21: Fall

Fear. Primal emotion that can push man and woman to their best or worst under its heady potent influence. Blake rarely felt it, although perhaps that was not so much fearlessness than a blank-eyed arrogant detachment in her walk through life.

She didn’t want her daughter to know fear, but the child’s wonder and interest in the world, her beautiful openness and delight would make her susceptible and Blake’s stupidity had brought that day early.

When the shouts woke her and Madison from their deep slumber it took a few moments to remember their surroundings, curled up on the floor of a shack up a hill on Crab Island, no longer safe in their dreams, but on the run in a strange land. Then she felt that clammy shudder, not for herself, but for her child, a fear instilled in all parents for the safety of their borne.

Blake lurched out of the hut, hand tightly grasping Madison’s, knowing whatever happened she must not let her go. They banged into the back of Neri, retreating from the stomping advance of Massif, broken nosed and machete armed. The island princess had helped them, protected them and Blake would not see her harmed, not on their account. The three of them backed away as a group, until Blake realised they were being herded towards the edge of a gully at the rear of the farm.

“Stop,” she said to the advancing giant. “Leave her alone.” Her free hand clenched into a fist as she didn’t know if her words were understood on this alien isle. Keep calm, don’t panic, observe the situation, clear the fog and work it out.

She took the situation in full then. The group from the village were surrounding them. Farah and his sons stood tall before little Pisiv who was aiming a rifle with shaking hands at the chest of the farmer.

To their left was Jack, rucksack and rifle slung over his shoulder, bunched sticks of dynamite in one hand, Zippo cocked in the other.

“We all know what happens when this goes up,” said Jack. He was warning the hunting party to back away, attempting to protect the farmer who had put himself at risk giving them shelter. But Farah was too proud to be protected by an alien sailor.

The big man took a step towards Pisiv, hands raised, palms open as a sign of peaceful negotiation. “This is not our way,” said Farah. “There is no need for this to go any further.”

The little man with the big gun was ready to explode. The hot flush of panic transforming fear to anger. “There’s every need for this,” said Pisiv. “Did you think the day wouldn’t come?”

Jack lit the fuse, stick sparking in his fist. Farah took another step forward. Eyes wide, Pisiv spasmed as he stepped away from his nemesis, rifle banging in his sweaty grip. The shot sent Farah backwards into his sons, a plume of smoke and blood in his falling arc. The villagers lurched forward off the starting trigger and Jack threw the dynamite at them, pulling Farah, Toni and Michel away from the imminent blast. The explosion filled the glade with an erupting mushroom cloud of dirt, sending them all to the ground.

Everyone except Neri, Blake, Madison and Massif, they found only air. The quartet were thrown off their feet by the blast, shockwave propelling straight over the edge of the gully. Massif roared as his giant arms threw themselves over the females, Neri screamed as she grappled with his bulk, Blake wrapped herself around Madison, hoping her taut body would be enough to cushion her daughter from the inevitable landing.

TO BE CONTINUED

 

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