Posts tagged western
The Myth and the Terror: A Word|Time Diaspora Short Story
 
Source: A black cowboy, ca, 1890. Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library , neg #: X-21563

Source: A black cowboy, ca, 1890. Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library , neg #: X-21563

Hi—

The following is a stand-alone short story based on World|Time: Book 2 of the World|Time Diaspora series. Hope you N-joy it 😊

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“I don't even call it violence when it's in self defense; I call it intelligence.” --Malcolm X

 

*

 

July 13th, 1741

5:16 pm

Fayetteville, South Carolina

 

It has been a long, hot day, but days like these were nothing new to Onorede Madaki—even when exploring a land thousands of miles from his own. This place, this South Carolina, in the landmass of what he comes to know as “America,” in many ways reminds him of home. The heat of the sun, but without the humidity, the silence of the wind-swept prairies of green, and the fresh smell of blooming flowers. Even the dust kicked up by the hooves of his horse smell of home. Those were the only qualities that he found similar or likable about this place.

            This land is full of hate and fear, in particular towards those who look like him; with wooly hair and skin deep and rich with melanin. The melanin-deficient, pale-faced ghosts have infested this country, stealing it from the tribes of the people of color who once held domain over all the eye could see. Many of the tribes had been killed by the ghosts, either by murder or by the diseases they brought with them. To add insult to injury, they colonized this land using the Onorede’s countrymen and women as their slave labor, subjecting them to a cruelty that he himself had experienced, but only briefly. His liberation was that of great fortune—being swept up quite unknowingly into the experimental mission of Davis Oroko’s time travel venture. He had since befriended Oroko, becoming his partner in the establishment of a new settlement made up of many nations of Africa, set in the past, before even now.

It is here, in the year 1741, he seeks to close the book on the final chapter of his adventure through time. With Oroko’s help, and using his technology, Onorede has been given the gift of World|Time. From the new African settlement of Bahiya, in the year 1222 B.C., he has traveled many centuries into the future to find his friend and fellow warrior Masinu. He was the first to venture forth on their mission to confirm a horrible rumor; that the pale-faced ghosts were abducting Africans for slave labor in America. When Masinu and his party did not return, it was Onorede, his best friend Fakih, his 2nd in command Oluchi, and four other Krou warriors from the village of Okenna who went out after Masinu and his party with the intention of being captured, as spies in a way, to investigate the intentions of the savage pale faces.

Flash forward three years later. He has entered his second week of searching this land for his friend. The journey has not been without peril. He has encountered many threats from the ghosts who were outraged by his very appearance, many of whom were bewildered and angered simply by his riding of a horse. These encounters led to confrontations, which ended in deaths. Many, many, many deaths. Davis had warned him to avoid these confrontations by utilizing a device called a hologram, meant to cloak and disguise his appearance to that of another pale face. That was out of the question for Onorede. “I refuse to wear with wyte[1]-man’s skin,” was his answer to that. He was warned that any disruptions, any changes, in the timeline would result in alterations to the fabric of World|Time that could be castastrophic. The ghosts are a dirty, savage people. In that regard, it has been necessary for Onorede to defend himself. Davis will not be pleased.

The oppressive heat is starting to take its toll on Onorede’s horse. His feet are starting to drag and clop along, and his occasional grunts are becoming more frequent.

“You are thirsty, M’dasa,” Onorene says, stroking the horses’ black mane. He reaches into the saddlebag to remove the HOLOCOM [2] to call up a wormhole for a quick trip back home for a water break, when he notices a cabin in the distance, set beyond the crop of trees in front of him.

“Let us see if we can find refreshment there,” Onorede says.

 

*                      *                      *

 

            In his time as a warrior in Okenna, his imprisonment by the ghosts in the bowels of their hellish slave ships, and the primal, savage behavior he has witness in the treatment of enslaved Africans, Onorede has seen many ugly and disturbing things. He’s even been shocked once or twice. His past experiences, however, did not prepare him for what he found when he and M’dasa arrived at the cabin.

            There were four of them; mother, father, and two young children, a boy and a girl—no older than 5 and 8 respectively. A young, Black family, hanging by their throats from a tree in front of their home. Onorede dismounts from M’dasa, guiding him towards the tree, his jaw tense with rage.

