A boy, no longer a child but not yet a man, his narrow shoulders hunched against the night air, waited at the edge of the Garbage Dump for dawn. Little Child’s time had come to risk Crossing alone, and he was cold. He flexed his fingers. He jogged in place. He tried to ignore the fear in his stomach.
Where was the Princess Amanda? wondered Little Child. Why was she taking so long? And how did she get the courage to make Crossing so often, to go back and forth from Great Park to Bright City?
The Garbage Dump was a dangerous place. Though the Enchanted City had been freed by the King from the curse of nightlife, and though the people now lived daylives and called their home Bright City, here in the awful place of ashes and rotting refuse the Naysayers, the Burners, and Breakers still hunted. Here they ambushed crossers who bravely worked for the Restoration. At Day’s End, shadows began to creep out of hidey-holes and from behind garbage mounds to breach the city walls and the protection of the Ranger Surround. To make havoc, these dark ones had to work quickly and with deceits, because in day their powers waned. So they cursed each dawn’swake and exulted when sunsleep dimmed the skies.
Br-r-r~r. Little Child blew on his fingers. He hurnmed a tune from Great Celebration to bolster himself against fear. He checked his survival kit. Nose mask to protect against poison air. Silver—handled hatchet for battle. Bread and water for one day’s journey.
Oh, he wished he could be like his older brother. If only——if only he could have fought beside Hero in the War of Great Park or with the……