Footsteps echoed in the entrance of the cave, Fema clutched the thick page to her chest as she ran deeper into the cold cavern. “Deyody!” she shouted, “I’ve got it!” her small, bare feet slapped the cold rock as she ran after her brother.
Deyody had already reached their secret room and had lit the lanterns before he heard Fema’s call. “You better have that picture! Or you can’t stay. No girls! Remember?”
No girls. This truly hurt Fema’s feeling, and she tried her best to hold back tears while the rock below her tested her feet. She knew if she cried they would not let her into their club, and she had risked more than a beating for the prize she had clutched in her small hands. This prize would win her acceptance into her brother’s group.
Coming to a halt before the lit room, Fema straighten herself up, tucked her prize neatly under her arm, and walked into the room with the dignity of a notable. She entered the room to find her brother alone. “I’ve got it!” Fema sang and smiled wide at her brother.
“Let me see it,” he grabbed the page from Fema’s grip and slid it so fast it sliced into the meat of her palm. Silent tears began to fall then, and Fema looked away. Blood trickled down her fingers, and fat droplets fell onto the dirty floor. Deyody hadn’t even noticed; he was intensely studying the page.
“Fema, did Notable…” he had glanced at his sister then and noticed she was hurt. Shame settled in the pit of his stomach, and he reached out to comfort her, using his shirt to wipe the tears from her face. “I am sorry, Fema,“ he said grabbing her tiny hand, “please don’t cry. “ He blotted the blood from her hand and pulled her into a hug.
“I can’t believe you were able to get this out of Notable Warrington’s hut,” he grinned at her, wide eyed, “you are so clever… and brave.”
She was smiling now, though dried tear tracks marked her dirty face. “Does this mean I can be in your club?” Fema whispered.
Deyody looked surprised, and straightened up, “I will have to talk to the others, and see if… see if they can make an… exception.” He wasn’t too sure of himself, but the answer was good enough for Fema. She danced over to the corner and sat down.
It wasn’t long before the chattering of voices could be heard over shuffling feet. Moments later three boys entered the room. Fema recognized two of the boys, Aphis and Nato. They always dressed the same but in different colors. While they were not related, they both had the same dark brown hair, unlike hers and Deyody’s, which was so white it seemed to glow in the dark. They noticed Fema at once, and Aphis sneered, “What’s she doing here Deyo?”
Deyody shot a fierce look at his friend, “She’s my guest; does it really matter… who’s that?” he pointed to a boy in red who stood a little behind the other two.
The boy took a few steps forward and extended his hand, “Hi, I’m Bob.”
Deyody stared at the outstretched hand with a look of disgust and turned his eyes toward his friends, “I found this cave. You’re suppose to ask me before bringing anyone here.” His voice echoed loudly and traveled out of the room.
“His family is new to our tribe,” Nato mustered, “They came from the desert, and they are staying with me until their hut is prepared.”
The desert peaked Deyody’s interest, and he lightened. “What did you say your name was?” he asked the boy in red.
“Bob,” he said. Deyody bent over; laughter ricocheted through the rooms of the cave. Red flashed across Bob’s face, “What’s wrong with my name?”
“Nothing,” Deyody replied, “I have never heard that before… it’s a funny name.”
Bob didn’t think so, and was quick to get in Deyody’s face, “It is my father’s name, and his father’s name, and his father before that… and if you don’t stop laughing, you will be VERY sorry.”
The laughter stopped, it was agreed that Bob was a fine name, and they all sat down on the cold floor.
Fema wasted no time showing the others what she had taken from Notable Warrington. The page was passed from one to the other and similar sounds of astonishment leaked from each of the boys. Books were rare, and no book, that any of the boys had ever seen, had pictures like this. The colors were vivid and the page was glossy. It was a little worn and had begun to peel at the top right corner.
There were several frames, and in each there was a man who looked to be made of metal. His body was sleek, muscled, but shiny. In all of the frames he was pictured with an oblong disc made of the same metal as his body. In one frame he would be carrying it, in the others; he was gliding through the air, between enormous buildings made of glass and light.
Questions flew, imaginations soared, and spirits lifted. The page filled them with hope, They didn’t want to return it, but they knew they must.
Bob interrupted their thoughtful silence, “I am good with paint. I might be able to copy this.” Deyody smiled and ran to the corner of the room and rummaged for his paints.
Using his hands alone, Bob retraced the shape of the metal man. Defining the lines that made his body look human; he even recreated the man’s intense stare. The others sat and watched, amazed, as Bob’s pictures came to life on the cold walls of the cave.
No words were spoken when Bob had finished his masterpiece. The boys stood back and stared as Fema rushed off to replace what she had stolen.