Nonagad: Chapter Three

Nonagad: 3

            Charlie watched and listened as the men of the tribe discussed the plan to raid the hidden town. They were seated around a low fire. A rudimentary sketch of the town was etched in the dirt in front of his father as they talked. He revered his dad partly because of the way all the other men in the tribe interacted with him. He could tell in the way they spoke and poised themselves when around him. Zack was always the center of attention and his word was law. He allowed questions and debate but his say was final and everyone went along whether they fully agreed or not.

            The women of the tribe also treated him with respect, although the way they looked at him was different than the male members of the group, he never seemed to have to get anything for himself, there was always someone nearby to fetch whatever he needed. And he seemed to always need a lot of things at night when Charlie and his siblings weren’t allowed in his tent. Zackary was their leader from birth, as was his father before him. He told Charlie stories of how his own father and grandfather before him had been leading their families since the dissolution of the national government. Charlie knew that as first born, he too would have the burden of leadership upon his shoulders. His father had told him, “It is a great honor to lead our people, but with that honor comes great hardship.” Charlie had heard this speech countless times. Each repetition included a story meant to illustrate his father’s point. “The choices you’ll have to make for our safety and survival are sometimes difficult but always necessary.” Charlie had heard dozens of stories of when to stay and hunt a particular area and when to move on. Whether it was wise to raid another tribe or village and how to tell the difference.

 Never had the stories have greater impact then in the past spring after an incursion on a small village further south.

The uncle he was named after, his favorite who the other men called Big Chuck, was stabbed in the abdomen by a villager’s sword during the raid. When the fight was over, and the man who had wounded him been beheaded, Zack carried his brother back to their camp, even though he knew there was nothing to be done to help him. The tribe’s doctors tried their best to ease his pain and fix his mutilated belly. Charlie heard his brave, strong uncle screaming in agony as they attempted to stitch him back together. He remembers hearing his own father’s tortured shouting, then his uncle abruptly going silent. His mind’s eye recalled seeing his father emerge from the tent soaked in blood, his right hand holding a dripping dagger, his left fist clenching the golden chain and cross Big Chuck always wore around his thick neck.

Charlie’s father, this rock of a man, the one everyone in their clan looked up to, was crying; weeping like those two brats they took from the village that day. Charlie wanted to kill them; they should pay the price for his father’s pain and the loss of his uncle. Covered in blood and tears, his father knelt before him, gently placed the glistening wet chain over Charlie’s head and let the cross rest on him. He immediately felt a strange cold wetness on his chest. His father threw his great arms around him and pulled him into a great bear hug. Charlie remembered feeling very small but very safe in the clutches of this great man’s massive grip. He felt his father’s tears dripping onto his back; he felt the warm blood soaking through his own shirt.

His father loosened his grip and leaned back, looked into Charlie’s face and said, “My son, you will now be known as Big Chuck. You will grow into a great leader and I pray you will never need to do what I have done. Your uncle…,” he paused, bowed his head, and wept; tears mixed with the blood and ran in streams down his face into the dirt below them. “He was mortally wounded and in great pain, our doctors are the best in the world. We’ve found them and made them our own. Even they with their great knowledge and the prayers to our savior, they could not help him. He was in great pain and it was my responsibility as the leader of our people to help him pass from this life. One day these choices will be yours to make my son; do not hesitate to choose what is best for our family, our tribe.”

Until now Charlie was not sure of what to make of what he had heard and seen, the screams, the blood and tears. He realized at that moment what his father had done, what as the ultimate authority whose responsibility it was to care for all the people in Charlie’s world had to do. He had cut his own brother’s throat to end his agony, his suffering. Zack could not allow his brother’s last story to end with his screaming in pain. Big Chuck’s legacy, now Charlie’s, had to be as his mortal life passing in battle, not screaming on a cot his life’s essence pouring onto the dirt after a lucky blow from a farmer protecting a sow. in this way, he was allowed to pass over into the next life as a warrior. Perhaps to return as Charlie’s own son one day, the next generation’s Big Chuck.

