by Kat Heckenbach -
The sight of the boy huddled in the corner stopped Spiner in his tracks. If he were caught following up on the illegal experiment…
He slipped behind a support column. He couldn’t chance anyone seeing him, not even a homeless child. But pity tugged at his heart as he watched the tattered urchin pull scabbed knees to a skeletal chest. Tears streaked through grime on the boy’s cheeks. Spiner leaned his forehead against the cool metal beam.
“You can come out, sir. It’s okay.” The boy’s voice squeaked mouse-like. He couldn’t have been more than seven years old.
Spiner stepped out into the corridor and walked softly toward the boy. He knelt down as the boy wiped away tears with the back of his hand. “Are you hungry?”
The boy nodded but didn’t meet Spiner’s gaze. “I won’t tell anyone you’re here, even if you don’t feed me,” he said.
“I appreciate that.” Spiner reached out and brushed a string of blond hair away from the boy’s eyes. “You know what I am?”
“A wizard, sir.” He lifted his head, eyes wide. “I’m sorry, I know you don’t like being called that, but I mean no disrespect.”
Was he only seven then? Such a big word for a little boy.
“No worries, kid. I’ve no apologies for my beliefs.”
“I believe, too,” the boy said. “I-I want to learn.”
Spiner studied the boy’s face. Intelligent eyes. The eyes of a survivor. He whispered, “You’d like to be an apprentice?”
The boy’s “yes” was barely audible.
Spiner leaned in. “Let’s go. Food first, and then some lessons.”
One corner of the boy’s mouth tugged up into a half-smile as hope sparked in his eyes.