Down a ways, she reached a cave at the base of a hill. Vines fell loosely over its opening, except for a small gap near the center. She pushed the vines apart and walked through, calling softly, “Eva...? You in here? It’s Netta.... Momma’s worried about you.” Silence. “It’s gonna get dark before long. Come out so we can go home. You got to be hungry.”
It was so dark a few steps inside the cave that Netta was almost too scared to go any farther. She slid her feet across the dirt floor, afraid of what they’d land in if she lifted them up to take a step.
Then she heard a scream and froze. It wasn’t Eva. If she didn’t know any better, she’d say it was her momma. Her pounding heart wanted to jump out of her chest and beat it right out of the cave.
With both arms reaching out, she blindly walked toward where she heard the sound. She bumped into the wall of the cave, and felt along it, going deeper in. Just around a bend, she could see light, and figured the cave went through to the other side of the hill. Her feet carried her faster, no longer caring what they stepped into. The light took on a reddish-orange hue, not like the daylight outside. Without a sound, she pressed along the cave’s wall, wanting to get to the source of the light without being noticed.
When she got there, she nearly called out, “Momma!” But what she saw stifled her mute. Her momma was with the council members in a lower chamber of the cave. Wavering light came from hundreds of those things Eva found. The reddish-orange light shifted with the dark patches on them, making them really look like bruised cheeks burning with heat.
Lying on the ground, with those things covering her arms and legs, was Eva. They moved around her like they were polishing her skin. Her momma tried to run toward Eva, reaching to grab two hands full of those things off of her, but the council members held her back.
Her momma turned toward them and yelled, “Let me go, you traitors, you Judases! You sold our offspring for what?”
“Look around you, Peyton,” Mrs. Winstle said. “Can’t you see the potential? Unlimited power and wealth! And they can heal us, every illness we could ever have. They’ve promised us that. They only needed a portion of our wilderness, such a small parcel when you think of all we’re getting.”
“Plus our offspring! You sold our future offspring for power and money!”
The light from the things stopped pulsating and got brighter, until crying voices burst from them. It was a cacophony of sound so sad it invaded Netta’s heart and pushed tears from her eyes.
After wiping them away, she saw Eva staring right at her. The wailing stopped, filling the chamber with total silence. Then, one at a time, the council members looked up at Netta.
on Thursday, May 15, 2014 ~