Sequel Sunday: Midnight Flight Part 2 by David Wiley
David Wiley is an author of science fiction and fantasy stories, choosing to write the stories that he would love to read.
His short fiction has previously been published in Firewords Quarterly, Mystic Signals and a King Arthur anthology by Uffda Press. He also has a short story forthcoming on Sci Phi Journal. David resides in central Iowa with his wife and their cats and spends his time reading, writing, and playing board games.
Talon found himself unable to focus for the remainder of the evening, getting scolded several times by his parents because they kept having to repeat themselves at the dinner table. He found that he couldn’t help it. He wanted to do nothing but look at the golden scale he found. And when he couldn’t do that, his mind refused to think of anything else. Even his ears were filled with the words of Mrs. Wing, echoing over and over like a mantra for meditation. He didn’t notice when his baby sister flung a tiny fistful of spaghetti in his face. Marinara sauce spattered on his cheek and ran in clumpy beads down his chin as he mindlessly chewed a mouthful of garlic bread. And then he realized everyone was staring at him. Father had set down his fork and was looking at him with a furrowed brow. And then he felt the sauce and grabbed a napkin, dabbing at the globby mess.
That night he found he couldn’t sleep. Talon held the scale in his hands and traced the runes etched in its surface with his finger. He decided to draw the rune in his sketchbook and sat in his bed, a flashlight clipped to his left shoulder while he replicated the markings on the blank page. What did the rune mean? An answer came to him, unbidden in his mind. It spoke in a voice he had never heard before but he felt drawn to it in the same way a bug is drawn toward a bright light in the darkness. And when he heard it he knew it was true, just as he knew all green things tasted gross (especially broccoli – yuck!) and that Batman would beat Superman in a fight. If pressed, Talon couldn’t have explained why he knew that the rune meant flight. It just did.
Two hours passed by and the page in his sketchbook was covered with a dozen stylistic variations of the flight rune. He could draw it without looking now and his steady hand never waivered as it formed the lines and curves. He set his pencil down and flexed his fingers. The throbbing ache told him he should have quit drawing a while ago but he had been so absorbed in the repetitive task that he hadn’t noticed. He slid his hand along the sheets to recover the scale. He desired to look upon it some more, to trace its perfect lines with his eyes until his hand regained the stamina to trace them by hand. But it wasn’t there.
His eyes darted around the bed. Where could it have fallen? He lifted the sheets and didn’t find it there. He squatted on the floor and looked under his bed. His flashlight glimmered off something in the far corner. Could it be his scale? He lay beside the bed and wriggled under the frame, his left arm extended as far as it could reach. His fingers closed around the object. It crumpled as his hand closed around it. A candy wrapper. He tossed it aside and shifted inch by inch to shine the flashlight around beneath his bed once more. It wasn’t here. Where could it have gone? It wasn’t as though it could have grown a pair of legs or sprouted . . . wings? Could it be? He scrambled out from under the bed, adrenaline coursing through his veins, and scurried over to the window. It was open a crack and there, on the other side, was the scale drifting in the air.
He opened the window and reached out. It fluttered just beyond his fingertips. His ribs ached as he pressed against the windowsill in an effort to grab the scale. His fingertips grazed the glittering surface and a warm sensation trickled up his arm. A voice whispered in his mind. It was familiar yet different from any voice he knew. It called his name. It beckoned him with enchanting promises and reassurances. You can fly, the voice said. You are one of us, Talon Draco Hoard. Come and join us on our midnight flight, brother.
“One of who?” Talon asked the night sky. It didn’t answer. He repeated his question to the scale and it just fluttered further in response. His bare feet gripped the windowsill. When had he stepped up onto it? He felt the cool breeze rippling across his nightshirt. The crickets and the owls sang a symphony for him. Talon leapt from the window. His arm reached out for the scale and his fingers closed around it. Talon fell, hurtling toward the ground. And then he flew.
He didn’t realize, at first, the difference between falling and flying. He wondered why the grass on the ground was falling with him and why, all of a sudden, he was falling toward the neighbor’s house. And then it dawned on him and he whooped as he skimmed over the fresh-cut grass. He let his hands – no, claws – graze the green blades as he circled through the yards of the cul-de-sac. He was nearly startled into a dive when he heard the sound of leathery wings flapping in the air. When he realized they were his wings he let out a delighted cry and spiraled up into the clouds. He tasted the texture of the clouds on his tongue, felt its moisture roll across his smooth scales. For the first time in his life he felt alive as he whirled and circled through the town on his first midnight flight.