Alice and Finch – Chapter 1: Primary Dawn
Revised (v1) Portfolio EditionCopyright © 2018 by Daniel Triumph
Ever since she appeared in the Solune capital, Alice was always a point of interest. During her childhood, she had passively garnered followers among children within the neighbourhood. Later, others from around the city came too, to play games and see who she was. Adults did not want to find out who she was. They would watch her warily; parents would keep their children away from her.
Alice had an obvious, striking look to her. Her hair was brightly coloured, less blonde or brown and more sandy-orange. Usually her eyes were a deep maroon, but when she got excited or angry they would become an astonishing red. Alice was said to be of the mysterious eastern desert people, the Plainkind. She had extra canines, longer and thicker than any Solune’s. They often hid behind her stretch-marked cheeks, but they revealed themselves whenever she smiled.
When Ilias, Finch’s father, first saw her playing in the back alleys in the south end of town, he was immediately suspicious. He spoke to guards in the area, and based off of their words, told Finch to avoid the south, and the monster at all costs. The guard, like Finch, had never met Alice. Most of them had only heard about her. Whispers from closed minds became rumours behind closed doors, and then hearsay in the guard circle, perpetuated by a captain who hated outsiders. Alice was officially deemed unpredictable and dangerous, but due to her youth, the guard could do little more than watch her, and wait for something to happen.
Finch was on his way home from the library with an armful of books. Finch, like a lot of his friends, was not in public school, and instead was educated by a parent. His father had sent him to retrieve a list of educational material for the next week, and Finch had also taken some books he was personally interested in. Finch wasn’t too interested in most story books, instead he preferred Natural Studies textbooks, the kinds that were made for kids his age or older.
Finch was halfway to his house when all of his the books began to strain his arms. He might have chosen too many extras. He realized he would have to rest at some point before reaching his house. Finch saw a bench and decided that now was as good a time as any, so he sat down and placed the stack of books beside him. It reached almost up to his shoulders. Finch closed his eyes and caught his breath. He had definitely taken too many.
“Hello there!” A small voice said.
Finch jolted, tensing up. He turned to his left and saw the top of a head hiding behind his books. He didn’t remember seeing anyone there while he was sitting down, but this person was so small that he wasn’t sure if he’d simply missed them altogether.
“Umm, how did you get there?” Finch had little sense for pleasantries.
“Oh, well, I saw you sit down, so I came and sat down next to you. As next to you as I could without sitting on all your books!” The voice replied.
Finch could still only see the small person’s hair. It was an unusual colour. His father and he had black hair, and knew that most of the people in the city had either blonde or light brown hair. This person had blazing orange-yellow hair.
“Your hair looks like a fire.” He said.
“Isn’t it cool?”
“Yeah—can you stop hiding behind the books?” Finch asked.
“No, you’re scary.”
Finch stopped, confused. No one had ever called him scary before. Maybe it was because he was already twelve. He was a big kid now, 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 around 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 that few people looked like them.
The small person peeked out from behind the books with her head tilted down.
Finch pointed, “You’re a girl!” It was always hard to tell by voice at his age.
The small girl nodded. Finch concluded that she was the unusual one of the two. She had a dark tan, and her bright hair eyebrows and eyelashes stood out.
“So? What’s your name? How old are you?”
Finch had answered questions like hers many times. His reply came reflexively. “My name is Finch Dirge Zeth and I’m twelve.”
“That’s strange. 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, and I’m fourteen.” She smiled proudly, and Finch saw her teeth. “That’s the name my mom gave 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.
“My mom’s gone too. She left,” he replied, looking forward. “It’s just me and my dad.”
“Hey, that’s cool though!” Alice said, excited. She always seemed a little excited.
“It was nice meeting you, but I have to go!” Alice stood, then ran to the south. South.
“Oh no,” Finch whispered, “the hair, the teeth, and she’s from the south—Alice is the monster my dad was talking about!” Finch grabbed his books and ran home, worried.
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 knows best, then I can tell him and he will know what is the right thing to do.” He said, stumbling over his words nervously.
He got to the door, pulled the latch with his elbow and nudged it open.