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Topic Subject:PLEASING XNDR - A Story For Halloween
Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-10-05 15:15 EST (US)         

"PLEASING XNDR"

A Halloween Story

WRITTEN BY: Civis Romanus

All text copyright © 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

All characters in this story are fictitious. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.

Please do not post in this thread. To communicate with the author or to post your comments (always welcome) please use the Discussion Thread for this story. Here is a direct link to this story's DISCUSSION THREAD

AUTHOR'S NOTE:
This story is another foray into a genre I attempt but once each year. Other attempts can be found in the two story archives HeavenGames was kind enough to create and hold open each year for those of us who hobby in creative writing. While this year's story might seem oddly unsuited at first to its setting, as events progress I suspect the reason for its setting will be reasonably clear. For in every paradise it seems something is always lurking there, like the proverbial snake in Eden, to make what appears to be paradise something frighteningly otherwise. - Civis Romanus

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 10-10-2005 @ 03:53 PM).]

AuthorReplies:
Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-10-05 15:56 EST (US)     1 / 19       
Kingston fell behind the 2-person powered sailboat, the boat's bow slicing through gentle waves propelled by its wind filled canvas sails. Ann Devers, 20-something, shoulder length wavy brunette hair, brown eyes, a heart shaped face and compact figure moved the wheel somewhat left, somewhat right staying to the course set by her husband Sam just after they left the harbor.

Sam had just come on deck from the abbreviated cabin below after checking to make sure the portholes were closed. Now he attended to the rigging, making sure ropes weren’t tangled and everything else about the powered sailboat was in top form. He stood about 5 inches taller than Ann, jet black hair, strong but slender frame. Green shorts and a white tee-shirt with some company’s irrelevant advertising imprinted on it protected him from the spray cast about the bow of the vessel as it continued to pick up speed.

All text copyright © 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 10-10-2005 @ 08:04 PM).]

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-11-05 11:22 EST (US)     2 / 19       
Over the hiss of the sea and the noise of the rigging he heard Ann calling to him, “Sam! Are you sure you’re warm enough in those clothes? It’s not summer you know!”

He answered back, “Warm enough! Warm as you!” and smiled. Ann at the helm was dressed in a long sleeved shirt, not particularly thick and wore capris colored sky blue, the pant length ending midway between knee and sandaled foot. Her shirt was white, but with a blue floral treatment along the neckline, modestly low cut.

“I wish I knew what all of these instruments mean!” she shouted.

“I’ll explain them later!” Sam shouted back. “Easy as pie! Just watch the compass for now and keep the sails filled!”

“Aye, aye Captain,” replied the newlywed woman to her husband, throwing him an exaggerated salute. Sam merely shook his head and smiled, waving a hand back at her in gentle dismissal.

All text copyright © 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-12-05 16:03 EST (US)     3 / 19       
So it went that day and the next as Ann and Sam sailed the mild waters of the Caribbean using sea lanes forged centuries prior by the treasure galleons of Spain and later the rum trading ships of Great Britain. This was October, not peak tourist season but not without visitors to the region, for the weather was not the gold of summer, but still pleasant enough for sailing, the worst of the hurricane season now past.

Mother nature wasn’t paying any attention to statistical pattern the third day. Rain poured on them and wind drove them in directions unplanned. Ann and Sam struggled with control of the sailboat but finally as matters became worse, they had no choice. Sam pointed through the grey gloom and wind driven rain to an island to starboard and the suggestion of a small sheltered harbor. “There! Over there! Best place I’ve seen. I’ll steer!” he said over the noise of the wind and rain while reaching for the wheel.

Ann gladly let him take over. Her arms ached and she was thoroughly soaked. Despite the tossing about of the moderate sized sailboat, Ann maneuvered her way down a short flight of stairs and into the cabin, sitting down on a bench spanning the small table on which they ate their meals. Well, it had been fun, until now. She felt the change in direction by the boat rather than saw it through rain streaked portholes sealed from the weather and the sea and assumed Sam was directing the ship to the harbor he had seen.


All text copyright © 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-13-05 12:42 EST (US)     4 / 19       
Though half an hour passed, it seemed like only a few minutes to her exhausted mind and strained frame when she heard Sam call to her, “Ann! Up top! We’re anchoring!” Wearily she complied. The rings bearing the sails glided down the mast, the clatter of the metal on the mast rendered undetectable by the noise coming from the storm and nearby breakers. Sam turned the key and revved up the on board engine then maneuvered the vessel into a place immune from breakers but not far from the beach if they should need to swim for safety.

