Running for a Shooting Star
David lost himself among the trees in the night, his dark coat and pants blending in with the black trunk. This was the second time this year that he had become somewhat lost in the woods, the second time that he was running from Jessica and her friends. This, however, was not a warm night on Spring Break, fleeing an unaware house to the shelter of an old, crumbling church on the other side of the wood. These were different trees in a different state, a different season, even a different world at time, with an active pursuit following from the convention center towards an unknown end in the cool winter air.
It was the rust-gold mask clinging to his upper face that freed David from his own world, the mask which allowed him to approach conventions as someone other than himself, to go as Elion. Being unleashed as Elion, though, had caused him to dare to stand against Jared, Jessica’s violently protective confidant—protective not only of his friends, but also of his pride—and so now David ran from convention center, darting from darkness to deeper darkness like a wraith as he led Jared and his friend Brandon on the chase through the moonless woods. Elion’s grim smile twisted David’s face as he led his pursuers, toying with them at first but now wholly committed to escaping them.
A tree presented itself, and Elion swung David’s body up into the branches with ease, staying close to the trunk to keep the tree from shaking too badly. Through the branches he could see nothing but the beams of Brandon and Jared’s flashlights as they ran some distance apart, searching for the masked offender. Their lights passed by Elion’s tree, and David’s eyes followed them uphill as they moved towards a row of houses set high on the slope. The lights turned back, moved together, and walked back towards the tree. David held his breath, and the passed by, Jared’s swearing floating up alongside Brandon’s conciliatory remark that “the rat probably wasn’t worth it anyway. He ran, and it’s payment enough to make someone turn coward in front of his girl.”
David’s fingers tightened on a branch. The “girl” was Diana, self-introduced to him as “Valaina” at first: he’d called himself “Elion” at the time, a she’d picked up the gag and ran with it. As Valaina and Elion, she and David had met a few months ago, and whenever he and Diana could get together they still shared a dance floor in the guise of their Others, but those times were slowly becoming as rare as a passing comet.
Looking around in his perch as Jared and Brandon moved further off, David’s eyes settled on those houses uphill. Valaina had told him she lived close to the convention; maybe one of those was hers. He couldn’t leave without making amends. With Jared and Brandon quite a distance off, he slithered out of the tree and began to make his way uphill, flitting among the trees like a ghost. Not feeling ready to be shot, he skirted the properties and made his way around front, looking for the lion’s head knocker that would mark her house. No need to look: Diana was extricating herself from a crowded car three houses away, her own mask pulled up over her hair. The car pulled away, and Elion dashed along the road to the foot of her drive.
“Shooting stars and sliver moons,”
He sang out the first line just loud enough for her to hear. She paused at the door, turned. Smiling, she pulled her mask back down over her face and sang back,
“Disappear, disappear in the night,
And safely, softly commune.”
A smile spread across Elion’s face, and he touched his mask, bowing to Valaina. She returned a secret salute, pressing two fingers against her throat, and went inside. Elion drew his trench coat tight around David’s spare form, and quietly walked back to the woods. The comet had passed, and all was well.