By Mona Jean Reed
Suspense/Thriller, 436 pages
Cover art by Richard Stroud
Her dad’s song became her song—a slave’s song, a wary song of anger without the means of expression, a song of surviving--a song of escape.
Like any slave, she’d do what she had to do.
“Dad,” she whispered. “Somehow, I’ll get home. If it kills me, I’ll get home.
Roz wondered if she’d ever see her dad or her brother again. She bit her pointing finger and some tears escaped, but she made no sound.
At some point, Roz slept and knew nothing more until the darkest hour of the new day. A sound like a person sniffling with a bad cold startled her awake. A novel she’d read said that if awakened in a potentially dangerous situation, the best thing is to pretend sleep. This gives you time to plan your best moves and surprise your enemy.
Without moving, she opened her eyes a little. The fire had burned so low that only embers remained. But the moon’s light let her see very well. Through a thin place in the brush shelter, she could make out a foot—a foot, not a hoof. It moved and she saw its tail. It had a tuft of hair at the end—not the brushy tail of a hyena,
Though she didn’t move, her frightened heart exchanged places with her lungs.
What should she do? Scream? No. Wake their master? Probably. But he slept on the other side of the fire.
If she called him, she’d wake Chaney. Mustn’t wake Chaney. If the squirt started screaming, who knew what that animal would do? The snuffling sound grew louder by the second and their unstable fortress shivered. That beast meant to tear it down.
Roz had to do something. What could she do? Still not moving, she searched through her pitiful store of knowledge.
Stare at the beast and point at it until it went away?
Worked with a snarling dog.
Not likely. Not at all.
Their collection of sticks and small logs lay near her head. Still lying down, she raised her right arm in slow motion. Her fingers felt for a stick or two to fuel their blaze—something small that wouldn’t crush the fire’s remaining embers.
The creature’s noisy breathing stopped. Slowly Roz dropped the handful of twigs into the embers. Within seconds they blazed up.
The animal reacted with a guttural cough and a soft growl. It probably wouldn’t bother them if she made a bigger fire.
Still frightened, Roz sat up slowly, picked up a few larger sticks and put them on the fire. She waited for the larger sticks to catch and blaze.
Nothing else she could do, except pray that the beast wouldn’t decide to knock down their defense before she got the fire going. She prayed and she kept praying.
Again, the brush fortress shivered. Without thought, Roz leaped to her feet and grabbed the largest hunk of firewood in the pile.
The piece of firewood fit her hand like the handle of a hammer; the larger end looked enough like a club to be one.
Roz encouraged herself by thinking of the young King David of Israel. He had killed at least a lion and a bear when he was just a boy.
Maybe, with God’s help, I can convince this beast to go away.
Please Jesus, let it be so.
She squatted and rocked from side-to- side, like a tennis player ready to leap in any direction when her opponent slammed a serve at her.
Could be that if the Lord directed her hands, and if this creature wasn’t starving, she could convince it to leave with a solid blow on the nose. She thought about it and stopped panting in terror.
I won’t be afraid.