From There is a Generation – Chapter 1 “War Games”
A black cloud entwined with orange flame erupted out of the roof of the shack, scattering cinders in tracer-like arches. Dry, sun baked wood exploded in a ball of fire as the roof collapsed, gulping beams and shingles and spewing up sparks and embers. The heat made me turn my face and hike a shoulder for a shield. Peeking past my arm, boiling smoke towered above the shanty making an asphalt-colored road across a blue sky.
“Man alive!” Hect yelled. “I ain’t never!” “Everyone for miles saw that.” “Let’s git!” Hect sprinted in the opposite direction from town, leaving his rifle. I started to follow but stopped, looking toward home, wondering what to do. Behind me, Hect had already shrunk in size with the distance. I must decide. Once he reached the brush, he’d be gone, and I’d be left alone. Hearing the wail of sirens from the direction of town, only one thing came to mind—they’re coming! Oh, they’re coming! They’ll be here! Still undecided, I looked at the burning shack. The sight almost knocked me over. Within a fiery window, a figure stood like someone having a peek outside, except for being engulfed in flames. For a horrifying instant, we faced each other as two strangers meeting, except that one of us blazed in a ghastly torch. Fire leaped out the window, past the human shape, in petals of rosy flame. Glass shards blew out in what must’ve been a furnace-like rush of wind, shattering in the air.
The tinkling noise jolted me. I took off after Hect. “Wait! Wait! Wait up!” Hect stopped and put his hands on his waist rolls. He huffed and blew as his shoulders lifted and fell. “Wait!” I ran with all my might, gasping for air. “Wait up! Someone… in…there!” “What?” “In shack…someone.” Hect bent over, huffing, his round face lifting, looking at me. “Can’t be.” “Someone…I tell you.” Running in the soft sand was more like falling forward and catching myself with each step. “In window.” “Naw.” “On fire. I saw him.” “Why ain’t…he showed hisself…’fore now?” he said in between breaths. “Shooting at him.” I caught up to him. With my hands on the small of my back, I leaned backward, panting. “Or maybe…drunk.” We both turned and looked at the shanty. The smoke reached so far into a cloudless sky, it looked like a narrow thunderhead. Sirens wailed in the distance. “Gotta go! Let’s git!” “Wait!” I couldn’t think. Everything happened so fast. “Don’t leave me…alone.” “Not alone…for long.” He panted. “Firemen coming…sheriff, too.” “We run, we’ll look guilty.” “We stay, we go to jail. Ever been?” “No.” “Like to?” “Well…” “Meanest rascals on earth in jail.” He took a breath. “A softy like you wouldn’t last no time.” After one last look toward home, we ran into a broad, waterless desert. Keep Reading…
From There is a Generation II – Chapter 1 “The Camp”
The sun bore down with cremating heat out of a vaulted sky. Even the buzzing flies passed by with what sounded like tiny screams. Four long trailers had parked in a semicircle close by a “town of spirits,” as Raul had called the ghost town in his so-so English. Empty buildings in various stages of collapse gave the one-intersection town with its dirt roads a haunted look. The tallest structure in town, a water tower, had a death’s-head painted on it. Below the skull and crossbones, the Spanish word Toxico had been added. Past the water tower stretched a wide, flat desert whose lonely occupants, whirlwinds, waltzed across a sandy dance floor.
Young men stood motionless in evenly spaced lines. Most looked about my age, fifteen or so, and yet at the same time older somehow. No one spoke, nor did any eye stray from straight ahead. I surveyed the rows of sunburned faces searching for Hect, hoping to find him, despite knowing better. Sure enough, no luck. How sad to come all the way across the Mexican desert to finally locate the notorious hidden camp and, more importantly, to rescue my best friend and end up empty-handed. Keep Reading….
From There is a Generation III – Chapter 1 “Colonel Bonaparte”
The Russian transport—which, when I first heard it called a Lisunov Li-2 in the Mexican desert reminded me of another plane I’d flown on, the TWA Douglas DC-3—dropped, bucked, shuddered, and pitched like at any second we’d come apart in midair. I kept a nervous watch out a square, porthole-sized window into a black, cave-like opening. When lightning flashed, foothill peaks appeared so jagged there would be no chance of ever finding a spot to crash-land. I overheard one passenger describe the snowcapped crag towering above us as the volcano El Popo. Our plane tossed up and down in the storm worse than being in the hands of some deranged juggler. Who cared anymore about going to the city of Bogotá? Nor did I worry about what might await us once we got to Colombia, South America or even how Hect and I would ever get back home. None of that mattered at the moment. I only wanted to get down on the ground in one piece. Keep Reading…