Chance is so old she wears her skin as if it could all peel off tonight in her sleep. But her stories make us happy enough we’d die to protect her. And her peeling skin.
“For centuries, our people were at the mercy of The Gath,” she is telling us tonight around a large fire. “But this is changing. The firecatchers have found a way forward. They have met an impossible challenge. It is as if they have reversed the horizon of the setting sun or added another moon to our skies. It is as if they have changed the nature of the atom itself.”
She’s talking, of course, about the nukes. The Gath built huge cities away from ours. What few we have. And then… Well, I’ll let Chance tell it.
“The story really begins with a young girl,” says Chance, chewing on a long reed coated in sugar. That’s her thing. Reeds of sugar.
“She didn’t know much, this girl, truth be told. Some thought she was as dumb as a mule’s tailbone. Not a whit of wit. Stone cold stares like she couldn’t think a word up for nothing. Just a young thing, too. Couldn’t a been more than ten, eleven.
“Well one day, she’s watching the other kids play. As usual, she wasn’t, how should I say, invited? You know how children can be. She wasn’t one of those children that other children invited to the party, so to speak. Well then. There she was just watching, when out of the sky comes a fireball the size of an apple tree.
“Just came out of nowhere, it did. No drones in the sky, nothing like that. It appeared out of nowhere. Like it was done by magic. But it wasn’t. Not magic. It was just another evolution in Gath weaponry. Each generation of weapons, you know, it just got worse and worse.
“But we didn’t know it at the time, no, we didn’t know what that thing was. Like I said, it came out of nowhere, starting out real small like, then grew and grew to the size of a tree as it came near, and then the strangest thing, the strangest thing in a long time happened next.
“This little girl Mary, she just raised her hands all up in the air like this,” and Chance…