Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Javier left the brick house that he shared with his dad. He walked on the cement path that led to a gate which was cemented into a brick wall. He squinted as the hot sun reflected off of the glass shards stuck into the top of the wall. The heat that came off the paved road hit him hard in the face and tiny beads of sweat began trickling down his face. It’s going to be hot and muggy as usual. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and flicked it to the ground.
He walked down the street toward the main road where cars sped by. It was always loud and it didn’t seem like things ever slowed down. He walked down the sidewalk a little farther to the ramp that crossed the road. He adjusted the bag on his shoulder and took the steps two at a time.
The bag was full of candy. He had been selling candy on the street since he was six to help out at home. His dad worked in the city center but made very little. He had been doing pretty well since moving to this spot and was able to use the extra money to help his dad out with the rent.
Javier reached the top of the stairs and stopped. Who’s that new boy? He’s in my spot. He put his hand into his pocket and grasped a small knife then walked up to the boy.
“Who are you?” Javier asked.
The boy couldn’t have been much older than him. “I’m Rafael. What do you want?” he said. Rafael pushed the bleached blonde hair from his face. His brown eyes glowered at Javier as if he was inviting him to start something.
“This is my spot,” Javier responded. Everyone knew this was his spot.
Rafael looked Javier over and said, “I don’t see your name on it and besides I was here first.”
Javier’s heart started to pump faster and a cold sweat trickled down his back. He rubbed the back of his hand across his forehead to get the sweat out of his eyes. He had had to fight for his spot once before. It hadn’t gone well. He clenched the knife in his pocket.
Javier put his bag on the ground not taking his eyes off the other boy. “I’ve been setting up here for a while now. Just move on and there won’t be any trouble.”
Rafael stepped a little closer and a ring of people began to form around the two. He pulled a knife from his pocket and flicked it open. “I don’t think you understand. I was here first. So unless you want to get hurt you better leave.”
Javier pulled his knife from his pocket and crouched. His dad had taught him how to fight.
Rafael lunged at him but he was able to move out of the way in time. Javier slipped and Rafael swiped at him again with the blade. Blood mingled with the sweat that ran down Javier’s forearm. He stepped back and the crowed moved with him. They were cheering the two boys on hoping one of them would get killed.
The knife felt cold in his hand. He waited for Rafael to lunge again but he didn’t. The crowd dispersed as quickly as it had formed and Rafael was quickly packing his stuff. Javier looked behind him and saw what the problem was. Four policemen were heading their way. Javier put the knife away, grabbed his bag and started for the stairs. Rafael was right behind him as they flew down the stairs, their feet barely touching each step.
The heavy boots of the policeman stomped behind them on the cement stairs sending a chill up Javier’s back. A flash of his friend lying cold and lifeless in the street went through his mind.
Rafael tripped and hit Javier in the back. They both tumbled to the ground in a heap.
“Stop!” one of the policemen said.
Javier quickly untangled his arms and legs from Rafael and was up and running in a flash. Rafael was right beside him. He pointed to a small hole in the wall and said, “Over there.”
Javier nodded and ducked through the hole a second later. They ran to the other side of the yard and came to a large brick building. There was an old rusty door and several windows. Javier yanked on the door and it creaked as it swung open. They ducked inside and pulled the door shut.
The wall felt warm against Javier’s back and through gasps of air he said, “Do you think they saw us.”
Rafael looked at the door. “I hope not,” he said.
The room was musty and looked as if no one had been in it for ages. The dirt floor was littered with rat dropping and the windows were so dirty little light came through. There were several chairs surrounding a large wooden table. In the center of the table was a statue of the Savior on a cross. It reminded him of the one that his father had put on his mother’s casket the day she died.
Tears stung Javier’s eyes as he looked at the statue. Why did you take my mom? If you cared about me you wouldn’t have taken her. He bit his lip hard and looked away from the table.
“I think I saw them duck in here,” a man said.
Javier wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans and his heart thumped. He pulled the small knife from his pocket and opened it. Crouching low beside the door he waited. Rafael squatted next to him and Javier saw a flash from his blade.
Heavy boots stomped behind the door and Javier swallowed hard. The handle turned and the door slowly swung open.
“What are you doing here?” a woman asked.
The door stopped and a man said, “We’re looking for some street kids.”
“Well I can tell you no one has gone in there for years. It’s been cursed by a Macumbeiro,” she said.
Javier’s heart stopped and he looked over the room once again. It had grown dark and silent. Not your normal dark and silent but a darkness and silence like a black hole where all the light has been sucked out.
His father had told him about the Macumba and how they would use black magic to curse people who had made them angry. There was a boy on his street who had taken some bread from one of their offerings on the street. He was sick in bed for weeks and never really recovered.
The door closed and the boots stomped off. We need to get out of here. Javier walked to the door his breath came out in white puffs of air and goose bumps formed on his arms. Putting his ear to the door he couldn’t hear anything other than the busy traffic zooming by. He pulled on the door but it was stuck. He grabbed the handle with both hands and leaned back hard but it still wouldn’t budge.
“What was that?” Rafael asked.
Javier turned and looked into the blackness. Nothing. He pulled on the door again, still it wouldn’t move. Rafael started to pull on the door with him then turned to the window. “Maybe we can get out the window?” he said.
They crept to the window not wanting to disturb the evil they felt all around them. Rafael wiped some of the grime away from the window and looked out.
“Do you see anything?” Javier asked.
“There’s no one out there.”
Rafael pushed on the window and said, “It won’t budge.”
There was a loud bang behind them and both boys turned pressing their backs against the wall. “Wh… who’s there?” Javier asked.
There was only silence as they stared into the darkness. Rafael ran to the door and tugged on it again. When it wouldn’t move he banged on the door and screamed, “Let us out of here!”
Javier couldn’t move. A feeling of dread washed over him like a wave slamming into the rocks on the beach. His legs buckled and he collapsed to the floor. He clenched his eyes shut, willing the fear to leave. He opened his eyes and followed a stream of light that came from the spot Rafael had cleaned from the window. The light illuminated the statue of Jesus.
“Jesus, please save us,” Javier whispered.
He closed his eyes again. All hope was gone.
The door flew open and light filled the dark room. “I command you to leave, dark demon!” a woman said.
There was a hiss from the corner of the room where the light couldn’t reach. “You cannot command me, foul witch,” the hiss said. “You have no more power over this place.”
“I command you to leave in the name of our Lord. He has all power both in Heaven and on Earth. Now leave this place and come no more into it.”
Javier was able to open his eyes and he looked at the old woman who stood before him. She wasn’t much to look at, her grey scraggly hair fell to her waist, her face was wrinkled and she leaned heavily on an old gnarled stick that looked better than her. But when she spoke she spoke with power. Her voice was strong and it carried to all the corners of the building. Javier felt a light coming from her that he hadn’t felt before in his life. The light filled his soul with hope and joy.
The light chased the darkness from the farthest corner and the hiss was no more. Javier looks back on that day often as the changing point of his life. Rafael and he became looked out for each other in the streets from that time forward. Javier still didn’t understand why his mother had to leave him but he trusted in his Savior that it would all be made right again just like that day in the old brick building.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
A loud bang on the front door woke Tom. A short pause was followed by another loud bang on the hard oak. Tapping sounds came as high heeled shoes crossed the marble floor. Tom slid out of bed. There was a sharp click of the latch as the heavy door opened. Tom clenched his blanket and ran to the landing above the large hall. His small hand grasped the white bar as he looked to the entryway below. He saw a woman and man talking to the maid, Anna.
