Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Huh? (01/21/10)
TITLE: A New People
By Kellie Henningsen
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“Yes, sir?” Zurek waved his hand and moved toward the front.
“You and Saad are to work the west side today.”
“Yes, sir!” Zurek grabbed his friend Saad’s elbow and guided him toward the tower. “Garrik told me yesterday he thinks we will be done with the eighth level today! Can you believe it, Saad?”
The boys looked up toward the sky in awe. They, along with the other builders, had one goal and one only. They would be the best! The ziggurat rose before them in awesome power causing the chests in these nineteen year olds to swell. To be a part of building this monument was an honor.
They worked steadily all morning placing several large bricks before struggling with the last one in their row. “Push Saad!” Zurek repositioned his grip. Saad gave one final heave and they slid it in place.
Zurek rested his elbows on the wall and wiped a cloth across his brow. “So, what do you think? About time for a water break?” he winked at Saad.
“Why, yes! I think it is high time for a water break!” Saad grinned broadly.
The boys descended the tower and stood in line to have their canteens filled by Chloe and Martha. These beautiful young ladies spent their days bringing water from a nearby well to quench the thirsts of the men. Zurek and Saad enjoyed the giggles and flirtatious smiles the girls lavished on them.
“Ah, I think that Chloe favors you, Zurek,” Saad smirked as they walked away.
“You make things up,” Zurek stood staring at the tower in front of them. But Saad didn’t miss Zurek’s backward glance.
Suddenly cheers rose from the tower as the last brick for level eight was moved into position. The men broke out in singing and dancing, waving their arms in the air as they celebrated. Slapping each other on the backs, they chanted “To the sky! To the sky!”
“Quick Saad! Let’s get up there! We cannot miss any of this – we are making history!”
All afternoon the boys worked while talking about their lives and their futures. They each wanted a wife to love, children to care for, and a job they enjoyed. But most of all, they wanted to leave their stamp on the earth so others would know they were here. They wanted to be remembered!
Just before the day was over, the setting sun was obscured by black clouds. A wind picked up out of the east and caused the workers to pause in their labor. Each one looked toward the sky as lightening shot out and thunder rolled.
“Quick!” Zurek yelled. “We need to get off the tower!” He looked toward Saad to be sure he heard his warning.
“¡Necesitamos conseguir abajo!” Saad spoke with fear in his voice.
“Huh? Have you gone mad, Saad? We need to move – stop messing around!” Zurek grabbed his friend and fell into line with the other men.
Confused and indistinguishable cries of the men could be heard rising above the claps of thunder. Communication seemed to be a thing of the past.
Once at the bottom, Zurek turned again to Saad. “Saad, listen to me. Talk to me! Tell me you understand me. Please, Saad. I don’t know what’s going on….just talk to me! Do you understand?”
Saad looked at his friend with tears in his eyes. He didn’t know what was happening either. He only knew he no longer understood Zurek. His friend made no sense. It seemed the problem was all around them. People could no longer communicate with each other. “¡Mi amigo! ¡Mi amigo!” he cried in anguish, then turned and ran into the crowd calling out in his new tongue.
Stunned, Zurek was unable to move. “Zurek? Zurek, what is happening? Can you hear me? Please…help me!”
Zurek swung around to see Chloe racing towards him. Her tear streaked face told him she too had lost her closest friend.
He reached out his hand to her. The tower that was to tell the world of their greatness loomed behind them. The world they knew now seemed foreign. They walked toward the east and as they did so, they listened for anyone they could understand. Soon others joined them as they faced the unknown. They would band together and form a new life, a new civilization, a new people.
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