This week I’m posting a part of a short story that is set in the same world as my book Imaginary friends.
It’s about a boy named Kai who does not play any role in the book itself but if I ever get to writing a sequel he will be one of the main characters. For now I just hope you like it. It starts out a little slow but then picks up at the second scene so just keep reading.
Kai walked to the dining cart for breakfast, the hum of the train comfortable beneath his feet.
Hurried footsteps came up behind him and he turned to see his friend, Gale run up to him. Gale’s eyes where wide and he smiled as he came closer. He grabbed Kai by the elbow taking him aback by the intensity in the grip. “You have got to look out a window.”
Kai felt his breath catch and he grinned.
“No way, we’re there yet.”
The two of them launched themselves in the direction of the dining cart. They shoved open the door and stumbled into the well lit room. The servers and the cook were already crowding by the window. Kai and Gale moved past them until they pressed against the window.
This was it. This was the moment Kai had come on the journey for.
For a moment the rising sun blinded him, but he squinted until his eyes focused. His breath caught in his chest.
The moving city was a silver mirage in the morning light. The top of the towers had rainbows dancing around them. There was a slow shift and Kai let his eyes move from the city itself to the creature on which it was built. The large creature had fine silver scales covering its sides and arrow head. The light flickered over it as it got to its feet and raised its head to look over the surrounding valleys.
What must it be like to live on something like that?
He and Gale stood there for a moment, watching the creature come closer. After the a minute the rest of the staff member started wandering off to work, leaving them alone.
“Do you think we’ll get to go up there?” Gale asked.
Kai shrugged. “That sure would be something wouldn’t it?”
The morning bell rung and the Kai dragged his eyes away from the silver city. “We need to go relieve the night shift.”
Gale nodded absently without taking his eyes of the creature.
Kai looked to it again and felt his heart beat pick up. It was getting close now.
He took Gale by the elbow and pulled him away from the window. “Let’s go.”
The two of them wandered away from the window and out of the dining cart. Kai glanced over to Gale one more time only to see his friend stare into space. Well why not? Not even the train staff like themselves got to see the walking cities every day.
“Faster, faster,” Kai’s supervisor, Odalis called. Sweat dripped over Kai’s eyes and he had to shift the box on his shoulder to be more comfortable. They were in the shadow of the city now as it stood grazing the soft fluffy plants that grew around the area.
“We do not want to keep our buyers waiting. Hurry up Kai.”
Kai grinned at his supervisor, Odalis. Today despite his instance that they were in a hurry, the man was grinning from ear to ear.
It must be the cities effects.
“How are we going to get this up there, Sir?” Kai asked looking up at the belly of the creature that provided a ceiling.
“Did you see the ropes and ladders?”
Kai glanced back to the nearest edge of the creature. The large rope ladders were probably not the safest way to get the rest of the train’s cargo up the creatures back.
“Sir, I don’t think that will work.”
Odalis laughed. “We won’t be hauling the cargo up those, we’ll climb up them ourselves. The cargo will be taken up with pulleys.”
Kai frowned. “Then why are we walking around beneath the creature?”
“Oh this is called the shadow market, for quite literal reasons. We’ll drop of these boxes and then we’ll be heading up the city.”
That explained why Gale wasn’t with them. Kai was long use to Odalis’s back street work but Gale would never have gone along with this.
Kai smiled at Odalis.
“You’re making me drag these boxes after your illegal work. I dare say, I might need a percentage of whatever you’re getting out of this deal.”
Odalis shook his head, a smile on his lips. From anyone else the teasing would have been a real threat. Kai raised his chin a little. It was kind of nice to be so trusted.
After a minute they spotted two people, a man and a woman who waved at them. Despite what they where there for neither of them dressed like criminals. There were no dark cloaks or knives hidden in secret folds of the clothing. The man had dark skin and was dressed in a simple green button up shirt, the sleeves of which he had rolled up to his elbows. He was half turned to them half to the woman. His eyes followed them as they came closer a hint of a smile hidden there somewhere.