“We must see your mistress at once,” the woman said.
Tom wondered who the woman was. She wore a red dress, and her long black hair shined in the glow of the chandelier. He gasped seeing the huge man that was with her. The man’s short beard was neatly trimmed and light reflected off of his shaved head. His long sword shifted slightly on his black suit as he shifted his weight from one foot to the other.
Anna walked back down the hall and the woman turned to whisper to the man. Tom wondered what they were so quiet about. A few minutes later, he saw his mother hurry to the woman, holding her hands out. They clasped hands and his mother’s lips brushed the other woman’s cheek.
“We can talk in here,” his mother said, heading to the sitting room. The woman followed with the man close behind.
Tom dropped his blanket and crept down the stairs looking from side to side. At the bottom of the stairs he couldn’t see anyone, so he darted across the entryway and stopped just outside the sitting room. Peering in he saw Anna handing cups to the woman and the man and then to his mother. She set the tray on the table and headed toward the door.
Tom opened the coat closet, jumped in, and closed the door. He heard Anna walk by and he held his breath. The steps continued down the hallway and he sighed. He waited a moment longer, then opened the door a crack and pressed his ear to it. He heard only muffled voices.
He slipped out of the closet and closed the door, holding the handle so that it made no noise. He sank to his knees and crawled to the sitting room. When he reached the double oak doors, a woman shouted, “You have a responsibility, being entrusted with magic.”
“I know that, but all it has gotten me is sorrow. We now have witches everywhere who corrupt the laws of magic and destroy everything around them, why I am to be more responsible than they?” his mother challenged.
“Yes, that is true, but can you imagine what would happen if men once again possessed magic? We can’t take that risk,” she said. “You know the history of magic as well as I do. The Brothers of the Forsaken Petal gave everything to ensure that magic continued on and the responsibility is ours and ours alone. The women who sacrificed their lives in the trials should not be ignored. They were instructed that only women should possess magic.”
“I know the history. I know of the sacrifices that were and still are made, but there is something different going on that I do not understand. You know that I have already made the ultimate sacrifice once before,” his mother whispered.
“I sorrow for your loss, sister,” said the woman, “but there is nothing that can be done. The head enchantress demands that it is done again. You know our law. Without the law we are no different than the witches that now encircle us on every hand.”
Tom heard the cup clang on the tabletop and the sound of people standing.
“We will return tomorrow and collect the boy. There is nothing that can be done about it,” the woman stated.
Tom hurried to the stairs and dashed up them. By the time he reached the landing, the woman was heading toward the front door. The big man followed her quietly, moving with the grace of a giant cat. Tom’s mother was close behind. She looked up at him. He saw a tear in her eye and wondered who they were talking about. Her face was worn and her eyes, which seemed to always gleam, were dull. She opened the door and the couple left.
Tom’s mother hurried up the stairs brushing at her eyes. She smiled when she looked down at the small boy with his curly blonde hair. He looked up at her with a weak smile, hoping that he wouldn’t get in too much trouble for staying up. His mother bent down to him and held him tight.
“Tom, you have to go to a new home tomorrow. It will just be for a short time.” She looked into his blue eyes. “After your father gets back, we’ll come and get you.”
He whimpered and his mother gave him a stern look.
“Remember you must be strong. You are an Alerio.”
He nodded and wiped at his red eyes. “I know mother, I will be.”
She pulled him close again and then, lifting him in her delicate arms, carried him down the hallway to his room. She laid him gently on the bed and pulled the covers over his shoulders. She looked at him for a moment longer, leaned over, and kissed him on the forehead.
He reached up and grabbed her around the neck, holding her tight. “I love you mamma.”
She squeezed him. “And I love you, Tom.”
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
The leather creaked as the horse moved restlessly. The rider wore a simple brown jacket his head was covered with a leather cap. Goggles covered his eyes to help keep out the rain.
The rider patted his mount and said, “Just a little longer boy.”
The horse shook its black mane and droplets of water went in all directions. The green grass under the horse was turning to mud as the horse stomped and shifted.
“Yah!” the rider yelled.
The horse shot off. The mud flew out behind him as he raced down the side of the hill. The riders leathered gloves gripped the reigns and horn of the saddle. He was hunched low over the black stallion looking straight ahead.
Any moment now. There he is. He doesn’t even notice me.
The rider pulled a pistol from inside his jacket and aimed at the lone horseman in the distance. He could feel the cold steel between his hand and a chill went down his spine. This would end it once and for all. They will never be able to hurt me again. He pulled the trigger the gun recoiled in his hand.
The stallion didn’t flinch as the sound reverberated through the green valley. His hoofs thundered through the valley as they drew closer to the lone figure that had now turned.
The lone horseman pulled a pouch from his waist and pulled fine dirt out throwing it into the rain. Instantly the dust turned to fire and sped toward the oncoming man and his black stallion.
Phillip fired the revolver again as the flame approached him. He did not fear the man’s fire this day. The flame engulfed them. The heat was intense. Phillip clasped a silver medallion that hung around his neck and said, “I repel your flame.” The flame died instantly and Phillip fired again.
He was now within fifty feet of the man and he could see fear in the lone man’s face for the first time. Your fire can no longer harm me. I rebuke you and your kind forever.
He fired again this time his aim was true and the bullet slammed into the man. He pulled the trigger once again. Another hit.
The man fell backward off the horse as it jumped.
Phillip pulled hard on the reigns and the stallion skidded in the stream that formed in the narrow valley.
“Where is she?” Phillip said.
The man lay in the mud that had turned red from his blood and said, “You will never see her again.” The man coughed and specks of blood sprayed out. He had his arm wrapped around his chest. His breathing came in gasps.
“Where is she?” Phillip said again.
He jumped from the stallion and walked up to the man.
The man smiled thinly.
Phillip grabbed his cloak and pulled him out of the mud. “Where is she?”
The rain poured down on Phillip and mixed with the tears that were running down his face. He shook the man. “You must tell me. Please tell me.”
The man laughed and more blood spilled from his mouth. “You can’t win. Even by killing me you haven’t won,” he said.
Phillip pulled a long hunting knife from his belt and put it to the man’s throat. Sliding it quickly the man no longer smiled.
Phillip wiped the tears and rain from his face with a wet sleeve and walked back to the stallion. I thought this would end it. Why has it turned out this way? Why can’t I win?
Climbing slowly onto the tall stallion he sat staring at the man who had ruined his life. He didn’t seem like much, but for the longest time Phillip had been tormented by him. The relief that he expected was nullified by the pain of not finding her. Where are you?
Phillip lowered his head into his chest and cried for a long time. It had been the first time he had cried in years. Being filled with hate and revenge he had had no time for it. But now he cried because of the emptiness that filled him.
The stallion shifted bringing Phillip back to reality. He looked down at the man’s lifeless body. Where did you hide her?
Phillip pulled on the reigns and turned the horse away from the man. He headed the direction the man had come from. He must have left something at his home.
