Chapter 44 - A Red Ribbon
Rhett got out of his car and stepped onto the sidewalks of Main Street. Brick buildings lined the street. This was the only lively place in Ryont, all businesses and activities rested in this area. He made his way towards the end of the street where the police station stood.
He walked up along the sidewalk passing a few people sitting on benches enjoying the cool air. Kids ran up and down the walkway as they were greeted by all the townspeople Trees erected out from small circles of dirt every ten feet along the walkway. Across the street was an open field with playground equipment. Groups of people were having a picnic under the outdoor shelter. Rhett used to play there often with his classmates. Many times they would bring their guardians so they could socialize as well.
A blue banner flapping in the breeze hung from the top of the building at the end of the street. Ryont’s police force usually had an easy time. They never had too much to worry about for a small town, most troublemakers they would catch weren’t from here anyway.
A bell chimed as Rhett opened the door to the police station.
“Hey Rhett, what can I help you with?” Arenn, the head policeman tipped his hat. Most of the police knew Rhett and his family as they went to church together every week.
“Ah, well, Aeyn’s guardian…We think someone stole her…”
The man’s brows raised. “You sure?”
“Yeah, we found the bow Aeyn had wrapped around Shelly outside of our yard.” Rhett paused looking down while trying to think of what to say. “Have there been any other stories about guardians being stolen?”
“Could you wait for a minute?” Officer Arenn bit his lip, looking concerned, and turned to another officer. They spoke too low for Rhett to hear.
Rhett walked over to a dark blue cushioned chair and took a seat. Light upbeat music danced through the room. No one else was in the room besides the officers. He grabbed the nearest magazine and flipped it open. An advertisement for a subdivision of Kandorr’s Police Force known as Shelpo was plastered over the first two pages. They were looking for more detectives to hire.
Rhett still couldn’t think of any reason why anyone would specifically take Shelly. The churches sheltered a surplus of tortoises waiting to find a human to protect, and on top of that, stealing one’s guardian was a serious crime in Kandorr.
“We haven’t heard of anyone stealing any guardians.” He scratched his head, looking frustrated. “I really don’t think I’ve ever heard of such a thing. What do your parents think of this?”
“I don’t know, I headed here as soon as me and Aeyn couldn’t find Shelly.”
“Hmmm…” The man scratched his grizzled chin. “I’ll send some officers out to search for anything suspicious.”
One Week Later
Rhett sat on the couch in the living room staring at his guardian. The tortoises lived indoors as well as outdoors. They could never be trained to go outside to do their business so most homes in Kandorr had a room dedicated to the guardians that was set up in a way that made it easy to clean. Although, many people let their tortoises roam around the house as long as they were watching.
Aeyn was still feeling down about losing Shelly. She had more of a bond with her guardian than Rhett did with his. She would even beg her parents to let Shelly sleep with her, although they always refused. They didn’t want to have to wash her blankets everyday, and it was possible that Shelly could fall off the bed. If they couldn’t handle a fall like that with a shell, what right did they have to be bestowed such a title?
Rhett always held suspicions about the idea of guardians, but was overall respectful towards everyone’s beliefs. It was true he loved Tarro, but more as a pet. He and some of his friends had begun questioning many of the traditional Kandorr beliefs, not only about the guardians. During church he and Ceil would often joke about some of the absurdities during the service. How could they believe that these tortoises were really capable of saving lives when they moved so slow?
“You guys ready for church?” Rhett’s mother called out.
“I guess so,” Rhett answered. “I’ll go grab Aeyn. I think she is outside with you and dad’s guardians.” He picked up Tarro and placed him in the guardian room.
“Make sure you two bring in our guardians too! Oh yeah, and don’t forget to bring the carving knives from the shed! We’re attending the woodwork seminar after, and you know how much Aeyn loves carving little guardians!”
Rhett nodded and opened the door to the yard. An odd calm chilled the air.
“Aeyn, we’re going to church now! Let’s grab Ghar and Lia and bring them inside!” Rhett called out as he jogged out into the yard, spotting the two guardians. “Mom said we are going to do some carving after church too! So let’s grab the knives from the shed after we bring them in!”
Today Aeyn was going to be given a new guardian at the church. Everyone in the town had heard about it and had been searching for a new guardian for her to raise. Aeyn had even been wearing the ribbon for the past week that used to be placed on Shelly, refusing to take it off. Would she even come to accept a new guardian so quickly? She didn’t have a choice though, the people of Kandorr, more specifically, Ryont believed she was in danger without a guardian.
“Aeyn?! Come on!” Rhett shouted once more. “Help me take in Ghar and Lia!” Five seconds went by and still no response. He rushed around the corner of the house, still unable to find Aeyn. Rhett continued shouting around the yard until he came to a colored mark on the wooden fence. It was stained with a splotch of crimson, with a red ribbon laying in the grass.
He froze and after a second his body started shaking. He darted towards the fence.
Rhett clutched the ribbon and jumped over the fence. Drops of blood trailed off in the gravel. He screamed as he followed the small drops until there was no longer a sign. Rhett fell to his knees and struck his fists into the gravel. Tears mixed in with the blood of his hands.
So much for being called guardians. His parent’s guardians just stood by and did nothing. Not that he really expected much out of the tortoises anyway. As much as he loved them, he knew they were nothing deserving of the title. He knew the term guardian was only a title. How foolish these people were to put so much trust into them.