Fiction Friday; Poor Wayfarin' Stranger


This is a fanfiction for that series I was talking about on Monday. I tried to write it in such a way as to be clear to those unfamiliar with the characters, but I'm relatively certain that I didn't succeed. *shrug* Ah, well. Not everything turns out as planned.

***


The blackness seemed to pulse, curling around Vinkle's prone form like black fog. Insubstantial fingers wisped up from the body of the sticky mass as though reaching for the rest of them as they stood around him, then subsided back into the nothingness that trapped their friend. It wasn't hard to remember - not anymore. Maybe yesterday, or even just a few hours ago, Huey would have had trouble telling someone what it had been like when the Black Ick had spread down the roads and over the houses and trees and people, making everything still and silent and dead except for that ominous, angry pulsing, like the tolling of a malignant bell.


It was easy to remember now, and he didn't like what he remembered. Surrounded on all sides by blackness, no one but Amaroq for company, separated from his friends and family and the town that needed him. The town he'd failed. He was irresponsible. He wasn't good for anything.


And here it was starting all over again, and poor Vinkle was the first one to go.


It should have been me, he thought miserably, kneeling too close to the black and listening to the steady thump of the drum - the others were doing something useful. They were making the Ick go away with a ceremony. He was just... watching. Just useless.


Huey could almost hear little Kitty, way back when the Ick had come the first time.


It's the only spell I know, really. But I could teach you, if'n you want.


It had helped then. Maybe not all the way, but it had made a difference. Maybe it would help now. Motivated more by desperation and fear than he would ever admit, Huey took a breath, his ears twitching slightly in time to the drumbeat.


"I'm just a poor wayfarin' stranger travelin' through this world of woe. But there's no sickness toil or danger in that bright land to which I go." As he sang, Huey thought he felt something... new. Not just the embarrassment of singing in front of his friends, but something warm and alive inside him. Something like... he wasn't sure what it was like. A kettle boiling? Or maybe a hot summer wind?


"I'm going home to see my father. I'm going home no more to roam. I'm just a-goin' o'er to Jordan. I'm just a-goin' to my home."


Home. He wanted to go home. Not back to Hatfield, really. Not even back to his barn, where all his materials and things were. It was what he called his home, but it wasn't really home in the sense that it was where he really belonged. Was there anyplace like that, really? Was there anywhere in the whole wideness of the world that would fit him exactly, just the way he was, without trying to bend him into new and uncomfortable shapes?


"I know dark clouds will gather 'round me, I know my way is rough and steep. But golden fields spread out before me, where God's redeemed no more shall weep." Under the blanket, the blackness pulsed again, almost angrily, and the blanket itself started to glow softly. The warmness inside him grew in intensity until it felt almost like he was on fire somehow. Huey tipped his head back and sang louder.


"I'm goin' there to see my mother. She said she'd meet me when I come. I'm just a-goin' o'er to Jordan. I'm just a-goin' to my home." Was there anyone that would promise to meet him when he was done? Wrip and Vinkle didn't mind his company most days, and Kitty always opened her home to him, but no one ever came out to meet him. No one ever called him in. Except for Calamity, maybe.

He looked across at her, and saw she was singing to, her low voice a harmony to his wailing.


"I'm fin'ly free from earthly trials. My body sleeps in the old churchyard. I'll drop my cross of self-denial and enter in my great reward." Wouldn't it be nice to drop this load? This... this feeling that he was never quite what he was meant to be. This impression that no matter how hard he tried, it was never enough for him or for anyone that depended on him. To Hatfield, he was more an endearing pet or a good-luck charm. But there was a feeling, always lingering in the dark, cobwebby corners of his mind, that he was meant to be more than that.


"I'm goin' home to see my Savior. I'm goin' home no more to roam. I'm just a-goin' o'er to Jordan. I'm just a-goin' to my home."


And maybe that was it. Maybe he was made to be more than he was. The blanket flashed, the blackness turned orangey-red, then disappeared, sucked into the speckled egg he'd collected earlier. Huey blinked. He hadn't done that, had he? The song was a healing spell, but it couldn't make it all just go away... could it?


"Ichabod? Thank you for figuring this out." That was Kitty's voice. No, of course it wasn't Huey that had done it. That was silly. He'd probably just provided background noise while the others did the important stuff. Huey got to his feet quietly, leaving Wrip with her slowly stirring boyfriend. He was most of the way back to Hatfield when a gentle hand came to rest on his shoulder. He looked around, and saw it was Kitty, smiling at him over her glasses.


"That was well sung, honey. Why don't you come on home with me? I'll get ye somethin' to eat b'fore you sleep."


Huey could have cried right then. Instead, he hugged her as tight as he could, and dashed off toward her house without saying a word. He couldn't go being normal. That wouldn't do at all.

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