On the other side (part 1)

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They all met at the "Bed & Breakfast", packed their things in a hurry, paid, and left. Shorty's gang was known for their lawlessness and control of the city. And now they were after Ferry and his friends.

It was still daylight, and people were enjoying the beautiful weather and the weekend. Which meant the streets were full, and the curious group of travelers had to be even more careful to avoid the prying eyes of the passers-by.

Thyme didn't speak to him about the poker incident, though he certainly had found out about it. He walked in front of him, without saying a word, without turning his head to him or urging him to walk faster. Ferry would have preferred to scold him, to shout at him in front of everyone. But Thyme kept walking, his jaw and fists clenched.

"I think we should break paths," he said at one point as they stopped to rest on the corner of an old house on the outskirts of the city. "Sage and I will be accompanying Ferry. We will meet the others on the edge of the forest. We are too many, too weird-looking, and we would only draw attention to ourselves. "

Oona mumbled something like she was best able to protect Ferry, but she eventually joined Parsley and Rosemary and set out on a different path. Ferry hid his face under the hood of his cloak, which made the hot air around him even harder to breathe. Thyme was leading the way, while Matilda and Sage followed. No one said a word to him.

They had been walking for a long time through the stifling heat. The neighborhood was poor in contrast to the big houses, expensive cars, and people in elegant suits they had met downtown. The few people who passed through these streets had shabby clothes and small, broken houses, without gardens, without trees, without life. But what surprised Ferry the most were their empty eyes, without the gleam of life in which there was no trace of feeling, no shadow of joy. This sad part of the city paled in comparison to Goodharts which the locals sometimes considered too small for their dreams. How wrong they were...

For a while now, the cobblestones became so hot,  Ferry thought his shoes would melt. They were closer to the outskirts of the city. In front of them laid a long road bordered by wild bushes and scattered trees.

Ferry barely dragged his feet. After all the troubles the people caused over the past days, he was eager to leave their world. And yet, he wished he'd done it differently. He wanted Matilda to at least talk to him.

"Are you still mad at me? Will you ever talk to me again? " he asked after a while. And although the question was for everyone, the only answer that interested him was Matilda's.

"It doesn't matter that we're mad at you, Garrett," Sage said in a low voice. "What matters is that you shouldn't do things like that without thinking first."

Thyme stopped, too. He looked at him and put his hand on his shoulder, gently squeezing it. "I trust you, Garrett ..."

Ferry swallowed the knot in his throat. He would have preferred ten slaps instead of the disappointment in Thyme's voice. Matilda said nothing this time either but looked away. Then they all saw her narrowing her eyes and frowning.

"What is it, Matt?" Sage asked.

They were not alone. Somewhere, behind one of the last houses, a small, crouched shadow loomed. This time, everyone saw it. Suddenly, Matilda turned and darted like an arrow, disappearing behind a bush. Ferry didn't wait any longer and ran after her. Thyme and Sage followed.

But before Ferry reached the rosehip bush, Matilda came out, her face scratched and her hair ruffled. She was pulling someone after her. Se took him out of the bush and pushed him in front of them. Ferry looked at the small, dirty creature that shivered like a leaf. It was Finn, Matilda's brother.

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