Short Story: The Hermit and The Boy Part 1

A Destined Encounter

The first thing the Hermit noticed about the Boy was the flies. Buzzing and racing around his body, competing for the foulest areas to perch their tired wings. He was slumped to one side, seated against the wall, palms rested atop his legs. The Boy was only wearing a soiled, torn potato sack, but it seems someone decorated him with more than that. Blood was scattered over his body, a mixture of dark and bright red, some injuries were more recent than others. His left eye was unrecognisable, the swelling was larger than a chicken’s egg. It could have been dirt but how the flies were attracted to those areas, it was most likely excrement splattered over his torso.

The Hermit stood absolutely still, watching the Boy for any signs of life from a distance. People continued to stroll by, obliviously absorbed into their own worlds until the market butcher walked by. “Do you know this boy?” The Hermit asked as he grabbed the butcher’s arm. The butcher was taken aback. The Hermit only comes down from the Hilltop Plains once a week to exchange some game for coin or supplies. The town centre of Brekonmills was small, with around 200 occupants but no one knew who the Hermit really was. He just appeared one day, barely spoke a word to anybody. A hooded silhouette amongst the populace.

“Poor little fellow… No one knows who he is. Mrs Appleworth saw a woman in the distance scurrying away toward the Decathrone residence. She noticed the Boy shortly after and wanted to help him but… Well all of the townsfolk are too scared to go near him.” The butcher explained, subconsciously taking a step back staring at the Boy’s eye. The Hermit whipped around and grabbed the butcher by the scruff of his collar. Humanity’s selfishness could not be avoided, vanity filled their hearts. The butcher winced cowardly, trying to free himself but then looked at the Hermit’s eyes. There was a deep sadness in those crystal blue eyes. The butcher was captivated, even for a man who constantly works with death, their beauty did not escape him.

The Hermit rushed toward the Boy, dropping the freshly killed rabbit on to the ground and knelt down to be eye level with him. The Boy’s breath was shallow, very raspy. It was unclear if he was conscious. “Are you alive, Boy?” The Hermit asked gently. It took a few seconds, but the Boy’s right eye opened and flickered, not use to the sunlight. “Waa….t-” The Boy said, interrupted by a series of short coughs. The Hermit was unfazed by the coughing but it seemed this event had gathered a small audience. There were murmurings amongst the butcher and other onlookers, whispers of the ‘plague’. The Hermit reached into his cloak and pulled out a ceramic container of water. He tenderly took the Boy’s head and tilted it slightly backwards. The Boy took a few sips but choked on the dryness of his throat.

The little amount of water seemed to draw some life from the Boy. He looked into the Hermit’s eyes. For a short time, he was mesmerised. Then the Hermit asked him, “Do you want to live?” It took a moment to register the gravity of his words, tears started to fall from his right eye, slowly at first. The Boy felt the warm touch of the Hermit as he placed his hands on his shoulders which seemed to release the sadness overwhelming him. Wailing and grasps for air filled the area, the onlookers were disturbed, the sounds made them scatter. This drew the last reserve of energy from the Boy, shortly losing consciousness after. The Hermit swept him up in his cloak, gathered his supplies and carried him through the forest to the Hilltop Plains.

The Aftermath

The Boy found himself standing in his mother’s house. He walked past the wooden dining table, gliding his hand across the rough surface, until he stood near the bed. He never realised how small this house was. It was more like a big room. He sat down on the bedside and glanced over to the cooking pit. The scent of potato and leek soup filled the room, making him feel sleepy. His mother was not around, he wondered where she could be, the food might spoil. He decided to lay down while he waited for her to return.

Just as he put his head down, the front door was smashed open with great ferocity, wood splintered everywhere. A giant figure loomed in the doorway. He could only make out a shadowy outline of a man, unable to distinguish his features. A low growl vibrated the room. The man took one step forward which seemed to cause the entire house to shake. Then another, the Boy’s eyes widened as dust fell on his face. Each footstep gained more weight while the Boy’s chest felt heavier and heavier. The fear was suffocating. Two steps away now and he was unable to breath, the roof crumbling around him. Peering over him, as tall as a tree, a deafening silence hovered in the air. “You stupid little-” The man said in a deep, menacing voice. As quick as a lunging snake, hands clamped over his neck.

The Boy shot up, sweat flung through the air and landed on the man beside him. Still afraid, the Boy retracted backwards, wrapping his arms around his legs, screaming in pure terror. The Hermit waved his arms in defence, “Do not fear, Boy, I will not harm you, it was a dream.” He said calmly. The Boy was still panicking but his voice soothed him enough to stop screaming. “I found you near the marketplace, badly injured. I’ve cleaned your wounds and poured out the blood that blocked your left eye. It is still swollen, it may take a day or two until you can fully open your eye again.” The Boy didn’t say anything in reply, but had some recollection of the events the man spoke. He simply rocked back and forth. “You’ve been asleep for nearly two days, you need to eat.” The Hermit requested, while placing a bowl of potato and leek soup in front of him. The Boy’s mouth watered, the aroma was intoxicating. However, the nightmare was still fresh in his mind, leaving him frozen. He knew he wanted to eat but he had no strength to move a muscle. So he sat there hugging his legs, frigid from the icy fear lingering in his mind.

