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When he discovers someone hiding in his barn, Ed is confronted with someone he never thought he would meet, and they need Ed's help.

By Christopher KellyPublished 3 years ago 9 min read

As he pushed the doors to the barn open, they protested loudly. Clearly comfortable the way they were, they did not appreciate the fact that his equipment lay beyond them and that he, to afford this very barn, needed access to them. How very rude of him.

Making a mental note to oil those hinges, he made his way inside. The sunshine poured in and brightly lit what lay beyond. He paused for a moment to take it all in.

It took him years to gather this equipment. He saved, and saved, cut corners, and saved. Now, he had the best damn harvesters in the whole state. Looking up at the cabin, he could see the android inside, deactivated, awaiting his commands. Self-drivers, as they were called, were rare as the price tag is exceptionally high but, with Ed’s back, he couldn’t climb in and out of the harvesters anymore. He had pushed through the pain long enough to save for one. Now he can rest.

But first, whilst the new guy can get on with things, the older model needed tweaking. After admiring the Self-driver he walked to where he kept his tools.

A shuffle. Ed stopped, tensing up. A thief? Wouldn’t be the first time. His equipment was expensive, someone could make a small fortune with any of his machines. Ed grabbed a large spanner and made his way forwards. Another shuffle. Ed’s old ticker pumped just a bit quicker. What if it was a thief? What could Ed do, except throw a couple of insults at the intruder?

“He-hello?” Ed called out. He cursed himself for the shaking in his voice. Nothing more frightening than a shaking old man. Another shuffle, but the sound moved further away.

Spurring on, Ed moved forwards to an old stall that his horse used to live in. Even in this tense situation, Ed felt a pang of sadness towards Burnie. Ed had him from a foal, named him after his own father who adored horses. It had been a few years since he passed, and Ed missed him every day.

Bringing himself back to the moment, he peeked inside the stall. He saw something, and that something saw him. It crawled into the far corner. It was small.

“Who are you?” Ed asked, more curious than afraid now. The shape stopped, and Ed saw that it was a child. They had curled themselves up in the corner, trying to make themselves as small as possible. Ed emerged completely and held his arms out. Ed lowered, back protesting, and put the spanner down.

“I’m not going to hurt you”

The child looked at him, and as Ed’s eyes adjusted to the light saw it was a young boy. Ed made his way forwards, very slowly.

“What’s your name?” Ed asked softly. The boy was breathing shaky breaths, clearly frightened. His hair clung to his face which was covered in sweat. Strange. It was barely warm outside. The night's cool air still lingered.

“Wes,” he replied, in a voice shakier than Ed’s was. Ed lowered himself onto an old stool that he kept in the stall. He used to sit and talk to Burnie for hours. Another pang of sadness.

“My name is Ed. It’s nice to meet you,”

Ed could see that Wes was still shaking, but not out of fear.

“Are you cold?” Ed asked. Wes nodded, drawing his arms around him. Ed looked around and saw Burnie’s old blanket. He hadn’t brought himself to get rid of it yet. Ed stood, fetched the blanket, and gingerly offered it to Wes. Wes shied away. Ed gave a smile.

“It won’t bite,”

Wes slowly reached for it, hesitating when his hand was but an inch away. Ed kept smiling.

“It’s alright. Please, take it,”

Wes nodded and gently took the blanket from Ed. He wrapped himself up but edged back into the corner.

Ed sat back down on the stool.

“So, what brings you to my barn, Wes?” Ed asked, as casually as he could.

Wes did not reply.

“Are you feeling OK? You look like you might have a cold,” Ed downplayed. Wes shook his head.

“No,” was all he said.


“Not a cold,”

“What is it?” Ed asked, his curiosity building. Wes shook his head.

“Please. Leave me alone,” Wes lowered his head to his knees, which he had brought to his chest. This time, Ed shook his head.

“I can’t do that, I’m afraid. I know for a fact no one wants to be alone,”

“How?” Wes asked, head raising slightly.

“Because I’m alone,” Ed replied. Wes’s brow furrowed in confusion.

“My wife died a few years ago. My son and daughter have moved to different states. All my friends are either dead or in hospital going to die. It’s just me on this farm. Well, I suppose not anymore,” he smiled at Wes. Wes shook his head again.

“No. I’ll leave soon, I promise,”


“You don’t have to. Why don’t I make us some breakfast?”

“No. Don’t worry, I’ll leave soon,”

Don’t worry?

“You seem awfully eager to leave. Are you heading somewhere?”

“I… No. I don’t have anywhere to go,” Wes’s head sunk back down his knees. Ed, however, raised his hands as if to say “Well, there you go,”

“Then stay a while,”

“I don’t belong anywhere,”

Ed blinked. That phrase seemed to come out of nowhere, but as Ed looked at Wes he saw Wes’s eyes had glazed over. He had retreated into his mind.

“What do you mean?” Ed asked.

“Everywhere I go,” Wes said quietly, “I am told I don’t belong anywhere,”

“Who tells you that?” Ed asked incredulously, “Everyone belongs somewhere,”

“Everyone. Teachers. Other kids. My parents…”

Ed’s mouth opened in shock.

“Why… why would they say such things about you?”

At this, Wes visibly recoiled.

“No! I can’t show you!” Ed raised his hands.

“I’m sorry, Wes, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to pry,”

Wes started groaning. He seemed in pain.

