This is the linkback incentive story for the July Giraffe Call.
Bowen et al are characters in Addergoole.
Bowen’s Change (and his father’s) are as sheep.
Summer after Year Five
Bowen had been home for a week when his cy’ree showed up.
It hadn’t been a comfortable week, all things considered. His father had been – well, Dad. The way Dad always was, kind of sheepish.
Sheepish. Ha. He’d yelled that at him, his second night home. Bowen had been yelling a lot, since he got home. “How can you just go along with what you’re told? How can you be such a goddamned part of the herd?”
And all Dad had managed was “we are what’s in our nature.”
Which was a pile of crap. Bowen had been mutilated by a rabbit. But he wasn’t going to tell his father that. Instead, he’d shouted at him.
“Be a goddamned ram, then. Grow a pair.”
They hadn’t talked much since then. It was going to be a long summer if it kept on like this.
And then the doorbell rang.
At first, Bowen was afraid it was his friends from high school. He almost didn’t answer the door; he didn’t have anything to say to those guys. He couldn’t even begin to talk about school, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to talk to those morons anyway.
But the doorbell rang again, and again, like someone was mashing on the button. Grumbling, fantasising about punching Jack or Eddie or Judy or whoever it was until they stopped ringing the damn doorbell, Bowen hauled himself out of his chair and yanked the door open. “What do you… oh. It’s you. Ah.”
He wasn’t really sure what to say other than that. It wasn’t every day two of the biggest baddies in the school – and one of the creepiest guys, just for good measure – showed up on his doorstep. Then again, they were his cy’ree.
“What’s up?” He tried to sound casual, but this was Rozen and Baram at his front door. And Phelen, he mentally amended. Forgetting Phelen could be a fatal mistake.
“We’re going on a field trip.” Rozen’s tone left no room for argument. “Grab your stuff, tell your folks we’re leaving.”
His father probably wouldn’t notice. “How long?”
“Enh, couple weeks at the most. I’ve got a thing starting in August and Phelen’s got babies to worry about.”
“Come on in, if you mean me and mine no harm.” He’d learned that phrase his second week in Addergoole. It was a useful phrase. Even if Baram did laugh.
“Not now, at least.”
“Not today is fine,” he allowed. You never really got a free pass with the big dogs. Bowen was okay with that; some day he was going to be a big dog. A ram.
“Dad, going out with my friends. I’ll be back in a week or two.” He called it from his room as he threw socks and underwear and a couple T-shirts in a bag, the word friends slipping off his tongue with only a tiny hesitation. They were cy’ree. That was better than friends, right?
“So, where’re we going?” He plopped into the back seat of Rozen’s big car, wondering if he ought to be being more cautious.
“I told you, field trip. First stop Addergoole.”
Yeah, he really should have been more cautious. “Um, man, I… Just drop me off here, okay, I’ll walk home.”
The big man laughed. They all laughed.
“Come on, kid, do we look like the Addergoole Gestapo to you? Relax, nothing bad’s going to happen. There’s just a couple people I want to see before we head off to stop two and three.”
Rozen’s grin was wide, white, and a little bit scary. Bowen eyed the door, but Phelen had a shadow wrapped around his ankle. “Relax, man. You’re not in any trouble.”
“Cy’ree,” Baram grunted.
Bowen leaned against his seat. “Cy’ree.” He wasn’t going anywhere, he might as well trust them.
It wasn’t that far to Addergoole. It had seemed farther, on the way home, but then again, on the way home, he’d ridden in silence. Phelen and Rozen spent the ride cracking inappropriate jokes, Baram laughing along and sometimes grunting in a word or two. And, in something that was new, they talked to him, too. Included him.
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