Bird boy picks a winner

    Howard glanced at the children and teenagers that milled around Terry, their eyes glazed over with excitement and wonder. Vlad moved amongst them with ease. Children didn't like Vlad much...and with good reason. Howard had a rougher time maneuvering through the crowd. Though his frame was slight, his wings were bulky. Several younger ones even had the audacity to pull at his feathers, causing him to yelp.

    Vlad's sunglasses reflected the children's faces, and though Howard was having a hard time moving, his eyesight was not impaired (it was in fact, better than any normal humans). He could tell when Vlad's eyes lingered on a particular child. Usually it was Vlad who chose the new addition to the carnival...but tonight...tonight something was different. Though Vlad's eyes lingered on a thirteen year old boy with a lazy eye, Howard's eyes were drawn to a young girl, no older than five.

    Her hair was platinum blond, unlike most of the carnival who mainly had black hair. Her eyes were cornflower blue and stared at Terry with awe, but also understanding. This girl had figured out the tricks Terry was playing on the crowd. Though the carnival did have true magicians, Terry wasn't one of them...and this young child realized this. She was dressed in a simple green dress with buttons shaped like birds on them.

    Howard knew she was the one they needed for the carnival.

    The sun dropped deeper into the horizon. Howard had been so enthralled by the girl's knowledge (for he was sure she knew precisely what was going on), that he had failed to notice Vlad appear beside him.

    "The one with the lazy eye would be excellent as a fry cook. His mother and father make him cook at home, and he dreams of running away from their beatings." Vlad looked over as the sun's last rays were drowned by the night. Carefully, he removed his sunglasses, revealing a pair of pitch-black eyes. There were no whites to them...just an obsidian abyss.

    Howard jumped slightly, causing a few of the teenagers to point and snicker. "Vlad...don't do that."

    "What?" Vlad murmured distractedly, once again glancing over at the boy.

    "Sneak up on me. It makes me nervous."

    Vlad turned violently towards Howard. "You know I would never do anything to you! You of all people know that! You've been my friend since you were a child!"

    "I didn't mean it that way Vlad..." Howard stammered. Vlad was a wonderful friend, but he took offense far too easily. Vlad's eyes narrowed and Howard felt the energy about him boil. It made his skin crawl.

    "Don't do this Vlad...not here...not now. I didn't mean anything by it..."

    Vlad was visibly shaking. If it was at all possible, his cheeks looked flushed, but it could have been a trick of the light. Howard stared at his friend with the utmost concern. He couldn't help but notice the two already grotesquely large incisors in Vlad's mouth protruding over his lip and down to his chin.

    "Vlad...you haven't eaten in a while, have you?" Howard asked quietly. Vlad didn't reply, but merely shook his head. The look of anger that once clouded his features was gone. Occasionally this happened. Vlad didn't enjoy hurting others...even if it was for his survival. However, this response was far more dangerous. If Vlad didn't eat, Vlad had a tendency to become more irritable. If Vlad became more irritable, innocent bystanders usually suffered.

    A pair of worn hand's grabbed hold of Vlad's shoulders. In response, Vlad tensed up considerably, barely maintaining his paper thin controll. Terry's hands clenched tighter on Vlad's collarbones and he said, silently, "Go back to your trailer Vlad. You're causing a scene." Vlad shook his head again, but didn't open his mouth to answer.

    "Vlad," Terry said again, "Rhonda is here...she'll take you back. She'll make sure you don't do anything. Howard will make the decision tonight, so don't worry about a thing." Vlad, still shaking, nodded.

    Rhonda, the carnival's "Amazing Amazon" woman was stronger than any man. She was the only one who could help Vlad when this happened. He couldn't break from her grip, no matter how he tried. Though it hurt Howard to know that his friend would be crazed tonight, it comforted him to know that he wouldn't hurt anyone. Rhonda wouldn't allow it.

    As he watched Vlad be carried off over Rhonda's shoulder, he sighed. The children had stopped watching Terry and now their blank faces watched Vlad.

    "Just the Carnival's Haunted House manager." Terry said. "Getta look at those fake teeth! I'll be you're all wondering where you can get a set of those, eh? They're down the midway, and for a low price of nine buckaroos they can be yours!" Most of the children ran off to beg their parents for money.

    The five year old didn't budge an inch.

    Terry walked towards Howard, and laid a hand on his shoulder. Howard repressed a shiver. Terry's blind eyes...he couldn't pretend they didn't frighten him. Sometimes they saw more than Howard wanted them too.

    "She knows, doesn't she?" Howard muttered. "She knows your tricks...and she knows what's going to happen to her."

    Terry nodded. "And she'll follow you willingly. She thinks your an angel Howard!" Terry laughed. "Imagine that! Howard the carnival's biggest freak! An Angel!" Terry laughed and slapped Howard on the back. "Go talk to her. Buy her some cotton candy and bring her to Master Katz."

    Howard nodded, and began to walk towards the girl.

 

 

The End

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