Alonso digs through the trash with such intensity, he could be mistaken for a raccoon digging through the trash. With each swift strike into the moldy and rotten garbage, debris flies high into the air. His small, chubby fingers aren't affected by the dangerous shards of glass that lies within the trash. And even then, the glass barely penetrates his calloused hands.
Suddenly, his bright hazel eyes widen. A smile forms on his crusty lips.
The young boy digs his bare feet into the unstable trash to act as an anchor while he lowers himself and stabs his hands into the trash. Somehow, something within this mess has caught his attention.
Alonso struggles to lift whatever caught his attention from the trash mound. He lets out groans and moans, but his hard-work is eventually proven to be in vain as he loses his footing. He falls back and rolls down the hill made entirely made of trash. While his palms may be tough, the rest of his body isn't the same way. As he rolls down the hill like a panda the random pieces of glass and trash cut him. He pulls himself in a fetal position, but that can only do so much.
Eventually, he reaches the bottom. Now, with his back on the concrete, he unveils himself and opens his eyes. He breathes heavily and his skin is covered with both sweat and ash from the trash. Despite this Alonso lets out an energetic laugh.
"Ah man", he says, his voice a bit dry, "That sucked".
The sun is the brightest object in the world, there's no doubt about that. However, the young boy's eyes give it a run for its money. Alonso eventually rears himself back and shoots himself forward. He sits crisscrossed and looks at the obstacle beside him. Of course, being the idiot he is he begins to laugh. However, that laughing soon converts into dry-coughing.
A massive pile of trash, both fresh and old has been piled up so high that it could rival any mountain. Unfortunately, the trash mound the young boy was digging through isn't the only one. If one were to reach the top of this mound, they would see that right behind would be dozens of trash piles of equal, or greater size. They would see the children, teenagers, adults, and elderly who also sift through the trash: hoping to find the one piece that will get them out of here.
Sitting down, Alonso performs an evaluation of his body. He twitches whenever he grazes small cuts and wipes away the small droplets of red on his maroon overalls. He evaluates his entire body.
"That wasn't that bad", he says to himself, but as he tries to get up his body tells him an entirely different story. He cringes and bites his lip as a sharp pain travels all through his body. Alonso falls back down.
"C'mon body. Don't be like that right now", he tries once more, this time albeit very painful, he stands up. Any bystander could tell that his day was over, it was time to go home and rest. However, any bystander in the Slums also knows he doesn't have the luxury to relax.
From his position, the sun shoots its dark-orange rays above the trash mound and soon those rays would wake everyone else. Whatever stars that were around retreat into the darkness. Time is running out.
"Let's just get that metal", he says to himself, his arm wraps around his stomach, "That'll keep me going for at least a couple of days. Sorry body, I'm going to abuse you for a bit longer".
Of course, his body doesn't verbally respond. But as he begins his climb, his small body makes sure its voice is heard. With each step, his bright eyes begin to become dull. His grip on his stomach tightens and he has to constantly stop and rest. Each breath he takes feels like taking a sip of boiling lava. His body feels like pudding and even though he knows he's applying pressure to his body, right now he can't feel it. In fact, he can't feel anything.
"See, that wasn't so bad", he proceeds to cough like a dying person.
Now on top of the world, he can see the sun wake from its slumber. As the bright star crawls out from the horizon he also catches a glimpse of something not so appealing. Far in the distance, he catches sight of a large group of people entering the Slums. While they are a distance away, for the young boy this matter is unnerving. He looks down to the hole he created earlier.
"Like it or not you hunk of junk, you're coming with me".
Alonso tenses his entire body and holds his breath. After a couple of moments, he lets it all out. Before any sort of pain can overwhelm him he begins to wipe away the trash.
Like before, he acts like a honey badger gone mad. And just like this animal, nothing seems to faze him, at least not for the moment. Not even the fact that the tips of his fingers begin to squirt out red. Not even the people who begin to enter into the trash mounds. And not even the fact that somebody stands behind him.
With all the trash wiped away he can finally grab the piece of metal with ease.