Three moon cycles after the night he was rechristened with blood, Charlie turned fifteen summers. With that milestone and his position as heir to his father, he was allowed to actively participate in the planning of the raid. His questions were listened to and answered as one of them. He had been present at many of these conferences in the past, as long as he could remember. This would be the first foray into another settlement since his uncle’s passing.

Although the debate was heated and sometimes seemed to Charlie that swords would be drawn, his father’s decision was that they needed a new doctor and this isolated town would have at least one. They would use a plan that had worked well in the past. A diversion inside the town would allow the main party to get in and out very quickly. They had learned that fortified settlements required finesse and surprise as opposed to an outright assault.

“I’ve decided,” his father stood and as he spoke all other talk and movement from the other men stopped. “We’ll send in a female squad to set up the diversion, they are always lightly guarded and we’ve had success with this ploy.” He looked down at Charlie, “my son’s time has come to prove himself, he will lead the team.” He drew his sword and placed it on Charlie’s shoulder, “long live Big Chuck’s legacy. May God be with you my son. ”

The other men, seated in a circle around the dying embers stood, drew their own swords, knelt towards Charlie and repeated as one, “Long live Big Chuck.”

Advertisements

Nonagad: Chapter Two

Nonagad:2

Ellie’s alarm sounded in the rook tower alerting them they had visitors; she had Clark and a security team ride out to investigate the intruders. Before they had even reached the pair, a third older child along with four women of various ages had joined them.

Talking as he dismounts before his steed had completely stopped, Clark asked them who they were, and as custom dictated, how he could help them.

 “I’m Charlotte,” answered the oldest of the group.”We’re tired and hungry. We’re lost and troubled souls just searching for refuge from this barren world. We saw that marvelous structure on the hill and the smoke from your fires and hoped you could provide shelter and food for us and our children.”

Without hesitation Clark replied, “Of course, please follow me. Our medical staff will see to your needs and we’ll get you something to eat.”

One at a time, he picked up the two smallest children, twins that appeared to be no more than 4 or 5 years old, and placed them on his horse’s back.

“Now hold on little ones,” he said with a smile. He motioned to the closest rider to lift the third child up with him. The women exchanged curious glances when the offer of a ride up the hill was not presented to any of them.

As he led his horse by her reins back up the path to the main town, he asked Charlotte and the others a series of questions that on face value could be construed as innocent small talk. Where the women were from, exactly how old were the children, how had they happened to be traveling with no apparent belongings or means of camp or hunting? He purposely kept the tone light and didn’t press when the answers didn’t really match the questions asked. He purposely didn’t ask about men. Although it was an obvious question, the answer would surely have been an imaginative response. Clark was an expert in these situations, that question would come only when he was already sure of the correct response. Although he had expected deflective and misleading replies; he was disappointed only in their generic falseness.

Charlotte answered all of the questions; the other women appeared to be taking mental notes of everything they saw as they walked. “From the south…,” (obviously true since that’s the direction they had come through the dry marsh.) “The twins, Bernie and Bernice were three and a half,” (a lie, surely they we’re older.) “Their older brother Charlie there is ten,” (also too low, could be a problem for him.) “Their mother was… gone, (this information didn’t matter to Clark.) “Our group was hijacked on the road. All our belongings taken or burned in front of us…,” (they were missing, but by whom was still a mystery.) “Our men and older boys were captured or killed outright by our attackers,” (interesting that she offered this information without being asked, Clark knew it was bullshit.)

 Passing through the main part of town, mostly stone huts with grass or adobe roofs, they stopped at the great hall. With the exception of the Rook, it was the largest of their structures. Clark sent one of his men for the Doctor and another to have food brought in for their guests. He made a point to always refer to them as such. For now and until their true intentions were known, they were just guests; at least the adults were.

Clark turned to Charlotte as he helped the little ones off the saddle, “please make yourselves comfortable, there are cots along the wall.” He gestured to the far side of the hall. “Rest, we’ll have food and water here shortly.”

Rita arrived carrying her paisley satchel of medical equipment. She was followed closely by two younger women, her apprentices, both carrying smaller bags that matched the print pattern of her’s.

