Chapter One - Festival

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Hart laid on his bed, his eyes inspecting the four walls around him. He thought his room needed some adjustments. Like for instance, the red lamp on the nightstand threw off the original theme of the room; dark, colorless and empty. The red color, the large painting hanging over the bed frame, it was all distracting to his thoughts. He hated them. He wanted to throw them out, but he knew he couldn't.

Checking his wrist watch, he realized it would be midnight in a few hours, so he got out of bed and walked down the stairs to the kitchen. He grabbed himself a bowl of cereal, forgetting to add the milk. Not noticing his mistake, he sat on the small kitchen table and began to eat.

His eyes dozed off, but this time they landed on the newspaper in front of him. He read the headlines "Festival in Bellumstone." Bellumstone being the ludicrous town he lived in. It was quite big. A lot of variety, culture and backgrounds. It attracted many tourists, mostly the younger generation. But he detested it all. He thought they were foolish and reckless.

Hart cocked his head to the side, chewing his cereal loudly. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

He thought about attending the festival, maybe to see the fireworks, or the people dancing happily in the streets. But there would be too many of them, and he did not like that. He liked the silence, it was his best friend. That was why he lived far away, deep in the forest in a house his father had built a long time ago. He was content where he was.

The parade should be starting any minute now – or at least that was what it said on the newspaper article. If he left now he could make it to the fireworks. Without even giving it a second thought, he stood up and took his jacket from the coat hanger in the hall. Once outside and seated in his car, he grabbed a comb from his pocket and brushed his hair back, watching himself on the rear view mirror. He was a little overdressed for the occasion, but it didn't matter to him. No one was going to be watching him.

It was an hour long drive to get to the town. Already the streets were covered in red and white decorations. The unofficial flag of Bellumstone hung on every lamp post for miles. It was a rock, or a diamond as people argued. But in the end it was a rock. A beautiful white rock.

Hart decided not to head to the park, where most people would be at to watch the fireworks. Instead he parked his car behind a closed grocery store and began to walk down the empty side walks, hands in pockets.

Occasionally people would honk at him and shout their excitement. Hart just kept walking, staring up ahead. As he kept passing streets, more people began to appear, until at last every corner was full of civilians waiting for the parade.

People of all ages, mostly young, sat on the edge of the sidewalks, talking to their friends about how beautiful the town had transformed for the night. Flashing lights adorned every balcony on the street Hart was on. They changed from red to white every few seconds.

Hart mostly enjoyed the older folks dressed in outrageous outfits to match the crazy theme of the festival. He couldn't avoid smiling when one would look at him strangely. They were just too funny, especially when they broke out dancing to some salsa music playing from one of the apartments. Unfortunately, he only forced the smile. He needed to be normal, he needed to blend in.

Hart could see the parade marching in his direction, so he moved to an empty spot on the sidewalk and patiently waited. The salsa music was overshadowed by the music from the parade itself. It was more energetic and fun, which oddly made everyone step out on the street and dance along with the parade people.

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