Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Captured Fire - Part 8

Image courtesy of suphakit73 /
This is the Eighth
installment of the 
short story 
Captured Fire

This story is the story of a nine-year-old boy,
Robbie, who enters a magical world where he learns about the meaning of life,
friendship, and respect for others

Robbie rested the next day with the horrible vision of the destruction to his firefly friends by his human friends. It was so vivid in his mind.   He wondered how he was supposed to make everything right. If he could not save the firefly kingdom he would be a firefly forever.

The next night they assembled under the oak tree once more before flying off to their assignment.  The new members of the squad were not filled with the same enthusiasm today. This was not fun and games; now it was a seriously dangerous job.

Martworth received praise from the older squad members for his quick thinking to go for medical help. He was awarded a certificate of commendation.  He was happy to have helped his fellow fireflies, but his thoughts now turned to what his father’s end must have been. It had always been a legend to him, now he knew it was a real happening.

Robbie was under pressure. He had experienced what happens on the side of the fireflies when the boys are playing their game.  This was not a game on this side. Now his mission was to get them to understand. How was he to do that? He was a firefly, even if he were still a boy they wouldn’t listen anyway, they couldn’t understand. Confusion filled his brain more as each minute ticked by.

Barra called them all to formation then off they flew to the neighborhood that was once Robbie’s home, but now a dangerous battlefield.  All the new members flew slowly not wanting to relive the experiences of the night before. Barra kept encouraging them “this is life men. Go do your job, be brave.” Even the mature experienced fireflies worried, but knew they had to go on and do what is expected of them whether they were frightened or not. Life was not always filled with peace.

The neighborhood looked like any summer evening Robbie could remember.  He saw the parents and grandparents sitting on the patios as the kids played in the yards.  But what once was a fun evening of games to him as a boy now brought terror flowing through his little beetle body.

Once again the group performed their light show routine with as much enthusiasm as the night before.   It was a beautiful sight as each bulb flashed at its appointed moment. The choreographed show could be set to the sound of a Mozart symphony.  Robbie seemed to lose himself in the moment finally relaxed and thinking only of his time to flash and the beauty of the evening.

The boys showed up quickly, running and jumping at the Meltor squad. Each firefly flew off as fast and as high as he could still flashing to the symphony.  Robbie panicked as he saw his old friend Jason capture Martworth and pull off his flashing bulb. Martworth struggled falling to the ground yelling for help. Jason took the glowing bulb and placed it on his forehead, “I have a head light,” he laughed as he jumped up and down and the other boys followed his lead all jumping around like little frogs.

Robbie made his way over to Martworth as he lay on the ground with a look of pain in his eyes.  “I’ll make it,” he said, “it’s just a flesh wound.”  He tried to stand up but weakly fell to his knees.

“Don’t move, just stay still while I get you help. You’ll be fine,” Robbie said trying to keep a confident sound to his voice, but all the while he was filled with terror.

Robbie tried to remember the distress flash they were taught in class.  He didn’t pay much attention to it that day not knowing why he would ever need to have such knowledge, now he knew.

It only took two emergency flashes and the medics were at their side.  They carefully lifted Martworth onto a stretcher made from spider webs and down from a milkweed pod and an oak leaf for a cover. Once he saw Martworth was on his way to the hospital, with exploded temper he went in off in search of the boys.

It didn’t take him long to find them in his back yard running and jumping after the Meltor squad.  He wasn’t sure what he was to do, but his anger was so elevated he just flew down at the boys in attack.  The boys were completely startled at the fierceness of this firefly, something they had never expected.  Robbie took advantage of their surprised state and made another dive bomb attack to their faces. The boys were startled and started screaming and swatting at the firefly. Dropping the jars they ran off in the direction of their homes. All that is except Jason he knew this was not an ordinary firefly so he was determined to get his hands on this one.  After several attacks on Robbie’s part, Jason captured Robbie cupping him in his hands. Robbie yelled at the top of his voice calling Jason’s name and stomping on his hand as hard as he could to get his attention.
Jason peered into his hands to see what kind of bug this was that was so active.  He looked closely blinking his eyes and shaking his head to take a closer look. He was in disbelief seeing a firefly in his hand with his friend Robbie’s face and hearing his name called.

“Jason it’s me, Robbie. Please don’t hurt me I need to talk to you.”

“Ro-b-b-i-e?” Jason stuttered still not sure what it was he was looking at. “I must be dreaming, Robbie was kidnapped. I must just be missing him and everywhere I look I see him.”

“No you’re not, it is me. I have become a firefly and I need to talk to you. You have to believe me, don’t hurt me, take me somewhere so we can talk.”

Jason looked closer at the strange firefly sitting in his hand.  Blinking and blinking he finally focused his eyes. His jaw dropped. “It is you!  How … why? I can’t believe this is true.”

“It’s a long story,” Robbie said, “We need to talk. Take me to Nana’s shed.”

Jason, still in shock, carried Robbie carefully in his hands. When they reached the shed Jason placed the special firefly on a shelf.  Robbie explained the whole story starting with the capturing of Rosella, King Huron, the legend of promise, everything that had happened to him.  He told him in detail the horror of being imprisoned in the glass jar and how the fireflies suffered, were injured and many died.  Jason was unsure of the whole thing and it horrified him to think his friend was a firefly. Looking around the shed he found the bughouse and locked Robbie in for the night.

Robbie yelled for Jason to come back. He started flashing distress signals hoping the squad could see him, but to no avail.  He was locked in the shed where he couldn’t be seen or heard.  He spent the night in there worrying about Martworth and about his future, until finally he slept.

