The sky opened up like a great maw, presenting the dazzling light of the golden sun. However, dark and ominous clouds loomed low overhead and a sudden thunderous roar bellowed from the heavens. No one below seemed to notice this peculiar event, which only enforced the belief that humans were indeed very ignorant beings.
A small sound emanated from the dreary skies—a yelp, perhaps, guttering from an injured bird. The noise became louder—more boisterous. With a wild frenzy of black beating wings and matted blonde hair, a rather lanky thing hurdled downward toward his doom. Yet, seconds before the thing splattered to the ground, he stopped merely centimeters from it, face down. Slowly he descended, splaying his arms and legs out as though to cushion his two centimeter fall. As the creature got to his feet he began to dust himself off and peruse his surroundings.
Tall mesquite trees encircled the glade in which he stood, their leaves quivering in the light breeze. The majority of the surrounding grass was dead and brown with only a few miniscule patches of green weeds that sprouted some rather odd smelling blooms. The air was thick and muggy, so much humidity that it was like inhaling a bowl of hot soup. It was a typical Texas atmosphere.
"Of all places to land, I had to be demoted to Hell on Earth," the creature complained, snuffing at the terrible humidity.
Without much thought of where he was going, he began to walk through the denser foliage until he reached an empty highway. Bending down, he touched his slender fingers to the gravel and then heaved an annoyed sigh. There hadn't been a sign of a truck or car for hours, so it was going to be more waiting and hoping.
Another soft breeze scuttled by and gusted through the quills of his feathered wings. He shuddered and suddenly the majestic wings upon his back retreated into his skin. Wincing at the coarse feeling of feathers soaking into back into him, he gave his head a bit of a shake and began treading the lonely highway. He kept his hopes up for someone to pick him up as a young hitchhiker.
"Honestly, this city has no respect for the environment," said a short, dark-haired boy under his breath as he doubled over to retrieve a carelessly discarded pair of old batteries.
The sun was really beating down on the denizens of the city today; even a simple car ride to the grocery was more than a bit sweltering to stand. Fell had grown quite accustomed to the heat this year after spending hours a day running, or walking nearly every place in town within a three mile radius.
Carefully, using the hem of his white tank top to touch the acidic batteries, he wrapped them in a plastic bag and pocketed them for later disposal.
A group of wannabe gangsters eyed him curiously as he continued walking down Blanco. For a moment Fell suspected them to threaten him—after all it wasn't every day you saw a boy wearing a white and blue tutu. Fell shrugged it off and kept his eyes out for the bookstore. That was when he noticed the horizon cracking wide open and spitting something out of it. From where he stood it looked like a falling airplane, for there was a billowing cloud of darkness around it. His mouth hung open a long while as he watched, completely dumbfounded.
When the unknown thing had vanished beyond human sight, Fell continued on his way, thinking nothing more about it.
Some odd hours later the once-winged boy arrived by way of an old, red, rickety truck into city lines. A part of him wanted to cheer for at last reaching civilization, yet he seemed to be under the false impression that the city was a safe place to walk about in a thin, white frock that was supported only by a bit of small, yellow rope. The elder man that had driven him had tried to forewarn the poor boy, though he did not heed a word.
Suffice it to say that the welcome wagon was not even the least bit welcoming to him; although, as he continued onward into a more residential area, by foot, the people became more and more relaxed with his appearance. A few times he was even offered several thumbs-up by some rather burly-looking women with curiously deep voices. At this, the boy would force a friendly smile and a mutual thumbs-up.
As he began to walk a busier street, he spotted an occult bookstore and immediately made his way over. Perhaps this place had a book that could shed some light on his current predicament. So, without considering his own strange attire, he entered the place. A blast of cold air whipped his face and he took a deep breath of it and relished the sensation before casting a glance around the establishment.
Several displays of quartz, amethyst, obsidian and many other types of stones were set upon and inside glass encasements. Some stones were carved to look like insects or mammals, others were carved into orbs. There were wooden talismans hanging on hooks at the end of every bookshelf, and there were books galore from ceiling to floor, wall to wall. It wasn't long before the boy was voraciously devouring every word in every book in sight.
He outstretched his hungry hands for a book at one point and was jolted by the warm touch of another hand that had extended for the very same book.
"Oh, sorry," the two boys said in unison, both uttering a small giggle.
"No, you go ahead. There's probably nothing new that isn't already in the other ones," the blonde boy said matter-of-factly. As he let his eyes wander over the other boy, he noticed he was wearing a tutu and his blue eyes widened a bit before he stuck up his thumbs and this time gave a genuine smile.
The other boy raised his eyebrows and slowly turned on his heel to look at another row of books adjacent the other shelf.
"Erm—I'm sorry. I thought—never mind. I'm Travis, by the way." The human realm is awfully strange, Travis thought as he proffered a hand for a standard American greeting.