            As he approaches the tree, Onorede sees several sticks of wood scattered all around. He stops in front of one of them, kneeling down to pick it up. A torch. He sniffs it, then rubs his fingers against the burnt end to smell and taste. He tosses it aside.

            He stands underneath the bodies as they sway gently in the breeze, unable to help but hear the slight squeaking of the gripping ropes holding the weight of the corpses. The woman’s dress is ripped and disheveled, her breasts fully exposed; she was likely raped in front of her family. The man’s shirt is covered with punctures surrounded by patches of dried blood; he was likely stabbed repeated while trying to rescue is family. The hands of both children are scratched and bruised; likely defensive injuries. Onorede sniffs the air deeply.  Judging by the smell, the state of the wounds, the coloration of the bodies, and the burnt torches, this happened four days prior.

            Onorede guides M’dasa to the water troth. While his thirsty horse drinks, he reaches into the saddlebag and pulls out his HOLOCOM.

            “I know what you are thinking, M’dasa,” Onorede says. “And I do not care.”



*                      *                      *

 

Four days earlier…

            Following a snapping sound, like the striking of a match, a pinpoint of light stretches horizontally and opens into a circular vortex of white light, from which Onorede emerges, guiding M’dasa with him. They’ve arrived amidst the crop of trees, 300 feet away from the cabin, which he can see in the distance. Once Onorede closes the wormhole, he replaces the HOLOCOM in the saddlebag. He pats M’dasa’s back, taking the reigns as he guides him along.

            When Onorede passes through the crop and enters the clearing leading up to the house, he is relieved and delighted by what he sees. The woman sits on the porch, braiding her daughter’s hair. The young boy sits on the stairs watching his father chopping logs next to a large woodpile. The ranch is alive with activity. Several chickens roam freely around the property, with most lingering around the coop next to the house. The sounds of hogs and lambs can be heard from the other side of the house.

It is the boy who sees Onorede first.

            “Papa,” he shouts out to his father. The man stops and looks up at his son, who points at Onorede. When he turns to see this dark-skinned man leading a horse, his eyes widen with surprise. His wife and daughter look up and notice as well.

            “Well, I’ll be…” says his wife.

            “Who’s that, Momma?” asks her daughter. “Poppa, who’s that?”

The father holds onto the axe as Onorede approaches.

            “Hello,” says Onorede, stopping a few feet in front of them.

            “Can I help you?” asks the father.

            “I am Onorede. And this is M’dasa. We are on a long journey, and we were hoping we could have a place for a short rest. Maybe through the night, if that is possible. We would be on our way by first light in the morning.”

            “Where you get that horse?” asks the son.

            “This is my horse,” says Onorede.

            “Impossible,” says the father. “Negroes ain’t allowed horses.”

            “I am not a ‘negro,’” Onorede says. “I am an African, of the clan Madaki, of the Krou, from the village of Okenna. I do not live by the wyte man’s law. He abides by mine.”

            The father shakes his head. “That is reckless talk,” he says.

            “That is true talk, sir,” Onorede says. “I mean you no trouble. A few hours is all I would need. I have money.”

            “No, no, no,” says the wife, approaching from the porch.  “Never you mind. My name is Suzette. These are our children, Moses and Audra. This here’s my husband Clifford.”

            “Good to meet you all,” Onorede says. It really is good to meet all of them, after seeing  their dead bodies less than twenty minutes prior.

“Are you hungry, Mr. Madaki?” asks Suzette.

            “Onorede, please,” he says. “And yes, ma’am—Suzette. I am hungry. M’dasa could use the rest as well.”

 

*                      *                      *

 

            Onorede watches Suzette move back and forth between the preparation table and the fireplace, preparing supper; she chops up carrots and greens to add to the pot. He is sitting at the table with Clifford, who is packing his smoking pipe with tobacco, while the children move about them setting plates and cutlery.

            Onorede notices Moses, who has stopped setting the table and stands next to him, looking at Onorede’s holstered gun.

            “What’s that?” Moses asks.

            Onorede pats the gun. “It is my protection,” he says. “It keeps the bad men away.”

“Come on, Moses,” says Audra, handing him the napkins. “Leave the man alone.”

“So, Mr. Madaki—Ono…”

            “Onorede,” he says to Clifford. “Oh-no, Ray-day.”

            “Onorede,” says Clifford. “What brings you to these parts?”

