Phillip was beginning to panic. It seemed like hours since Cierra had left. How long would she be gone? He walked until he was exhausted but the surroundings never changed.
“Don’t bother, young one. Unless you have the natural abilities within you then you are unable to control this place.”
“Who are you?” Phillip asked, actually grateful to see someone else.
“I am Dream Walker.”
“Are you a shaman too?”
“Of course. I’m here aren’t I?”
“Can you get me out of here then?”
“The only one who can get you out is yourself.”
“But you said I can’t control this place,” Phillip said, exasperated.
“No, you can’t. But you can control yourself. That is all any person can hope for.”
The Dream Walker began a leisurely stroll and Phillip hurried to join him, asking questions. He rapid fired them but Dream Walker remained silent, ignoring the young man’s questions.
Phillips was getting annoyed with the man but he never got the chance to say so. He found himself suddenly sinking into the ground, like it was quicksand.
“Hey, help me out of here!” he demanded of the older man.
He was ignored. Phillip felt the cold ooze seeping past his calves. “I mean it, give me a hand!” he demanded once more.
Now the coldness was making his lower legs numb and he was rapidly getting deeper.
“Hey, Dream Walker, any time now!” Surely the man wouldn’t let him die in the quicksand?
“Dream Walker? You can’t leave me in here,” he whimpered. The coldness was now hip high.
Now the older man spoke. “And why should I have compassion for one who has none for others?” Dream Walker turned his back on Phillip and looked at the horizon.
Phillip was feeling genuine fear now. He was going to die and that man was going to let him sink and drown. He was now buried up to his armpits. Tears began streaming down his cheeks.
He didn’t want to die. He began pleading for the man to help him but the man kept his back to him. Now the coldness was up to his neck, threatening to smoother him. He tried to lift his chin, holding onto life to the last second.
He realized he had gotten as much kindness from the man as he had shown others. Phillip knew this was his punishment and he was going to die. He felt the icy coldness enter his ears and almost into his mouth. “I’m sorry,” he whimpered. He felt himself sink completely into the ooze, only his fingers free of the quicksand.
He held his breath, feeling the very air in his lungs beginning to burn, urging him to take a breath. Then a warm hand grabbed his and began pulling. His head rose above the surface and he gasped for air and struggled to escape from the certain death. He held onto the hand for dear life until he found himself on solid ground.
“Thank you,” he panted out.
“You’re welcomed. It’s what any decent human being would do,” Cierra told him.
She waved her hand over his head and the cold goo on his body disappeared. He suddenly felt warmer.
“Compassion and respect is all that a person needs to live in harmony with others. You need to remember that,” she said kindly.
Phillip felt tears threaten to spill over his cheeks. He nodded and stood up.
“Are you ready to go back to the colony?”
“You’ll let me?”
She didn’t answer. “Give me your hand, please.”
He reached out his hand and allowed her to take it.
Cierra looked into his soul and nodded. “You can go back.” She released his hand and gave him a push.
Phillip fell back and gasped. He opened his eyes and realized he was on a bed in the hospital. He looked around until he saw Cierra, who was slowly sitting up with the help of her spouse.
She took a deep breath and stretched before looking his way. She nodded at him then stood up. “You are excused from work tomorrow. Think about things for a day,” she suggested. JP took Cierra’s hand and they walked out of the room.
Cierra told JP about what had happened in the corridor. Her bondmate listened quietly without interference until she was done. JP was curious though.
“Why didn’t he pull him out? You might have gotten there too late and he would have died.”
The Shaman had to think about it for a moment. “I doubt that would have happened. In that place things happen for a reason and a Shaman can only control so much. But I was the one who brought Phillip there. I told Dream Walker that the boy needed to learn respect and fear since he had none of others.”
“Your hand had to be the giver of both punishment and salvation,” JP said in wonder.
Cierra stopped and looked up at JP. Her mate was often the quiet one and if one forgot to look deeper, overlooked the woman’s intelligence. “Yes, exactly. Phillip had to know that I had the power of life and death over him. Everyone who chose to come to Mother Earth gave that power to me. I can’t take that lightly and neither can he. Either I am his friend or his judge, he had to choose.”