Alonso laughs, but it's not out of joy. He laughs at the fact that he finds so much joy in finding a piece of metal. He smacks his piece and scowls at the metal.
The piece of metal he finds is a Knights helmet. It has many dents and as Alonso scans it he can even see some dried blood. He cringes but doesn't pay too much attention to it. Instead, he smiles. He was about to reap the rewards for his valiant efforts. Or at least he would have.
"Give me that".
Alonso looks over his shoulder to see a massive man, not in stature but in width. His eyes bloodshot and his skin covered in cuts this man wasn't somebody you'd want to bump into at night.
"No", he states, "I worked hard for this, you go find something else".
This man lets out an unamused laugh, "For a kid, you have some guts".
"Yeah? Well, you have lots of that, too", Alonso pokes at the man's massive belly. His index finger bounces off the stranger's stomach. The young boy can't help but giggle at his joke.
"Actually", he says through his mouth, "I'm sorry, that was mean. There's nothing wrong 'bout being a bit round".
In a flash, the wide-bellied stranger squishes Alonso's tiny head in between his massive, meaty palms. His hands are so wide that it almost makes the kid's head disappear completely.
"Kid, I'm trying to be nice", he says as he pushes his hands together, "I didn't want to have to knock out a child, but it looks like there's no other choice".
"Huh!? Whatcha mean?! There are lots of other options!" Alonso manages to squeak out, "Like how 'bout you go find something of your own!?"
The man shakes his head, "Sorry, no can do".
Alonso and the man lock eyes. This stranger has bloodshot eyes, but behind that fact, his eyes are dark chocolate color and while his actions are violent, his eyes show otherwise. The young boy stops resisting.
"Is there really no other way?"
The man nods, "I really am sorry".
"Please, I worked hard for this", Alonso says, "I need the food, don't you see me? I'm just a couple of days away from dying".
The man softens his attack, for a split-second, his eyes show something resembling remorse. But he shakes away that emotion and lets out a sharp breath. Once again, he locks eyes with the young boy who looks at him like a dying puppy.
"I need this", Alonso says.
"And so do I".
Alonso looks at the man's stomach, "No you don't".
With that said, the man begins to squeeze once more. The pain Alonso feels right now is beyond anything a child should go through.
But, the young boy refuses to go out like this. With his hands still holding tightly onto the helmet, he begins to kick his legs in all directions, hoping one would land.
Alonso's body goes limp, he breathes heavily, and streams of blood running down his body. However, while his physical strength might be gone, his eyes tell a different story.
"Looks like you're going to have to knock me out", Alonso hisses, "Cause there's no way you're getting this off my living body!"
The man sighs, sad that it had to come to this. Without saying a word he pulls Alonso's face down and brings his knee up.
Alonso lets go of the helmet and flies backward. He clutches his nose tightly and rolls in pain. Through the red he sees the man grab the helmet and walk off. He scowls and tries to leap forward. However, the universe had different plans.
Instead of getting his revenge, he just lays there. His face is covered in red and the sun mocking him from above. Alonso just lies there and continues to watch the man leave with his hard work. Through the red, hot streams of tears begin to swim down his tan cheeks.
"...Man", he whispers to the world, "Living is hard".
Alonso walks on the single path that cuts through the slums. With his face painted with a mixture of tears and dried blood, he looks like some sort of zombie. But nobody seems to mind, everyone in the slums looks somewhat similar. Eventually, he walks away from the trash mounds and begins to enter the main area of the slums.
Here, people of all colors, ages, and backgrounds live together. Their "homes" are built from the same materials they find in the trash mound and clothes as well. Some shanty houses are built right on top of the trash mound, almost like an extension of it. The air is filthy and so are the people, this includes Alonso.
The bright eyes of this young boy have grown sullen as he drags himself through the slums. At this point, the child runs on only instinct to get himself from one place to the other.
Eventually, after a lifetime of walking, he exits the slums and enters his town, Cora.
The difference between the people from the slums and here is striking. Here, the people look decent and aren't digging through trash to make a living. The real people of the town, are actually living.