            “I am looking for someone,” says Onorede. “A good friend of mine.”

            “I see,” says Clifford. He strikes a match and puffs on his pipe to work up a good smoke. “Where is this friend of yours?”

            “From what I understand,” says Onorede, “he was taken to The Dixie Addison Plantation.”

            The sound of chopping ceases. Clifford holds mid-puff. The energy in the cabin has shifted.

            “Dixie Addison?” Suzette asks, as she resumes chopping.

            “You can’t be goin’ to Dixie Addison,” says Clifford. “That place ain’t no good place for Negroes…or Africans.”

            “Why is that?” Onorede asks.

            “You really ain’t from around here, is you?” asks Clifford. “You even talk different. You talk…white.”

            “Clifford!” says Suzette.

            “No, no, it is fine,” says Onorede. “I am…aware of the way things are here. Where I am from, English is not my native language. I did not, however, learn to speak from a wyte man. They do not own language. They pretend to own many things that they do not.”

            “Amen,” says Suzette under her breath as she moves the vegetables into the pot.

            The children finish setting the table. Onorede watches them move to the other side of the cabin to play.

            “That kind of talk’ll get you strung to a tree ‘round here,” Clifford says.

            Onorede smiles. “Not likely,” he says. “Do you mind if I ask you a question?”

            “No harm in asking a question,” Clifford says.

            “You and your family,” Onorede says. “You are not…bonded.”

            “No,” says Clifford. “We worked to buy our freedom. Twelve years, since I was 17 years old. We was both bought by a man name of James Bixby. A good man. British man, not like these other white folks ‘round here. He bought me and Suzette when he first came. Worked out a deal with us where we helped him build up his land, then he set us free. We still work for him, tend to his livestock, his crops, run errands for him…but he pay us. It was enough to buy land, build this home, raise our own crops and livestock.”

            “Children,” says Suzette, bringing the pot of mutton to the table. Audra and Moses rush to their seats at the table. “Help yourself, Onorede,” she says as she returns to the fireplace for the pot of vegetables.

            “Thank you, Suzette,” he says, as he slices a piece of mutton for his plate.

            “I know many of us Negroes, or as you say…’Black’ folks…I know many don’t got what we got,” Clifford says, slicing a piece of mutton for his plate. “We lucky to have someone like Mr. Bixby. But then someone like that Addison George, he just ain’t a good man. He a terror. They say he beats his wife as much as he beats his slaves. And let one of ‘em try to escape. He brings ‘em back just so he can kill ‘em in front of the others. Brutal man. Evil man. And they a thousand more just like ‘im.”

            Suzette sets the vegetables, a loaf of fresh-baked bread, and a pitcher of water on the table. She then tends to the kids, filling their plates and water cups.

“This mutton is delicious, Suzette,” Onorede says. “And so are these vegetables. Can I ask you another question, Clifford?” Clifford nods. “Have you…has there been an incident lately? Something that you may have been involved with? A confrontation, or disturbance? An argument?”

            Onorede notices Suzette giving Clifford a knowing look as she sits down at the table.

            “That’s an odd question, Mr. Madaki,” says Clifford. “But since you asked…there was something that happened just yesterday. T’wasn’t nothin’, really…”

            “’T’wasn’t nothin’?” Suzette repeats scornfully.

            “Not to me, no,” says Clifford.

            “What happened?” Onorede asks.

            “That damned Jessie Wilcox, that’s what happened!” Suzette says through gritted teeth.

            “I did some work for Jessie on his stage wagon,” says Clifford. “Fixed the back wheel, did some mendin’ on the back end. I had quoted him a price of a pound fifteen. He hands me the shillin’s, but no pound. I reminded him that he owed me the pound, and he got a bit upset--“

            “He got more than ‘a bit upset,’” says Suzette. “He made a scene right there in front of everyone! Made me want to rip that stupid beard right off of his face.”

            “You were there, Suzette?” Onorede asks.

            “Clifford came back here with that 15 shillings, and I told him we needed to go back and get that pound. That’s good money for hard work, and he owed us! We saw him in town, and we approached him. We didn’t make a scene, just asked him about the missing pound. Well, he carried on like he was puttin’ on show for the whole town! ‘I never said that, you’re a liar!’ he says in front of everyone. When a crowd started to gather, that’s when we left. Last thing we need is a lynch mob after us.”

