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Spots outline the fierce body of this creature. The many years have taken its toll, yet the beast is still young at heart. Gnashing of teeth is a regular site to see, still on some occasions you can catch it prowling around its lair peacefully letting the residents come and go as they please. Unfair and unjust, the mighty dragon rears its head when agitated and spits fiery lugies down on the prisoners. Too often the burns cut deep and the scars remain forever: a searing memory, carelessly placed there by the jeers of the wolf. The hyena laughs hysterically at the jokes made at the captives’ price. The lion keeps a close eye on his kingdom and makes sure that the pride is set in their place.
This is how the kingdom is ruled. The peasants do all of his work, running around from sunrise to sunset. Striving for excellence, they present their work to the king, hoping for a compliment, aching for an ounce of a smile. However, not even a sparkle in his eye is seen when his work is done. Screaming, the velociraptor shreds the work to pieces, nitpicking every detail, then the predator demands more work to be brought to him to feed his never ending hunger for perfection. Many years they have labored and thrived, to be the best, to succeed in the eyes of the Master, but all has been in vain.
Years have passed, yet nothing has been approved by the King. Desperation had now set in to the hearts of the colonists. When they give up, try to set into the belief that nothing will be accepted, the giant stomps his foot causing an earthquake, shaking fear and obedience back into the souls of the people.
There is, however, favor in the eye of the King, but it is not found within the reign of the iron fist. Only outsiders have received this favor. The king does not wish for the kingdom to be stripped from his power. Therefore, he beguiles the visitors into believing the animosity for him is in fact love.
When someone would wander into the path of the king, they would immediately be enchanted with his good looks and selfless attitude, intrigued on how he runs such a functioning kingdom. “It is all about control and respect.” He replies with the words falling like honey from his lips, “Just have them respect you and you have them under your control.” The lies that he says, the games he plays all have to do with the “control” he has. Respect is the antithesis of what the people have for him. They fear him, not respect him.
One evening a prisoner, by the name of Mordechai, brings his work to the king, as he always did. Mordechai was one of the oldest teenagers in the kingdom, and since the king did not allow celebrations except for those revolving around him, Mordechai did not know how old he was. His mom would always bring him their wages of bread when it was around the day that she believed he had been born. This day so happened to be Mordechai’s alleged birthday, making him in a chipper mood when he brought his work report to the king.
“My majesty, your highness, my daily work has been completed,” Mordechai says with his head bowed to the floor, “please show me how to further your kingdom, master.” This very saying is used everyday and has henceforth become a mindless phrase, carelessly leaving the lips of Mordechai day after day. “Well my son,” the thundering voice of the king barreling down his throne, shaking Mordechai’s body with each deep, articulated syllables, “not all your work is done. You see, the sun is not completely set and you are not allowed your day’s wage until the sun disappears from the sky.” A malicious grin slowly started to creep across the handsome face of the king. “Bu...” Mordechai started now looking at the king. A deadly mistake, Mordechai and his master locked eyes and the fire started to grow in the deep pits of the eyes of the king. “What did you say?” The vicious king spoke softly now. He was one of those people who, when angered, do not yell. They sit quietly, and speak softly, striking even more fear into your heart, because they have control over themselves, a frightening combination. The king’s deathly glare sent Mordechai into a panic frenzy. Stuttering, shuddering, sputtering, spitting out any syllable that came across his lips, Mordechai retreated back and lowered his head with his eyes still locked with the king’s. The gaze was unbreakable. The bond inseparable.
Too many times had Mordechai heard the stories of the deadly gaze of the king, the two black holes sucked you inside, making it impossible to look away. Once Travis Mason, a fellow prisoner, looked up while addressing the king, and the gaze lasted so long, poor Travis starved to death.
This image burned in Mordechai’s mind as he stood there entranced by the never ending dark blue deepness, like two ocean depths trapped there forever, never letting its mysteries float to the surface. Slowly, numbness started to fill Mordechai and his mind slowly drifted, making him become sleepy. Suddenly a piercing, shrill tone filled his ears, breaking his stiff numbness. Blinking rapidly, Mordechai straightened his back and stumbled backwards out of the palace. Mordechai broke out into a full out run. Not stopping at his house, not stopping at the gates, not stopping when the guards started throwing the knives towards his head. He ran. Ran for his life. Ran for the 17 years he had been imprisoned. Ran for freedom.
