Chapter 3

Ben had found an abandoned factory on the other side of town. A homeless man had told him about it, saying he once slept there before he found a better place. It was all Ben needed. There was a couch to sleep on, a roof over his head, and it was away from other people. Ben picked up a paper route. Lucky for him, the old man he worked for didn't require him to fill out an application. He would go everyday, deliver papers, and put up fliers on telephone poles. He never earned much, but it was enough just for him.

Ben had lost faith in humanity. He was alone, but he wasn't afraid. He was still good-natured, and kept away from illegal ways of making money. But he kept the Glock back at the factory. He never used it, and never carried it with him anywhere. He cut his hair short after the incident, so police wouldn't recognize him as easily.

The factory had a hatch door that opened out to the canal, allowing Ben easy transportation around the city with his row boat. He would use it to paddle up to get to his employer's apartment, where he would pick up the papers, put them in his boat, and distribute them. Sometimes he would keep a paper if he didn't sell them all, and not tell his employer. He would get out in his boat, then read in the afternoon sun in the middle of the least busy part of the canal. When large boats drove past him, their wake often made him capsize. He quickly learned to stay away from them.

A year later, Ben had worked himself into a routine. He was getting older, he realized. He often thought of turning himself in to an orphanage or shelter. But he remembered the family, and thought better of it. He was no longer afraid of the police, seeing as it had been more than a year since the day that he left the Family. If they didn't get him by now, then they weren't about to storm the factory and take him to jail.

He hadn't seen any of the other boys from the Family. They were probably picked up by the police and put into shelters. He knew that Eddy had perished outside the warehouse, gunned down by police. Once, he returned to the warehouse. The doors were welded shut. An intimidating "No Trespassing" sign hung on each side of the warehouse.

One morning, he was awakened by the sound of voices and activity all around in the room of the factory. He crouched behind some rotting crates, and dared not to poke his head out. The voices were clear now.

"What's the matter?" A female voice said. "Oh, I see, who's homesick now?" Ben listened closely, trying to determine who it was, and if they were hostile or not. "Here, get a noseful of these. They'll drive the stink of this place out of your nostrils. I expect our friend the rat would like it just fine here, but you and I had better get out as soon as we can."

Ben was puzzled as to what she meant, but he didn't have time to think about that. He decided he'd either need to show himself or leave. But then, the gun popped into Ben's head. Luckily, his backpack was in reach, he quietly unzipped the backpack, bracing himself upright with his feet. He could hear the female voice singing softly, bringing pressure off of him to be completely silent. He retrieved the pistol from the knapsack, when the grease on the wall of the crate made him slip, making a quiet, rustling sound.

"There's something in here!" He heard the female voice hiss. Ben leveled himself, scraping his shoes against the floor. "Come on out!" She demanded. "Come on out, whatever you are!" Ben didn't even breathe. He didn't dare move.

"Come on out! Or do I have to come and fetch you?"

"Well, they're coming to get me anyway," he thought. "I might as well stand up and get a look at them." Ben took the handgun off of safety, and crawled out from under the crates, raised his weapon, and stared incredulously at a cat-like creature, standing upright, about 1 foot shorter than him. It retreated in alarm, and then Ben's eyes stuck at the sight of a dragon. Ben did not feel afraid, but his knees shook in shock. He slightly lowered the weapon. "He doesn't smell of humans at all!" The cat-like creature growled. "He stinks of mice," She added. "That's why I didn't smell him. Yes, That'll be it." But Ben took no notice of her. He raised his hand not holding the pistol, and pointed at the dragon.

"It's a dragon!" He whispered. "A real, live dragon."