Phillip kicked the stallion in the flanks.
They were out of the valley in a few minutes and heading toward a small shack that sat in the distance. The rain fell on the tin roof and rolled down into a gutter that emptied into a wooden barrel. The barrel was full and water was spilling out of it onto the grass in front of the shack.
Phillip jumped off the stallion before it stopped and ran up to the front door. It had been a long time since he had been here. Putting his hand on the handle, fear filled him. How many times he had dreaded that handle knowing that it would lead him into a nightmare. He pushed the latch and opened the door.
The smell of stew filled the air. A fire burned bright and filled the shack with warmth. A small table with four chairs sat in the middle of the room and a door led deeper into the shack.
Phillip walked to the table where a note laid.
“Don, I’ll be back shortly. I have some business to attend to.
Phillip pulled the pistol from its holster and looked out the front window. Don’s dead.
The stallion was grazing on the grass in the front yard and the rain had finally started to die down. There was a flash of lightning in the distance but nothing else moved.
He walked to the door and put his ear to it. Nothing. He turned the knob and pushed the door inward.
He screamed out and put his arm to his face as the ash burned his eyes. He was hit in the gut by something hard and he doubled over, dropping the pistol. He rolled to the side running into the wall. Grabbing for anything to defend himself, he found a poker and swung it blindly out in front of him. Connecting only with the wall he nearly dropped it.
A blurry image of an old man stood in front of him, it was Don.
Phillip’s mouth dropped open and he backed toward the table. “Who, how?” was all he could say.
The man in front of him smiled and leaned on a large staff. “We have our ways. What have you done to Steven?”
Phillip wiped the ash from his eyes and face. The pistol had fallen in front of the fire place. He only glanced for a moment at the pistol then back to Don in front of him.
“What have you done with her?” Phillip said.
“She’s safe,” he said. “Now what have you done with your father.”
Phillip looked away then back anger filling his eyes. “I killed him. He deserved it.”
Don glared and spoke through clenched teeth, “You wouldn’t dare. You couldn’t.”
Phillip snorted and said, “You have always thought that you were invincible, immortal. You’re not.”
“You had no right to kill him. After all he has done for you, all he has given you.”
Phillip started to stand but stopped when Don put the staff in his face.
“You stay down,” Don said. “We need to go and get him.”
“You can go and get him yourself,” Phillip said.
Phillip pulled his hunting knife from his belt and lunged for him. The knife hit an invisible shield.
Don laughed and then swung the heavy staff hitting Phillip in the head.
Phillip crashed to the floor knocking a chair to the floor. Everything went foggy then black.
Friday, October 22, 2010
They rode hard through the remainder of the day until the reached the wasteland. Sand hills stretched out in front of them for as far as they could see. The sun beat down on them and Samantha felt the sweat trickling down her back.
“How are we going to make it through?” Samantha asked.
Kyle jumped off the mustang and squatted on the ground studying the desert in front of him. “There is a trail that we must follow. It leads from well to well.” He picked up a handful of the hot sand and let it sift through his hand.
Samantha slid off her horse and rested her hands on her waist. “Who dug the wells?” she asked.
“No one knows. Some say it was an ancient civilization that once roamed the wasteland. They say they were destroyed and their land with them.”
Kyle stood and walked to his horse. “We need to fill our water skins before going and we will need to travel at night. There is a well this way.”
He headed off.
Samantha looked after him. There’s nothing around here. Where’s he going?
Kyle walked for about twenty feet then stooped again grabbing another handful of sand. This time though as the sand sifted between his fingers the wind caught it and it began to circle around a stone wall. The sand continued to circle the stone wall until a small round well appeared.
Samantha’s mouth dropped open. “How did you do that?” she asked.
Kyle grinned at her. “It really isn’t anything I’m doing. It’s old technology of a sort. My dad taught me, his dad taught him, and so on. It has something to do with being in the right spot at the right time.” Kyle stood next to the well and began lowering the bucket.
Samantha walked next to him and ran her hand across the rough bricks that formed the mouth of the well. “Can you teach me?” she asked.
Kyle began raising the bucket and pointed at the setting sun with his other hand. “You see how the sun sits right above that hill over there?”
“You’ll notice that that hill has an odd shape to it and when the sun hits it just right, it forms an X on the ground where the well will appear. You then have to pick up a handful of sand and allow the air to form it,” he said.
“That sounds more like magic than technology to me.”
“Magic. Technology. It’s all the same isn’t it?”
Kyle pulled the bucket from the well and filled his water skin.
Samantha handed her skin to him. “I don’t think so. Magic is something that comes from within a person; the energy is all different. Technology is…well technology is something that has to be molded and created and then uses energy from an outside source.”
“Sounds the same to me,” he grinned.
His grin faded as he looked past her. “Someone’s coming. We need to be going.”
Samantha turned after grabbing her water skin. There was a dust cloud moving toward them. I hope it isn’t another car. It doesn’t seem to be moving as fast.
Kyle picked up some more sand and allowed it to run through his fingers. The sand swirled around the well once again and it disappeared. He ran back to the horse with Samantha close behind. The two jumped on and kicked their horses into action.
“We’ll have to ride all night and rest during the day. Hopefully whoever is out there doesn’t follow us,” Kyle said.
“I don’t think anyone would be dumb enough to do that,” Samantha said.
They ran their horses into the wasteland until they had moved behind the first set of hills. The horses’ hooves sank deep into the sand and they struggled to move through it. The sun went down behind the distant mountains and purple and red hues filled the sky.
The moon was at their back as they rode, lighting the way. “Have you been this way often?” Samantha asked.
“I came this way last about five years ago. I remember the way though. The last time I came this way I was being dragged behind a horse.”
Samantha looked at him quickly, her eyes wide. “What happened?”
“Probably, about the same thing that happened to you.” Kyle looked down at his hand. “Bandits attacked my village. Many of us were dragged across this desert. Only a handful of us survived. I was sold to the slaver class and eventually ended up with you in the arena.”
“I’m sorry Kyle. I know it’s hard.”
There was a sudden thundering coming from behind them. Samantha turned and seeing five horseman behind them pulled a her dagger from her belt.
The horsemen were closing in fast. One man raised his hand toward the moon then throwing his hand down toward them. A bright blue sphere appeared from his hand and sped toward them.
Samantha threw her hands down and up from the ground. Millions of pieces of sand spread up from the dune in front of them. The sphere slammed into the sand wall.
Samantha blocked her face with her hands as the sand hit her.
Kyle had his bow out and shot at the oncoming riders, hitting one fatally.
The other three continued on while the last one came in much slower. One raised a pistol and fired while the other two pulled lances from the side of their horses’.
Samantha pulled a knife from her belt. The cold energy coming from it sent shivers down her back. She thought of a frozen dagger splitting into three. Throwing the knife, it split into three smaller knives and sped toward the three oncoming riders.
The man in back circled his hands and pointed toward the ground in front of the riders. The sand circled and blew two of the knives to the ground where they exploded into ice balls. The third knife hit the pistol rider in the chest. He fell backward off his horse and screamed as his chest froze. The freezing spread through his body until he was solid ice.
The other two men sped through the swirling sand, their lances leveled.