Satisfied with his location, Sam drew Ann’s hands to the wheel and quickly advanced to the bow to release the anchor into the churning sandy brown water of the tiny harbor. Iron chain rubbing on a guide, then a splash and the sailboat was at anchor in the small inlet harbor of this unknown island. The storm had moderated by then and only the steady drum of heavy rain striking the sails’ canvas and the ship’s deck could be heard once Sam turned the key and powered down the ship’s engine.

“We rest, okay?” Sam said while studying Ann’s face for signs of any serious discomfort.

She nodded and found her way into the sleeping compartment, Sam following afterwards once he secured a few lines and shut down equipment to save drain on the shipboard batteries. There he found Ann sound asleep, impervious to any noise he made; and soon afterwards Sam was very much a citizen of the same world of sleep as Ann.

All text copyright © 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-14-05 15:43 EST (US)     5 / 19       
As swiftly as the storm came upon them it left while they were at anchor. Stretching out the kinks, Sam looked at the patchy clouds in the sky and at the places on the ship’s deck now nearly dry. First it was necessary to yawn once and then Sam reached for his binoculars to survey the shoreline from his vantage point near the steering wheel. “Hmm.” A structure there he hadn’t noticed before. Then again, the circumstances did not encourage much in the way of sightseeing earlier so he wasn’t surprised by his having not seen it through the rain. “Tomorrow,” he said to himself not expecting an answer.

“Tomorrow, what?” he heard Ann say behind him.

“Oh, you’re up.” He pointed to the structure on the far side of the harbor’s shore. “That place. Tomorrow we’ll investigate it.”

“Why not now?”

“Because it’ll be evening soon and I’ve work on the ship to do. Besides, I’m hungry.”

“Hungry, are you? And I suppose I’m to drop everything and feed the Captain on command?” There was a twinkle in her eye.

“No, not immediately,” Sam grinned a devilish grin. “Later would be okay. Then you can drop everything and feed the Captain, right Matey?”

“So it’s Mate, now?” Ann said, immediately regretting (almost) what she had said when she saw the expression that appeared upon Sam’s face.

“I’m glad you asked!” Sam maneuvered her down the stairs despite her shrieks of protest interspersed with giggling and other signs of cooperative amusement. Thus supper was indeed much later because there was no help for it under the circumstances.

All text copyright © 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-15-05 20:46 EST (US)     6 / 19       
The next day.

A geyser of sea water shot into the air as Ann cleared her snorkel of water she used to rinse it out. She really didn’t like the salty taste coming from the mouthpiece but there wasn’t enough of it to cause major discomfort. It wasn’t like she swallowed a mouthful and thus either gagged on it or had other discomfort. But sea brine is sea brine…

Colorful fishes darted about beneath them while other water creatures peeked out at the passing forms above that briefly prevented the sunlight from reaching their lidless eyes. Soon the water was shallow enough there was no need to swim. Ann and Sam stopped swimming and both removed their rubber flippers, face masks and snorkels, then they waded ashore.

The structure Sam saw from the sailboat stood there as before, no effect of wind or rain visible on its exterior or interior. The structure seem to be supported by sturdy poles deeply sunk into the sand of the beach and the walls formed of woven, layered palm leaves and other assorted vegetation now dried and obviously impervious to wind and rain, at least the kind they experienced the day before. The roof of the round one room structure seemed made of the same material, although much larger leaves were selected and layered, then tied down in multiple directions forming a peak to encourage water to drain off and onto the beach. No doubt the reason the structure was elevated on a mound of sand was quite simply to encourage rainwater to flow away from the structure and not into it. The ploy was successful as the inside was shaded but dry.

Sam kicked the sand that made up the floor of the hut and turned to Ann. “What do you say we enjoy a day or so with our feet on something that doesn’t move. I’ll swim back to the boat and put a few things in the inflatable dinghy and row it to here. You know, sleeping bags, some clothes, the brazier, a torch…”

“Sure, why not,” Ann agreed. “Nothing around here it seems. Can I help?”

“Probably. We can do it in two trips with both of us in the dinghy.”

An hour or so later, equipment stowed in the hut and the dinghy safe from the tide, they set out to explore the island.

