Burning. Wherever I looked, everything was burning. I peered out from underneath the wagon as armed men unfurled swords and threw spears. Their shining metal armor caught the sun’s rays and blinded me.
Blood spilt on the ground, stinking in the heat. I closed my eyes and tried to think of peace while shutting out the horrors of battle around me. I pulled my legs to my chest and made myself as small as possible, hoping to shrink into nothingness to escape this place.
Something dripped on my hand, hot and sticky. I gazed down and saw a patch of red. A gasp caught in my throat. Biting my lip, I looked up at the slats of the wagon’s bed. Between the cracks, I saw a body slumped on top of them. Blood seeped from a wound in the man’s chest and fell to the sand at my feet. I scooted away from it, faintness clouding my thoughts.
Certain names I heard repeated over and over again, unfamiliar terms. Troy, Hector, Agamemnon. Who, what, did these names mean? I knew nothing of them.
The hollow sound of something hitting the ground, followed by the sickly sweet scent of poison, assaulted me. I peeked open my eyes and saw the contorted face of the caravan leader; an arrow protruded from his back. He no longer breathed.
But I still did, though probably not for long.
Screams rang out around me, and I cowered behind the wagon’s wooden wheel. Donkeys squealed as men slaughtered them. Gold jingled in heavy purses, and wood crackled amidst flames.
Adonai, protect me.
The entire caravan was lost, and most of its passengers had been killed. Soldiers now herded up the scant number of women into a tight ring. Any remaining men had swords thrust into their bellies while I grimaced and fought the instinct to gag.
“That one down there.” A man pointed at me. “Under the wagon. Bring her.”
A bronzed and bloodied face turned towards me, and fear gripped my heart. I scrambled out from my hiding spot and sprang to my feet. Before me lay a vast wilderness and beyond, the sea. The azure waters called to me, and I ran towards them.
Footsteps pounded the earth behind me, accompanied by laughter. But soon, my own panting drowned out all other sounds from my ears.
My sandal caught on a rock, and I tumbled to the ground. I landed hard on my back, and for a moment, could not breathe. My mouth worked and my lungs gasped for air, but nothing came. Had I been speared? Was this death?
A bloody face appeared above me. The man grinned, his black beard parting to reveal yellowed teeth. He spoke to me in the language of the men from the caravan. “You’re a pretty thing. It would be a shame to lose such a fair face.”
He grabbed both my arms and swung me over his shoulder. Shock and terror had so consumed me I couldn’t fight. I stared at the receding view of burning wagons, killed livestock, and a pile of goods the attacking soldiers had stolen.
Our caravan had been given no warning, no chance. How could the men have defended themselves against these armored warriors? And why did I feel such pity for the people who’d enslaved me years ago? I had not joined this caravan by choice.
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