The Tribe Calling

The shards of his life laid scattered upon the rolling sea of sand onto which they had dumped him, broken and alone. He struggled weakly against the bindings as he regained consciousness, the salt and sand burning his wounds. A single eye opened against the swelling to spy the silk kerchief of his love caught upon the edge of a smashed crate to flutter in the wind, like a wave goodbye. In the long distance, his opened eye focused upon his former command, the Airship Tul, as its main deployed to catch the wind westward. The kerchief, in a swirl of pink and blues, soon followed to be swallowed by the sand. Consciousness yielded to his pain and slipped away.

Dreams of a hard life pressed against the man’s soul, stealing his breath and sanity. Hunger gripped his stomach throughout the daily struggle for a meal, an abandoned urchin upon the city streets. Ribs strained under the weight of a burly man’s boot pressed against the boy’s fragile chest. Ears rang with the demands of a stolen wallet. Rough stubble scrapped along the boy’s cheek as the old man nestled his head against his neck and carried him to safety. He swore that he could smell the jasmine of her perfume from across the tent as music welcomed the visitors from the strange land. His arms tingled with the need to hold the woman as his eyes reflected the beauty of her skin. Her screams pierced his ears as they had taken her, sword across his neck held him in check. Her warm blood seeped through his clothing and onto his skin as he had held her; tears streamed down his broken face. Scavengers scurry away as his broken screams of agony echo in the night.

Shivering in the cold, arms numb from the bindings that left him without defense, he rocked himself up onto his seat. The vengeful anger that she had contained with her love rose up to fuel his actions. The pain from wrenching his arm out of socket to loosen the ropes added to his wild yelp. With his left arm hanging useless at his side, he picked through the remains of his ordeal to gather what was useful for survival in the cold desert night, under the near full moon. The old sail tied to the package of him to mark his decent must have caught lift and served to break his fall. It would now serve to shade him from the sun’s angry attention in the heat of the day. The carpet into which they had bound him would serve to keep his body off the cold sand. Leather straps and the length of rope, he would use first to reset his arm in socket. His satchel was there, along with a set of tin utensils and a bowl. A near empty wine skin, small carving knife and journal rounded out his kit.

Perhaps if they had taken his life before that of his love, he could have been remembered proudly by the old man that had saved him, taught him of loyalty and love. He could have been remembered by her family as the humble husband who left aside aside a life of adventure to be near their beautiful daughter. Instead, he had sought revenge only to become a worse man than his prey. He pressed men into his service, road the wind currents to battle, crushing his enemies without mercy, their blood sowing only more revenge to be weighed on the scales of his soul. At the final moment of his quest, terrible men had met in a test of courage and command. He had been found wanting, thrown overboard not as mercy but as torture, a sacrifice to angry desert that they all fought against for survival. Even here at the moment of his defeat, vengeance reanimated him with purpose for survival leaving him forever alone cut from the tribe of peoples, friends and love which could have saved him.

He struck out that very night, pack laden with his meager possession, to that impossible distance westward that would bring him back into the meaningless cycle of revenge. Through the night and the dawn, moisture pulled from his body with every step, he walked. In these fevered moments where life was escaping his, he had first heard it. Sand flowed over his feet in formed the rhythm, the sound of his breathing the counterpoint. His thoughts formed an angry choirs that became his anthem.

But there was something else, a music that was not his which wrapped his sonic arms around his soul and stroked his drenched hair with empathy. It called at him in the distance, coxing him to come closer, like the siren had done to summon their victims. Its song stayed even as the sun’s hot screams pounded him to pause to make day camp. As he shivered in the shade, sleep’s relief absent as he waited for the sun to tire so he could march out again, its song caressed him, pressed a needle of compassion into his hardened heart to leach out the poison of vengeance. Curiosity and wonder slowly replaced vengeance to fuel his continued march, feed him when his wine had evaporated against his lips.

At night, the sound became more complex, reordering the moments his life to a dance of peace from a military march of anger. Into his night he stepped, swaying with the music that called him, and in the distance he saw the flickering glow which could have been a camp and perhaps the attractor which had pulled him out of the chaos of his mind. The glow of the fire seemed to rhythmically pulse out in waves of sound over the waves of sand that had nearly swallowed him. Light flowed in a column from the cosmos into the bond fire around which men and women danced the song of their life, together forming a procession of the epochs which had been and will become humanities plight. Yet they were bound by the sounds of wonder and peace that this tribe of people had shared and shaped into their community. Here a group of people had gathered to form wonder out of the blind entropy that was the universe. He stumbled toward them in his shaky dance, barely able to hold himself up, until he reached the circle, the music of the community struggling to bring his inertia into the fold. He fell only to be caught by one of them, body wrapped in furs, skins and charms, who eased them both to the ground, his head nestled in the lap of the one that lead them in their dance. Intelligence and compassion burned from green human eyes which locked with his as she removed the animal mask that covered her face. The Shaman brushed aside the matted hair from his face, and she spoke with the energy of the gathering flowing from her lips to caress his broken soul. “Welcome traveler, to the Tribe of the Singularity.” It was then, within the confines of that gathering, the flames from the bonfire warming his limbs from the cold of the desert night, sound warming his core with their shared commune, that he understood the beat of his life would be added to the shared sound of this community of explorers and definers who shaped the random madness of the universe around them. His experiences to bring their own flavor to the whole. He was home.

“Written By: Tinus Koskinen”

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