Eldnium, p.42
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       Eldnium, p.42

           Enoch Pyle, Jr
The sound of the waves greeted them before the beach was in view. The smell of saltwater hit the back of their throat, tasting both sweet and bitter. As the ground turned from dirt to sand, the rabodons’ pace began to slow. Soon enough, however, they pulled up to the shore and unhooked the wagons.

  “How does this work?” Landon asked. “With such a mix of cultures…how do we know how to properly give them the respect they deserve?”

  Tommy shook his head. “I don’t know. Until today, I’ve never seen a hero die.”

  The boys turned to Li’an. “We leave them here at the water’s edge. The tide decides where they’ll go. They may be washed out to sea, or they may be left here on the shore. Either way, they’ll go back into the ground, completing their circle.”

  And so, one by one, the three heroes pulled the bodies from the wagons and laid them gently at the line where dry sand became wet sand. And after several hard and tiring minutes, they wagons were empty, the bodies strung along like paper dolls.

  “There are so many,” Landon said.

  “Should we say something?” Tommy asked. “Like…something nice?”

  Again, the boys looked at Li’an, who always seemed to know what to say and when to say it. But she didn’t acknowledge them. She just stared down at the faces of the friends she’d made over the years, a tear rolling down her cheek.

  “I’ll say something, I guess,” Landon said, breaking the silence with a crack in his voice. “Um…I didn’t know any of you, really. But all I need to know is what I see here: that you all died fighting. A hero’s death. And it wasn’t for nothing. You saved us. If you hadn’t wiped out The Control’s minions, Li’an and I would have been outmatched. We would have died. With Isaac gone, that would have cost us the war.

  “But we’re here. And we will not let your deaths count for nothing.” Landon looked at Jackson. “Your death will not count for nothing. We will find The One. We will win this war. We will set this universe free. Or we’ll die trying.”

  Li’an put her arms around Landon’s waist and hugged him close. Tommy laid his big palm against Landon’s shoulder and said, “Good.”

  The three stood there for another few moments, and then watched as the water began to chase the moon across the sky, and the tide rose and carried the heroes out to sea. They watched in awe as the bodies stayed huddled together in a tight circle and disappeared on the horizon, not scattered apart, but together, as they should be.

  “It’s time,” Li’an said. “Tommy, are you ready to fly?”

  “You bet,” Tommy said.

  Their moods shifted, as only a hero’s mood can shift, and their determination to keep Landon’s words true drove them forward.

  One Small Step

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