Thursday, January 14, 2010

Finally, chapter eleven.

Alright folks, it's taken a while, but I finally slammed it out and I've got some momentum. It's funny, I found myself stuck, unsure of what Lakhoni was going to do next. I finally thought for a while about the goals that he has, or would be making at this stage and I found that the continuing story came from there. I feel good about what's going on here. 

So don't knock me too far off my happy seat. But DO tell me what you think so far. 

Here it is: 

Chapter 11

His thoughts moved slowly as he followed Gimno back toward Gimno’s fire circle. Confusion fought with cold, clear horror. They had just sacrificed a little boy. Where had the boy come from?
The thought struck with terrible speed. Had the boy been from Lakhoni’s village? Had he just not recognized the boy because of the distance or his disbelief at what had transpired?
No. Lakhoni would have known if the boy was from his village. His village had been small and tightly-knit. His village. His body began to tremble suddenly. He sucked in a breath, feeling that if he didn’t hold himself together he might just fall into pieces or simply fade into nothingness.
He had to serve justice on those who had murdered his family and friends. He had to find his sister.
But how can I stay here? Lakhoni asked himself. The drying blood on his face gave off a cloying smell that turned his stomach. He had to wash it off. But I was going to learn how to fight like them. What if they did that again? How could he just stand there while they murdered an innocent child? He knew it would be suicide to try to defend the intended sacrifice, but he felt as if his heart were being sundered. If he had to watch that again, he thought he might lose his soul.
What if I turned into one of them? They seem so happy. He stepped into the fire circle and looked around. Gimno laughed at something Corzon said, then caught Vena’s eye. Some kind of silent communication passed between the two and Vena approached Lakhoni.
Another fit of trembling hit Lakhoni then faded quickly as he tried to find a place to look other than at Vena. Her cheeks were painted reddish brown, as was her exposed stomach and forearms. She had two lines of drying blood running over her head from her brow to the neck as well. Lakhoni swallowed and tried to control his breathing.
“How are you feeling, Lakhoni?” The clear concern in Vena’s eyes clashed harshly with the fierce and terrifying image of her blood-painted face and body.
He thought fast and opened his mouth to speak. Nothing. Embarrassed, he was sure he looked like a gasping fish. Fish. He needed water to clean himself off.
“I am sure Gimno told you, but the first time is always hard.” Her hand cupped Lakhoni’s right cheek, her thumb softly running over his skin.
He nodded. How could this be? How could Vena care about his feelings when she was covered in innocent blood? How many children had died at the hands of the Living Dead?
“You need,” Vena said, stepping to the side a little and reaching into the hut she shared with Gimno, “some cane to chew on.” She handed Lakhoni a small, yellowish ball of something that was soft. “Chew it. It will soothe.”
Lakhoni instantly knew that he could not refuse. They had cared for him, showed genuine concern. He couldn’t turn them down now. He owed them his life. He accepted the chunk of cane and lifted it to his mouth. The deep, sweet—almost smoky—flavor of the sugar cane filled his mouth and began to trickle down his throat.
“Keep chewing for a while. You’ve been through so much, Lakhoni,” Vena said. “Anybody would feel overcome. You are strong for still being able to stand.”
He nodded, the sweetness of the can feeling as if it were oozing gently to his extremities. The shaking, jittery feeling began to subside. He swallowed, the sweetness making his throat feel thick. Vena guided him inside the hut that he would share with Corzon and Anor. “You would do best to sleep some more.”
He nodded again, seeking his sleeping pad in the dimness of the hut’s interior.
“Don’t fall asleep with the cane in your mouth.”
Lakhoni glanced over his shoulder. “Okay.”
“Tomorrow will be a better day. You will begin to learn the ways of your new people,” Vena said.
Lakhoni could think of nothing to say to that. His feelings were in turmoil. I want to learn to fight like them, he thought. But how could he stay and act as if it were fine that they sacrificed young children. Did they do that often? He was sure he would lose his soul if he had to watch that again; if he had to feel the blood of the poor child on his face.
No. He had to get away. He couldn’t stay here. But would they let him? Now that he knew where they lived, would they let him leave alive? He carefully lowered himself to his sleeping pad. The soft, woven mat under him squeaked gently as it accepted his weight. I can’t stay. He would leave. He would wait for the right time—maybe during a jaunt to the outside—and he would get away and find his way to Lemalihah.
He lay back, careful to lower his left shoulder first. As his head touched the pad, a twinge of hot pain flashed from the crown of his head down into his jaw. He sucked in a breath holding it as the pain throbbed for a few moments and letting it out slowly as he forced his body to relax. It won’t be long, he thought. He would find an opportunity to get away from the Living Dead. He would find Lemalihah. He would find Alronna and his family’s murderers would find justice.
And if he picked up some training and skills while he was with the Living Dead, so be it.

