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Vumilia - Chapter 15
| Title: Vumilia|
Chapter: Fifteen of ??
Summary: Luke and Noah find themselves very far from home...
Disclaimer: This site is no way associated with "As the World Turns", CBS, P&G, or Van Hansis and Jake Silbermann. This is not for profit. No copyright infringement is intended. Authors submit and write their own work.
Noah was suffering through some seriously outlandish dreams. He’d tried to stay half awake for Luke but at some point fatigue had claimed him.
Now he and Luke were seated at a fine dining table in the middle of a burning African wasteland and Luke kept asking him, “Where?”
Noah frowned. The asking was becoming more and more insistent until he realised it wasn’t the Luke in his dream speaking.
He shot up from ground with both hands, “Luke?”
Luke was shivering audibly; his head had turned away from Noah in his sleep.
All around them was pitch black and it was difficult to see, the fire having nearly burnt out. The only sound besides the crickets and an occasion wild animal was the soft snoring from the other bodies nearby.
“Wh… where?” Luke was panicking, “Where?”
Noah was quick to leap over him and lie down on the other side, right hand stroking lightly down his cheek and coming to softly rest in the small of Luke’s back.
“Hey?” Noah cooed; eyes seeking contact through the darkness.
“Where?” Luke asked again, his confused eyes wide, unfocused, and his breath quick.
“Luke. I’m right here…”
Luke licked his lips, keening his ear like a puppy seeking out a sound. His rapid breathing slowed to a steady in an out as his brown orbs settled on Noah.
“You turned in your sleep.” Noah continually smoothed Luke’s sweat-soaked forehead with this thumb. “That’s all.”
Luke’s hand came up to find Noah’s shoulder.
“I didn’t tell them.” he swallowed with this eyes now closed.
“Didn’t tell who, Luke?”
Luke sighed heavily, “They wanted to know who helped… me. They kept asking… ask and hit, ask and hit…”
Noah’s eyes closed as a flood of memory hit him and he felt that surge of anger and nausea once again.
“I didn’t tell them.”
“I know you didn’t.” Noah rested his cheek against Luke’s, “It’s okay now. Just sleep…”
“Don’t go…” Luke muttered as he fell back to sleep.
Noah watched him fixedly, “Sleep. I’m not going anywhere, baby. I promise.”
God was pleased with him.
Simon Laarman was a good person; a pious person.
Simon Laarman was a soldier of God.
It sickened him to see how debase the United States had become. But he was an excellent strategist! He realised quickly he’d have no real impact there, in the country of his birth. The devil already had his claws stuck in and the blackness was fast descending.
He had sought and found a new flock that still believed in a higher power; an innocent flock; one that he could mould as his own and pass to God to prove his worth. It would be his guaranteed entrance through Heaven’s gates.
After everything he had been through to fight his own demons, the strength it had taken him to overcome the darkness and throw Satan from his life, he felt more than worthy of God’s approval.
His laptop buzzed lightly as it worked to open the next web page. The internet was slow in Uganda. It was a good thing he was a patient man.
He’d been conducting his research for ten minutes; searching internet sites for the works of the devil. He believed it was important to know what he was up against.
“Love thy enemies…” That’s what God instructed.
And he did. He loved all these poor lost souls who had, unlike him, succumbed to temptation.
Some of them he could save.
Others were lost.
The best thing he could do for them was cleanse their souls in preparation for death.
To Simon Laarman death was the only solution. These ingrates could not be allowed to petrify the pure community he hoped to one day create.
And one such ingrate had escaped his fate, his punishment, not once but twice.
The pencil Simon was holding between his fingers snapped suddenly in two.
Yes, he was angry.
Luke Snyder was a serious problem. He was one of the devil’s right hand soldiers. Simon was sure of this.
A demon disguised within an angelic exterior, Luke Snyder as able to pollute and brainwash those around him. He was indeed dangerous in his charisma. It was essential he not escape Ugandan boarders. He would warn other demons of Simon’s work and they would attempt to stop him.
And Simon Laarman had come too far and sacrificed too much to allow that to happen.
His eyes caught the picture of a young man loaded up on his laptop. The man could not have been older than twenty. He sat seductively spread eagled on a wooden dining chair, everything on display; six pack glistening with sweat.
Simon inhaled sharply. He had gotten through the first six pictures without any problems but this one… the way the young man’s dark hair curled around his ear. Simon licked his lips.
He was just beginning to feel that evil stirring in his groin when he was saved by a light knock at the door.
Quickly he slammed down the lid of his laptop. “Enter.”
His wife, Leanne, was what some people would call too slim. When you hugged her, it was often tentatively for fear of breaking her like a twig. But she was a devout woman who followed him to the ends of the earth and for that he was thankful. God had been good to him.