Rita was buxom and the tallest of the woman in their village, almost six foot. Curvy but fit, all their people are in shape, Ellie saw to that. Her dark red hair, freckled skin, and emerald green eyes made her, at least to Clark, easily the most beautiful woman in their community; and for all that mattered to him, the entire world.

He met her at the doorway and began explaining the situation, alternately nodding between the children and adults. Rita’s expression changed following the direction of Clark’s gaze, the children, motherly concern, the adults, a businesslike glare, as if eyeing a horse one was considering purchasing from a shady stranger.

Rita turned her back on the visitors as she addressed Clark and her team, “bring the children over here,” she turned her head slightly towards her assistants, “give the little ones well water, the older spring until we can test him.”

Rita touched Clark’s shoulder as she leaned and whispered in his ear. His abdominals tightened, he felt goosebumps on his neck and an ever so slight stiffening of his cock as her warm sweet breath touched his ear. “Leave the adults where they are, we’re going to give them filtered water.” She stepped back and smiled, ‘had she noticed?’ he thought to himself. “Anything you need Rita, really anything, I’ll do it for you.” And he meant it. “I’m sure you would Clark.” She said with a sly smile as she gave him a quick up-down glance with a slight linger on the down sweep. ‘Damn, she did notice,’ he thought as he felt the stiffening movement against his leg grow. He nodded with a sly smile of his own, and turned to get the twins and their brother before he needed to find something to carry in front of him to hide his excitement.

Clark strode up to the visitors, a warm pleasant rubbing still lingering in his boxers, “Miss Charlotte,” he said with a cheerful but firm tone, “our Doctors will take a look at the youngsters first. You ladies can relax here until we’re ready for you.” He didn’t give her time for a reply as Rita’s two assistants ushered the children away towards the other side of the room. He turned to the attendants arriving with baskets of bread and fruit, “fetch a pitcher of cool spring water for our guests as they wait. Please ladies, sit and relax. Let’s talk a bit more about your journey. It sounds to me like you’re very fortunate to have stumbled upon our village.”

He knew their answers would be more lies; his job was to glean the fragments of truth that would be passed on to Ellie for their fate to be decided. At best they’d be returned back to the forest they emerged from with provisions and a warning to never return. Or more likely Clark thought, to regret ever trying their ‘lost and troubled soul’ con on Ellie’s town.

Nonagad: Chapter One.

Nongad: 1

            The morning of the invasion was crisp and bright. Wispy clouds danced across the clear blue sky whipped along by a constant breeze with just an occasional sharp gust. Autumn was undeniably in the air.

The first sign of anything out of the ordinary was not an uncommon occurrence for the village; true it was rare but not unheard of for a stranger to stumble upon the settlement. With enough land to have separate areas for farming, both vegetable and animal, open areas where wild game was always plentiful, and a defendable living area located on a hilltop that allowed surveillance of the domain they called home, it wasn’t completely cut off from the rest of the known world.

At the top of the hill overlooking the town stood the Rook tower. A lone sentry at the highest point of land for as far as the unaided eye could see.  The town was bordered on its northern end by the split forks of a wide fast river that flowed behind the cliff the Rook was built upon. The river’s current had cut a steep rocky drop into the hill at the base of the north side of the tower marking that edge of the town. The river’s fingers fanned out towards the southeast and southwest forming two sides of the roughly triangular shape of the territory they inhabited. The southern, and widest, side of the triangle was also the most fluid, in both senses of the word. The south fields were flood plains, acres of earth rich in the nutrients carried downstream and deposited there in each spring. Every year the rivers ran high from rain and melting snow, the plains would fill as the natural banks would overflow and join the twin forks together in a wide flat pan of water rich in sediment.

This area was used for grain and vegetable farming. Ellie always decided which fields to seed and which to leave fallow for a season to allow the ground to replenish. Between the hill and the fields were the farm animals. Rabbits and sheep were their main meat animals. These small mammals were easy to care for, mate, and slaughter for meat and pelts. Anything larger, pigs or cattle for example, would require much more land and upkeep.  Along with the plentiful fish species in the river and the wild animals that roamed the land, they had all they needed to sustain the people of Home. ‘Home’ was what they called this land since their father’s grandparents came upon the deserted tower and discovered Ellie and her power and guidance.

