II. The Job
William stared awkwardly at the strange creature. This was as far as his dad told him, he didn’t mention what to do after the introduction. Now could he call out for his dad?
Nevele must have been having similar thoughts because he was the first to speak. “Extraordinary. Absolutely extraordinary.” He waved his hand that resembled a paw in front of William’s face. “To see one myself. I heard stories about this but I never expected it to happen to me.” He sized William up and down. “You’re not really all that scary looking. More just…” he squinted a little, “strange looking.”
Two things happened instantly. One, William was shocked that he could understand what the creature was saying. Finally, someone – or something – that spoke his language. His mom was starting to understand him and he her but this creature seemed to be speaking his language. What a relief!
The second thing that happened was William was a bit offended that the weird looking creature called him strange. Seriously, did the creature not know what he himself looked like?
“Excuse me?” William asked. “You are saying I look strange?”
Nevele sized him up again. “Yes, that is what I am saying.”
William looked around his room and saw a toy that had a mirror on it. It was a relic from his baby days that he rarely played with anymore. He walked over and picked it up. “Look,” he said and held it in front of Nevele.
“Oh, what is that?” Nevele gasped.
“That’s you,” William replied.
“Nevele grabbed the toy and stared at his reflection. “I have never seen me before. That’s amazing!” He smiled. “I guess we are both odd creatures. But truth be told, I carry mine a little better.”
William tried to grab the toy back but Nevele tucked it away. “It’s mine now.” He stuffed it into a little bag he carried.
“What are you doing here?” William asked getting a little annoyed with his new friend.
“My job,” Nevele explained and walked around the room. He put a few small toys that caught his attention in his bag.
“What’s your job?” William asked a little worried at how many toys were going in the bag.
“Oh, you know, the usual. We are scavengers. We look for things and take them back.”
“We?” William asked. “Things? Back?”
Nevele stopped his collecting and looked at him. How ignorant was this pitiful looking creature? “Our list of things we must collect every shift. Can’t go back home until we have gathered everything on our list.” He held out his list and showed William.
Again, William was amazed he could understand what the list said. He never understood his mom’s lists. They always looked like gibberish to him. But this list he got. He scanned the items.
“You collect all these things?” He asked.
Nevele nodded his head.
“From people like me?”
Nevele again nodded. This kid seemed to be a bit slow on the uptake.
“Isn’t that stealing?” William asked. He had recently just learned this lesson when he tried taking a toy away from his sister. His mom made him give it back and lectured him. He couldn’t quite understand the whole argument but he remembered she had used the word steal more than once. Judging from her tone of voice, he assumed it was a bad thing.
Nevele just shrugged his shoulders and went about gathering William’s toys into his bag. “Thanks for this,” he said. “I will get to go home a bit earlier than usual. I mean, do you know how hard it is to scavenge in the dark, quietly, trying not to be seen?”
William shook his head. He truly had no idea but it sounded like a difficult task to be sure.
Nevele looked at him. “It’s no picnic.” He took out his list and checked things off. As he checked, he counted. He stopped at ten. “I don’t suppose you have some kind of pet collar around here?” He asked.
William shook his head no. “We don’t have any pets. We’re all allergic.” His answer stemmed from another conversation with his mom. They had taken a walk and saw a neighbor’s dog. He pointed and very clearly asked his mom if they could get a dog. She bent down to him and asked, “Is that doggie scaring you? Don’t worry, he won’t hurt you.” That wasn’t what he said at all. Couldn’t she understand his language? He again pointed and imitated the dog’s barking. “That’s right,” she said excitedly. “That’s what a doggie says. We can only look at him though, we’re all allergic.” Unsure of what that meant, he only knew that was the reason they didn’t have pets.
“Too bad,” Nevele replied. “Guess I’ll have to make one more stop. Judging from the barking coming from outside, your neighbor’s house should do it.” He turned to leave but stopped and looked again at William. “Except what to do about you?”
“Me?” Asked William. He was ready for his guest to leave.
“Yes, yes,” Nevele said and walked around his young host. “This has never happened before. Not to me. But in my training they did mention the protocol if the situation should arise. And arise it did.”
William really wished the creature would stop talking. He was getting tired and wanted to climb back in bed.
“I mean,” Nevele continued unaware he was wearing his welcome out quickly, “you never think it will happen to you and then it does.”
The two stared at each other face to face.
“Guess I have no choice. You have to come with me,” Nevele approached William.
There are a few things William knew as absolute truth since his short time with his parents. One, that his parents were the foundation of all the truths he knew. Two, crayons tasted horrible and should not be eaten. And three, there was absolutely no way he was going with Nevele anywhere. At all. No way.
“Yes,” Nevele said as if William had agreed to the offer. “You have to come. If you see us, you can’t be left behind. It’s better for both of us.”
William shook his head vigorously and started to call out for his dad. Before he could though, he saw Nevele’s paw reaching toward his mouth and then everything went black. William was about to go on the biggest adventure in this three-and-a-half year old existence and he didn’t even know it.
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