Author’s Note: This is the second part in the Missfits series. The first part can be found here.
The back of the wagon bounced with each turn of the wheels. The hay Jack lay on softened the blows. He stared wide eyed towards the forest wishing he had never left his home.
Looking over the wagon’s sides Jack could see more wagons. Most of them carried fruits and vegetables. Though every three or so had kids in them. Kids that looked to be the same age as him.
A sharp pain on the top of his head forced Jack back down into the hay. He looked up at what had hit him and found himself staring into the sunburnt face of an old man.
The man was hardened from the weather, his eyes as white as paper. The man didn’t say anything to Jack. He stared for a few moments, growled, and then returned to driving the cart.
Jack took that to mean he wasn’t supposed to be looking around outside of the wagon.
Instead, Jack started checking through the hay to see if there was anything, or anyone, also riding in his cart. The hay shifted easily and Jack found some things: old cabbages, moldy apples, a few smushed nectarines, and even a whole watermelon. No other kids graced the cart. Jack wasn’t sure if he was grateful to be alone or not.
Jack poked his head out past the back side of the cart again. The cart moved at a slow pace. His thoughts of jumping we’re cut short when the old man hit him on the top of the head twice this time.
“Ow!” Jack cried, rubbing his head, “you don’t have to do that. I’m just lookin’ around!”
The old man made his guttural noise and turned back to the horse. Jack stared at the old man’s arched back a few moments before deciding to settle in for the ride.
It didn’t take long before they were riding through a village. The wooden homes and shops lined a dusty road. Several of the people were walking around with shopping bags tied to their arms. A few people, haggard and alone looking, sat on the wooden porches staring at the different wagons as they passed.
Jack watched everyone closely. He even noticed a few children playing in the mud. He envied them.
A grunt from the front informed Jack that a young woman had come up to talk to his arched back companion. She was tall, wearing a flowered dress and golden hair.
“Momma says you ain’t supposed to be here. You’re to go back where you came from you old dog.” she said. A few of her teeth were missing.
The old man growled a few times.
“Well that ain’t my concern. You go on now. Git yourself outta here before Poppa comes back with the shot gun!” she threw something at him that knocked the wind from him.
Falling from the wagon the old man slammed against the ground. The loss of the old man frightened the horse. It reared up on its feet. Jack fell from the cart. He took the chance to run as fast as he could.
People started screaming. Jack looked behind him: the horse was pulling the cart randomly down the road, running frightened. The old man lay on the ground unmoving. The young woman was nowhere to be seen.
Jack kept running till he reached the edge of town. He didn’t think anyone had noticed him during the commotion. He slowed when he reached the hills that stretched out to the forest he’d been pulled from.
There were still a few wagons about, carrying their wares. Knowing he’d once been inside one made Jack cautious about getting too close. He didn’t want to be picked up again.