In a dark alley, a small child skipped down the pathway, his big watery eyes glistening merrily as he glanced around the alley as if he was searching for something.
“Come out little thing.” He cooed, bending down at the first sight of a scuttle. He had found a rat and now was spending all his might trying to catch it.
Rat were rare a hell in the slums. If anyone caught a rat, everyone would come and see it. If he caught this rat, his business would boom and finally takeoff from the ground.
The little child was, of course, Kyle.
Kyle searched for the rat again but it had scuttled out of sight and he had lost contact of it. He cooed again softly and saw it scuttle across the path. He lunged forward and grabbed its tail just in time, holding it up to his face by the tail.
It was a filthy thing, covered in mud and crack. It looked sickly and struggled weakly against Kyle’s grasp as his wrapped the rat up and dropped it in a pouch. He sighed in content. He was about to leave when he heard some type of noise attract his attention. He was curious. It sounded... different. Some type of commotion.
He sneak up to the wall of the alley and pressed his ear against the wall.
He could only hear something blurry. But suddenly, as some veil had been lifted, he could hear everything that was being said.
“Little freelancer bitch, get over here.” There was another crash, obviously something getting overturned. There seemed to be a small shout of some kind and the heavy grunt of a big man.
“Get out from behind that shit.” There was a growl and Kyle could picture a big buff man trying to lift a whole lot of broken things that blocking him from his freelancer prize.
Kyle was excited, he had never witness anything like this before. He had heard that freelancers were strong and fast and hard to catch. He wanted to know what made them so hard to catch. So Kyle scrambled up the building, stepping on barrels that were stacked up against each other until he reached the tiled roof. He lifted a tile from the roof and stared down at the scene that was happening beneath him.
A girl about the same age, maybe even a little older was curled up behind a large stack of broken chair and tables, cowering from a huge man who was trying to find a way to move the solidly lodged table and chairs away to catch the girl.
The man was grunting as he tried to push the chairs away, but Kyle could tell that his attempts were futile. He laughed silently, but the girl was staring at the man in fear. Kyle was about to step back when the girl’s eyes wandered over to him. Their eyes met and for a moment time froze as Kyle stared at her, noticing the fear and the hope that glowed in her eyes.
The man seemed to notice that she was now staring at something and looked up as well, Kyle cursed beneath his breath, pulling back as quickly as he could, but it was too late. The man had seem him already and was throwing things at the roof. It would only be a matter of seconds before he would hit him.
Kyle could have left. He could have just fled and logically, that seemed like the right thing to do. He didn’t know that girl and freelancers were dangerou. Why should he help her? But that look in her eyes, it killed him to see her like that. He never saw anything felt so deeply. They were worldly eyes that had seen many things, and they shone of deep despair, as if she knew that there was no way out of this.
Kyle knew that if he left that day, he would feel the guilt for the rest of his life. It was not a burden that he wanted to carry and so Kyle took a deep breath and slide down a hole in the roof, landing light on a ceiling beam.
The man saw him and shouted.
“Get out of here boy! You’re ruining my moment!” He sounded deeply angry, almost just as angry as the girl was desperate. But then, how many times were freelancers pushed to the point of having to hide beneath broken chairs and tables?
Kyle wasn’t quite sure what to say, but he knew that there was no way he would be able to take the man full on. If only he had something to drop on him...
A little squeak reminded him of the rat that was resting lightly in his pouch. The rat would be perfect! But... Kyle chewed on his lip as he argued with himself. Was he willing to give up the rat? A sacrifice for that girl? Would he even be able to get the rat back again?
It was deeply heart wrenching, but in the end, he grabbed the rat and launched it at the man. The rat let out a screech in midair as its little body was flung towards the big man and hit him square in the face. The man threw the rat aside disgusted. The little thing bounced against the wall with a dull thud and landed on the ground. Kyle winced at the noise. Did he just kill the rat? He hard earned rat just like that? A small bit of anger boiled up inside of him. He was not the type to be pushed around like that, even if he was only five.
Kyle let out a low growl and launched himself at him. Using the whole 50 pounds of body weight that he could muster, he bend the man’s head backwards with a sickening crack and landed on the ground heavily with the man dead.