The woman herself seemed to pull to one side. Her weight placed on only one leg, her head tilted slightly letting her silver hair create a curtain over half her face. Kai tried to keep himself from staring but couldn’t help but notice how pale she was as they neared. She had pale eyes and her cheeks held nearly no colour. Her bleak appearance was helped by the light purple dress she had on.
The man’s eyes moved from Odalis to Kai as they neared, a small frown formed on his brow. He exchanged a glance with the woman and nodded. Her expression didn’t change as she regarded Kai.
After a moment of standing in silence she looked away from Kai.
“I’m assuming you’re Odalis.” Her voice was barely more than a whisper but still clear.
Odalis nodded. “Let’s haggle.”
The man shook his head. “Let’s introduce ourselves first, you can call me Ido and this is Val. Before we start talking money we need to see the product first.”
Odalis nodded and moved to open the bow he carried in his own arms but Ido cut him off.
“No, we want to see what’s in the boy’s box. I wouldn’t put it past you to have only half of what we ordered.”
Odalis frowned but nodded.
Never argue with the customers was his policy. You never know who would rather shoot you then buy from you.
“Open the box kid,” Odalis said.
Kai nodded and pulled the bag from his shoulder. He knelt and put it on the ground.
Paranoid little buyers weren’t they?
Kai opened the box. Inside were six simple elbow long rods. Kai frowned at this. Was this really what they were selling this time?
The woman peered into the box and nodded.
“All looks good enough, let’s talk money.”
Kai listened for a moment as they started talking about the prices… high prices. He looked at the silver rods again.
No way are they worth all that.
Kai looked up from the box to see Val brush a streak of hair behind her ear. She seemed so… delicate, much too delicate for someone walking around on the shadow market. His eyes caught onto something on her wrist, a simple flower tattoo made of swirls set into a circle.
She looked at him and he realized he was caught. She smiled and for a moment he could do nothing more than blink. She gave a soft giggle and returned her attention to the discussion above his head. Kai let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding.
“How about you help us get this to our carriage.” Her question was directed to Odalis who frowned.
“Not in our in agreement I’m afraid.”
Ido shrugged. “We’ll pay you an extra hundred, what difference does it make?”
Kai’s eyes grew. An extra hundred was an entire fortune all on its own.
Kai looked up to Odalis whose mouth formed a thin line. There was no way where they missing out on a bargain like this.
Odalis shook his head. “Sorry but no, I’m old my and joints are sore.”
Kai couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“The lad is young, he can help.” Val’s voice was cheerful.
Odalis started shaking his head but Kai jumped to his feet. “I’ll do it.” The extra hundred could pay for an apprenticeship.
Odalis opened his mouth to say something but Val was already there. “Thank you, well aren’t you sweet.”
She put her hand on Kai’s arm and pulled him a step closer to her and Ido. Val’s fingers where cold and for a strange moment a wave of dizziness hit him.
He shook his head to shake it off and bent to pick up the box with the silver rods, a moment later Val was leading him by the arm deeper beneath the city. Odalis stood frowning after them and Kai gave him an apologetic wave.
He was going to use the money he made from this to become an apprentice of someone on the train. Perhaps even become a railway engineer. They walked for what felt like an hour. After the initial excitement left him Kai simply stared around them. The deeper they went the less people they came across.
“How far will we be walking?” Kai asked finally. His shoulder was getting sore from carrying the box again.
“Oh I think we’ve gone just far enough.” Ido stopped right in front of Kai.
Kai frowned looking around. There was nothing there, not a single person or cart.
He looked back to find Val smiling at him, a single silver pole in her hand.
“Didn’t your mother tell you not to wander off with strangers?” She asked before swinging.
So that was it. If you stop by next week you’ll get the next couple of scenes along with another cool post that I’m currently planning. It’s about opening scenes and my personal struggles with them.
Do you like the character Kai so far? How about the city? Would you like me to describe it better? I’m interested what do you expect of the story from what I’ve given you here?