Henry and the Malcontents, Chapter 5

Fiction By Annabel // 1/2/2010

*It’s been at least three months since the last post. What can I say? I’m really, terribly sorry! Though it seems that every time I apologize for my delays, I take longer the next time. Anyway, here it is…constructive criticism not only welcome, but politely requested.* 

After the first hour, the train window was too dark and blank to look at steadily, as if the tunnel and all that was in it—though really, there was nothing in it besides the train—were meeting his anxious gaze with a blank stare. Henry tried instead to look at the wall surrounding the window and found himself curiously fixated on tracing patterns in the dust. He wished for a newspaper, but did not want to step over his companion to get it. Suddenly curious to see whether Zael had moved yet, Henry turned and looked at him. To all appearances, the boy was still asleep, his normally fluid white face still and immobile. It was so white, Henry thought, and so inhumanly flawless, that it looked like wax, as if the skin would receive imprints upon touch. Or perhaps it looked like death.
Henry shuddered faintly. The indifference of the tunnel was more bearable.
Zael awoke all at once, with no stage of stretching or yawning between deathlike stillness and his accustomed energy.
“Are we excited or what?”
Henry sighed dismally and then regretted it, sure that his companion would take it for a sign of fear—which it was, of course.
“I suppose.”
“Now, if you were a properly constituted former revolutionary, you would be excited. You’re getting back into the game! Don’t you miss being a malcontent?"
“No,” Henry said automatically, and then cringed at the delighted laughter in his companion’s face. “That is…it’s been so long…”
“You can bet your sweet life it’s been long. Since you were in college has been about what, twenty years? Thirty years? You’re rather old, you know.”
“Yes, I know.” Henry said unresistingly.
“And you haven’t done anything to speak of since then. Well, you’ll find things are changed around Malco territory since then. We’re high-tech now! We use…computers! And no more of this speech-making, society-forming, pamphlet-passing stuff. We keep underground. You old timers didn’t know very much.”
“No,” Henry agreed humbly, reminiscing. “Who…what…what sort of work does your branch do? And what sort of people are involved?” He should have asked a long time ago.
Zael winked. “You’ll see. Soon enough.”

Henry nodded and said no more. He did not think he wanted to know.
Another silent hour in the dark tunnel and they were in the city station, jostling through the crowd, passing through security checks. Then they chased down and caught a departing bus, Zael shaking his dark hair and laughing at the voluble protests of the driver, a withered-looking dryad who declared that she could not hold back a minute longer, she’d be reported. Henry, once he was safely in, sat quietly in a window seat, as far away from Zael as he possibly could.
Soon enough the bus started again and he was able to watch the city pass by through his dusty window. There was not much to be seen—tall grey office buildings and the crowd of hurrying people that looked the same no matter how far they travelled. Then the bus moved out of the city and into the suburbs, full of white regulation houses with red-tile roofs. And then, at a stop, Zael jumped from his seat unexpectedly and waved Henry to come with him, and Henry was following him confusedly past house after house, trying not to wonder where he was going.
The dread that had been growing in Henry’s trepid mind rose as Zael led him up a flower-lined walkway to the red door of a kindly white house.
He finally gathered his wits together. “Why…this is a residential area?”

