Light Seekers #5 - Լույս

The old pickup truck rattles along jerking and shaking. Gasoline, that’s what the merchants called the fuel earlier. I spent my entire life in Privacity and now It's getting further and further away, fading into the dark. I pick at the old rusted flakes in the back of the truck, rubbing my fingers across the gritty metal. I can’t help but think about the meeting last week. So many people wanted to go to war because they were desperate to survive and war is what they knew from the past. The woman who shot at the elders was desperate, she thought it was her only way out. She had to, there isn’t any other reason she would do something like that. Everyone was desperately trying to survive when we were raided. Desperation, is that why I’m in the back of this truck? I’m not any better than the rest of them. I’m running too, I’m just running in a different direction. If I wasn’t desperate, we wouldn’t be riding in this caravan with some merchants we don’t know. We’re all rodents trapped, scurrying for different exits as the cell burns around us.

“Why didn’t we just wait on my friends,” Levi whispers to me never taking his eyes off a merchant woman riding in back with us.

“Because I didn’t need spoiled rich kids slowing me down.”

“Do you even know where we’re going?”

“It’s pretty easy, we just keep going towards the mountain.”

“That is the smartest thing I’ve ever heard,” Levi feigns shock.

“Alright, shut up,” I whisper the next part, “before I trade places with the woman you’re scared of.”

“She’s so big, and she’s got muscles. Why are you not scared? Is she your type?”

“Maybe,” I lean my head back trying to catch one last look at Privactiy.

It feels like we’ve been driving forever when we finally take a break to use the bathroom and stretch. I reach up and let the air push my hand back. There’s some crackling as my joints adjust to moving freely again. The merchant riding in back with us offers me a sip from her canteen. I take a sip as to not be rude, and have her toss me as far as she can. Inside isn’t water, but some thick creamy liquid, there’s no taste but a burning sensation. I quickly hand the canteen back and force myself to swallow. I recognize the sensation, the feel. It’s what the older men drink, fermented barley paste. I’m not sure how she’s not walking around in a stupor. I’ve tasted it once before when Levi lifted a bottle from his father’s stash. I wave her off when she offers me more. I think she wanted to laugh at me. I make my way to a nice bush for a bathroom break, and try not to puke along the way. I really hate that I’ve gotten used to puking, why is that a thing now?

“Still think we should have waited on my friends instead,” Levi stands next to me.

“Could we have this conversation later?”

“This is the perfect spot, we’re far enough away that nobody can hear us.”

“I really can’t pee standing shoulder to shoulder with you.”

“It’s easy just think of water and stuff,” Levi nudges me with his elbow.

I’ve completely lost the urge to use the bathroom, “you are really clingy.”

“We’ve got a long trip, sure you don’t need to go?”

Maybe if I keep drinking the barley paste I can just pee on myself and blame it on being drunk. It doesn’t take long before the caravan is off again.

“What’s your name,” Levi asks the woman riding in back with us.

“Mara,” she answers before taking another drink.

“I’m Levi, this is Najar.”

“Okay.”

“Where are you headed to?”

“Home.”

“That’s nice, how long have you been away from home?”

“Long time.”

“Did you miss it?”

“Levi,” I put my hand on his shoulder. “I think Mara would enjoy some silence.”

“Yes,” Mara answers enthusiastically. “I would love some silence Liver.”

“Liver,” Levi asks somewhat upset.

I close my eyes, and try to enjoy the wind in my hair for a moment. It’s gotten long, just pass my shoulders now. I should tie it up, or cut it. If I get into a fight, it could really hinder me.

“Get down,” Mara yells out.

The truck swerves to avoid oncoming lights. It doesn’t do any good. I reach for anything I can as I’m flung into the air. The world is spinning out of my control. I slam into the ground and feel my shoulder pop. I can feel it grind as I try to push myself to the ground.

“Raiders,” someone calls out.

Maybe I should have gone with the rich kids running away. Red and yellow smoke start to fill the area. I can hear people screaming. Sometimes pain, sometimes warning. If I just use my magic I can see, I just need to use it in bits. I scan the smoke, the raiders men, mostly shirtless even in the cold. Each is wearing some kind of mask with big goggles. Levi is laid out off to the side. I close my eyes and walk towards where I remember him being. If I don’t open my eyes, I can keep from vomiting. Another quick peak, there’s chaos all around. Bodies being dropped, boxes being lifted. Levi is about twenty feet in front of me. I close my eyes again and keep walking, just one step at a time. I kick something fleshy and Levi screams out in pain.

“Get up, we need to go,” I yell out to him.

“Where? We just need to play dead or we’ll die.”

“Get up, or I’ll leave you here.”

“Don’t,” he finds the energy to stand.

“Alright,” I can get us out of here.

I scan the area again. There’s a river through the tree line. I pull Levi behind me and head there as fast as possible. Occasionally I open my eyes to get through and every now and then I have to alter our route, but we keep going. Levi’s screaming doesn’t help us avoid confrontation, but they can’t see as well as I thought in the smoke. Once clear of the smoke we just keep running, I don’t need magic anymore. I just need to get further away, but Levi is slow and yelling.

“Shut up, or they’re going to follow us.”

“I’m scared.”

“Just get in the damn bush,” I shove Levi into a bush and follow.

Every so often I check for an end to the violence. Slowly the smoke clears but the raiders are still there. Celebrating, I can’t spot any of the merchants moving. They’re either dead or playing dead really well.

“What do we do?”

“We sit here and shut up until they’re gone.”


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