All text copyright © 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-17-05 11:19 EST (US)     7 / 19       
The seashore slipped by on the left and the greenery of the dense island vegetation passed by on the right as Ann and Sam opted to explore the island clockwise along the shoreline. They preferred this over getting lost perhaps in the dense flora of the inland area. Besides, how could you get lost on an island, a small one at that they surmised, if you hugged the shoreline. Geometry favored their eventually finding their beachside hut. Nonetheless, Sam made sure his wristwatch was functioning properly so he could know when it was best to turn back if the island was bigger than he expected. They both carried battery torches just in case.

Birds chattered incessantly but not much else caught their attention so far as wildlife was concerned. Ann noticed a rustling in a nearby bush, but it ceased as quickly as it stopped without revealing anything that should concern them. Meanwhile, the intriguing music of water striking something full on caught their attention and they decided to see what it was. Sam led the two of them a short distance into the vegetation only to discover beyond the band of growth a bare patch of ground that looked for all the world as if something regularly walked its length. It had to be a path, no other explanation would do. They followed it, for every step they took seemed to bring them closer to the sound of water dropping forcefully from a height onto both stone and into more water.

All text copyright © 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-18-05 15:27 EST (US)     8 / 19       
Soon the sound was so crisp and well-defined there could be no other explanation. Sam pushed a bushy branch back and then another to open before the pair a view of a luxuriously foliated pool of clear fresh water filling itself continuously with a gentle fall of water from a rocky outcropping twelve feet above the pool. It was a natural shower! No doubt rain fed. The source of the water was higher yet, where it flowed in an arch from a crevice in the sandstone cliff and splashed onto the outcropping, separating the flow into a grouping of small rivulets created by years of erosion. Ann and Sam looked at each other and both had the same exact thought. Instinctively they looked around to see if anyone or, more accurately, anything was visible that could disrupt them. Nothing.

Sam picked up a stone and tossed it into the shallow pool. Nothing rose up out of its depths to consume them, flee or be otherwise disturbed. Fish did not swim near the surface. They could see clear to the bottom, except in the small area turned brown by the descent of the stone and the sediment it disturbed. It was safe. “Hah!” exploded Sam as he quickly unbuttoned his shirt and then began to work on his belt. Ann giggled uncontrollably while following suit. Naughty of her she thought, but who would bear witness. The birds? No, the birds continued to sing their island song as first Sam, and then a slightly more cautious Ann stepped into the pool of water, all articles of clothing laying across shrubs at the edge of the pool to keep them dry.

All text copyright © 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 10-18-2005 @ 03:29 PM).]

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-19-05 11:36 EST (US)     9 / 19       
The couple splashed about and then stood under the water spilling over the outcropping. There the pool’s water level reached Sam’s waist and a few inches higher on Ann. The water was both cool and warm. In the depths it was cooler than on the surface, but the falling water seemed to be absorbing heat from the ground in its travels and it fell temperately warm on their heads and shoulders. Hijinx followed, and when they were done splashing about, the water in the small pool was mixed as if by a giant spoon and of a pleasant even temperature edge to edge. It seemed to them a watery paradise.

Then their personal paradise was shattered first by Sam’s startled intake of breath and then by movement Ann saw from the corner of her eye that made her turn quickly, scream loudly and try to cover herself protectively by sinking into the depth of the now murky water as deeply as she could.

All text copyright © 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-20-05 12:10 EST (US)     10 / 19       
Standing at the edge of the pool, having arrived there as silently as human feet would allow, was a plump bodied, dark complexioned woman of about 50 years of age wearing a variegated colored wrap from shoulder to knee and bearing a container obviously intended to hold water. She wore no expression on her face, but instead stared intensely at the two of them, making Ann sink lower in the water to a level that allowed only her head to be above the surface. Sam had sunk lower in the water as well, more from a sense of modesty now than fear. The woman finally blinked, her stare giving way to the need to moisten her eyes reflexively. “Who arrrre you?” she said in English with an odd accent that seemed Jamaican, but not exactly. “Why you muddy Xndr’s Pool? Make Xndr angry?”

Sam answered as Ann was shivering a little, and not necessarily from chill. “We did not know this was Xn… uh… Xnd… his pool. We do not wish to make him angry.”

“Then get out of his pool, mon, before Xndr notices! Hurry now, both of you!”

“Well, I… uh…” stuttered Sam.