He was introduced to Leanne as a potential wife by Minister Edward Snell, his teacher and his mentor back in Memphis. It was Edward’s voice he always
conjured when those dark thoughts attempted to evade his mind.
“She will make a fabulous wife for you. She understands the importance of the work you undertake, Simon.”
Now Leanne, his wife of nine years and mother of his children, entered his home office just as quietly as she had knocked. She flicked a loose red curl behind her ear. “Sorry to disturb you, darling, but there’s a man at the door asking for you.”
“Thank you my dear.” Simon caught the time on the clock, “It’s late, darling. Why don’t you get to bed and I’ll join you as soon as I’ve dealt with my visitor?”
Simon pecked her cheek as he left the room for the front door.
“Did you find them?” He asked the question before Wemusa could even speak.
“Yes Pastor.” The man sneered, adjusting his red beanie, and taking a step through the front door of the house.
“Where are they?”
“I have them locked away safe, Pastor.”
“Did you send the pictures?”
“Then we wait to hear.”
“You have done well, Wemusa. God will be pleased.”
“Thank you, Pastor.”
Luke woke Noah again around dusk.
“It’s gone!” he cried.
Noah opened his eyes to an expression of utter terror.
“Luke? What is it?”
Luke’s eyes came to rest on him.
“Hi?” Noah smiled; trying to placate him; hand pushing back into Luke’s hair. “Calm down, okay? What happened?”
“I lost it.” Luke’s bottom lip trembled and Noah could hear his breath catching; his right cheek misshapen where it was squashed into the tarpaulin. “I’m sorry, Noah.”
“Lost what, baby?”
Weakly he lifted his left hand waving it as much as he could before it flopped back to the ground.
Noah smiled, reaching out to first massage and then kiss that same hand, “No, no you didn’t…”
“It’s right here. Look…” Noah twisted so that he could bring his ring hand up from under him. “Look, baby…”
Noah held his palm up to the sky and Luke’s eyes began to glisten when he saw the two bands safely stowed there.
“You left it for me.” Noah reminded him, “Did you forget?”
Luke closed his eyes; concentrating really hard. The action released two tear drops that quickly stained his cheek.
Luke nodded; expelling a long relieved sigh.
“Here.” Noah pulled Luke’s platinum ring off his own finger, parting the two bands, and leant up on his elbow so that he could slip it back where it belonged.
Calmed, Luke smiled and closed his eyes eventually drifting off once more.
Luke’s skin was like fire under Noah’s hand.
He sat up and grabbed a cloth from the supplies Lutalo had placed near them. He dampened it and spent a few minutes wiping Luke’s face and neck before settling back down beside him to sleep.
Noah opened his eyes and Luke was staring at him with such a powerful sense of wonderment and love that Noah’s insides jumped.
“I remember.” he said. “When I woke up and I couldn’t think… and the ring was gone… You found it.”
“Yes I did.” Noah replied.
“When I left it behind I wasn’t sure you would… But I didn’t want them to have it.”
Noah leaned forward to kiss him and at the same time hide how much the gesture of Luke leaving his ring behind had affected him. The pain of the moment was still so fresh in his mind; an image of that bar of green soap flashing behind his lids; an overwhelming sense of relief that he was alive still.
“You got my message?” Luke whispered, stroking the ring with his thumb.
“I thought I wouldn’t get the chance to say it.”
“And I am. Noah… I really am.”
Noah sighed and lay back down beside Luke, staring up at the sky turned red and purple with the rising sun.
“Next time you can tie me to the bed.”
Luke’s attempt at humour made the simmering fire in the pit of Noah’s stomach flare up. But he didn’t need to be angry with Luke right then. It would serve no purpose and be of no help to them. So he stamped the flames out with some difficulty and instead changed the subject with a clearing of his throat.
“How are you feeling?”
Luke knew him well enough to recognise the tone and Noah was grateful when he wisely let it drop. Like a child waiting for his father to come home and administer punishment for a wrong doing, Luke knew this issue was far from over.
“I feel better. It still hurts like hell but not like before. I’m really tired of lying like this though.”
“Well, you can’t really lie on your back now can you?”
Noah nodded and set to work examining the damage to Luke’s shoulder blades.
To help keep the aloe strips in place, Noah had wrapped Luke’s torso with a long strip of blue cotton sheet. Sitting up he gingerly lifted one of the aloe strips
not caught by the sheet to check on Luke’s wounds.
The redness and swelling had definitely receded and Noah felt ashamed for doubting the witch doctor on sight. She obviously had some healing knowledge handed down through generations.
As so often happened to him, he considered for a moment that it might make for an interesting documentary. The entire Ugandan situation would. He filed the thought away for another time.
“I think you should be able to make it to Kenya. But we really do need a proper doctor to have a look at you.” Palming Luke’s fringe back Noah felt his forehead. It was still way too hot for his liking. He couldn’t help but think they had only managed to hold off the infection for the time being. “Let me get you up.”
