“Sh sh she don’t matter none.” He tried to convince himself, but he knew it was wrong. She was one of the good ones. Anybody could tell that, and he just pointed her out and put those jackals on her. “It don’t matter.” He wagged his head and shuffled away from the humming Balustrade.
The wall cracked and popped, as if it were not wanting him to leave. He rubbed the nub on his left arm and kept walking.
The sentries kept yelling at one another. Caton grinned. They were probably covered in pricklies and burrs by now. And if that girl had any smarts at all she’d climbed a tree and found a good hiding spot. Sentries don’t know nothing about tracking. They know village-tracking, and that’s pretty much only good enough to find a stray plebe or an old undesirable. That girl had a chance if she used her head. It didn’t matter though. Just wasn’t his business.
Pulling the tarp from the rock ledge, Caton crawled down inside his hideaway. A fire would feel good about now, but that was a bad idea. The last time the sentries found one of his abodes they ransacked it and stole all his good stuff. That wasn’t going to happen this roll.
Screams and screeches shot through the musky air. Them sentries done gone and stirred up a pack of Undesirables. Probably Mallor or Donal’s scroungy group. Either way, those village mutts would get their hands full. And the girl could make a good break for it. No concerns. She didn’t count for nothing. Just a girl.
Caton lit an old stave. The yellow light welcomed him and made his makeshift hut less rough and more kind. How many turns had gone by since he’d dreamed of camping in the woods and exploring the unknown? It was a lifetime ago.
He smacked his lonesome hand on his head. “Stop it. Stop it. No good thinking. No good. Just do the now. No No Not the then. Not the next.” Memories of his days in the village taunted him. It was so long ago, and it was a lie. All is a lie.
Pulling his knees to his chest, he huddled up and wrapped himself in an old blanket. The heat from the day was gone, and his thoughts made his blood run cold.
“That girl don’t matter, none. I’s not going to think about her anymore.”
He snuffed out the thoughts trying to get into his head and focused on the way the breeze blew the tarp in regular intervals.
Sleep would come soon, and for a flash, he could be somewhere else and forget all he’d lost, all he’d left behind. In his dreams, Hyperion didn’t exist, and the wall was gone. And he was strong and young and hadn’t wasted his life. In his dreams, he could work at the village and visit the woods. He could speak without stuttering, and all the horrible things never existed. In the thoughts passing through his sleeping mind, there was hope and something called love, and there was someone who cared, and in that place he had both his hands and he cared. He helped the scared girls lost in the woods, and he stood up to the bully guards who slithered around the bend.
He would help the girl there.
There it would matter.