…with partial apologies to Melissa Scott, a real writer, for the title of this post…
Here, after our recent digression back into Mantorville for Dave a week ago, is another dose of Stars in Heaven for Colleen, who was kind enough to comment favorably a couple of times while I was not actually live and present on the blog recently.
“Come on, boy. Wake up!” Rimmon’s voice, somewhere distant. Who’s he talking to?
“Yeah, boy. It’s me. It’s Rim..”
“You puked, kidboy.” —Like Aunt Sarai, that. “Now you’re lyin’ in it, and you should get up.”
The boy reeled to his feet, the world sloshing all awry around him, and promptly fell down again.
“Not like that, kidboy. Come on, you gotta get up. Now. It’s important.”
He tried again, rising a bit more slowly, and this time things seemed to move a little more fluidly, keeping pace with his head, remaining level.
Uncle Rimmon had a wet rag in his hand and quickly wiped the boy’s face and upper body. Very quickly. The boy tried to help, taking the rag and working on his vomit-stained clothing and flesh.
“Good boy. That’s the way.”
They were alone. Not just Daniel, but Ghorf and Jism gone as well. “Where is everybody?” He remembered, he thought, yes… Daniel had lipped Ghorf and then run for it. Was he making his big Escape?
“They’re gone, kidboy. Doncha remember? Chasin’ Daniel. —You remember…”
Ghorf must’ve taken off after his son. Yes… Ghorf’d hit him and then run. “So Jism went after Unca Ghorf?”
“Whu— where’d they go?”
“Dunno, kidboy. That’s what I need you for. Somebody’s gotta stay here. ‘N’ that’s gotta be me. Too much stardust to trust to a li’l— …You gotta find ‘em.”
“But I don’t know where to go.”
“They went that way, kid. That’s all I know. You go that way, too.”
Uncle Rim looked serious, really serious. That was not usual for him. The boy had only known this new uncle for a day, but Daniel had told stories. And Uncle Rimmon was always the good guy, the unGhorf, the laughing one in those stories. And that’s just how he had been this past day. But not now. Now something that the boy thought looked a little like fear sparkled in the city man’s eyes.
“Go now, kidboy. Before they get any farther off.”
So he went. The boy, unsteadily on his feet, turned and took steps away into the hurrying masses of people, all of them so much larger than he was, all hurrying, rushing, bumping him immediately as he cleared the boothside. Someone could scent the puke and even pushed the boy to avoid the filth.
He wanted to stop as he staggered from one set of legs into another. Big adult voices snarling at him, the clumsy one, in the way, watch where you’re going, what’s the stink, eh.
He tried right away to turn around and go back, but there were too many legs already, too many people: he’d come too far already; and the booth was out of sight, and he wasn’t even sure in which direction. And Uncle Rimmon’s peculiar look haunted him vividly, those eyes. So he turned again, hoping it was still in the right direction and kept on. And he knew he had no idea where he was going. Unless he could guess Daniel’s plan…
I had intended to continue with more brand-new material about Daniel and his Escape, but time did not permit (and now I think I like jumping back and forth at this point between the two boysʼ points of view anyway).