Escaping Fate

By: Delsheree Gladden

Chapter One

The whispered voices that woke her were the beginning. Pounding and screaming were the next sounds she heard. She sat up trying to shake away the dream. As her father rushed over to her she quickly realized that this was no dream.

“Konētl, child, don’t move. Don’t make a sound." He rushed over to the window and peeked through the slats of wood covering the window above his bed. She saw his body stiffen at what he saw and fear paralyzed the young girl’s body. All her life she had been haunted by the fear that this would one day come. She knew, but she asked her father anyway.

“Tahtll, Father, what is happening?” she asked.

Shuffling away from the window her father went to the door and pressed his aging back against it. They both knew that the men outside meant them harm. Holding a finger up to his lips he signaled for his daughter to stay quiet. Huddling in her thin blankets, she tried to keep herself from crying. Silent tears slipped down her cheeks as the chaos continued.

The crashing and pounding grew louder every second and the young girl cried out to her father. “Why are they doing this? Why won’t they leave us alone, Tahtll?”

The angry mob’s thunderous hits knocked the old man away from the door for a brief second before he could force himself back against it. He continued to strain against the door as he called out to his daughter. “Go, hide, konētl. Do not let them find you or they will take you. Hide!”

Needing no further motivation, the terrified girl ran from her pallet bed just as the splintering of wood announced the intruders’ arrival. She lunged for the only real piece of furniture in the room, a large wooden cupboard that stood just high enough off the ground to let the girl slip under it. Curling up on the floor, she tucked in every part of her body and tried unsuccessfully to shut out the sounds around her.

“Give her to us. Now!” somebody shouted.

“Get out of my house! You have no right to be here. Leave my daughter alone,” the girl’s father pleaded. He tried to block them from entering any further, but the crowd of angry men pushed him aside. The mob’s feet trampled through the tiny hut, knocking over chairs and tossing the two beds in search of the child. Burying her silent sobs in her hands she prayed to the gods that they would not find her. Her father had kept her alive so far. He had to be able to do it again.

The young girl could hear her father’s voice as the men searched, begging them to leave and even resorting to threatening them with harm. Her father was an old man, though. He had little strength left to try and defend the last of his family.

“Please leave us alone,” he sobbed. “Please do not take her away from me. She is all that I have left.”

“Shut up, old man,” someone bellowed. “She belongs to the gods now.”

“No!” her father screamed. She saw his gnarled feet scramble across the floor as he tried to overcome one of the men. The crack of his bones resounded in the little hut. The girl cried out when his face fell into the dust just inches away from her own. Dark blood dripped down his unmoving face.

Covering her mouth right as she realized she had screamed aloud, she prayed that no one had heard her cry. The gods were not listening to her pleas tonight. They wanted her for their own. Hands plunged in at the girl and grabbed at her from every angle. Screams burst out of her as she tried to wriggle out of their grasp. They fought over her, yanking her back and forth, before they finally pulled the screaming girl out from under the cupboard.

“Let go of me,” she screamed. “Let go! Get your hands off me!”

Nobody listened to her screams. They simply drug the girl upright and started dragging a dusty, roughly woven bag over her head. She tried to scream again for help, surely someone in the village would help her, but the dust filled her lungs and sent her into a coughing fit. Tight cords wrapped around her hands and feet as they all laughed about their conquest. Helpless, she could do nothing as they carried her away to meet the gods.

But the meeting could not happen until she was purified.

The girl’s raven hair was brushed until it shone. Each stroke with the fine bone comb tilted her head, rippling the black cascade of her hair. Her almond stained skin, shining with fragrant oils, glittered in the flickering candle light. The scents from the citrus and vanilla oils were so strong it was intoxicating. Her expressionless face was dusted with heavy white powder, covering her tear streaked cheeks and red eyes.