Wren, Perilon, and Fenea all snapped their necks back towards the thunder-cracking sounds emanating from the discolored storm heading in from the east. They would see the flashes of lightning and then count to see how long it’d take for the ‘booming sounds’ to roll in. This was going to be a big one! Wren, the youngest of the three, had only seen thirteen cycles but he was old enough to know that they would likely lose the best early harvest he could ever remember. Mom and Dad were going to be very upset! He broke his gaze away from the incoming storm that was eerily roiling in on itself, gaining speed and momentum in the distance heading towards them. Peering through his blue eyes, and holding his dusty blonde locks out of his face as the wind picked up – he glanced over in the direction of: “Perilon… Fenea… have you ever seen a storm like that before?” Nodding in an easterly direction.
“No Wren… I haven’t” Said Perilon - who was three years his senior. Perilon was tall and lanky for his sixteen years of age; literally a young man grown. His dark summer tan blending in with his dark brown hair that was partially bleached by the sun. Perilon spoke up again. “Hey Wren… sis…. snap out of it… we should probably go check in with mom and dad.” Fenea – a younger, but female spitting image of her elder brother Perilon said: “Something’s wrong. This doesn’t look or even sound like any storm I’ve ever seen before. It also seems to be moving in faster, almost….as if… it has a mind of its own.” “We should probably look into getting into one of the storm shelters.” At that moment they all started racing back towards the little hamlet they called Ryeton. Three diminutive figures drabbed in their scraggly brown and gray work clothes quickly flitted across the fields between neatly wrapped piles of scythed winter wheat. They were moving as quick as their young spindly legs would allow towards the quaint homes fast coming into focus.
In the few minutes it took them to reach the outskirts of the town’s first houses they heard the loudest rumble they’d yet heard. This one they could actually feel through the soles of their dried out and cracked leather sandals. A few of the townspeople were scurrying around and nailing long thick boards over their windows. A young toddler was screaming in the background. The distressed mother’s ministrations to calm the ballistic infant doing little as she tried to shake the child into submission. It was Wren who spoke first, or rather yelled at a nearby male figure he recognized as one of Perilon’s uncles: “Hey! Bendt! Do you know where mom or dad are!?” Bendt – an older man likely in his late forties with a shock of light gray hair – paused, looked over and said “Wren! Your parents are worried sick looking for you! They’re out in your family field trying to save anything they can before this storm hits!” “You kids should get into one of the shelters – and soon!” Bendt looked over with a look of something like tolerance at Perilon and Fenea “Your parents are also out there helping Wrens.” “Look… I gotta go… this storm looks like it will be hitting here in a few minutes!” At that moment, Bendt stopped and lightly pinched Perilon’s left shoulder while punching a heavy burlap package into Perilon’s right arm and said: “Your dad’s acting funny again; but…. he wanted me to give this to you, said it was important, and said that you and your sister need to get it to your uncle David.” “Said he wants you kids to know he loves you if anything goes wrong.” Bendt shook his head from side to side – “I think your parents will be fine; but you all need to get to the nearest storm shelter now!” “Now move along!” Perilon understandably hesitated & retorted: “Uncle David?! But Dad & you no longer talk to uncle David anymore I thought? Also; isn’t he in Utropia?” Bendt glared: “Perilon… there’s no time to explain. Please – I’m just the messenger and he told me that you need to get this package to your uncle. What your dad & I do agree on is that you kids might have to flee if this storm is ….something else.” Uncle Bendt peered east while looking over the top of Perilon’s head and squinted towards the distance while saying: “We can’t really tell yet what this storm is about… it’s … too early.” Bendt looked towards the storm and scowled. “Kids! Be careful!” “Perilon! Fenea! Never forget your legacy! Now scoot! All of you!” “Tis better to be safe than sorry.”
Wren looked over at Perilon and Fenea. They each looked at the other and in their unspoken language already knew instinctively what the other was thinking. Ignoring Bendts advice in seeking out the nearest storm shelter they instead started running towards Wren’s parent’s farm.
Breathless, they arrived at the outskirts of Wren’s parents farm on the edge of the little town which consisted of a few well kempt wood & white plaster one and two story buildings which served various purposes. A small two-story home with branch and thicket thatching, two different kinds of barns, a small work shed that doubled as a smithy, and a couple of wagon sized wood cylinders with steel banding used to house grains. It only took a few more minutes to get there and Perilon made it to their unspoken destination first, followed by Wren, and then Fenea just a split second later. Together, they searched the entire area flitting amongst tied together wheat stalks that would likely be enough for next year’s harvest. The problem though was that neither set of parents were anywhere to be found. The three yelled for their parents a few times but their pleas were drowned out by the noise of the wind and the effects this storm was having on upsetting various farm instruments not tied down or secured. The kids surmised that their parents must have already safely tucked themselves into one of the many storm shelters scattered around the small town & nearby farmsteads for just this type of emergency. The howl caused by the gusts preceding the gale force storm were picking up and making it more difficult to hear. The storm itself was nearing and brandishing the ugly colors of ochre mixed in with what looked like a sooty cloud. Periodically, lightning would flash and light up the sky with a near instantaneous rumble followed just a few seconds later – the dangerous storm was getting closer by the second. Very light rain could now be felt and it smelled - carrying some type of undistinguishable odor. The three, started scrambling for the nearest shelter.
