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NEBADOR Book Eight: Witness
Ilika and his crew discover there are much harder jobs in the universe than flying a deep-space response ship, such as living to witness the end of your civilization.
original cover art commissioned to artist Rachael Hedges
Book Eight has been written, and will soon go to the Nebador team of young-adult critiquers.
Chapter 38: A Recurring Dream
As full darkness descended over Siminia Three Planet Station, Brora scanned her two charges for any warning signs, then measured out the medicine that would allow each to sleep easier. They didn't see the slight frown that crossed her face.
Once the planetary prince and princess were curled up together in their favorite room in Fairy Castle, the ursine healer went out to check on two injuries she knew of among the ships in the station, and whoever else might have banged themselves up that day in adventures and play.
Six-year-old Teina started crying.
Her mother kept turning on all the stove burners, and putting things directly on top of them -- bags of flour, plastic containers of left-overs, and anything else handy.
The smoke and stench was terrible. Twice Teina crept into the kitchen while her mother wasn't looking and turned off the burners, but couldn't do anything about the smoldering food.
The second time, her mother wandered into the kitchen, talking to herself and gazing around like she was lost. She snapped out of it just long enough to spank her daughter hard. "I'm trying to cook dinner!" Then she turned the burners back on and resumed her aimless mumbling.
Tears streaming down her face, Teina ran toward the back door.
Her father was in the carport, washing the car with the engine running, using a rag and generous splashes from a gasoline can.
"Stop it, Daddy!"
He glared at his daughter with crazed eyes. "You want to do it?" he asked with a demented tone, offering her the rag and gasoline can.
Teina ran to her room, grabbed a beloved doll, and sat on her bed.
Suddenly an explosion tore away half the house.
Teina cried for a minute, then abruptly stopped and looked around. Smoke was creeping under her door, colored red-orange from flames in the hallway beyond. The only window led to the front of the house.
Teina wasn't supposed to open her window. The air conditioning wouldn't work with it open.
The six-year-old girl looked at the smoke one more time. Her eyes narrowed, and she scanned the room with a new purpose. Her wooden toy box was the heaviest thing she could lift, usually just a little, if she tried very hard.
Straining with all her might, she got it up to her bed, put her doll inside, and picked up the box again.
As smoke started swirling around her, Teina ran toward the window as fast as her legs would go.
The shock and sound of breaking glass swirled all around her until everything, an eternity or perhaps just a second later, came to rest on the front lawn.
She saw her doll in front of her, picked it up, and ran. She didn't feel the cuts on her arms and legs until much later. She didn't pay attention to the other houses that were burning. She just ran, as fast as she could go, toward her favorite patch of woods, two blocks away.
And she didn't cry again for almost a year.
Jimox was awakened by his precious partner thrashing and whimpering in pain and confusion. He wrapped his arms around her. "Bad dream?"
She eventually relaxed. "Yeah. Burning Day again."
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