Author: Alzo David-West
Hujen awoke. He could remember little, only the flames. His eyes adjusted to the straggling light that filtered through a charred silken curtain. He saw another survivor of the night: a standing door frame, its elongated shadow cast right-ways on the smoke dust. He sat up and rubbed his face. Memories surfaced in particles: chanting, shouting, and projectile sparks. His heart was beating rapidly. He looked at the burned ruin of his domicile, the neighborhood, the settlement. He closed his eyes.
What did the they want? he asked himself. Their purpose was not clear. It was a mobilized frustration, a manic impulse, the passion of the mob. The sky brightened. He glanced upward at the mansions of the sun and wondered if anyone out there would come. His scorched resident certificate lay in the ash pile beside singed pictures of people his mind had put away. Gradually, the thoughts congealed: the scream of a woman, the wail of a toddler, the cry of an infant, and the ululation of the mob: Large eye, long snout! Take your pouch and haul it out!—or something like that, something like that.
He looked sullenly at his hands and the spiny fins. Condensed dew-drops fell from his shiny gills.