Suddenly the ground felt like a moving ocean underneath their feet. All three, Wren, Perilon, and Fenea were just now starting to panic. Perilon even dropped the package once that he’d been given but was able to quickly retrieve it. They likely wouldn’t make it in time to the nearest shelter where their parents were likely huddled. Instead, they ran towards an abandoned house they used to play in when they were younger. They had built a fort there once upon a time. However; those were happier days for all of them. The house on top now was nothing but a skeleton of its past sporting a series of old weathered beams blackened by the fire that consumed it. The family occupying it several years ago however wasn’t so lucky, and due to their ill luck it was thought to be haunted with their ghosts. It was this legacy which is what had made the husk of a structure such an alluring fort and hiding place for this motley band of three. They were inseparable. Always seeking adventure and always managing to find it in the least likely of places. Even if it was just a myth mostly made up by their overactive childhood imaginations. When they reached their destination, they quickly pulled back a few of the older super thick hardwood floorboards and disappeared like little raggedy brown and gray ghosts into the scorched hearth. They’d rehearsed this maneuver dozens of times in their past; able to elude their pursuers in the blink of an eye. They immediately placed the 2 heavy boards back into place. This was their secret hiding place. No one had ever discovered them when they were playing hide and find (Seek) here. Just a few seconds later the full force of the storm hit little Ryeton with vengeance and rage.
This didn’t feel, or sound like any storm the three of them had ever felt or experienced before. It was Fenea who motioned to the other two by placing a finger over her lips. She was sniffing at what she knew was smoke. The town was burning, the ground shaking, the sky itself sounded as if it was screaming in agony. How could anything be burning if it also sounded like it was raining? They heard the most awful noises. All three of them covered their ears, even trying to close their eyes in the hopes it would somehow make the noises go away. They couldn’t really see what was going on outside and that was for the best. They’d smelled burnt wheat stalks before, and the very familiar smell of burning wood. However; there was an even more sickly burnt smell in the air. The livestock!? Or worse?! No! No… No…. this cannot be happening. This is a nightmare, a very awful dream, it has to be! Surely, we will wake up from this and tell the other two about it. This isn’t real. The problem is, when one of them would peek through their eyelids and look at the other, the feeling was too visceral to not be real.
The ground shook, rumbling, and was later punctuated with an odd creaking, and clanking type of sound. As of metal grinding on metal. This screeching, creaking, groaning sound went on for at least twenty minutes getting louder and louder until it felt as if it was right on top of them. Then suddenly... the deafening racket stopped. The only thing that could be heard was that familiar popping and cracking sound that wood makes when it’s engulfed in a huge fire consuming whatever fuel it can find. Their other senses were so overwhelmed that nothing else was discernable. Perilon’s eyes were streaming hot salty tears from the fear of the situation they were in. He didn’t know what he could do. He was still clutching the burlap package uncle Bendt had thrust on him. He didn’t know why in this time of peril he wanted to do so; but if he was going to perish, then he might as well know what was inside the package. He pulled the strings off the heavy burlap cloth that enveloped what? Well, it turned out to be nothing more than very large non-descript black cloak. He noticed that both his sister Fenea, and Wren, must have literally passed out from fear – their senses overwhelmed by the Storm. Perilon huddled in close to them, threw the cloak over all of their heads, said a quick prayer to Ona, and passed out.
Published by Matt Ployhar (Thought Ops LLC) www.thoughtops.com
March 5th, 2018
First (Web) Edition
Jhost (tm) Series, and The world called Hope is Copyright © 2018 and TM 2018 by Matt Ployhar. All content posted to page copyright ©2017-present, and intellectual property of Thoughtops.com/Matt Ployhar. All Rights Reserved. No use or reproduction of characters or artwork permitted. This story & book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. Do not use, edit, re-upload, or redistribute any content in any way. Visitors may view content belonging to the author and nothing more. Any use in any way is strictly forbidden. All of these works are not public domain, never have been, and never will be. Do not use, re-upload, edit, etc. any text, image, or character. Artwork of Jhost uploaded to artist's portfolios share these rights and reservations.Any similarity between persons alive or dead is purely coincidental.
Online published in the United States of America
First Printing, 2018
Jhost™ is a primary character from my original fantasy fiction novel. Jhost is navigating his way in a world called Hope - he does not recollect. The story of Jhost has been around since 2003 and is only now being unveiled.