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Adara pressed her cheek against the wall. The cracked plaster was rough but cool on her flushed face. Looking at the clock she sighed. It was already 13:50. Where could Coden be? she thought fuming. There was so much to do before curfew.
What if the marauders attacked him? As frustrating and irresponsible as her brother could be, Adara was terrified she would lose him. He was everything to her since their mother died.
With pails swinging, Adara hurried towards the town well. It had been drilled in 2208 after years of people getting sick from the river water. She heaved the pump handle and was grateful for the cool water that splashed her bare feet.
Looking up to see Coden running towards her, she smiled. A year older than her and both bigger and stronger, Coden still seemed childlike.
“I gotta show you something,” Coden said, grabbing the buckets. Adara had to run to keep up.
“What is it?” she asked.
“A cave. It'll be a perfect home for us.”
Adara stopped. “We can't leave our house.”
“Come on, Sis. The house is literally falling down. One more storm like the last one and we'll have to go looking for the roof.”
He was right, but the thought of leaving the home that they had shared with their mother made her want to run and hide.
Leaving the water at the house, they followed a rocky path. The trail grew steep and treacherous. Stopping to wipe the sweat from her eyes, Adara saw Coden veer into the underbrush. She followed him into the forest and stifled a cry as a branch ripped into her arm. Biting her lip, she pressed her hand over the wound.
Coden gestured to her and disappeared into an opening in the hill. Expecting blackness, Adara was relieved to see a fire burning.
“What do ya think?” Coden was beaming with pride at his find. “It'll be cooler in the summer and give us protection from the maurauders too.”
“What's back there?” Adara asked, noticing that the cave continued.
“That's the best part! We could hide in there if we needed to.”
Coden grabbed a stick that had been wrapped in a pitch soaked rag. Lighting it, he grasped Adara's hand and led her deep into the forbidding cave.
After several minutes she felt a tremor. Suddenly, the ground opened up beneath them and Coden's hand was torn from hers.
“Coden!” The scream echoed. Adara stood transfixed in the inky darkness. She heard a groan. “Where are you?”
“I'm all right, but I'm trapped. You need to bring back another torch.”
Adara tried to move fast, but her whole body was shaking with fear. What if I take a wrong turn? She stumbled and fell, but looking up she saw the glow of the fire, and tears of relief stung her eyes.
She hastened back to Coden. “Come down here, but carefully. If there's another slide I'll be buried.”
On her hands and knees she backed into the chasm. Adara screamed again when she slid down the last eight feet.
“It's okay.” Coden's voice steadied her, and she picked up the torch before the flame died.
Coden was buried from the waist down. Together, they cleared away the rocks and dirt that covered him. When he was free, he placed his arm on her shoulder. “I'm glad you were here, Sis.”
“Where are we?” Adara asked in wonder. The torchlight flickered on ancient chairs and a rotten bookshelf.
“It's a house. It must have been buried in a mud slide...maybe hundreds of years ago!” Coden opened a book, but its pages crumbled at his touch. He picked up another; the light reflected off the gilded pages.
He carefully opened the volume. “There's pictures.” Coden breathed the words. “I know what that is. It's a plane—a flying machine!”
“There's no such thing.”
“But there was! Don't you see? The myths are true. There was a whole civilization that was destroyed by a terrible weapon. We are looking at remnants of a world where people could fly, but in the end they used their knowledge to destroy themselves.” Coden's eyes glowed. “We can learn from them, from their success and from their failures. Maybe one day we will fly too.” Adara and Coden stood in silence picturing a world where the unimaginable was possible.
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