The sounds of scurrying feet fill in the vast area of darkness as a voice shouts, “Come on! Come on! Hurry!”
“Which room are we putting him in?”
“This one. This room.” says another voice.
“Ok, now. Steady.”
The sound of the squeaking bed springs echoes throughout the room as another voice speaks, “Ok, someone grab the medicine.”
“My god! Who found him? Where!?”
Another voice says, “I did. Four miles near the coffee plantations. It seems he was caught up in some fighting.”
“He may have more wounds. Carefully remove his clothing while you two administer the ointment.”
The sound of movement becomes more coordinated now while they go through the process of removing the patient’s clothing.
“Place any of his personal items we find on him in this bin please.”
“Ok, Thank you.”
“I found two wallets.” says one voice.
“Good. Who is he?”
“Uh… He’s neither.”
“What?! Let me see.”
“Woah, he’s right. He doesn’t look like either of the people on these IDs.”
“Put them down! We need to focus on keeping him alive.”
The sun rises as rays of light fill in the gloomy interior of the room, slowly brightening it up. A male, looking to be in his late, lays on the bed and slowly begins to move his arm to his face, covering himself from the sun. He takes a deep breath and rubs his eyes opening them and taking a look around the room. He spots a door across from him and turns left towards the window.
The door begins to wobble. The door opens as the stranger in bed jolts up. A woman with dark wavy hair, tied in a bun enters making eye contact with him. A small child peeks his head out from behind the woman as the stranger says, “Uh, hi.”
Moments later the woman and her child, along with two other individuals, an older man and older woman take seats around the bed. The older man asks, “So young man, you really don’t know anything?”
“I don’t sir… I really don’t…” he answers back.
The older woman, who has bouncy dark hair asks, “What are we going to do with him Alfredo? We can’t let him go. Not while he’s in this state. It’s not safe out there.”
“I’ll find him a place to stay for a while until we figure out what to do with him.” affirms Alfredo.
The little boy seated next to his mother blurts out, “Mommy, he can stay with us. He’s been here a long while already.”
“Hey shhh!!” she scolds the boy.
“Would it be a problem if he stayed a bit longer, Neri?” asks Alfredo.
“No. It’s not a problem. It’s just that with you two here, I thought you’d already had something figured out.”
“I don’t want to bother. I’ll leave.” says the stranger.
“Oh, dear no!” says Neri, “I’ll keep you here longer if I have too. I didn’t mean-.” Neri turns to the older woman. “Guadalupe? You have plans for him already?”
Guadalupe nods and brushes her hand across her head, “I have a niche this boy doesn’t want to be sitting around forever. I’ll talk with some of the villagers tomorrow and we’ll make some arrangements. If he’s going to be here awhile, he might as well get to know the village too.”
Alfredo looks at the stranger and asks, “Do you feel well enough to walk?”
“I do. And she’s right. I don’t want to be sitting her doing nothing. If I can help out around here, I’ll do what I can too.”
“It’s settled then.” says Guadalupe, “The preparations might take a few days. Enjoy the rest of your time freely and soon we’ll start you off slowly.”
Alfredo and Guadalupe rise from their seats and dismiss themselves. The front door slams shut and Neri says, “I’ll be right back. Some of the villagers and I took at mending your clothes as much as we could. I’ll go get them,” and she exits the room. The little boy stays seated in his chair and looks at the stranger. Upon making eye contact he looks away and begins fidgeting with his fingers. He looks again as the stranger and grins, making the boy smile as he turns away again.
“What’s your name?” asks the stranger, breaking the silence.
“Tian” he replies.
“How old are you, Tian?”
“I’m seven years old.”
There is a small pause as the boy asks, “Where’d you come from?”
“I don’t know.” replies the stranger, “But that’s ok. When I get much better, I’m going to go find out.”
Just then the mother enters the room holding the folded garments in one arm and some boots in the other. She places the items on the empty chair and says, “Come on Tian. Let’s give him some privacy so he can change.”
He nods and follows his mother out the door looking back and forth continuously and stands at the doorway, staring in, as his mother finally closes the door.
The next day rolls on by as the stranger wakes up to the sound of knocking coming from his door. He quickly scurries off the bed and answers the door, opening it a bit, peeking out, “Sorry to wake you so early,” says Neri softly, “I have breakfast set if you’d like to eat. I’m going to be walking Tian to school and I just want to know if you’d like to join us.”
