Chapter 4

I could sing for change

On a Paris street

Be a red light dancer

In New Orleans

I could start again

Choose a family

I could change my name

Come and go as I please

He stepped off the ship in the dead of night, disappearing into the streets of the new planet like a ghost. He quickly scrounged a cloak, pulling it on so he could blend in with the natives, and ditched his heavy winter gear.

The weather on this planet was sweltering.

His backpack, now torn in several places, was still with him faithfully. His sleeping bag had been traded on the last planet to earn him credits, and on this one his blanket would do him no problem.

He considered his options as he scampered through the streets. He was essentially an orphan, having no name that he'd spoken or wanted to claim. He had an opportunity here to find a family that was nicer than his own had been, one that had the love and support to nurture his unique talents.

His decision made, he quickly headed away from the spaceport.

In the dead of night

You'll wonder where I've gone

Wasn't it you that made me run away

He found the family he wanted shortly, within a week of being on planet. They had one boy, similar in looks to himself, with black hair and green eyes that would allow him to be passed off as their son no problem.

He took his time, getting to know the boy, Zekk, until finally; he was invited home one evening to meet the boy's parents.

Things evolved quickly from there. They lived in a modest cottage, and had always yearned for a sibling for Zekk. They asked to meet his parents and when he informed them that they were dead, had invited him to live with them.

He still had nightmares, but his new mother was always there to shush them, gently stroking his long hair from his brow. She kissed him softly, having accepted him as completely as if he was her child. His throat closed, and he curled into her warmth, inhaling her sweet scent and allowing it to lul him back to sleep.

It was in these moments he wondered if his real parents ever thought about him, ever wondered what had happened to him. And it was in these moments he decided it didn't matter.

They'd driven him away and they deserved to be in pain. He'd found a new life, a new family, and hope.

He'd found what he'd been looking for.

This life makes no sense to me

It don't make no sense to me

Life don't make any sense to me

The tragedy he hadn't anticipated arrived swiftly and suddenly.

He'd been with the family for the better part of several months, nearing his eight birthday, and had been out playing with his brother's friends. He'd been teasing one of the girls for being too bossy, using his agility to keep out of her reach.

It had been fun; she'd been a bully and deserved it.

He'd come running home once she'd burst into tears to tell Zekk about it and found his house covered in mud. He'd jumped into the still moving pile and begun flinging it everywhere, calling out for his mother and father; calling out for his brother.

It took a quick thinking neighbor to pull him from certain death, tears streaming down his cheeks as he fought to get back into the mass that was flowing swiftly through the streets. Half of his block was gone, and several blocks behind it had been engulfed as well.

Emergency crews were called in to clear away the mud.

He stared at the mound in disbelief, silent tears of shock running down his face. He'd left his family sleeping to come out early and play.

I should be there! His brain shouted the words at him. It wasn't fair! He'd finally found everything he'd been looking for only to have it torn from him by a freak of nature. He screamed, twisting and turning, demanding that the woman who held him let him go; that she let him die with his family.

Emergency crew workers were drawn to his commotion, and he was so distraught, he didn't see their looks of compassion. A drug was administered to knock him out and he remembered nothing after that.

I was just trying to be myself

Have it your way I'll meet you in hell

It's all these secrets that I shouldn't tell

I've got to run away

He couldn't stay on Ennth any longer. They wanted to put him in an orphanage, to put him with other children that had lost their parents; they didn't understand him.

They didn't understand that he'd just lost his second set of parents in the same year.

He ran from them, hiding with all his skills near the space port and looking for a ship they wouldn't dream of searching. He hid for weeks on end, almost two months, before he found what he was looking for.

An old, battered freighter that looked as if it were going to fall apart, landed in a nearby docking bay.

An freighter stepped down the ramp to speak with the customs, and he could overhear them talking about relief supplies and aid, and dashed aboard while they were busy.

He hid himself inside the body of the ship this time, stowing away inside the compartment that was concealed under the bunk. His bag had been in the house, so he had little more than the clothes on his back. He took the liberty of obtaining a towel from the spacer's 'fresher unit and folded it into a makeshift pillow before curling up and going to sleep.

No one would find him here.

It's hypocritical of you

Do as you say not as you do

I'll never be your perfect boy

I've got to run away

A hand on his shoulder made him jerk several hours later and he was roughly pulled from the compartment under the bed. "What in blazes are you doing stowing away on my-" the tirade stopped. "You're just a kid."

He swallowed hard as he was put on his feet, feeling the slight vibration that indicated they were in hyperspace. He nodded, looking down at his scuffed boots and threadbare clothing. He could feel the space taking in his appearance. The towel was pulled from the cubby hole and extended to him.

He looked up, meeting the spacer's sympathetic gaze, and saw tolerance and acceptance. Something he hadn't expected. He gingerly reached out to accept the towel.

"We'll get you cleaned up and then put you to work. We're too far from Ennth to turn back now, but you look like you're a smart one." The space eyed him critically and then smiled, seeming to come to a decision about him. "You have a name, son?"

The spacer's kindly smile was enough, and in that moment he made his own decision. The boy he knew had been buried in a mud slide and wouldn't need his name any longer. Speaking in a rusty, almost quavering voice, he made the decision that would set him on an unexpected path and once again change his life forever.

"My name is Zekk."