In the morning he woke up hearing voices outside the shed.  Mama, Dad and the police were discussing a missing boy, and then he realized it was him they were talking about. His parents were distraught and he started to cry hearing Mama sound so sad.  Nana was with them and tried to comfort them, “He will be back. A boy sometimes needs an adventure and takes off.”  They just pacified Nana, after all she was just an old lady who didn’t understand what was going on.  Robbie wondered why she didn’t sound upset and sad, thinking maybe she didn’t really love him.

 “Mama, Dad, Nana, it’s me Robbie I’m in the shed. I’m a firefly,” he tried yelling as loud as his beetle lungs would allow, but no one heard him. They all walked away and he was left alone in the shed again.

He knew he must find a way out or he would die. “How can I get out? ”  He rested his chin on his little beetle hands thinking, and realized he knew everything about this box because it was his.  “The entrance is at the top of the box and all I have to do is fly up and slide the little panel on the blue roof and I will be out.”

The idea was a good one, but he forgot he was not a large human boy any more and the box was made to keep the fireflies in.  It was very hard to move the panel now. He placed his front legs flat on the panel and braced his back legs against the sidewall that the panel rested up to.  He pushed all his legs in each direction as hard has he could, he pushed and pushed but nothing happened.  He collapsed on the wood, hot, tired, and ready to cry.

“This was so much easier to do as a boy. I don’t think I will ever get out.” He sat back closing his eyes and cried.  He laid there for a few minutes in defeat and then visions of his fellow fireflies being captured and suffocated filled his mind. “ I will get this opened I must do this for the whole kingdom.”  More determined than ever he pushed and pushed all his legs shaking and his head feeling like it would explode.  Finally the panel opened and he flew out of the box and through a crack in the window.  Right over to Jason’s house he went.

Now that he was out he had to come up with a plan.  He waited in the garage sitting in Jason’s baseball mitt hoping to come up with an idea when Jason showed up.  After what felt like hours Jason came out to the garage. Robbie knew Jason’s routine. Every morning he always went over to the baseball field. So he sat quietly in the mitt as Jason picked it up.

“It’s me again. We have to talk,” Robbie shouted so he could be heard.

Jason blinked his eyes and shook his head as he looked into the mitt. “I thought you were a dream. Maybe you are and if I get rid of you I will finally wake up.” Jason tried to smash Robbie in his mitt. Robbie dodged him and flew out of the garage and back to Nanas rose garden. When he got there he found Rosella sitting on a red rose.

“Jason is trying to kill me. I don’t know how to get him to listen to me. I am afraid I will always be a firefly. I wish I never found you.” Robbie yelled without taking a breath.

“Calm down. We were all worried about you when you didn’t come home last night.  I do have a plan to help you convince Jason. But first let’s get you back for some food and rest.”

 The first thing Robbie did when he got back was go to see Martworth who was recovering from a bulb transplant. “Hey buddy how are you doing? You look great.”

Martworth was a little tired but seeing Robbie perked him up a lot. “Can’t complain. Look at the size of this new bulb they gave me.  Going to have a little therapy to get it to work, but everything is going to be fine.  Waiting to get back out there again and do my job even better than before.”

He did seem more determined to go back out and do his job. But first was a recovery period were he was transferred to lamp duty.  There was one good thing that came out of the situation, he was now not the shy little beetle he once was, but a confident firefly.

Robbie tried to rest all day but kept having visions of being captured in the jar the night before. He attended memorial services for the members of the group that perished in the attack. When evening came Robbie and Rosella went to Jason’s house and waited for him again in the garage, this time sitting on the jar rim. Right on queue he came in for his jar.  Rosella was the one this time who flew right up into Jason’s face. He was so startled he fell back onto the workbench in the corner. 

“This is an important lesson for you to learn and you will not refuse it,” with that Rosella said some words neither boy understood, touched Jason on the head and he shrunk down to the same size as them.  Rosella pulled a small yellow suit out of a bag she brought giving it to him to put on.  Jason was in shock but did what he was told. Then they all flew off together with Jason being pulled on a leash like a puppy as little fleas, holding on to the straps of the suit, flapped their wings to keep him suspended in flight.

As they flew across the yard Robbie relayed his first hand account of the harm they had done to the fireflies. But Jason was too scared and bewildered at his size and the situation.  Soon they flew right to the group of boys gathering in the yard ready to go on their nightly search. The small group of three hovered high out of the boys reach.

“We will observe from up here the actions of the boys,” Rosella said to Jason. “You then form your own conclusion.”

When the boys decided Jason was not going to show up that evening they started their bug chase in the usual manner.  The young fireflies performed with extra vigor tonight to convey to the Land-one visitor that they were more than flashes of light in the night sky. The light show tonight was the most spectacular ever. Jason was in awe as he hovered between Rosella and Robbie above the flashing lights.

All of a sudden the choreographed group started to scatter and the battle between beetle and human started once more.  Several boys scooped up fireflies with silken nets on long poles, while others captured zooming lights in their hands.  Soon all the boys were hooting and laughing with jars glowing like lanterns.

“See what is happening,” Robbie said turning to Jason with pleading eyes.

Jason now comfortable with his size and the fact that his friend was a beetle replied, “Sure I see, everyone is having a fun time as usual. What’s the big deal anyway?”

Robbie shook with anger and moved toward Jason, but Rosella moved between them. “Wait a while, the boys will be finished soon then we will go see the horrid results.” They moved over to the limb of a giant oak tree and sat and waited.


© Copyright 2013   Eileen A Partak

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