“Oh of course. I’ll be right out then. Just let me get dressed.” said the stranger politely. Moments later he walks out of the room in a navy blue thermal, wearing dark gray cargo pants with dark gray boots as well. He also sports two bracelets. One in each arm. A white and purple one with a scorpion design on his right arm and a black and orange with an owl design on his left. To top it off he has dark wavy curly hair and a bit of a growing scuff.
He walks into the living room towards a small table with four seats set up with dishes of food as Tian fills in one seat, eating. The stranger takes his pick and sits down looking at the plate of food in front of him consisting of rice, beans, scrambled eggs and a piece of ham. He takes a couple looks around and shakily begins to eat as Neri comes to the table with three cups and a jug of water, placing them down and finally sitting down to eat. Tian finishes eating and grabs his backpack, ready to get going as Neri tells him, “Wait, I haven’t finished.”
“I’ll take him if you don’t mind. If it’s alright.” the stranger says putting his fork down.
The boy suddenly lightens up, excitedly agreeing, “Can he? Can he? Please mom?!”
She grins and with a sigh agrees as Tian cheers happily. They exit the house and head towards the dirt road, feet ahead of them. As they get on the road, Tian points to his right signaling their direction. They both begin walking up the road with a slow incline. To the left and right of fields of trees and jungle wildlife surround them. They keep going and reach a part of the road in which the jungle recedes revealing a well-kept soccer field. “You know, we’re really into soccer here.” mentions Tian.
“Really?” replies the stranger, “When do people gather up to play?”
“Usually when they’re not at work.”
They continue on their way. People and homes began to appear within the jungle. “Good morning,” says a passing man. The stranger looks around with a comfortable grin as more villagers begin to pop up on their way. They reach a four-way intersection which has a shop set up on the path to the right of them with rows of houses that follow next to it. To the path left of them, houses also file down with the wilderness surrounding it. Tian points ahead grabbing the stranger’s attention as he nods and they continue. A few more houses up the path they go and a school appears on their left, filing in students, parents and teachers. They reach a gated fence and wait for a chance to get in, but the stranger begins to feel uncomfortable as the passing villagers keep staring at him.
“They know that you’re not from around here. But its ok,” says Tian.
The entrance clears up a bit from the crowd and Tian turns saying, “Thank you.” quickly, giving him an awkward wave before running in. The stranger gives a small wave back and upon seeing the boy enter the building, the stranger heads back to the house.
Nightfall comes as Neri and the stranger are chatting, while Tian sits at the kitchen table doing his homework. Neri continues, “Tomorrow you’ll be going to a fellow villager’s home for a workshop they’ve set up for you.”
“A workshop?” asks the stranger.
“Yes. Guadalupe talked with some of the folk around and they set a few up for you in order to see what you’re capable of doing. She also mentioned it may do you good in helping you recover your memory. You could end up learning a few things too.”
“I see. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try it out. Around what time will tomorrows be?”
“It’s in the morning, located a few homes down nearby the school. I also wanted to ask, would you mind if you could take Tian to school tomorrow again on your way?”
Tian looks up at them as the stranger agrees, “Yeah, it’s no problem. I had an interesting time taking him today. He showed me around a bit. It was…fun.”
Neri grins, “Thank you.” and turns her attention to the radio listening to the announcements. The stranger gets up from his seat and walks to the kitchen table, taking a seat. Tian turns to him and the stranger asks, “You need some help?”
“A little bit.” he replies moving the paper over a bit to allow the stranger to see it. “Ok, I see.” he says glancing at the paper.
Sometime later after everyone has fallen asleep, the stranger has a dream of a dark bulky figure. The figure’s silhouette moves around in a frantic, growling and destroying things in a rampage. It looks around with bright yellow eyes and it stares ahead revealing a mouth as it lets out a gut-wrenching roar and pounces. The stranger wakes up in a fright with cold sweats and stares out the room’s window, at the full moon which illuminates the dark room. He sighs wiping the sweat off himself and begins to fix himself around in the covers. He lays his head back down against the pillow, confused and attempts to go back to sleep.
The next morning the stranger drops Tian off at school and with the help of a map Neri provides, he finds the house. He arrives at the home which is covered in all types of plants and greenery with the door wide open. Slowly, he approaches the door and an older woman with dark hair in a bun, in a black tank top and white shorts walks out and says, “Oh hi. Nice to meet you Maie. I’m Thurma. I’ll be in charge of your workshop today. Come, follow me.”
She signals him over and they walk around the exterior of the house to the back patio with a sink, fridge and outdoor stone oven. Two children pull in a table as Thurma thanks them and they run off. She proceeds to ignite the stove with firewood and turns saying, “Can you please wash your hands, Maie.”
