After being drug through the damp streets, the rain outside lightening to a small drizzle, I was led to the octagonal prison dome stretching out across the entire block.
I sniffed, remembering my nose was bleeding from hitting the counter. I watched the small crimson drops fall from my face before trying to talk to the Patrol.
“Hey my nose is bleeding. I don’t know if you could do something for that or..,” I began.
Before I realized what was going on, my face was slammed into the wall of the prison, the Patrol grabbing hold of my hair.
“We know what you’re trying. And it’s not going to work,” his gravely voice said in my ear.
I nodded in response as they pull me away from the now smeary red wall and led me inside. My nose was bleeding worse now, dripping onto the solid white floor of the prison. I began to worry more.
You see, no one ever came out of the Canvas prison. Humans called it the Cage, because no one had ever escaped. I didn’t know what they did to the people there, but I sure didn’t want to find out.
The Patrol led me to a large room with a long glass table with chairs lined up all along it. The Patrol shoved me into a chair and strapped my arms and legs to it. The main Patrol came forward and took off his helmet to get a better look at me.
Okay, now typically I try to be a nice person. And then there’s times like this one, where someone is so ugly that I can’t even describe them in a nice way.
The Patrol had mousy brown hair, cut in a terrible bowl cut. His buck teeth stuck out unpleasantly under his wispy mustache. He looked middle aged, with some wrinkles on his face. His fat cheeks were speckled with freckles and his blue eyes drooped to the sides.
He looked over me, before pushing one of his fat fingers onto my face, directly below my left eye.
Oh great. I was probably about to hear about my birthmark again.
He turned back to the other Patrols talking in a language I couldn’t understand, occasionally glancing back at me.
Then, out of nowhere, he rushed from the room while the other Patrols watched me. I slumped in my chair with a loud sigh. I knew Mom was probably worried sick. And there I was. In the Cage for insulting a Canvas.
The Patrol came back in, this time with three other Canvas. They looked to be important. The ugly Patrol comes over to me.
“You are Todd Hendricks, yes?,” he said in the accent that I despised so much. I was a bit taken aback by the sound of my name instead of my number in that accent.
“Yes,” I said slowly.
“My name is General Rusicis. I believe you know why we brought you here.”
“Yeah. I insulted that rations lady.”
He looked confused and then seems to understand, “That was why we were called to the rations office. That is not why we brought you here.”
I looked at him with a blank look on my face. I was at a loss for words. Why did they bring me here? I looked at the three Canvas behind him.
“You must be wondering who they are. This is King Klyptorian, Queen Cyria, and Princess Persisti. They are very interested in you Todd.”
I looked over the royal family. Klyptorian was tall and foreboding. He had deep red eyes that, now that I think about it, hadn’t moved from me since he came in. His white hair was spiked up and his skin was pale enough to rival mine.
The one I guessed was the queen, just because of age, had long, blonde hair, sweeping past her waist. Her large green eyes dashed between me and Klyptorian. Her fingers and neck were coated in various metals that looked more valuable than gold.
The princess actually looked quite scared of me. She had her mother’s hair, with pale violet eyes. She looked no older than about sixteen years old.
The royal Canvas didn’t talk to me. I guess that’s why Rusicis was there.
“Todd, King Klyptorian has been interested in you. He has been wondering if you would like to accompany him back to Planet Canvas to work for him,” Rusicis said with a little smile.
I must have made a funny face, because Rusicis quickly started talking again, “This isn’t an option Todd. You will come peacefully, or you will come in shackles.”
“Fine,” I said leaning back in my chair. The Canvas weren’t very smart, apparently because they walked over, untied me from the chair and began to lead me out of the room without any sort of restraints.
“You will need better clothing than that,” Rusicis said, looking at my T-shirt and jeans with disgust, “you will besmirch the greatest planet in the galaxy.”
I smiled and nodded, holding in laughter at the use of the word “besmirch” and looking around for any way to escape. Rusicis shoved some sort of Canvas outfit at me and pushed me into the bathroom to change.
I put on the abnormal clothing and looked in the mirror. The outfit seems to be specifically tailored for me. It had a turtleneck collar, with strange zippers and buttons. My number was printed on the right breast pocket and on the back. The pants were fairly tight, and had the boots attached to them. The sleeves reached just past my elbows. The entire outfit was pearl white, making my hair stand out horribly.
I glared at my reflection until I noticed something Rusicus must have overlooked. There was a window in the bathroom. My eyes widened as I rushed to it and desperately tried to figure out how to open it.
As I was struggling with the window, I heard a knock at the door, “Todd, you need to hurry. The shuttles will be leaving soon.”
“NO NO NO! I’m almost out of here!,” I thought.
I looked around helplessly for anything to break the window. I let out a sigh before accepting what I would have to do. I ran full speed at the window, slamming my shoulder into the glassy material. It gave way, and the shards ripped into my exposed forearms and face. I fell maybe ten feet, landing on my back. I laid there, trying to catch my breath, but looked up to see Rusicis looking out the window down at me.
I jumped up to my feet and began running, my arms and face burning from being cut. I could hear the gentle ‘whoosh’ of the Canvas Patrol taking flight. I knew they would be on me any second. I needed somewhere to hide.
I ducked into an alleyway to catch my breath when I heard something coming from the large pyramid.
“Attention all humans and Canvas! There is a runaway captive on the loose. If he is seen, please report him to your nearest Canvas office.
Name: Todd William Hendricks
He was last seen in a white Canvas jumpsuit. His only identifiable marks are a crescent under his left eye. Anyone found harboring this criminal will be executed.”
I rushed down the alley back into the street, tossing out any ideas I had of going back home. I couldn’t risk them hurting Mom. I looked around for anywhere to hide. That’s when, miraculously, I saw the subway entrance.
I ducked into the subway quietly, barely daring to breathe. My eyes began to adjust to the dark as I moved around the small station. The tracks seemed fairly clean considering the subway hadn’t been used in over a year. I sat against the wall, holding my head in my hands.
Just as I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I began to hear something on the tracks. Not a train, but voices. A male and a female. The female spoke first,
“How many times have I told you Georgie, they didn’t keep food stocked in subway stations. We’re going to have to go up at some point.”
“I’m not saying that they had food stored, I’m saying millions of people used these trains everyday, so we might as well be looking for things.”
“At least Huston didn’t think that bread crusts were sufficient rations for a day.”
“Yeah? Well I’m not Huston so leave me alone about how I run things. He went to the surface for food and where is he now? Where is he Errin?”
I heard the girl start crying. I wanted to help her but I was not about to reveal myself to these people. I heard the man walk off ahead of the girl, quite loudly. I could see light coming from the tunnel. I held my breath, hoping they wouldn’t find me. As the light came closer, I noticed that I could make out my own footsteps in the dust.
“Please. Please don’t look over here. Don’t see the footsteps,” I silently begged.
The walking stopped.
“Hey Errin. I think someone might’ve found us.”