Silence hovered over the valley without the breath of one person. Life seemed to come to a rest as I watched the people around me suddenly realize what was happening. No one moved. No one spoke. No one blinked. Eyes grew wide with fear. Mouths fell open in astonishment. Then the panic finally set in.
There was a single scream that emitted from the mouth of a woman that seemed to awaken the crowd from their confounded gaze. Suddenly, I found myself being trampled to the ground as a wave of people washed over me. With refugees fleeing from the alien, I was pounded into the dry dust of the canyon floor, coughing and choking for air that would not come to me. I felt the pain slowly overcoming me as my vision began to blur and blacken. What was going on? How could this be? How could the angel be a Qurk? Were we tricked? Was this a trap?
My vision continued to fade as I lay beneath the feet of my own people. Aches erupted over my body and my muscles felt sore before there was a sudden stop. “He’s gone!” I heard someone cry out from the crowd.
“Where’d he go?”
“It’s a Qurk!”
“Where’s the angel?”
“This is a trap!”
“We will all be killed!”
“We should have never left!”
“What are we doing here?”
“Why did we listen?”
“We must return!”
“We can’t stay here!”
The voices echoed in the back of my mind, my eyelids falling. There was the thick, crusted smell of dust that filled my nostrils and the rough texture of the rock and sand beneath my dark skin. Then, I felt myself being pulled up. “Namir! Namir, is that you? Namir, listen to me! Wake up!”
My eyes flickered upon as I found myself being supported by my father. “Papa?” I managed to choke, pleased to be greeted with the aged eyes of my father. The strength slowly began to return to my muscles as I leaned upon my father’s old shoulders and the air revived my dry lungs. I coughed through the raspy tightness that had enclosed in my throat, spewing the dirt from my mouth. My vision returned to me, allowing me to watch the refugees flee from the temple’s doorstep, some packing their belongings. Where were they going? We couldn’t leave could we? I knew that this was safe. It had to be! It had to be… For the first time upon leaving my home of Ibleen, I felt the shame of guilt settle in the pit of my stomach. I had let my village down, my people. They had trusted me, put their faith in me, and I had taken it and smashed it in the dirt. I had led them down the wrong path. I did them no good.
“Namir, look!” my father cried out, awakening me from my shamed thoughts. “Look up there!” I glanced to where my father pointed, covering my eyes from the brightness that once again emanated from the tip of the temple’s roof. The glow faded into the night as the form of an alien stood before us. I could not get a good view of him as I craned my neck to view him, however I heard his voice echo throughout the canyon. It was the same voice of the angel, soft, sweet, melodic, and trusting. There was something in his voice that persuaded me to trust him.
“People before me!” he called out, addressing all of the refugees with a soft, yet proclaimed voice. I turned and found that everybody had paused, some holding their belongings in their arms, momentarily stopping to glance to the Qurk. No one moved as he continued. “Why are you running from me? Why are you frightened?” There was a long pause, giving us enough time to glance from face to face, quietly asking ourselves why we had been running. “I have led you here to where it is safe. I have brought you all here to Petra. Are you not grateful…or are you not trusting? Are you frightened that I am a Qurk?” I watched as he raised his arms out and looked himself over. In the darkness of night, he was nothing but a vague silhouette in the distance to me. “Do you judge me from what I am? Do you not trust me for who I am?” He crossed his arms over his chest as I found him bring his head down just before the glow of light overcame him once more.
There were gasps around me as the luminescence retreated, revealing the empty rooftop of the ancient building of stone. Where had he gone? Just then, the luster unveiled itself before me. Refugees slowly began to back away from the glimmer, keeping their eyes upon the concealed figure within. “Yes, I am a Qurk,” I heard from within the glowing ball of light. It faded into the chest of the alien as he brought his head up and reopened his clear, blue eyes, returning his short arms to his sides. As he stood before me, I was able to study him closely. “But you must realize that there are different species of Qurks,” he continued, lifting his long snout from his long, slender neck. The moonlight from above glinted off the metal of the silver armor that covered the bridge of his snout and the front of his arms and thighs, glaring into my eyes for a second. “I am a Zanthyr, and my kind have turned against the Qurks that you have learned to hate.” he took a few steps forward, placing his large feet before him and holding his long, skinny body up in an upright position. I noticed that the three-clawed toes on each of his back feet were widespread and gave good balance to him as he stood. “We have created an alliance and are trying to help the human race. This is why I have brought you all here.” I listened intently and watched his large, protruding chest rise and fall with each breath. His breathing was calm and relaxed as he spoke to us, showing that he bore no fear and was not nervous with his words. “Petra is safe. These canyon walls are carved from the very rock itself and can withhold anything. This is the perfect place to hide.” I heard silent whispers from farther behind me in the crowd of people and noticed that the two, long, pointed ears that branched from each side of the Zanthyr’s head began to quiver, picking up the trail of voices. Each of his ears had a stripe of black that matched the single stripe that tucked under each eye and wrapped beneath his chin.
“Where’s the angel?” I heard an angry man shout out.
The Qurk suddenly flashed his eyes to the area of the crowd in which the voice came from, enabling me to see the dorsal fin that stretched from the back of his head, still covered with protective gear. This matched the hipbones that grew past where they met with his waist, running up past his back. “I am the angel that has led you all here to Petra.” Faces before me grew white with astonishment upon hearing the truth. “My name is Equanox and I am a Zanthyr. We have the ability to transform into other living beings and can enter and control another’s dreams. I have done so, leading each of you here to this refuge.” The alien’s extended tail flicked behind him, the black, pointed arrowhead at the tip occasionally striking the ground, releasing a puff of sand and dust into the crisp, night air. As the temperature began to decrease without the warmth of the sun, I saw the puffs emit from the Qurk’s small nostrils, just under the quaint horn that branched from the tip of his snout. “Do not worry, all of you. You are safe here. You are all safe here in Petra.” As he brought his head down, his angelic voice escaping into the night, a beam of moonlight reflecting from his navy blue scales, emanating a slight glow around him.
Equanox was here to help us. I soon realized that I did not let my people down. My village would be safe here. We would live and thrive, growing and expanding within our rocky home. We could continue on our hope. We could help each other out and become a strong community. We would manage.
Suddenly, there was a man’s cry from behind me. The entire crowd of faces instantly turned towards the winding entrance into our valley, resting their eyes upon the tired eyes of a weakened man, thick blood dripping from his body.