One glorious afternoon in The Dimension of Barbarik a form topped with unruly red struggled frantically up the side of the mountain
that Barbarikians called Tornado Ridge. Jo Sef stretched to grip an outcrop
of rock with his hands as he tried to get a secure enough foothold to boost
himself up onto the last major ledge before reaching the summit, all the while
barely keeping ahead of his pursuers! If he could just make it to the funnel before he was overtaken there was still a chance he could escape
Conquering the ledge, he was swiftly up and running.
He glanced over his shoulder to see if he was being overtaken. He saw no one.
Just a few hundred feet more! Near total exhaustion, he scrambled up the last
fifty feet of rocky slope before finally reaching the summit where the funnel
entrance was located. One last glance over his shoulder revealed that the merciless hunters were now in sight and no more than two hundred
feet behind him! He took a long, deep breath, offered up a silent prayer, and
dove headlong into the dark abyss!
The funnel walls were screaming as
Jo Sef went careening, twisting and spiraling down, down, down through the
center of Tornado Ridge! He kept his forearms placed strategically in front
of his face for protection as he became an out of control projectile reaching breakneck speed (literally)! He knew that if he could just hang
in there until the final exit that he would have a chance… Just
a few more moments of pummeling without sustaining any major injury. Finally
the mountain spit him out like a giant loogey!
Jo Sef was instantly soaring weightlessly into blinding daylight!
Then falling, falling, falling with a final, explosive SPLASH into the waters
of At Last Shrugged Bay. The mountain had indeed succeeded in shrugging him
off. Jo Sef sank deeper and deeper.
His feet actually touched bottom before he began kicking them vigorously in an attempt to reach the surface and escape a potential
watery grave. At last he broke through the water’s grip emitting one
loud, long gasp as he filled his lungs with air! He looked around and found
that he was alone but just as he was about to swim to shore projectiles started
to fall out of the sky above him, each in turn disappearing in an explosive
splash. Then a deathly quiet… Jo Sef was surrounded by his soon to be
captors, all silent under the water’s surface and soon to be coming back up for air—and for him! He swung around in circles treading
water, desperately trying to take in every direction at once.
Finally, one immediately after another, each form broke the surface. Jo Sef suddenly felt an iron grip on one ankle as he was savagely
pulled back under! He struggled free and rose back to the surface to find he
was hopelessly trapped, surrounded by—an outbreak of jubilant laughter,
hoops and hollers! Jo Sef let out a victorious war hoop and burst into hearty
Jo Sef and his young cohorts had acted out this melodrama many times before but never had Jo Sef been “captured” before diving
headlong into the funnel. Not that his friends hadn’t given it their
all, but Jo Sef could run faster, climb higher and endure longer than any one
It was a motley crew that was assembled, consisting of representatives
from five of the six clans of Barbarik. Clever and tenacious Illy Ore was a
Skeptic. So was gleefully vociferous Roti Art. Len Bek, Jo Sef’s
steadfast friend for as far back as he had memory, was a True Believer.
Except for the golden locks, it would have been impossible to guess that good
natured Doog Sejes was a member of the Clan of the Truly Persecuted for he
never whined. Then there was the Indifferent, Wah Tever. The friend
called Ay Bud scowled with good humor because once again he had failed to overtake
Jo Sef. He knew he was bigger, stronger and smarter, superior in every way
and could never quite figure out how Jo Sef always came out the victor when
he, himself, was such a Power Hungry dynamo.
None knew that Jo Sef arose every morning with the dawn and ran for one hour to build up his strength and endurance. No friend knew
that he went to the far edge of his parents’ property and climbed the
giant and gnarled Sukima tree from bottom to top at least twice each day. For
certain no one realized how driven Jo Sef was to never willingly consider defeat
as an option.
It was getting late as the rowdy platoon swam to shore and headed for their respective homes. They would be dry before they got
home and their parents would never know that they had been to forbidden Tornado
Ridge. It was against the law to enter the funnel at the summit for it had
proven unsafe time after time. Some had even lost their lives challenging that
perilous slide but it had never been closed off because there was a rule in
The Dimension of Barbarik against tampering with natural wonders. But Jo Sef and his friends knew every turn, twist and bump in the funnel
and knew they could never really get seriously hurt. Of course they were too
young to take the possibility of death seriously for they knew they were certainly
much too young to die.
Some time later upon arriving at his home, Jo Sef immediately knew that something was terribly wrong. Buk Lee and Al Lex were
sitting in the front yard looking very solemn along with Jo Sef’s little
sisters, Demel Za, Dag Nee and Soo Zee who looked exceedingly grim also. Looking
as if someone had died… “What has happened? Mother? Father? The
Aged One? What’s happened! What is it? Is someone hurt? Tell me!”
implored Jo Sef. His brothers just motioned for him to go inside.
Inside their home there was a deathly silence. He saw his father standing by the hearth looking to be in deep, agonizing thought.
His mother was sitting in the chair beside him, her hand clasped tightly within
his, a singular portrait of devastation.
Something horrible had happened. Jo Sef shivered involuntarily. His mother looked up and into his eyes and he saw that the laughter
in hers was gone and was replaced by an anguish that he had never seen on her
“What is it, Mother? Please tell me. What’s happened?”
Jo Sef pleaded. His mother handed him a sheet of parchment which
he immediately recognized for it had the gold seal of the Leader of Barbarik.
An Executive Order? A new Executive Order must have been handed down by Charismatic
Leader. But what could it be? What was so horrible as to affect his family
in such a way? With an indescribable sense of foreboding Jo Sef unfolded the official document and began to read out loud:
“By Executive Order and with much consideration and compassion for all the Citizens of The Dimension of Barbarik who
find themselves burdened by unwelcome additions to their households, the Law
of The Dimension of Barbarik hereby allows its Citizens to opt out of such
unwelcome burden. From this day forward, any Citizen requesting termination
of an unwelcome addition prior to complete separation will be granted such
request. Relief Houses will be established throughout the land specifically for this purpose. The Order is hereby verified by the Ruling
Body, with dissenters dutifully noted. Signed this day 1221973 of Endless Evolution.”
Jo Sef’s insides had clenched into a violent knot. It was impossible! It was insanity! How could it have happened? He knew
there had been hushed talk of such action but everyone knew that any practice
so inherently evil would never become the law of the land. It was not real.
It could not be happening, not in The Dimension of Barbarik. It was…
an impossibility. But Jo Sef was
holding the reality in his hands.
Jo Sef had an excruciatingly uneasy feeling—a horrible, nagging, gripping terror in the pit of his belly feeling. The echo of silent
screams of innocents was reaching back through time from out of the future
to grip his heart in a vice. But he was tortured by something even more, some
memory he could not lay hold of, some dread he could not explain. There was
something he must do. Someplace he needed to be. Someplace he had to be! Jo
Sef’s whole world had changed in an instant and nothing for him would
ever be the same again.