The Prologue... Beyond Betrayal

A young woman, with an air of authority about her, stood up and turned to face one of the most difficult crowds she had ever had to encounter. It was loud and rambunctious and frankly, the thought of having to be in front of the group, made her sick to her stomach. She gave a signal to the bus driver to stop, and open the doors. There was an uproar. She barely was heard over the cheers, but spoke clearly and articulately.

 

“Kids as we exit the bus, do so in an orderly fashion. I do not want you to get hurt before we even reach the water!”

 

As the teacher finished, a unanimous ‘yeah, yeah’ from the children was heard as they rushed off the crowded vehicle. The instructor called after her pupils, “Don’t forget to get a life vest!”

 

A little boy with jet black hair ran out to the river and jumped in, without a life preserver. He played around in the shallow part of the crystal clear, blue water for a while, then wanted to be a little more daring. He swam further out, to the middle of the river, where he could not touch and started to fight the current, easily at first, playfully. He began to tire quickly, tried, scrambling, for the shore, but could not reach it. He wasn’t the most proficient swimmer and no one knew that better than he now. His strength was draining now, his body following along with the flow of water, but it only dragged it under the surface. He searched for the surface fighting for breath, but it seemed impossible. A crashing wave sent him past a blunt protrusion and his knee knocked against it. The intense force of pain that went through his body made him pass out.

 

Unconsciously bobbing, he dipped in and out of the water.

 

A lone boy along the shore, playing with some sediment, saw the black-haired boy lifelessly floating along. He looked frantically for the teacher and saw no one. The anxious boy looked towards the waterway again, but saw nothing. Panic prickled through him slowly, and then he spotted the raven-haired boy as he came to the surface, and towards a collection of jagged rocks. The boy took matters into his own hands, gathered his courage, and dove in the direction of the one in trouble. He let the river current take him down stream, it propelling his body as he took long strokes. He mentally thanked his mother, now, for the lessons last summer. As he swam, he thought of a plan to get themselves back to shore. He was close to the boy, but still too far away to be of any help.

 

He swam faster.

 

He was so near, he could almost reach his unknown classmate. He hunted for anything to hold onto now. Hair. Swim trunks. Arms or legs. He felt the boy’s arm close and grabbed it hurriedly before the one in jeopardy slipped under the surface again. The rescuer braced himself for impact as they reached the gigantic barrier of rock. He clamped on with all of his strength, struggling to keep the black-haired boy’s head above the current. He inched his way along the wall, slowly but surely, and came to a shallow part where he could stand. He dragged the boy to a grassy section of the bank and collapsed. His breathing was sporadic and uncontrollable. The seeker rolled onto his back and tried to settle down . Like in a distant dream, he could hear static and a garbled voice.

 

“...Boy... rescued... conscious... wounded... help...” Then he felt the other boy’s presence being moved away from him, yet he did not panic.

 

They were safe now.

 

He laid there for a few minutes longer. He could hear some of what was going on, but decided against trying to listen for actual words. He could tell his teacher was upset, by the wilting composure that she hadn’t had before the trip had gotten started. There was a man, the fuzz of a voice that he had heard a few moments ago, and he was trying to calm the flustered green horn of an educator. It was her first class trip. Someone touched him on the shoulder lightly. He opened his eyes one at a time slowly to the boy he had just saved . He looked at him with a sad, but grateful smile.

 

“You saved me. Thanks”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“ My name is James.”

 

“Mine’s Rhyne.”
 


***


They had come here every summer since it was ready.

 

The Army training compound had been up and going for about five years now. The founder of the facility was overflowing with pride as he looked out at the boys that will undoubtedly become men at his camp. He held this installation with upmost respect, and the candor that it represented would carry throughout the years to come. The men were dispersed about the encampment at different posts honing their already efficient skills. All looked right in this Army boot camp, except for two people in the firing range.

 

No. It was not meant for them. And he knew it.

 

“Daddy?” The young girl of eleven asked.

 

“Yes, Dear?”

 

“Why do I have to be here?” She was focused, yet uncomfortable still. Her father looked at her sternly.

 

“You have to learn how to protect yourself.”

 

“But we come here every year and you say the same thing!” Her eye dropped from the scope of her daddy’s sniper rifle, and she looked at him, distraught.“ I feel like you --” He interrupted.

 

“What have I told you, Sweetie? The more I say things the more I mean them. I’m doing this for your own good, Darling.” His voice had the inflection of anxiousness, but it turned to endearment just as easily.

 

Her eyes met his with uncertainty, which then faded to admiration.

 

“So, this will really protect me, Daddy?” She smiled a snaggle-toothed grin.

 

“This will be the most useful skill you will ever obtain. I can promise you that. Now, look through the scope, set the butt of the rifle onto your shoulder, steady it, find your target, and fire with precision!”

 

She fired accurately, composed herself, and looked at her father with concern. He smiled an approving smile as he laid a hand on her head.

 

 

He smiled because he knew what he was creating. Bull’s eye.

ruggerbish ruggerbish
22-25, F
Feb 18, 2010