“Of course!” Zael cried airily. “Renting a conference room in a college or business is so old-fashioned and flashy. Besides,” he added, “We couldn’t afford it.”
Henry nodded, fighting rising panic, and Zael knocked on the door.
The door did not swing open, it exploded open, like a dam bursting, with a loud sound and high-pitched shriek. Henry winced and instinctively looked for a swarm of fierce revolutionaries, but when he recovered all he saw before him was one girl with bright orange hair, jumping up and down in sheer excitement.
“Oh, you’re-late-you’re-late-you’re-late! I can’t believe you! You’re always late! Ohhhh…” she stopped, mid-bounce. “This must be…is it?”
Zael held out a mocking hand. “Calm down. Wry, this is Henry Limminer, the responsible adult. And Mr. Limminer, this...this is Wryre Wallis.”
“So pleased to meet you,” the red-headed girl beamed. “I think you’ve met my twin brother Immer.”
Immer. So that's his first name. Henry nodded, noticing that the girl’s freckled, triangular face and flashing green eyes bore only a shadowy resemblance to her brother’s daydreaming countenance.
“Come in and meet the others!” Wryre sang, and led the two through the door.
Then Henry was standing, stunned, at the entrance of a small room with blue-and-white wallpaper.
“Go on.” Zael whispered.
“They’re children.” Henry uttered the sentence much as he might have said, “It is hopeless.”
The malcontents had not yet noticed him. They were silent, but tense, as if hard words had just passed between them. A small girl with smooth brown hair was wringing her fragile hands, her thin face eaten up by tremendous brown eyes. A tight-jawed young centaur whose hair bristled straight up in a line from a bald scalp was scowling openly. There was Immer Wallis, his quiet face seeming disappointed rather than angry. A tall, thin boy was hiding his face with a dark hood, but Henry saw that the long hair beneath it was a rich blue-violet, a fairy’s hair. The shorter boy in the corner was a fairy too, with closely-cropped dark hair and….
Henry gasped, and Zael cast him a glittering sideways glance.
“He has wings!"
They spoke under their breaths.
“Never mind that now. Just don’t stare at him too much, it makes him angry.”
Henry swallowed hard, and nearly jumped when Immer’s sister tapped him unexpectedly.
“What are you waiting for?” she asked, in what was probably meant to be a whisper. The malcontents looked up. Henry froze.
“Friends!” Zael cried suddenly, his voice booming and assured, like an announcer’s. “Today we welcome a new revolutionary to our number. I present to you Henry Limminer!”
Henry stared at the malcontents, and the malcontents stared back. And they looked anything but welcoming.


Wow--children? And a centaur

Wow--children? And a centaur with a...mohawk? LOL! :0D It has been too long! I missed this story, promise it won't be so long next time!!
The only constructive criticism I can add is that you made no mention of the train getting to its destination, only that Zael is leading Henry up a walkway. You might want to add a paragraph or two letting the reader know that, otherwise the flow of the story will be momentarily disrupted. Other than that, great chapter, can't wait for the next--and don't you dare take so long to post it! :0)

Heather | Tue, 01/05/2010

And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

Oh, I love it! It's

Oh, I love it! It's so...unique, and interesting. How come he's surprised that a fairy has wings? What's going to happen? Please write more soon! :) :) :) (: (: (:

Laura Elizabeth | Tue, 01/05/2010

The best stories are those that are focused, unassuming, and self-confident enough to trust the reader to figure things out. --


YAY! *dances wildly in a circle*

A new chapter. I must admit I did not see that coming with the children. Very interesting...I applaud you, Madam Author.

 I was afraid you had left us you hadn't posted or commented on anything in so long. Ditto to what Heather said posting the next chapter...I can't wait!

Ariel | Tue, 01/05/2010

"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." -- Herman Melville


Yay!! You finally posted!! Oh, you really should make longer chapters... I'm always left dying for more! And this is unlike any story I have read before; I absolutely love it.
Just don't leave me hanging so long next time, OK? ;)

Hannah W. | Wed, 01/06/2010

Write more! Soon! P.S. It was

Write more! Soon!
P.S. It was nice seeing you. :)

Teal | Sat, 01/09/2010

ditto to

ditto to Teal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LoriAnn | Sat, 01/09/2010

Thank you, girls! Heather:

Thank you, girls!

Heather: Thanks for noticing that--I changed it a bit. Is it better? :) Yes, the mohawk was kind of funny--I didn't want to use the word "mohawk" because it seems to be distinctly the property of this world, but I wasn't sure how else to say it...:P

Laura Elizabeth: Most of the fairies in Kraja no longer have wings, for reasons that will be revealed in a little bit.

Old Fashioned Girl: Well, they're not young children...they're mostly in their early-to-mid teens. Still pretty young, though. And of course I didn't leave!

Hannah W: I didn't realize how long it was taking, and I kept rethinking and changing my idea for this chapter--sorry!

Teal: Thanks, it was great seeing you too!

LoriAnn: I will, I will!

Thanks again--you're all so very kind! I don't know how I could stay away so long.

Annabel | Sat, 01/09/2010

Yes, it helps the passage of

Yes, it helps the passage of time plus adds some more description and fleshes out your world a bit more--well done! Making your reader feel thata a goodly amount of time has passed in only a couple of paragraphs is tough stuff, and you did an excellent job!

Heather | Thu, 01/14/2010

And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

Annabel! Where'd this story

Annabel! Where'd this story go? Don't leave it! :0)

Heather | Mon, 04/05/2010

And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

Oh, I haven't left it. I know

Oh, I haven't left it. I know it's been awhile...sorry! Hopefully I'll get chapter six up this week. :)

Annabel | Tue, 04/06/2010