“What is it mon?! Why you wait?! Hurry!” The island woman frowned as if deeply puzzled about their reluctance to move. Then she realized why. Her face broke into a wide grin revealing teeth that might have benefited from an island orthodontist if there had been one. “Oh, clothes. You have no clothes on. Nothing. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!” Her laughter shook her body from her belly outwards. More than anything else this hearty laughter did wonders at calming Ann though she remained exactly where she was for the moment. “Mon, you fool me. Most men here have something on when in water. Look like you with water up to here.” She placed her hand edgewise at her waist to indicate how deep the water came up to the men she knew. “You fish bait this moment!” She started to laugh loudly again. “And you,” pointing to Ann, “wear now what most island girls wear above water. Not think nothing below. Ha! Ha!” She paused. “Forget myself! You must get out of pool, mon. I turn. You get clothing off bushes!” She was good to her word and waited patiently while looking into the shrubbery or skyward as both Ann and Sam grabbed their clothes and put them on as fast as they could, not concerned about the water on their bodies soaking through and saturating the cloth. Fully dressed, Sam cleared his throat to get the island woman’s attention.

All text copyright © 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 10-21-2005 @ 03:55 PM).]

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-21-05 11:18 EST (US)     11 / 19       
“Ahem. You can look now.”

“Ahh! Ready you say. Just in time before Xndr see you. No anger at you. Look!” Sam followed the woman’s pointing finger skyward.

“I don’t see what you’re pointing to.”

“No grey/white puffs. Xndr not angry. It is good.” She paused and looked at them from eyes that were dark brown but seemed to reflect a degree of insight neither Sam nor Ann could fathom at that point. “What island you from?”

“Not from an island. We are from the United States. Visiting.”

The island woman nodded. “Names?”

“This is Ann. My name is Sam.”

The woman looked first at Ann and then at Sam appraisingly. She flashed that grin once again, a not unpleasant one despite irregular somewhat darkened teeth. “I am Alondra, Elder Woman of island, Xndr’s island. How you get here?”

“By sailboat, Alondra.” Sam used her name taking a chance on its correct use. He seemed to be right as Alondra gave no indication of being offended.

“No see boat. No go to shore until now.” She paused as if deciding to ask or not. “Stay long?”

“No. Storm drove us here. We plan to leave after tomorrow and return to Kingston.”

“Kingston… Place far from here.”

“Yes, but not too far.”

Alandra looked as if she wanted to say something, then hesitated. She shook her head. “You stay island two nights. Good. Show you place to stay for night.”

“We know. The small hut.”

“Ahh, you found. We go there together. Get water and we leave.”

“No really. We can find it.” Sam’s protest fell on deaf ears it seemed for Alandra ignored his protest and went about the business of filling her container with water from the now calm, once again clear pool. “Are you sure you want this water? We were just in the pool.”

“Animals not mind.” She stood up balancing the container on her shoulder. “Now, follow me.” This they did and were guided directly to the hut on the beach.


All text copyright © 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-22-05 14:57 EST (US)     12 / 19       
Everything there was just as they left it, except outside of the hut the sun was low on the western horizon. Small steaks they’d removed when they paddled ashore were reasonably thawed and just that quickly, Sam had the brazier fired up. Propane in a small tank helped make the task quick and easy. No messy charcoal to fiddle with and no need for coal oil to jump start heating the coals. Canned vegetables and small pre-packaged cakes completed the meal.

Ann and Sam remained by the hut that night, not particularly interested in traveling very far from their temporary home now that they knew they were not alone. Within the circle of light cast by the kerosene lamp they lay on the sand considering the events of the past few days. “We leave tomorrow,” Sam said. Ann lay near him, head on the palms of her hands.

“If you’d like.”

“I think it best, don’t you?”

“Probably.”

They lay there quietly again. Ann frowned. “Do you hear that?”

“Hear what?”

“Sounds like… It’s very faint, but it sounds like drums.”

Sam strained to pick up whatever it was that Ann thought she heard. Then he heard it too. It came and went as the onshore breeze picked up strength or fell away. “Not very close and not very far. It’s coming from somewhere there in the interior of the island.”

“They seem very melodious, not frantic you know, like those jungle movies when the natives are becoming restless.” Ann adjusted her head’s position in her hands. “Tomorrow’s the 31st of October. Think they’re getting ready for their Mardi Gras, or whatever it is they do?”

