Pupil looked at Erika, not at all offended by the look she gave him. He took his plate and set it up on the table and climbed into the chair. He looked at Bambi and smiled. “Aren't you a pretty puppy.” He said as he rubbed her head.
Bambi's tail wagged as she looked at Pupil. She was happy and confused at the same time. Why was Erika scared, couldn't she see his glow?
The man cleared his throat, “Pupil will be going with you when you leave in the morning.”
Erika was shocked and didn't hold her tongue. “What?! No way that thing is going with us!”
Pupil looked at her, his good eye shining with mirth,”It's because I'm bald isn't it?” He squeaked out in a child like voice. It sounded like a teenager going through puberty. Gruff, pitchy, and cracking.
The man covered his mouth to hide his smirk as he watched Erika's face soften. When he was able to control the laugh he fought back he spoke. “He has much to teach you, and you him.”
Erika was silent, brooding on the information. She had been alone so long, now she had Bambi—did she really want to be bothered with this person, and for how long. Ugh, it just seemed so weird to her.
“Okay, must sleep now, long journey ahead we have. Teach you a lot I will.” Pupil squeaked out as he hopped down from the chair. He tossed Bambi a few scraps and headed up stairs.
The man said, “I guess he has decided. I'll make sure you have provisions for your journey.”
Pupil was waiting by the door waiting for Erika and Bambi. He sat on the floor drumming his fingers on the hardwood. When he saw Bambi come down stairs he perked up. “Aren't you a pretty little girl. Did you sleep well?”
Bambi was happy, really happy. It had been too long since she was treated like a dog, a real part of a family. She loved it. And at the same time she was terrified. This could all go away at any second.
Erika came down the steps, cleaned up and with a new jacket and clothes. She stopped at the bottom and saw Pupil rubbing Bambi's head. She thought for a moment everything was going to be OK. Then Pupil spoke.
“'Bout time, lazy bones. Sun up, we late.” he said as he scampered over to the back packs on the table.
Erika rolled her eyes as she headed over to the table. The man walked in and handed them each a canteen and a shallow metal bowl. Erika looked at him, questioning about the bowl. He picked up on it, “For Bambi.”
They walked out the screen door, the man patted Erika on the back. She turned around and looked at him. He reached up, tousled her hair, “I'll see you around, kid.” She smiled, and was about to say something.
“Come, come, daylight burning.”
Erika rolled her eyes, “Bye,” she said as she walked down the steps to Pupil and Bambi.
Pupil whispered, “Yes, yes we go now.” he patted Bambi and off they went.
Erika looked back after they went awhile. She could see the man standing on the porch, he raised his hand and waved. She waved back and kept walking. She turned again, and he was gone.
The first few days were mostly silent. It was occasionally interrupted by Pupil giving information about plants, birds, rocks. It was mostly babbling, and Erika tuned it out after the first few days.
They came up to a large river. Erika looked puzzled.
“Question on your tongue?”
Erika looked at him, “I should know where we are, this looks familiar, but I can't place it.”
“Big Muddy,” Pupil said.
Erika still look confused.
“Mississippi River. Biggest it is in North America. We must go north to get across.”
“To St. Louis?” Erika asked.
“Yes, terrible things we will see there. Destruction and death. Enemy there too. Bad place.”
“I am not afraid.” Erika wished she sounded more convincing when she said it.
“There are things you must learn first. I sense a great power in you. Almost as great as Masters.”
“Who was your master?”
Pupil looked shocked, like he couldn't believe that she didn't know. “The Master.”
Erika knew she would get nothing more out of him. The one thing she did learn over the last few days is that Pupil remembered very little except the farm and his powers. Which she had yet to see. Only thing Erika could remember to do is freeze time. Dad taught her to do it when they would play Monopoly.
They began to head north towards St. Louis. It wasn't long before they started to see signs of a recent battle. There were a few cars, still smoking. Pupil decided it was time to stop. It was getting dark, and there was definitely some issues going on ahead.
“Gather wood, need to stay warm, warm food goooood.”
Erika was tired and cranky. “You gather the wood, I'm tired.”
Bambi whimpered; she could sense the tension from Erika.
“Oh simple thing to gather branches. Pick them off the ground.” Pupil waved his arm emphatically, sweeping the nearby area. “They are everywhere, simple task you can do.”
Erika dropped her bag to the ground and flopped down next to it. She was tired, cold, and hungry, she was in no mood to argue.
Bambi walked up to Pupil, with a stick in her mouth.
“Even Bambi knows how to stay warm. Fine, I'll do it.” and he sat down next to Erika.
Erika looked at him, completely annoyed. “I thought you said...”
Erika stopped mid sentence as she saw sticks and branches march into a pile a few feet in front of them. The collapsed on-top of each other. When suddenly they burst into flames.
“See, easy task.” He said looking at her. “Is there something wrong with your mouth? It's hanging open.”