            Onorede sits back in the chair, letting out a sigh.

            “He got a bit upset,” Clifford says. Suzette rolls her eyes.

            “Do you have protection?” Onorede asks.

            “Got my axe,” Clifford says.

            “How about a gun?” Onorede asks. “A rifle?”

            “Oh no,” says Suzette. “No guns in this house.”

            “I do not mean to dispute you in your home,” Onorede says, “but in situations like these, in times like these, you really need to have more than an axe in your home.”

            “People in town know us,” says Clifford. “We got good relations with people in town. Ain’t no reason for protection, Mr. Madaki. Jessie was mistaken and a bit embarrassed maybe. But it’s nothin’ to kill over.”

 

*                      *                      *

 

10:22 pm

 

            Onorede can see the mass of torchlights as they approached the cabin. While the rest of the family was asleep, he prepared. As muted voices and trampling feet get closer, Onorede waits at the front door.

            “Clifford Smith!” yells a voice from outside. “Clifford Smith! Get up, boy!”

            When he hears Clifford stirring, Onorede whispers, “wait inside. And do not come out until I come back in.”

            Onorede opens the door and steps outside. He sees seventeen white men. Half of them are holding torches. All of them are armed, but only eight are holding rifles. Two of them are tying rope to the tree where he originally found the family hanging.

            “You ain’t Clifford,” says one of the men moving towards the cabin. He’s a bearded man in his mid twenties, holding up his torch to get a better look at who was in front of him. “Who are you?”

            “Who I am is of no concern to you, brofwé [3],” Onorede says.

            “What?” the bearded man asks.

            “You are Jessie, are you not?” Onorede asks.

            “Who’s askin’?” Jessie asks. “I don’t know you.”

            “Do you know how to count, Jessie?” Onorede asks. “Do you know your numbers, boy?”

            The other men chuckle and murmur.

            Jessie reaches for his holster. “Who do you think you’re—“

            “I am going to give you three seconds,” says Onorede. “Three seconds for you demons to turn around and walk away.”

            The white men laugh.

            “Tell me,” Jessie says, with a smile. “Tell me what’s gonna happen if we don’t ‘turn around and walk away?’”

            “I am going to kill each and every one of you,” Onorede says.

            The white men laugh.

“One…” Onorede says. “Two…”

“Come on, Jessie,” says one of the men cocking his rifle, “don’t talk, just kill this ni—“

FWOOOOM!

The man’s arms swing apart, as the mid-section of the rifle he is holding has been disintegrated, as well as the area where his chest used to be. The look of shock on his face is duplicated by the other sixteen men. He remains standing, and in shock, while Onorede fires seven more shots at each of the other men holding rifles. Bodies burst, limbs explode, heads blast open.

“JESUS CHRIST!!!” Jessie screams, as falls back to the ground.

Onorede aims his gun at Jessie, but has to duck from gunfire. He dashes towards the woodpile, while shooting three more members of the lynch mob.

“JESUS CHRIST!!!” Jessie screams again, as one of his men reaches down to pick him up.

            “Come on, goddamn it!” he says, dragging Jessie to his feet and running to the back of the chicken coop.

            Onorede stays down behind the woodpile for a few moments as the mob’s bullets hit the logs.

            “Eleven down,” he says.

As soon as there is a pause in the gunfire, Onorede pops up and dashes out, picking off five more men.

            “JESUS CHRIST!!!” Jessie screams from behind the chicken coop.

            “Shut the hell up!” says the man hiding with him.

            Onorede smiles. “I hear you, brofwé! I hear you!”

            Jessie is panting and shaking in terror. “Jesus Christ, Clyde,” he whimpers. “What’s goin’ on—I mean what the hell is goin’ on?!”

            Clyde is trying to load his pistol, but his hands are trembling. “It’s him.”

            “What?” Jessie whines. “Who?!”

“I hear you call for your god,” Onorede shouts, pointing his weapon at the chicken coop as he stalks towards it.  “Your ‘Jesus’ god.”

Clyde manages to slide the last bullet into his pistol. “There’s been stories for weeks,” he says. “I just thought it was a myth, just scare stories!”

“What stories?!” Jessie squeals.

“It’s the Ma—“

FWOOOOM!