Kyle pulled his sword from its scabbard and deflected the oncoming lance. Using his knees to steer his horse he swung it around and kicked it hard in the flanks. The horse jumped and charged the man. As the horseman turned his own horse Kyle slashed hitting him across the shoulder.
The man dropped his lance and pulled a short sword from his belt. But he was much too slow as Kyle swung again. Kyle hit the man again across his chest. The sword ripped through his black vest, ripping a gash in his chest. The man screamed out in pain. He turned his horse and fled into the night.
The other man had gone for Samantha; his lance struck her horse as she turned it to block the oncoming horseman.
The horse fell and Samantha jumped clear just in time. She rolled out of the way of the falling horse and came to her feet. Samantha held the two daggers in front of her. She could feel the cold energy racing through her body. Her eyes turned a cold blue.
The horseman turned and the sand fanned out behind the horse as it skidded around. He lowered his lance and charged again.
The intensity in her eyes grew brighter. With a cry she charged the oncoming horse. The daggers glowed blue. She jumped to the right just as the horse flew by. She pushed her thoughts toward the horses’ legs.
The horse tripped throwing its rider head first into the sand.
Samantha was on him instantly bringing both daggers down into his back.
“Ahhh!” Samantha screamed. A burning sensation engulfed her legs. Looking toward the man who stayed back she saw him smiling.
The man looked toward Kyle and his smile faded. He turned his horse and rode back the way he had come from.
Samantha grabbed her legs willing them to stop burning. The burning slowly ebbed as Kyle ran to her side.
“Sam, are you …” He pulled her into his arms holding her tight.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Fear, anger, the soft beat of the heart as the rising sun feels the sky with pain and suffering. The dust settled softly around the fallen hero making the blood thick and grey. Why is there so much pain and suffering? Why would they do this? I only bring death to those whom I love.
The tears flowed gently down her face as she looked at the big man lying on the hard ground. The blood filled the cracks of the hard earth. Where is mercy? Where is justice?
“We need to be going,” Kyle spoke softly.
Samantha looked up her eyes turning red with anger. “How can we leave him here like this?”
She rose to her feet standing close to Kyle. Her hands clenched into balls so tight pricks of blood formed in her palm.
“He saved us. He gave his life that we could continue on. I will not leave him in the dirt.”
“If you want to honor him you will not let his death be in vain. Others will be coming soon.”
Samantha turned toward the city. He’s right but how can we leave him here, like this?
“Sam, he was my friend,” Kyle started. He put his hands to his eyes and looked away.
Samantha walked up to him and put her hand on his back. “I’m sorry Kyle.”
“We don’t have much time.”
He walked toward the dropped packs not looking back.
Samantha looked down at Simeon one last time before heading after Kyle. As she walked toward him she noticed blood was dripping from his hand.
“Kyle, are you okay?” She ran up to him and grabbed his shoulder to turn him.
“I’ll be all right.”
He opened a pack and pulled a bandage out. Pulling his shirt off Samantha grabbed some water and rinsed the wound.
“It just scraped me luckily,” he said and then tied the bandage around the gash.
Slinging the pack onto his back he walked toward the horses. Samantha grabbed a pack and then mounted her horse. She looked at the rock edifice feeling strange about the rock. It was almost as if she was connected to it in some way. She snorted. If there is a God he must be a monster. She turned the horse and they headed away from the finger of God toward her home. What would she find there?
They reached the home in two days without incident. The house had been burned and half the barn was gone. Samantha closed her eyes as visions of the attack came back to her.
The slavers had come late in the night and attacked without warning. The sound of her father’s gun had awoken her. There was a scream.
Loud feet rushed up the stairs. Bang. The door slammed open. The devil stared at her.
Samantha instantly began to pray. “Dear Father in Heaven please cast this demon out of my room and keep me and my family safe.”
The man rushed toward her and grabbed her by the hair and dragged her screaming and kicking from the room.
Samantha shook her head to make the images go away. She wiped the tear away and urged her horse forward.
Kyle gave her a sympathetic look.
Samantha stared straight ahead. When she had reached the porch she dismounted and cautiously entered the house. There was little left. Samantha kicked a burned board out of her way and headed toward the back of the house. She knelt on the charred floor boards. Where was that board?
She felt the boards for several more minutes until she found it. Pulling on a board she revealed a safe. She pulled the safe out and walked out of the house quickly.
“What’s that?” Kyle asked.
“It’s a family heirloom.”
She worked the tumbler on the lock until it clicked. “My father told me about the safe since I was a little girl. He told me that if anything ever happened I was to protect the contents with my life.”
“What’s so valuable?”
“I don’t know. He would never let me see.”
She opened the lid. There was a single sheet of paper. It was yellow and in many places pieces were missing. Under the paper was a set of throwing knives and a pair of daggers.
The daggers were sharp and had a blue sapphire in each of the hilts. Samantha picked them up. They felt cold and seemed to have an energy emanating from them. The knives had the same cold touch to them.
Samantha examined the knives and daggers then put them into her belt. She held the paper up.
“It looks almost like a map,” Kyle said.
Samantha nodded. “I think this point here is where we are now. And this point looks like the finger of God. But I’m not familiar with the other landmarks.”
“Do you know what it means?”
“We can go to your people now. I have what I need,” Samantha said as she folded the paper up and put it gently in her pouch.
She looked at Kyle and smiled softly. She loved his eyes. They seemed filled with hope at all times.
He smiled at her. “What are you looking at?”
Samantha blushed slightly. “Nothing, let’s go.”
Kyle grabbed her wrist and pulled her into him.
She didn’t struggle as she buried her face into his chest. Her tears dampening his shirt as he held her close and stroked her hair.
“We’ll make things right,” he said.
Samantha looked up into those blue eyes and smiled.
She pulled away and climbed onto her horse. Kyle followed and they headed north toward the wasteland. Samantha clenched her jaw as they headed through the hot desert. She would make things right and make those who had done this to her pay.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
The finger of God loomed in the distance. The huge mountain of rock jutted high in the air. Some had said that the rock had formed overnight in a time when the people had first gone astray. They said that it was a reminder that some day God would return and retake the land. A group of religious fanatics made yearly journeys to the rock and would scale the edifice to the very top.
Samantha had always wondered about the rock formation and how it had formed. She wondered if the stories were true about the group that worshiped there. She also wondered about the idea of God. He had never been there for her.
“Where are we going?” Samantha asked.
The blonde man turned toward her as their horses raced on. He pointed at the finger and said, “That way.”
“We will find supplies there and then we will head north.”
“Why north? I thought there was only wasteland that way.”
“There is…” he said. “…but when we get through it, we will meet my people.”
The group reached the base of the finger and dismounted. Samantha’s legs ached from the long ride. It had been a long time since she had ridden a horse or been outside of the arena for that matter. She walked up to the rock and put her hand to it. The stone surface was smooth and cool to the touch.
She pulled her hand back quickly from the rock and held it with her other. She looked at the rock. What was that? She thought she had felt something. It was almost like she had touched flesh.
The blonde walked up to her and held out his hand. “My name is Kyle.” He pointed at the other man who was dark skinned. His head was shaved bald and he had a thin black beard that ran along the curve of his chin. “This is Simeon.”
Simeon nodded and then went back to tightening the belts on the horse’s saddle.