“Sure.” he says quickly completing the task. He takes a look around at the surrounding greenery and turns to Thurma who’s at the table with a small pot full of huge brown seeds. “What are those?” he asks.
“Cacao seeds, Maie. I’m going to roast them in the flame before we crack them open.” She picks up the pot and walks over to the stove. She pours the seeds onto a black metal plate over the open flame and begins to move them around with a wooden spatula. A few minutes go by as she began to pour the roasted seeds back into the pot, taking them to the table. Once at the table she pours the seeds out and says, “Here. Help me crack them open.” As she shows him how it’s done, they crack open the seeds as Thurma asks, “How have you liked it here so far?”
“It’s been really nice. I’m still trying to get used to all this. But I’ll be alright….” he replies.
“You know, I helped heal you the day they brought you in. I hadn’t seen or been involved in anything that crazy in many years since I moved here.”
“How long have you lived here?”
“For about fifteen years now.” she says pausing. “I found this place after I left my home due to the war that’s been going on. This place just happened to be so far and so well hidden from it all.”
The stranger raises a brow, “War?”
“Yes.” she replies concerned, “You don’t know?”
“No… well maybe I knew before all this. I can’t remember much.”
“Well I could explain it to you, but I think it’d be best if you visited the village head and had him tell you about it.”
“Who would that be?” he asks.
“Alfredo. I believe you’ve met him?”
They finish cracking all the seeds open as Thurma puts them back into the pot again and walks over to a grinder a few steps away. “Here. Turn the lever and continue turning it till I say so.”
“Ok.” he says and starts turning its lever. “Alfredo. He came with this other woman to ask me some questions. Where does he live?”
“His home is near the village’s entrance. You should try and see him on your own time sometime.”
The seeds finish getting ground up and Thurma steps aside, coming back with another pot filled with a brownish orange blob. “Time to add in the sugarcane.” she says. The grinded cacao and sugarcane are mixed into the pot and then poured onto a plate on the table. “What we’ll do now is mold pieces of this batch into small round shapes.”
“What is this?” he asks.
“It’s chocolate. We’re making chocolate dear.”
“Really? Is there anything in particular that we’re going to use these for?”
“A treat. A simple treat”
They finish rolling many chocolate balls as Thurma leaves and comes back with banana tree leaves.
“We’re going to make little pouches with these and put four pieces of chocolate in each one. Then we’re tying them shut.” They take a few minutes to get it done and finally finish. “Thank you for all the help Maie. Here.” She hands him a pouch, “These are for you.”
“Thank you,” he says.
“Well we’re done here.” she says with a big grin. “I’ll let Neri know you we had a grand time.”
On his way home, he picks up Tian and hands him the pouch of chocolates. “Who gave you these?”
“I helped make them. Pretty neat, no?”
“In that case.” Tian chuckles, “I don’t want them.”
“Oh, so you’ve have jokes huh.”
Nightfall comes as the stranger asks, “I have two questions.”
“Alright, I’m all ears.” says Neri
“I was working with Thurma and she kept calling me Maie. What’s Maie?” he asks.
“Oh that.” she explains, “It’s a term addressing a person. Like hey you, or hey there-” Tian begins chuckling as Neri says, “What is it?.”
“Its funny hearing you say that mom.” he replies.
“Oh.” says the stranger, “You’re right. I don’t have a name. She didn’t know what to call me.” He ponders a few seconds.
“I don’t know if you’ve checked your belongings, but when we found you, you two ids on you….Maybe-”
“Ok Maie.” teases Tian from the kitchen table.
“Hey, your homework!” says Neri.
“Oh yeah before I forget.” says Maie, “What do I got to do to talk to Alfredo. I just have some questions.”
Later that night Maie takes a good look at each of the IDs with a mirror in hand and takes quick glances at himself and the photos. The faces on both photos are young and look to be in their early teens. He moves his head around from side to side, up and down. “I don’t look like neither of these two. He sets the IDs on the cupboard next to him and lays down noticing the bracelets on his arms. He inspects them for a couple moments before falling asleep. He has a dream about a boy with short wavy hair who lives in a village in the mountains. The view away a waterfall can be seen which turns into a grand roaring river that flows feet from the village, straight into a rocky crevice.
The next morning Maie drops Tian off at school again, who helps him by pointing out the location of the next workshop which is only one house over from the last one. “I’ll be back for you later, alright.”
