– – –
“That is right. Keep coming. Come to Petra. Bring your people. Take them with you. Bring them. Bring them to Petra. Keep coming. You are almost there. Do not lose faith. Do not lose hope. Bring them. Bring your people to Petra.” The angels voice softly faded away into the depths of my dream as he smiled his sweet, embracing smile and radiated a golden glow that brought joy and tranquility to my soul. The angel waved his arm, bathed in robes of white, as my dream began to ripple like the precious waters of the oasis. Once again my eyes rested on the intricate designs of the rocky temples hidden within the deep valley. The protective, stone buildings that protruded from the canyon walls lay dormant, waiting within their lost location. Waiting with great patience…
– – –
Suddenly, my dream was abruptly disturbed as I awakened with deep fear. I had heard a sound. I glanced around at my people huddled together for warmth as they slept through the bitter, desert night. Many were awake as they searched the skies overhead. The same look of solicitude was expressed on their faces, as on mine. They had heard the sound too.
My father sat up beside me with a slight groan. “Did you hear that?” he asked me in a curious whisper. I replied with a nod as the silence loomed over our group. No one spoke. No one moved. We just…listened. The wind was calm, and the sky dark. Along with the crescent moon, the stars that littered the sky emitted a low glow on the sand.
Then it was there again. The noise easily echoed through the empty Jordan Desert and brought shame and guilt to my heart. Worry was struck through my people as the shrill scream rang in the distance. It was a human scream. Miles into the East, a ferocious animal-like roar followed. We stood under the stars as we listened in horror. Pale faces with widened eyes surrounded me as the sounds continued and repeated. Women and young children began to cry and whimper as the yells and roars finally came to an end.
The first thoughts that came to me were the men that had turned back to return to Ibleen. Was it them who had cried out? I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want to think that any of my village was in danger, even if they had betrayed me. They were still…my people. The panicked group quickly cut off my thoughts.
“What was that?”
“We are in danger!”
“It was the men!”
“They should not have gone back!”
“We cannot turn back!”
“Pack the animals.”
“What if it gets us?”
The usual arguments and questions returned as people frantically packed their belongings. My father looked at me with weary eyes set deep into his features. “Do you think…” he stopped as he glanced to the bare horizon. “We must leave now!” he exclaimed as he began to pick himself up from the ground. I agreed with my father as I joined my people with packing.
Moments later, I sat on my animal and turned to the group as their leader. “I have been spoken to by God, Himself once more. We are not far from Petra, and there we will be safe. Do not worry. We will make it! Just follow me!” I cried out as my pride rose.
We were traveling once more with the darkness of the sky above us, heading westwards as the angel told me. I felt relieved to have the hot sun off of my neck, however the chill in the air nipped at me with a shrill bite. We continued on as the sun slowly began to rise. With the newly found light causing the sand to glow a rich golden color, the desert looked like a beautiful pile of treasure. Soon, I spotted rocky canyons miles ahead. A smile lit up my face as I turned to face my group. “We are almost there! Petra is up ahead there!”
My neighbors were pleased to finally lay eyes on the destination and seemed to pick up the pace with a new ambition. We traveled smoothly as the canyons grew nearer. They seemed so close now. I could almost touch them. I glanced to my side at my old father. Once again I saw the new smile resting on his face. I would bring great honor to our family once we settled into Petra. My people would be safe. We wouldn’t have to worry anymore. We could live in peace, just like before. Before the Qurks came.
The time it took us to reach the canyons seemed to pass quickly as we continued on through the heat of the morning sun. I felt a burst of joy and ecstasy as I led my camel through the entryway of the canyons. It was much cooler in here, and it felt refreshing. I wiped the sweat from under my kaffiyeh and glanced back at the smiling faces following me. Their eyes sparkled as they walked under the cool shade of the rock and passed through the empty, desolate valley. The narrow opening was just big enough for a few people to enter at once, showing of the protection that it had to offer.
My excitement grew as we passed through the weaving walls of the valley. As we turned each corner, there was a low hum that was beginning to grow louder and my curiosity rose along with my courage. We were here! We were in Petra! We would be safe! I had done it!
I finally turned the last corner and was met with a large open valley resting in the center of the rocky canyon. Temples surrounded me as I walked into the open with the look of awe on my face. Lost buildings carved from the hard materiel offered my people protection as we spilled into the valley. I could see the look of joy and relief on the faces surrounding me. They led their animals through the narrow opening and saw their new home for the first time. They had trusted me with their lives, and I had not disappointed them. I could not help but bare a smile.
Then, we saw them.