Samantha grasped Kyle’s hand and said, “Hi, I’m Samantha, but you can call me Sam.”
Kyle grinned. “It’s nice to meet you. We had best get going before they catch up.”
Kyle turned and walked around the base of the rock.
Samantha looked up the rock formation and saw that up a ways metal pins were stuck into the side of the rock. They had eye hooks in them that were as round as her wrist. “Is it true that people actually scale this rock?”
Kyle followed her gaze up. “Yes, they do. They hook thick metal cables through the pins and then to several horses. They then hook the other end to a basket and pull people to the top.”
Samantha whistled as she looked to the top. “You wouldn’t catch me up in the air that high.”
Kyle laughed. “Someday, maybe.”
They circled around the base of the finger until they came to a crack in the side. Simeon walked into the crack and returned quickly with several bags. He tied them to the three horses and then went back in, returning again with several water skins. He handed two to Samantha and two to Kyle leaving two for him.
“Thanks,” Samantha said.
Simeon nodded and then mounted his horse.
“I’ve been thinking. I need to go back to my family’s place.” Samantha said. She didn’t want to look into those blue eyes, worrying that she would see disapproval.
Kyle stopped mounting and walked to Samantha.
She instinctively reached for a knife in her belt pulling it quickly from its sheath.
Kyle held up his hands and backed up. “Whoa. I’m not going to hurt you.”
Samantha blushed slightly but continued to hold the knife. “I need to go to my family’s place.”
Kyle put his hand to his chin for a moment then looked back at Simeon. “Do we have time?”
“Okay, but we need to hurry. We don’t have a lot of time,” Kyle said.
“What do you mean not a lot of time?” Samantha asked.
“We need to be back to my people soon. They have been waiting for me and will be worrying about me.”
“You can go on without me. I can pay you for the supplies and horse.”
Kyle laughed. “With what?”
Samantha pulled the knife back. “Or I can just take them.”
Kyle’s smile faded. “Samantha, don’t misunderstand me. I am your friend and at this time your only friend. We are here to help you.”
“Why? Who are you?”
Kyle held up his hand and looked past her. He knelt to the ground and put his ear to the ground.
Samantha felt a small tremor in the ground and she turned. She couldn’t see anything but a huge dust cloud coming their way.
Kyle jumped to his feet and pulled his bow from his back. He notched an arrow and looked at the dust storm. “Ready yourself. We will not be able to outrun them.”
Simeon pulled two scimitars from their scabbards tied to his back. He buttoned his black vest and pulled a pair of goggles over his eyes. Turning his horse with his knees he faced the oncoming storm.
Samantha pulled another knife from her belt looked at the dust. She could now hear a roar and her legs were vibrating even more. Within a few minutes she could see the cause of the dust.
The vehicle that was speeding toward them had a large grate connected to the front of it and a smoke stack out the top. The driver had a black leather cap on with goggles covering his eyes.
Twang. Kyle released the arrow. The arrow penetrated the front windshield causing it to crack. The driver held steady though and continued on toward them. A barrel appeared out the passenger window.
Kyle jerked as the bullet smashed into his left arm.
Samantha felt the small ball graze her side and the warm blood begin to run down.
Samantha thought of the ice knife and released it. It flew toward the car turning to ice as it went. When it hit the metal grate it exploded and tiny shards went everywhere.
The car swerved right, then left, then it flipped and tumbled to a stop.
Simeon kicked his horse and sped toward the dust cloud. Kyle dropped the bow and pulled a rapier from his side and followed.
The door to the car flew open and several men jumped out. They wore black leather armor and held broad swords.
In the front a man wearing a black top hat held a pistol and long sword. The arm that held the long sword had metal coils running around it. The coils emitted a soft red light. He aimed at Simeon and fired.
Simeon dropped one of his scimitars but continued on. His black horse barreled into one of the men and he slashed downward striking the man across the back of his shoulder.
The man went down and another swung in toward Simeon.
Simeon easily deflected the blow and turned his own blade to hit the man across the arm.
Kyle had reached the group and Samantha was closing in. She threw another ice dagger. The dagger sank into the man’s shoulder.
The man began to scream as he clawed at the knife that was turning his arm to ice.
Kyle blocked an incoming sword and circled around behind the man.
The black stallion fell.
Simeon rolled away from the horse and was back on his feet with one fluid motion. His eyes went red and he roared as he charged the top hat man. He slashed at an unfortunate man that got in his way. The scimitar ripped through the man’s leather armor causing a thin line of blood to appear. Simeon grabbed the man by the back of the head and then smashed his forehead into his nose.
The man backed up holding his hands to his face. He tripped over another fallen and fell to the blood covered ground.
Samantha saw the top hat man aiming for another shot. She thought of an ice wall in front of him. Ice erupted up from the ground in front of the man.
Bang. The bullet went only halfway through the wall.
Simeon circled the wall and the man swung his long sword at him. There was a loud clang as the two swords collided.
Kyle cut down another man and ran to the ice barrier, Samantha was right behind him. They rounded just in time to see the top hat man hit Simeon across the chest with the red coils.
Samantha could smell burning flesh and leather as the coils flashed bright red.
Simeon screamed out and fell to the ground.
The top hat man looked at the two newcomers. “All I want is the girl and you two can leave in peace.” He held the pistol level with Kyle’s head.
Samantha held her last knife in her hand and looked at Kyle.
“You are outnumbered. We can take you,” Kyle said.
The man just smiled and shrugged. “Maybe, but you will not live to see it happen. This is your last chance give me the girl and leave in peace. Fight for her and you will be hunted forever.”
Simeon jumped at the man.
The man turned the gun and fired.
Samantha flung the knife.
The knife sunk deep into the man’s bare chest and Kyle swung with all his might but the man brought his metal arm up in time to deflect the blow.
Simeon lay lifeless on the cracked ground, blood pooling around him.
Samantha grabbed dust from the ground and flung it toward the man. The dust hit the man and he flew several feet back and landed with a thud.
Kyle jumped toward the man, catching him off guard. He thrust his sword into his side.
“You will be hunted forever now. You have chosen your side,” the man gurgled before his body finally went limp.
Kyle rested on the blade that was in the man and looked uncertainly at Samantha.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Samantha had never been the strongest but she had always been the most talented. She had learned early on that she would need to use her mind not her body to make it through the battles. She had first come to the arena five years ago when she was only fifteen. Her mother and father had been killed in a raid and she had been captured. She often thought of the night the slavers had changed her life. She used that anger to keep her going.
She ran across the hard packed earth heading for a barrier. She felt an arrow whiz past her arm and thud into the wall in front of her. She zigged and zagged as she sprinted.
This had been the toughest battle yet. She was up against a man she had never seen before. He was tall and muscular, in fact if they had been in a different time and place she wouldn’t have minded getting to know him better. But in this time and place she would have to kill him. It was sad but she had to win.
She jumped behind the barrier just as another arrow whizzed by, skinning her leg. She felt the red hot liquid that she had grown so familiar with begin to run down her leg.
The crowd went wild seeing first blood. This was always a big event because they would bet on anything and everything. The biggest, of course, was who would win and how they would win.
