Zanzibar – Part 25
Zanzibar – Part 25
by Lori Carlson
“I dunno why you had to go and volunteer for Temple duty,” Hemi said as he shuffled his feet about in the dirt. He kept his head bowed and pouted.
Comet sat on a cot in the alcove assigned to her, staring up at Hemi. She hadn’t a clue how to explain her reasoning to him. She couldn’t even explain it to herself. One minute she was surrounded by darkness and the next minute blinded by radiant light. She heard a voice in the distance, calling out to her. You are the chosen, it said. She begged it for clarity and was shown the Temple’s door. How could she deny her destiny?
“It’s important work and I… I was chosen to do it.”
“Whatya mean chosen?”
Comet sighed. “I heard a voice saying I was the chosen one.”
“A voice? While you were out?”
“Unconscious, but I could still hear everything you all were saying too.”
“And you trust that voice?”
“Why shouldn’t I?”
“I dunno. Sounds suspicious to me.”
“It didn’t feel suspicious. In fact, it felt bloody wonderful.”
“I can’t describe it, Hemi. It was just… magical.”
“You’re gonna get sick like the First Ones. If you die…”
“Why are you even talking that way?” Comet threw a bundled rag at him and then continued, “Besides, they are over a century old now and have just gotten seriously ill. You aren’t rid of me yet.”
Blushing, Hemi flashed her a side-ways grin and motioned for her to scoot over. Comet slid across the cot and Hemi sat down beside her. He was still uneasy around her since they’d both declared their love. He decided to change the subject.
“Tell me about the others. How are they coping in the Village?”
“Honestly, it’s a bit crazy over there. Javelin met the Curator and came back as some all-knowing guru.”
“Really? A guru, eh? What’s he all-knowing about?”
“Yeah. He’s become the leader since you’ve gone. He claims to just know things. All about the Village and the Smoke, and other things he won’t talk about.”
“Leader… yeah, I can picture Jav as a leader. He’s not as great as I am,” Hemi said with a grin, “but he will do in my absence. So these things… is it that he won’t talk about ’em or can’t?”
Comet shrugged. “Not sure there is a difference. Say, do you remember Wildcat? I know he disappeared, but for the life of me, I cannot remember anything about him.”
“Whatya mean he disappeared?”
“He was there one minute and then, poof! gone.”
“He couldn’t have broken a rule or he would have ended up in the Smoke and eventually here. Ya sure he didn’t just wander off somewhere? He did always have a knack for finding nooks and crannies to hide in.”
“No, I mean gone, as in gone gone. We haven’t seen him for days.”
Hemi scratched his head. That wasn’t at all like Wildcat. That lad wouldn’t miss a meal. “I remember everything about him. Gangling with a mop of red hair, freckles and a broken front tooth. You don’t remember anything?”
Comet shook her head. “Nothing. Absolutely nothing, just his name. There’s something else.”
“Ruth thinks ya’ll are stealing from them. I think they are gonna set a trap or something.”
Hemi’s eyes widened. “When?”
“On the night of the twin full moons.”
Hemi jumped up from the cot and held out a hand to Comet. “C’mon. We’d better let the First Ones know.”
Comet hesitated. “So ya’ll do steal from the Village?”
“How else do you think we get food and provisions around here? The Curator doesn’t give a toss about what happens to the banished.”
“Do you think they will still go to the Village?” Comet asked as she took Hemi’s hand and stood up.
Hemi shrugged his shoulders. “I dunno. Maybe?”
The two wound their way through the cavernous maze until they came into the common room. It was empty with the exception of Bukara and Victor who sat at one of the tables playing a game of chess. They looked up when they spotted Hemi, waved at him and motioned for Hemi and Comet to join them.
Hemi waved back and shook his head. “No time, mates. Have you seen the First Ones?”
Victor pointed to the First One’s meeting room. “They’ve been holed up in there all day.”
“What’s up?” Bukara asked.
“No time to explain,” Hemi said as he dragged Comet to the First One’s door and knocked.
Nellie opened the door and smiled at them. Then she noticed the worried look on Hemi’s face. She moved to the side and beckoned the two inside. Hemi and Comet entered the room, standing in the entrance for moment and then quickly shifting to one side so Nellie could close the door. Ms. Simone and Ethan sat at the table where papers were scattered all around them. They both looked up.
“What’s wrong, Hemi?” Ms. Simone asked.
“Tell ’em,” Hemi said, looking down at Comet.
Comet’s mouth was suddenly dry. She opened it to speak, but nothing came out. She looked up at Hemi with pleading eyes.
“Okay, I’ll tell ’em.” Hemi cleared his throat. “The Villagers suspect that we are stealing from them. Comet thinks they may be setting a trap for our next visit.”
Comet nodded. “I think… maybe. I could be wrong, but they are suspicious.”
Ethan sighed heavily. “You know what that means,” he said, looking back and forth at Ms. Simone and Nellie.
“We will have to go to the Settlement instead,” Ms. Simone said reluctantly.
This is now a round-robin between Keith Channing and I.
If you missed a chapter, click to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9,Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18,Part 19,Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24
or Jump ahead to Part 26