Monday, March 24, 2014

Memory of Fear

+/- 9000 years ago, Syria

“They sleep!  He sleeps! They sleep!”

Lesh woke up.  The cries of the returning were loud, interrupting his dreams. Could it be…?

“They sleep! See!   Bor and Dar, they sleep!”

The entire village was being awakened, Lesh could see the fires getting bigger, and women coming out of their huts, cautiously, with torches.  Two hands of men walked through the cluster of huts, chanting as they did.  In the darkness, Lesh could see two groups of men moving slower; they were carrying two bodies. Could it be…

Bor and Dar had been brothers, hunting together since they were old enough to carry small spears.  Their mother had died birthing a girl, who also died with no one to feed her.  Their father had left them with his own aging brother, never to be seen again.  The two boys had become good hunters, starting with rabbits and foxes and birds.  Later they had killed wild boar and even a she-bear off far off in the mountains.

At some point, they had begun to steal and kill the cattle and sheep of the small villages scattered around the grasslands. And then one day, they killed the young shepherd in the village nearest to Lesh and his families.

From the three nearest villages all the able men had come out to hunt the brothers and make them pay for the death of the young shepherd, as well as provide meat for that village.  Four hands of men had gone; only two hands returned.  The rest were forever asleep.  The wailing and crying of the women had continued for many days.

Bor and Dar began raiding villages often after that.  Sometimes they would kill the sheep in cattle, leaving them to rot in the fields so the meat was wasted. Other times they would descend into the village and grab a young girl, or ensure more of the young men slept.  Children grew up in fear of the Bor and Dar. It was a time of terror.

Lesh had marked the water seasons on a stick, also marking those who forever slept because of these two rogue brothers.  The years were two hands, and the marks of young men was far more. Even some women were now dreaming the endless dreams, thanks to the viciousness of Bor and Dar.

Lesh gathered his things, and went out to the men.  The bodies of Bor and Dar lay on the ground, bloody.  No longer would they terrorize the village.  There were many dangers in the world, but these two were gone.

The men moved as Lesh approached the bodies.  Standing by Bor’s head, holding his sacred knife in one hand, and the long cow bone in the other, he raised them above his own head. Echoing their victorious cry, he said. “He sleeps!” The villagers shouted in unison, “He sleeps!” As Lesh moved over to Dar, a gasp was heard. Dar was not sleeping; he was moving and his eyes opened.  A terrible sound came from his throat and fresh blood came forth.

The village screamed, men fell back and women screeched, grabbing their children. Lesh looked down at the grievously wounded man, long enough for a blink of the eye.  Then Lesh took his sacred knife and struck at Dar’s throat.  Blood sprayed everywhere.  Lesh struck again and again, until Dar’s head was separate from his body.

“He sleeps!” he called out in his strongest voice.  “He sleeps!”  Slowly the screaming stopped. First the men, then the women began chanting, “He sleeps. He sleeps. He sleeps.”

In the first glow of dawn, the men first took the head off of Bor, to ensure he would always sleep, then buried both the bodies.  Always, this group and their sons would take off the head, so no sleeping man could return to destroy or even scare the village.

As the daylight grew, Lesh retreated back to his small hut.  The time of terror was at an end.  Taking another smaller knife, Lesh grabbed his wand.  Onto it he carved the faces of the two wild brothers, so their horrifying ways would never be forgotten, nor tolerated, again.

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