Short story for section 4 of The Ultimate Trinket Contest.
Word count: 1088
Moon looked at the time band on his wrist. There were still two segments before the next transport would come down the tracks looking for passengers. His eyes scanned the horizon toward Meteor mountain, his home. The top of the domed city was visible over the curve of the land. Moon shook his head.
Four hundred and eighty-two planet years had passed since his ancestors settled Quarkter. Three generations back the inhabitants acclimated to the planetoid enough to easily breath the atmosphere. The dome was home to the main fancy city and those families who refused to change, believing they would be returning to their original planet. Moon could breathe both types of air. He had heard discussions from the elders, about how they were not being “rescued” because their original home of Stemster no longer existed.
Moon could not understand the need to move. Oh, he was running away from home, but he wasn’t leaving the planet. He was just headed for the nearest settlement where his best friend, Starling, lived. She asked him many times to come to visit. Now he had a reason.
He reached down and patted his Paws head. He should have left the dog at the house, but since the fight was about him in the first place he didn’t want to take the chance his parents would go through with their threat of having him sent away. Apparently, someone offered his mother and father a lot of coins for the animal. Moon understood the offer. Not many of the animals had survived and acclimated to the atmosphere. Those that did were in high demand from the overlords.
Moon heard his parents discussing how the money would come in handy and could be used to improve life for all of them. He didn’t wait to find out how the discussion ended. His family was not rich. Coins were always needed. That was why both of his seniors worked.
He hugged his stuff bear tighter. It was his bear, but he was hoping if Starling still wanted it he could use it as a trade to spend time in her family's conclave. He was going to miss being home, but Paws was more important. The dog depended on him to keep him safe and fed. He was his best friend.
Moon heard a rumbling behind him. When he turned the stop signal was blinking red. When it turned Green the transport would be breaking for a stop. Luckily he remembered to push the call button on the sign or it wouldn’t pick him up. As the transport came into view, Moon heard the clacking of the treads on his family’s private vehicle. His parents had found him. Maybe he could still hop on the train before they arrived. He didn’t want to though. He wanted to go home.
Moon walked over and hit the switch on the signal pole letting the train know he didn’t need to be collected. He could always go later. If his parents hadn’t changed their minds he would take Paws and hide in the domed city until the next transport was scheduled. Maybe he could even get someone to purchase a seat in one of the flight vehicles for him.
Turning, as the transport flashed by, toward where the light from his parent's arrival came closer, Moon looked down at the ground. Within seconds his mother’s arms held him in a tight hug. She felt warm and he snuggled close. His father's hand rested on his shoulder. “Son, why did you leave the house?”
“Wait until we get home Digger before we question him.”
“Yes dear. Come on sport, let's go home and you can explain to us why you thought leaving was the best way to solve your problem.”
His dad’s voice was gentle, so he knew he wasn’t in a lot of trouble. Maybe he could talk them out of getting rid of Paws. He could always do extra chores and maybe help at one of the stores, carrying packages to people’s homes for them. He was strong. Paws could stay in his room forever and his parents wouldn’t even have to know he was there.
They walked into the main living quarters and Moon sat on the couch. His dad sat in his favorite chair. Paws sat at his feet. His Mom handed him a glass of his favorite juice and sat beside him, taking his hand in hers. “So, love, why did you leave without telling us? We were worried.”
Sipping a bit from his mug, Moon looked from his Mom to his Dad and back to his Mom. “I heard you and Dad discussing how you were going to send Paws away. I couldn’t let you do that. He’s all I got and I’m all he’s got.”
His Mom pulled him in for a hug. “Ah sweetheart, we were….”
“I will do extra chores and I’ll see if I can work in the city to earn enough money to pay for everything he needs. I promise.”
Moon’s father sat forward in his chair and put his elbows on his knees. His clasped hand fell between his legs. “Moonpie, your Mom and I would never think of getting rid of Paws. He is part of this family.”
“But, I heard…”
“Sweetheart,” his mother said as she pushed him slightly back so they could look into each other's eyes. “First you know it is impolite to listen in on others' conversations. To explain though, your father and I received a request from one of the council members to buy Paws. No… love we didn’t accept. We were discussing how to turn the request down, not something that is easily done. We decided to offer to breed Paws when he gets older. Paws will not be going anywhere though. If the deal is turned down, we will not agree to anything else. We don’t sell family, love.”
Moon looked back and forth between his parents. He reached down and pulled Paws into his lap. “Hear that boy, you don’t have to go anywhere.” For his announcement Moon received a lick on his face.
“Now go to your room and unpack your bag. Dinner will be ready soon. Dad brought home Starburst sausage, your favorite.”
Moon rose, placed Paws and his feet and ran for his room. He decided to never again listen in on a conversation. If for some reason he did hear bits and pieces he would ask questions before leaving.