Strange noises filtered through the darkness. The creature squirmed in its round prison, listening. A similar round thing was next to the creature's, and there was something inside it. Curious, the creature tilted the round walls, rolling until it bumped the side of the other object. The second round thing tilted the same way, then slammed the creature's ball, knocking it back.
Something from the outside approached, and the creature curled up in a submissive pose. So did the other, albeit reluctantly. The first sensed the reluctance of the second, and became uneasy.
"I don't understand. How can there be two?" something snapped. The creature tilted its head, curious again. The other twitched, irritated.
"There can be only one queen." A different something replied, touching each round thing. The creature flinched back, but the other hissed and lurched forward.
"This one appears to be stronger." The first noise, a low noise, said.
"Then it is this one who will stay." The second, slightly higher noise continued. The ball moved. The creature closed its eyes and eventually fell asleep.
It looked like one of those days. Erica Evans had been eating breakfast, nursing a cup of coffee, when Tyler walked into the kitchen, grabbed a muffin, and walked back out.
Curious, she followed him to the doorway, watching as he opened the van's middle door and started talking.
"Here ya go! I'll be back with something to drink in a minute okay?" He ran back to the house and said, "Hi mom."
"Tyler who were you talking to?"
"The girl in the car."
Erica looked back to the van and did a double-take. A small hand reached out, took the muffin, and pulled back
As Tyler dashed back out with a glass of water, Erica put a hand on his shoulder.
"Can I meet her?"
"I guess so, but she's kinda shy." Tyler said with a shrug, carrying the glass back to the van.
"I'm back! And I brought my mom. She's really nice!" Tyler said rapidly, putting the glass down within the girl's reach. Erica bent over to see inside the van. A small girl with fair skin and red hair curled into a ball against the other door. Her blue eyes were widened in fright.
"Hello." Erica said softly, bending her knees to reach the child's level.
"Are you okay honey?" she asked, looking intently at the poor little girl. She looked tired and upset.
"Go back in the house Ty. We'll be right behind you." Erica ordered. Tyler pouted and stomped back to the house.
"It's not very comfortable outside is it?" she continued, the little girl slowly shaking her head.
"You want to come in?"
She shook her head faster.
"Not s'posed to talk to strangers."
Erica was impressed, most kids would talk to anyone who was friendly towards them. Suspicion quickly followed, what had happened to this girl to make her so distrusting? And how could she change that?
The solution was so simple, she almost laughed out loud.
"What about police officers?"
The girl nodded slowly, still a little stand-offish. Erica called Tyler back out to keep her entertained (and in the van) while she dashed back inside to grab her badge, giving Joe a quick explanation and asking him to set an extra place at the table. Then she ran upstairs.
This won't require FBI. She's just a kid who got lost. Erica thought.
The front door closed. Joe looked up and was surprised to see Tyler holding a little girl's hand. She was looking around curiously, eyes moving from object to object, until they rested on him. She cringed into Tyler's side before hiding behind him.
Tyler on the other hand didn't seem to notice, turning around and saying, "This is my dad! He's nice too."
Thankfully Erica came back downstairs, as their temporary houseguest looked ready to scream.
Joe grabbed Tyler's hand and walked him to the bus stop, leaving Erica and the girl alone. With a pad of paper on the table and a pen ready to take notes, she made sure the badge was clearly visible before asking questions.
"What's your name?"
The kid said nothing for a minute, before answering, "May, Clan Lamont."
Clan Lamont? What did that mean? Erica asked, and little May was off, trying to explain what a clan was. In the end she described it as, "either one big family, or a bunch of little families that are all related somehow."
Not bad for a kid. Erica smiled a bit before continuing, "And how old are you May?"
"It's not polite to ask a lady their age."
Erica chuckled, "That's true." She lowered her voice, "But I think it's only true if a guy asks. We're both girls though."
May just stared at her for a while before whispering, "Four." Then she grabbed the muffin on the plate in front of her and took a huge bite out of it.
After a few minutes, Erica managed to learn the names of May's parents, their addresses, and phone numbers. This didn't bother Erica too much, maybe her parents were divorced. Then May started crying and said they were found by the bad men.
Mother's instinct and FBI training competed for dominance in Erica's mind, eventually compromising with, "What bad men?"
May told her story as best she could, despite the continued crying and stuttering. From what Erica could understand, May's father had reported something to the police, then when he got home he said something to her mom and they started packing. They'd moved somewhere they were told they wouldn't be found, May didn't go to school, her parents didn't go to work, and then the bad men showed up.
Her mom woke her up in the middle of the night, told her to get dressed, and sent her out the back door. May said she hid just behind the tree line, heard three loud noises, and watched the house catch on fire. After that, a car drove away, and May started running "to where the moon came from" and didn't stop until she'd seen the van, climbed inside, and fallen asleep.
Great, this does need the FBI! Erica thought, irritated inside. May just sat and watched her as she made a phone call and refilled her coffee cup. It was gonna be a long day.
"Are you mad at me?"
Erica jumped; she'd forgotten May was still sitting there, looking upset and scared. And now that she was paying a bit more attention, she noticed May's clothes were wrinkled, her hair was a frizzy mess, and there was little (if any) color in her face.
"No honey, I'm not mad at you." She still looked unhappy, so Erica continued, "How does a warm bath sound? Then you can have some real food, instead of that muffin." The last part was muttered in an undertone, a bigger breakfast might help her feel better. And maybe a nap.
"Okay." She hesitated. "But, my clothes . . ."
"My son is about your age, I'm sure he's got a couple things you can wear."
If May had any problems with wearing a boy's clothes, she didn't show it, other than blowing a raspberry. In the end she just grabbed a pair of shorts and a t-shirt with a dragon on it. Erica could almost hear the screaming fit Ty would throw once he saw someone else wearing his dragon shirt.
While May was getting cleaned up, and having fun with the soap if the splashing was any indication, Erica got a call from the FBI. She asked if somebody, preferably a woman, could come to her house and question May again, and then run the information through the Witness Protection Program. Then she looked at the small pile of clothes May left by the bathroom door, reaching into the pockets of the pants and pulling out a small roll of cash. In one pocket she found a couple twenties. There was a fifty in the other.
Erica was stunned. A kid couldn't understand how to make that much money last. She decided to keep it separate until a good explanation came to mind.
She could hear a few words coming from the bathroom, "You can go your own way . . . you can call it another lonely day . . ."
Four years old and a fan of rock and roll? May Lamont was full of surprises.