ABZU An African Epic

Here is an extract from the upcoming book. I would love to have your comments!

BOOK 2

CHAPTER 1

73 000 BCE

He had finished running and was exhausted. They could come for him now.

Galam sat down and leaned against the dry bark peeling off the acacia tree. The speckled shade it offered did little to ease his weariness. His dark skin glowed from perspiration, slivers of salty water running down his neck and soaking his cloth covering. His slightly greying coarse hair shone with sweat. He looked up through the small tufts of tiny leaves amid the numerous pairs of white thorns, each pair a V-shape looking very much like the tusks of the great beasts that roamed the countryside he had spent the last five moon cycles moving through.

The blue sky was empty, the glare hurt his eyes so he cast his view back down again.

“When will they finally come for me?” he thought to himself, resigned to the fact that they would and very soon. He could not run forever. He was now calm. It had been an extraordinary escape and he had at least made sure the casket was well hidden. They would never find it, he mused, because no matter the torture they put him under, he could not say truly where it now lay. He had been clever about it because he knew the Great Lord and his fellows were ruthless to their subjects and would not stop until they retrieved the stolen property. He knew it was of immense value and if properly understood by his people, the slaves of the Great Lord, it would bring freedom and eternal life to them.  Something that was not allowed.

That he had survived this far was a miracle. Apart from the constant chase and his miraculous escapes from the fiery beast they had set upon him, the last second flights from certain death from the pursuers chasing him and the numerous wild animals that he had encountered along the way – often wanting him for a meal or like the big tusked beasts, just irritated enough to want to crush him – he was still here.

He glanced around. He could see the home of the one they called Balah. It was perched high on a hill above the river of the crocodiles. He knew this was his last stop before he must go off into the wilderness.  But his exhaustion had the better of him.

“Rather let them come and take me than I must go into the wilderness alone,” he contemplated.

He lay back, closed his eyes and though back to the last five moon periods he had been running and why he had ended up here.

The craft banked sharply as it searched for the signals from the two pyramids indicating the path in to the landing place at Arali, the Great Lords headquarters in the ABZU. The pilot picked up the signals from the radio waves emanating from the crystal beacons and set his craft in line to coast in to the landing place. It was still about 10 minutes of descending flight before he was in. The flight from mission control at the ‘Navel of the Earth,’ – Si.nai – had been long, in his estimation, but boring. He was looking forward to a short period of relaxation after handing over the casket and then making his way back home to the upper earth abode, back to his Zigganaut and his human women who kept him satisfied and well looked after.

His helmet rubbed his chin and irritated him. Locks of bright white hair pressed out from the bottom of the helmet against the snow white skin of his neck. His blazing blue eyes searched forward for the landing place to show up on the horizon. As he set himself back in the pilot chair for the ride in, he felt a jolt and a slight alteration of the flight path. Surprised, he checked the instruments for any indication of failure but didn’t immediately pick up any problem. After a moment, he cocked his head. Nothing. He leaned back in the chair.

It was so sudden he did not have a chance to react. The craft instantly turned on its side and his cockpit filled with smoke. He panicked.

Not being able to see clearly, he tried an emergency check by feeling the instruments from memory. It didn’t work. He felt the increase in speed and was aware of the sharp decent as the craft took a wild dive down towards the earth.

At last the smoke cleared slightly. He felt a moment of confidence in being able to right the craft. But for naught. He emitted a high pitched scream as the sight of the mottled green bush rushing up to him. He flayed about in the cockpit trying to bring himself out of the death dive. He closed his eyes to shut out the inevitable.

The air was thick with humidity and the heat waves made the trees and mountains dance as though in a perpetual flowing river. Galam had been gone from the Great Lords abode, Arali,  for two days now on a search for the fruits favoured by his master and was still a day’s walk arriving back. His light weapon at his side, to fend off any wild animals that may attack him, rubbed against his thigh. He was privileged to be allowed to carry such a weapon, a weapon that shot out hot red light and killed any animal that may have consider him a meal, instantly.  It was what kept him safe on his many forages for the fruits of pleasure his master desired. He had found a few of the choice fruits but the season was nearing an end and he knew he now had to return and attempt, with his measly find, to satisfy his master.

