Fire and smoke rose from the village center. Ten year old Adam turned his hazel-gray eyes toward the activity and he could see small airships coming down and firing on the town. The earth began to rumble beneath his feet and he wanted to see what was happening. He ran into the barn and led his horse out.
Adam mounted it in that strange way he had developed, with a stiff leg unbent at the knee, almost hopping onto the steed. He raced toward the action hoping to catch some glimpse of what was going on. Reaching the edge of town, it seemed to him that smoke was billowing from everywhere at once.
Suddenly, out of one large plume of smoke, he saw his older brother Jacob come running out. Jacob had an almost identical face to Adam, but with the wisp of a trimmed mustache and deep brown eyes. The eyes were now bloodshot and there was panic in his expression. He was yelling, “Adam, turn around, we need to go back!”
“I’ll tell you on the way, it’s not good,” he said heaving himself onto the back of the horse.
Adam turned the animal quickly, drove his heels into its sides and they raced toward their farm. Turning his head he asked with a sense of dread, “Jacob, where is Baba?” Ten-year-olds ask obvious questions. He knew that Jacob and his father had taken the transcart to town to do some trading.
“What do you mean he’s dead?!” cried Adam.
“After the Darjiki ships destroyed the security forces, they landed and soldiers spread all over the town. The soldiers and a gang surrounded us. They aimed their guns and waved their swords at us and they started yelling that they were going to kill this rich one.”
“Who? Who did this?” he asked, but he already knew. There was a feud, long simmering, between the two communities in town. His father had always been able to rise above the tension. He was viewed as a peacemaker by both sides. He had a way with words.
“Baba called the leader ‘Friend’ but they pulled him from the transcart and pushed him to the ground. They started swearing all kinds of nasty things and yelling about unbelievers and ‘Where is Dol now?’ Then they turned him over and one of the men with a sword began to hack at the back of his neck.”
“They said for me to go and warn people that they were coming for everyone!”
Adam was horrified, Jacob was crying uncontrollably. When they arrived at the vineyard, they found their mother staring in the direction of the town from a small hill.
“Jacob, where is your father?”
Jacob could no longer talk. Adam attempted the explanation to his mother.
“Mama, they’ve killed Baba!”
“What?” she exclaimed.
“A Darjiki gang working with the soldiers and Jacob says they’re coming this way.”
His mother’s eyes welled up. She was about to lose control but she pulled herself together. She grabbed Jacob by the shoulders, stared into his eyes and said, “Jacob! I need you to be a man today. Go to your uncle’s farm and warn him. Gather any weapons you can! GO!” Jacob hopped back up on the horse and rode off. “Adam, come with me!”
Holding him by the arm, she ran into the house and into her room. She stopped, pulled him toward her and hugged him tighter than any mother had ever hugged a child. “Adam I’m going to give you something. It’s a necklace that your father’s family gave me. You need to protect it. The Darjiki will not know what to do with it.”
She handed him the necklace and he looked at it through his tears. “What shall I do with it?”
“My baby, please, when you marry give it to your wife so she can protect it. She must give it to your son’s wife. It has been done this way for many generations. It is very important.”
Adam stared at the stone deeply and saw a shape growing in it. It grew beyond the size of the stone and he looked up and saw a Darjiki soldier in the doorway. His mother screamed, “Adam out the window!” She pushed him through it. When Adam landed, he turned around and looked back into the window. He saw his mother dive at the soldier with a knife that she kept on her bureau.
She and the man struggled. Adam was frightened out of his wits and cried out.
Pascal Adam Scintilla woke up screaming. As the fright shook off, he noticed that he was in his own room, an adult, in his own bed and in pool of sweat. His mother was not there. Remembering what his mother had said, he jumped up, took a small box off the shelf and opened it. The necklace and stone were still in it...