Companionship wasn't a word in Ryder Young's vocabulary. As far back as he could remember, he was alone. Now, at the age of sixteen, the strapping young man had his life figured out. Of course, begging and stealing wasn't an ideal life for most people. But, Ryder managed.
Ryder lived in the West part of Atlantis, which was known for its poor conditions. The Central and South side of Atlantis was where the rich lived, so naturally, Ryder was spotted there most of his time.
Atlantis wasn't a completely submerged city as it was once told. First, a large underwater dome was built. Then, a city, and thus, Atlantis was born. Air circulated below the ocean, and people began to migrate down. As it became crowded, another dome was made, and East Atlantis resided there. Submarines moved between both cities. Eventually, people forgot about above, and people above forgot about below. Ryder's generation knew nothing of above, but he didn't miss much.
Ryder's journey that day led him to Central Atlantis. It was only a forty-five minute walk from West to Central, so he walked there everyday. Where he sat was different every time though. That day, he was right in front of the town hall, begging.
Of all the people in Atlantis, he earned most of his money from girls. Most girls felt bad that this good looking boy was poor and hungry. And sympathy was all he needed to get money. The next group that gave him funds was adults. They didn't really care for him. However, they cared more than the boys of town. The boys hated him. They viewed him lower than dirt, which didn't bother Ryder.
"What are you doing?"
Ryder looked up to see a boy about his age, standing over him.
"Well, young man, this is called collecting dues. People owe me money, and I am here to collect."
"You're a beggar," said the boy, coldly.
"I am no such thing!" shouted Ryder. "That is such a demeaning line of work. I wouldn't be caught dead doing that."
The boy frowned and observed Ryder head to foot. Ryder had tussled black hair under a red bandana. His fingernails were blackened by dirt on the underside, but his hands were the only clean thing on his body. He wore old and tattered clothing that hadn't been washed, ever; something that could be seen and smelled. And he had worn black boots; his left one with a hole near the big toe. The boy knew that Ryder lived on the West due to his poor standards.
As the boy frowned upon every imperfection Ryder had, Ryder also took his opportunity to judge the boy. This boy was the complete opposite of himself. The boy had curly brown locks that were combed and knot free. He had shiny blue eyes under long eyelashes. He was as clean as a whistle, and wore military-looking clothes. And his boots were really nice. Ryder envied the boots and thus, he formulated a small little plan to get them for himself.
"So, who are you?" questioned Ryder.
"Name is William Finley-Harvey Lewis the Second."
"How can you be the second? Your father's name is Harvey Lewis, not William Lewis," blurted Ryder.
"So you are educated," laughed William. "I am named after my grandfather William Finley Lewis." Will paused because Ryder was rolling his eyes. "Well, what's your name then?"
"Ryder Young the sixteenth." Will glared at him, which amused Ryder. "I'm just Ryder Young, the first and only."
"Didn't get it from your good-for-nothing father then?" Will's attempt at an insult didn't bother Ryder at all.
"You are correct about that. Good-for-nothing." He repeated and laughed. "Who knows if I am named after him. Never met him." Ryder started to pack up his belongings to leave. And Will felt like he lost this argument to a poor kid from the West. "It was nice to meet you William Harvey-Finley Lewis the second."
"Actually, it is Finley-Harvey," he corrected.
And that's when Ryder knocked Will over to retrieve those wonderful boots.
William was furious that this low-life boy stole his boots. He did have about twelve other pairs at home, but those specific boots were taken by a beggar. Will chased Ryder all around Central until they broke into the town hall, a place where only city officials were allowed. Will had second thoughts about going inside. But, he wanted to teach the beggar a lesson. When he entered the room Ryder had went into, he spotted Ryder dive under a clothed table.
"What a pathetic hid-" Ryder shushed him and waved him under the table. As Will looked around, he heard his father and others walking into the room from another entrance. Will also dove under the table and remained silent with Ryder.
"Why have you called us down here, Harvey?"
"Gentlemen, we are in a crisis," stated the Mayor.
Mumbles above the table sounded. Will and Ryder looked at each other. Ryder peeked under the table cloth to see where everyone was. The men were all sitting with their backs to the table. Will pulled on Ryder's sleeve to leave, but Ryder smacked his hand away. Will tried to leave without him, however, Ryder pulled on his collar to make him stay put.
"Listen," whispered Ryder.
"I have been conversing with Midi from the East. He has told me the air has started to falter. We are losing our steady stream." Outrage erupted above the table. Will and Ryder glanced at each other but turned their attention back to the conversation. "We believe our flow is affecting the East. We have sent some above to check, but there is no technical problem."
"What is the problem then?"
"We are not sure."
"Then, what are we going to do?"
There was a huge pause.
"If we do not find a solution, we will have to abandon Atlantis."
Will pulled Ryder out of the room when no one was paying attention. They ran so far down the street, they were panting for the lessening air when they stopped.
"Did you...hear that?" Exhaustion hit Ryder hard.
Ryder took a huge breath and nodded. Will saw his boots still in Ryder's hands, so he snatched them back. Ryder didn't care though, other things overwhelmed him.
"There's something above us? Did you know that? I didn't know that!" Ryder was ecstatic.
"You don't get out much, do you?" Will was surprised by Ryder's excitement.
"I know there was the East Atlantis across the way. But...above us? What is up there?"
"I don't know!" replied Will. "Probably nothing. More water?"
Ryder ran around in a happy circle and dashed towards the West. Will watched him run off, and he turned South to go home. But, in his mind, he was running around in a happy circle as well.