“What is this contraption?!”
“It’s called a bicycle! You really are something; how do you not know what a bike is?”
Leanna tumbled to the floor for the umpteenth time before she could answer.
“Oww, oww, why don’t you have a carriage to escort me?”
Theo laughed. “Sorry your majesty, this is the best we Groundspeople have got.”
Leanna scowled at him, picking up the bike. It amazed her to learn that even young kids rode these things around. But, as she got used to the balance, she started riding it with more confidence. She started to enjoy the process of pedaling that propelled her forward, the wind in her air, and the beautiful landscape as they rode up the old brick road. A smile broke out on her face, and she couldn’t help but laugh and scream as they went up and down hill towards town center.
“This is actually fun!” she said, racing past Theo who, despite himself, was impressed at how quickly she had gone from total klutz to master biker.
“Hey, wait up, you’re going to get yourself hurt!” he shouted, peddling hard to keep up with her.
They reached the town center and Leanna looked around in wonder. It was utter chaos. People were walking around in all directions. The shops were crammed next to each other and the shop keepers were shouting out what todays specials were. Above them, women hung clothes on lines that crisscrossed from building to building above them, chatting away to their neighbors. Yet, even among the madness, there was a certain charm to the scene. Everyone looked happy and content. It reminded her of back home, at least the home it used to be until recently.
Theo led her through the town center greeting everyone he passed by.
“It seems everyone knows you,” Leanna observed, looking at Theo.
“It’s a small town, and I grew up here, everyone knows each other,” replied Theo.
“It was the same in my home,” said Leanna, a sad look in her eyes, “you could say we were a very small tight-knit community.”
“Where exactly is your home? Is it to the north or south?”
Leanna laughed. “It’s pretty north in a certain sense I guess.”
Before Theo could press her further though, he realized they had reached their destination. He pointed the building out to Leanna although it was unnecessary. It was the tallest building in the whole town, with a giant clock on one side, and stood out easily.
“That’s a clock,” said Theo, pointing at the top of the structure, “we use it to tell time.”
“Uh…duh I know what a clock is dummy,” she replied exasperated, “Although it looks to be a very primitive model. What do you take me for?”
“Errr…never mind sorry. Come let’s go inside and see if the mayor is around.”
They climbed the stairs and headed inside the giant front doors. The scene seemed even more chaotic inside, as businessmen and politicians hustled and bustled, throwing the pair in one direction and then another. Finally, they managed to get some directions and headed into a hallway that led to a corner full of offices.
They headed to the end where there was a huge office which almost certainly was the mayor.
“Hey you, where are you going?” a voice said behind them. A short man with a huge scowl on his face and a really ugly mustache looked at them.
“We came to see the mayor sir,” replied Theo.
“The mayor is busy,” the man replied, “He’s seeing some very important people right now. You can tell me what you want.”
And he gestured to the office, where they could see a man, most certainly the mayor, sitting in his office chair talking to someone who’s back was turned to them.
Theo preferred talking to the mayor, but he figured he would try his luck with this person. “Well sir, you see, my friend and I here…”
He looked around and realized Leanna had disappeared.
“Where did she…”
And suddenly he saw a figure running back into the hallways they had come from.
“Hey, where are you going?” shouted Theo, running after her, unintentionally colliding and sending the short man flying.
“Hey! What the…” shouted the man, muttering obscenities at Theo, as he ran after Leanna, waving his hat in apology at the man.
“Great, he’s not going to be of much help to us next time now?” he thought. “What happened to her.”
He saw her grabbing her bicycle and peddling away.
“Wait up Leanna!” he shouted, jumping on his bike and racing after her.
Should not have made fun of her bicycle skills, he thought, breathing hard, it took all his effort to keep up with her. Finally, after they were clear of town center, and all alone, she stopped on the side of the road, and ran into the fields.
Theo found her at the edge of a cliff that overlooked the lake. She was holding herself with her arms folded tightly, her body trembling, staring into the distance. He slowly approached her, still panting from the chase.
“You know…next time…maybe give a warning before you run off like that,” he wheezed.
He could see she had been crying. They both stood there, in silence, staring at the beautiful sight in front of them.
“This here is called Gobbler’s cliff. A lot of folks come here for a picnic sometimes. You can see the whole town from here. And you can even go swim in the lake in the summer,” he said, feeling it was absurd to be making small talk right now, but at the same time, knowing it was the right thing to do. “And over to the south, you can see the mines.”
She followed his hand. “That’s where you found me?”
“Yes,” he said, “I was fixing a pipe, and saw this blue light. When I got closer, I realized it was you. The way you just fell from the sky, it seemed like an angel had fallen from heaven.”
She smiled, and Theo blushed. Now why did he have to go and say that?
“I never properly thanked you…Theo,” she said, “thank you for saving my life.”
“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it. Hey, listen, if you need anything, I’m here to help ok? Tell me, Leanna, what happened?”
She turned to him and met his gaze.
“You wouldn’t believe me.”
“Try me. You fell from the sky ok? The necklace of yours gave off a blue light and made you float. So let’s just say my mind is pretty open right now.”
She smiled. “Alright. Well you want to know where I came from?”
She pointed up to the sky. “There. I came from there.”
“Yes. My home. My people. They live on an island up there.”
“What? An island, just floating in the sky?”
She nodded. “The name of my home is Laputa. And I am Princess Leanna Azarith, heir to the throne of Laputa.”