"The Gift" -Excerpt From "The Passage"


Billy is out digging for potatoes in a field behind the tent city. It is gloomy as though early dawn, the trees along the creek starkly outlined against the gray sky. Their leaves have fallen off, not as they do in fall when they color and then drop, but because about half have turned a sickly yellow and dropped while the remaining leaves are still green. Billy is scrapping and chopping at the soil with a short hoe and digging tool, turning the earth, looking for potatoes. He has a cloth sack lying on the ground beside him, lumpy with the few potatoes he has found. He is dusty and frankly dirty in places, as much from his work as from infrequent baths. Billy looks solemn and forlorn, with a slight frown on this face. Billy drops to his knees to dig by hand, failing to notice that he is no longer alone.

Suddenly Billy notices a thick gray Zeta foot, developed over eons to deal with a heavy gravity draw, and the thin leg above it. The foot appears to be booted in a seamless gray material. Billy sees the foot and freezes, but does not look concerned. He eases back into a sitting position, putting his legs out in front of him a bit, and looks up, squinting. The Zeta holds a capped vial of smoky colored glass. The long slender fingers in the Zeta hand are wrapped around the vial, held in place by just a hint of a thumb, a bump where the thumb should be. Billy starts talking to the Zeta as though he has been doing this all his life, as though there were nothing unusual about the scene. He blurts out, in a natural and relaxed voice, as though talking to a family member he trusts, speaking quickly and with fervor.

"She just won't talk to any of us."

At this tears well up in his eyes. Billy continues, with a quiver in his voice.

"She stares at me like she doesn't see me."

His breath quickening as though he were about to start crying in earnest, tears starting to stream down his face.

"I asked her to come with me, digging, so we could skip stones like we used to, and she didn't even say nothing. Nothing!"

Billy wipes the tears away with the palm of his hand against one cheek, suddenly jerking his head up and looking clear faced at the Zeta, whose face we never see. There is a moment of silence as he is obviously listening to something intently. He glances at the vial and raises his hand to take it from the Zeta. He smiles slightly through his dusty tears, glancing at the Zeta briefly during this, by way of thanks.

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Comment by Norma Rozas Leal on December 6, 2010 at 11:51pm
Thanks again, Alex. I've downloaded the complete story and have it safe in my files to read .
Comment by Alex R. on December 6, 2010 at 1:29am
Norma, follow the link that's right under the image. There you can read the story in full! There is also another short story: "Finegan Fine" which is similar in nature. Enjoy!
Comment by Carrie Stevenson on December 6, 2010 at 12:21am
Wow. You know there were many pioneers who lived off the land without electricity. The trouble is, people are spoiled and, dare I say it, lazy! They don't want life to be too hard. But a hard life is better than no life at all, well isn't it?
Comment by Carl-Jan on December 5, 2010 at 10:12pm
Very nice, I really hope that those who renounce some of their own well-being for the sake of others also get the help they certainly need
Comment by Norma Rozas Leal on December 5, 2010 at 10:01pm
Thank you Alex. How can I get to read the complete story? My husband, who has never been a believer, asked me today: What if they are wrong? And he used a terrible tone in his voice. He said. "Maybe they're planning something against all of you". And I'm getting more worried everyday because of the 7/10, being a South American, Chilean to be more specific. So I finally said to him, I'm leaving alone.
Comment by Starr DiGiacomo on December 5, 2010 at 8:36pm
Thank you Alex, I actually needed this gift today. I had words with my daughter and I'm so over it. I have to accept that 2 of my daughters are in constant denial. telling me I'm not God and that I don't know this will happen for sure and they don't want to live in the boonies off grid yada yada yada. I'm making myself so sick, I just need to let go. Thank you for this gift.
Comment by Ryan on December 5, 2010 at 5:56pm
I like that drawing.

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