“I wouldn’t know that, but it’s possible. Guess we’ll never know. We’ll be gone by tomorrow evening.”

Ann yawned. “Yes, well… tomorrow’s just a day away. I’m ready for the sleeping bag. How about you?”

“In a moment. I’ll move the lamp to give us both some light.” He did so and continued to lie on the still warm sand. Eventually for him as well the cobwebs grew within and the urge to sleep was undeniable. From the nooks and crannies of the interior of the hut, light flickered, dimmed, brightened and repeated the same sequence as the kerosene lamp illuminated the interior enough for Sam to see what he was doing while moving about from place to place. Finally, all light disappeared as Sam extinguished the lamp permitting the dark of night to rush in and claim their dwelling.

All text copyright © 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-25-05 11:43 EST (US)     13 / 19       
October 31st

Day greeted the waking honeymooners as did two items of clothing they never brought ashore with them. “What are these?” Sam said rhetorically, knowing full well the sarong-like clothing left for Ann and the hip wrap left for him must be from the island folk. “More importantly, I suppose, is what they’re for.”

“For you today.” Alondra’s voice coming from behind the hut startled them. The island woman stepped into view. On instinct both looked to see that they were adequately clothed this time. They were. “Wear today and tomorrow, till going,” Alondra added in her broken English painted with odd syllabic emphasis. “Today is feast.”

“Feast?” said Ann.

“Yes, Xndr’s Feast. You come. Special day. Sing, dance, sacrifice and feast.”

Sam looked at Ann. “Mardi Gras.”

Alondra frowned. “What is this merdi grah?”

“A festival on this day in a place called New Orleans in the United States, also elsewhere.”

“Not Xndr?”

“No.”

“We not care about merdi grah, mon. Xndr must be pleased today or big trouble comes.”

“What trouble comes if Xndr not pleased?” Sam was curious. Ann simply listened.

“Great wind, much rain, bright jagged lights that strike trees and sometimes island people. Trees fall, living places torn apart and island people pushed off island.”

“A hurricane?”

“Xndr’s Fury.”

Ann remembered something Alondra said earlier. “What do you sacrifice?”

Alondra contemplated the heretofore quiet woman. “Two legged creature, different than islander.”

“You actually kill something?” Ann felt her stomach knot.

“Must, so Xndr sees our respect and not send Xndr’s Fury.” Alondra paused thinking of how to explain. “Xndr sees all through islander’s eyes. Xndr chooses next islander through eyes of old islander when old islander dies.” Alondra straightened her back and her face took on a serious look of unveiled importance. “I am Xndr’s eyes.”

All text copyright © 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-26-05 15:49 EST (US)     14 / 19       
Sam and Ann looked at each other tensely. Ann knew her question had not been answered and compelled to get an answer she asked again, “What do you sacrifice, Alondra?”

The serious look on Alondra’s face suddenly melted into her big, broad grin once again. “Chickens, mon. We sacrifice chickens! Enough for the whole village. Ha, hahaha, ha,ha.” Her humor was infectious. Involuntarily Sam and Ann felt a wave of relief go through them individually. What were they thinking? Chickens, of course. It could have been goats or sheep. So what! Instead it’s chickens. The couple started to laugh.

“What so funny about chickens?” Alondra asked puzzled by their laughter.

Ann paused to catch a breath. “Nothing Alondra. It’s just, well, it’s just we… Oh, nevermind. Chickens are the perfect sacrifice. We sacrifice them all of the time where we live, poor things.”

“Oh. Then Xndr never send Xndr Fury your way ever?”

“Not so far,” replied Sam trying very hard to keep from laughing again.

“You must have great respect in his eyes. I see that.” Alondra paused. “Come tonight to Feast.”

“We really were planning to leave today,” Sam said, looking at Ann for confirmation. Oddly, there wasn’t any.

“You say you leave tomorrow. Soon today Xndr’s Feast begin. Come to Feast. Go tomorrow. We help you bring things to boat. Tomorrow.” Alondra flashed her broad grin.

“This might be interesting, Ann,” noted Sam, thinking of his digital camera in its waterproof sack in the hut. “Why not leave tomorrow.”

Ann glanced at Alondra and then at Sam. “Well…” Sam gave her that pleading look of his. “Well, okay. Today only. Then we leave tomorrow.”

Sam nodded. “Tomorrow it shall be, without fail. We’ll be happy to go to Xndr’s Feast, Alondra.”

