Author's note: I wrote this a couple years ago and, although my writing style has since matured, I decided that... Show full author's note »
The Father“Children, your new father is here”
Four children, each with one pack filled with all of their worldly possessions, walked warily down the stairs of Helten Enthil Learning Institute. Its occupants usually shortened it to HEL Institute, but were careful not to alert adults to this fact. The Institute was a cold, unhappy place, and the orphaned children it held were not well taken care of, and did not know much kindness.
The four children were quite varying in looks and obviously not related. Caitlin, the oldest at 16 years, was a bit short for her age, with a motherly face, and short brown hair. Mark, second oldest, was 14 years old, with dark brown, almost black, untidy hair. Thirteen year old Sarah had long blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail, and she had her athletic body tensed as if she was expecting an attack. The youngest, Dean, was the last down the steps, and he stopped by the others standing at the edge of the busy speedway.
Standing near the children, was a robot, the thing that first introduced them to the man standing a couple paces away. He was about 50 years old, and rather tall. In his youth, he might perhaps have been thought quite handsome. He regarded the robot with a slightly annoyed look, then turned to face the four kids now assembled. He smiled and held out his hand.
“Hello, my name is Andy Ranner. You can just call me Andy.”
The four regarded hem with silence and suspicion until his hand dropped, and Caitlin spoke.
“I’m Caitlin,” she gestured to the others as she introduced each one, “and this is Dean, Mark, and Sarah. We appreciate you kindness in taking us in as you new children.” Sarah mumbled something to Mark that sounded close to “More like your new slaves.” The man, Andy, looked at Sarah, and then the four as a whole with a sad look in his eye. Caitlin’s address had been stiff and formal, and even now, four pairs of eyes watched him with suspicion that marked much past hurt. He shook his head infinitesimally, thinking of what it would take to earn those eyes’ trust. They had obviously seen much pain and sadness. “Well slow and steady wins the race,” he thought to himself. No one knew where that quote had originated, but it was one of his favorites, “If only I did have time to be slow and steady.”
“Is that all you have?” he asked as he gestured towards the small battered packs each child grasped. He took the blank stares to be a yes. “There should be enough room for all of us and your bags in this craft. It’s not one of those new fancy ones with all those gadgets and gizmos, but it flies and plays music, so it works for me.” He patted the hovercar fondly then turned to look at the children. “Oh for heaven’s sake,” he said with and exasperated sigh, “I’m not going to eat you.” Sarah was slightly amused by the comment, but she was careful to keep it to herself. She did, however, move to put her bag in the hovercar, and the others followed her. “Now that wasn’t so hard was it?” asked Andy, smiling again, as the children and their possessions were deposited in the hovercar. He too climbed aboard, and glancing once more at the robot as it said “Goodbye children,” he vocally steered the craft onto the speedway. They were soon drifting along at a comfortable speed of 110 mpr.
The ride was quiet and uneventful, and soon Andy was pulling off the speedway onto a quieter road. The children, used only to the crowded, gray city, gaped at what they saw. Only Dean, who had come most recently to the Institute, had ever been out of the city, and that had been a long time ago. He drank in the sight of trees and grass as much as the others. Andy, feeling the need for some music, set the soundcenter on low, and so the rest of the day passed.