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 capture!
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 of them.
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
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 has 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.