Stamina and power is a couple of things you gain while working in the fields from sunrise to sunset. Slashing the barley and wheat, eating only on a loaf a day wages and having to split that between his elderly mom and dad…His mom and dad. Mordechai halted, and in doing so, he tripped over his own feet and sent himself rolling down a hill, a painful gasp with each thud into the rocky ground. Wiping the sand off of his clothes and body, guilt overwhelmed his body and he began to cry. He had forgotten his mom and dad. Forgot them. Most likely left them to die. On his birthday. Both parents. Dead. Tears became sobs as his breath became short and the tears and sweat dripping into his mouth tasted salty, dehydrating him even more. “Stop. Cry. Ing.” His voice shook as he tried to control his emotions, “ I. Need. To. Stop. Cry. Ing.” Self-control came back and Mordechai took a deep, shaky breath in and let it out, this time more stable. After a couple of deep inhales and exhales, Mordechai stood up and gazed back in the direction in which he had come from.
The castle was the only thing visible. Dirt and scattered shrubs surrounded the magnificent castle. Mordechai remembered when he built it. The years he had labored, his blood and sweat were soaked into the very marble that held it up. Something tugged him back to the place where his mom and dad were, where he grew up. Suddenly, the memory of how he had lost himself in the king’s eyes came scorching through his brain and a cruel scowl covered his face. “Never again,” he promised himself, “never again will I go back.”
Wandering and stumbling, dehydration had started to sink in. Shuffling his feet across the sand, Mordechai became exhausted extremely easy. Hitting his knees, he sinks his hands into the burning sand and looks up wearily. Startled, Mordechai’s adrenaline starts to pump and he flies backwards and lands on his back. “What’s the matter dear boy? Never seen a nomad before?” A strange looking man with long black hair bent down to investigate Mordechai’s dilemma. His raspy voice sounded like sand paper to the ear and his teeth were so far apart that a spider could spin a web in between them. His breath smelled as if something had indeed climbed in there to make its home but never found its way out.
Coughing from the sand and the stench, Mordechai pushes himself up and reaches for the canteen hanging around the nomad’s neck.
“Whoa, hold it there buddy,” the nomad puts both hands on the canteen and brings it back to his body which is now in an upright fetal position, “can’t take a man’s drink without knowing his name! The name’s Scurvy, nice to meet ya.” Scurvy reaches out his hand and Mordechai looks curiously at it. His left hand is protruding from his body offering friendship, while his right hand stills holds fast to the canteen. His hand is shaking either from old age or from urging Mordechai to take it. Finally Mordechai reaches out his hand to grabs Scurvy’s. “I’m Mordechai.” Scurvy meets the hand and shakes it up and down popping Mordechai’s shoulder.
“Well Mordechai, you can have some water now,” Scurvy unfolds his body and reveals the canteen, like a clam reveals its pearl.
Mordechai greedily grabs the canteen and pours the cool substance down his throat. He lets out a sigh of relief and hands the canteen back to Scurvy. Mordechai can understand his surroundings now. He is in the middle of a nomad camp. Camels and tents are set up everywhere. Scurvy leads Mordechai to his tent and introduces him to Daisy, Scurvy’s camel.
“Daisy hasn’t been the best camel lately,” Scurvy points out, trying to start conversation, “she keeps trying to run away. And I’d let her if she had someone go with her.”
“I’ll go,” Mordechai blurts out, as soon as the words cross his lips, his hands shoot up and cover his mouth.
Scurvy’s face is baffled as he slowly replies, “I just met you and you want to take my camel?” Scurvy pauses as if to ponder whether to be mad or happy. “Why of course!” Scurvy finally explains after several long minutes. “A nomad isn’t much without his camel, but I’m sure there is a better behaved one somewhere.”
Scurvy leads Daisy to the edge of the nomad community and hands Mordechai a map of the places he is to head next, in case he needs anything.
“Thank you Scurvy!” Mordechai calls over his shoulder as he rides off.
“Thank you for taking that misbehaving camel off my hands!”
As Mordechai gets farther away, he believes he sees Scurvy waving so he waves back. Heading straight for the setting sun, Mordechai leads Daisy to a new life.