The Tibots were strange, but as customers they were dependable. When Anwar’s father noticed their latest order—yet another jar of soil, this time from Tunisia–was unclaimed, he dispatched his son to deliver it. While it was unusual for for Mr. Orin to dispense with that kind of service, keeping his richest, American customers happy was time well wasted.
But business didn’t concern Anwar, only Lian did. The Tibots’ daughter had long raven hair and flighty eyes. Chestnut. Piercing and unsubtle. She always wore shoes a bit too large and dresses a bit too loose. The combination gave her slim figure a forceful sway Anwar found appealing.
He almost dropped the jar when he arrived. The Tibots’ home stood, barely, front gate unhinged, windows broken, patches of lawn tinted a thick, congealed red. Smoke diffused from a side and the air burned with acrid heat. Anwar rushed inside and found Lian curled in a corner.
She slowly looked up, noticing the jar.
“Soil…” she muttered. She grabbed his shoulders, more desperate than alive. “American soil! It’s in a jar here somewhere! Help me find it!”
There’d been dozens of jars of soil. Most lay cracked in the rubble, their contents spread across the floor in an unearthed menagerie. When they found the contents of the jar labled USA, Lian kicked off her shoes.
“They took them, Answer! They took my parents!”
Anwer watched as Lian dug her feet into the soil, moving her toes back and forth like grubby worms. Her face lost its paleness, replaced with red. Her eyes began to pierce.
“I don’t understand. Why?”
“It’s a war game.” Lian’s voice was clear, forceful, no longer choked and tingy. She found a pair of shoes, coated the interior with dirt, and put them on. “They were American scientists. Navajo researchers.”
She stood. Even though they’d always been the same height, Anwar had the sensation of looking up, up at her.
“See, each country has a soul, special strengths and memories,” Lian continued as she stretched, her body taught, “and I was designed to absorb them.” She put the shoes back on. “I was supposed to be raised a soldier, an infiltrator, but the Tibots kidnapped me. Saved me. Now it’s my turn.”
She gave Anwar a kiss and smiled. Her eyes were easy this time, calm and balmy. They made Anwar feel he’d lost a great thing, forever. “They want to see me in action. They want to see me go against the rest of my kind, what their missing prize is capable of.
I won’t disappoint.”
An oldie that I thought I’d revisit, somewhat inspired by Jack Hawksmoor from The Authority (great book to give a chance for all you non-comic fans).