The Way of the Word

3. October 2010

The Gatherers – Chapter 14

Sometimes things looked better after a good night’s sleep. The problem was that things didn’t look all that much brighter after a bad night’s tossing and turning. Her parents had looked at her knowingly when she had finally given up and left the hut so that the others at least could get some sleep. And sometime during the night, she had dozed off too. Unfortunately, she hadn’t chosen her sleeping place very carefully, and now her back hurt.

What awakened her was a rumble in the distance, and the shaking of the ground. She sat up and looked around. Birds flew up in a panic, and in the distance she could hear the other wildlife stomp around, most likely equally frightened. Even as she looked at Wakano’s Throne, the rumbling subsided. Yes, there was a plume of smoke from the Throne. What was wrong with Wakano these days? Was it something he ate?

She refused to consider the possibility that Wakano was angry at her for hiding Habbassin.

She stood up, stretched to get the kinks out of her back, and rubbed the sleep from her eyes.

Time to go to the beach, she thought. Perhaps washing herself would wake her up. Her jaw popped when she yawned. Yup, it was definitely time for a cold bath.

She considered dashing to the beach, but somehow she didn’t really have the energy. Which surprised her. She was used to having loads of energy, so much that she didn’t know what to do with it. Unlike her parents. Unlike, now that she thought of it, all other adults she knew. Perhaps, she pursued the thought, people were born with a certain level of energy to last them all their lives, and used up most of it as children.

The thought horrified her. Did her current lack of energy mean that she was (yuck) growing up?

She approached the beach carefully, looking for Bolwyn or his three stooges. She couldn’t see Bolwyn anywhere, but Yanag was at the beach, knotting a new net. She wasn’t looking in Ghenni’s direction, but who knew. The two boys were probably out with the fishing boats.

Except for Yanag, the day seemed as beautiful as ever. The skies were blue, with only a couple of fluffy clouds in the sky. The sea looked clear and blue. And inviting. Ghenni waded into the shallow surf, knelt and rubbed cold water on her face. It helped a little.

Ghenni looked out to the boats, straining to see the one her father was on. She smiled when she saw him, standing up and casting his net. She remembered helping her mother make it.

Using the sea water to wash herself, she recalled the events of the previous day. She hadn’t managed to persuade Bolwyn that he should look elsewhere for the lamp, that was for sure. Worse, it seemed as if everyone else seemed to suspect her too, even her own parents. Never mind that she had lied to everyone in this matter, shouldn’t they believe her rather than a stranger? That they didn’t…

Wakano rumbled in the distance, this time without the usual shaking of the ground. Perhaps he was calming down already?

“That’d be nice,” she mumbled. She would really appreciate it if at least one of her worries would simply cease to exist.

A grumble a little farther down reminded her that she still hadn’t eaten breakfast. She smiled. Now that was a problem that was easily solved. She stood and waved at her father, who was hauling in the net. He didn’t wave back. He probably hadn’t seen her. And why should he, he was busy. She turned and walked slowly toward their hut. She couldn’t resist sneaking a sidelong glance at Yanag. The older girl was still busy with the new net and wasn’t sparing any attention for Ghenni. Just as well, perhaps even better. Or perhaps she was just being paranoid. At any rate, Ghenni thought that Yanag should start to act her age, find a husband and have a couple of babies.

On second thought, better not, she amended. Did she really want a dozen or so little Yanags running around the village? Perish the thought.

There was some kind of commotion starting up behind her. Hardly breaking stride, Ghenni turned. She knew where she was going, and thought to walk backwards and see what all that shouting was about.

The thing that rose from the water looked like a giant serpent, with a huge triangular head. The body was so long Ghenni couldn’t begin to guess at its length, but it was easily as thick around as three or four men.

And it was attacking the boats.

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