As a little boy, my family would always come together for supper. This was a time to laugh and share about our day. But my favorite part was always dessert. After we cleared the dishes, Papa would gather us around the fire and tell us tales of the “Makers”. We really aren’t sure what the Makers look like, but we have seen their creations, marvelous creations, that moved and seemed to think on their own.
Once in a great while, the Makers would send over gifts. We would all gather at Sandhaid beach, the closest to Ishka Island, and watch as this monstrous balloon ship would sail from Ishka to Nua, my home Island. When the weather was right, you could see it in the distance leaving the island. It would take almost a day to get here, so when it came, everyone showed up.
But this day was different.
This time there would be no gifts or wondrous technology. Today they brought tickets. Tickets to the city! Their announcement was both riddled with excitement and truthfully a little fear.
“Good citizens of Nua,” the bott announced. No one had ever heard one speak. I didn’t know they could speak!
“Please choose 300 of your brightest minds to join us in Ishka. For your people to survive, we must unite. We will depart in 8 hours; there will be no need to take anything with you.”
And then they went to sleep. No response. Nothing.
That’s all it said. What the heck? “Our people to survive”? What’s going on? Can we trust them? We’ve never even heard these things talk before! So many questions and so little time…
As per usual, the Elders convened while the rest of us awaited their decision. This time, they were actually pretty fast; I was impressed.
“We have come to a decision,” the Elder said rather quietly. A hush fell over the crowd.
“We have no idea what we are dealing with; we may be sending you to certain death. But, in our history with the botts, we have come to trust them. All they have ever shown us was goodwill. Therefore, we are opening this up to volunteers. The first 300 will go.”
I felt my hand slip up. What was I thinking? “I’ll go,” I heard myself say.
“I’ll go,” said another.
“I’ll go!” said someone else rather loudly.
Soon it was loud and raucous. The place filled with lifted hands and shouts of “I’m going!”
“Ahem!” said the Elder. “We thank you for your service. Please form a line in front of the ship. The first 300 will get a ticket.”
And with that, it was a mad dash to the ship. Why do I want to go so badly? Maybe it was all those tales by the fire. I’m not sure, but what I am sure of is this…