 Tom’s people preferred their solitude, or to be more specific, Ellie preferred they stay apart from others; isolation was her choice to keep them safe. Although Tom is the settlement’s spokesman, Ellie is their compass. She guides them along a path to survival. Without her their ancestors would never have survived the disintegration of society and the collapse of the agro-financial machine that made life in that artificial society possible. Although their choices are influenced by her, they have free will to do as they please; they can choose to follow her suggestions or ignore them. Many years of living under her leadership have taught them that she knows what is best for them as a whole. Even though sometimes personal sacrifices must be made for the good of Home, they tended to follow her directions.

Their self-contained community is located in the area of the Americas that was known as North Carolina during the occupation of the government headquartered in the former District of Columbia. Although that society’s capital was entirely contained in the old state of Virginia, their hubris demanded they declare their capital city a separate entity from the land they commanded. They believed they were destined to control whatever they declared necessary; they even lorded over a tiny island located half the world away as part of their occupied empire.

There is no nation now; there is no centralized government or leader of any kind. Groups of people live as they choose. Many live on their own, like Tom’s, apart from others. Some communities trade between themselves. The ancestors learned that these relationships ended badly, petty disputes and jealousies ultimately ended in fighting over some obscure insult. These tribes reverted back to the most basic of human needs and desires. Take or fuck what you can, destroy or burn what you can’t.

Tom is unique in Home’s society, and he’s pround of that fact; he is a ‘little person.’ He knows that this means he wasn’t born there and that he’ll never be able to father children of his own. One of Ellie’s roles is to arrange the bonding of compatible members of their population; she arranges future couplings of the children at birth. If as they grow two people are drawn to each other for purely physical desire, she can prevent the pregnancy if there is some chance of a birth defect or abnormality. She knows how the genes of everyone will interact and if their copulation might result in a handicap. Ellie may be powerful but her reach cannot extend beyond the geographical limits of Home.

Tom, like many others, was brought here as a baby when Ellie sent a gathering party to bring new diversity to their gene pool. She had explained to Tom, as she had to the leaders before him, that they must continue to add new bloodlines to their populace to prevent crossbreeding family members. Ellie had a strict policy regarding the ages and genders of the new citizens of Home. They must be young enough so that they will learn to accept the rules of living under her guidance. If the children are too old, they will not assimilate peacefully into the group. Once someone is brought into her society, and she has time to assess their attributes and shortcomings, they can never go back. Although there are stories of people leaving, no one can recall anyone specific who ever had.

The gathering parties were given quotas and sometimes specific ‘types’ of individuals to look for. For this season’s gathering, Ellie had asked Tom to supply six new members for their village. She asked for two boys, preferably from northern climates, and four girls of any race; none older than two years.

Through most of the year, the people would use flat bottomed skiffs to hunt in the ‘Southern End”; that swampy forest that delineates the lower border of Ellie’s reach. In late summer, the marshes usually dried up enough to make passage in and out of their territory on foot easy.

As it was on that clear morning harboring promise of an early fall in the breeze, a pair of children came walking out of the high grass towards the ripe cornfields.

The Library: Notes

  The story originated in a dream. Not the whole story, just the wallpaper part. Maybe to most people it would have been more of a nightmare but to me, dreams like this one are more like horror movies. In fact, I once had a dream end in credits; I’ll admit that was strange.

  The original ending had the ‘hero’ become pissed off at the librarian when he figured out what was going on, then I couldn’t find a satisfactory thread to follow to a conclusion so I ditched it. I decided that I wanted him to ask for forgiveness but be denied.

  I have a personal moral disagreement with the church’s Act of Contrition. If you know something you’re doing is wrong and then confess it, why should you then be let off the hook for your sins? I’ve committed sins that at the time I knew were against the laws of God and/or man but still committed them. So I tell a priest and I still get to go to Heaven?

  This story ended up being about that personal dilemma. Please comment about anything that bothers you. I need criticism. I can’t get better at telling the movies I have playing in my head without it.

  As always, thank you for taking the time out of your busy lives to read and comment. Mig,