As Teagan began winding down for the night, there was a knock at the door. He made his way over to it, turned on the porch light, and looked out the peephole; there didn’t seem to be anyone there. He flipped off the porch light, and turned to leave; three knocks sounded again. He turned the porch light back on and opened the door. A little boy was stood in front of the door; a shaggy mop of wavy, chocolate-b.rown hair covered his head, and a tattered T-shirt and jeans cloaked his tan skin.
“My name is Morpheus. I’m staying here tonight,” the boy said crisply, attempting to step into Teagan’s house. “Woah, there, little buddy. Where’s your parents?” Teagan said, gently holding the boy’s shoulders. Morpheus looked up at Teagan with hazel eyes and said nothing. “Where are you from?” Again, nothing. “How old are you?”
“It’s cold out here. I’m coming in,” Morpheus said, pushing past Teagan. Teagan hesitantly closed the door and watched as the boy settled himself on the couch. “I need to make a quick phone call, okay?” Teagan said, walking to the kitchen, where the landline was set up. He picked up the phone and dialed the seven digits quickly.
“Hey, Linda, it’s Teagan. Can you get Sheriff Andy and the boys out here—”
“It’s probably just raccoons again, Mister Astrata.”
“No, no—listen. A little kid showed up—he looks about six-ish? He insisted on coming inside, but he won’t tell me anything. He might be a runaway or hurt or a survivor or something.”
“Did he tell you a name at least?” Linda’s tone had changed from weary nonchalance to mild concern.
“He claims it’s Morpheus, but I don’t know if that’s actually his name. But…then again…how many kids know the names of Greek gods?”
“I’ll send them up. I’ll see if we’ve got any missing person reports for six year olds, but don’t be too hopeful. Killian Falls doesn’t really have that many people missing—most we get are missing hikers or out-ah-towners. Height? Weight? Coloring?”
“I don’t know, skinny side of average? Brown hair, tan skin, hazel eyes.”
“Alright, got it. I’ll sort through the reports. The boys just left to get the Doc, so they’ll be there soon-ish. And, Teagan?”
“If his crazy cult leaders show up before that, let us know?”
Teagan couldn’t help but laugh. “Will do.”
Teagan returned the phone to the cradle, and looked over at the boy. Morpheus was staring at the wall, totally still. “Hey, buddy,” Teagan said, cautiously approaching the boy. Morpheus turned to look at Teagan, his hazel eyes seeming to bore into Teagan’s soul. “You hungry? Thirsty?” Morpheus remained mute, his eyes still fixated on Teagan. “Cold? Warm?” Morpheus stayed quiet, his eyes continuing to bore into Teagan. “Oh—okay then,” Teagan said, sitting in the arm chair next to the couch. “So, some people are going to come over soon—to make sure you’re okay.” Morpheus, again, said nothing. “They’re going to want to know about your parents, and where you came from. Andy—the big guy—might get a bit loud, but none of them want to hurt you, okay?” Morpheus looked away, instead staring at the wall. “Look, I know you must be scared, but I’m here to help. Just, talk to me a little, okay?” Teagan said, his voice softening. “I wasn’t scared. They were.” Morpheus looked directly at Teagan as he spoke. Before Teagan could hope to get clarification, there was a knock on the door. Teagan looked at Morpheus as he got up, in some ways hoping this child wouldn’t say such odd things in front of the sheriff. He opened the door, revealing a burly guy, a scrawnier guy, and an older guy. Teagan stepped aside to let them in.
The burly guy, whose metal nametag proclaimed “SHERIFF Andrew”, spotted Morpheus almost immediately. “Hey, buddy!” Andy boomed in his nicest voice; Morpheus stared at him emotionlessly. “Deputy Henry and I are gonna ask ya a few questions, and Doc here is gonna make sure you’re all okey-dokey,” Andy said, bobbing his head occasionally for emphasis. “You can use my bedroom for privacy, if you want,” Teagan said, motioning to the small hallway formed by the kitchen wall and a block of rooms. “Last door down, to the left,” Teagan said. Andy nodded. “Okey-dokey, then. Matthias, was it?” he said to Morpheus. “It’s Morpheus, actually,” Teagan corrected. Andy looked over at Teagan and glared slightly.
Apparently that was supposed to be an attempt to get Morpheus talking.
“Come on, bud, let’s get ya checked out. Mind if we chat while Doc here sees if you’re all okey-dokey?” Andy said, offering his hand to Morpheus, who just slid off the couch quietly and walked down the hall. Andy looked at Doc and the deputy, confused, then at Teagan. “He’s pretty independent. Too independent for words, most of the time,” Teagan said, attempting a joke. Andy just sighed and said, “Henry, Doc, we’ve got our work cut out for us.” The scrawny guy nodded, and the older man said, “He’s probably been though quite the trauma, Andrew.” Andy sighed again, and began walking down the hall; Henry and Doc followed.
Minutes later, Morpheus strode out of the room, pulling his T-shirt back on; Teagan caught a glimpse of what seemed like lash marks stretching across his back. The sheriff, deputy, and doctor nearly stumbled out of the room. “I think that’s all we need,” Andy said, almost robotically. “Perfectly healthy,” the doctor echoed in a hollow tone. Teagan looked at them, confused, then looked at Morpheus, who was staring at him intently. After Morpheus settled on the couch, and the three men had left, Teagan carefully approached the question weighing on his mind, “So, what happened in there, bud?” Morpheus stared at him, unblinking, for a bit. “I like you,” he said simply. Teagan took a while to reply. “I like you, too bud. Guess you’re staying here tonight?”
Morpheus continued to stare at Teagan. “Alright, I’ll get you a blanket,” Teagan said, opening the trunk doubling as a coffee table and pulling out a soft wool blanket. “I don’t have any extra sheets, so you’ll just have to sleep on this, okay?” Morpheus wordlessly slipped off the couch and watched as Teagan tucked the blanket into the couch, making a little envelope for Morpheus to sleep in. When Teagan was done, Morpheus slipped under the blanket and rested his head on a throw pillow. “I’m just down the hall if you need me,” Teagan said as he went to leave. “Don’t run off in the middle of the night, okay?” Morpheus nodded. “All right, good night,” Teagan said, turning off the light.