Faylor’s hands did not wait for his mind to wake from sleep. His right hand had already grabbed the blade, and his left landed flat on the radio before he realized he was alone in the woods. Yesterdays chase was over, he was safe. He took in a deep breath and lifted himself up to start the day. He washed himself at the lake, dressed and continued Eastward to find the valley between two cliffs.
The sleep had restored strength to his body but his mind needed more time to escape the anxiousness in his bones from being hunted. The sounds and smells of the woods were peaceful to him and in a short time the nervousness faded and he allowed his mind to wander where it pleased. There were dark thoughts of the two lives he had taken. There were thoughts of where he was going. There was a fear in the back of his mind, he was away from his master. Mostly, his thoughts were on the magic box, the radio. The dials and buttons and levers were all mysteries to him and he hoped the congregation would have answers.
After a full day’s journey, he had still not seen the cliffs Wyke spoke of, but he had not expected to see them for another day from the way the route was described. He had bread rations and caught a small squirrel with a trap he learned to make as a small boy. After his dinner, he sat with his back to a tree and placed the box on his lap. He began to flick the switches back and forth and turn the dial, once again, trying to get a clear sound. There was a voice buried in the static he wanted to free. He moved the dial as slowly and deliberately as he could but a clear sound eluded him. He paused and looked up at the trees and the sky. Somehow he knew the sound was in the air and he only needed a way for the box to grab it.
He put the box down at his side and made his mind up to go to sleep, it would only be a day or two until he would have his answers. The crackling fire was strong and made light dance on the radio. It felt as if the box was silently and without movement mocking him.
He began to tinker with it again.
The case was easy to screw off and his fingers were exploring the insides of the device; the battery, the speaker, the modulator, the antenna. He watched to see what moved on the inside as he turned the dials and moved the switches on the outside. “It was a receiver and a transmitter.” He spoke into the device to see what would happen. As his fingers felt their way around he saw that a metal piece had dislodged from its base. It snapped back into place and now a long metal flagpole unfolded to rise out, about six inches, from the box to try and snatch the voice from the air. Faylor knew he had it working. He quickly put the cover and pieces he had taken apart back together.
This time the buttons and dials spoke to him. He felt like a small child learning his first words and speaking his first sentence. He moved the dial and then the voice was clear.
“If you can hear me, please speak to me, we are waiting for you” “If you can hear me, please speak to me, we are waiting for you” Over and over the voice said the same thing. He listened for a few minutes, afraid, who was he was hearing.
Faylor pressed on the button that moved the metal piece that connected to the microphone and spoke, “I can hear you.”
The voice stopped and neither of the two men separated by an unknown distance said a word. Faylor could hear the silence as clearly as he had heard static and as clearly as he had heard the message. There was surprise on the other end of this magical device. Finally the box vibrated with sound again, “Do you know where you are Faylor? Are you safe?”
The voice knew his name. He felt more comfort than alarm at this. The voice was coming from the congregation. “I am safe, I am one day past the lake”
“Continue East, we need you here. Put the radio away, its power is dying by now. I’ll see you soon, son.”
The sound cut out and Faylor turned the switch to close the device. The box stopped vibrating sound and it’s temperature immediately began to cool. He thought again about the innards of the device and remembered it was also said to be a weapon, something inside him smirked at this notion. He put the box back in it’s sack and made his bed for what would be his last night sleeping in the wood. He was less afraid of magic now.
The sun rose brightly the next morning and by mid afternoon he could see where the clearing began. In the distance there were valleys and cliffs. The valley he sought was lush and full of color from being so close to water, it was a lovely sight. He began to approach where the congregation was settled with some excitement.
The first people he saw, of the free men, were women. There were five women washing garments in the river. The suds from the soap were reaching up to their rolled up sleeves. They all straightened up and stood quietly as Faylor approached, they watched him walk closer. He realized it must have been an odd sight for the elderly women to behold. He was no magician, that was clear from his clothes and he was not of a retired age, that was clear from his face. They had cautious smiles and asked him if he was lost.
“I am looking for the leader, Wyke sent me.”
“You shouldn’t be here young man……, ask for John, you’re looking for John”
They went back to their washing. He walked deeper into the settlement. It was more disheveled than he had expected. The people were free but seemed to Faylor as if they were still servants. They were mulling about the congregation busy with menial labor, wood and metal work, fishing and farming. The badge of being a servant had been hard discard and they were not at all as he had hoped.
He felt tall and strong amongst the elderly crowd. The average age of the people appeared to be seventy years. Most had bent backs, limps and other marks common to the aged. He walked through the congregation and they instinctively cleared a path for him, moving out of his way.
All he asked for, was John. Each man and women he passed he asked for John and in turn they pointed him closer to his destination. He would ask the next person he encountered the same question and he was directed closer. Finally he arrived at the largest tent of the encampment. He stood outside and knocked on the wood door post of the canvas structure.. There was no answer, he walked inside.
TO BE CONTINUED…