As a High Priest of the Great Lord, he had a privileged position but it was hard work constantly seeing to the needs of the master, the creator of his peoples and the Lord of the Earth. His tasks were numerous and although there were three High Priests, he felt the work was excessive for each of them and it would be reasonable to appoint at least another two priests. He and the two others had requested this of the Great Lord but had been turned down. No matter, he knew he had greater privileges than the majority who were either destined to work on the food farms and other menial jobs or in the mines covering the expanse of the ABZU further South. The mines were, for the most part, the reason for the Great Lord being here.

He hurried along and as he briskly paced through the bush, he heard a wining sound coming from above. Stopping, he looked up and gasped as he saw the smoke trail coming out of an oncoming Great Bird. It was one of the Lords big flying Birds that frequented Arali about once every moon cycle. He raised his hand to shield his eyes from the piecing midday sun as he watched the craft turn on its side and suddenly plummet, at high speed, towards the ground. He began running in its general direction.

By the time Galam reached the area of impact, the craft was strewn across an open patch of grass surrounded by dense bush. He had made his way to it rapidly by following animal paths through the bush he had learnt of and memorised in his many years of service to the Great Lord. There was no major fire but still Galam felt he had to hurry to see if the Lord in the great bird was unhurt. He found him and needn’t have bothered with any form of help. The Lord’s large body was crushed from the waist down, his helmet embedded into the left temple and his head hanging on to the neck by skin only. He had been beheaded by a shaft of metal that had shot out from the instrument panel.

Galam looked though the extent of the Great Bird. He had never been this close to one before as it was not permitted on pain of death. Fascinated, he went through the parts spread across the open patch of grass. The wings of the iron bird were bent out of proportion. The main body crushed up to the back section, which appeared to be partially intact. He was fascinated by what he knew to be the main engine, a rocket system he did not understand but clearly would never operate again. After about a ten minute perusal of the wreck, his curiosity got the better of him.

He knew this was the regular arrival of the special casket provided to the Lords from their own great masters in the He.vin, the place in the sky where they were said to come from. It was something they kept so secret that very few of the earth peoples had discovered any information about it. Galam, and one of his fellow High Priests, had lucked upon information that indicated the Lords all depended on a delivery from the north of a casket that contained the “food and water of life” – the Gen.da. This was something they consumed regularly that improved their longevity. After all, the Lords were the gods of the earth, immortal in the eyes of the people and worshiped as the creators.

He moved his search to see if he could locate the casket amongst the wreckage. His first thought was the salvage of the casket and safe delivery back to his master thus earning him praise for such a service. On the other hand he felt, the great Lord may just have him executed for having come into such close proximity to one of the great Birds, let alone the casket.

He had not seen a casket before but when he came across the box lying just next to the back end of the craft, he knew he had it. Measuring across about as long as his leg and an arms width wide and deep, it seemed too large to carry back to Arali.

Galam, kneeling next to the box, looked around. Locating a sharpish rock he could hold in his hand, he took the rock and bashed the locking mechanism located on the front side of the box. Without much effort, it popped open. He stared inside.

The casket itself was a square container and took up the center of the box. It seemed to be made of a material that shimmered slightly in the light. He touched it. It was cool. It appeared to have a type of lock on it that he could not work out. At the top of it was a handle, in the form of a strap. The rest of the box was stuffed with a soft material, ostensibly to keep the container stable.

The box was heavy but when he lifted the casket, it seemed quite light. Easy to carry in one hand.

He pulled it out, sat back and stared at it. The elixir of life! What the Lords needed to keep themselves young for years. In his hands!

He looked at the casket, then stared up into the blue sky over the trees and squinted. Letting out a sigh, he made the decision that would change his life forever.

“I must take this to my people in the South,” he muttered to himself. “One of the shamans will be able to decipher the ingredients and make for the suppressed peoples of this place a way to eternal life, just like our masters.”

With that decision, he stood up, looked again at the wreck and strode off in the opposite direction to Arali.

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