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       Eldnium, p.18

           Enoch Pyle, Jr

  Three days had passed, and Landon and Li’an had become fairly adept at finding and making camp. They had also been arguing less, and Landon found her inching a little closer to him each night as they sat by the fires they’d managed to spark by rubbing sticks together (something Landon had learned in Camel Scouts). He also noticed that he didn’t mind her sitting a little closer. He enjoyed her company, and he enjoyed learning more about her.

  On one night in particular, she started telling him a story about her home planet, and he found it curious.

  “I thought you didn’t know anything about yourself,” he said, trying to speak gently, so as not to offend her.

  “I don’t,” she said. “These are just things I was told. I believe them, because I trust Isaac, but I can’t know for sure all of the details.”

  “How old were you? When you were rescued, I mean…”

  “I’d been born just moments before,” she answered. “Our village was ruled by a king who had been warned of my birth by a spy for The Control. He knew I was coming and was there to murder us all. Isaac was too late to save them.”

  “I’m sorry,” Landon said, and he took her hand in his, patting it comfortingly.

  She smiled at him. “He named me after her. After my mother.” Her eyes drifted to the stars, the firelight flickering against her face.

  “I watched my parents die,” Landon said. “I watched them. I watched the life slip out of them, and there was nothing I could do.” She squeezed his hand. “And then Isaac came, like a flash from the sky. He pounded into the ground…a superhero. The raiders flipped out. Most ran away, but a few stayed behind. Isaac just…killed them. He didn’t even hesitate. It was like he knew, even before he landed, which men deserved to die. And he killed them with that strange gun of his.” Landon looked at the ground. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

  He released Li’an’s hand and shuffled the logs in the fire. Sparks shot into the air and swirled around before fading to ash, lost in the night.

  He went on. “And then he walked right up to me. He knew right where I was hiding, and he said, ‘My name is Isaac, and I’m here to save you.’ And my jaw just dropped. He reached down, pulled me to my feet, and put a hand on my shoulder. Next thing I know, there’s a flash of light and we’re standing in the middle of a little crater, right here on this planet, in a field just outside of the village.”

  “Just like that?”

  “Just like that.”

  “Well,” she began, taking his hand again. He felt that familiar warmth flow from her fingers up into his arm. “I’m glad you’re here.”

  “Me, too,” he said.

  “Do you miss them? Your parents?”

  “Of course. Every day. It feels like they’ve been gone for years. But I have hope. Maybe I’m The One. Maybe I can go back and save them.”

  “Maybe,” she said, and she let go of his hand, crawled over near the fire, and curled up on a bed of fronds. “Goodnight, Landon.”

  “Goodnight, Li’an.”

  And he watched her fall asleep.

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