The Bird Has Flown

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They put me in the truck and they drive. Someone drives. Hey, I was supposed to go in the back, there's not enough space on the passenger seats. Where is Nathan sitting? And Domenica?

My head is somehow still spinning, like I've been hit by something. Maybe I have. There was a fight, but it wasn't a fight, it was so messy. I was dragged along like a plush toy. I still feel like a plush toy.

Street lights have always calmed me down. They come and go, come and go, like morse code, like waves. Beyond them, only the reassuring darkness. We used to go on day long car trips with my parents. The streaks of light in the cities at night are one of the things that have left the strongest impressions on me. I feel like I'm supposed to look for something.

I don't wanna shoulder any responsibilities right now. They'll figure out something on their own, I mean, I've only been only alive for a short while. They did manage without me before. They can do it now. I think I'm gonna go ahead and sleep. These seats are pretty comfortable, now that I can deal with all the flickering and noise around. I think I don't wanna move ever again.

Snapping fingers along my face, like flapping birds. They don't scare me.

"I tell you, Domenica, she's not responding," says a low voice. Emotions sound weird. I know our vocal organs are somehow like pipes, but what's the use of straining them like that? You're damaging the goods, sir, damaging the goods.

Another shape is near me. Large, looming. Comforting. A large animal pillow. A teddy bear. "She just needs a little time," says a soothing voice, "maybe some fresh air? She just saw her parents being taken away. It's not something so easy to deal with." Warmth comes and goes. My skin now feels tingly and lonely. I know it will go away if I stop thinking again.

A rush of cold air and I almost blink. I don't. I'm a fragile shell, a giant egg made of white only. Crack me and I spill on the floor. I won't spill.

"That's precisely why she has to wake up," says the low voice who's probably Dan... Vincent... something. "If we wanna do something about her parents, playing dead like that ain't gonna cut it." Dave. It's Dave.

He must be standing and I sitting now because his voice seems to come from above and also, my bum is wet. This feels like grass.

"Deb, please, can you hear me?" That's the voice of my sweet sweet Domimi- I can't quite get her name yet. Hearing her makes me all warm inside, even with the wet night trying to crawl up my butt and legs. Do I really have to be sitting here?

Awareness comes back like I've just been slapped in the face. That's how it feels like: sharp pain followed by a sudden realisation of where I am and what I'm doing here. The pick-up has stopped on the side of the road, out of the city. They have put me in a sitting position against one of the wheels. Dave is leaning against the front of the car, smoking, eyes on me and Domenica. She's crouching in front of me, trying to get my attention.

"Sorry," she says, holding her hand like it hurts, "I didn't know what to do." Maybe I did get slapped after all.

"I'm OK," I say, sluggish. "We should get going." I try to stand but I'm still wobbly. Domenica helps me up.

"I'm sorry," I say, "I don't usually... do that kind of thing."

Domenica hugs me out of the blue. "Don't apologize for having strong, honest emotions." I would hug her back automatically anyway, but what she says today seems pretty spot-on.

"Thanks for the moral support," I say. Nathan emerges, he apparently stayed in the trailer of the pick-up all this time with a blanket on.

"I'm glad you're better," he says. He looks like he was pretty worried. I give him two thumbs up. I can't be his mom, but I sure am willing to be his cool aunt. There's no way I was that well put together when I was eight.

Dave drops the cigarette in the wet grass and comes near me, coldly watching my behavior. "You're back into yourself, now? Good. We have work to do."

My parents. They have been turned into followers of that unbelievable chicken god. Last time I checked, they were way into self-harm. I need to find them before it takes a turn for the worse.

I straighten up. "Did you see which way the truck went?" I say, hoping we didn't lose its track.

Dave points at the stretch of road that disappears into the darkness. "We do. There were obviously not enough trucks for everyone, so the rest of the was on foot. They went straight on the road to the factory, so I think it's a pretty safe bet that they are all meeting over there."

"On foot? What kind of organization is this?" I say. If you want to kidnap a whole bunch of people, isn't it a given to bring more trucks?

"Well," says Dave, "I'm not sure that rationality is part of their skill set right now. Anyway, we should get going."

I nod and we climb aboard fast, me in the trailer, Nathan and Domenica back in the cabin. I can actually hear the conversation inside the cabin thanks to a small vent above the rear window. If I'm loud enough, they even hear me answer.

Domenica looks at me and presses her hand against the rear window, an anxious smile on her face. "For a moment," she says, "I was worried that they would have gotten to you."

"No, I'm fine," I say over the sound of the engine and the wind rushing around me. This affirmation would need a lot of nuances but there is only so much back story I can put into a shout. "Dave says I'm special!" She can ask him, they'll sort it out. I'm still not to clear on what he means by that anyway.

"From what I've seen," says Dave, kindly explaining things in my stead, "she's about as impervious to the supernatural as I am. She's got the natural version of whatever amulet you two have."

Domenica is taken aback. "How do you know we're carrying protective charms?" They are? I'm in love but damn, these people are weird.

"I can feel it, like a special flavour in the air. I can see less deep into the both of you, which is kind of relaxing. I guess you chase after the supernatural a lot, uh."

"I didn't know anyone could do that! Is it connected to your sense of smell, or..." Domenica stops, realizing she's getting seriously side-tracked. "Anyway, we don't really have to chase the supernatural, it sort of follows us."

Dave seems mildly surprised. His eyes blink a few times. "Funny that! Do we owe you the awakening of that thing, per chance?"

Domenica shrugs. "I can't prove that we don't but I don't think that we do. An entity sleeping for so long doesn't wake up simply because special people come and stay for a while. It takes something big. You were at the factory, did you notice anything unusual happening that might have started it all?"

"Nothing I can think of. Deb must have told you, I haven't been here long. I guess they were already starting to screw up a little bit. Anyway, we'll find out soon what's happening over there." Dave waves at the factory that is now in sight. Funny how this last slope was effortlessly crossed with an engine. Bikes lose their charms sometimes, I guess.

Dave shuts off the lights and parks on the side of the road in the entrance of a mountain path. No one will use that path tonight, I hope. He turns back towards Domenica, Nathan and me.

"So, we're here," he says, "to get Deb's parents back and maybe try to stop this mad circus before people get really hurt." He leans back in his seat. "Who has a plan? Because I sure don't have one. At least, not one where we don't get very dead before the end."


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