“Yeah… ok….” replies Tian in embarrassment and runs into the school trying to hide himself. Maie keeps watch to make sure he gets in as some other kids catch up to him.
“Who is he? Is that your brother?”
“Whys he’s always walking with you?” they ask.
Maie arrives at the house and sees that the door is wide open. He slowly walks up to the door and a boy exits staring up at him. “Who are you?” asks the boy.
“I’m looking for Tina. Does she live here?”
“Mom!” shouts the boy as moments later an elderly woman with a black shirt and a green wrap around skirt walks out. “Come on boy, get going. Or you’ll be late.”
“You have a visitor.” he says quickly and runs off.
The woman looks at Mai and says, “Welcome! Welcome! Come inside!” Maie enters the house, “Follow me. Over here to the back.”
They walk through her small living room, which is beautifully decorated, to the kitchen which also is located in the same room, to a door leading them outside. They exit to a shack which is to the left of them along with a big tree which is to their right. An older boy sits on a stool under the tree cutting bamboo with a machete. “Hi.” says Maie as the boy grins rising his machete, greeting him back. Tina goes into the shack and calls out, “We’ll be working in here today.”
Maie enters the shack and sees a sink to his left and a stone oven in the back-right corner. “May you please wash your hands.” she asks as he complies.
“What’s in store for today? I made chocolates yesterday.” he says. Tina fidgets with a bowl on a table adjacent to the stone oven. “Can you come over?” He walks over and sees two bowls; one filled with egg, rice and beans. The other is filled with maize.
“What are going to make with this?” he asks.
“Here let’s get started. First I need to get the maize a bit more prepared. Can you help?”
“What do I have to do?” he asks.
She pours a bit of water onto the dried maize and begins to squeeze it around and mold it. “Can you do this part for me. At my age now, it’s become sort of difficult to do on my own. I’ll prepare the oven while you work on this.”
“Of course. Let me give it a try.” says Maie clenching the maize. He pounds it around, squeezing and molding it for about five minutes as suddenly he squeezes to hard and squirts maize on himself and on the walls.
“Ahhhh!” screams Maie as Tina shouts a bit too. Tina’s son runs into the shack, “Mom! What happened?!
Tina chuckles as Maie hovers his hands above the table, lost and confused. “Woah looks like we have another pro.” Says her son chuckling.
“You don’t have to use that much force.” says Tina. Maie turns to them and shrugs his shoulders letting out a bashful grin. “I think the maize is ready.”
Tina grabs a handful of the maize and begins to mash it in her palm of her hands. She cups her hand and continues to press on with her fingers. Next she gets a small amount of the mixed ingredients in the other bowl and attaches it to the maize, closing it up into a ball shape.
“After you put in your desired ingredients, completely cover it and flatten it out.” She pats the ball of maize flat and then places it on the metal pan. “Let it cook both sides and its done. Now, give it a try.”
Maie looks and says, “Uhh…First…”with an embarrassed grin.
Tina places five pupusas into a cloth and covers them humoring Maie, “The maize wont bite.”
Maie chuckles, “I’ll at least try and make one.”
Some time passes and Maie walks out of Tina’s house with a wrapped cloth filled with pupusas. “Thank you.” he says turning to look at the house. Tina and her son stand by the doorway saying their farewells, “Have a good evening. See you.”
Maie passes by the school for Tian and they head down home.
They walk and reach the four-way intersection with the shop and run into Guadalupe, “Hey boys, good thing I caught you here. There’s a meeting going on at my house and we’d like you to be there.”
“Really? Now? Can I drop Tian and the pupusas off first?” he asks.
“It’s alright, Neri’s there and the pupusas were for us, actually” she adds.
“So, this was a sort of set up huh.” Maie nods with an impressed look.
They both follow Guadalupe through a path adjacent to the shop and keep going, passing many houses on the way. The trial ahead forks as Guadalupe takes the right pathway and they follow behind. Another left and right turn, they reach a farm filled with rows of corn and other assorted vegetables. They pass through the fields to the shack and enter as Neri, Thurma, Alfredo and two other individuals (a middle-aged man and woman) all sit on a bench connecting to the wall behind them. Guadalupe pulls up a seat for Maie as Tian runs to his mother and sits on her lap.
“So, what’s this meeting about?” asks Maie.
“This is actually a meeting about you. Well for you to be more exact,” explains Guadalupe. “Neri told us how you want to know more about the village and we’re here as a collective to help answer as much as we can.”
“Really? I don’t really know where to start. You got me by surprise,” says Maie.
