Quill's Tale By: Elizabeth HoffhiNes

I walked through the forest near my village, senses on high alert. My feet squished the soft ground beneath me as I took every step. My head felt hot, as the mid-day sun blazed through the leaves of the trees. The silky breeze stroked through my fingers as I treaded through the trunks of the trees. When I reached the clearing I was headed towards, I saw something lying in the middle of it. I stepped back into the welcoming cover of the trees, astounded by what I saw. It was a large cat-like creature with wings and feathers. It looked like a mixture between a cat and a bird. It was nearly the size of a deer, and looked very hurt.

I slowly neared it, fearing that it may move and make the wounds worse. There was a bullet lodged into its back leg, and it was barely moving. “Hang on there,” I said softly, “I’m here to help you.” The creature whimpered with what was probably fear and pain, and I ran back to my village to grab medical supplies.

***

It was running through the trees. Faster, faster, was the only thought speeding through its mind. It heard a bullet shot loud as a firework several feet behind it and felt immediate pain. It started to limp, but kept moving. Run, run, run, were its only thoughts.

***

I sprinted back through the trees, wind whistling in my ears. Luckily my parents weren’t home, as they’d ask me where I had gone, and what I was getting. I ran inside, grabbed supplies, and ran back to the clearing.

I returned to the same scene I had left. I crouched down near the creature, stroking its head to calm it down. I started to pull the bullet out. The creature whined, but it did not cry out. After I was finished, I unraveled a bandage and wrapped it around the creature’s leg to prevent further bleeding.

“There you go,” I said softly to this creature. “You’re all taken care of.”

It almost immediately tried to climb back onto its feet.

I put my hand on its flank, and said “don’t move, you’ll make it worse. Rest.”

To my surprise, the creature regarded my statement, and layed back down.

The sky turned yellow as the sun hid below the horizon. I had fetched food for the creature, and helped it limp to a cave near the clearing. I decided to leave it there for the night, swearing to leave my house again early the next morning to take care of it. I stroked its silvery feathers one last time, and walked back home.

***

Collapsing at the edge of a clearing, the creature whimpered and cried for help. It tried to stagger up again, but failing every time. Get home. It thought. It heard footsteps nearing its location. It put its head down, nearing unconsciousness.

***

The sun had barely crossed over the horizon when I burst out of the door. I ran all the way to the cave on the edge of the clearing. I softly stepped into the cave to find the creature sleeping on the floor. Not wanting to wake the creature, I stepped quietly around it and sat next to it.

I was lost in thought for what had to be about ten more minutes, until the creature woke. Its wound was still pretty bad, but it wanted to move. I lead it outside, and decided to let it walk on its own. It was limping, but it was better than the previous night. It eventually staggered back into the cave, and I followed.

We sat next to each other for a while in silence. It laid its head on my lap, and I pet its face cautiously.

“You need a name, don’t you?” I asked.

The creature gave me a look that seemed to say “Really.”

“What about… Chip?”

It turned its head around to look at me.

“No? Okay… Vulcan? That sounds cool.”

It gave me a look of despair.

“Last try. Quill?”

It regarded the name, and laid its head on my leg again.

“Okay. Quill it is.”

We stayed there for another few hours, lost in thought. Quill dozed off, and I got up and left the cave to stretch my legs.

When I came back, it was nearly dusk. I checked up on Quill and gave him some food that I had retrieved from my house. Once he was done eating, I got up and left for the night. I walked back through the woods, and went to bed.

***

It felt at peace. It was in no shape to travel far distances, but it knew it wouldn't be long until it could. Laying his head on the cold, hard, stone floor, it went to sleep.

***

I woke up later the next morning. I half ran-half walked to the cave keeping Quill. When I stepped in, he was already awake. His eyes shone in the darkness of the cave, sending chills down my back. He got up on his own and started half-limping toward me. I could tell he was nearly fully recovered. He rubbed his muzzle against my hand, eager for attention. I pet him for a few minutes.

I decided to bring him some meat from my home, suspecting that was what he ate.

“Come on, Quill,” I said. “Let’s go get you some food.”

We traveled through the forest again, all the way back to my house. We both entered my house through the backdoor, in search for a decent meal for Quill. We found a piece of leftover meat from a while ago in the fridge.

When we stepped out of the back door again, bringing the meat with us, I heard someone scream.

“WHAT IS THAT?”

Everyone in my village turned to look. Spotting Quill, some started to advance forward, some hid, and others went to get their guns. A few seconds later, some people came out with their guns loaded and pointed at Quill.

“Get back, young man!” One of the people with guns yelled to me.

“No, no you don’t understand,” I said urgently. “He’s harmless, don’t hurt him!”

Quill stepped in front of me in a threatening stance, as if daring them to shoot. Inside, I knew that he was terrified.

“Stop! He’s my friend!” I yelled.

The gunmen hesitated. I stepped next to Quill.

“If you shoot him, you risk shooting me.” I said defiantly.

They lowered their guns.

In a split second, both quill and I were off. We sprinted through the woods, and to the cave, him waiting for me to catch up every once and awhile. I could hear my heart beating as if it were trying to jump out of my ribcage. I hoped they wouldn’t follow me. We both eventually made it to the cave and I collapsed with exhaustion.

***

It was terrified. Guns were pointed at it from all angles. It silently begged the human to run, fast as he could to the cave and leave. When the guns lowered, he had no other thoughts than run, run, run.

***

I sat on the floor of the cave, the coldness of the floor cooling me down as my chest heaved. Quill stood beside me, rubbing his head against my shoulder as I slumped on the floor. When I had finally caught my breath, I stood up. I realized that I’d dropped the meat we’d gathered from my home. We needed food. We walked outside to the clearing to find more food for the both of us. Maybe berries? What would be around here? We walked together through the woods.

I heard a rustling in the trees from far off.

“What was that?” I whispered to Quill.

He started to push me forward, urging me to go on. I knew it must be the people from my village.

“Go ahead Quill,” I said. “Get to safety.”

He looked at me with despair, slowly walking back towards the clearing, further into the woods.

“Go ahead. I’ll be fine,” I whispered urgently.

He left.

I stepped out of the cover of the trees and to my mom, who had gotten word that I was with a “dangerous creature.” We traveled back home, my mom holding my hand crying, so relieved that I was safe from this “dangerous creature”

I still visit him every so often. I made sure he was okay, and made it back to the cave alright. By my luck, and his, nobody decided to go hunt him down again. We both know that he will have to live the rest of his life without me, and me without him, but that won’t stop us from enjoying each others company while we still can.

***

The creature was on its last breaths. A human that it cared about so much sat beside it, stroking its head, as the creature was slowly dying.

“Goodbye, old friend.” said the human, nearing tears.

The creature gave one last breath.

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