Samantha hated every one of them. She couldn’t understand how people could watch other people kill. She hated the final blow that she had given so many of her fellow combatants. But if given the chance she wouldn’t mind giving those in the crowd a final blow.
She glanced over the barrier, the man was moving closer. That was exactly what she was waiting for. He would be close enough soon. Oh how she would hate giving him the final blow. His blue eyes looked like the sky and his blonde hair flowed in the slight breeze. He moved like a giant cat. How she would hate to kill this graceful animal.
He was almost within distance when he stopped. He stood and dropped his guard.
The crowd booed.
Samantha knew that if something didn’t happen soon they would send in the guards. They didn’t mind killing and they would slaughter both of them. She had seen it happen on several occasions when her fellow combatants refused to fight. The guards would come and play with them at first then they would humiliate them as much as possible. When her fellow combatants had nothing left in them the guards would simply kill them. She didn’t want to die this way and she and her fellow combatants had made a pact to never allow this to happen again.
She pulled two daggers from her waist and slowly slid from behind the barrier.
The man grinned.
His teeth are perfect, his smile is perfect. Who is this man?
He held his ground.
Slowly Samantha headed toward him, knowing that any moment he could pull the arrow and she would be done.
The crowd was on their feet again cheering.
“We can beat them,” he said.
Samantha stopped. What did he mean? No one had ever beaten the guard.
“You know we can,” he said.
Sweat trickled down her cheek. The hot summer made the air thick and hard to breathe. She walked in a crouch beginning to circle the beautiful man.
“I will not kill you. I could have already if I wanted to.” The man’s grin broadened. He held the bow and notched arrow with one hand and held up the other.
“They’ll kill us both,” Samantha said. She moved in closer holding one arm up in front and the other held high. The daggers glinted. They had been given to her from her trainer.
“Fight!” she said.
The man walked toward her. “We can take them. Stand by the gate.”
The booing began again. The guards would be waiting, hoping for the chance to kill.
Samantha glanced at the gate. The guards’ dirty toothless faces jeered at her. They banged on the gate with their weapons.
Her heart skipped a beat. “We must fight so that only one of us dies this day,” she said.
“I will cover you. We can take them I know we can. You must trust me.”
He doesn’t understand. I’m not afraid of dying it’s the fear she saw on her fellow combatants faces as they were tortured. She had never seen so much fear.
“You’re strong. Believe in yourself.”
Maybe he’s right? Maybe we can beat them. I would rather kill the guards than this beautiful man.
Samantha nodded her headed slowly and edged toward the gate.
The crowd erupted in a deafening roar. The gate was beginning to open.
She turned to face the real enemy.
The guards cheered banging their weapons on their black armor. The gate was open and they walked out confidently their long jagged swords dripped with their deadly venom.
Samantha walked toward them, sweat dripping from her face.
An arrow flew past her hitting the first man. It had found a space between his helmet and neck guard. The crowd was silent as the man fell to the ground.
There had never been a casualty on the guards’ side and here, within seconds of the gate opening, one was down.
They can be killed. Samantha, more confident, moved in. Her body was bent low in a defensive stance. Her two daggers held ready.
Another arrow and another guard dropped.
The guards charged.
Samantha dodged to the right, swinging her dagger as she circled around the guard. There was a loud ting as metal hit metal. She almost dropped her blade as the vibration moved up her arm. Continuing with the circle her second blade cut across his arm. She had bloodied him.
She twisted as a huge blade narrowly missed her and thudded into the ground at her side. Rolling on the ground and then back to her feet she saw two more guards rush in from the gate.
They pulled long rifles from their backs, aimed, and fired.
The man dove to the side and the two bullets buried themselves deep into the ground. He was back on his feet letting another arrow go. It bounced off the armor of one of the guards that stood next to Samantha.
She saw her chance and plunged her blade deep into the guard’s back underneath his cold armor. The blood ran warm over her hand.
My first real kill.
Another bang went off and she felt something bite her arm. She dropped one of the daggers. Pain rose through her arm and into her shoulder. She dove to the right, narrowly missing another blade aimed at her chest.
“Get to the gate,” the man shouted.
There were two sword guards and two more with rifles between her and the gate. She charged letting out a yell.
“Kill them. Kill them. Kill them,” the crowd roared.
Holding her wounded arm to her side she reached the first guard. Rolling beside him she felt his sword catch her shirt. She stood and with a backward thrust connected with the back of his neck. The falling guard jerked the dagger from her grip.
Another arrow connected with the guard in front of her and he fell.
Samantha rolled again. She saw fear in their eyes. She pulled a small throwing knife from her belt. Closing her eyes for a moment she thought of the knife being frozen. She threw the frozen knife at the guard. Upon impact it exploded sending tiny slivers of metal and ice in all directions.
Tiny pricks of blood began to flow from the guards’ faces as they screamed in agony. They grabbed at their faces clawing at some horror that only they could see.
Samantha grinned as she ran to the gate. They were going to make it.
She could here the uproar as they ran underneath the coliseum toward the courtyard outside.
“There will be horses waiting for us, we must hurry.”
When they reached the courtyard there was a man on a horse holding the reigns of two more.
They leapt onto the horses and headed for the city gates. Samantha followed after the men wondering who they were and where they had come from. She looked over her back at the coliseum. I’ll return some day and avenge my parent’s death.
The three rode off into the hot desert toward the finger of God.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
The small boy’s eyebrows furrowed as he stared at his fingers. He flicked them once, then again. Still nothing. “Where did magic come from?” Shawn asked. He looked up at his Grandpa, his white hair swayed as he rocked in the old rocking chair. His black top hat sat precariously on his head tipping back and forth.
Grandpa pulled his spectacles down and looked at Shawn for a moment before putting them back. “Well that is a very interesting story indeed. Let me see. How does it go?” He patted his vest and then held up a finger. “Over there in the chest is a book. Get it for me and I’ll tell you the story.”
Shawn walked to the chest and opened it. He struggled with the large wooden lid then pushed old goggles, gloves, hats, and papers away till he came to an old book. The cover was black with silver lettering. Grunting he hefted the book and brought it to his Grandpa.
Grabbing the book he patted his lap and Shawn climbed up.
Grandpa gently opened the worn cover and flipped through a few pages till he came to a a picture of a young man grinning. He had a brown vest over the top of a red shirt. He wore a bowler hat pushed back on his head. There was a silver chain that ran around the front of his vest. A black cat circled the young man’s pinstriped pants.
Shawn pointed at the picture. “Who’s that?”
“That’s Simon. He was probably about your age when he first learned that he was able to create fire by flicking his fingers together.” Grandpa gently stroked the cat in the picture. “He wasn’t any different then the other boys around him. He … he just saw things a little differently.” He turned the page.
“Is that the same boy?” Shawn asked.
“Yes, but when he was younger, before he knew he had magic.”
The boy in the picture didn’t appear to be as confident. He wore a simple shirt with jeans. His smile wasn’t as broad as in the picture before.
“He was always able to see things through a different lens. He would see energy that others could not see.”
“Is that the same energy that I can see sometimes?”
“Yes, it is. But no one taught him about the energy. He discovered it on his own. He learned to concentrate on that energy without the help of a teacher.”
“How did he do that?” Shawn squinted at the picture. “I thought that we could only see it when we are taught to see it.”