The Hermit sensed the turmoil inside the Boy and decided to give him space. He got up from the bedside and travelled across the room to the front door. They were inside of his cabin, not much bigger than maybe 10 by 10 metres. It didn’t look too dissimilar to the Boy’s house, there was a small dining area, cooking pit below a chimney and bed. However, the walls were decorated with various trinkets. A small knife hung near the door which the Hermit grabbed, whilst pulling out an apple from a pouch that was attached to his hip. “I won’t be far, come out when your ready.” He said, pushing the door open. The Boy did not say a word but caught a glimpse of outside as the door closed behind the Hermit. He saw a flash of green and blue, a soft summer breeze entered the room, enveloping the Boy. This calmed him down briefly but he still did not dare to move from the bed. Finally, he mustered the will to reach for the warm meal and placed it on his lap. The soup let off a small amount of steam that carried the familiar scent to his nose. Memories flooded his mind, carrying an endless torrent of sorrow that could not be contained. He sobbed uncontrollably, tears filling the soup. Until he couldn’t cry anymore. He was tapped out. So the sadness turned into rage. He fiercely grabbed the soup and smashed it at the front door, letting out a roar. All the commotion disturbed the nearby birds. They rushed into the air, as though they felt the pain of the Boy and couldn’t bear it. The Hermit stared at their direction, cutting a slice of his apple, “Let it out.” He whispered to himself.

An Introduction

The Boy’s eyes opened to the Hermit sitting by the cooking pit, stirring something within a metal pot that hung above the fire. “Where am I?” The Boy questioned. The Hermit looked over his shoulder.

“You’re in my cabin. I bought you to the Hilltop Plains. Don’t worry, you’re safe here.” He replied, not moving from the stool.

“Why did you help me?” The Boy said with an irritated tone. The Hermit silently looked at the Boy.

“You asked me to help you.”

“I never did such a thing.” Anger was welling up inside of him. His only family in the world abandoned him on the street, suddenly realising he was all alone in this cruel world. He thought he was better off-

“Words do not always need to exchanged to see the suffering of another soul.” The Hermit interrupted the Boy’s thought.

The Hermit looked at him with honest concern for his wellbeing, but he couldn’t tell if he was being genuine or not. He has never seen anyone concerned before. The Boy looked down at his appearance. He was wearing a white tunic and brown slacks. They were too big for him. His swollen left eye was reduced enough to be able to see out of a slit. There was cut above the left eyebrow, where the blood was drained, it had crusted over and was hard to the touch. He sat up on the bed, running his hand over his greasy brunette hair. The Boy felt faint and his head was spinning.

“Here, take this.” The Hermit said. He gave him a bowl of soup and a cup of water. The Boy was reluctant but famished. He snatched the offering and scoffed down the soup, draining the water to the last drop. After he finished eating, he managed to get his first good look of this mysterious samaritan. Towering at around 6ft, the Hermit was wearing a navy tunic, tucked into black slacks. A dark red cloth was tied around his waist, the ends dangled off to the right. His hair was jet black, shoulder length, the candle light in the room reflected of its curls. Then there was his crystal blue eyes, bluer than anything the Boy had ever seen. This was the first time the Boy had seen such colourful eyes, they shined brighter in contrast with his caramel complexion. There was no one else like him in town.

“You’re welcome to more,” The Hermit said while taking the bowl and cup over to the dining table. The Boy shook his head, while glancing over the room, intrigued by the different objects hanging around. A bow and set of arrows were attached close to the door. Snares and traps sat below them, with multiple bags and pouches. There was one object that captured the Boy’s attention.

“You’re not from here are you? Those shackles on the wall… are you a criminal?” The Boy asked inquisitively, still untrusting. The Hermit looked over at the iron shackles, that hung next to a shimmering silver sword and a necklace with a wooden eye. He smirked to himself and sat back on the stool. The man pondered quietly as though he was choosing his next words wisely. Suddenly, he took a deep breath in and exhaled.

“You’re right, I am not from these lands. But I am no criminal. My story is being woven by fate’s cruel needle. It is still being written, but I will tell you my origins, if you will listen.” The Hermit said ominously.

To be continued…

The words flew onto the screen as I tried my best to express the images I had in my head. I’ve noticed it is easy to describe something but it is challenging to do it creatively! Creative writing is extremely fun though, I have always had an overactive imagination. Love the idea of making up a mini world with its own characters and events. I am not sure how many parts there will be as I keep getting ideas on where I want to take it! Most likely be 3 or 4.

During my break for the holidays, I reflected on what blogging/writing means to me and where I want to take it. I’ve written a fair amount of different blog posts last month and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, how can I be sure of what I am best suited in writing? I know for certain I want to help others and thought sharing ideas could be useful, but I also want to develop my creative writing. So I decided I’ll post poetry on Tuesdays, self-improvement/interesting topic for Thursdays and short stories on Sundays. I am going to use this site as a platform to improve my skills and test ideas on how to turn this passion of mine into something profitable one day.

It is tough to juggle work, a social life and posting regularly so this is my first hurdle to overcome!

Thanks for reading Part 1, I hope I bring out the most of these characters and their interaction in an entertaining way! If you have any feedback on how it could be improved or general thoughts, please leave a comment!

Sending peace and love through the 4th Dimension 🙂

ADR – One Human

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