*           *           *

            He felt the people around him, jostling him and carrying him with them. He tried to look and see who they were, but all was haze and shadow. Dread filled his throat. He knew he had to get away; knew with a certainty that terrified him. He pushed out with his hands, trying to free himself from the unseen crowd, but his hand met nothing of substance.
            Only more shadow and haze.
            Ahead a yellow and red light oozed through the haze. Thick, lazy tendrils of the murky light groped along the ground, reaching up toward what Lakhoni thought had to be the ceiling. As he approached, the dread in his throat sank into his stomach. His breath began to come quickly. He struggled to stop, to turn around and flee, but his efforts were wasted.
            There. The yellow-red glow was a little brighter now, the tendrils seeming to reach out with more energy. A bonfire—but without warmth. Dark shapes cluttered inside the glow, some resting atop a table of some kind.
            Not a table. An altar of rough, uncut stone. Faces on the shapes. Zeozer. Sana. Their faces stared at him from the cold fire that spread around the altar.
            Horror, cold and sharp, jabbed into his spine, sending frozen breath whispering up and down his back. Get away. He had to get away.
            He looked again. His father and mother’s mouths were open, as if to speak to him. He saw that his mother’s arm seemed to be pointing up and back. Lakhoni followed the direction of her arm and felt as if he would die of sudden fear and revulsion. The boy, his body disfigured and ugly from the bloodletting, stared at him from the hazy flames. Bumps broke out on Lakhoni’s arms. He tried to scream, but nothing came out.
            The boy’s mouth opened. Lakhoni screamed and sudden energy flowed into his body. He turned and fled, sure that if he stayed the boy would hurl curses and blame at him for not saving him.
            Cold air hit his face, at the same time as a smell of old fires assaulted his nose. His heart hammered in his chest.
            In the hut, in the cave. He felt the mat under his back.
            A dream. Only a dream.
            But Lakhoni knew that Salno had always said that dreams were more than just silly things that happened during sleep. Dreams meant something—were often the way the First Fathers spoke to their children. It was for the people to interpret the dreams correctly.
            What did it mean?
            Lakhoni easily understood the images he had seen: the bonfire with his family, the altar and the boy.
            But what was he to do? Was the boy asking for justice too?
            Lakhoni lay on his mat for what seemed to be hours, hearing the soft breathing of Corzon and Anor nearby, unable to sleep. How much justice could one young man mete out? And the boy? How could Lakhoni ever find justice for him? The Living Dead were too strong, too skilled.
            He had to find Alronna first. No, he had to get away from the Living Dead first—and that might be a lot harder than he knew at that moment. He remembered the image of Gimno’s people appearing from the shadows of the forest as he had followed Gimno. The image of Gimno almost floating down the entry shaft into the caverns returned.
            First fathers, help. He sent his silent pleas heavenward, hoping they could find a way through the layers of rock above him to the sky far above. I know my duty. I will do it, at least as well as I can. He felt the warmth slide from his eyes and down his cheeks. He imagined all of the people around him in the huge cavern, the families and tribes. more people than even in his village. But he had never felt so alone. I don’t know how, but I will do my duty. Just… please help me.
            Sleep slowly overcame Lakhoni as the weight of the night and the events of the past few days pressed down upon him.

And that is all. I'm having fun; are you? 


Anonymous said...

More please

Anonymous said...

Interesting story you got here. I'd like to read something more about that theme. Thanx for sharing this information.

Chris Garvin said...

Ready for chapter 12. Anytime, my friend. :)

Anonymous said...


just signed up and wanted to say hello while I read through the posts

hopefully this is just what im looking for looks like i have a lot to read.

Anonymous said...

Hello man!

It is my first time here. I just wanted to say hi!