Grandpa rubbed his wrinkled forehead. “Well, that’s what made him so special. That’s what makes his story different.” He turned the page.
The boy in the picture was a little older and the black cat was sitting in his lap as he sat on a wooden porch. The boy’s head was bowed.
“Why is he sad?” Shawn asked.
“It was a very sad day for Simon.” The old man’s lips drooped and the wrinkles in his forehead bunched. “You see it was on this day that the boy’s mother and father had died.”
“How did they die?” Shawn’s face fell.
“The family had been attacked by bandits. They came without warning and killed his family. Only the boy survived, by hiding under the hay in the barn.”
Shawn looked up at his Grandpa his eyes wide. “Bandits!”
“Yes… they came from the north before the wall was erected. The boy lost everything that meant anything to him. He wept for many hours when a black cat appeared. The cat comforted him. The boy gained a friend for life.” He looked out the window at the dark clouds that were formed. “It will be raining soon, we better close the windows.”
Shawn jumped down and ran to each of the windows pulling them shut. The storm came quick. He could see flashes of lightning in the distance and heard the crack of thunder. He always loved the smell of rain and the feeling of electricity in the air. He had been told that because he could see the energy that he was more sensitive to the storms that passed by. He looked out at the storm and then turned back to the fireplace. It always had a large stack of firewood next to it. His Grandpa had already stacked some wood inside of it.
Grandpa flicked his fingers and held a stick for a moment over a flame that burned above his fingers.
Shawn watched, his mouth open. It didn’t matter how many times he saw it, he still was amazed at how simple it was for his Grandpa to use the energy around them. He walked to the fireplace.
Grandpa sat back down and picked the book up. “Where were we?”
Shawn jumped up on his lap and flipped the pages. “The boy’s parents had just died and he had a friend that was a cat.”
“Oh yes.” Grandpa smiled and he turned another page in the book. Here the black cat was sitting on a log watching the boy. The boy was holding his hand up in the air a small flame above his fingers.
“Is this the first time he used magic?”
Grandpa laughed. “Well I’m not sure if this was the first time but it was probably close to it. After his family had been attacked and he met his new friend he was taken in by a neighbor. The neighbor always took good care of Simon, but he just never felt like he was home. He would often go to his old home and sit on the porch with the black cat. He named the cat, Nightmare. One day he sat on the porch as a storm moved in. There was a flash of lightning and Nightmare jumped on Simon’s lap. He put his paw up to Simon’s face and pushed it toward the storm. Simon had been very frightened of the lightning and thunder. It was on a stormy day that the bandits had come.” Grandpa looked at the incoming storm. It was growing closer and much louder.
Shawn looked out the window. “Is there something wrong Grandpa?”
He smiled and patted Shawn on the back. “No… just remembering is all.”
“Don’t stop. What happened to Simon?”
“Well the storm kept coming and Nightmare continued holding his face toward the storm. It was almost as if Simon could hear Nightmare telling him to look at the storm.”
“That’s how you taught me to see the energy,” Shawn said excitedly.
“Yes it is. Simon looked at the storm and he saw a blue streak then red… yellow and finally green. He looked at Nightmare in surprise. The storm drew closer. There was a flash…”
Shawn jumped. There was a thunderous noise outside as the room lit up from the lightning.
Grandpa held Shawn close. “It’s ok. You must not fear the storm.”
“Okay, Grandpa.” Shawn closed his eyes tight for a moment longer then looked out at the storm. He saw the reds, blues, greens, yellows and whites. He didn’t really fear it. It was just when he saw the darkness in it as well. When he saw it the first time Grandpa had told him to never draw magic from it because it would corrupt him.
“Grandpa did Simon see the black as well?”
Grandpa turned the page in the book. The boy looked different. His eyes seemed darker and he did not smile. The cat was still there but seemed to be more distant.
“Yes…” he said sadly. “…he drew power from it as well. It was a very dark time for Simon. That is a tale for another day though. After that first storm Simon learned quickly that he was able to see energy that he could then pull into his body. Nightmare spoke to him and taught him how to manipulate that energy. Simon grew in both power and stature. He was able to defeat the bandits that had attacked his family and avenge their wrongs.”
“What happened to Simon?”
“He had many more adventures in which he was able to free the land of the evils that possessed it. The people, though, could never quite understand him. They feared him because of his power. He tried to teach others but they would not listen. Eventually he grew tired of the fight and left the land.”
“But we have magic now.”
“That is true. There were a few that listened but they forgot about the one who saved their land. They no longer remember the boy who had the courage to fight.”
Grandpa turned the page again. The boy was now a man he held a cane with a black cat curled at the top. Shawn touched the cane then looked in the corner next to the fire.
Leaning against the wall was a cane with a small black cat curled at the top.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
“Don’t step on a crack or you’ll break your mama’s back.” The small girl jumped over a crack in the sidewalk.
Her younger brother jumped but missed.
“Haha, you broke your mother’s back,” the girl said. “Mama, Joseph broke your back.” The little girl taunted.
“No I didn’t,” Joseph said. He scowled at his sister.
“Samantha, don’t tease your brother,” Lily said. She smiled, loving the walks that the three had grown accustomed to. They always walked the same direction because Joseph was fascinated by a small daisy that had pushed its way through the asphalt. They had noticed it about a week ago and had come to check on its progress daily. The tiny flower had found a small crack and over the week had grown. Its white petals looked too delicate to survive in the harsh climate yet every day it surprised her.
Joseph ran up to the small flower. “Mamma, it’s still here.”
“How do think it survives?” Samantha asked.
Lily stooped down next to the small flower. “The daisy has roots that go deep into the ground. That’s what makes it so strong.”
“What do you mean so strong? It looks kinda wimpy to me,” Joseph said. He squinted at the tiny flower.
“Well it’s like us when we have struggles and trials, it makes us stronger. The harder you work your muscles the stronger you get, right?”
“Hmmm, I guess,” he said.
“Well this little flower has had to work so hard to make it through the asphalt it is now stronger than other daisies. That’s like you if you work hard and endure your trials well you will be made strong.”
Lily patted her kids on the head and smiled. “Well, we better get going. Daddy will be home soon.”
They crossed the parking lot toward a small gate in the fence. Joseph ran ahead but Samantha quickly overtook him. Lily smiled. They are such a blessing.
She hurried through the gate and up the street toward their home. There was nothing special about but it was theirs. They had just moved to the neighborhood a few months ago and already had made many new friends.
“Mom, can we stay outside for a little longer?” Samantha asked.
“Yes, but only for a little bit then you need to get washed up for dinner.”
Lily went into the house and began to prepare dinner. Dan would be home soon and she wanted to make him a special dinner. She had always liked making him dinner but tonight was important. Dan had been working on getting a promotion for sometime and he had called home earlier letting her know that he had finally gotten it. Life was so wonderful. Things had seemed to turn around for them in the last year.
Lily looked out the window at Samantha and Joseph. Her face fell. “Samantha, Joseph. Come inside now,” she screamed through the window.
The sky had grown dark as a mushroom cloud grew in the distance. What is happening?
Samantha and Joseph ran into the house. They had begun to cry. “What is it mommy?”
