Welcome Guest [Log In] [Register]
ZetaBoards - Free Forum Hosting
Free Forums. Reliable service with over 8 years of experience.
Learn More · Register for Free
Viewing Single Post From: Carry the Fire
The Burned Handler
Member Avatar
I used to be a handler like you, then I turned into a horse.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
In the course of a few hours, the entire city of Kingman, Arizona ground to a halt. The fist of God itself had come down from on high and slugged each and every one of the 28,000 or so souls in the city square in the gut. Two buses, 107 students of Cochise High School, had disappeared without a trace. Kingman PD scoured the desert and the sky turned pink like blood in water, and would keep searching as long as it took. Everyone knew what happened somewhere deep down but refused to say it. To name it would give it power and bring it into being. Even unnamed, though, reality choked the life out of the city.

Night approached and nobody moved who didn't absolutely have to, until as one a wave of mourners - who hoped, deep down, there would prove nothing to mourn - descended upon Cochise. Streetlamps dimmed but soon thousands upon thousands of candles sprung to life, washing the grounds and the streets around Cochise in light. The flashes of cameras, held by reporters and citizens alike, were little thunderclaps that briefly drew attention then faded away.

Funny how it took something like this for Roderick Kanuho to realise just how many people were in this town. Candle flames flickered and swayed in Kingman's ever-present wind, but none dimmed or faded, held up by a horde of concerned citizens who hoped their prayers wouldn't turn into mourning. They hoped even knowing what they would find and Roderick couldn't find it in himself to condemn it. After all, he still felt the cold panic deep in his guts clawing at his heart which had started as confusion and over the course of that evening turned to dread. Something hadn't been right when classes came to an end and he was warming up for practise, some of the wrestlers wanting to keep on top of their game even with the season over and with him wanting to put his healed ankle through its paces, and nobody was back yet. Then when Nadia and his teammates never answered the texts he sent them. Then when it was growing dark and the news spread and Kingman's fleet of police cruisers went on the hunt and the journalists started circling.

Someone had muttered the possibility that was getting more real every second and Roderick had told them to shut the fuck up.

Now he stood bathed by candlelight and his palm being warmed by one he held himself as he stood among the crowd in one of his best suits, hoping in the less rational part of his mind he would suddenly wake up next to Nadia and tell her about the fucked up dream he'd just had. They would laugh and he would kiss her and then go on a long run to forget all about it. His father stood to his left, an unyielding boulder of a man who looked like he could wrestle a grizzly to the ground and filled out his business suit like a knight in plate armour, staring straight ahead with effortless solemnity and dignity that made Roderick wish he knew how to hide his own thoughts half as well. His mother took the other side, her composure not as practised but also not as strained to those who knew what to look for. Roderick had needed help from both of them to come here without wearing dread and heartache on his sleeve.

Traditionally Navajo did not mourn the way American culture did. To speak the names of the dead was to invite evil spirits that would make you obsess with grief. But 107 school children had just vanished and the worst was feared and tradition could be broken from to hope for their safe return.

A podium faced the crowd and from it spoke Mayor Lionel Sharpe, his craggy and desert-worn face having replaced the usual genial "aw shucks" grin with a determined scowl that suggested he intended to track down whatever had caused Cochise's students to disappear and throttle it to death. This was the most understated and most important speech of his career. Roderick wouldn't have voted for Sharpe in the last mayoral elections if he'd been of age, the man's usual style was all grand sweeping gestures with his far-too-long arms and booming Shakespeare-quoting oratory and ignorance of Kingman's insignificance. Tonight however his exuberance and flair for the dramatic were gone. The mayor's shoulders were tense and although his face was neutral Roderick could see the tightness of Sharpe's jaw and the low hiss in his tone that gave away the concern and rage boiling inside him. He didn't swear or spin oaths of vengeance or call God to answer for His callousness, but his voice showed iron in his spine that Roderick had no idea existed.

It kept his attention until Sharpe was done. The mayor's shoulders sagged and he visibly let out a breath but his eyes still had fire in them as evidenced by him glaring right through the first reporter to try to ask him something.

"I'll answer questions when we have answers," he said in the voice of a king pondering whether or not to order someone's head struck from their shoulders. Then Sharpe all but stormed off the podium, stopping only for a whispered word with City Manager Gordon Parker before taking a seat.

At Parker's word, three figures stepped forwards: a priest, an imam and a rabbi. Kimiko was among the missing and she was Taoist, but there simply wasn't a Daoshi around these parts, so the absence of one was forgivable. The three old men spoke one at a time, announcing that they wished to lead a multi-faith prayer for the safety of all missing students and staff members, and the shifting crowd fell quiet. A rippling wave travelled up and down its mass as people bowed their heads and listened to the words being spoken. Roderick cast a look around and saw the chief of police, the Mohave County Sheriff, the city council, and ancient Gregory Luz with his clan gathered around him, including the pitcher Crisanto dressed up and groomed for a change, all among those falling silent to listen.

Rod thought about Nadia, and Clarice, and Ty, and Harold, and Scout and Kimiko and Travis and everyone else, and then bowed his head and held his eyes shut and tried to ignore the thundering of his heart.
Edited by The Burned Handler, Sep 24 2016, 05:34 AM.
MurderWeasel getting impatient
Hiya, jerk! Please don't post until edits have been completed, as doing so causes confusion/messes up the queue.

18:48 Ruggawork I have faith in you!
18:48 Ruggawork and your ass!

16:35 Kilmarnock Maybe Iktor?
16:35 Kilmarnock Maybe Toben.
16:35 Kilmarnock hard to tell until they make out with me.
16:35 *** mib_6brm7d is now known as Irene

Things SOTFers say
Offline Profile Quote Post
Carry the Fire · V6 Meanwhile...