Sometimes you meet someone and it’s love at first sight. There’s just something that clicks and you know that the other person is going to be an incredibly important part of your life. It can take years for that first blush of insight to grow into something more, or you can find yourself caught up in a whirlwind and thrown together from the moment your eyes meet. The worst feeling though is when you’re faced with the prospect of losing that person just after you discovered how special they were.
My heart was caught up in that sort of turmoil and didn’t relax until I saw September come creeping out of hedges that were around the circle of our garden prison. I’d only known him for a day so far but somehow the little guy felt like he was already a part of me.
“That was brave work you did,” I said, scooping him up into a hug, which he tolerated for a few moments.
“Did you find anything?” Rosie asked. She had finished painting a new coat on the reassembled version of Sweepy’s broom using a flower that looked like an iron dandelion and a mix of saps from some of the nearby vines . That sap-lacquer felt sticky to the touch at first but, as Rosie blew on it, the glossy covering solidified into a solid shell that I couldn’t mar the finish even by banging a rock against it.
“There are no other doors to this room except the one we came in,” September said. “But there’s also no ceiling.”
“So we can just fly straight out of here?” Rosie asked.
“Not quite,” September said. “They have vines waiting to catch us if we try that.”
“Let’s avoid those then,” Rosie said. “I just got Sweepy here repaired. She doesn’t need to be busted to pieces again any time soon.
“Can she fly at all?” I asked, wondering if even the sap glue was enough to recapture the magic the broom had carried.
“I think so,” Rosie said. “She feels like she anxious to try anyways.”
“Good, cause I think she’s the key to us getting out of here,” I said.
“She’s not going to be able to make it carrying all of us,” Rosie said.
“I know,” I said. “I think I’ve got that covered.”
Rosie looked at me suspiciously, so I leaned in and whispered my idea to her and September. Both looked even more dubious after I explained it, but neither had a better suggestion to offer.
Leaving my friends behind, I returned to the door to our cell and called out to Mortimer, our bat-like guard.
“I just wanted to ask how you would feel if we escaped in about ten minutes,” I said.
“That’s very polite of you,” he said. “I believe I would feel rather joyful for you. For myself though I would have some concern.”
“You’re not required to take any action to stop us are you?” I asked.
“I cannot take actions against the Miser King’s commands,” Mortimer said. “But, as you say, that doesn’t mean I’m actually required to take action for him either.”
“So once you’ve discovered that we’re gone, you would be able to leave the cell door open right?” I asked. I wanted to lie, to spin a fantastic web that would cover the obvious actions we were planning to take. Without my shadow though I was still struggling not to blab out every truth I could think of.
“If you’re not in the room there would hardly be any reason to leave it locked,” Mortimer said. A smile on a bat face looks decidedly different than it does on a human one, but I was pretty sure that’s what the expression he was giving me meant. I think he intended to reassure me that even though I couldn’t lie to save my life at the moment, I didn’t need to worry about it as far as he was concerned. I would have felt a little more reassured if his smile didn’t bare his fangs quite so much though.
“Excellent,” I said. “Well I guess you can get back to work.”
“One note before I go,” Mortimer said. “I’m not required to take any actions, but it is in my best interest to since the Miser King will skin me alive and boil the rest for soup when he discovers that you’re gone. If I wasn’t here when he returned though, that would be less of an issue.”
“You want to come with us?” I asked, again blurting out the first thing that came to mind.
“What I want is a nice little aerie where I can retire and work on my potions without bothering anyone,” Mortimer said. “Since that’s not on the table though I will settle for anything that allows me to remain in one unbroken piece, far from people like the Miser King who might want to remove me from that state.”
“I think that can be arranged,” I said, letting the wheels in my brain spin a little farther than they had.
Ten minutes later, there was the sound of a sonic boom from within the garden. When Mortimer and a contingent of guards rushed in they found the clearing where we had been left empty. From the garden’s canopy, bits of shattered vines rained down to the drape over bushes and shrubs and small trees.
“They’ve flown to freedom,” Mortimer said, a note of wonder in his voice. “That wasn’t supposed to be possible.”
“What should we do sir?” one of the other guards asked him.
“The Miser King is going to be very unhappy with this,” Mortimer said. “Round up the other guards that were left here and take flight after them. Don’t come back without that broom or the King will grind us all into paste.”
The guards snapped to attention and scrambled off to follower Mortimer’s orders. The bat guard himself took a moment to survey the room and then exited as well, being careful to leave the door wide open.