Thursday, October 10, 2013


I no longer know the day. We have traveled so long. The old man once marked the days since our escape from home on his walking stick, but we burned that with the rest of our wood days ago to keep warm. He says he knows the way, though without his crutch he moves slower and slower.

West. We are traveling west, always.

I do not know where the old man plans to lead us. He talks to the others at night when we have stopped but I am sent for firewood with Bora Gal. I tell him that we can walk west faster than the old man, but he says that we will not find the refuge without him. I ask him what the refuge is. Is it a village like ours? Is it like Qara Qorum, from where the riders come? Bora Gal does not know. I ask the old man if we are going to the lands west of the steppe, where the ground is gold and the rains do not follow. The old man takes my firewood. "Thank you Qara Chinua," he says, and asks me if I have eaten.

I do not trust the old man.


Today Bora Gal killed a ram with his bow. We have had so little meat since we left the village. Mother is scared to light the fire. She says the riders may see. Cousin Batujin says keeping wolves away is more important. I cannot decide, but I am full of meat and I am warm. No one talks of the west, or our village, or what was lost. Bora Gal is the first to fall asleep. Mother smiles, something I have not seen since we left.


Mother scolded at me. She says Bora Gal is not Bora Gal. She says Bora Gal is BaiShan, and that I am KuangSun. She says Bora Gal and Qara Chinua died in the village. She says I am KuangSun. I have heard this name, but I do not remember where or when.

The old man still calls me Qara Chinua when I bring him the firewood and asks me if I have eaten. We are high in the mountains now and food is scarce. He angers me when he asks me this, but I tell him I have and continue my chores in the camp.


The old man continues to lead us west. We have been in the mountains for days and we are growing weak. The old man gets more at dinner because he knows the way. I have told Bora Gal I think the old man is lying. He has not told us where we are going because there is no place to go. Bora Gal still believes the old man. Mother still believes the old man. Batujin still believes the old man. The others follow mother and Batujin because my family led them out of the village as it burned.

Mother says the riders will see our fire, but who would follow us here? I do not believe the riders are looking for us. The fire is small, and I am still cold.


I dreamed of horses. Riders. I dreamed of their hooves on the steppe, and that they gave us chase. I saw them trample mother, and Batujin, and Bora Gal. The old man was with them, and he laughed. I could still hear their hooves when I awoke. There were no riders. Great white stones fell from the sky and crashed about us. Batujin lay on the ground and did not stir. I called to Bora Gal as he held mother's hand, trying to drag her to me until he fell. The old man tried to flee, but he fell too. I ran to him, and rolled his dead body on top of me. In time the sky became calm.

They are all dead.

The ground is too hard to dig. It is too cold, and I am too weak. I pray someone finds this and buries my family.

I pray that I reach the land where the ground is gold and the rain does not follow.

I pray that the riders never find me.

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