Image from The LuneWing Anthology
I don’t often write Young Adult fantasy, but this is one of my favorite stories. So I’ll post The VISITOR on wordpress–just for my readers–in installments.
This story has been published in LuneWing Anthology 2010 and Genesis Science Fiction Magazine Issue #1
Lazare peered through the second story window. He was perched on the fire escape and would’ve been visible to any passersby, except for the spell he’d cast to make himself dim. He was invisible to the human eye— that is as long as no one looked in his direction for too long.
If they did, a creature obviously not of their world would seem to appear out of thin air.
The troll shifted his feet uncomfortably on the steel grate. His long toe nails clicked loudly and he flinched. The troll’s bumpy skin was a deep shade of purple, with orange circles around his wide set violet eyes. His eyes were large— twice as large as any humans’— with long lashes. Lazare’s lips were thick, and when he smiled his mouth opened to reveal 32 ragged teeth. An ordinary number for a human. But his were huge and pointed.
At his full height he was only four feet tall, and had powerful arms, and equally powerful stubby legs. He stared through the window at Glenda. As if she felt his gaze she stirred restlessly in his sleep. The girl was fourteen with chocolate colored skin and full lips. Her thick kinky hair was braided and spread out now against her pillow. In the bedroom next to hers,’ Henry Jr. slept.
Today was his 12th birthday and his mother, Carlotta, had scrapped together enough money to make him a yellow cake. Henry had also received a card with $10.00 inside. Henry Jr. had been very disappointed; he’d wanted a video game.
Carlotta worked at a dry-cleaners and the childrens’ father, James, in another city as a mechanic. Although their parents no longer lived together, James sent money each month. But it wasn’t enough. It was never enough. The tiny, three bedroom apartment was expensive. Then there was the electricity bill, the telephone, food, clothing…
Lazare surveyed the streets below. Except for the cars moving up and down the street it was deserted. Good.
He clamored down the fire escape, surprisingly fast for his girth and scurried up the street, turning into the first alleyway on his right. The alley was filled with homeless men and women who had bedded down for the night, under blankets and makeshift shelters made of cardboard. Some were too mentally ill to notice he was different, but he was still careful to time his excursions after they fell asleep.
The troll climbed inside his own shelter and pulled his dirty blankets around him. Faery but it’s cold! I can’t wait ‘til I’m finished here!
At the clanging of the bell, announcing the end of the school day and the weekend, youngsters poured through the doors of Frederick Douglas Middle School. Children quickly partnered up into groups, while some took solitary routes home, to the playground or other more mysterious — and sometimes forbidden—destinations.
Henry was a foot shorter than his sister but had the same dark brown skin, his kinky hair cut close to his small head. He headed west: Glenda dogging his heels. Both were heavily bundled against the cold in worn coats and gloves.
After a half block, he turned and confronted his sister. “Quit following me!” he snarled.
Glenda’s rosebud mouth thinned into an angry line. “I ain’t following you! I’m going home!”
“Home is that way!” Henry pointed east.
Glenda’s face softened. “Henry, you know Mama told you to stop hanging out with the Scorpions,” there was plea in her voice now.
“So what!” her brother countered. You gonna tell her?”
Glenda hugged her books close to her chest. “Two of those boys already went to juvenile for stealing a car. Why do you want to be friends with them anyway?”
Henry sighed tiredly, for a moment looking much older than his twelve years. “Look I’m small for my age. I’m tired of getting jumped on at school. If I join the Scorpions I ain’t got to worry about that no more Plus which I’ll have some money in my pocket… Maybe I can buy some new clothes for me and you Lynn, and some other stuff besides.”
Glenda twisted her mouth and looked disgusted. “Uh-huh…and where is all this money supposed to come from? Next you’ll be on your way upstate for stealing! And why didn’t you tell me you were getting picked on at school? I can take up for you, just like I used to when we were little!”
Henry shook his head. “Just what I need— my sister helping me fight! Oh yeah, that’ll definitely get me the rep I need!”
At that moment, three boys came abreast of the siblings and quickly surrounded them. All were heavier and taller than Henry.
One, a ginger colored youth of fifteen, who been held back in the 8th grade twice, sneered at the smaller boy. “What’s up?”
Henry looked nervous. “How you doing Leroy?”
Leroy looked Glenda over, as if seeing her for the first time. “Who’s the skezz? She supposed to be your protection?” His friends laughed raucously.
“She’s my sister,” Henry answered with gimleted eyes. “What you want?”
Leroy’s nasty smile vanished. “What you got?”
“Leave us alone!” Glenda shouted. “Come on Henry, let’s go! You ain’t got to talk to them!”
“Come on Henry!” the dark boy to Henry’s right mimicked in falsetto. He shoved Henry hard. Henry stumbled into Leroy, dropping his books.
“Get off me man!” Leroy yelled smirking. He pushed Henry into the third boy: a hulking red-brown youngster.
“Man what’s wrong with you?” the reddish-brown youth propelled Henry back to Leroy.
“Stop it!” Glenda dropped her books and balled up her fists … then pulled up short.
No one but she saw the creature fluttering beside Leroy’s ear. It was two inches long, with sepia skin, close-cropped, curly hair and pointed ears. She was clothed in a purple daffodil, with two golden antennas. Diaphanous wings protruded from her back…
Copyright Valjeanne Jeffers 2010, 2012 all rights reserved.