Monday, May 23, 2016

Chapter 1 - Eyes Wide Shut

It was confusing, this dream again. From a few feet away, Malkia scrutinized the strange woman who was embracing the child version of herself. Sometimes in the dream she was the child, but this time she observed the interactions, frozen in her spot off in the shadows.

The realization of being in a dream sparked her curiosity and she leaned as far forward as she was allowed, desiring to know why her heart shattered every time she saw this woman. She believed she knew her, recognizing her kind and weary eyes, but she couldn’t grasp the memory. It was there on the tip of her brain, but for some reason she was unable to reach it.  

This time the dream was vivid and more real than ever before. She knew she was in danger, but was na├»ve to the why, or from what.  

As usual, the lady spoke to the child, her tone quiet and shaking with urgency. “Malkia, we’ll be back to retrieve you as soon as we can. Please, please forgive us.”

The lady’s eyes brimmed with tears, and Malkia watched as they tumbled down her cheeks. Tugging the child close, the woman held her tight, her hands trembling. Rushing towards them, the same robust man wrapped his arms around the duo, squeezing them tight.

Malkia examined the three of them hugging and crying, not understanding why these strangers were so upset about leaving her. However the child was sobbing, and seemed overcome with grief. These people meant something to her and it was frustrating to not remember why.  

“Malkia,” the woman’s voice quivered, as she gazed down at her. “I wish we could allow you to remember us. It’s just not safe. You’ll be in my heart always and as soon as we can, we will return.”

Malkia woke with a start. It was the same every time she had this dream. As soon as the strange woman said those words, she would wake in a sweat, her pulse racing, with a dreadful feeling as if someone was watching her. She despised the dream. The mystery and sadness surrounding it created an unease inside her soul.

She perched herself up on her elbows, glancing around her room. The shadows of the outside life danced around the walls, and gave the room an eerie sensation. Sometimes they appeared as shadows of people and tonight they appeared even more so. She shook her head knowing full well it had to be the shadows of the trees outside. She slid out of her bed and tip-toed noiselessly to the large window, searching if there was really anything that alarmed her.  

It was quiet outside, aside from a slight breeze. The trees swayed softly with the wind, as Malkia watched the beautiful scene before her, enjoying the peace it brought to her heart. Theia’s beauty hung in the sky above, reminding her she was safe.

The large planet was said to be the mother of her planet, Esaki, and the other moons around her. She was always Malkia’s safety beacon. Her bright light was continuously warm and inviting and she calmed Malkia’s soul.

Remembering a time when the moon was once chaotic and confusing, she was grateful that part of her life was over. Although she lost a great deal during the chaos, she knew some day she would be reunited with the people she loved the most. As she watched the scene outside her house, her thoughts returned to that dreadful day, almost nine years ago.
***

“Raul, what are you doing?” Malkia screamed, as her husband ran towards her parents.

He didn’t look back as he reached Malkia’s mom and wrapped his arm around her tiny waist. As Raul and her dad lifted her up, her mother’s ankle twisted underneath her and she cried out in pain, sweat and tears streaming down her face.

Glancing out the window, Malkia’s heart skipped a beat seeing how dangerously close the fire played outside her parents’ home. The safety of the basement was about ten feet away, but felt miles from her reach. Bombs dropped, one after another and Malkia’s whole body shook as they neared their house. Even if they made it to the sublevel shelter, she feared there was no escaping.

Malkia’s eyes flashed over to the door that led to the downstairs and then back at her family. Glimpsing out the window again, her eyes focused on a bomb plummeting from the skies, exploding on the settlement across the river. The tremble rumbled towards their house, throwing Malkia, Esta and Mataya onto the floor as the entire building shook.

Leaping back onto her feet, Malkia scooped up Esta, her wails and sobs preventing her from inhaling a good breath. Malkia inspected her for injuries, soothing her with her words and touch, while glancing back at Raul, noticing they had all been knocked to the ground. The wall next to them was blown to pieces and Raul was heaving a large piece off her dad’s leg. Malkia’s brother tugged at her mom, attempting to wrench her off the ground, but her face was dripping with blood and seconds later her eyes rolled into the back of her head.

Deafening silence surrounded Malkia as she handed Esta to Mataya and stepped towards her family. Looking outside she paused, seeing the vessel through the blown out window flying towards their house. Raul glanced over at what Malkia was looking at, and then back at his wife.

“Malkia, RUN!” Raul yelled.
***

Malkia’s sad thoughts returned to the present as she stared at the quiet world outside. She had lived in this town her entire life and the thought of having to vacate was breaking her heart.

The tears festered, as she thought of all her childhood memories. Her town had been a happy place back before the wars and had been larger than it was now. She grew up feeling safe and happy; never thinking her life would be what it was today.

“The people from the skies changed everything,” Malkia whispered to herself, a tear escaping down her cheek.

Her whole life blew up in her face during those days and she had been running away from the memory ever since. Now she had to decide for all her people, fight again or run for their lives.

The voice of the wanderer came back to her thoughts, “They will kill your friends and family. These people are savages and they will do anything to control the towns and individuals they encounter. If I was the leader of this group I would run, and I would run fast.”

She knew their small town was defenseless against these heathens. She wanted to stay and protect the one place she had ever called home, but she knew it would end in death. There had been so much loss back when the war had erupted, and she could not face another day like that.

It had been eight long years since the warfare had concluded, which had nearly demolished all life on Esaki. The couple hundred who had survived in her town, had become a close knit community. Trusting anyone who was outside of their town, was a difficult task, but Malkia had met one group on her travels who she was positive would welcome them. They were far away by foot, but she was sending some of her people by pegasi, to prepare them for their arrival. There was safety in numbers, and the security of all her family and friends depended on running away as fast as possible, and joining up with people who would battle alongside them.

