Zalgo sat there dazed for a moment, the person he landed on squirmed in discomfort underneath him. He recovered and shook his head. “Hey, watch where you’re going!” He groaned at whoever was under him. The person didn’t answer. Zalgo realized he was probably crushing the poor soul and scrambled off them. He rose to his feet and apologized quickly, “Oh, I am SO sorry!”
The person stood up and brushed himself off. It was a child, looking about half Zalgo’s age. He wore a hood over his head, and some sort of tunic, both were dark blue. The child’s skin was a dull shade of blue and he had large dark eyes that stared up at Zalgo in wonder. The child was also quite a bit smaller than Zalgo, almost like a human toddler. The child brushed himself off again to get all the dirt off his tunic. “It’s alright,” the hooded child murmured, “just watch where you’re going.”
“S-Sorry.” Zalgo rocked on his heels, embarrassed that he actually ran into someone. He’s usually so nimble and easily avoids people , “I guess I’m just distracted.”
The child stared up at the young monster for a long time before tilting his head. “I haven’t seen you around Pastatown. Are you new here?”
Zalgo was surprised at the question. He’s been to Pastatown many times, it’s a regular thing. “Uh no, I actually come here often. I live in the Dead Forest.”
The child appeared amazed, “The Dead Forest?!” He cried, “Wow! No one even GOES there! What’s your name?”
Zalgo found himself acting shy, “Z-Zalgo,” he murmured. Never had he talked to someone even remotely close to his age.
The child bounced excitedly, “Lovely name! I’m Shadowlurker!”
“Shadowlurker.” Zalgo repeated. The name felt funny on his tongue.
“Yes! You got it!” The little hooded monster’s voice was high and giddy. Like he’s totally psyched about meeting someone new.
Zalgo cracked a smile, amused by Shadowlurker’s enthusiasm.
The little monster did a twirl before asking, “Do you want to be friends?”
At that his smile faded. Friend? What in the world is a ‘friend?’ He had no idea. Shadowluker stared, awaiting an answer. Zalgo felt ignorant. The word, ‘friend’ was unfamiliar to him. Yet Shadowlurker said it like it was a common word and that he should automatically know the meaning. Zalgo opened his mouth to answer when a female voice rang out.
“Shadow!” A female monster with a black hood approached and snagged Shadowlurker’s hand. She had long black hair and the same dark eyes Shadowlurker has, but her skin was pale, almost white. It didn’t take long for Zalgo to realize that this monster was his mother. “What’re you doing?” She snarled.
“Sorry mother!” He cried trying to pry his hand out of hers, “I was just making a new friend.”
Shadowlurker’s mother stared at Zalgo for a long time. Her eyes narrowed at the sight of Zalgo. The young monster got looks like this often, he never knew why he got these looks. They never bothered him but for some reason, when Shadowlurker’s mother gave him that look, it stung. Why did she stare at him like that? He was only going to make a friend, whatever that is.
“What have I told you about talking to people you don’t know!” She snapped at her child.
“Sorry mother.” Shadowlurker whimpered.
His mother gave his arm a rough tug, “Come. I don’t want you talking to this. THING.” She spat the last word making Zalgo shrink back. The female monster flashed him another glare before walking away, her son dragging miserably behind her.
Zalgo stood in the middle of the street for a long time, staring at nothing. The word “thing” and how she said it, replaying in his mind on an endless loop. Tears pricked at his eyes, he wasn’t a “thing!” Adults gave him glares like that all the time but they’ve never called him anything. Calling someone names is childish. That’s what Esmaraldo told him. But they still hurt.
Finally Zalgo picked up his feet, which felt like a ton, and slowly walked down the street toward the blacksmith’s shop. His throat clogged and his heart twisted as he fought tears.
He wasn’t a “thing.”
Zalgo approached the blacksmith’s shop, spirits low. The blacksmith inside saw me coming. Zalgo came here enough to be recognized. The blacksmith was a dark shadow-like monster with long claws, piercing green eyes, and no lips. His teeth were yellowed and sharpened to a point. The blacksmith stopped what he was doing to come over to the young monster. Zalgo kept his gaze fixed to the ground as the blacksmith got on one knee to be eye level with him.
“Well hello little Zalgo, I haven’t seen you in a while.” The blacksmith knew Zalgo by name, “Let me guess, a new hatchet.”
Zalgo nodded not lifting his gaze from the ground.
“I thought so. Your other one broke didn’t it?”
Zalgo looked up at him this time, confusion replacing his hurt. “How did you know?”
The blacksmith seemed to try and frown but he just appeared to be snarling, “I watched Esmaraldo beat someone’s brains in with it yesterday.”
The young monster’s eyes widened in shock, “H-He did?!”
The blacksmith nodded beckoning Zalgo to the back of the shop so he can talk and work at the same time, “Yes he just walked up to them and ‘THOK!’” He made a swinging motion with his arm, “Hit them in the side of the head, then started screaming at them, before beating them to death.”
Zalgo followed the blacksmith, horrified. He hadn’t thought of Esmaraldo as one who would just kill someone, “Wh-Who was it?”
“Some slenderperson. His name was Ksander.” The blacksmith sighed, “Any idea why Esmaraldo would kill the poor soul.”
Zalgo shook his head trying to wrap his brain around the fact Esmaraldo murdered someone. The blacksmith started to get to work on the new hatchet while Zalgo stared at the ground. “I don’t know why he’d do that.” He murmured, “Esmaraldo’s always so nice.”
“Well he killed someone yesterday.” the blacksmith answered, “Sometimes things aren’t always like they seem.”