Baby-Faced (3)

The sun burnt with fury and burned my skin viciously. I let the burn sink in as I ran, I embraced the pain, I felt my eyes turn red and sweat fall from my face and my neck. Like tears. My throat became stiff and I ran; my voice became hoarse, I ran on; my muscles tensed with every move. The sun heated with even more brutality, but I built my strength on it. And I ran. Noiselessly I ran. My feet ceased touching the ground and I ran. After Mike, I ran. I run the empty streets of Flowerbed Lane in the hour of sleep. To me, it felt like the hour of fire. I caught a glimpse of him at the end of Merchant Lane, next to Flowerbed. I must catch him now. Right next to Merchant Lane is Train-Load Town and if he gets to the train road, there is no way I am ever going to get to him.

The numbness in my feet climbed to my legs but I flew on. I saw him enter Train-Load Town, traverse through a few shops before the train road. He is walking without rush; I can catch him. Sheer hope and luck rose in me but it fell in a second because then, I heard it. The music, the sound, played by the train’s rumbling, chugging and whistling. I knew I was done then; the game was over. But I just can’t let him go. My life may depend on it.

“Mike! Mike!” my blood screamed. My veins swelled; they can burst any moment now. Oh Mike. What have you done to me? No. What have I done to my life? There. The man, the child who may be holding my fate just strolled away.

Despair dawned in my heart but I didn’t stop. Maybe I could outrun the train. I know. I’m being silly. Of course I can’t. Wait. Maybe I can. If I skip the last 5 shops I can use the shortcut and behind the first one and fall right into the train road before it gets there. Hope rose again, congratulating my smart mind. I turned on the right side of first shop before the other 4. There it is. The train road. Oh thank Lord. Thank you so much. I will never forget what you just did t- AAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!

I found myself inside the drainage a small distance from the train road, then it passed on blocking my path. I screamed out of anger. The train whistled. Hoarsely, I screamed. Minutes passed. The train passed. I continued to cry out. I started feeling the numb legs. Broken. Oh no! I stood up and realised that the train had passed. I looked into Train-Load Town; the many three-storey buildings, cars, motorcycles, buses, carriages, horses, donkeys, cows, camels, people, and a castle at the far, far end. I limped my way inside the town and asked around for Mike. People wrinkled their noses when I got close to them. All of them. Damn. How am I going to get to him if everybody minds my odor? Oh maybe that kid won’t mind.

I limped over to him.

“Hey, can I-?”

Mike turned and his eyes bulged at the sight of me. I quickly freed my hair which was tied in a ponytail, removed the syringe and plunged it into his arm before he could utter a word. Don’t ask me how I got him home.

Mike’s father was an abusive man and his mom, a drug addict. She used drugs to cope with her husband’s torment. He systematically hit her three times a day: in the morning for breakfast, at noon for random reasons and at night while he raped her. Every single night.

Her face was always bruised or bloody. She was often passed out. She loved her son though. She would beg him not to antagonise her in front of her boy. Mike had to take care of himself often, and well, his mom. He stole food and clothes.

One day, the molesting, the torture, the tears, they all ended. Mike was used to the fights but for some reasons he couldn’t take them anymore.

She was on her period. She was in pain already and he added to that pain. He was dead drunk. He hit her with his heavy fists and put a cloth inside her mouth so that she wouldn’t scream loud enough to wake the neighbours. But her cries woke Mike. He went to their bedroom door and watched. The sheets were full of blood and some of it was dripping slowly on the floor. The cloth in her mouth was bloody too. She spat the cloth on the floor and cried in pain, asking him to stop. Then he took a pillow and pressed it on her face to mute her voice. Mike watched until he started feeling it; heat building up inside him. His whole body blazed with rage. And then he saw it on the drawer. His dad’s gun! He was a cop; a respected one. Mike took it and stepped back. He pointed it at his dad and yelled, "Get off her now!" He glanced at Mike and laughed with mockery, ‘Or what?’

Mike pulled the trigger, but the dad was too fast. He jumped to the other side of the bed and used Mike’s mom as a shield. As the bullet entered her heart, she looked at him and mouthed a sad “Thank you.” Mike next released three quick shots, and this time he made sure that his dad was dead.  He then took money, the gun and his clothes and left. He was 5 years old when that happened. He hid from ships to ships the whole journey across the Green Ocean, moved from the Crystal Isles to the Golden Island and lived as a thief and a scoundrel ever since.

I had had Mike locked up inside an asylum; the one I had bought after talking to Bob. It was our plan to put him if he resisted our help. Mike spent a whole month inside it before he calmed down and agreed to be helped. I fed him, told him stories, bathed him and clothed him with his hands cuffed. Until he realised that I had no evil intentions.

He later told me the story of the monster who made him a monster. It’s been two years now, he is now a child like any other child, my son. Every once a month, we take a trip together to visit Bob’s grave. His injuries were too severe for him to live; he died, three months after the incident. On the bright side though, Bob died after he and Mike reconciled. Bob forgave Mike for all the bullets he shot him, forgave the hand that used a knife to pierce his chest.


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