“We break over a ridge and leave the last rotting tire behind us. The ferns on the other side are green waves in an emerald sea. Two ancient redwoods sprout from them. I think of pillars dividing the known from the unknown, the living from the dead.
“Brooke sits, and the sun hits him just right as he braces against the huge root to get comfortable. He breathes the breath of a god and the golden light frames him as if it recognizes his strength: the right to do what we do.
“Then the root blackens and the tree shakes and the green sea around him turns brown and withered. Brooke opens his eyes, and I can tell — he knows that despite the bullshit he's been feeding me about coping, you can't find a place where the doom won't follow.”
War. What is it good for?
Brooke glances around. Empty. A moment's glimpse had the dreary landscape replaced. Dark storm clouds became a shining sun, the howl of the wind blowing through empty huts became children laughing. It was brimming and bustling with life, and then with the blink of an eye it was a husk of what it once was.
Not even a spirit stirred. It was like someone draped a blanket over the landscape and smothered it until it stopped kicking. He stood up and neared the lonely huts and neglected gardens. There wasn't a single thing out of place. It was almost as if everything disappeared. It was there, and now it wasn't.
She placed a hand on his shoulder, his muscles tensed for a moment until her familiar presence was recognized. He didn't turn around to face her. He held the stitched doll within his hand and stared at it. His brows furrowed, the same look he gave when he was reading someone.
“We need to get going now. It's already late.”
“People don't just get up and leave.
“They don't just disappear without a trace. Everything they had is right here. Why would they just drop it? What was so important that they didn't even have the time to gather their belongings?”
She didn't respond immediately. His questions were rhetorical, and just as she predicted he soon continued.
“That's because they didn't. They were taken someplace by something.”
Great. That only leaves the question of where does an entire tribe disappear to. He didn't have an answer to that.
They could walk all they wanted, but the doom would follow.