From his knapsack, Xabier retrieved a crust of sourdough bread and a jar of jelly made from some red berries that reminded him of pomegranate seeds. The jelly reminded him of the taste of Earth apples. He thought about his mother making jelly. Long dead, he presumed. He didn't understand the reason why, but when he signed up for this job he was told time took on a different meaning here. Although he aged barely a year, decades past on Earth and his mother now likely rested in a plot under the olives.
He covered the bread in jelly and brought the crust up to his lips for a bite.
He saw the flock rush away from the center of the meadow and make a stand against the far rocks. Xabier saw the black and two white sheep fell on the ground bleating like they were dying. He rose off the ground grabbing his staff and using it like an oar to bounce across the field to the fallen sheep. He dropped to the ground in a dead run to the center of the herd. He touched the neck of the nearest animal and brought up a hand covered in blood.
Another animal fell to the ground and the herd ran away from the danger. Xabier thought he saw a ripple of light and a blue flash right before the ewe fell. Her lamb spun away as another blue flash zipped from a ripple of light.
Something was out there hunting the sheep!
"Atzera," he shouted, but the threat seemed to move closer to the herd. He saw another ripple and, for an instant, he thought he saw a face. Another animal fell and he concluded he needed to move the herd.
He whistled long and hard. The sheep scrambled away from the rock fall and ran toward the barn.
"Laster exekutatu. Run, my lovelies."
He flew up the length of his staff and bounced up to the herd. He paddled forward over and over until he reached the barn door, opening it quickly to let the sheep spill in. Safe inside, the animals stood in their breathing masks against the far wall of the barn. A collective bleating sound could be heard as ewes searched for their lambs. Xabier looked through a portal to the meadow below. He saw a distinct ripple pattern moving the dead sheep off the field until five animals bordered the far side of the meadow.
He then saw the dead sheep vanish from the meadow as if they were erased. He had been warned about the hunters, but never thought he would encounter them.
Copyright © 2018 Michael Shawn Sommermeyer
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