Another dream; another version of the same dream. Heavy clouds massed along the horizon, dark with the promise of rain, lit from within by intermittent flashes of heat lightning. Thunder rumbled along behind the rim of the far mountains, sounding like drumbeats. The smell of the rain was in the air, and a cool breeze began to blow from the east. Maribelle sat under a wiry tree, the bare branches rattling above her in the wind, and watched the approaching stormclouds. All around her were the people of the village, the Warumbi. Clothing—scarves and skirts, head-wraps and T-shirts—all of bright colors, like flowers blooming amidst the dry desolation of the village. And skin, everywhere black skin.
Maribelle enjoyed the feel of the wind on her face and her bare arms, enjoyed the presence of Africa around her and beneath her, the pulse and heartbeat of the world beneath her where she sat, the lifeblood of the Earth ebbing and flowing through the deep red dirt. The Warumbi, all barefoot, must feel it through the soles of their feet, Maribelle thought. Africa, the birthplace of the first Man—and Woman. The womb of the world.
Blaine came over and joined her in the patchy shade beneath the tree. (Shadows like chain-link, Maribelle thought, or cobwebs.) Blaine had something, some kind of animal, slung over his shoulder. He tossed it to the ground, squatting beside it. Blaine carried a large knife held clamped in his teeth. He began to butcher his kill, opening its abdomen to let the blood and entrails spill out. A Chimpanzee; Maribelle recognized the animal. Blaine sliced off a choice cut of meat and handed it to her.
“Aren’t you gonna cook it?” Maribelle asked, listening to the drums in the thunder. She could already hear the rain pelting the dry ground, the storm drawing nearer
“You have to eat it raw,” Blaine said, “or it isn’t good for you.”
“But it’s a primate,” Maribelle said. “Chimps share ninety-eight percent of our DNA, you know. This is like, like cannibalism.”
Blaine just stared at her. But his eyes were not Blaine’s. He looked like Blaine, in a pair of old jeans and that gaudy Dave Matthews concert T-shirt he always wore and Maribelle hated. But his eyes were the golden-yellow eyes of the Blackmane. He stared at her.
“I’m sorry,” Maribelle said. “I can’t.”
Discord ripped through the world, the tranquility of the scene, discord interfering with the cool wind and the smell of rain. The scene, the dream, faded. It made Maribelle feel sad. She opened her eyes. Darkness. She rolled over, recognized her bedroom.
Yellow-golden eyes stared at her from the darkness.
Maribelle tensed, relaxed. She reached out a hand to stroke soft fur.
“Hey, fella,” she said.
Mister Jones meowed, rubbing his head against her hand. He began to purr. He was almost invisible with his black fur. Except for his eyes.
Maribelle looked around the room. What had awakened her? Wasn’t there some sound, some disturbance? The memory of her dream was already fading when the telephone rang again.
Maribelle lifted the receiver from the bedside table.
“Oh, good,” a voice said. A familiar voice. “You are home.”
“Just took me a second to wake up,” Maribelle said. She glanced at the clock-radio. Two forty-three in red block letters. “What’s wrong?” Maribelle asked.
“Quite a lot, I’m afraid,” Judith said. “Do forgive me for not coming over to tell you in person.”
“What is it, Judi?” Maribelle said.
“It’s Adam,” Judith answered. “He’s fooled us, darling. Fooled us all.”