Surprisingly, Alondra’s grin broadened even more, as if that could have been possible. “Good! We make place for you. We come when sun at its highest and bring you to Xndr’s Feast. Wear special island clothes. Please Xndr. Rest till then. I go now. Rest till then.” Alondra quickly disappeared into the vegetation along a path leading inwards that Sam and Ann didn’t know existed until that moment.

All text copyright © 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-27-05 15:43 EST (US)     15 / 19       
Hours later Sam and Ann, dressed in their island garb were called into the sunlight by Alondra and two men from the village. “Time to celebrate!” the island woman called to them. “Follow us and we take you to village. Ready now?”

They were ready and so they followed. The walk wasn’t long, perhaps 15 minutes or so on a path heading straight into the interior of the island. The shrubbery gave way to a canopy of tropical trees, some flowering, some not. Interrupting the flowering varieties were stands of slender trunked palm trees. As Sam passed them by he noticed that the fallen palms were of the same material used to make the walls and roofing of the hut.

The path widened soon afterwards and then wider yet as it blended into a clearing lined on all sides by huts just like theirs, some larger and some smaller. To the left side was arrayed a line of drums of various sizes and drumhead widths, each obviously intended to give off a different toned thump when struck. To the right, across the clearing from the drums, stood the biggest of the huts. Ann wondered who occupied its obviously more spacious interior. The passing thought evaporated when she spied the great pile of wood in the center of the clearing and the paired metal stands on either side, a metal bar resting one on each of the right side stands. No doubt, Sam concluded, the roasting bars for the dozens of chickens needed to feed the villagers who were now beginning to exit their huts and mill about the clearing, most eyes on the strangers entering their midst.

“There,” said Alondra pointing to the ground on which woven mats were lying. “Your places. I will return. Stay there now. Soon we begin.”

It came as little in the way of a surprise, and more as expected when Alondra disappeared into the larger of the huts. Pottery containers of some purple-red liquid began to appear carried into the clearing by women of the village. Children appeared carrying vessels into which the liquid could be poured. A smiling boy child stared at them curiously, then handed Sam and Ann a cup each into which was poured whatever the liquid might be.

All text copyright © 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-28-05 15:22 EST (US)     16 / 19       
Alondra reappeared in that moment her head framed in an elaborate headdress obviously created from fresh flowers from the island and plumes from its colorful birds. The villagers fell silent. “We of Xndr’s Island welcome Sam and Ann! They are here to please Xndr as are we. Let the celebration of Xndr begin!”

Five villagers cast torches into the great pile of wood. Kindling at the base of the stoked fire caught immediately and flames roared into life. Along with the fire’s birth the drums of the villagers erupted into vigorous rhythm as trained hands began to beat on them. The music of the drums was fast paced but not frantic, and the music they made with alternating patterns of higher pitched thumps supported by the deeper bass of the bigger drums was maybe not hypnotic, but certainly compelling.

“We drink to Xndr!” cried out Alondra. All of the villagers responded by bringing cups to their lips and taking long draughts from their unique elixir. Though they hesitated at first, Sam and Ann brought the cups to their own lips, nostrils flaring to bring in the scent of flower and fruit and the unmistakeable penetrating vapor of something enticingly powerful contained within. Tentatively they sipped and both found the elixir to be palatable. In fact they found it to be very palatable. Their next sips were not tentative at all, nor were they really sips.

All text copyright © 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 10-28-2005 @ 03:23 PM).]

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-29-05 15:13 EST (US)     17 / 19       
The drums drove the villagers to dance all about the clearing, or was it the elixir? Who could tell as music and elixir melted together to define the mood of the island’s villagers. That mood was joy and release, and the product of the mood was everywhere. More than one cup of the elixir passed over Ann’s and Sam’s lips as the afternoon sun moved in its track halfway towards the horizon. The sailors found themselves on their own feet and imitating the islanders in the joyous dance. Meanwhile, the wood of the fire had now become great heaped coals onto which more wood was tossed to provide new flame.

Alondra disappeared into her hut once more. This time she emerged wearing a face mask. Her dark eyes peered through two holes drilled in the middle of the elaborately colored, exagerrated “U” gapped at the base. The islanders fell silent as did the drums. Only the crackling of the ignited wood could be heard. Even the birds had ceased their incessant chirping and calling.

