Sunday, March 28, 2010


I promise you've seen at least one of these characters before, so it totally counts as continuation. Yes.

He blinked at the sudden brightness, struggling to follow the fast-moving shadows that swarmed across the room. There were close to thirty of the children here, he realized as his eyes adjusted. Some played on the floor with battered toys, some worked on small projects on the scattered wooden tables. A few were sleeping, on benches or tables or whatever came to hand. Everyone looked up at his entrance as his young guide dragged him inside, slamming the door behind them.
For a log moment they just stared at him, battered toys and games forgotten, and he shrunk back just a little, back towards the world of mud and exhaustion that had been his only home for so long. Nobody moved, nobody spoke. Everyone simply watched, with cautious, suspicious eyes, and the room hung frozen.
Finally, one of the girls spoke up. “Who'd you find, Mikhail?”
And then the noise crashed into his mind like a wave, sweeping him up in the rush of children. They ran towards him, swarming around him like moths around a light. One took his backpack; another helped him out of the battered coat. He could barely make out single voices in the massive barrage of questions as the kids took both his hands and pulled him towards the room's big open fireplace.
“Did you walk all the way...” “Where'd you get that big mark on...” “Do you like potato soup, or...” “...Have a name?” “Did you come to see...” “Can I...” “...You want me to...” “Theia?” “...Look in your backpack, please? I won't touch...”
“Hang up!” shouted his rescuer, clapping his good arm to the bandaged one with the odd crash of resounding metal. “Quit with the questions! Give him a chance to catch his breath. The guy's been walking for like, ever! ”
“How long is like ever?” asked one of the littler girls, staring at him with wide eyes.
The boy—Mikhail, he corrected himself—paused a moment, then turned to the chimera, momentarily lost. “How long have you been walking?”
“A... A long time. Four years.” The words sounded strange, his own voice unfamiliar. He hadn't spoken to another living creature in almost that long. Four years. Really?
The children gave a simultaneous “Oooooh,” clearly very impressed. “That's longer than Tina's been alive!” piped up one boy. “And she's old enough to punch!”
A crash sounded from one of the small doors that edged the big central hall. “I got a blanket!” Another boy, this one with shaggy blonde hair only kept out of his eyes by the speed at which he was moving, skidded through the doorway, stumbling as he made the sharp turn. “Three of 'em!” He dumped all three rather unceremoniously on the chimera's lap, smiling widely.
“Thank you,” he said, trying to return the smile.
“Not a problem!” The boy ducked his head respectfully. “I'm Wilbur. What's your name?”
“I...” he paused, momentarily lost. “I don't really have one anymore,” he admitted quietly. The whole assembly stared for a moment longer until they again exploded into sound.
“You should be Gilgamesh!” shouted one, waving his hand wildly.
“No, Izangati!”
“That's a girl's name!” someone shouted indignantly. “You should be Antonio!”
“You can be Misha, cause that's my name too! We'll both be Misha!”
“Vincent! You should be Vincent!”
“Compass! Umbrella!”
“...Not even real names!”
“Hang up!” yelled Mikhail again, clapping twice. “He can't be named everything.”
“We should vote,” suggested Wilbur. “Like we do with babies.”
“That won't work.” Mikhail said flatly. “Babies don't care what their name is.”
Wilbur thought for a moment. “Right. How about he picks one, then?”
“I was gonna suggest that,” muttered the older boy. He turned to the chimera. “Well, how about it? What should your name be?”
“I...” He paused for a moment longer, thinking, then shook his head. “I really don't know.”
“So should we vote then?”
“We always end up with something stupid when we vote without Thiea here. Like Toastpants.” Mikhail crossed his arms. “Let's vote on some names, and then he can find one he likes off of those.”
“That'll take forever!” Wilber whined.
“Toastpants.” Mikhail enunciated, like that one word would win him the whole argument.
Apparently, it did. “Fine.” The blonde boy sulked. “But what are we supposed to call him until then?”

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