“Do you think he learned his lesson?”
“I think so, but Phillip never had firm guidance in his life. He may be an adult physically but he’s a spoiled brat emotionally. The colony raises all children here and he can’t be an exception. Putting the fear of punishment into him isn’t enough. He has to learn the tools of how to live with others.”
“With you as a good example, how can he not learn?” JP smiled warmly.
Jonesy was amazed how quickly the baby llama was growing. She was already taller than the flock of sheep around her. She was telling the women at her lunch table about it.
“I wish we had a few more to breed with. Joyce said they make great pack animals and will guard the flock.”
Mary was sitting at the next table and added llamas to her mental list. She kept careful watch of the colony, doing her best to see what they needed or wanted. Every possible item could be used as goodwill tokens or for bartering.
She drank the last of her tea as she listened to the council go over the plans for the new quad homes. Originally they had planned on additional long houses but in light of so many wanting more privacy they compromised.
Four family units would be built around a common area that was both kitchen and social area. The kitchen would have a large fireplace and the four units small ones for heat. The large fireplace would have an oven built into the side and a water heater built into the rear. Each building would also have a hand pump for water and flow toilets made with clay pipes running the length of it. The piping would actually run in a nearly straight line and so would the buildings. It would be much easier to build that way.
The actual living spaces for the families would be a large L shape, with children on one wall and the parents on the other. This left plenty of room for a small shared bathing room for two families and water closets. Each family would have a small living room area for times when they didn’t feel like socializing. The corner areas would be small storage rooms for the family. Since the ceiling would be high there would be ample room to build upwards, making small rooms on stilts if needed. The unit walls in each would be made of wooden poles and woven mats but each family could easily use cob to thicken them if desired.
The plans were going to be tacked onto communal wall where the families and couples could choose where to live. Some people wanted to share buildings and others didn’t care. They would place their names on pieces of paper and people would shift as needed until the homes were settled on.
Obviously the buildings further away would be walking more but since cooking, bathing, and laundry were possible in each building it wouldn’t be that much of a hardship.
During the warmer months most would eat lunch at the communal building but breakfast and dinners would be done in their common areas at home. The four families could decide either to take turns cooking or share the duties each meal.
Since the buildings would be built on each side of the large stream the council had already begun building more footbridges and clearing paths for walking. Having five young men working to repay society helped of course. For the last month and a half they had been worked from sunrise to sundown. Mary could foresee hard labor as being a possible punishment for smaller crimes in the future. It got things done and the guilty parties had incentive not to do it again.
The work crews would arrive in a few days and would be permitted to use their power equipment in order to make the buildings quickly. The colonists who weren’t working on the fields would help gather natural materials for building.
Mary felt a hand settling on her shoulder. She looked up and smiled as Sara sat next to her. “Hi, love. How’s the clay crew doing?”
“Okay, the molds are nearly dry. Cyd will fire them in a few days. That was a lot of pipes we had to make.”
“Well, that’s a long way from end to end. At least everyone will still get flow toilets rather than having to go outside to an outhouse.”
“Lord, isn’t that the truth. I’m glad all the buildings get a pump too. I had imagined them having to haul water from a well.”
Mary was going to comment but outside the bell starting clanging. Everyone went outside to see who was approaching.
Carey yelled up to the tower guard, asking what was going on.
“Two riders heading this way!” the woman yelled back as she held the binoculars to her eyes. “Hey, I recognize one of them. They’re from the BOC.”
A minute later the two riders came to a halt and looked for Cierra. She recognized one of the men as a cadet from the Asimov, named Bailey if she remembered it right.
He walked up to her excitedly, drawing off his hat and saluting. “You aren’t gonna believe this but we found people!”
Author’s note: That will be it for the Mother Earth Series for a while. I promised to attempt to finish Reining in the Belle and Sinagua Skies plus I have convinced my beta reader to try and co-write a story with me that she has come up with. Whew I need more hours in the day.
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