50 – A Space to Think
3 0 0
Reading Options
Font Size
A- 15px A+
Table of Contents
Loading... please wait.

Mr. Non stopped the cart at the outskirts of the forest, we could still clearly see the dead ground not too far from where we stood, and he tied the monster to a tree. The raptor clearly wouldn’t go another step in. I hopped off and followed Mr. Non inside; behind me, the suns were beginning to say their farewell to the day. Azul shuddered. I suppose this could be a small revenge, in a way, for him latching on to me like he had.

The trees were densely packed together, more tightly than I would have expected from a distance. Underneath them was an array of green plants and shrubbery. With no path carved out, we had to weave and bob through the thicket as best we could. I did my best to keep up with the strange man. He passed through with such ease it was like the plants didn’t even touch him. Steeling my resolve to not be left behind, I sped up my pace.

“We can’t stay here forever, can we?” I asked.

“No, but we will only need to be here a little while. The suns will be back before you know it.”

“How?” I asked.

“Some nights in this world are shorter than others. One of those funny things about having so many suns,” he replied with a shrug. Considering he lived in this world, I couldn’t blame him for being so nonchalant about it.

“So, what do we do in the meantime?”

Mr. Non pushed through some tall bushes and disappeared. I sighed and followed after, emerging in a large clearing at the base of the giant tree. My guide held out his hand in a gesture to direct my gaze at the scene.

A calm light from the leaves, or maybe some flowers, above illuminated the scene in a gentle glow. The trunk was larger than I could imagine. It easily stretched out to be more expansive than the wall Lerato and Pythagoras had created to protect the camp and likely anything else I had seen since I had lost my memory. A pool of the cleanest water circled around the base, and the wind was so still that no ripple disturbed the top. I walked close and looked down; the bottom was clear as day through the water.

“For now, I’m going to pick some nuts and berries to munch on. You can rest here, but don’t mess with anything!” The strange man disappeared into the woods as he left. I sat on the ground and stared at the water. The calmness of it was soothing, somehow.

A croak to my right caught my attention. The green frog sat off to the side and watched silently.

“It would be best for you to leave!” Azul shouted to the frog. The creature shook its head and stayed in place.

“Azul, please. Let’s just rest for a moment.” I moved my hands behind me and leaned back. My legs stretched out parallel to the water’s edge.

“No, Kiko, we need to get going!”

“Azul, when the time is right, we can go. It seems the monsters don’t like this forest for some reason.”

The blue dragon shook his head.

“He will not help you to escape this world. You will be left to your doom.” I felt a tightness around my throat as Azul spoke.

“And how exactly do you plan to escape this world? You’re just arguing for the sake of arguing!”

“Kiko, I will tell you once the time is right,” he dodged the question. I had let him avoid it before, but something felt different this time. Perhaps owing to the setting I found myself in, I didn’t let his words pass away so quickly.

It was like I could think clearly—so much so that I wondered what state I had been previously thinking. Either Azul was lying about his ability to help me escape, or he planned to have me do something odd in order to do it. I’m not sure why, but it was at this point that I finally wanted to know for sure. I had to get some answers here and now. If he could convince me, I might just leave this forest while Mr. Non was away. I was willing to hear him out but felt like the blue dragon wouldn’t be one to talk. If only there was a way.

A jingle came from my wrist. The two collected keys which had been invisible for some time, were now hanging off my wrist.

I sat in silence for a couple of minutes, maybe longer. It wasn’t until the sun was starting to rise that I spoke again.

“Now seems like a good time.” I fiddled with one key until it was pulled off my wrist. I would have thought it might have taken more to pull it off, but the binds on the key gave way rather quickly once I put my mind to it.

“Calm down, Kiko.” His voice had a hint of nervousness. Perhaps it was a little harsh, but I might be able to move his lips if I seemed like I parted with one of the black keys. I tossed it to the side, in the middle of the clearing, where the grass was short enough to find it again. To my surprise, a long tongue shot out of the frog and pulled the key into its stomach.

“See what you’ve done now? Now we have lost a key.” Azul spoke calmly, but there was an underlying quiver in his words.

“I can always cut the key out of the frog’s stomach if needed,” I replied callously.

“I can hear you….” the frog added.

The second black key was pulled off my wrist.

“I just want to know.”

It sounded for a second like Azul hissed, but his following words came out so calmly I must have imagined it.

“Very well, there were some humans in the direction I had you going; this world still has some hanging on. If you killed them in the right way, it would have you from this world.”

I tossed the key into the air. The frog’s tongue collected it once again. The blue dragon might have well as screamed in shock. “What are you doing!” The first key was thrown with hesitancy; I just wanted to make Azul cooperate a little, then pick it back up. The second key might have been pitched as hard as possible had I not known the frog would try to eat it.

“I don’t like the idea of you having me kill someone,” I said the words calmly, but I couldn’t shake the horror I felt inside. Not because he might have had me try to kill someone to escape—though that idea was disagreeable in itself—but, for a split second before I tossed the key, I felt as if I might have been okay with it. As if it was a good plan.

“I don’t understand why you are against this plan. Surely you must understand that your hands have been stained with blood before,” Azul replied. His voice was one of genuine confusion as if he could not comprehend why I was opposed. To be honest, a part of me wanted to agree with what he said.

Given the memories that had been restored, I could see that being the case. Yet, I had no recollection of actually killing anyone since going to the grey world. It felt possible but not something I wanted to dwell on for too long. I had an inkling I might start to remember the feeling of a dagger pressed into a back or chest, and I shuddered at the possibility of that occurring.

Had I continued along with only Azul, I might have stumbled across those supposed people and killed them. If it was the only way to escape, it was sensible to do so, after all. My callous words about dissecting the frog earlier were enough to show some instinct of an assassin remained; I’m not sure if that could ever be removed. I shuddered at my thoughts.

A small memory returned. I blinked as I recalled standing before the clan's leaders, my mother in the center. They all stood tall like giants over my tiny body.

“I don’t want to kill anyone,” I repeated the words I said to them then.

Azul grunted.

“You will never escape this world otherwise,” he sighed, “but that is okay; I will stay with you until you change your mind.”

It was true that the blue dragon was wrapped around my neck. I reached for the scaly body, but my hands couldn’t find it—my fingers clawed against the skin of my neck instead. “Kiko, it is pointless,” the words carried a mocking tone. I was starting to wonder how much of it was in my imagination.

“Kiko,” the voice of Mr. Non called from behind. I jumped; I must have been so distracted I didn’t hear him walking up. I hoped he didn’t hear too much of that conversation with Azul.

Putting my hands down on my lap, I turned to the stranger.


The odd man stood with a relaxed posture. One hand was outstretched and held the nuts and berries he went to collect. With his other, he pointed to the items as if I might miss them otherwise.

“Want something to eat?” he asked. Whatever he picked must not have been that good since he wasn’t bothering to eat any of the haul.

I took some of the berries and popped them into my mouth. My face was aimed down as I avoided looking him in the eye.

“Thank you,” I said quietly.

“Also, would you like help getting rid of that dragon?”

I jumped at his words and looked back up. The same man was there, but he had suddenly become serious. His smile had flattened, and his eyes narrowed as he stared at Azul. The blue dragon hissed in reply.