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Hope Floats

The billowing ebony storm clouds swallowed the moon and the stars. Jagged bolts of lightning stabbed at the swelling waves, and the hot white flashes illuminated the line of ships bobbing helplessly in the angry sea. Yamagata seemingly indifferent to the lashing rains was hunched over by his antenna trying to find any signal in the howling wind.
“Goddamnit!” Yamagata shouted with frustration as he threw the antenna down at the ground.
Sebastian was worried. He had never seen Yamagata lose his composure like that before. It was a clear sign things were not going as planned.
“Let’s just try a little longer,” Sebastian suggested.
Yamagata sighed and picked the antenna up and started maneuvering it around.
Pillars of lighting fell from the heavens illuminating the forlorn armada. The massive warships were lifted by swelling waves and dropped back into the water. Dozens of glowing lanterns appeared in the darkness just beyond the water reaching up from the shoreline. The collection of kerosene flames revealed the Elders rallied around the heavy wooden crosses planted in the soil. Somehow they’d been warned about the invaders floating towards the coast. They waited patiently in the storm staring out into the ocean waiting to greet their unknown foe.
Besides what Yamagata told him Sebastian knew virtually nothing about the foreigners aboard the storm tossed ships. He only had Yamagata’s promise they would help him take back his home from the Mormon Elders. The blood soaked horde that had marched out of the horizon as suddenly as if the whole army had materialized from nothing. They built their temple, and it beaconed more and more of the invaders. They demanded Sebastian and his family pledge themselves at the feet of the Mormon's the self-proclaimed emissaries of God.
Sebastian could never have imagined that deep in the mysterious in land there were armies as vast as the Mormon army, or that there were ships as colossal as those built by Yamagata’s people. Maybe that had been for the best. How does one keep from losing their sanity when they know what sort of monsters are roaming the world around them?
Sebastian had only ever known life on the coast where people lived in scattered and isolated villages. The distance between them was often so vast that any trading could only be accomplished through long, perilous expeditions. Insular peoples stayed within the boundaries of that part of the sea they had become familiar with. Few could explain how Pacific was the common name of the sea among the numerous and far flung societies sustaining themselves on the bounty provided by the waves. Even more enigmatic was how they came to identify themselves as westerners. Especially to the many people who believed they lived on an island they had just never seen the other end of.
That was one of the reasons Yamagata was such a curiosity. He said he came from the east and yet would point his finger towards the endless blue horizon. His people also knew the sea by the same name. The most mystifying thing was his grasp of the English language. Yamagata finding the exiled Sebastian when he did felt like the machinations of fate. Still, Sebastian was weary of this secretive messiah. Banished from their land and living as homeless nomads Sebastaion and those who followed him were struggling through a precarious existence. It was the kind of life any man would yearn to escape from and with nothing to lose they had no incentive not to trust the slanty eyed stranger.
“Konichiwa, Konichiwa!” Yamagata screamed futilely into the radio! The crashing thunder drowned out his voice. The winds surged, and the beady rain stung at their eyes. He tapped Yamagata on the shoulder. Yamagata gave him a resigned nod. They picked up and sought refuge from the storm.
Despite his strong will Sebastian had learned quite well how to tell when circumstances have made you irrelevant to a situation no matter how much control you might have thought you had. The storm was one more adversary tearing his world asunder, and he could only wait until it subsided to see what if anything had been spared.
The storm seemed to pass with the night. The rolling thunder petered out into muffled rumbles. The torrential rains slowed to a light trickle from the emptying clouds that steadily grew lighter and lighter as if being relieved from the heavy burden of the storm. Columns of sunlight penetrated through the dispersing typhoon, and there was an eerie calmness settled in the air.
Yamagata was dead. His body sat against a large rock. His overturned hands displayed the crimson gash in his gray flesh. The open wound glistened with rain water. The blood had washed away in the downpour. His sightless eyes were drained of color and stared into empty eternity.
Sebastion limped back to the ridge over looking the beach knowing full well what was waiting for him on the sands would be a confirmation of his fate one way or another. Pieces of the gargantuan vessels were scattered across the water as far as the eye could see. The wreckage gently floated in the now serene waters. The sea was spewing piles of lifeless bodies onto the sand. The Elders walked along the beach enjoying the feeling of the mild sun while they bayonetted the survivors pointing enthusiastically to the foaming blood stained water.

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