Ezra and Donald
“Mom!” said Jeremiah as he ran into Maria’s arms.
She embraced the young boy in her arms. “Oh, Jeremiah, what are you doing here?”
Joseph came alongside them and knelt down. “We came looking for you. Wanted to make sure you didn’t eat all the bacon.”
Maria reached up and embraced Joseph, pulling him in close to her and Jeremiah. The family stayed there for what seemed minutes in a long embrace. Joseph broke the silent reunion, “That’s quite the bonfire, there. What do you think it’s all about?”
“I don’t know,” said Maria. “Shall we join the rest of my group and find out?”
The three of them got up and headed for the massive building fire. They were a few hundred feet away and could feel the heat already. Joseph noticed a strong aroma of bacon coming from the fire. “You smell that Maria?”
“Yeah. Bacon, coming from the fire. What are they doing, burning pigs?”
Joseph looked at her. “I don’t know but something doesn’t feel right. That crowd is angry. There’s something going on here and it’s not good. Stay close to Jeremiah.”
They walked towards their group and the angry crowd. Joseph saw two familiar faces.
“Ezra? Don? Is that you?”
Two men about ten feet ahead turned around. Upon seeing Joseph and his family the expressions on their faces went from one of surprise to one of fear. They looked at each other and made their way to Joseph.
“Joseph, it’s good to see you.” said the older man.
“Ezra. How have you been?” Joseph grabbed his hand and pulled him into a hug. Ezra J. Riley was a professor at MIT before The Great Purge. He was a short man with good posture, dirty blond hair and striking blue eyes. He didn’t look his forty-plus years.
Joseph turned to the other man. He was tall and built like a bull. Dark hair and deep brown eyes gave him an air of mystery. He embraced him. “Donald Hamilton! How are you? It’s been too long.”
“Guys, this is my family. My wife Maria and our son Jeremiah. What are you doing in Arlington?”
Ezra spoke up. “You and your friends all need to leave. You’re not safe here. The Brotherhood came into town a week ago and have been stirring up all kinds of trouble. Now they have the residents up in arms about the impure amongst them.”
Maria looked at Ezra, “What do you mean ‘the impure’?”
“According to the Brotherhood, The Great Purge was God’s judgment on our impure world. Those who died were the worst of the infection on society. Those who didn’t die but carry the scars and diseases are the impure and it is their holy duty to rid the world of them.” He sighed. “I can’t help but notice you, your wife and most of your friends are scarred. It doesn’t matter whether it is from any of the viruses that plagued our world. In their eyes, you are impure. You must leave now!”
Joseph looked at Ezra and Don. “I don’t understand. What have we done wrong? All we wanted was to find out what that smell was. It smells like bacon. We thought we could trade.”
Donald looked at the angry mob gathered in front of the burning building. “Listen, there isn’t much time. That’s not bacon you’re smelling. That building they’re yelling at and burning, was an impure safe-house. The Brotherhood found out about it and set it on fire. That’s not bacon, its human flesh burning. If you and your friends don’t leave now, you can expect the same treatment.”
“Ezra. Donald. Who are your friends?” From behind them a slender man about six foot was approaching.
Ezra turned to Joseph, “Get out of here now!”
Joseph grabbed Maria and Jeremiah and turned towards the street leading back to the park. They got five feet when ten brawny men came out of the buildings and blocked their path. The men grabbed them and herded them towards the angry mob and its antagonist.
Tune in next week for Part 7: Batkhuyag Atlan Khan