Lily grabbed her kids and dove under the table. The windows shattered sending glass everywhere. The wave that hit their small home made it shake like it was made of jello. There was a crack from above and parts of the ceiling fell on top of the table they were under. Samantha and Joseph were screaming above the blaring sirens.
“Shhhh, its ok,” Lily said. Where are you Dan? You’re supposed to protect us. “Shhh.”
There was another loud crack and more of the ceiling fell. “We need to get out of here.” The shock and fear was starting to take over. Tears ran down Lily’s face. “Where are you, Dan?”
The kids struggled under her grip bringing her back.
“It’s ok,” Lily said.
The house groaned again. Lily looked around their once beautiful kitchen. The wall that faced the street had fallen in. Glass and debris were everywhere. Lily pulled the kids out from under the table toward the hole in the side of the house. They climbed slowly over what was left of the wall out into the yard. Her mouth dropped. She saw a second mushroom cloud that was much closer than the first. It rose high into the air, and appeared to be on fire.
Lily and the kids stared at the cloud in shock and horror.
Samantha tugged on her arm, “Mommy, where’s daddy?”
“I don’t know.”
The other houses on the street appeared to be worse off than their own. Many of them had collapsed completely. There were a few people coming out of the houses but not many. She could hear crying all around her. One woman looked at what used to be her house, wailing like a banshee. The sound made Lily more frightened than before. She started to walk.
The kids followed her as she climbed over rubble not knowing what or where to go. Dan would know what to do. Why hasn’t he come yet? She fell many times scraping her knees and hands. Blood had mixed with the dust that now fell from the sky like snow. Only it wasn’t clean and pure like snow but gray and dirty.
Joseph began to cry again but Lily didn’t seem to care. The shock had set in so deep she wasn’t much aware of anything anymore. She continued on aimlessly, occasionally shushing her children halfheartedly, only on reflex.
Her arms and legs grew weak as she climbed the endless piles of rubble. There’s no end. This is the end. Everything had been so good. We had finally been able to relax a little. I had hope. Now there is none.
Her legs gave out. She fell. She crawled to the top of the pile and collapsed. Not caring anymore she let herself roll down the other side landing in a heap at the bottom. The tears came freely as she lay on the hard asphalt.
Samantha and Joseph crawled next to her and lay down. She could feel their tears soak her shirt. I can’t go on, there’s no point. Her eyes were so heavy she could barely keep them open. The weight of the responsibility was too much for her to carry alone. She needed Dan. “Where are you?” she whispered.
What’s that? She rubbed her eyes. She smiled even though it caused her cracked lips to bleed. Hope flooded her heart. I can do this.
Lily wiped the grime and tears from her eyes and sat up pulling her kids close. She held their faces in the cup of her hands and smiled. “It will be ok. We will be ok.”
She pointed to the Daisy that still stood tall and proud among all the chaos.
Friday, October 1, 2010
"DH + JT"
The woman looked at the cattle as they grazed on the dew tipped grass. The sun was just rising over the snow peaked mountains that surrounded the valley that was her home. She stood on the wood porch breathing in the smells that only the valley could offer, reminding her of her younger days.
She had lived in the valley all of her life, her Pa and Ma had moved here to
Their deaths had come suddenly, like a thief in the night. Shuddering, the young woman remembered it like it was only yesterday. She sighed heavily looking down at the roses that she and her ma had planted. The red and yellow buds shimmered as the sun caught the droplets of water. How she wished her ma was here to see them.
A tear formed in her eye and rolled gently down her cheek to the porch.
She looked up suddenly, fire in her eyes. The woman turned and entered the log cabin returning with a rifle. It had been her Pa’s. He had always used it to hunt, but it wouldn’t be used for that today.
Holding the rifle steady she looked out over the crystal blue lake. The trail that led through the mountain pass and to her home was empty.
Another shot reverberated off of the mountains. Her hand trembled. The cows looked up for a moment and then went back to feeding.
“Stupid cows, don’t they know a storm’s a comin’?”
The woman’s arms trembled as she walked to the edge of the porch. She peered once again toward the mountain, not wanting to see anything but not wanting to wait any longer. Was there dust coming off the trail or was it just her imagination. She shaded her eyes with her hand and looked over the valley once again. Yes, it’s definitely dust.
The woman climbed down the steps and walked toward an old cottonwood tree. She rubbed her hand across a heart that had been carved in the tree a long time ago. It had the letters DH + JT carved in the center.
Another tear, but this one was brushed quickly away. I have to be strong. The dust was coming closer and the sound of hooves on hard dirt sounded in the distance.
The cows stared at the road as the hoof sounds drew nearer. Some of them would moo as if warning the others it was time to be moving on. The calves had all returned to their mothers.
A man, riding a tall dark mustang, flew from behind a bend in the road toward the ranch. Three more men rode close behind; they all had pistols out and aimed at the man in the lead.
The man in front jerked.
The woman nearly dropped the gun her heart skipping a beat. “Johnny.”
Johnny still held on to the horse, barely.
There was white froth coming from the horses’ mouth and blood ran down its mane. The horse stumbled, caught itself and continued the sprint to the ranch.
The woman lifted the rifle to her shoulder and looked down the sight. They were still to far away. What if she hit him?
Another shot and another near miss. Would he make it?
The horse was just outside the fence riding toward the large DJ that hung above the road. He had decided from the beginning that the land should be as much hers as it was his.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
All three of the men fired at once. The bullets thudded into the ground in front of the horse but still it ran.
It had always been her favorite horse. Her Pa had let her break the horse when she had only been ten. She had worked for weeks on the horse training it to follow her every will. Now it carried her would be … her soon to be husband.
The cows scattered making a thunderous noise as the men rode between them.
She could now see the look of determination on the man’s face. He’s so brave.
Sighting down the barrel of the gun she aimed for the man closest to Johnny. She squeezed the trigger. The gun kicked so hard it nearly knocked her to the ground but the bullet flew true.
The man hit the ground with a thud.
She knew she had to be quick. Cocking the rifle, she aimed and fired seconds behind the first. A miss.
The men pulled on the reigns hard causing their mounts to skid to a halt.
The woman smiled. They have no cover. She cocked and fired again.
The man’s shoulder jerked as the bullet ripped through it. He gripped his shoulder and pulled on the reigns to circle the horse around. The other man turned his horse toward her. His face was enraged as the sweat fell from his red face. He looked as if he had come out of one of the children’s stories her Pa had always told her about.
She cocked the rifle again aimed.
A bullet whizzed past her ear. She was unconcerned. He would never hurt her again. He was within fifty yards when she squeezed the trigger. Time seemed to stand still as the bulled soared toward the man.
His head went back. The horse stopped. Slowly he slid from the horse.
Dianne dropped the gun and walked toward Johnny. He had fallen off of the horse and lay in a heap. Could he be dead? Her heart raced and sweat trickled down the back of her neck. She stumbled. What is wrong with my legs? Looking down at the once white wedding gown, which had been her Ma’s, she saw a red stain appearing on her stomach.
Her legs buckled. Falling next to Johnny she reached out her hand toward him.
He looked up.
Those beautiful blue eyes that she had fallen in love with so many years ago shined as bright as ever. Would she ever see them again? Is this the end?
She smiled; knowing that when he smiled everything would be ok.
They clasped hands as the sun rose high in the air.