Author: Paul R. McNamee
Lono swung the shaft of his spear in an arc across the front of his body. He missed–again. He spun the weapon into thrusting position and drove the shark-tooth tip forward. The jagged point pierced air. His right leg buckled from a low blow behind his knee. Small hands balled into tight, hard fists pounded his body. One blow connected against his left temple, dazing him. On one knee, Lono braced his weight against the spear-butt to keep from falling over.
They closed in again, he could not see them but he felt them near. Recovering his wits, he swung his fist and connected with flesh and coarse hair. Something substantial thudded to the ground. One of the attackers was down–temporarily, at least.
The dark interior of Lono’s hut flared into blazing torchlight. Momentarily as dazed as his attackers by the light, Lono squinted. From slit eyes he saw the ka-man, Makani, brandishing a war club in one hand and a lit torch in the other, cursing as he came to assist.
At the ka-man’s arrival the intruders scrambled back into the hole from which they had invaded Lono’s home–a hole they had burrowed in the dark of night, directly into his hut. Even in the torchlight, they were invisible. Only scrambling sounds and the sandy soil shifting under unseen feet indicated their retreat.
A high-pitched scream from underground echoed through some unknown cavern.
“Give me my wife!” Lono shouted in frustration, swinging again at air. The little gods were gone. “Anakai!”
He leapt to the hole, but it was too narrow to enter with his rangy build. The small gods had made the passage diameter enough for their diminutive bodies, and the thin body of his wife. He shouted her name down the hole, terrified for her, imagined the earth around her like a tomb.
He scrambled to his feet, bronze-skinned chest heaving from exertion and the rush of adrenaline. He glanced at the ka-man, whose complexion was similarly bronzed, the common hue found among islanders raised in a warm climate. Makani’s frame was shorter and broader than Lono’s build. Lono ignored the crowd gathering before his entranceway, attracted by the sounds of commotion.
He looked back to the hole. “Why have they done this?”
The ka-man shrugged. “You need to ask them.”
“I can’t scramble through the dirt like some worm!”
“We don’t need to,” Makani said, pointing to the earthen maw that had violated Lono’s privacy and thrown his simple life into chaos. “The little gods work stone, rarely earth. You heard the echo of Anakai’s scream? There must be a stone chamber below, tunnels large enough even for us to pass.”
The ka-man’s blazing torch faded, consumed quickly by a flame Lono attributed to magic. Lono felt despair, the torch’s death a second sunset in a single day’s time.
Makani lit another torch, this one sputtering and not enhanced by magic.
“Gather weapons, water and food,” Makani ordered.