All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the written permission of the author Adel Mansour. This short story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or locales is for the purpose of historical fiction.
December 18, 1589
"Father! Why must you go now?" Jack groaned. Dakota Forbes looked at his son and smiled while roughing his child's brown hair.
"I promise I'll be back before you know it," he answered. "Now, get some sleep. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Can't I come with you?" Jack asked.
"One day, when you're old enough to come hunting. For now, you're the man of the house while I'm away, you got that?"
Jack motioned his little head up and down and then wrapped his father in a hug. He then rushed up the stairs, almost knocking his mother down.
"Hey! Slow down, Jack! You're going to hurt yourself," Katherine called out.
"He's just like me," Dakota chuckled.
"Arrogant and accident prone?" His wife asked. He laughed at his wife's joke and then embraced her while kissing her forehead. "Must you really leave in the dead of night? A million blasted things could go wrong?"
"I'll be fine, I've gone hunting at night before. Plus, I'll be with William. I trust that man with my life," Dakota answered.
"Well, you two went hunting back in England where we already had everything explored. Who knows how big this place is and what kind of demons it holds," she worried.
"The only thing out there to fear are the Croatoan. As long as Will and I keep our heads down, there won't be any problem," he replied. "Where's Abby?"
"Upstairs getting ready for bed," Katherine responded.
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. "Come in!" Dakota called.
William poked his head around the door and smiled when he saw the married couple and his lifelong friends. "Ah, hi Katherine. You ready, Dakota?"
"Yes, I am. Let's go," he answered. He kissed his wife on the cheek and then said, "Kiss Abby goodnight for me, will you? Love you, and I'll see you tomorrow."
December 19, 1589
Dakota replayed the final conversation he had with his family in his head. The village was engulfed by haphazardly moving flames that devoured anything it touched. He stood in pain and watched as the one hundred foot fire burned the wooden wall that surrounded the camp, and everything that was inside.
He then looked over at William and saw the reflection of the flames bouncing in his eyes. The fire was the demented symbol of death; wrapping it's long and hell bent fingers around all life. Dakota slung his bow over his back and ran into the burning village, jumping over the destroyed log that had fallen from the wooden door frame.
The heat was biting away at his skin as he tried to find his way back to his house, praying to God that his family was somehow still alive. He finally spotted his house, or at least, where it use to be. It was now just charred remains with a few standing posts burnt to a crisp. Dakota collapsed to his knees and as he let out cries, his chest racked with every sob as the realization that his family was dead settled in.
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