Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Outbreak (04/07/11)
TITLE: Mob Rules
By Cheryl von Drehle
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He settled unnoticed beneath a scraggly fig tree, not too far from the action. He pulled his garments close around him, and began to scan the seething mass of people. He had truly never witnessed such a torrent of emotion that swirled through the swelling crowd. Granted, his people had always been passionate…easily swayed by this new idea or that charismatic leader. They could erupt in cheers of jubilation in one instance, and then descend into an enraged mob the next. As he watched events explode like an attack of locusts, he could not predict which way this crowd would go.
He had been hearing rumors for two or three years that a new leader had appeared on the scene. Simmering factions that had bickered for decades were forming new alliances and gathering greater power for themselves. He had heard stories about this leader, but had never seen him firsthand. And now, the man was in Haddad’s village! Maybe this morning Haddad would catch a glimpse of him, and be able to decide for himself if this was someone he could follow. Perhaps this would be the impetus for revolution that would restore hope to the people.
Suddenly, an eerie silence… something is happening…someone is coming. The crowd draws back and Haddad holds his breath as his eyes strain toward the center of the crowd. The man Haddad has been hoping would be here appears. He is riding a small horse… no, actually a colt. Once again the crowd erupts in frenzy. People are cutting branches off the trees and spreading them on the ground before the man on the colt, as if beginning to form a procession. And now cheers break out throughout the crowd as they shout praises to the man whom they want to make their new king.
The old guard is enraged, trying to control the crowd and divert its attention. Failing that, they address the man on the colt, accusing him of inciting riot and ordering him to quiet the mob. Haddad, astounded by the unfolding drama before him, unconsciously rises and runs down the hill. And then he hears, almost as if the voice is inside him, this stranger speak: “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
A conviction stirs Haddad’s soul: this man emanates power never before witnessed in any other leader. As Haddad joins the feverish crowd, his heart pounds with excitement. He cannot begin to imagine where this outbreak of revolution might head in the coming week. But wherever it goes, Haddad is in, and he picks up the chant of the crowd: “blessed is the King… .”
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