A reptilian opened its eyes on the bank. The sun was rising, but the chance of another catch tempted the night-time fishermen to delay their return. Shifting his sitting position, Lameck watched his younger brother throw the last of the bait. The surface of the bay where it scattered was like emeraldâ€”smooth and translucent with gently rolling swells. Lameck clenched a fistful of sand, and then slowly relaxed his grip, allowing the grains to drift downward, sparkling in the early light.
â€śIs it still safe?â€ť Aril asked, walking back. Lameck was silent.
â€śFather said they watch the beaches.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s barely daylight. This will be our last cast.â€ť
Aril sat down. â€śI like to eat fish, but if we are seenâ€”â€ť
He was interrupted by the sudden thrashing of water. Close to shore, fins and silvery flashes signaled the final catch. Getting up, they moved quickly to each end of the net where two twenty-foot poles were standing vertically, anchored in the sand at waterâ€™s edge. Bending them back like bows, almost to the breaking point, they slipped the notched tips into catches and dropped the netting on top.
â€śNow!â€ť said Lameck.
Yanking the release pins, Lameck and his brother stepped back. A rush of wind raised the hair on Arilâ€™s forehead as the wide net catapulted over the water. Stone weights along the leading edge splashed down first. Wood floats bobbed and held it in place. Lameckâ€™s way of fishing was unconventional but worked well.
At the cove the fish were plentiful, but it was a half dayâ€™s journey from the family village down the southeast trail. They had arrived at dusk the day before and had spent all night fishing. The wide beach was bordered by palms and lush foliage, connecting around the inlet to the winding coastlands of the south.
Lameck tightened his grip, hands chafed and aching, working the lines backward against the growing weight of the catch. At 112 years of age, and muscled from hard work, he was tired. Aril, just thirty-three and lanky, was barely moving. â€śFinal load. Letâ€™s get them in.â€ť said Lameck.
Aril frowned as he glanced across at Lameckâ€™s end of the net already on the beach. â€śYou could have asked someone else.â€ť
Lameck walked behind his brother picking up his loose line. Together they pulled until their catch was clear of the tide. Shimmering through the net were more fish like the others, four to five feet in length with tails pounding the beach. The brothers stood resting, deeply breathing the salt air as the fish quieted, and eyes became fixed and clouded. They then proceeded to stack the donkey cart and to dig up the equipment.
There was no noise at first, just the gentle lapping at the waterâ€™s edge. It was something Lameck feltâ€”a vibration, barely noticeableâ€”then a sound like a rolling millstone. Both of them turned their heads toward the inlet but by the time the danger was realized, it was unavoidable. Around the bend it came.
The one approaching was tall, with two dark horses in front. The brothers remained motionless, knowing they had been seen, but with no time to hide. Lameck looked at Aril. â€śDonâ€™t act frightened.â€ť
Aril stood stone-faced. The cart with its fish was jerking back and forth as their donkey turned nervously against its harness. Lameck remembered the repeated warnings of his father. It was the reason they fished at night. This was what he had been trying desperately to avoid.Would they be taken captive? Or killed?
When first seen, the rider had appeared of great size, but as he got closer, there was no doubt that he was a giantâ€”one of the Nephilim. The brothers stood almost seven feet but this one was over twice their height and his horses were huge. The vibration was from the hooves and the sound from the grinding of hard-packed sand under the wheels of the carrier.
The Nephilim were revered as god-like heroes by the families of Cain, but considered evil by the families of Seth. Unheard of until the sixth century, their origin had been a mystery. Because of their size and strength, they took what they wanted and had no challengers except among themselves.
The rider jerked the reins in front of their cartload of fish, a netâ€™s length from where they stood. With a snort the stallions halted, twisting their heads, flaring their nostrils and hoofing the sand. Lameck had never been so close to a giant. Only once, he had seen one from a river boat.
This one looked something like an ape with a wide face and angular forehead, and its size stretched beyond every normal human dimension. The head was bald and the face half-hidden behind a reddish beard. There was coldness in the eyes, which struck Lameck as serpentine.
At first it didnâ€™t move. The giantâ€™s gaze shifted from the fishermen to the cart and to the cove around them, then back to the cart. Then it stepped to the ground.
Lameck could see their donkey twisting, trying to move away. He watched as the giant reached down, grabbed the cartâ€™s underside and lifted, toppling the animal, spilling the load of fish across the sand and into the water. As the cart fell, splintering the wood, the yoke broke loose and the donkeyâ€”eyes wide with frightâ€”regained balance and began running in the direction of the trail.
Aril was standing like a statue, looking pale, as the giant turned toward them. The eyes moved slowly, scrutinizing every detail of the fishermen. Knuckles rested on its waist while thumbs tucked its loosened tunic back into a scaly belt. The wide feet, strapped with animal hide, were placed like those of a wrestler waiting for its opponent to move.
(excerpt from Chapter One)