I wrote this as an offshoot of another story that I’ve been working on for a while about this girl that gets into a different world. *coughs* This is about her little brother. XD
Life is full of dangers. What most people would laugh at, overlook or kick aside, Canaan Johnson took great measures to avoid. Scary things like answering the phone, opening to door to a stranger, talking to people he didn’t know very well, walking downtown at night, and listening to heavy metal bands like Fit For A King.
Canaan wanted, more than anything, to be brave and courageous. He wanted to face his fears head on and not back down until he held their heads in one hand and their bodies lay at his feet. Okay, scratch that. Just imagining that image nearly sent him to the bathroom to lose his breakfast. He sighed. Why couldn’t he be like Dad? That man had some serious guts! One day, he had answered the phone as soon as he got up, got rid of an annoying salesman at the door, strolled downtown (talking to some people there) and then ate a huge, spicy chicken sandwich. That night when he came home, he didn’t look worn or tired at all! If it had been Canaan, he would have needed a month in intensive therapy. Maybe he needed that even without having such a rough day….
The day started much like other Monday afternoons. After a lunch of PB&J, Dream, his older sister, and his two little brothers Jim and Joe, headed out for a walk around their very safe, clean neighborhood. Joe and Jim were talking incessantly, like normal, and just being generally annoying. Canaan was trying to get Dream’s attention, but she had that glazed over look that she got when she was busy thinking about the characters in her latest novel. He sighed. He’d just have to listen to his brothers’ chatter. He was just about to complain about this, when Dream caught her toe in a crack on the sidewalk and tripped, face down.
When she hit the pavement, she disappeared. No, literally. She was gone. Canaan opened his mouth to scream, but he was so shocked that no sound came out. There wasn’t a flash of lightning like in the movies, and the ground didn’t open up and swallow her. She had just vanished before his eyes. He stared in disbelief.
Disbelief soon turned to panic. Dream was gone! And he and his little brothers were all alone, three blocks away from their house! Images of ferocious dogs, angry gangsters, and old women with cattle prods for canes filled his little mind. He started shaking. He reached for his brothers – who were still blabbing about dessert and seemed unfazed by the turn of events.
“We’ve got to get out of here and home!” Canaan willed his voice not to shake as much as his knees were.
“I don’t wanna go home!” Joe wailed.
“Yeah!” Jim stomped his feet. “I’m not going!”
“Guys, please! This isn’t the time to be stubborn!” Canaan begged. “If you come home right now, I’ll give you two cookies each!”
Joe crossed his arms. “Sounds like you’re trying to bride us!”
Jim squinted. “He’s leading us back to our deaths – by Boredom!”
Canaan was near tears now. Even though his brothers were two whole years younger than he was, they were only about an inch shorter. He gave up on the idea of dragging them home. Now cookie bribes had failed. Could this get any worse?
Thunder rumbled high above them and dark rain clouds blocked out the sun.
Yup, it could get worse. Everything in life could always get worse.
“We’re gonna get all wet!” Jim exclaimed, jumping up and down in glee. The boys raced each other on the side walk – towards the busy street – and in the opposite direction from home.
Canaan raced after his brothers, not failing to notice the three black cars that drove past them. Didn’t those government people drive black, fancy cars like that? What if it was Child Protection Services come to take him away for being a bad brother?! He ran faster.
When he finally caught up to the twins, he was out of breath and panting heavily. He was pleased to see that Jim and Joe looked just as exhausted. Canaan looked around and his panic level went from high to over the top. They were standing in a huge park, near a movie theatre, nowhere near their neighborhood.
“WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!” Canaan screamed, hugging his brothers. “You guys have been great.” A sniffle. “If you make it out alive, tell Mama that I love her and I wished that she could have been here to whiteness my last few moments on earth.” He fell to the ground and reached for the sky, gasping. The twins just looked at each other and blinked. They had always known that their brother was a little on the crazy side. This had pushed him over the edge.
