Alice was always a point of interest in the capital. During her childhood, she passively garnered followers, kids in the neighbourhood and later children from around the entire city. Alice was an energetic girl. She wasn’t entirely logical, but she was very driven and people found value in that. Adults would watch her warily. Some would even keep their children away from her. It was her unusual appearance. Alice had an obvious and striking look to her. Her brightly coloured hair was lighter and had less of the yellow-blonde common in Solune hair. It was more of a sandy orange. Her eyes were usually a clear maroon, but when she got excited or angry they would become an astonishingly bright red. But the real reason why adults avoided her was because of her unpredictability paired with her tooth and nail.
Alice had three sets of canines, longer and thicker than the Solune’s. They often hid behind her oddly dark and loose cheeks, but when she smiled they came out. Two fangs pointing downward, followed by four more, two on each side, pointed up. Her nails were not only long, but animal like. And her free spirit made many worry, what would she do next? Even worse, there were rumors. Rumors that she had committed murder and that worst of all, she didn’t regret it. She didn’t feel remorse.
But those were only rumors, right?
Finch had heard all of these things, and had avoided the southern area of the city because of warnings from his father. Sometimes his friend Artus would invite him along to go visit her, but he always refused. Finch listened to what his father said, and kept away from that “monster.”
Finch was walking home from the library with an armful of books. His father had been homeschooling him; the primary method of education in Murdock city. He’d sent the boy with a list, and Finch had also taken some books the he was personally interested in. Unlike most children, he wasn’t interested in the Prince’s adventure series or Gwenhime’s Tales of Conquest. Finch sought only Natural Studies textbooks. He also liked finding books from outside of the city, from academics such Joss Resz, Bradley Jeremy, and Azure Double.
He was halfway to his house now, and the books were starting to strain his arms. He might have taken too many personal picks.
He knew he’d have to rest at some point before heading home. Finch saw a bench and decided that now was as good a time as any. He sat down and put the pile of books beside him. It almost reached his shoulders sitting down. He had definitely taken too many at once. He closed his eyes and caught his breath.
“Hello there!” A voice said.
Finch jolted, immediately tensing up. He turned to his left side, and saw the top of a head hiding behind the pile of books. He didn’t remember seeing anyone there while sitting down, but the person looked so small that he wasn’t sure if he’d missed them altogether.
“Umm,” Like most children, Finch had little sense for pleasantries and got right to the point, “How did you get there?”
“Oh, I saw you sit down, so I came and sat next to you. Or at least I tried. I didn’t want to sit on your books!” The voice replied.
He could still only see the small person’s hair. It was an unusual colour. Him and his father had black hair, but most of the other people in the city had blonde or light brown hair. This person had blazingly bright orange-yellow hair.
“Your hair looks like a fire.” He said.
“I know. Isn’t it cool?” The small person replied, sounding excited.
“Yeah. Hey, can you stop hiding behind the books?” Finch asked.
“No, you’re scary.”
Finch stopped, confused. No one had ever called him scary. Maybe it was because he was already twelve. He was only three years from being an adult! Maybe that was why. But he wasn’t sure, so he asked.
“How am I scary?”
“Your hair is so dark. And your eyes too!” The small person said.
He had never thought about this. He looked just like his dad, but thinking back now it seemed no one else looked like them. Finch became very confused, but he was still more curious than anything.
“If you don’t show me your face,” He started, thinking, “I’ll just stand up so I can see it!”
“Oh…” The person said, “Okay fine.”
The small person leaned back slowly, peeking from behind the books.
“You’re a girl!” Finch said. It was hard to tell by voice with the younger kids, he found.
The small girl nodded. Finch decided that she was the unusual one of the two. She had darker skin, like she’d been in the sun for… forever! And the bright hair made her eyebrows and eyelashes stand out.
“Hi! Well, what’s your name? How old are you?” She asked the two most common questions a child could ask.
Finch was used to answering them, “My name is Finch Dirge Zeth, I’m twelve.”
“That’s a strange name. Out of all the kids I’ve talked to, you have the most weirdest name.”
“So?” He said, “What’s yours then?”
“I’m called Alice! Alice May Dawngale. I’m fourteen.” She said proudly. “That’s the name my mom told me a long time ago.”
“What do you mean a long time ago?” He was curious now.
“Well, my mom has passed away.” She said almost robotically.
Finch had a feeling she had said this sentence many times, to many people. But he was more interested in what was said than how it was said.
“Wow. Mine too,” Finch replied looking forward, “It’s just me and my dad.”
“Hey, that’s cool though!” She said, excited. He noticed that she always seemed a little excited.
“What do you mean cool? Almost everyone has a dad.”
Finch couldn’t believe what she was saying.
“You have no parents?!” He yelled, surprised.
Alice pulled her head down into her chest, “No… It’s just me.”
Finch felt bad. He started to think what it would be like without his dad. How would he get food? How would he learn? Just read? Who would he talk to? Who would take care of him? It would be all him, he’d have to do all of those things. Finch thought about Alice doing that all alone, with no mom or dad. He thought about her going into the forest all alone, hunting mobile moose or finding emango trees and climbing them for the fruit, without anyone to catch her. He wondered where she lived, did she sleep outside in the rain?
“Hey, are you okay? Are you crying?” Alice asked.
“No.” He replied, wiping his face.
“Well, it was nice meeting you, but I have to go.” She said.
“Okay, goodbye.” He replied.
“It’s not goodbye. It’s see you later! So, I’ll see you later!” She said and then jumped up.
The girl was really small. Finch didn’t believe that she was two years older than him.
He stood up too, watching Alice as she left, heading south. South.
“Oh no! My dad!”
Finch had remembered the monster from the south. That was it! She was the monster! Alice Dawngale was the monster that he was supposed to keep away from! He grabbed his books and ran home, worrying.
Every child lies to their parents, even more so if they know they’ll get in trouble if they tell the truth. Finch slowed to a walk as he neared his home. He could see it at the end of the cobblestone road, right on the corner. He wasn’t sure if he should tell his dad. He didn’t know if he’d get in trouble, what he would do. Finch knew that his dad always knew best though.
“Right. So if dad always knows best, then I can tell him and he will do what is the right thing to do.” He said, stumbling over his sentence nervously.
He got to the door, pulled the latch with his elbow and nudged it open.
I know this is a weird place to stop, but hopefully I’ve built some decent tension. The second part will come later this week, hopefully Tuesday, but you never know. Anyway, tell me what you think of Finch and Alice!