Word count: 1.102
Sunset came, and his work was finally over. The plants, even though there were so few of them, required constant treatment in this sick air. His eldest son will take care of it for this night. He will finally get some sleep for himself.
He stretched on the sunbed and watched the stars blinking in the nightsky. He never had the time to do it; last time his eyes had watched the stars carefully was when he was a kid. He enjoyed the moment, with sigh.
The large bonefire was lit on the beach. Those young ones are celebrating something tonight, he didn't even know what. They would always find some reason for celebration.
He almost fell asleep, when he heard the hurried footsteps getting nearer.
"Dad! Dad!", it was the voice of his youngest son. Aleron was his name. "There is someone in the sea!"
"What?" he seemed stunned. "In the sea? You are seeing things again, Aleron", he brushed off angrily.
"No dad, the others have seen it too! Brother and his friends are already trying to help him!", Aleron was excited. "Come, come!", kid yelled and ran into the night.
Fat man stood up and waddled, obviously tired. Curse that kid, he will never leave me to rest. But the man at the sea? If the others had seen it too... He hurried, ignoring the pain stretching through his spine.
The large bonefire on the beach reflected its light over the sea, so he was able to see the man clearly. He was standing on the boat, watching them. He had a fire on his own there, swinging on the end of a long stick, on his shoulder. "Impossible", the old man mumbled. It really was a man at the sea. "How many boats do we have ready?" he approached to the busy people, yelling.
"Four, dad", a slim boy answered. He seemed to be in charge, but now his father was here. Mostly the boys were the ones working.
"Four...he is pretty far away. I don't think we can reach him with four", he replied. "Anyway, find the first beacon!"
The boy nodded and ran off. The rest of the village, namely elders and children gathered at the coast. Everyone was as stunned as he was, looking towards the stranger in disbelief. An old man stepped next to him: "Jared, maybe we shouldn't save that man."
"Are you insane, Tom?" he replied. "He is at the sea! No one had come from the sea, ever! We must learn from that man, whatever we can."
"We know nothing about him. Maybe we should keep living our peacefull lives. Let him die", Tom continued. He sounded cold and convinced.
Annoyed, Jared moved away from him. He was the chief, it was his decision, after all. He will save that man, and then, who knows what he could learn. A man came from the sea!
"We found the beacon, dad! The boys and boats are ready too."
"Good", Jared said. "You should take the first boat, son", he said, proudly. He put his hand on the boy's shoulder.
"Really? You think I can?" his son seemed so excited. After his father nodded, he ran off.
There was a place for a torch at the bow of the boat, and it was placed there. The boat was also chained to the coast. Everyone gathered and pushed the boat into the water. From there, his son had to pull the boat using the thin chain that was tied a somewhere in the water.
"I'm at the beacon!" he shouted, when he stopped about a minute later. The second boat set off, another boy doing just the same.
We have about ten minutes.
"Dad, how can that man be out in the sea?" the kid, Aleron, asked him.
"I don't know", Jared seemed annoyed. He pushed his son away and kept watching, carefully. His older son hurled another chain and threw it into the water.
Good, he caught second beacon from the first try.
Few mintues after, the four boats were all in water, chained together.
"Damn!", Jared cursed. If they only had one more, they could reach that man. One more boat!
His son seemed to have noticed the same. They couldn't reach him.
"Dad..." he yelled from afar. "I'm going in!"
"No!" Jared answered scolding him, but it was all too late. Despair flashed over his face, watching his son with the chain in his mouth, jumping into the water.
What have I done... I should have been there. I should have known he would do something so reckless. Jared's legs betrayed him, and he crashed to his knees.
His son was swimming and crying in pain, but he reached the stranger at the sea, and connected the last chain. Everyone watched astonished, the young man sacrificing his life to bring them that man, a small light of hope.
"Pull!" Jared screamed, and caught the chain himself. Each of the boys in the boats pulled their chains towards eachother too. Jared's son, with the last glimpse of strength climbed out of the water and into the stranger's boat, but the man kept being still, watching everyone at the shore.
Meanwhile, the first boat sank, only the chain being left behind him. Second and third boat connected in the process, and the second boy abandoned it to safety. Few mintues later, when all the boys were at the coast, and second boat also at the bottom of the ocean, stranger reached the soil. His boat looked like a slightly curved plate made of metal, nothing more.
The wood of the third boat was almost completely corroded. The boys reached out to Jared's son, and pulled him to the ground. He was already dead; his skin was completely washed off his body.
"Who-" Jared was stunned, and crushed. "Who are you?" He didn't dare to look at his son, watching the stranger right into the eyes instead.
"Catch him!" Tom's voice was heard from behind. "Jared is not able to lead us in this condition."
The men of the village moved towards the newcomer, but he rose his right arm, holding a long, steel rod. On top of it, lantern was swinging, connected with two large rings. Strange, red fire danced in it.
The flames burst from the bonefire and started crawling across the ground, like a spilled water, separating him from the rest of the people. Blinded by the fire and fear, all the man who previously wanted to imprison him, stepped away.
Holding his lantern high in the air, with threatening voice, he finally said something.
"I'm here for the boy named Aleron."