Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Day and Night (07/10/14)
TITLE: Too Late
By Virgil Youngblood
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In the verdant valley plain below, people resembled ants jittering along trampled grass paths. They were going in and out of dwellings or moving about in the community plaza. One thing had changed though; the parade of animals into that monstrous three-story contraption had stopped seven days ago.
Keros patted the prime timber and stood, flexing taut muscles. He had kept this log hidden from Noah for two years. Resting against the cliff it had cured and would contribute to the great home he was building. It was time to start moving the beam down the slope.
He laughed. <I>“Talk, talk, talk – that’s all you ever do,”</I> his wife had chided. <I>She yaps as much as that crazy man of God -- but that woman is harder to disregard. I’ll build her a house that will be the envy of all her friends if it’s the last thing I do.</I>
A noisy hiss erupted from the fire-pit and a puff of steam shot upward. <I>Strange,</I> he thought, <I>what could that be?</I> A moving shadow passed over the cliff, slanting between the trees, devouring the sunlight as it moved down the mountain.
Splat --- split --- splat!
Aiyiii! Keros rubbed his forearm. A cold missile of water had struck him. <I>Surely not,</I> he thought. <I>That crazy Noah couldn’t be right.</I> Keros clutched his cloak. Scooting back on the log he sought shelter beneath the overhanging cliff. Darkness came. The heavens vomited torrents of water, sending roaring, muddy rivers cascading down the mountain slope. The earth shuddered. <I>How can this be?</I>
Keros thought it must be three days now, maybe four. There seemed to be cycles of gray light and pitch blackness. How he had survived the unceasing deluge or how anyone could, he didn’t know. Surely the rain would stop. Surely Noah’s god would be merciful. He had quit praying to his.
Another day, another night passed. The cliff offered some shelter from the turbulent water blasting over it. A dead pigeon tumbling in the waterfall hit his shoulder. He grabbed it. In a moment he had eaten, wiping the soggy feathers from his face with a forearm.
Down the incline, something moved. His eyes strained to pierce the foggy curtain of rain and gloom. But his eyes had deceived him. He saw nothing now. Darkness came again. A burning, stinging sensation caused him to cry out and to swipe the scorpion off his arm. Earlier, a serpent had tried to crawl upon the log and he felt sure a bat had brushed his ear.
As darkness eased a little, he saw Noah’s sanctuary towering above him, floating calmly on the water.
“Noah, its Keros. Help!” he shouted.
Water began lapping against his log; the far end swaying as its hold loosed from the earth.
“Noah,” screamed Keros, willing his voice to be heard. “Help! Throw me a rope. Your mercy, please!”
The sealed window on the third floor remained closed. The log Keros was straddling lurched, floating free. He paddled frantically with his hands, maneuvering until he bumped the ark. Shouting and yelling, pleading, he pounded on the tarred, rough-planked side. He felt a return bump, or maybe it was the stamp of a heavy foot accompanied by the trumpeting sound of an elephant. The unabated deluge made hearing difficult and clinging to the slippery side of the vessel impossible.
Slowly, ever so slowly, the ark drifted away, vanishing into the grayness.
Keros lost track of time, his strength savaged by hopelessness and the relentless rain. He knew, somehow, that besides Noah’s family, he was the last man living. Too late he realized, he should have listened to the prophet, for surely he was one, and to the words of his God. <I>Too late. Too late!</I>
He slipped from the gopher log, too exhausted to hold on another day, another night. <I>How long, he wondered, had it been since he was sitting blissfully beside his fire?</I>
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