starless part 28
This is a collaborative work with three other wonderful authors, Slarty O'brien, emichael, and Motown2Chitown. I am most privileged to be apart of this project. I now submit the next installment of Starless.
Thomas felt a strange deeper hum enter his bones. He felt like he was being stretched, and would have yelled out in pain, save the leader giving the command to cease communication. Thomas opened his eyes and with this new awakening of his heritage, he saw the shadows move as one over the stasis pool, stretching as it were to maintain the cieling, walls, and floor. A shudder was felt. Thomas held his breath. The leader spoke to him. He rose up, as did his men, having been released by whatever bond that had held them. Shaken as if awakening from a long sleep, they looked to their Captain.
"Follow me. I know the way out."
His men, speechless, followed him without question.
The leader held his collective breath as the humans cleared the area.
"What shall we do?" came the collective thought of the ancients.
The leader sent out the command.
As Thomas took he men along the narrow path that led to the surface, protection surrounded them. Thomas knew deep within himself what these ancients were doing. He pointed to the opening. As he followed the last man out, he stopped in his tracts and turned, as the sound of crumbling walls and falling rock entered into his very soul. His men halted and watched the opening as it disappeared from sight, the very ground swallowing it.
A tear escaped Thomas' eye as he felt more alone than he had ever felt in his life.
Charity stood over the stove, humming as she stirred the pot of stew. So much had changed in the tew days she had entered into her contract with the master healer, and now, her life seemed to have purpose as she pictured the muscles of the hand and arm, going over each name, reciting them and imprinting them in her mind's eye.... Startled, she placed the spoon down beside the stew, feeling an odd vibration of movement under her feel. Pictures fell off the walls and the spoon itself rocked back and forth. Charity moved to a doorway and held on. The baby lay sound asleep in his carrier on her back as the whole house shook, then, an ominous quiet entered into her soul.
Alarms? Charity caught her breath as she gathered up her emergency kit and glow lamp. Everyone knew the drill. The Alarms were never to be ignored. Each member of the colonty were assigned posts. Charity's? to report to the main hall, to provide food and comfort to those who would handle the emergency and do any tasks assigned as befitting a widow of the the community.
The masters headed towards the Alarm.... It was their duty to be the first at the scene, survey the emergency and determine how to handle the situation. The Journeymen and Apprentices followed behind their respective masters to wait for orders, performing any necessary tasks as assigned.
Sally held her breath as the Master Builder fell to his knees, holding something to his breast, shaking, overcome with grief.
"Master Builder?" She yelled as she walked carefully over the splintered boards. Then seeing him clutching a teddy bear, his face in a state of shock, she squatted down beside him, gently placing her hand on his shoulder.
"Master Sirus?" She inquired as quietly as possible. "Did, did you find them?"
The proud man shook his head in the negative.
"We have to find them. They are not dead yet.... we have to find them. And the others... Master Sirus... others are hurt... Come on." She pulled with all her might but the man would not budge.
"Oh, my God." A familiar voice entered into Sally's ears.
As Sally got up to see if it was really who she thought it was, the Master Builder stood up immediately and in a blink of an eye, closed the distance. Sally attempted to hide her surprise as he scooped up James' mother into a hug, careful not to squish the little boy between them.
"Millie... you are alive..." He managed to get out.
"Of course I am. I would not die like this. Remember, it is my job to hate you."
The master builder laughed loudly and stepped away.
"You're right. You must stay alive...."
He stepped back and hurried to the closest sound of whimpering that was heard.
Sally looked at Sister Millie, and stated, "I have sounded the alarms. Go to your post." Then ran to where the Master Builder was working. As she grabbed a particularly heavy one, it moved with ease. Millie, with her son tied on her back, had pulled on the other end, and drug the board away.
"What are you doing, Sister Millie? You should go the Main hall."
"Shut up, Master Healer. You need to save your strength. These are my neighbors. Until help arrives, my post, as you say, is here."
The Master Builder pulled up another board and found the source of the moaning. The child lay in his mother's arms, sobbing, but seemed to have little else damaged. The mother lay lifeless. He reached down and picked up the boy who probably was no more than five.
"Give him to me." Sally stated as she had already determined the mother had no pulse. She gave him a once over. "He seems okay. Just in shock."
Millie narrowed her eyes at the Healer. "Of course, he is. His mother did her duty. Now he is an orphan." Taking the child away from the healer and rocking him a bit. "There, there, young Master Oscar, it will be all right."
"Millie, is that all of the people here?"
"Until the Master of Statistics gets here, can you help us?"
"You mean, tell you how many people are at each," Millie paused, and swallowed hard, "house?"
"Yes. We need your help." The Master Builder stated. As he moved down the row, help finally came.
The wounded and the dead were found. The Main hall became a makeshift hospital for fifty seven injured patients. The Morgue was placed out back. As the bodies were identified, the names were added to the statistician's books and the funeral pyres lit up the sky. Twenty souls were lost that night to the colony.
Charity worked side by side with the master healer tending to the injured. The widows also helped but, noted the deference given to Charity by the Master healer.
As the days passed and the last of the injured were released to other members of the community to recooperate, a town meeting was called for the following day and the inquisition would soon start.
Millie sat quetly, staring at the little five year old orphan, and her own son, asleep in their beds in the house that once belonged to young widow, Sister Charity. She sighed, thinking about her eldest son, James, who had not been heard from since the shake. She glanced up at her husband's picture and spoke out loud.
"I am still alive, huh?" She crossed her arms. "You... you got off easy, you know?" She paused, "If you could find it in your heart, could you look after our son, James? He is still missing and no one is talking about where he went."
Thinking hard, she muttered, "I only left to go for a walk with your youngest, and our whole house fell down."
She softened her gaze at the picture.
"Okay, fine. I will only admit it to you. I went to check on Sirus." She paused. "I know he was always like a brother to you. I just wanted to make sure I did not hurt him too badly." She squinted her eyes. "James, I miss you so. When I see that man, all the good times we had come flooding back into my memory, and, it still hurts." She got up and picked up the portrait, running her finger over the outline of her husband's face. "Tomorrow, the town meeting will be held. The investigation was almost too quick. I fear for your friend. Once again, Sirus will be held accountable." A tear slid down her face. "So, you remain silent as usual. I guess it is time. It seems like I still have a purpose since I am still alive, but, please, don't ask me to forgive that man. I know he isn't at fault... but if I forgive him in my heart, then...." She trailed off and put the picture back on the mantel.
"See? You have your place. And I have to remember mine." She stoked the fire, setting the embers to be used tomorrow. As she lay down beside the children, she blew out the candle.
to be continued..............