Zanzibar – Part 33
Zanzibar – Part 33
by Lori Carlson
Hemi stood outside the First One’s meeting room and pounded lightly on the stone door. After a few seconds, Nellie opened it. Hemi immediately noticed the concerned look on her face. She stood to the side and waved him in. Ethan sat at the table looking down at Miss Simone’s star charts.
“Where’s Miss Simone?” He asked as he entered the room.
Ethan looked up from the charts. “She’s down in the chamber.”
“Why? And why do you both look like the world is coming to an end?”
Nellie sighed heavily. “Because it very well may be.”
“The twin moons are rising a night early,” Ethan informed him.
“Pfft!” Hemi exclaimed as he shrugged off the notion. “You are worried about moons rising early? Maybe Miss Simone just charted something wrong.”
Nellie shook her head. “She’s been doing this for nearly a century and has never been wrong. Something strange is going on.”
“Does this mean we have to be ready tonight? ‘Cause I can tell ya, I don’t think those three you gave me to train are ready for this.”
“We have no choice, Hemi,” Ethan confessed. “It’s either tonight or wait another six weeks, but we don’t have enough provisions for that long, even if we rationed them out.”
Confusion washed across Hemi’s face. “Six weeks? I thought the moon rose roughly ever four weeks.”
“On Earth, yes. But this isn’t Earth. Everything is different here.” Nellie pointed to Miss Simone’s last star chart. “These are the twin moons. As far as we can tell, this star system has two suns also. A bright, healthy one and a semi-dead one that never imploded. We live on the it, or at least we think the Smoke and our caverns are located there. We don’t know where the Village or Settlement are located. There are thousands of planets out there and we’ve only been able to chart a few hundred of them.”
The door behind them swooshed opened and Miss Simone stepped out of the passageway behind it. Hemi noted that she appeared to have aged dramatically over the past few days. Her already greying hair had turned nearly white. Miss Simone walked over to the table and sat down, hunching her shoulders.
“It’s worse than I feared,” she whispered.
Ethan leaned over and took one of her hands. “How so?”
“Not only are the moons rising a night early, they are rising earlier than normal.”
“Does that mean what I think it means?” Hemi asked.
“It means that day and night are colliding,” Miss Simone injected.
Hemi shook a finger in the air. “Yep, that’s what I thought it meant.”
Nellie picked up a knapsack and began tossing things into it. “We’d better be prepared for anything,” she said.
“Are you strong enough to go? You are supposed to stay and rest,” Ethan said to Nellie as he watched her packing.
“If something goes horribly wrong, I could never forgive myself. I need to go, Ethan.”
Ethan nodded as he released Miss Simone’s hand. He picked up his bag and began shoving a blanket, a few knives and some papers into it. He knew better than to argue with Nellie.
Miss Simone began barking out orders. “Go gather some food, Hemi. Ethan, round up Lena and Tang and make sure they pack a bag too. Nellie, find Hannah, Maggie and Astair. Make sure they have weapons. We will all meet back here in a half an hour. Those moons are rising quickly.”
The three ran off to complete their given tasks, but also being careful not to alarm the others. Hemi headed for the kitchen area and grabbed a bag from a low-hanging shelf. As he loaded apples and pear-like fruit into it, Comet wandered in.
“Whatya doing?” she asked as she plopped down on top of a table.
“Gatherin’ food for the trek.”
“I thought that was tomorrow night.”
Hemi shrugged his shoulders. “Apparently things have changed.”
“I’d say they have…”
Comet hopped down off the table and grabbed Hemi’s hand. “Come see.”
She lead Hemi through a maze of caverns until they ended up at the door to the Temple. She released his hand and walked in front of the door. The markings on it began to light up. The lights crawled slowly up on either side of the entrance and then stopped half-way up.
“I don’t get it,” Hemi said as he ran a finger over one of the markings. “I’ve never seen them light up like this.”
“They aren’t supposed to. Well, not until it gets closer to the new moons’ rise.”
“Have you told Miss Simone?”
“Not yet. I just noticed it this morning.”
“C’mon then, we may as well tell her together.”
By the time Hemi and Comet reached the meeting room, everyone had gathered there. Hemi, with Comet in tow, weaved his way through until they stood at the table where Miss Simone sat. The room rang with voices as everyone talked at once. Finally, Miss Simone called for silence.
“I’ve got some bad news…” she began.
“We’ve got some too,” Hemi interrupted.
Miss Simone raised an eyebrow. “Speak, child.”
Hemi nodded at Comet. She stepped forward. “The markings on the Temple door are lighting up.”
Miss Simone clasped her hands over her mouth and muttered, “Oh dear, it’s even more worse than I thought.”
“What’s going on?” Lena asked, her voice cracking with concern.
“Time is speeding up,” Ethan said.
“What? What do you mean?” Hannah inquired.
“The full moons are rising tonight, not tomorrow night. Day and night are colliding and apparently…” Nellie stopped for a moment as she tried to wrap her own mind around what was occurring. “Time is speeding up as a result of these changes.”
Miss Simone gave out orders again. “Ya’ll need to get down into the chamber. Hemi, you go with them for added protection. Comet, you and I need to keep watch on the Temple door.” Everyone stood frozen in place for a long moment, still shocked by what was happening. Miss Simone clapped her hands. “Get moving!”
Hemi hustled down the passageway with the others. Excitement and fear were fighting a battle inside of him. He was anxious to see the doorways open, but also scared that with all of the changes, something horrible might happen. As they entered the chamber, they could see light already beginning to cascade across the table. It wouldn’t be long before the smaller moon’s light pierced it’s marking and the doorway to the Village opened.
“Let’s get into place,” Ethan shouted. “Lena, Tang, Nellie and I must get into a meditative trance. The rest of you, guard that Village entrance. Don’t let anything come through.”
As the four stood before the Settlement’s opening and closed their eyes, Hemi tossed his food bag on the floor and grabbed the bag of weapons Nellie had dropped a few moments before. He handed out knives to Hannah and Maggie and grabbed two poles out for himself and Astair. He handed one to Astair and nodded at him. Astair smiled and nodded back.
While Astair and Maggie faced the entrance to the Village, Hemi and Hannah watched the light creep closer and closer to its mark. Hemi could hear the four by the Settlement entrance breathing deeply. His heart raced and his fingers sweated as he held the pole tightly. He closed his eyes for a second and prayed that nothing went horribly wrong. As he opened his eyes, the light struck its mark and a whooshing sound came from behind him. He turned around to see a whirling mass within the opened doorway. His stood there mesmerized by its beauty as rainbow colors swirled before him. Suddenly, he felt himself being sucked inside, but someone grabbed his arm. It was Alstair. He tugged at Hemi’s arm with all of his might, but the vortex was too powerful. As Hemi was sucked inside of it, Astair was flung backwards, upsetting the table a few inches.
Hannah gasped. “What have you done, Astair?”
Before Astair could say anything, the doorway to the Settlement opened. Ethan, Nellie, Tang and Lena were sucked inside. In one loud whoosh, both doorways closed.
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, Part 25, Part 26, Part 27, Part 28, Part 29, Part 30, Part 31, Part 32
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