Kyle stared at his hands. He didn’t know that he could do something like this. He stared at the limp body of the man and the only thing he could muster up was “That’s what you get for killing my rat.”
He stared at the body for a long time until an awkward cough drew his attention to the girl who was still stuck beneath the chairs.
The girl gave him a wry grin.
“Nice one.” She said, glancing at the man as if none of this had actually happened. “The poor rat though...”
“Yeah...” Kyle muttered. He felt quite upset about the rat and wanted to just go home now.
“What?” Kyle stopped, now somewhat annoyed. He had already saved her face. Now what?
“You see... I’m a little stuck.”
“Stuck?” But then he realized that she really was stuck.The dense mass of tangled chairs and tables weaved tightly. So tightly that there seemed to be no way out other than to lift the whole thing. That, he had seen that man try and fail to do. He knew that there was no way he would be able to either.
The girl rolled her eyes.
“Yeah. No duh.”
Kyle inspected the chairs. He really want to leave now, but then he felt it he just left the girl here. If she really didn’t get out, then she might starve to death. Kyle wasn’t going to let anything like that happen because he was being selfish.
“Well, how did you get yourself into this? I can’t see a single way out.”
“There’s one chair that’s holding the whole thing up. If you can reach it and pull it out, the whole thing will tumble.”
“I’ll be fine.” She said, motioning to the chair that was right up above her. “I can sneak underneath this chair once it hits the ground. After that, nothing could really crush me.”
Kyle was skeptical. But he wasn’t going to complain. He still wanted to leave this place and the sooner the better.
The girl looked around.
“I don’t know. I forget which one.”
Kyle sighed in disbelief. It looked like it would be a long morning for him. Kyle began sifting through that chairs and tables, looking for one that he might be able to pull out. The whole thing was ingeniously built and Kyle was surprised at how well it stood and how tightly everything locked up against each other.
“How did you even do this?” He asked staring at the thing in wonder. The girl gave him a wink.
“That’s a freelancer secret that I can’t tell you. But maybe if you can get me out, I’ll tell you where I learned it from.”
Kyle turned back to searching for the lose chair that could break the whole structure. There were a total of 50 some chairs and tables. By the time he went through every single one with a complete inspection it would be late. He had to find a way to speed this up.
“Are you sure you don’t remember where it is?”
The girl frowned and tried to remember, but she shook her head with a sigh.
“All of the chairs look the same, how should I remember?”
“Maybe it was lodged at a specific angle?”
The girl shook her head.
“None of this is planned, it’s all random. How would I know?”
Kyle groaned looking back at the whole thing. But he realized that maybe, if he broke one of the table on the bottom, it would fall.
His first target, would be the chair leg.
He grabbed a poker from the fireplace and swung it at the table leg. The leg cracked and snapped in two, the broken part hanging loosely against the table.
The structure barely budged.
Kyle continued to swing, hitting more and more legs until suddenly, one of the chair gave away and the whole thing came toppling downwards. It had only been a matter of minutes that the whole thing collapsed. The girl laughed as she jumped out from beneath the rubble and did a small dance.
“Thank you.” She said, grabbing Kyle’s hand.
“No problem.” Kyle said absentmindedly, thinking about his rat and going home. The girl seemed to notice.
“I’ve got a rat at home.”
“You can have it if you want.”
“Really?” Kyle stared at her. She nodded.
“Rats don’t really mean anything to us. They’ve got giraffes up in the domes you know.”
The girl patted him on the shoulder.
“Well, I really should be heading off. But when you can stop by the headquarters any time and ask for Kayli Rose. They’ll definitely let you in.”
She was about to head off when another question struck her.
“Wait, you know where the headquarters are right?” She twirled around, asking.
“Yeah.” Kyle said with a roll of his eyes. Everyone knew of that old building. Of course, he was the only one who was curious enough to go sneak in and find out what was actually in it. It was a secret that he had kept for a while, but there was no reason lying to the girl. It was something that they would find out sooner of later.
“Oh, ok. Well, find me there.” She waved him goodbye and disappeared from the building.