“Are you alright, Wes?” Ed asked, gently.

“No! No!” Wes cried, curling more tightly into a ball, “No, don’t!”

“I’m not doing anything Wes,” Ed reassured, and he got up and retreated a few steps to give Wes space.

“No, please, don’t!” Wes kept crying. He was writing now. Ed started to panic. He had no idea what was going on.

“Wes, can I help?” Ed didn’t know what else to do. Wes had gone silent, and Ed could see his whole body was shaking, his face red with effort. Wes turned and for the first time looked at Ed straight in the eye. Ed’s heart lurched when he saw tears rolling down Wes’s face.

“I’m sorry,” Wes sobbed. His body relaxed. There was a ripping sound and then a flurry of movement. Ed stumbled backwards as the stall was suddenly much fuller than it had been before.

Ed audibly gasped.

Sprouting from Wes’s back were two wings. They were enormous, each spanning at least twelve feet. Covered in white feathers, they rose and fell gently with each of Wes’s breaths, which were now calmer and even.

Wes was one of them.

Wes was a Ghast.

Over the years, Ed has seen many crazes, especially around cosmetics. When he was a young boy, it was laser hair removal, or freckle tattoos. As he got older, technology advanced. Cosmetic surgeries went from months of recovery to you could walk into a hospital in the morning and then walk out looking completely different. But then, geneticists discovered how to edit an embryo's DNA so the parents could change how they would look. Designer Babies, they were called. It made Ed sick.

But whilst sometimes the baby turns out exactly how the parents wanted them, others do not. Some mutate. Some sprout hair all over their bodies. Some develop two hearts. No kidneys. No mouth. Claws. Four eyes. And, in Wes’s case, wings. They are called Ghasts. A derivation of “ghastly”. Imaginative.

“My goodness,” Ed breathed. As soon as he made a sound, however, the wings retracted and covered Wes like a shield.

“I’m sorry! Please don’t hurt me!” Wes cowered. Ed was still staring at the wings which were now quivering in fear, but then tried to see any sign of Wes between the feathers.

“Why would I hurt you?” Ed asked, taking a single step towards Wes. The quivering stopped. The wings slowly parted enough for Wes to peek through. Ed, seeing Wes, smiled and gave a small wave.

“You… you don’t want to hurt me?” Wes asked. Ed just shook his head.

“Why would I?” Ed asked again. Wes looked at his wings and back to Ed.

“Well… because of… these,”

“What, the wings? I think they are… amazing,” Ed sat back down once again on the stool. Wes’s wings parted to reveal him, but tucked up neatly behind him.

“You do? You don’t think I’m a monster?”

“Who told you you’re a monster?” Ed asked.

“Everyone,” The wings started to edge around Wes again, like a cocoon. Ed felt a spark of anger inside him.

“You’re parents?” Ed asked gently. Wes’s eyes welled up with tears, and he nodded, wings drawing closer around him. The spark of anger ignited in a furnace of hate towards those people.

“Listen to me, Wes,” Ed said strongly. The wings threatened to hide Wes away again. “They. Were. Wrong.” Ed emphasised each word strongly. The wings stopped. They opened partly to show Wes’s face. Ed nodded.

“They were wrong, Wes. You are not a monster,”

“But…” Wes looked at his own wings.

“Who says having wings makes you a monster?”

“I’m a freak. An abomination,” Wes listed off these words like he was so used to them. Ed’s anger rose.

“You are none of those things, Wes. Just look at these wings!” he exclaimed, gesturing at the wings before him, “They are beautiful!”

Wes looked genuinely taken aback. It was clear he had never received any compliments about his wings.

“The only monsters are the people who made you feel less than you truly are. You are unique, Wes. And that is amazing,”

“But I wasn’t meant to have wings. No one should have wings!” Wes retorted.

No one should try to edit their unborn baby's DNA! That’s the true abomination here, Ed thought.

“But you do,” Ed said simply, “If people can’t accept you for who you are then they have no business being in your life. You are better off without them. You have wings, yes, but you could have had fins, two extra arms, or even an extra head and you still wouldn’t be a monster. You would be who you are, you can’t change that. You shouldn’t change that. Ever,”

Wes’s wings had relaxed completely now, they were tucked behind his back. Not only that, but Wes had relaxed too.

“But… they are my family,” Wes almost whispered.

“If they make you feel like this, and they reject you as they have, then Wes… they aren’t your family. Family supports you, loves you unconditionally no matter what, and are by your side no matter what you choose to do. Not many people know this but you can choose your family. No, you can’t change who you are biologically related to, but they don’t have to be your family,”

There was a long silence. Wes’s mind was clearly racing. These words and attitude were completely new to him.

“You alright, Wes?” Ed asked.

He shouldn’t have to hide them, Ed thought.

“I… don’t know,” Wes replied. Ed smiled.

“That’s a good start,”

“I don’t know what to do,” Wes admitted. Ed thought for a second, but knew what he had to do.

“Well, while you do, you can stay here with me,” Ed stood and offered Wes his hand. Wes looked shocked.

“Here? With you?”

“You are most welcome here, Wes. Always,”

A few seconds of silence.

Wes took Ed’s hand.


About the Creator

Christopher Kelly

Engineer by day. Writer of mages, dragons, werewolves, vampires, and all things magical by night.

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