Malkia scanned the small room where she had finally found peace. Her sister and she had built this house, after the war had ended. It had become their safe haven and it was torture thinking they had to start over again.

She glided across the floor, and found the matches and candles that sat on the table next to her bed. Lighting the candles, she decided to finish packing for the long trip ahead of them. As she arranged her meager belongings, her mind wandered back to that dreadful day.
***

“Malkia, RUN!” she had heard her husband, Raul yell.

Malkia had frantically turned towards her sister and baby girl, as she raced towards them, clutching onto her sisters’ arm and pushing her and Esta towards the downstairs door. Moments later she had heard the explosion of the bomb, and then blackness.

When she woke, there were strangers standing over her. She had jumped up searching for her baby and husband. Her eyes had focused downward to see her sister lying on the ground, but Esta was nowhere to be seen.

“Where’s my baby?” she had screamed, her eyes flashing around at the people.

She pressed them away from her, as they tried to comfort her and check her wounds. She had screamed and cried, but no one would bring her baby to her. Her sister had been helped up and stood there peering at Malkia, with a confused look on her face.

Malkia pushed her way back to her and grabbed Mataya, screaming, “Where is Esta? What did you do with her?”

Mataya had broken down, sobbing and shaking her head. Malkia hysterically surveyed all the people gathered in her home. It was then, she realized her parents’ home was demolished. The only portion standing was the downstairs door and the wall to the sides of it. She again scanned the spot where Malkia and Mataya had been lying and realized it was the only spot where the ceiling had not smashed into the floor.

In that moment, it dawned on her, Esta and Raul, along with her parents and brother were buried under the rubble of her house.

That had been the day she lost everyone in her family, except Mataya. Her husband, her daughter, her parents and her brother were all gone, in one final swoop. She still didn’t understand how she survived, but Mataya was alive because Malkia had sheltered her with her own body. Malkia’s back was overrun with the scars of that day, but those were her only physical reminder. They had never recovered Esta’s body.

The day her family died was the last day anyone had heard the bombs and the flying crafts overhead. It had taken nearly a year for people to really believe it had ended, and another year to rebuild their large town, into a much smaller town, to accommodate their vastly smaller group.

Throughout the past years many wanderers, scavengers and intruders came through their town. Some had stayed and had become a part of their family. Others had visited and continued on their way, while many attempted or succeeded at swindling or stealing livestock, crops, their water supply and anything of value. They had learned to be accepting, but cautious and to protect their own.

However, the last wanderer who had come through had warned them of the large assemblage heading their way, and the warriors could easily overtake their small town. He had told them they would slaughter all the men, if they chose to fight, and enslave the women and children. He was pressing east in hopes of avoiding them on their travels south.

Trackers, from her group had rushed out to verify his story and confirmed the wanderers’ warning. They returned with appalling stories of women and children tied up, or locked in cages. Along with men being pulled behind horses, most likely to break them.

With those kinds of savages heading their direction, they knew it was time to depart, and it had to be soon, in order to have an extensive lead. Malkia had contemplated fighting, but with their trifling numbers her people had no chance of survival, unless they surrendered.

As Malkia packed her life into her saddlebags, she thought of the dream again and how it affected her so much. Her heart skip a beat, just by thinking about the man and woman in her dream. She felt in every fiber of her being, they were someone very dear to her, but she did not know why.

Why would someone wipe my memories? Why has this dream haunted me for as long as I can remember?

The first sun was washing its light over the valley as Malkia finished packing the remainder of her belongings. It was time to prepare and face the beginning of their new lives. She had to go speak to Jayde, needing to know the whereabouts of the savages, based on her sight through the hawks.

Malkia scrubbed and washed her hair and body in the wash basin. Knowing this was probably the last time she would get a proper cleaning, before they arrived to Domesca, she made the most out of her scrubbing. Slipping on her clothes, she viewed her image in the broken mirror and examined her scars. Her long blonde hair hit the small of her back, reminding her of the lady in her dream.

Suddenly, recognition slid over Malkia’s thoughts. The lady’s eyes were a brilliant green, just like hers. Why had this not occurred to me before?

She recalled back to the tears, and knew she was looking at the eyes she saw in the mirror. They weren’t her eyes, but they were nearly identical. The woman’s tall and slender stature, was identical to hers as well. The resemblance was uncanny.

Malkia’s mind jolted back to reality, hearing a knock at her front door. She yanked her shirt on, pulled her hair into a low ponytail and hurried to the door. When she opened it Dominique and Nedra were standing there with their pegasi behind them.

“We are leaving,” Dominique greeted, his brows furrowed. “How far away are the brutes?”

Malkia stepped out into the sunlight. “Last night they were almost three days ride north of us. They could be closer, if they traveled through the night. As soon as we have confirmation, and the people are packed up, we will be heading out of town.”

“It’s going to be a brutal ride for the group,” Dominique said, shaking his head. “I wish we could find a way for those kids to arrive to Domesca quicker.”

“I know. Traveling with the children is not going to be simple, but we will survive. Now scoot.” A wary smile surfaced on Malkia’s lips. “You two have all the fun.”

“That’s because we bring all the fun,” Nedra winked, hugging Malkia as they all laughed. “See you soon, dear.”

“See you soon,” Malkia replied. She hugged Dominique, as well and watched as they mounted their pegasi and flew away. She sent them well wishes, hoping their presence in Domesca would create the peaceful negotiations they desired.

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