Imagine a desert. Golden sand, the kind that gets stuck in your shoe. Gusts of wind that pick up the top layer of sand and push it into tall mounds, or dunes. The sun is high, bright, and hot, but there is no shelter. To prevent the dehydration of our imaginations, we will spin the sky until the sun has set and all is dark. There are no lights, so there are thousands of stars in the sky. You hear a click by your left foot. You jump back in surprise, and the scorpion scuttles by. The desert is teeming with life, but unfortunately I don’t remember enough animals to describe it very well. So we’ll start walking, knowing the creatures are there, barely visible in the crescent moon light, but not important enough for us to linger.
We walk for hours. I am now slightly bored of the desert, so I speed things up, until we are at the base of a large mountain range. From the ground, we observe that there is very little plant life on the dark, steep, rocky slopes. But there is an orange light reflecting off one of the walls. Let us explore.
Not far from where we are standing is a hidden path. It is well-used, but seems to disappear into the rock-face. By now you may have noticed that I am an impatient narrator, so I point out the hidden path to you, and we begin to climb. Even in this dry climate, the rocks slip beneath our feet. Although this may sound like a paradox, neither of us notices that we are being followed by something from the desert. (I am merely pointing this out to you so you do not get confused later.) The path winds back and forth, never seeming to lead directly to the orange glow. Unused to the climb, we become tired, and I once again use my marvelous narrating skills to find us a hidden stream. You question the purity of the water; I tell you to shut up and remember that we are not in the modern world. Our stalker has no qualms about drinking from the stream. We do not even notice it.
Although I am bored with the climb, I am highly amused by your suffering, as I’m sure most narrators are, so I do not offer to make it any easier for you.
We reach the top — or rather, the top of our climb. We are only about halfway up the mountainside. If we continued to the real top of the mountain, we would entirely miss the orange glow. I ask you what we should do. You — tired, hungry, and thirsty — reply that the glow is probably a fire, which means people, which means food, water, and shelter. This is perfectly logical reasoning, and I’m sure how I would respond in the same situation. However, being the all-powerful narrator (how I love rubbing it in), I warn you to be cautious. You are very rude, rolling your eyes at me and tramping toward the orange glow. I follow quietly.
“Welcome, we —“ is all you manage to say as you enter the orange glow, arms raised in a “we come in peace” gesture. I am sure that you also meant to add “we mean you no harm.” Both of these actions would have made sense if you were speaking to Americans from the present. However, you weren’t. I circle around in front of you. Your eyes are wide in surprise, staring at the spear in your chest. I look calmly at your attacker.
There is a small girl, eleven, maybe twelve, crouched on the other side of the fire against a rock-face. There is nowhere else to go — we have blocked her escape. She is clearly frightened, and is holding her only remaining weapon, a log from the fire, out to attack me if I get any closer to her. She is wearing light brown robes and cloth wrapped around her face. I can tell from the footprints that she is barefoot. And just as a reminder, she does not speak English. I do not know what language she speaks, but she exclaimed something that sounded like “choo!” when she speared you.
I place a hand over your eyes. They suddenly flare with warmth, and when I remove my hand you are alive again. Understandably, you are very confused. I fill you in. The girl remains wary, but she is considering relaxing. “She killed me?!” you cry.
“Yes. We are in a dangerous time and place. The people here will not hesitate long enough to ask questions of those who threaten them.”