“But I do,” speaks up Alfredo, “Thurma explained to me how you seem to know nothing about the wars going on in the country. I see it best to start off with that. Forty years ago, civil war broke out in a neighboring country causing its fighting to spread here as the years went by. Many people were caught in the crossfire and soon enough the innocent grew tired of it. Many rebelled against the government that failed to protect them, and I would know because I was a young man just about your age when I fled my home. I spent years running and moving from refugee camp to refugee camp since the warring would always end up reaching our clutches. The final camp I evacuated from was when I put my foot down and decided that I wouldn’t run from home ever again. I journeyed for months until I found this river and decided to settle down. Using the resources around me and the gift of my abilities I solely began to farm and change the landscape to my advantage. Soon enough though, I began to get visitors of all walks, who were also running, some being rebels who were done with fighting. Saddened that they might have nowhere else to go, I offered to help them construct homes here, so they could stay. Unknowingly, I had set up the foundation for this village. Time passed, and the village grew steadily into what you see now.”
“And just like that...” says Maie in amazement, “and still after all these years, you haven’t been found?”
“No, they haven’t… but we grew wary after we found you.” says Alfredo
“What, why?” asks Maie.
“We found you a few miles out near one of our coffee plantations and from how the area fared, it seems you had been caught up in a battle. The clothes you have on now are not the ones we found you in. From the looks of when these two found you…” Alfredo motions to the older man and woman.
“We found you in what we believe was a rebel uniform with a gun and knife.” says the older man.
“That got us thinking that maybe the enemy is closing in, in our area. And maybe soon they’ll run into us.” continues Alfredo.
“I’m sorry… I-”
“No, no, no,” says Guadalupe, “We’re glad we found you. This means we can prepare and do what needs to be done in order to prevent a disaster.”
Maie looks up at everyone and says, “Thanks for the hospitality everyone, but if you are all in danger ‘cause of me. I should leave.
“Nonsense,” says Alfredo, “This village is a new beginning for people as yourself who’ve got nowhere else to go. Whether you decide to leave or not, you’ll always have a place here. Count on it.”
Maie grins and sheepishly says, “Thanks.”
Everyone gives off warm expressions and they continue with their evening.
Later that night Maie has another dream, but this time of a different boy who lives in a village minutes away from the coasts of the ocean.
The next morning as Maie walks Tian to school, Tian asks, “So you know where todays workshop is?”
“Yeah. I was told to meet up with those other people from last night at the shop.”
“What?” whines Tian, “You aren’t going to walk me to school today?”
“No, not today little guy. You aren’t going to get lost, are you?”
Tian sticks his tongue out at him and scuffles on ahead as Maie reaches the shop. “I’ll pick you up later.”
He turns and sees the older man and woman standing in front of the shop and approaches them.
“Nice to see you again, Maie.” says the older man. He wears a black cap and has some of his short straight hair sticking out from under it. He has a red shirt with black vertical stripes going down it, except for on the sleeves. He wears baggy blue pants with boots and a machete strapping to his belt. “We never really introduced ourselves yesterday. I’m Nicolas.”
“And I’m Chio.” says the woman standing beside him. She has dark wavy hair in a ponytail and wears a light gray shirt with blue pants and sandals. She also has a backpack on.
“What’s on the list of work for today?” asks Maie.
“Today we are constructing a shed for Guadalupe.” says Chio.
“We could really use the extra hand to help us finish the job faster,” adds Nicolas.
“Well, I’m ready if you guys are.” says Maie with a grin.
“Alright this way then.” says Nicolas as they follow him.
They spend a few minutes on the path and enter a small park with a slide, some swings, and some tables which are spread around. Just beyond the park is the jungle. “There’s a river just a bit beyond the trees here. The one Alfredo talked about yesterday.” mentions Chio.
“Here’s the bamboo we need.” says Nicolas.
They get into some bamboo fields as the sound, coolness and smell of the river nearby fill the area. “Woah its way cooler here than back in the village.” says Maie.
“After we’re done here today, feel free to take a dip.” says Nicolas.
They spend some time hacking down bamboo poles until Nicolas says they have had enough. They pile the bamboo together and as a team lift the load together and begin to carry it.
“To Guadalupe’s house now.” says Chio.
They reach Guadalupe’s house as Nicolas explains the plan, “Do you see that pile of wood there. We need to hammer them into the ground. From then we’ll tie the bamboo to each one in an arc shape. After all of that is done, we put a tarp over it and viola, we’re done.”
“Really. Is it at all that simple?” asks Maie.