"Uh… Fell." Fell didn't shake his hand, but instead stared at it as though it were riddled with disease and was afraid to catch something from it.
"What?" Travis said. His face looked stricken, as though all his deepest secrets had been exploited. Does this boy know of what happened?
"My name," Fell said gently. "My name is Fell," he laughed again, thoroughly amused by the odd boy's mannerisms.
"Oh." Travis looked down at his naked feet now, and Fell followed his gaze.
"Uhm, so what's with the Jesus costume?" With a smirk, Fell gestured at the feminine white robe.
Travis looked taken aback and sized up the shorter boy, puffing out his chest a bit and angling his chin up higher. "What's with your costume?" He countered.
"Actually, I probably should have listened to the man who dropped me off here and bought some clothes back in… what was it that town was called? Anyway, do you know of any place where I can get some?" Travis tried to appear nonchalant about the whole ordeal, but was failing miserably as his hands were a bit shaky with anxiety.
Fell didn't look phased at all; instead he nodded his head without looking at the disheveled boy, and then pointed an index finger over his left shoulder. "Back down that way on West Avenue." He continued fingering through a row of books and looked over when he noticed Travis hadn't quit staring at him. "Oh, you're not from here, are you?"
The blonde boy looked like a dog with his tail tucked between his legs, which made Fell feel a bit responsible for treating him like an annoying child.
"I could show you?" Fell offered him as he replaced a book he had been holding in his hand for the past fifteen seconds without even looking at it.
"Thank you so much!" Travis' face brightened and he bolted out the entrance door. He made a mental note to come back to the shop later to see if he could find even a crumb of information that would help him.
Fell took his precious time exiting the bookstore, and as soon as he stepped out he saw a very excited Travis bouncing on the balls of his feet, waiting on the hood of a random car. Travis leapt from the car, landing perfectly on both feet without falter, and rushed up to Fell, staying very close beside him as they walked down Blanco road towards Dresden. They both got a lot of very hostile looks from the passersby, and that's when Fell started to rethink his own visage. Maybe it was a smart idea to change back into a pair of pants whilst walking down the scary half of the neighborhood.
"I don't understand," Travis began to say as a Mexican gang member made a vulgar gesture at him. He latched on to Fell's right arm tightly as they passed a bus stop bench that seated only one particularly large woman. "Why are these people so dark and…" he trailed off at a loss for the correct word to describe the people around them.
"Portentous?" Fell laughed loudly and snorted a bit as he tried to compose himself and loosen Travis' death grip on his arm (he was beginning to lose feeling). "It's just Texas, Travis. Everyone here in San Antonio is exactly the same—except for maybe a few select people. I'm used to it I guess." He looked over at Travis who didn't seem much alleviated by these words.
"Don't worry. They're all mostly bluffing. No one gets shot on this part of town—at least not often," he squeezed out a sincere laugh and shook his arm free of the boy's hands. "Honestly, you're safer here than anywhere else."
Without much of a warning, Travis flung his arms up into the air and started screaming as loud as his vocals would allow. Fell covered his ears and ducked as though something were about bash into his skull; he looked around wildly for a reason for Travis' outburst, but there didn't seem to be any tangible explanation. No one else paid any attention to him, as though they couldn't hear those blood curdling screams.
"WHAT? WHAT? WHAT IS IT?" Fell attempted to shout over him, picking him up off the ground and trying to stand him upright. Travis was nothing but dead weight, letting his legs go limp under him, and still flailing his arms about, nearly whacking Fell in the face.
Then he stopped.
"What the HELL was that all about?"
Travis wiped his hands on his robes and got to his feet, acting as though he hadn't a care in the world. For a dull moment he looked around with an incurious look on his face.
"Sorry, thought I'd stepped on a bit of glass," with that Travis went on walking ahead of Fell, hearing the gentle flap of his thin shoes hitting the pavement as he worked to catch up.
"Oh, well, if that was all it was," Fell said in a sarcastic tone, shrugging his shoulders and guiding Travis down the correct street before he walked into oncoming traffic.
They walked onward in silence for a considerable time before they arrived at a very ugly house. The front of it was compiled wood and brick, and a row of five clay flower pots sat pathetically beneath a window ledge. All the plants contained in those pots were, of course, all deceased. Even the grass was looking rather grim—or the weeds, rather.
Fell told Travis to wait there on the porch while he went in and changed. Travis seemed to understand but didn't feel like sitting on hard pavement, so he climbed atop the turquoise fence that bordered the house and tried to get comfortable. When Fell opened the door he panicked momentarily, thinking he had lost the boy, but then saw a pair of very soiled feet dangling from his fencepost.
"Do you have any shoes I could borrow?" Travis swung his feet back and forth, drumming them against the wooden planks.
