This is a continuation to Lori Carlson's Zanzibar, published on her blog 'Promptly Written' on 30 April.
Lori and I are developing this story as a round-robin, and this episode will also be published on Lori's blog.
Click to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, part 10, part 11, part 12, part 13, part 14, part 15, part 16, part 17, part 18, part 19, part 20, part 21, part 22, part 23
Javelin left Ruth and Jacob, and went off in search of the rest of the Motorhead Gang – or what was left of it. He found Cobra, Cougar, Mustang and Rambler in the community hall, with the rest of the Villagers. They were seated in a group with three girls, deep in conversation. Mustang looked up and saw Javelin standing close to them.
“Hi, Javelin,” he said, “come and join us.”
“Not now,” Javelin replied. “I need to talk to you guys. It’s important.”
“So talk to us,” Rambler said, “we’re all ears.”
“In private,” Javelin added.
“No secrets here,” Cougar said, “whatever you have to say to us, you can say in front of the girls. Let me introduce you. Girls; this is Javelin. He’s a bit, erm, special. Jav, this is Sakura,” he said, pointing to the oriental-looking girl to his immediate left, “her name means cherry-blossom. Sakura is from Japan. Habeeba, beside her is from India, and Eloise is French.”
“Hi, girls,” Javelin said, “Sorry, guys, but this has to be just us. It won’t take long; you can come back to the girls afterwards. How come only three girls anyway? There are four of you.”
Cobra looked up. “I’ve just been telling the guys.”
“Telling them what?”
Cobra blushed, his face taking on the hue of a red traffic light. Mustang came to the rescue.
“Our brother Cobra has just come out to us,” he said.
Javelin’s brow creased. “Come out? Come out from where?”
“Not come out from anywhere; just come out. You know; come out.”
Looking toward Cobra, Javelin asked, “You mean you’re—”
“Gay, yes,” Cobra said. “Is that a problem?”
“No, of course not. It’s a big thing to take in, but it’s not a problem, any more than finding out that Comet’s a girl was. Come on, guys; let’s go outside for a minute.”
“Have those three whatever-they-were things gone?”
“Yeah; all clear.”
The five youths trooped out into the open and sat in a circle; their favoured pow-wow position. Normally, though, there were eight of them, not five.
“Okay,” Javelin started, “firstly, one of the three who appeared just now was Wildcat.”
“But what’s with the warpaint?” Cougar asked.
“Wildcat somehow ended up in a place called The Settlement. The people there are usually invisible. The paint was so we could see them. I spoke to them. Well, not exactly spoke; they use a strange language that I couldn’t understand until I touched one of them; Wildcat. He doesn’t use that name any more, by the way; they’ve given him a new name. He likes to be called Bleugh.”
“Bleugh? That’s not a name!”
“That’s what I said. It’s what he wants people to call him, though.”
“What did they come for?”
“They came to tell us; the Villagers; to stop going into their domain and stealing things.”
“Not as far as I can see. We thought that maybe it’s them stealing from us, but when Jacob suggested that, they got dead anti and disappeared again.”
“They can disappear? How?”
“They just poured water over themselves, to wash the paint off. They’re invisible underneath. Jacob tried to run after them, but they must move at a fair old lick; he couldn’t get near them.”
“So where do we go from here?” Mustang asked, echoing the sentiment of them all.
“You know that I was taken to see the Arikatoteshika, yeah?”
“The Villagers call him the Curator and the Settlers call him the Great Black Head. Anyway, when I met him, he kind of offered to get us back home, but we all have to agree that it’s what we want, and we all have to be together, here, for it to happen. Trouble is, Hemi and Comet are in the Smoke now, and we don’t know if they’ll ever come out; and Wildcat is in the Settlement and seems happy to stay there. That means we’re stuck here.”
“For how long?” Cobra wanted to know.
“For ever,” was Javelin’s sombre reply, “but I’m not going to let it go at that. I’m going to find a way to talk with the Arikatoteshika again and see what can be done.”
“When can you meet him?”
“I can’t. I have to wait until he calls me. I can’t control when that’s likely to be. Now, I suggest you go back to your new friends, and I’ll go and talk some more with Ruth and Jacob. There’s still the question of the stuff that’s stolen from here on the two-full-moon nights. I’ll let you know later what’s planned for that.”
The four returned to the community hall and Javelin made his way back to Ruth’s house. On the way, he met Jacob running breathlessly toward him.
“Thank God I’ve found you,” Jacob said, “come quick.”
“What’s up, Jacob?” Javelin asked.
“It’s Ruth,” Jacob sobbed, “I think she’s dead.”