“Yes and no.” says Chio as they move on.
Nicolas proceeds to dig holes in the ground as Maie attempts to nail down the first wood base. “What if I split it or it breaks or…”
“I don’t know, Maie. Don’t hit it too hard.” says Nicolas.
Maies holds onto the wood piece steadily with one hand and slams the top with the other, releasing a huge hollow sound as he sticks it into the hole. Maie steps back as Nicolas inspects the pillar. “Yeah, exactly like that! Do that with the rest.”
An hour and a half passes as they finally finish up and put the tarp over the structure. “And we’re done here.” says Nicolas, “Good job everyone.”
“That’s it? Really?” asks Maie.
“Yep.” assures Chio, “You can go now.
“Haha, alright I guess. I’ll see you two later.” says Maie running off.
Back at the house, Maie confronts Neri and asks, “Is there anything else right now that needs to be done?”
Neri washing clothes replies, “No. There’s not really anything. Why? You bored?”
“No. I actually wanted to go visit the river nearby. I saw it when I was helping Nicolas and Chio.”
Hehe, then go.” she chuckles, “You don’t have to ask me.”
“Haha, I know. I’m asking for Tian.” he says as Tian pops his head out from behind him shyly. She ponders a moment and says, “Ok, yes. You can go but be careful.” Maie nods and they both leave.
Maie and Tian make it to the river, past the small community park and bamboo fields. The river flows rapid but enough for people to be able to swim in. Huge rocks and gravel make up the area, blending well with the infestation of jungle and greenery. Maie wastes no time and begins to take off his clothes as Tian hollers to him, “Wait! Before you go in, there’s this place I wanted to show you.” Maie starts to put his clothes back on and replies, “Alright, little guy. Lead the way.”
Fully clothed, he follows Tian through a trail adjacent to the river, following its flow on their way down. They go on for a few minutes as the river soon cannot be seen due to the intense wildlife and they stop. Maie watches as Tian begins to remove a few bushes and rocks from their way, creating a new trail. Maie follows behind Tian and to his surprise is led to a spot containing huge boulders in the river and on its shores. Many undisturbed plants and wildlife teem all over the area, with many of the boulders being decorated with drawings and figures of all sorts.
“Here. Come here.” calls out Tian as Maie catches up, “Who drew all of these?”
“The children in the village. Its years of work that started a long time ago. My mom showed me this place.”
“Wow. So, this place is really old then.”
“Yeah I guess so.” Tian replies. Tian walks towards the river and begins to collect small rocks while Maie browses through the boulders, appreciating the various drawings depicted. “Where’d you go?” shouts out Tian as Maie pops up and replies, “What happened? You though I left?”
“No.” replies Tian handing him a small red rock, “Here. Take this. I found a rock with enough space for us to draw things on. Over here.”
Maie follows Tian to a boulder and settle down near it. “What are you going to draw?” asks Maie
“A smiley face.” replies Tian.
“Have you drawn anything else here before?”
“Yep,” he answers, “What are you going to draw?
Maie ponders for a bit, “I actually don’t know. I’ll come up with something. Don’t worry though, you start.”
Happily, Tian nods and begins doodling while Maie thinks for a bit more, fiddling with the little red rock in his hands. He notices the white and purple bracelet on his hand and says out loud, “I’ve got an idea.”
“What?” asks Tian as he continues his doodling.
Maie begins to draw as Tian looks over, “What is that? A bug?”
“Hold up. I’m not done yet.” He begins to shade in the drawing and finishes. “There. It’s done.”
“What is it?” asks Tian looking a bit confused.
“It’s a scorpion. Like the one on my bracelet.” explains Maie.
“That’s cool! What animal is on your other bracelet?”
Maie takes a look at the other one which is black and orange and says, “It’s an owl shape.”
“Nah.” says Maie, “I feel like the scorpion is enough to leave.”
“Oh, ok.” replies Tian a bit confused.
“I’m going into the river.” says Maie, “Man I’ve been waiting to do this.” He says, taking articles of clothing off.
That same evening Maie has two simultaneous dreams, at the same time of the two boys from his other dreams. He watches in horror how a shadowy bulky figure appears and destroys both their respective homes. Moments later Maie awakens in a cold sweat with a few tears, and quickly calms himself down. He looks out the bedrooms window and lets out a sigh, laying back down. He turns his gaze to the IDs and thinks to himself, “They were both of you…” He turns back to the window and eventually falls asleep again.