Alonso ignores the odd stares and mutters directed towards him. The bloody child just continues his instinct and walks down the same road he always does. He passes the same vendors he always does and cuts through the same alleys he would any day.
And before he realizes it, he stands outside a building that has the words, MAIL, plastered on it. Alonso lets out a disgusted chuckle.
"I'm just like those guys", he says, the reasoning for those words unknown.
Alonso makes himself presentable before entering. Using whatever spit he can conjure he wipes away the ash, blood, tears, and mud from his face. Of course, he can't wipe everything but after a while of doing this, he decides that it's enough.
He walks up the wooden steps and takes a breath as he holds the handle. With pain in his eyes, he opens the door and enters.
"Hey, Alonso how are you...doing".
The clerk, Mr. Castro, cuts himself off as he sees the condition of this boy. He immediately rushes out from behind his desk and towards Alonso.
Mr. Castro, not old enough to be a father but not young enough to be a naive gets on his knees. He goes to place his hands on Alonso's shoulder.
"Sorry, sorry", Mr. Castro lowers his hands and eyes the young boy, "What happened?"
"...Don't worry 'bout me. It looks worse than it actually is", immediately afterward a wave of pain brings him to a knee. Mr. Castro rushes to help but Alonso holds his hand out, refusing any help.
"Thank you, but I don't need it".
"...I see", he calmly says, "...Are you okay?"
Alonso wipes away the tears that begin to form, "Just please, tell me there's a letter today".
Mr. Castro stays quiet before doing anything. He clutches his fist together as he sees every injury the boy has sustained, but he eventually lets go of his frustration.
He smiles, "Just wait here".
Mr. Castro goes behind his desk and comes out with a fancy envelope. He holds it out.
Alonso can't hide his excitement, the pain seems to go away as he kindly takes the envelope from the clerk. Before taking off, he looks at Mr. Castro.
"Not a problem".
With those simple words, Alonso takes his leave, but not before Mr. Castro stomps in front of him.
"I know you won't accept help from anyone", he says, "But, please take this", Mr. Castro holds out a bright red apple picked at its peak. The candles inside the building reflect off the skin of the glimmering fruit.
Alonso stares at it, his hand seems to take a life of its own and reach out. He violently shakes his head and walks past the clerk.
"I appreciate it", he says, "But, no thanks".
The young boy leaves the building, his reflection clear in the skin of the apple.
Now outside the building, Alonso lets out a sigh. He eyes the envelope. The skin of it feels like sandpaper and it's nicely stamped with red ink. He carefully begins to open it.
He slides out the paper from inside and sits down at the stairs to read.
"Hi there, I'm sorry for not writing last week things over here got quite busy. Well, where to start? I finally managed to gather enough money to do a round-trip between here and Cora", to this Alonso smiles wider than before, "But, I'm sorry. It will be a bit longer than I expected to get all the money together. I'm trying to negotiate a house right now. I am so, so sorry", Alonso's smile disappears, "I'm working really hard here so I can get you out of there, I promise. We will be together soon, love, your mother".
Alonso pinches his nose together and suppresses the urge to cry. Instead, he slams his fist down on the wooden stairs.
"We can be poor", he whispers, "All I want is you".
Alonso, a young thirteen-year-old, cries alone at the stairs. Despite the many people that pass by, they only give him a glare and walk off. Not even checking on him.
In the blink-of-an-eye, everything changes. Just a couple blocks away, one of the building explodes in a fiery rage. Fireballs shoot outwards and begin to grow on the nearby civilians.
"It's them, it's those damn savages!"
Alonso watches as countless officers rush over to help the needy, and defend from the strong. The young boy can only watch as people wearing completely different clothing step onto the street and begin shooting large, meter-sized arrows into the crowd. One, barely misses the young boy, only leaving him with a cut right below his eye.
The young boy ducks behind the stairs and covers his ears as the fighting continues. As the screams fill the air and the fire consumes everything.
The little boy looks at the sky, his eyes full of the desire to know. However, his thirst to know would have to wait. Alonso looks over the stairs and his eyes widen.
Despite the fact Alonso is only a mere child, they point their weapons of death right at him.
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