Except for Red, he is sitting on a rock and all the other monkeys are looking at him.
Red stands up and Tiny jumps from his shoulders to a rock next to Red and imitates his grandpa. He is so cute I can’t help but smile. Tiny jumps onto Ty’s trunk and swings on it like a swing.
“You are awaiting one more crystal?” asks Red.
“Yes,” I reply.
Red walks around slowly, using his stick to help him. He makes a circle in the damp dust.
“I don’t know where your father’s crystal is,” he says.
He then makes two crescents around the circle.
“But hmm, I see that you have found yours and ..”
“Wait!” Miles interrupts him.
“What now slider hmm.” he says.
“She doesn’t know yet.” Miles walks to Red and whispers. I’m sure he is telling him about the fury and doesn’t want to worry everyone. Red looks at me with wide eyes and his mouth opens up, he looks like he is shocked.
“Hmm, ok slider, hmm, what now?” he says.
“I don’t know. Your call.” Miles says stepping back.
Red looks up at me. He coughs a little and then tries to stand up straight. Tiny jumps onto Red’s shoulders. He looks worried about his grandpa. Red pats him gently on the hand.
“We must go now and see Horizon,” says Red.
Red clears his throat and stands up as straight as he can. Tiny sits in a little pouch on Red’s back. It’s like a little furry backpack. I pat Ty on the trunk, thanking him, and we follow Red and Tiny.
I haven’t been this way in a long time; I think. I usually go straight to Horizon. There are so many other animals here. We pass the reptile house. I can hear them saying hi, hissing away, and I can hear frogs bellowing. Red is walking slowly and hiding in the shadows.
“I’m worried we’re going to be seen,” I say.
Red puts his stick down hard on the ground and Tiny makes a shushing noise and puts his little finger up to his mouth to tell me to be quiet. I shrink down, a little scared. Miles is standing straight up and hiding in the shadows along the gate.
Someone is coming. I can see a flashlight moving around.
“It’s just a guard hmm,” says Red. “Don’t make a sound.”
We all stand still forever, it seems. Miles shines his hand up to the sky and the guard finally leaves, walking over to the light. Red scurries over to Miles and touches his hand with his stick. He flips it over to see the light. He puts his other hand over the light so it dims. Red looks in his eyes, then back to his hand. He doesn’t say a word. He puts his stick on the ground hard. Everyone stops and waits. Then he slowly walks. We make our way to where Horizon is being kept. We pass by so many animals; I love seeing them all even though it’s dark. I could make out what they are. First, we pass the bears. There is a polar bear and a brown bear. The brown bear seems frightened and hides behind a little rock. It’s funny because he’s so much bigger than the rock. The polar bear, however, stands right up on his hind legs and says hello. He’s so white and beautiful. I haven’t seen them in a while. I apologize and we keep moving. There’s a big rock with antelopes and deer.
“Oh, the rhinos,” I say really loud and surprised.
Red slams his stick down and Tiny motions with his hand to be quiet. Tiny jumps from his little backpack to my arms, up my shoulders and through my hair to see what I’m looking at. It’s the rhinoceros and the huge roly poly babies. They trot over to us. The mom is so big. She’s so loud with every step she takes. She doesn’t have the flower coming out of her nose.
“Thank you for your lavender.” I whisper quietly.
She nods and bends down as if to bow at me, and she looks at Miles and smiles. The baby’s just laugh and trip over each other. They back away and pounce into the darkness. I wave goodbye and we move toward the next animal. Hm, this spot is empty. It’s very dark and there is a cage, but it’s open.
“It’s the black vulture’s cage, right?” I whisper to Miles. He nods his head yes.
“It’s the black vulture,” says Red. “She has been missing since the dark fury arrived, hmm. We think hmm that it came here and took over her body. She cannot speak, hmm. She doesn’t have a voice, hmm, and she is the biggest bird at the zoo. The evil fury, hmm, could have taken her form and then become whatever she wishes. You must be careful, hmm, not to harm the vulture. She does not know what she is doing under a spell, hmm.”
The cage looks so dark and scary. I remember the black vulture when the fury tried to get me at school. She kept flipping from a bird to a nasty witch. Red keeps walking. Tiny is finding flies for Louie. He keeps jumping off my back and then back on when he finds one. He gets tired and snuggles into my hair, and I think he is trying to fall asleep. He’s making this little wheezing noise when he breathes. I point it out to Miles. Miles nods his head and keeps looking around. We finally reach the cage where Horizon is, but I don’t see him. I forget Tiny is sleeping in my hair. He makes a quick squeaking noise and jumps off me into Red’s back pack and snuggles in.
“Horizon,” says Red, “We must help the princess, hmm, find her father’s stone hmm, she has been hazed.”
