All Those In Need Are Welcome
Whenever the tentacles woke up, they sort of stretched like they were yawning. He wouldn't have thought they'd have had to sleep. He figured they probably only did it because he himself wouldn't have been able to sleep with them clunking and clicking around him.
Otto slept more in the day than at night now. Night, after all, provided a much better cover for stealing the things he needed. Although he wasn't convinced stealing was the word. He was trying to help the world, after all, not harm it. He was sure they'd understand. Once, however, he'd had a fit of guilt, and tried to leave money for the things he'd just stolen. One of the arms had picked it up and put it firmly back in his human hand, saying quietly, You are far too generous, Father. Keep this. You might need it.
It was in his coat pocket now, making clinking sounds as he walked. However, it wasn't nearly enough to buy a decent meal (same as it wasn't nearly enough to make up for stealing a lot of extremely expensive objects from a top-secret laboratory, and tearing the door off to boot). The tentacles were hidden under the coat, pressed up against his back and keeping silent.
They were really heavy.
He was hungry. Getting hold of food was becoming harder and harder. There was a news stand near the pier, run by a half-blind man who couldn't see what he looked like, but it seemed to be closed half the time. He refused to eat from dustbins or steal from tramps, but it was starting to look as though he had no choice, what with hardly any money and half the city's police on the lookout for him...
Night had fallen. In the distance he saw a glowing sign: All in need are welcome.
It was a homeless shelter. He paused for a moment, and then went inside.
He sat in the meeting hall, leaning against a cupboard door. Various people buzzed around, carrying things and speaking to each other. Some were carrying food.
The tentacles stirred awake again. Father, it was a very bad idea to come here. Too many people. One of them ill recognize you.
"I can't function without food, you know that," he whispered in as low a voice as he could manage. However, it attracted stares from a few people. He kept his head down. Hopefully, they'd just think he was a nutcase talking to himself.
He looked around the room.
Maybe he could stay here tonight. He might not actually sleep...since he'd already slept once today and anyway, it was hard to sleep with the tentacles...but it would be nice to stay in a place that wasn't freezing cold and where you might get food.
The tentacles didn't seem too happy with that idea. They will find out who you are. They will capture you, and they'll seperate us from you. We'll be left alone, Father!
"I won't get captured," he murmured. A few more people glanced at him. He sighed. He peeled off his gloves...they were still slightly wet from being stored at the pier. He examined his flesh-and-blood hands. There was a wedding ring on one of them.
Instantly he thought of Rosie. He'd been trying not to think about her, it hurt too much.
Who was Rosie, Father?
"She was your mother," he said quietly. "She was very beautiful..."
That actually attracted some sympathetic stares. The people around him thought they'd figured it out...a homeless guy who'd lost his wife and children and was now going mad and talking to them. A thin blonde-haired girl serving coffee gave him a sympathetic glance, and a man with dreadlocks sitting opposite him gave him a concerned look.
A woman who'd been sitting on the other side of the room and staring at her bowl of soup looked up at him. She frowed slightly, maybe trying to work out where she'd seen him before...but then she got up, walked to him, and handed him the bowl of soup.
He stared at her.
"I thought you looked hungry," she said. She looked quite a bit older than him, and she was wearing earrings which looked a bit like a pair Rosie once had.
He loked down at the bowl of green stuff.
"No...it's yours," he muttered. "I don't want it."
"No, you have it," she said, retreating. "It doesn't taste that good, anyway..." And she returned to her space.
Suprised, and somewhat grateful, Otto drunk it. It wasn't great...he'd tasted better, but that was when he could still go to restaurants, back in a time he didn't want to think about, back when things were okay...The tentacles interupted this line of thought. They were trying to warn him. One of them was tapping him on the shoulder, hiding behind him so it wouldn't be seen.
See those women talking over there? They have a newspaper with a photo of you in it. They know who you are, and they don't want you here, because they think you will try to kill someone.
I'm not a murderer, he thought back.
But the law is looking for you, remember? We warned you. We said they'd seperate us....how could you have been so foolish? You have lost someone already, how could you think of putting us in danger too?
With that, he jumped up.The tentacles did too...they tore out through the holes in his coat, and hung in the air snake-like and ready to pounce.
There was an instant uproar. The group of women with the newspaper dropped it and started to run, the blonde-haired girl screamed, and the man opposite him dropped his cup of coffee.
People started to run for the door.
"Oh, for heaven's sake!" Otto yelled above the noise. "I'm not going to kill anyone!"
You could, though, Father. What use are these people to you?
"I'm not a murderer, children...and I need to teach you not to be as well, don't I?"
He walked towards the door. The people there promptly ran to find other exits. A few people clambered out of the windows. With a sigh, he opened the door with one of his real hands, and stepped out into the night.
He ended up back at the pier. He didn't sleep...he didn't think he'd be able to. He worked on the machine all night, and tried to ignore the fact that he was still hungry.
A few days later, he saw someone with a can collecting money for the homeless shelter. He remembered the few coins still in his pocket. It wasn't much money, but the people there had been nice to him...until they'd all run away, that was.
He dug his hand into his pocket and pulled out the money. He was hiding in the alleyway...it was safer in the shadows...and he prepared to step out. He put his sunglasses on.
One of the tentacles plucked the money from his hand.
Don't waste it on them, Father. There's no point, and as we said...it's too dangerous.
He nodded, dropped the money back into his pocket coin by coin, and went on his way. They were right.
They were always right.