The Beginning

This is my story for the Genre Stretch for August.  The genre for the month was Prehistoric Fiction.  This story is set in the early Iron Age of the world where the other stories in this series are set.  So… even though none of the usual Genre Stretch characters appear, this is still in that universe.

**

It started off as nothing more than a thought.  He woke up one morning to the sounds of the people around him.  They had been together as a group for generations.  Some were kin, but others had simply joined the group as a way to survive.  Everyone knew it was safer in numbers.  The wild animals that hunted in the dark didn’t attack them when they were many.

That was simply how it was for years.  That morning was different somehow.  He woke up to the sounds of those people and realized that they weren’t simply people who lived together in a group for safety’s sake.  They were a People.  The people were his people.

Henryk sat up on his cot with a soft gasp.  It was as if, with that realization, something had change inside him.  He dressed himself and then slipped out of the roundhouse.  He looked at the man he’d always called “father” – the leader of the people.

“Do I seem different?” he asked, as he looked up at the older man.

Father looked at him critically and then nodded.  “You do,” he said.  He crouched lower, so that they were looking eye to eye.  Nodding again, he said, “Speak with the elders, Henryk.  One may know what this change means.”

Henryk nodded.  He headed through the gathering of roundhouses to where the elders made their home.  He felt a tremor of fear as he peered inside.  What if the change he felt was wrong?  What if they cast him out of the group?  He couldn’t live without these people – his people.  Of that, he was certain.

Lukasz spotted him immediately and moved to his feet.  “Henryk,” he said, waving him into the roundhouse.  “I might have guessed it would be you.”

“You do know what this means?”

When he nodded, Henryk stepped over to him.  He tensed when the old man touched his chin, forcing his gaze upward.  However, Lukasz smiled.  “It means that you are special, Henryk,” he said.  “From this moment on, we are one people: your people.  You will be called upon to unite and protect us from this day forth.”

A faint smile touched Henryk’s lips.  He didn’t feel special.  He felt strange.  He was glad, though, that they wouldn’t be casting him out of the settlement.  His brows furrowed.  “Is there anyone else like me?” he asked.

“Many others,” Lukasz said.  He shrugged.  “Perhaps, if you are fortunate, you meet one.”

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