Luke laughed, “Not that I don’t relish the idea, babe, but I’m kinda indisposed at the moment.”
“Smart-ass!” Noah smiled.
Once Luke was back up to sitting Noah handed him the smaller water bottle. It shuddered as Luke lifted it to his lips and Noah cupped Luke’s hands to help him.
“Got it?” He asked, letting go as Luke nodded while he drank; this time finishing the entire bottle.
Noah smiled. That was a good sign. “Do you think you could manage a bite to eat?”
Luke shook his head no, “Is there more water?”
Lutalo had left three 2 litre cola bottles of water right by them and Noah twisted the red cap off one; this time holding the bottle to Luke’s lips, fearing it might be too heavy for him in his current state.
Luke drank 3 quarters of it before Noah took the bottle away. “I think that’s enough. No good you throwing it all back up again.”
Noah took a moment to drink and while he did, his eyes roamed over the camp where the other men had begun to stir. Noah could see Lutalo standing
nearby smiling at them when he saw how much better Luke seemed.
The sooner they could make tracks the better as far as Noah was concerned.
Carefully he helped Luke to slip his arms through the sleeves of a clean t-shirt.
Noah lifted his gaze to Luke’s face as he pulled the hem of the shirt down his waist. The brown flecks were so sad.
“We had to leave him. You know that, right?”
Luke nodded, “I know, but you should have seen him, Noah. He didn’t look good. We have to help him.”
“We will, I promise.”
They shared a comforting kiss.
Simon arrived early for his church office that day. Wemusa was waiting for him.
“Anything yet?” Simon asked.
“Not yet Pastor, but it is still early.”
Even though Simon knew Wemusa had been monitoring the mobile phone and the e-mail account he checked both.
“Have they been fed today?”
“Good. We will have to keep them until our message gets through.”
This plan of his had to work. It simply had to.
They bid an emotional farewell to Najja. The plan was for him to hike back to the witch doctor’s village and later take a taxi to Kampala.
“Thank you for everything, Najja.” Noah told him, reaching out to draw the man into a quick hug.
“No, thank you.” Najja replied with a pat to Noah’s cheek. “Look after him. He is special that one.”
Noah smiled, “Yes, I know.”
With just Luke, Noah and Kigongo on the backseat of the car, Luke fared the journey much better. Mostly he dozed on Noah’s shoulder.
During the moments Luke was awake he would tell them about what happened and describe in detail how he’d seen Tony briefly through a gap in the
corrugated cell. It was only a few seconds as the guards marched him past, but Luke knew instantly it was Tony. He never let his recognition show.
During a brief stop for lunch, while Noah tried in vain to coax Luke to eat, Luke noticed Kigongo staring off at the scenery.
“How are you Kigongo?” Luke asked.
When Kigongo turned to face them Noah noticed for the first time that he had tears in his eyes. As usual, Luke was so much better at reading the moods of
people than he was.
It had become clear to Noah, even in the short time he’d been in the country, that it was culturally not the done thing to cry if you were a man. The men held
their own emotions at bay as best they could. The Colonel would have approved.
But seeing Kigongo’s devastation and loneliness clearly now; especially considering how close Noah had come to losing Luke in the same way Kigongo had lost Taban; Noah felt guilty for not having checked on him earlier.
“I’m sorry Kigongo.” He said now, “I’ve been leaning on you so much these past few days and I’ve not even asked you…”
Kigongo smiled at them both, holding up a hand to stop Noah from speaking further. “It is my very great honour to know you.”
“You’re a good friend.” Luke told him. “Thank you for bringing Noah to me.”
“I owe you my life, so I give you back yours… yes?”
Luke looked back at Noah, squeezing his bearded chin once between forefinger and thumb and confirmed, “Yes. Yes, you did.”
Kigongo nodded, mouth lifting back into a soft and affectionate smile. “You are very beautiful together… I have seen this. This is okay here, with just us. But in the towns, remember to be careful, yes?”
Kigongo’s warning may have seemed obvious, but Noah pretty much felt unable to stop touching and holding Luke. He realised this fact had totally slipped his mind and that Kigongo was right. “It will be difficult, Kigongo, but I’ll try.”
“I’m just too irresistible, aren’t I, bubby?” Luke teased, “You simply can’t help yourself.”
“Oh you think so, ha?” Noah countered, “I wish I had a mirror so you could see the state of your precious hair. The only reason I know how sick you are is because you’re not demanding I shampoo and condition it right here…”
“Hey!” Luke pouted, “I’m not that vain.”
Ignoring him Noah said, “Don’t worry Kigongo, I’m not going to do anything to draw attention. I don’t think I’ll breathe again until I have Luke safely on a plane back to the States.”
As they both nodded Lutalo called them back to the car.
Thanks for reading and for all the reviews.
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