"Uh," Fell looked down at his small feet and then at Travis'. He sighed morosely and went back into the house to retrieve his mother's old Nike sneakers from the closet. Fell figured his mother's shoes would fit Travis best, seeing as his feet were like that of a pixie's.
Fell stopped what he was doing for a second and thought logically. He supposed Travis could borrow some clothes from him for now, being that they would still have to walk together with Travis dressed like something out of Jesus Superstar.
"Hey! Travis!" He called out, going into his own room now and rummaging around in his drawers.
Travis toppled from the fence and bounded inside, looking around at the nearly empty house, thinking to himself, What an odd place for a couch…
Travis let his head hang backward between his shoulders to peer up at the dangling paper stars on the ceiling. As he let his head hanker down he realized that Fell's entire room was blue. Blue walls, blue sheets, blue duvet, and even several blue shirts scattered on the only thing in the room that wasn't blue: the old wooden floor.
"Yeah?" Travis answered tonelessly, still looking round the room.
Fell tossed him a wad of clothes that consisted of clean tighty whities, blue jeans, and a white shirt. Travis turned them over in his hands his expression resembled that of a small child's on Christmas morning.
"The bathroom is right there. Put those on for now, just until you have your own."
Travis looked over at the bathroom and thought nothing of it, then began stripping off his robe right there in the bedroom.
"WHOA, WHOA, WHOA. What are you doing?!" Fell exclaimed loudly, shielding his eyes from the view of the naked Travis, who was now working his head through the leg hole of his underwear. Fell helped him out of the incorrect way to wear underwear, and then crouched down to hold them out for Travis to step in to. He shut his eyes tight so he didn't see any of his business.
"Oh! So that's what those are for!" Travis stuck each leg through the proper holes and slid the underwear up around his waist a bit too high.
Fell opened up his eyes and shook his head in disbelief. "Haven't you dressed yourself before?"
"No, not really. I've always worn the same thing for as long as I can remember."
Fell's features contorted into something that resembled confusion and sympathy. "Where do you come from? Are you homeless?"
Travis didn't know exactly how to answer this without giving away everything the human realm wasn't supposed to know. However, now that he had been cast out of his own realm, he figured there couldn't be much more damage that he could do. Even if he told Fell everything that had happened to him, he still might not believe him and merely dismiss him as a psychologically impaired teenager.
"I'm most definitely without a home at the moment."
"Erm… okay, do you even have any money to buy clothes?"
"No, thank you, I'm not thirsty."
Fell smacked his forehead with the palm of his hand and sighed, a bit remorseful that he'd managed to pick up a loon at the most convenient of places. "How did you think you were going to even buy clothes? Magic?"
Travis chuckled and said with an air of overconfidence, "Of course not! Everyone knows magic isn't real!" Travis began shoving his arms through the legs of the jeans, but stopped when Fell pulled them off and calmly bent down so he could step into them the same way he'd done with the underwear. Then, Fell helped him put on his shirt, a pair of socks, and the Nikes (of which fit him absolutely perfect, though the other clothes were a bit small).
"Do you mind cutting slits in the back?" Travis arched his arms over his shoulders and scratched at his back, squishing up his face as though he were about to lay an egg.
Fell laughed nervously, "What? Why?" Even though he was smiling he was worried for his life—what if this guy was on crack?
"It's boiling out there. I wouldn't want to overheat." He started clawing at the cotton material, trying to split it apart, but Fell caught his hands and pulled his arms back over his head.
"Ouch!" Travis yelped as Fell's hands slid down between his shoulder blades.
Fell lifted up the shirt and noticed parallel lines of scabbed flesh on the other boy's back. He let out a small gasp of concern and turned Travis around to face him. "What the hell happened to your back?" He turned Travis back around and ran two fingers down the left incision mark. It felt icy and leathery, as though it were some sort of manmade flap to hide something eerie that lie within him.
"Oh, that? Those are"—without warning (once again) a shooting pain ran up the length of Travis' spine and two great black wings sprouted from the scabbed marks, feathers flying in every direction, blanketing the floor in downy obsidian.
Fell tumbled onto his bed, his chest heaving with exhilaration, hands covering his mouth in absolute incredulity. How was this possible? Boys didn't just grow wings without purpose! This all just must be some ridiculous dream that he was going to awaken from at any moment now. Shutting his eyes he wished and wished with all his might to wake up, but he didn't, for when he opened his eyes Travis still stood there with those dark, towering wings jutting out of his back.
Travis silently cursed himself and tried to force his appendages back inside, but they wouldn't comply, instead they began to beat furiously, sending him about three feet in the air, his head nearly hitting the ceiling.
"Oh my god," exclaimed Fell, covering his eyes again, and then letting oblivion finally consume him.