I looked back one last time before I dived. The air rushed past me as I fell until suddenly I crashed into the waves below. I surfaced to whoops from above as my flock came down after me. Who has a flock you ask? Those people with wings growing from their backs.
She flew high above the city with her wings stretched out. The wind whistled over her feathers and she snapped her wings in tight. She plummeted through the air before she snapped them back out and soared back up into the air. Today wasn’t about getting anywhere but about having fun in the air and enjoying the gift of her wings.
She was halfway through a barrel roll when he arrived, diving at her from above. Somehow he managed to get his wings to beat in time with hers as she pulled out of the roll. He grinned at her and she glared back at him. “What do you want Thomas?” she demanded not really angry but more annoyed that he had disturbed her.
She sat stock still on the bench watching the people around her. A bulky black jacket hung from her lean frame. It was worn from age and had rips all over it including two huge slits in the back. People gave her a wide berth as they passed eying her suspiciously once they caught sight of her tattered clothing. The worst of which was her battered shoes, once a relatively good pair of trainers, they were so worn that the soles were nearly see through and the laces only reached half way.
As she watched she focused in on a young man walking along with a little girl next to him. His clothes suggested a night or two in the rough but that was all. They were in such a condition that he could blend easily into the crowd. A quick scan of the girl revealed the same thing. Neither seemed bothered about their clothing or that they didn’t have a home. As she watched the little girl said something and the man laughed. So carefree, she thought, not a worry in the world.
He let his wings still, gliding down towards the land below. Beside him the girl tried to copy him and dropped a few feet before she managed to adjust her wings. He chuckled softly causing her to look up at him a grin across her face. She was getting better at flying but after being stuck earthbound her entire life it was taking time.
He ran, sprinting for the only piece of cover for miles. Above him black clouds swirled fighting a battle in the sky. He’d been forced to land in the middle of nowhere when the storm started. The winds had grown too strong and the danger was too high for him to stay so high up. He didn’t dare fly so low in case anyone saw him. That left him running for cover when the wings on his back would have got him there quicker.
Not long after night had fallen he stood at the opening of his cave. Before him lay the whole night world stretching out as far as he could see. High in the mountains as he was he could see great valleys and peaks lit only by starlight.
He leapt into the air, his wings snapping out to catch and updraft carrying him yet higher. A sigh of contentment escaped him as the wind ruffled his feathers making him feel alive. He rose of the thermal using only the tiniest of wingtip movements to control his assent. Tonight was about seeing where the sky would take him and seeing what the rest of the world was doing along the way.
He ran through the trees in blind panic. Branches whipped his face and roots sort to trip him up but still he kept going not daring to stop. He stumbled falling to the floor with a huff of air but as soon as he was down he was scrambling back up again. His breath came in laboured gasps as he forced himself to keep up the punishing pace.
Behind him there were the sounds of a search. Men shouting they hadn’t found anything and that they had heard something. Dogs barking as they led the search party closer to him as they picked up the scent. The sounds were mirrored from the left and right, hemming him in and leaving him only one way to go.
A bark sounded closer than before and he tried to push himself to go faster and he succeeded for a moment before he fell back down to the pace from before. He was keeping going on adrenaline, nothing more. His limbs felt like lead, dragging him down, but the need to escape to survive forced him onwards. There was only so much that need could do though and he had reached the peak.
Suddenly he skidded to a stop glancing around in panic. Before him was the edge of a cliff and he could hear the crash of waves on the rocks below. He looked cautiously over the edge only to see that there was no way to clear the rocks if he jumped. A bark from behind caused him to spin around only barely stopping himself falling when he over balanced. Emerging from the trees was the hunting party with their dogs at their sides. One of the men grinned maliciously at him, “Don’t worry now son. You’re safe for now, we just want you to face justice.”
Justice for a murder he hadn’t committed. For the murder of his guardian who had been killed in front of him as he lay on the floor struggling to get up from the pain. When the men had come in they’d seen the ungrateful boy who killed his guardian not the young man who’d done everything he could to protect him. “I didn’t kill him,” he replied urgently as the men closed in on him.
“We know you didn’t son,” one of the men said with a smirk. “But we won’t be telling anyone that,” he added drawing a laugh from his companions. “Now be a good boy and come with us.”
The boy turned away from them and as they lunged to grab him he jumped. As he fell he heard the curses from above and then he did what he’d sworn he would never do again. He unfurled the wings that had been closed tight to his back. He couldn’t help the loud whoop that escaped him at the feel of wind in his feathers once more and the utter freedom that it gave him.
Flapping his wings he rose level with the cliff top to stare at the men who had hunted him this far. “I didn’t kill him,” he roared furiously. “And I swear whoever did shall feel my wrath.”