In which Able overhears a conversation not meant for his ears and plans to leave.
Able lay in his bedroll in the leanto. His comfy new bed was one of the many things that Cal had gotten him, for no reason at all it seemed. It didn’t seem like Cal expected anything in trade. And even though it was very nice to have his own bedroll and a roof over his head again, Able was torn. He didn’t like Gef, which was a problem in itself because Gef was the one who was supposed to help him find the Ultracircus. Moreover, Able didn’t think he could convince Cal to go on without Gef since they were brothers. But Able didn’t feel like he should continue on with them both, because it seemed clear that Gef wanted something, or at least didn’t like him very much.
Able rolled over on his side and looked to where the dustfish lay beside him. If he decided to go on his own, at least he knew he wouldn’t be totally alone. One of the benefits of making mistakes was that you were never completely alone. As he lay watching the dustfish, he could hear the mumblings of Cal and Gef, still sitting outside by the fire. He sat up and moved to the end of his bedroll, and then scooted out of it on to the floor until he was near the wall of the leanto and he could hear the brothers talking.
Cal was talking, “… just neat little things. Shoot they’re probably worth something if we can get him to make, you know, useful ones. I seen one that’s a compass.”
“If you go around trading stuff like that, I’m telling’ you that someone is going to notice and someone is going to come looking. You don’t want that.”
“Who, Gef? Who’s gonna come looking?”
“Lotsa folks, brother. Folks you don’t want looking for you. I’ve been out there—past even the Domes—and ain’t none of ‘em good in my estimation.”
“Well, if we don’t help him find this–this—Ultrawhatever—then what’s he gonna hang around for?”
“I’m tellin’ you, we don’t need to care if he hangs around. Better that he goes, or better still, that we take him home where he won’t cause much fuss.”
Able didn’t need to hear anymore. He was not going home. He might be sure of very little about the world, but one thing he was sure of was that home was not a place that he ever wanted to be again. He began rolling up his bedroll and gathers his mistakes and the dustfish into his sack. The green buzzing goes quietly, sensing a need to be stealthy, but the dustfish doesn’t like it and it squirms about. But Able holds still until the dustfish settles down. He feels bad about making the little creature get in the sack. He feels bad about taking the things that Gef had given to him freely. But what else could he do? And why did doing what he needed to do—find the Ultracircus—have to be so unpleasant? He thinks again about getting Cal to leave his brother behind, but Able just doesn’t know how he could manage that. Cal seemed so intent on listening to what Gef had to say. No, Able was going to have to go on alone, or mostly alone, for now.
With his things gathered, he moves quietly to the far side of the leanto, away from the fire and the brothers, and then slips around the corner, out of sight. Even having only gone that far, Able has to take a deep breath to re-assure himself that what he is doing is the right thing to do. He had not yet even thought about where he was going to go. He thinks to himself that he will hike out of the village for just an hour or two and then lie down somewhere covered in the brush. He’ll sleep there and then maybe he could make a new compass out of one of the rollys, or… maybe he could make a compass that would point toward the Ultracircus. Why had he never thought of that before?
Before he sets out in to the night, Able listens one more time, to the conversation between the brothers, mostly just to hear Cal’s voice one last time.
Gef is still talking, “—the things they can do, that they want to do… Well, it’s not right. They want to change things, Cal.”
“Like change what things?” Cal asks.
“Like put the moon back up in the sky.”
Read the whole thread: Brother Dustfish