Maie awakens the next day with a bit of a gloomy attitude and stays put in bed for a few more minutes in order to space out and let it pass. Finally, he decides to get up and dressed, stretching and telling himself, “It was just a dream… Come on, I gotta take Tian to school.” He steps out of his room into the living room with a small grin and spots Neri and Tian, each packing a backpack.
“Morning. You’re taking Tian today?”
Neri turns, pausing for a moment and then says, “Alfredo and Guadalupe passed earlier this morning advising us that we evacuate the village.”
“What for?!” exclaims Maie, “What’s going on? Do they need help?”
“I don’t know.” replies Neri, “They came by and advised that we get moving. I trust them though. They wouldn’t ask of this from anyone if it wasn’t serious.” Neri picks up a backpack and hands it to Maie. “Alfredo dropped this off when he came. He said it was yours. You had it on when they found you.”
Maie grabs hold of the backpack and says, “Thank you. I appreciate how you all look out for me.”
A few more minutes pass and the three of them finally leave the house and get on the trail, ready to head up towards the village. Maie turns to the villages entrance where he spots Alfredo and Guadalupe, who are each holding a machine gun, standing boldly, waiting, guarding. Neri, Tian and Maie reach the village which is bustling more than ever with villagers, all heading in the same direction. “Woah.” says Maie, “This is serious.”
Tian holds himself against his mother as Neri says, “Come on boys, stick together.”
They reach the four-way intersection with the shop and spot Nicolas dressed in all black with no hat, directing people to continue moving uphill. His machine gun strapped to him . Neri cuts through the crowd heading toward Nicolas. “Nicolas. And Chio? Has she passed by yet?”
“Not yet.” he replies, “But don’t worry, I’m not leaving this spot till I know everyone evacuates. After that I’m heading down to back up Alfredo and Guadalupe.”
“We’ll wait here with you then till she pops up.” says Neri.
At the entrance, Alfredo and Guadalupe take hostile stances as they spot a figure slowly pacing itself toward them from a distance.
Back at the shop, Neri, Tian, Maie, and Nicolas wait as more villager’s flood past them. Chio pops in the crowd alongside with her son as Neri says, “Ok, I see her. Let’s go.”
Suddenly, fierce gunshots echoes from the village’s entrance as everyone’s attention turns toward that direction in awe. The villagers begin to move frantically attempting to maintain an organization as others with weapons of their own head towards the entrance. “I guess what was coming finally reached our doorstep.” says Nicolas, “I’m heading down there.”
“I’m going too.” says Maie.
“No!” shouts Tian.
Maie looks at Tian and then at Neri who can’t seem to get herself to say anything. Nicolas buts in, “If things get to crazy, I’ll send him back. I promise.” And he hands him a gun.
He reassures them, “I promise to come back when he tells me too. I promise.” hugging them both and then handing his backpack to Neri.
A small breeze blows by as men in uniforms begin to jump out of the wilderness firing their weapons. They begin firing at things around them as well as people. “Come on, lets hurry up,” shouts Nicolas.
“I’ll be back,” shouts Maie as he runs after Nicolas.
The area around the entrance became cloudy with fog as Alfredo fires some rounds at a figure in military attire who happen to be the squads captain. His uniform is baggy, tucked in green pants with brown boots. He has a heavy padded vest with headgear that covers their foreheads, cheeks and jawline. Lastly he has short unruly hair. The enemy takes cover, then fires rounds back. “Ho ho!” shouts the figure. “You’re really persistent not to die!”
He unclips a grenade in his hand and he throws it Alfred’s way as it explodes. Guadalupe runs out from her cover in and fires, but he manages to avoid the attack, covering again.
Alfredo shouts out, “Leave our village, now!”
“I won’t. I had no idea there’d still be people here. I have reason to believe you’re hiding things. Well to be exact now, you are hiding things since you resist!”
“Cut the crap!” shouts Guadalupe, “I know you’re just here to destroy! We care nothing about what’s going on out there, now leave!”
“It’s too late for that now. I’ve already got some of my men in the village.”
Alfredo and Guadalupe turn to the village as they see rising smoke and gasp in horror.
Nicolas and Maie keep heading down the trail felling military soldiers on the way. “The villagers! Are we really just leaving them like this?” questions Maie.
“Don’t worry. The people here are more than capable. Some of them used to be rebels themselves too. Trust me.” assures Nicolas with a doubtless grin.