“Hey, where do we report insane people?” Jim asked, still staring at Canaan, who had closed his eyes and put on a pitiful frown.
Joe shrugged. “Let’s go door to door begging for food! Look, there’s a bunch of houses over there! I’m sure little old ladies would love to shower poor kids like us with cookies and candy!”
Canaan, suddenly reviving from his death, jumped to his feet. “Bad idea, guys. We’re not going to go door to door! Do you know what kinds of people could live in those houses?!”
“Nope! But we’re about to find out!”
“No, we’re not.”
There was silence for a moment, then Jim burst into laughter. He headed for the nearest house, followed closely by Joe and reluctantly by Canaan, who was still protesting.
Jim marched confidently up to the first house and pounded his little fist against the door. It was opened by a groggy looking old guy. Great, Canaan though, they’d probably woke him from his beauty sleep. They’d be in for it now.
“What do you stinkin’ kids want now?”
Jim scowled. “What did you just call me?” Without giving the man a chance to answer, he continued. “I, sir, and not a ‘stinkin’ kid’. I am a respectable member of society. I am here on behalf of my brothers. We are cold and hungry and searching for some dessert. Would you happen to have any?”
“What?” The man’s mouth hung open in surprise and confusion. Canaan, though scared to death, rushed forward and shoved his brother back.
“We are so so so sorry, Mister. We’ll just be going now.”
Grabbing the boys by the shirt collar, Canaan rushed them off of the porch. Jim pouted. “Why’d you do that?! I was making some headway! I think he was just about to give us some cookies!”
Canaan could hardly hear them. He was amazed at himself. He had been bold enough to go up and speak to a complete stranger – and a scary one at that! Pride swelled in his heart. He had been brave! As the realization dawned on him, he felt strength spread through his shivering limbs. He was a man! He didn’t have to be afraid!
Turning sharply to his brothers, he spoke in his most confident tone. “Joe, Jim, we’re going home right now. If you keep disobeying me, I’ll tell Mom and Dad everything. They won’t be happy and you won’t get dessert for the next three weeks!”
Joe and Jim exchanged glances. They’d forgotten about Mom and Dad, those people with ultimate power and authority. Suddenly aware of their mortality, the boys lowered their heads and followed Canaan back in the general direction of home.
Canaan stuck out his chest and threw back his shoulders. Yeah, baby! He was a grown man! Full of bravery, strength, courage. He could do anything! His fear had been scared of him and run off. He was –
Just then, he heard the sickening howl of a wolf-like animal. He glanced behind him and saw, to his great horror, barred teeth, angry reddish eyes and four, powerful legs. The animal – that horrid creature called a dog – moved towards them, slowly, threateningly. Canaan screamed and abandoned his new found courage. Grabbing a hand of each of his brothers, he raced through the alleys and across streets.
We’re gonna die!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
His pulse pounded in his ears so much that he could barely make out the barking of the creature behind them. His legs ached. His lungs burned with each breath. He couldn’t stop running, though. Not yet. Not until they had reached safety.
He forced himself to run faster, but his legs felt weak and like gummy worms. Every ounce of strength was being drained from his little body. Black spots danced before his eyes as his lungs begged for oxygen. When all hope seemed lost, and he was ready to throw himself to the ground and be torn, limb from limb, by the dog, he saw someone ahead, standing with her back to the sun that was peeking through the clouds.
Through his blurred vision, he made out a familiar face. Dream? Was it – could it be? It was! He raced up to her and threw his arms around her waist, gasping for breath. She looked frazzled, confused and unsure of where she was. Kind of like she had just come out of another world. When Canaan collapsed at her feet, exhausted, he noticed deep cuts on her legs – and her clothes were torn and ripped. Something about his sister looked different, like she had seen and been through some great adventure. He hugged her feet. He didn’t care what had happened. All that mattered was that she was back now. And the dog, seeing her fearless face and imposing figure, whimpered and ran in the opposite direction. He was safe at last.