The Mediator

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 He had been walking for three days and the child's body had begun to stink. Now and again as thirst overtook him he would stop, and give them both a drink from the canteen. "Thirsty eh? Yeah, me too." He conversed like this often with the small corpse he'd wrapped in a blanket in the vain hopes of staving off decay.

Near the foot of the cliff, the man rested. Somewhere up top would be a hut made of stone. There he would find The Mediator - the one who would hear his prayers and see that they were answered.

As he sat surveying the best route to the top, several small boys appeared from behind the rocks. They gazed at him for a moment before turning abruptly to scamper up the cliffside. The man saw how it was done, and placing the bundle over his shoulder, he began to climb.

Once on top he dusted himself off, looked around and saw that there was indeed a stone hut, and all around it sat numerous children. "Well hello there," the man said. There was no answer. "I say, is this the hut of The Mediator?" No one answered. Still holding the bundle, the man stooped at the opening of the hut and asked. "Excuse me. May I come in?" He could see inside though there was no fire, nor a single candle. In the far left corner a figure, or rather the presence of a figure, could be made out, and from that corner came a whisper, tranquil and inviting. "By all means. Please come in." Entering, the man sat down with the child held close to his chest. The whisper asked, "What is it you desire?"

"That my son will awake. That he may breathe again."

From the corner came the whisper. "Do you know what it is you ask?"

The man answered, "I ask only that he should live."

From the corner came the deep thump of a drum. This was followed by the shake of a rattle that sounded like small shells poured out on an iron pan. Then an all- consuming silence just before the voice in the corner whispered, "Awake."

The child stirred in his father's arms. Behind him the man felt the presence of all the other children standing quietly, observing the ceremony. The blanket began to shudder and kick, and from the corner the whisper called out, "It is time."

Violently, the child struggled free, spinning around to latch himself to his father's neck. Slowly the others began to join in the feast as the man held his son tightly in his dying arms, crying out, "My son! My son...my son."

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