Sam had a curious habit. He enjoyed walking through the city’s many dark alleys, shadows between buildings which hid countless secrets. This came from a belief that in one of these alleys he would find his father hiding. Of course, his father left for important business so he had to be some sort of hero. Perhaps he was snatched. The dark alleys would provide the answers, as they were the perfect place to either hide or hide someone. Sam had also thought this with basements, but whenever he snooped around or asked to see into a particular basement, inevitably his mother was called, and it led to a big fuss. Sam didn’t desire that, nor the medications which came with it.
In a small apartment, Sam lived with his mother and his grandparents on her side. He hadn’t seen his father’s parents since his disappearance. Whenever they called, there was crying and screaming. Once mom broke the phone, throwing it across the room. Sam knew his father didn’t just leave, like the kids at school said: he went missing. The police were involved briefly, but then left one day.
School had let out in the big city, and the boy started looking for new alleys, passing through the old. He walked by the homeless, mutts, rats, men and women doing things he was just learning about in school, and other oddities. Once he found a dead body. After he reported it, the police asked him several questions and took him home. His mother yelled at him. Whenever she found he had went into the alleys she yelled at him. They weren’t safe, someone would kidnap him, he would be killed, and the list was endless. But Sam had walked the alleyways many times, and he was still intact.
There was a red brick building, only two stories high, between two very large skyscrapers. Ivy crawled around it, and the signage on the front hinted at an orphanage. It didn’t quite look open, but buildings didn’t concern Sam, only the alleys. This was a new alley.
The boy started to walk through it and soon it was as if the road was never there, the cobblestone building to his left. The ivy began to grow on the skyscraper as well, and before he knew it there were hedges on either side and behind him. He had unwittingly entered a maze, though he never recalled turning. In the distance he could see street lights, so he started heading that way. With every step he took, they move farther away.
Then there were only the large buildings on either side of the hedge and the chirping of birds. Then there was the thunder of hooves. Sam turned in time to see three men on three horses, though they were neither men nor horses, but it was the closest proximity to anything Sam understood. Each horse was made of an element: earth, air, water, and fire. Each rider was the same. The rider of earth came forward. The horse was made of dirt with meal worms wiggling out of the dirty flesh. The eyes were amethyst, one well polished and the other milky and jagged. The man wore a green cloak and debris crumbled from his body. Wood fingers reached out and snatched Sam up. The boy’s nostrils filled with the scent of the earth after a fresh rain.
The four beings went off through the maze and disappeared with Sam. The boy was never to be seen again, and his life would go on far from the love of his mother. To this day, she warns people to never walk through dark alleys, though she has no idea the true horrors awaiting such foolish children.