He slams down his stick so everyone will pay attention to him. He then coughs and shrinks down a little. Tiny opens his eyes and looks at his grandfather. When he knows he’s ok, he closes his eyes again and drifts off.
“I don’t know where his stone would be,” says Horizon in the shadows. But it doesn’t sound like him. He sounds so weak. I try to look into the cage, but it’s so dark. Miles takes his hand and shines a moon on him. He is lying down, hiding behind a block of hay. All we can see is his legs.
“This is your place. Your father’s stone would be in a place that he loved and cherished.” Horizon says.
I sigh, “Are you ok?” I ask, worried.
“I will be, princess.” Horizon says.
“Good, hmm, my friend, hmm, get better.” Says Red. He slams his stick down and turns to go. Everyone follows but me. I don’t want to leave horizon. I feel so horrible that this is all my fault.
“Princess, hmm, come.” Red Says. I turn and he put his arm around me as we walk in the darkness.
“Our friend will be fine.” Red says, coughing in between his words. “Now your father’s crystal, hmm, where, hmm?” Red notices Louie and puts his finger up to him. Red coughs longer this time. The two Apes stand closer to Red, holding him up this time before he almost falls over.
“Are you ok, Red?” I ask loudly.
“SHhh. Hmm. The crystals?” Red says.
“I thought for sure they would all be together.” I say. Trying to hide my tears.
“You need to get some rest.” Says Miles. He looks at Red, worried.
“You need to go to Omynora, hmm. Tomorrow, start packing.” says Red.
“But I can’t get there. I-I’ve tried.” Before I can say anything else, Red manages to put his stick down as hard as he can.
“No. Hmm. You need to go there.” He says.
Then he coughs again and this time it’s longer and he can’t catch his breath. Tiny jumps up to him and pats him on the back.
“I’m ok, Son,” he says as he puts his hand on Tiny’s shoulder and gets up.
“Tomorrow I’ll have a map hmm, Princess hmm. Good night!” Red says.
Tiny looks at me and smiles as he cuddles into his grandfather’s backpack.
Miles and I say goodbye to our friends and start walking home. He holds my hand, and he hums. I don’t think he knows he is humming out loud.
“What are you humming?” I ask him softly.
“Oh sorry, it’s an old slider song. When Red said I have to go home, it made me think of, well, my home. My father used to sing it to me when I was young.”
“You must miss him so much.” I say, knowing his father passed away when he was young, too. “I know I miss my father with all of this happening. And I don’t really remember him at all.”
We walk in silence until we get to my house. Miles jumps like it’s nothing, and pulls me up to the limb of the oak tree by my bedroom window. He takes my pack and goes into my room and put Louie in his bed. Then he comes back out to the limb of the tree and we sit on the tree just looking at the moon and each other. Miles is holding on to me as I shiver from the dampness.
“Opal, I have to tell you something.” Miles says seriously. He lets go of me and looks at the moon. His chiseled face glistening in the natural light of the moon.
“You can tell me anything Miles.” I say to him. I watch him talk. Watching his lips move, I smile softly and hold onto his hand.
“My father is not dead. I told you he was because he is dead to me. I haven’t talked to him in over three years. He is not a good man not anymore. He used to be, but the magic of the globe changed him. And, he isn’t like, he used to be. I made a choice to leave, because, I didn’t want to end up like him. That is why I am here, protecting you.” Miles finally looks at me.
I sit for a moment, taking in what he said. He told me when we met his father died. And we have had that in common. It’s one reason I felt a strong connection with him. But he never told me how he died. Looking back, we have always talked about my father. I just figured it was too hard for him to talk about it.
“It’s ok, you didn’t lie to me, you just left out a few parts.” I hold his arm and hug it. He kisses my head. “I feel bad that you feel that way about him. I wish there was something I could do for you.”
“I chose you, princess. I am here for you.” He lifts my head and holds on to my face with both of his hands. He stares into my eyes. “I thought I was here just to protect you. But I have fallen, so deeply, in love, with you.” He says slowly and kisses each part of my face while he talks. “I am in love with you princess.” He closes his eyes and his lips touch mine. They are soft and warm on my chilled lips. He moves his hands to my back and pulls me close. He kisses my cheek and my ear and hugs me tightly.
“I love you too.” I say into his ear. He hugs me tighter. We stare at the moon quietly until I feel tired. He helps me into my room. And puts me into bed. He scans the room and then takes another look out the window. He closes it and comes into bed with me. I put my head on his chest, feeling his heartbeat and the rhythm it makes. He plays with my hair gently in his fingers.
“I will always be here for you.” He says softly in my ear before I fall asleep.