A mysterious boy finds strangeness and adventure in a vast, mostly empty world...
In Which a Winged Boy is Born from Nothing, in a Vacant land, in a season of Empty
Wind stirred. The sails of the windmill budged, the canvas dangling and thirsty for a stronger breeze. The tall grass trembled. The season stumbled to its end; the gusts and storms of spring made way for the cruel heat of summer.
The windmill stood at the edge of the precipice, overlooking a misty void with no sight of a bottom. Thrushes the size of men darted and whirled in the emptiness, merging into the shadowy depths and bursting back into the light, shrieking into the cloudless sky.
The chasm stretched on to the brink of eternity, a malicious scar in the midst of the vibrant land. Its depths were infinite. It pulsed with ominous life, haunting all that surrounded it.
Mankind left this place ages ago, fearful of living within the reach of the pit, frightened of what evil lurked in the darkness below.
And so it was that the growing shadow that stretched across the grasses was a welcome thought to this vacant land. The shadow lingered, small and uncertain, mirroring its bearer.
It was a man-shaped creature, though smaller and considerably more rumpled than the average person. His age was hard to determine; he could be anywhere from eight to twelve years old. His hair, long and the color of sand, fell over his dark eyes. A pair of leathery wings stretched from his back, the left one incomplete.
The winged boy stared out upon the void, sensing its ageless hunger and edging away, fearful of it somehow grabbing him and pulling him into its eternal depths.
It was, in short, unpleasant. He turned from it, letting his eyes fall upon other things.
The stretch of grassland, like a great yellow-green ocean, offered no familiarity.
Where am I?
He stared around at vivid emptiness and considered calling out, but in his heart he sensed there was none else than him. The sails of the windmill swelled with a sudden gust, and it creaked to life for only a moment, before once more rocking still.
Who am I?
This question should have bothered him more, he knew, but it seemed secondary. A sudden revelation took him, and his name drifted to the margins of his mind – My name is Bon – but it was merely a name. A name offered nothing; it was not a synopsis of who he was. All that Bon knew for sure was that he was alone and getting hungry…and that being alone for a long time would make him sad, but being hungry for a long time would make him dead.
I’m not going in that windmill. The thought popped in his mind, timid and frantic. The windmill loomed on the very edge of the void. He imagined that denizens of the void might skitter and crawl into the windmill and lurk in the shadows, waiting for some hungry, hopeless, perhaps winged boy to seek food…and then find that he has become food. (These sorts of places always spring up during our youth, like murderous weeds in the hydrangea bushes of our childhood.)
He continued staring over the ocean of grass, and miles away, he spied something blocky and dark interloping in the flatness. A town? Bon thought, and his stomach gurgled.
He glanced back at the void briefly. It was not a look of longing. It was a glance someone might offer a caged tiger, to be sure that the latch was fastened and the lock tight. And once he felt certain that the endless pit of shadow was of no threat, he started toward what might be a town.