A run down horse-drawn carriage is careening wildly across the cobblestone streets, and pedestrians gasped as they jumped out of the way. Ladies dropped their parasols and gentleman gripped their briefcases to them protectively as the carriage zoomed by. A quiet day in London botched by an out of control cab filled with produce and herbs.
An older man is gripping the wooden seat beneath him, eyes wide and his husky figure bouncing around as the carriage jerked and hopped on the uneven road. A horse is whinnying fearfully in the back, its hooves clomping on the floor of the wagon as if shuffled nervously.
"Danny! Slow down!" The man yelled, trying to catch his son's attention. Danny was pulling the wagon by where the horse was supposed to be saddled. Danny didn't seem to notice his father's cry as his legs continued his long-loped stride.
As they got to the marketplace where they were to barter their greens, Danny dug his heels into the dirt to brake his movements and at the speed he was going at, his shoes dug into the soft ground and he was soon up to his chest in soil.
The cart lurched to a stop and Jack hopped off and went to check on the frightened work horse. "Thanks, son. When Jasmine twisted her ankle back there, I thought we were done for." He gently petted Jasmine's mane and she neighed gratefully, happily stomping her uninjured feet.
"No problem, dad." Danny smiled. He began gathering their produce in his strong arms, but Jack touched his son's shoulder and said, "Don't unload just yet. First I've got to go finagle with Lancer."
Danny nodded and dropped the veggies back in the cart. "Okay."
"Danny, this time, will you please just-"
"Stay by the cart. I know." Danny rolled his eyes and began to fiddle with the carriage, making sure it would stay braked and that nothing would fall out. Jack just sighed and walked off to barter with Lancer.
Suddenly Danny's ears perked as he heard a man groaning and cursing under his breath nearby. The boy's bright blue eyes scanned the marketplace and lit on a blonde man struggling with a huge English urn.
Danny raced over and helped the thin man by holding the other end of the urn and balancing the weight. "Careful!" Danny warned, shifting his weight.
"Oh, thank you!" The man said gratefully, and glanced around the pot to see who his savior was. "Oh-Oh, Danny!" He said nervously, subtly pulling the vase away from the clumsy teen. "It's you!"
"Let me help you with that!" Danny said, moving forward to catch the unbalanced pot.
"No, no, no, no, no, I got it!" The blonde man said anxiously, turning away from the awkward boy.
"Are you sure?" Danny asked cautiously, still holding his arms out to catch anything should it fall.
"Yes, absolutely!" The man said with relish. Danny sighed and nodded, then walked out of the shop. Suddenly a Frisbee landed right in front of his black, dusty boots. He bent to retrieve it and when he straightened, three boys about his age jogged up to him. They looked pleased that he had found the Frisbee, but when they recognized him consternation passed across their faces.
"Hey, guys." Danny gave them an award-winning smile. "Do you need an extra guy?"
The boyish smile was lost on the trio, even though that smile would make fangirls pass out. "Uh, sorry, Dan. We already have three, and we want to keep it an even number."
The wheels turned in the half ghost's head. "Hey, wait a minute-"
The blonde headed boy named Dash snatched the Frisbee out of Danny's grip and raced away with his cronies behind him. "Hey, we should call him Fen-dork!"
Danny's face fell, dejected, as the other kids laughed and shouted names at him like 'geek' and 'weirdo'. He kicked at the dirt floor and dust rose around him. He brushed off his blue button-down shirt that was tucked into his black pants which were tucked into his black boots. Danny shuffled around the marketplace until he heard, "Head's up!" His head snapped up and a familiar Frisbee was spinning above his head. He grinned and just to prove to them he could play with them, he began to follow the toy, long arms stretched above him.
"I got it!" He cried, but then there was a yell, "Watch out!" Then he slammed into something, and with his strength, sent the wall falling. "Uh-oh." He said slowly, staring up at the wall towering above him, about to tip onto his head.
There were screams and the other walls were becoming unbalancing. Panicking, he jumped up and held the wall in place while the others fell around his ears.
Suddenly his weight was too much on the single standing wall and it tipped the other way. Danny gasped and grabbed at it, but there was nothing to hold on to. As the last wall fell, dry dust rose above the crowd and when it settled, Danny turned.
The Frisbee, still gripped in his white-knuckled hand, was torn away. Dash glared at him. "Nice catch, Fen-dork." He hissed, then stomped away.
The blonde man with the pot, which had shattered, stalked over to Jack who was now looking at the scene with wide, disbelieving eyes. "This is the last straw, Jack Fenton! That boy is a menace!" The man pointed a trembling finger at Danny who cringed.
"He's too dangerous to be around normal people!" A voice screamed from the crowd, and many people added in their two cents, agreeing with whoever yelled.
"He didn't mean any harm!" Jack struggled to explain. "He's just a kid! He can't control his strength."
The blonde man was shaking with rage. "You keep that-that-that freak away of here!" Some people cheered and a boy yelled, "Yeah, freak, go away!"
Danny, blue eyes becoming moist, gritted his teeth and hopped up on the carriage. His father came to sit beside him and Danny jumped down to pull the cart out of the marketplace...or what was left of it.
A grassy hill with a tall tree that shaded the inhabitant of the area. Danny was that inhabitant. He leaned against the tree and blew out a breath. What is wrong with me?
He heard his father approaching and resisted the urge to groan. He just wanted to be alone with his thoughts.
"Son, you shouldn't let those things they said back there bother you." His father's heavy hand fell onto Danny's shoulder. Danny drew his knees up to his chest.
"But dad, they're right. I-I am a freak." Danny's eyes stared straight ahead and the sunset reflected in them. "I try to fit in, I really do." Becoming frustrated now, he jumped up and paced. "I just can't. Sometimes I feel like...like I really don't belong here. Like I'm supposed to be...someplace else."
"I know it doesn't make any sense." With that last word, Danny walked off. Jack looked at his son's silhouette walking away. He shook his head regretfully and stared out at the sunset, wondering how in the world he could help his son.
have often dreamed
Of a far off place
Where a hero's welcome
Would be waiting for me
Where the crowds will cheer
When they see my face
And a voice keeps saying
This is where I'm meant to be
When it got too dark to stay out any longer, Danny trudged home, heart heavy in his chest. His throat tightened, like he was being suffocated from being stuck here. He loved his parents and London, but it didn't feel like...home. He always felt out of place and, well, like a freak. He wanted to explore, see if there was anyone like him, anywhere he could go to find true happiness.
He finally returned home, and in the warm night darkness the cottage candles were burning away. Jack and Maddie were silhouetted in the doorway, and their faces were contrite. Confusion clear in his eyes, Danny joined them, and they began talking.
Danny's eyes were cloudy and full of bewilderment. "But...if you found me, then where did I come from? Why was I left here?"
Maddie folded her hands over his and gazed at him. "This was around your neck when we found you. It's the symbol of...of the ghosts."
Danny's jaw went slack and his eyes went huge. "G-ghosts?! This is it! Don't you see? Maybe they have the answers! I'll go to the Palace of Pariah and-" Danny paused and he looked apologetically over at his parents. "Mom, dad, you guys are the best parents anyone could ever, have, but..." He shrugged and looked at his hands. "I-I gotta know." He looked up at them and they smiled, the air cleared. He hugged both of them tightly and went up to bed.
The next day, he was packed and ready to go. Maddie cried, but it was a joyous kind of cry. Her baby was finally finding his way in life.
They hugged and said goodbye and hugged again, and then Danny was on his way. He looked down at his special medallion and grinned. Things were finally beginning to make sense.