I traveled – I was traveled – by my ragtag band of angels for three more days, sluicing through their silent choreography. No feeling returned to my left side; my minions continued to strap me into my daily encasement, though they cut into the upper panel, allowing me to see the terrain we were traversing. On the second day, we dropped down out of the pine woodlands into flat scrubland, punctuated every few miles by skeletal trees affording us some shade from the raging inferno above us. I felt like a mere babe in the buzz of all the patient youthful activity around me, but no one seemed to begrudge me their labors. I recalled the oldest girl’s assurance that they were being well paid by Ra for their work, a statement I held with the greatest skepticism: I had never known Ra to pay for anything, much less well.
The morning of the fourth day, as the oldest girl set my simple breakfast before me, I said, “I see that you drink, but you do not eat.”
“I am fasting,” she replied. “For the others.”
I looked around at the younger children bent over their rough bowls.
“Not them,” she said, following my glance. “For the hundreds, the thousands –”
“Your village, yes. There were that -”
“Not them,” she said, with some vehemence. “Yours.”
“Mine. I beg your par -”
“Look around you, blind fool. For the thousands you have left strewn in the wake of your arrogance and oblivion.”
At first, I heard her words as madness, yet more madness on this insane journey, but then off to the east, rising back into the pine forests, I could have sworn that they teemed with limbs and hungry eyes. I felt a terrible desire to run, and yet, even if I were not strapped down, there was no way that my body could have moved. I felt trapped by yet another of Ra’s maniacal plots.
“Ra has nothing to do with this,” said the girl, belying her earlier denials of clairvoyance. “These are the thousands you have killed, my friend.”
I bristled at her accusation. “I have never carried a weapon my entire life,” I said.
“So many ways to kill us. You are truly one of the gifted.” She took my left hand and fingered the ring upon my it.
“This. What is this?”
A gold band, inlaid with the profile of a carnelian horse.
“A ring my father gave me.”
“And where is your father?”
“I do not know. He left me when I was but a very young boy – younger than the youngest boy here.”
“An early death,” she said. “You see how quickly they multiply. Look around you.”
“I hardly see how I can be held responsible -”
“I’m sure you would see it that way.”
“Why heap all this upon me?” I cried. “My body is wracked with pain, it is not my own. My left side is paralyzed, and as you can see, I am still covered with all these hideous wounds -”
“Yes. The eyes. Eyes to see all those you have killed.”
“I would not call me child. You do so at your peril.”
I knew not what to make of that statement. She who sat in front of me was a child. What else call her?
“You do not see, my friend. The problem is that you look with the two eyes in your head. No wonder you are blind. God has given you a thousand eyes upon your body, what you dismiss as affliction. See with your body, and you will be able, finally, to answer your questions.
“Questions? I have no -”
“Who are you?”
I was stunned to realize that I had no answer.
“And where, pray tell, are you from?”
Again, I had no answer: not for her or for myself.
She placed her palm upon one of the many sores on my left arm. With her forefinger, she pushed down firmly into the middle of the wound. I felt fire raging in the spot, and a flash of lightning in my head. In the midst of the flashing light, I saw the face of the boy who had shown me the map of our journey.
When I looked for him, he was no longer there.
Labels: nowhere to run