Ok then...I have dug myself out of that hole with only minor editing of the original post. But before I continue...
To: A Nonny Moose - Thank you sir, for both offer and advice. I am also tracking my bannies on a side spreadsheet. Regarding the "science fiction trap", well, the story is already leaning toward sci-fi...
I will not be posting at a brisk pace. Real life and the creative process will only allow me to post about once a week, more or less. The up side to this is that it gives readers plenty of time to stay caught up and to comment. I encourage comments, especially constructive criticism. Please note the word "constructive".
Now, on to the next installment...
Chapter 1 - Arrival
We had found ourselves naked and unbound in an open field. Besides the obvious shock to my senses at being in a place with no ceilings or walls, there was another curious development. There were more of us here than were tried and convicted by The Clave. Even more disconcerting, these were not even the same people that were tried with me. I did not recognize a single face! My heart leaped to my throat as I scanned the immediate area.What has happened to my wife! My dear Mara!
I examined our group more closely. There were fourteen of us. None appeared to have marked their totems any more than I have, which made me the eldest among us. Nearly half looked as though they hadn’t reached the labor mark yet. I rose to my feet, and as I did so, all the eyes of my new found companions were upon me. As far as I could see, there were no others. My wife and my friends were nowhere to be seen. I took a deep breath and turned toward the group.
“I know you are all frightened, for I am as well. A good defense against fear is action. I suggest we all go over to the cart and examine its contents, if there are any,” I stated, trying to keep a level tone to hide my own bewilderment and grief.
“What is a ‘cart
’?” one of the children asked.
“It is that wooden box over there, the one set on wheels,” I replied, gesturing toward the cart that sat several yards away from us.
Another child asked, “What is a ‘wooden
Before I could answer, a red haired woman of my age stood and replied, “A ‘wooden
’ is not a thing. It is a description to mean it is made of wood.”
I stared at her incredulously. She knew what wood was. A smile could not evade my lips as I realized that I was not the only one to be infused with new knowledge. When she saw me smile, she blushed and cast her eyes toward the ground. Another man, blond and muscular, spoke as he also stood up, “He is right. We need to do something. Going to the cart seems as good an idea as any.”
With that, the rest of our group rose to their feet and we walked over to the cart. It was far from empty. As a matter of fact, it was fully loaded with all manner of items. The most easily recognizable of these were articles of clothing. They were not made of the light weight paper material that we had all grown up with. These were heavy and thick. The outer surface was dimpled and slick to the touch, while the inside was soft and smooth. They were quite comfortable and fit remarkably well. After each of us got dressed, there were still several sets left over. The rest of the contents were all new sights to me. There were crates of various tools, sacks of potatoes, baskets of berries and mushrooms. The older members of our group exchanged knowing glances at each other with each new discovery, while the younger children looked upon these items with wonder and confusion.
“Ok. Let’s set some of these crates in a circle and have a seat to discuss our situation,” I suggested. Once this was done, I sat down and started the conversation, “We should all introduce ourselves. My name is Orrish Tuttle. I have marked nineteen. I was sentenced to be banished by The Clave with nine others, but none of them are here and,” I paused a moment to choke back my sorrow at the loss of my Mara, then continued, “I do not know their fate. I will assume that all of you have been banished as well?” Everyone in the group nodded in acknowledgement. I looked to the red haired woman, who had sat on the crate next to mine, and gestured for her to continue.
“My name is Veronald Guidotti. I have also marked nineteen,” she said, glancing at me and blushing again before she continued, “I was a lone child. Both my parents reached the termination mark before having any other offspring. For this, I was banished due to suspected genetic issues pertaining to my reproductive abilities.”
The muscular blond man spoke next, “My name is Lavares Guemes. That is my brother Evan,” he gestured toward a stocky boy with an obvious family resemblance and continued, “I have marked eighteen and he has marked five. He and I were taken before The Clave with no explanation. Next thing I know, we were stripped, bound, and blindfolded. The rest, as they say, is history.”
This continued until everyone had spoken, giving their names and marks. Lavares’ brother and five others had not yet reached the labor mark. Kathen Eckel had to tell us that his brother’s name was Malvis, since Malvis had only recently reached his first mark and couldn’t tell us himself. As I had surmised earlier, that left eight of us that had reached the labor mark. Only three of us have reached the breeder mark, although Chrystle Fenske is but one mark away.
It was agreed that the four oldest, consisting of myself, Veronald, Lavares, and Chrystle, should take the responsibility of leadership. My first act in this capacity was to hold up an axe I had retrieved from the cart.
“If you know what this is, raise your hand,” I requested. Hands from the eight of us that had reached the labor mark were raised. I continued the questioning.
“How many of you know how to use this?” The same eight raised their hands again.
I finished with one last question, “How many of you have ever seen or known of this object before today?” Not one person raised their hand. This confirmed what I had suspected when I read the faces of the older people at the cart. Anyone that had reached the labor mark had been given the same information flood that I had received.
“Ok,” I said, “It appears that the light is failing. Let’s get places set to sleep. We are going to have a lot to do tomorrow.”
I pulled Veronald, Lavares, and Chrystle aside and said, “Once the younger ones are asleep, let’s get together and start some serious consideration of our situation.”
All three nodded in agreement.