Back in the village two fisherman take hold of their front yard, running and capturing a few of the soldiers by surprise. Quickly they tighten nooses around their necks and slam them into the ground, as they struggle. Another man drives around in his motorcycle, ramming into soldiers. A woman enters the fray, whipping soldiers with her gun and snagging their accessories. Tina exits her home holding onto her youngest son as two men jump at her wielding knives. She covers her child as one of her other older son’s guns one man down. Her third son appears and grates down the second with a gun of his own. They both turn to their mother as one says, “Let’s go mom.” She nods as they grab her hand and head out.
Nicolas and Maie reach the soccer field as Nicolas gasps, “No way!” as he spots the squad captain, casually, walking towards them carrying two large duffle bags. He stops feet from them. “Old folks are so annoying huh.” he remarks
“You piece of…” mutters Nicolas.
“Hmm, well, well, well. Fancy seeing your face here.” says the captain.
“You know him?” asks Nicolas.
Maie answers alerted, “I’ve never seen him before in my life!”
“Aww, is that really how you’re going to introduce me? No matter, I’ll just make sure you’re really dead this time. I’ve killed you once. I’m sure I can do it again,” he says.
“Enough!” shouts Nicolas as he runs at the captain firing his gun. The captain jumps into a small ravine next to the trail for cover. Nicolas jumps in after him and with a right punch the enemy strikes Nicolas who drops his weapon. Nicolas weaves under another oncoming right hit and throws a left punch which the captain blocks. In a haste he throws a barrage of punches which the enemy ducks out of. The captain sweeps his leg sending Nicolas rolling. Nicolas rolls back onto his feet as the enemy punches him in the gut and gives a right hook. The enemy is about to stomp on Nicolas who’s on the ground now, but Maie jumps in and fires his gun. The captain runs and jumps into the ravine again. Nicolas spots an opening and tackles the enemy down to the ground. They struggle in each other’s hold as Maie runs in after to help Nicolas hold the man down. The captain rises off the ground holding onto Maies fist and pulls him toward himself, kneeing him in the stomach. Maie falls to his knees as Nicolas runs in but grabs and slams into the ground full force. He then kicks both of them to the ground and says, “Is this really all you’ve got?”
They both struggle to get on their feet as the captain unsheathes his knife and runs at Maie. Nicolas grapples the captain’s hands. “Go! Get out of here while you still can! Don’t fight me just go!”
Maie rises in a hurry and runs ahead without looking back.
Neri, Tian, Chio and her son are still at the shop helping direct people out of the village as they spot Maie running up the trail.
“We have to go. Now!” says Chio grabbing Neri’s shoulder. Suddenly, some soldiers appear as they exit and they surround them ordering Chio to drop her weapon. Maie pushes himself to run faster but is tackled by two soldiers who take him down. He tries to stand, but the enemy proceeds to kick Maie in the shin, forcing him to kneel. A few minutes pass as the soldiers have Maie in their hold and keeping others who did not escape locked in the shop. The captain appears holding his two duffle bags with bloodied hands. Face to face with Maie. “This is grand. You really don’t remember me, but it’s good to know you still have that glare down.”
He drops the duffle bags near his feet and orders his men to make Maie kneel, dropping with ease. “I wouldn’t have been able to find you if it weren’t for these two, you know.” He says unzipping half of each bag revealing two male bodies up to their chests, both with short dark wavy hair. Maie stares at the bodies as suddenly visions of a boy living in a village near a roaring river pound into his head, along with visions of a boy living in a village near the coast. He lets out a painful cry as images of the two IDs he had on him suddenly flash through his head.
“No! You son of a bitch!!!” he continues to shout as he begins to straggle, but the two soldiers hold him down to his knees.
“The one on the right had to be sacrificed in order to get the one on the left to talk. You trained righty over here in hardassery very well.” He says slapping the boy’s cold face lightly. “He could have done great things in my ranks. That’s if I would have gotten my hands on him first. It was unfortunate even for me to have to do it. He had such passion, boldness, resolve…he didn’t see it coming.”
He looks up at Maie with a grin who glares back at him with teary eyes. “Lefty here…Let’s just say very compliant. A team player once his friend wasn’t around for moral support, but in this team, you only get one life.” He makes a gun gesture at that boy’s corpse.
Maie hastily rises onto his feet and headbutts the captain as his men pummel him back onto the ground. The captain grabs and picks Maie up by his shirts collar, “You’re done! You hear me! Its over! I’ve found you, and you’re little set up here’s been exposed!” He unholsters his pistol. “Whatever ragtag army of rebels you set up here will be found and I will have immense satisfaction in erasing this villages off of our maps!”
He pistol-whips Maie on the side of his face and he falls to the ground blacking out.