Daniel stepped off the bus with a sombre look on his face. The day had been long and uneventful, the hours dragging by slowly as Daniel's boredom increased. School was never interesting to him, he always felt caged in the small building.
The small group of children that got off at Daniel's stop dispersed, each of them walking in opposite directions to their awaiting homes. None of Daniel's friends were at his stop, leaving him to walk home alone. It was only a few minutes to get to his estate but it gave him enough time to think about whatever came to mind.
As he passed the alley between a house and the local pizza house a bark reverberated off the building walls, catching Daniel's attention. A stray dog stepped out of the shadows of a bin and came to jump at Daniel's feet, a small Jack Russell he'd named Spike.
Daniel smiled at the dog that was staring at him expectantly.
'Hiya Spike.' Daniel said once the dog reached him, earning him a friendly bark in return.
He reached into the bag on his shoulder for the half a ham sandwich he'd preserved for the terrier. Stroking the small creature under the chin he placed the sandwich next to him. Spike devoured the bread and ham hungrily, leaving only crumbs in nearly seconds. Dan had always saved some of his dinner for the canine, feeling sorry for him having to scavenge through bins and take what small scraps he could find on the floor. Even before he'd started feeding the dog had followed him on his walks home and overjoyed at the sight of him.
It was like this with all animals, leaving Daniel with the reputation of 'the creepy animal boy'. He had some friends of course, but none he could call real friends considering most of them just felt sorry for him. Strange things would happen when he was around animals, causing people to find him weirder and weirder.
His school was built next to many rows of farmers' fields, full of sheep, cows, horses etc. The only thing separating the fields and the playground was a not-so-sturdy metal fence. Whenever Daniel would get close to the fence the animals that decided to graze near that day would run towards as if he were a celebrity and they his fans. One time while walking along the outskirts of the yard a large group of sheep spotted him and began ramming the fence. Daniel had walked away from the fence as the attention of many of his classmates was being drawn to him. He'd earned a surprise when they'd managed to break through a loose corner of one block of fence, speeding towards him in the centre of the yard. Soon enough nearly a hundred sheep had begun to flock around him. It goes without saying he had a lot to explain that day, explaining something that he didn't even understand himself.
He carried on walking through his small village while talking inanimately with Spike. He understood dogs more than other people, all animals really.
As they turned into his estate a sparrow flew towards him, flying around his head while chirping hurriedly and anxiously.
'Okay, okay! What is it?' He laughed and the bird came to perch on the fence of the house they were passing. It raised his wings and flapped them sharply to his sides to show this was serious. The sparrow was acting oddly hectic, as if it had a lot to say but didn't want to say it.
'Is something wrong?' Dan asked. The bird tapped his foot in confirmation.
Spike who was now watching Daniel possessively growled at the sparrow and barked loudly, causing the bird to take flight quickly, away from his threats.
'No need to get jealous.' Daniel laughed. Spike lifted his snout proudly as the bird flew away, telling him that he had no regrets for his actions.
'I guess you wouldn't. You'll do anything to get what you want!'
They reached the end of his street and Spike waved his nose at the boy and turned to return to wherever it was he went in the nights.
'Bye Spike! See you tomorrow!' Daniel smiled at the dog, his eyes staring caringly at the canine. He wished Spike had an easier life but he knew he was a tough dog, strong enough to take on the streets.
While he walked up his street, absent-mindedly kicking a stone, his thoughts turned back to the swallow. What'd he been on about? Spike had interrupted him before he could tell him but it was definitely something bad that had happened and he was afraid to find out what it was.
Maybe he was just overreacting. It was probably nothing big just something that would be a small problem. He hoped…
He reached his house and pushed open the gate, still looking down at the stone he was kicking. He looked up when he heard something, the small, sad sobbing of a woman.
It was Lily Williams, his parents' closest friend. She was in a group called the Society with his mother, they told him it was some sort of environmental organisation, but they were very secretive about it all.
Lily was sitting on his door step, her hands on her temples, supporting her head that was shaking violently as tears ran down her cheeks and fell to the stony ground. Her long blonde hair, usually neat and perfect waving down her head, was now a ragged mess, sticking up in clumps and blocking view of her face.
A grey cloud travelled in front of the sun, darkening the scene as if to match the mood of the grief ridden woman opposite him.
'Lily?' Daniel called delicately. Something was wrong, really, really wrong. He'd known Lily for years and saw her most days of the week and never had he seen her like this.
Lily lifted her head to stare right at Daniel, he nearly gasped. Her face looked as she'd just gone swimming. Tear stains ran all over her cheeks from her eyes, once bright blue and happy, now dull and filled with a horrible sadness.
'Oh Dan!' She ran over to him and pulled him into her arms, placing his head on hear shoulder and putting her hand on the back of his head protectively.
'Lil, what's wrong?' He asked between her sobs. He knew it was bad, something horrible had happened, he just knew it.
'It's your parents… They were in a car accident…' She sobbed heavily before continuing but Daniel already knew what she'd say.
'They didn't make it…'
He wished he was wrong.