By now Sam and Ann were fully engaged in the celebration and stopped their own dancing somewhere near the middle of the clearing, but not too close to the fire in its center. They looked about at the islanders all halted in place, the couple curious as to why the sudden halt in both music and motion. Alondra raised her hands and her voice drawing the attention of all present to her and her alone. “XNDR!”

The crowd rumbled a far quieter and understated version of Alondra’s call to the god. Sam and Ann said nothing, standing there and waiting for whatever would follow. Alondra waited for the rumbling to end. “We now offer our sacrifice for you to see through the eyes of your priestess on your island.”

All text copyright © 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 10-30-2005 @ 05:55 PM).]

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-30-05 17:57 EST (US)     18 / 19       
Four men from among the villagers stepped forward and paired up, each pair grasping one of the two long metal bars which until that moment rested against the frames near the fire. Meanwhile, six men separated from among the villagers and moved towards Alondra reaching her side as she walked towards Sam and Ann. Both saw something in the eyes of Alondra and the approaching men that yielded a very uneasy feeling.

Nervousness in his voice, Sam ventured a comment to Alondra even at risk of discourteously interrupting the ceremony. “Time for the chickens, eh?

Alondra didn’t smile this time. “No. Cannot be chickens. Tree fell on coup two days ago when rains came. All dead. Very sad. No chickens.”

Sam’s weak attempt at cordialness floated away on a river of concern. “Then what will you sacrifice?”

Alondra shook her head sadly. “Two-legged, different than us. Chickens before. Now only you.”

Ann’s and Sam’s eyes went wide as the horror of Alondra’s words swept over them like a quake driven tsunami. “NO! We’re people, like you!” bellowed Sam as the burliest among the islanders seized him and Ann.

All text copyright © 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-31-05 11:04 EST (US)     19 / 19       
“Xndr must be pleased. Two legs, not like islanders. Must be done this way before Xndr’s eyes this day. Cannot wait.” Alondra made a motion with her right hand and the islanders moved to their grisly task.

Screams racked the village and the jungle around them, one lower pitched and the other that followed, a much higher pitch. So disturbed were they, the creatures of the jungle hid in their burrows or under bushes barely venturing even a squeak. Hundreds of birds took sudden flight and flitted about aimlessly confused by the sharp noise from the village and then the climactic silence. Eventually they settled back onto their branches and nests as normalcy returned to their small world. Only the creatures who braved being near the village noticed the difference: a scent in the air that day not like any other they detected ever coming from the village before, on the breeze, the slowly, ever so slowly strengthening breeze. This the creatures feared more than whatever caused the scent, for over this there was no control, no prevention and no safe haven.

Two islanders watched as their “sacrifice” cooked laboriously on the roasting spits, turned by hand by a crew of attentive village women.

“We sure this right thing we do?” one islander said to the other.

“Priestess Alondra is eye of Xndr. Speaks for Xndr. Must be right. At council she say ‘No worry’ to us.”

“No worry? Why?”

“She say no worry, tastes like chicken.”

The creatures of Xndr Island huddled closer together as the breeze became more brisk and dark. Brooding clouds began to form on the distant horizon. The creatures knew, unlike the one who claimed to be the eyes of Xndr, that Xndr was NOT pleased that day. Soon, very soon, Xndr’s Fury even now growing threateningly on the horizon would advance on the island and sweep it clean of the abomination just committed. And the creatures, the innocent creatures, truly were the only islanders who understood in their lament, that the cleansing of Xndr’s Island would be more pleasing to Xndr than anything else done that day in Xndr’s name. The creatures huddled in their nests and their burrows, young ones near, and waited for Xndr’s fateful true pleasing to begin.

November 1st , Kingston (Jamaica News Service)
A sudden Force 5 hurricane swept into the region without warning last night devastating everything in its path. Scientists from British and American weather services expressed surprise at the hurricane’s strength and sudden appearance near Xndr Island as no such phenomenon has ever been seen or reported before this event. So rapid was its appearance and passing that no time was available to name it before it struck the region. For now the letter “X” marks its path of devastation, for though there is little hope to be had for any survivors, a rescue mission is now underway towards Xndr Island. Among those feared missing are two Americans last known to be in the vicinity of Xndr Island. Their names have been withheld pending the results of the sea search and notification of next of kin, if necessary, said a representative of Jamaica Air/Sea Rescue.


THE END


All text copyright © 2005 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 10-31-2005 @ 11:07 AM).]

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