“Who?” Hamm said. When the black man did not answer, he pressed: “And don’t tell me I wouldn’t understand. I ain’t as dense as you seem to think. It was ’cause of me we found the critter in the first place, in case you need remindin’.” The Warumbi shook his head.
“Spill the beans, Cochise. We got a long haul ahead of us.”
Kimboro exhaled, sniffed. “Very well. Perhaps the sharing of the story will do your soul some good.”
Hamm snickered. “Yeah, my soul could sure use it.”
The Warumbi stared straight ahead. “My people,” he said, “we were the first outside the Holy Land to accept the light of Christ. It is said that the Holy Apostle, Saint Mark, voyaged far south of Egypt, until he found souls receptive to the blessed Gospel.”
“Saint Mark, huh?” Hamm said. “Don’t recollect too much about him from my Sunday school days.”
“Those first Christians, the first with black skin, were the ancestors of my tribe, the grandfathers of the Warumbi.”
“An’ here I thought the Warumbi were cannibals, up to a generation or so ago,” Hamm said.
“Like the children of Israel,” Kimboro continued, “my people have returned time and again to their pagan ways. But always have there been those who held fast to the True Faith, who brought the rest back to submission to God’s will. Such a man was M’Timbu, he who spoke with angels.”
“Never heard a’ him,” Hamm said.
“He lived in the days before the grandfather of my grandfather’s grandfather came into the world,” Kimboro said. “We have kept the memory of him alive, and his words. M’Timbu was a village healer in those days, when the Warumbi were a great tribe, great in number. Not like today.”
Hamm watched the taillights ahead of him, listening.
“M’Timbu announced one day that an angel had come to him in his sleep, telling him to set off on a long journey, to the place of the Sacred Ground. This is the place where God took the earth that He used to create Adam, the first man. The ground is still hollowed out there, it is said, from the touch of God’s hand.”
“An’ where’s this supposed to be?” Hamm asked.
“No one knows for sure,” Kimboro said. “No one alive today. The voices of the angels led M’Timbu there, to a place far to the south and west of the lands of the Warumbi. It is a place so holy that no animals ever dare to tread upon it, and any man setting foot thereon will burst into flames and crumble to ashes.”
“Pisser for ol’ what’s-his-face, then,” Hamm said.
“No. The angels said that God would protect M’Timbu, that M’Timbu would receive a great vision there.”
Hamm nodded. *If only the damn radio hadn’t gone out on this piece a’ shit.*
“When M’Timbu returned to the village, he told all the people the things he had learned. He shared with them the prophecy. The day would come, M’Timbu said, when the Warumbi would have a great burden placed upon them. As the first of all peoples in the great land of darkness to accept God’s Son, it was their birthright. Our birthright.”
“So what’s the scoop?” Hamm said. “What was this so-called prophecy about?”
“M’Timbu told the people the words that God had spoken to him at the place of the Holy Ground. The day would come, M’Timbu said, when a second Adam would come into the world, the first of a new race of men. But this man, this second Adam, would be fashioned not by the hand of God, but by the hands of men. This new man, this second Adam, as M’Timbu said, would seek to bring death to all the people of the world, all the children of the first man, fashioned by the hand of God, so that the new race of men would possess the world. But God would send another who, alone of all men, could stop the new Adam. This one sent by God would be marked by the new Adam, would be his enemy from the first, and would bear the wounds of great suffering caused by the new Adam, the new first man.”
Kimboro paused. “None but this other, sent by God, could stop the first of the new men, M’Timbu said. No one else could save the Earth. ‘The one he has marked must destroy him,’ M’Timbu said. When this day comes, the Warumbi must help this one to destroy the second Adam. God had told him these things.”