            Jessie falls back, as he watches Clyde’s head explode like a water balloon filled with blood, which now covers his shirt, trousers, face, and hair.

            “JESUS CHRIST!!!” Jessie screams. He looks up, and sees Onorede standing above him.

“I have heard these calls from your kind before,” Onorede says. “You call and you call for this man ‘Jesus.’ And he never comes! He will not come for you, either.”

 

*                      *                      *

 

            Onorede asks the Smith family to remain in their home until he comes back. He hands a rifle and a pistol, with ammo, to Clifford.

            “Hold onto this until I get back,” he says.

He drags the bodies, and the parts and remains of the lynch mob out into the woods, several yards away from the house, dumping them into a pile. He sets the HOLOCOM to open a wormhole in the center of town, during an hour when everyone would be asleep.

When Onorede was a child, before he became the leader of the Krou warriors in Okenna, his father Jahi Madaki told him a story about the WerWer. They were a tribe so horrifying that tales of their cruelty spread throughout the lands. What most did not know is that they did not exist. It was through these stories that others behaved accordingly, as to not bring about the ire of the WerWer. It is with this in mind that Onorede chooses to take advantage of this story to create a myth of his own.

The next morning, people entering the town in the early morning are greeted with a gruesome sight. In the center of the town, at the intersection near the saloon and the blacksmith, there is a pile of seventeen blood-drenched bodies. Etched into the dirt road near the bodies, and purposefully stained in blood, is a message. This message is the result of something Onorede heard one of these murderous savages scream right before he shot them:

 

ANY MORE TROUBLE

YOU ALL WILL DIE.

 

“THE MAD DARKIE”

 

            A name used against him is used against them. It is a legend, Onorede believes, that will grow quickly, instilling shock and fear amongst those who consider harming his fellow Africans trapped in bondage. He believes that this fear will eventually lead to their freedom. In the wake of the thousands that he has killed in the last couple of weeks, he believes that it is only a matter of time until things change for the better.

            Onorede stays with the Smith family for three additional days before he continues his journey. He teaches Clifford, and Suzette as well, how to shoot. He also leaves them with enough ammunition to start their own militia.

            “Practice often,” Onorede says. “Train others. And make sure they train others. And train your children; that is very important.”

            “I still don’t like guns,” says Suzette.

            “You have no choice, Suzette,” Onorede says. “When it comes to life and death, it is either them, or you that controls your destiny. Do not let it be them.”

            As he and M’dasa move away from the Smith cabin, Onorede can’t help but be concerned about their future. It makes him angry. A part of him wishes that they had agreed to go with him, but he understands their refusal. Clifford and Suzette built that cabin with their own hands. They worked hard to build a life for themselves, in spite of living in a place that is detrimental to their existence. He respects that. He will miss them.

            The next town on his list is Mountville. He is expecting to be greeted with the same animus and hatred that he has confronted since his search for Masinu began. No matter. He didn’t create this Word|Time. He’s merely trying to exist in it. On his own terms.

           

 

*

 

 

Footnotes

 

[1] When spoken, it is an exaggerated pronunciation, said as “wiiiide,” with a long “I” sound. The tone indicates that of a slur or denunciation.

 

[2] Portable holographic computing device.

 

[3] A derogatory term for white man, originates from the Akan “obroni,” meaning untrustworthy foreigner. Pronounced /brah-fway/.



©2019 Charles A. Conyers, Jr.

 

Thank you for reading!

I hope you enjoyed this short story. I have to say, I’m not really accustomed to writing in the short form. For me, this is a grand experiment in storytelling! The thing that I really appreciate best about the “World|Time Diaspora series” is how many story possibilities exist outside of the main story that I will be telling over the course of three books— two of which are available now. “The Myth and the Terror” is a side story to a thread in Book 2: World|Time. It’s a story that occurs before the events described in Chapters 27 and 35. It’s actually a storyline that could exist in and of itself for a separate book, but…I’m not sure if that is going to happen- haha!

If you enjoyed this story, you can continue your journey by digging into Books 1 & 2 of the series, which are available now!

The Maximilian Emancipation: Book 1

World|Time: Book 2

The Last of Yesterday: Book 3 (coming in late 2020-early 2021)



Thanks again for reading— and stay tuned for new and different novels and stories! While you’re here, sign up for my newsletter as well!

Charles