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September 5, 2018

35. Ora Pro Nobis, pt. IV

The air was sweet and the wind blew quietly. Adam opened his eyes to the new day but there, above his was a horse with a dark rider. The rider’s black beard was architectural and motionless as he demanded, “The book. Where is the book?”Adam looked to Marin and Casper who were both bound, gagged, and propped up against a tree. Both of their heads slumped and their eyes were closed. Adam knew he had nothing to lose and if his only friends were dead… he burned inside. Adam noticed another horse and rider. And another. And another. The more his eyes adjusted to their presence the more he realized they surrounded the camp.

“Did you kill them?” Adam replied peacefully and forcefully. The soft wind kicked up dry leaves.

“They are alive,” replied the rider. His dark horse unflinching as a statue. “Now. About the book. We seek the word.”

“You cannot take the book. It is not mine to give nor yours to take.”The bearded man looked over to an accomplice and nodded solemnly. The other figure, on horseback also, pulled an arrow taut across his bow and released and in an instant it thumped and lodged into Casper’s chest. He groaned quietly and went silent. Marin’s face went grotesque in horror and sadness and he wept, tightly bound, kerchief around his mouth.

“The book,” the bearded leader repeated calmly. The wind grew and the beard bend to its strength. Adam faced the wind and squinted, trying to think. He reached into a satchel and pulled out the unmarked leather book, setting in down in offering at the hooves of the horse. Another of the troop approached silently and picked up the book perfectly and continued deeper into the woods. The bearded leader nodded once more to the bowman. Adam closed his eyes flinched at the sound of another thump of an arrow in Marin’s chest.

“From whom do you run?” the horse rider asked. The wind blew into a roar and even the rider looked outward, into the distance, squinting. It was ceaseless and continued to grow in strength. Adam sat from his knees to his rump as the wind gusted and raged.

“Voice,” Adam whispered into nowhere, “How can I keep a word when the book is stolen and gone?” The wind screamed on.The rider covered his face and motioned to his troop to move on. He looked down at Adam, “Is this your fear?” The rider pulled his leg back along the horse’s rib and swung his boot deep across Adam’s face and jaw. The impact was clean and thorough: Adam slumped and blacked out.

* * *

In a dream state, Adam wakes where he fell: in a thick of trees, at Marin and Casper’s campsite. The wind is absent and the fact is noticeable. Adam sees the tree that held the slumped forms of his friends but the arrows that struck them are now embedded in the tree. Furthermore, the tree is now growing leather-like bark. And the leaves above are pages, all of it directly from the book.

* * *

Adam jumped awake. Not peaceful or slowly but startled and primal he sat up. The sun bit across his face. He looked for the tree of paper and leather but it was not there. A gentle breeze moved his hair lightly. There, quietly, peacefully, and undisturbed lie Marin and Casper in sleep. The entire episode had been a dream. A dream, or a message.

You fell from the stars. You were borne elsewhere and are seeking to return to nowhere. You followed the book and now understand its purpose. The book is not the word but the word is the world. You belong here.

Marin and Casper woke together, sleepily, as friends do.

Keep my word. The voice rang through Adam’s ears.