Chapter One- A Small Difference
After a lot of reckoning, the School finally lost track of where the bird kids were for now. They searched everywhere and couldn’t find them. It was very typical to run away from danger for them. Now they had to track them down again and, of course, send some flying erasers to go eliminate them.
For now, Ari was free with nothing to do. The School didn’t need him for anything so he decided to go outside. And do what exactly? Playing outside was something you did with friends, something you did to have fun and not feel lonely. Ari imagined himself lots of times playing with a friend. They could catch Frisbees and play tag or play hide and seek in the woods outside. They could read each other stories in the sunlight and tell each other secrets. Ari had no one to play with. He even asked a few other erasers to play a game and they just laughed in his face. He didn’t really approve of that and came outside alone. He just wondered around and pretended to have a friend like Max. As weird as it sounded, he wanted her to be his best friend. They could play lots of games together and be the best of friends. Max could see the best in him if she looked for it.
After wondering almost to the woods, Ari found a football on the ground. With curiosity, he picked it up and threw it. He mindlessly chased it and then threw it back the other way. He glanced at the little building on the horizon that was the School like it was a crime to be doing this. No one was watching so he kept playing. The more he wanted a friend, the more furry he got until he held the football in fuzzy brown paws. This was so ridiculous and after thought, he wondered what motive brought him into doing this time-wasting nonsense. He could be eliminating bird kids right now, not playing a depressing game of football. Touchdown? Yeah, right. There was no one to stop him anyway. Ari was about to head back to the School when he almost stepped on something furry on the ground. Something little and white was crawling across the ground. A caterpillar. He wanted to step on it to show how powerful he was, but something kept him from doing that. It was crawling through the grass. Ari got down to its level, laying on the ground and watching it. It paid no attention to his wolf figure and was not afraid. It just kept going. Hesitantly, he held out a paw and blocked its way. The caterpillar stopped for a second and then crawled on. It lifted its head mindlessly and started up his fingers. Ari was charmed. This little caterpillar was not afraid. It came right to him like a true friend. This was a start. He felt very happy around this little worm and couldn’t go back to the School and forget about it.
Wait a minute. A name! This little pet needed a name. He tried to think of a name the caterpillar would like.
“Your name can be Ari too,” he decided. “Ari Junior. AJ. Is that a good name?”
The caterpillar paid no attention and continued searching for food. Ari was going to take the caterpillar back to the School for a tour of his home. This new friend needed to know all about him so it seemed like a good idea. He also needed to find a box to keep it in. The School had plenty of those. He picked some grass and put it in his pocket for AJ. Then they headed back to the School.
“This is where I live,” Ari pointed out. “It may not be the best place, but its home. Here, let’s go inside.”
Ari gave AJ a little tour of the School, showing it the main rooms. Then he went in the storage room to find a container for AJ. He searched every one and tried to find a perfect one. He ended up finding a bug box. What were the odds? It was perfect. He opened the lid and put AJ and the grass inside. That would do for now. The sun was setting outside and it was bed time. Ari carried AJ down the hallway to his room.
“We are going to have lots of fun,” he promised. “We can have a slumber party. That will be lots and lots of fun.”
Ari blinked open his eyes and stretched. He was in a great mood and that made waking up easy. He decided to check on AJ.
“AJ,” he whispered. “Are you awake?”
Ari prodded the cage and looked inside. AJ wasn’t there. The caterpillar probably woke up early and was already up. He left the door to the cage open in case it wanted out. He rolled out of bed and searched for AJ.
“Come on out, friend… AJ? AJ?”
Ari got no response. He expected AJ to crawl right to him happily, but nothing happened. He started to get concerned and threw up his covers frantically to find the missing worm. He army crawled on the floor and tried to check AJ’s perspective.
Things just happened to get worse than that. The door to his room opened and three fellow erasers were standing there. They got these queer expression when they saw their leader crawling on the floor.
“AJ,” he called again and peeked under the bed.
“What are you doing?” one of them said with amusement. “Wow.”
Ari clenched his hand together and could barely feel his nails getting sharper. He said nothing and continued looking. The erasers infiltrated his room. When he got up, one of them was holding AJ’s home. All three of them were gathered. They looked humored.
“Look at this,” one of them taunted. “Ari has a pet bug.”
The other two burst out laughing at the sight of the box. Ari could feel a deep anger burning deep inside of him and could feel that working its way outside too. He had to calm down though for the sake of his beloved AJ.
“Can you help me find AJ?” he pleaded. His eyes were like those of an innocent puppy than of a vicious wolf. “He ran away.”
“You here that, Ari’s friend ran away,” growled the other eraser. “How touching. Anyway, the whitecoats want us to drill some tests. Come on.”
“No,” Ari refused. “I’m not coming. Not without AJ.”
“It’s just a stupid bug,” the other eraser pointed out and shrugged. “They won’t be happy if you don’t show up. I should get some popcorn and watch your drama. You should just SEE how pathetic you look right now.”
“Get out,” Ari snarled, looking completely like an eraser by now.
“I see you want to find your little pet without our help.” The other eraser turned wolf-like too and their fur was spiking up. “I didn’t want to help anyway.”
Ari couldn’t resist and, before long, the room was filled with a whirlwind of growling and snarling. Ari attacked the other eraser, relieving all of his anger. The other two stood back and watched with interest, wondering who would be the winner. Ari was on top and he bit down as hard as he could into the other eraser’s throat. The taste of blood drove him wild and we wanted to kill this eraser. The other eraser lashed out at his face with clawed paws and they scraped through the left side. Ari yelped with pain and jumped back, clutching his bleeding eye. The other eraser took advantage of that weakness and lunged at him, pulling him down by the shoulder. The other eraser was much bigger in size and threw Ari to the ground without a problem. Ari felt like he got hit by a truck and squirmed frantically, unable to get away. The fight froze when Jeb was walking by and witnessed everything.
“Erasers!” he called sharply. “Lab unit. Now!”
The three morphed erasers abandoned Ari and headed for the lab unit. They passed by Jeb warily with flattened ears and they tensed up in case of a sudden attack. Ari peeled himself off the floor and prepared to follow them when Jeb blocked his way. Ari hoped to see affection and concern in his eyes, but no; just an expressionless and curious gaze.
“We have already gone through this before,” Jeb said with disappointment. “Don’t start fights with other erasers. You need to save your strength to fight the real enemy. You need to attack the avian hybrids.”
“We have an experiment that needs to be done,” Jeb explained. “We found out a way that will enable you to get them with ease. You can be just like them. Come to the lab unit with us.”
That was it. Then Jeb was gone just like that leaving Ari to stare at an empty doorway. Ari at least wanted to be yelled at. At least that would show that Jeb cared somewhat instead of just abandoning him like this.