In the 16th century, Sergio's fishing village is attacked, which unleashed a new world.
The Mayan Conquistadors
In the year 1511 AD, Sergio Fernandez, an educated resident from the small seaside fishing village of Getaria on Spain's north shore, strained his biceps as he hauled in the nets full of fish from the old captain's caravela. Not knowing the captain's name meant nothing as long as he was paid for his work. His eyes drifted toward the sea's horizon, where he noticed odd black dots off in the distance. He called out to some nearby workers and pointed, and the group of men stared at the sight, but Sergio noticed the dots becoming larger. Some men speculated what they could be, but none were sure.
A few men loaded onto their small caravelas and set sail to uncover what is heading toward their shore while those left behind, including Sergio, conversed with one another about the foreign objects. The caravelas were well out to sea when a large splash of water appeared near one of them, followed by an explosion that pierced the peaceful air of the village and captured everyone's attention. A second splash hit near the same vessel. People of the village pointed and gasped once they heard the second explosion. A third splash was more subdued, but Sergio spotted splintered wood and water being ejected skyward. He was sure they had sunk the small boat. The last explosion cracked the air and caused Sergio and his friends to jump.
More wooden vessels sank, and Sergio, along with others, retreated from the wharf as the unknown sea vessels came closer at a speed they'd never seen. It didn't take long before Sergio noted that the unknown vessels were made of metal, but metals can't float, at least no metals he knew of.
Two yellowish-orange flashes of light left the front of the leading metal vessel. A deafening whistle flew overhead, which forced Sergio to cover his ears and duck. Two enormous explosions decimated some buildings near the center of the village. He'd never heard anything so loud. Who were they, where did they come from, and why are they attacking? He bolted from the wharf and scampered toward the outskirts of the village, staying away from any large structures.
The villagers scrambled as more explosions shook Getaria. Sergio winced when falling walls crushed his fellow villagers and cringed when bodies took flight from nearby blasts. Peeking from behind a tree, he spotted smaller metal boats departing from the larger metal vessels. There were people aboard, and they were coming ashore.
He stood, ready to dash back toward the wharf but held firm once the invaders started tossing explosives with their hands. He crouched back down and noted the invaders weren't wearing armor or carrying swords. Instead, they had long fire sticks which made horrendous continuing blasts, and the villagers who fought back fell immediately. This was the first time he wished the Spanish Army or a Navy flotilla was nearby.
Finding where he stood still to precarious, he charged into the forest further up the hill and kept going until he spotted a small cliff. He stopped there and hid behind another tree. The sea was still in sight, and so was part of the village. The attackers took some villagers prisoner and marched them down to the smaller metal boats while other attackers continued making their way inland, pointing their fire sticks at anyone that moved. He didn't see any coming in his direction, so he took this time to catch his breath and observe. If he lived through this, he could relay what he'd seen to anyone in the Spanish military.
Twigs snapped behind him.
He spun around, and his heart jumped. A tan-skinned man, his face tattooed with strange black markings, pointed the long fire stick at his face. Sergio leaned back against the tree as the fire stick moved closer, while Death breathed on his neck. The man's deep voice uttered words he didn't understand, but when the man gestured the fire stick to the side, Sergio understood. He rose slowly and started back toward the village.
While being followed, he captured brief glimpses of his shirtless captor. The decorative tattoos on his face, arms, and chest caught his attention, but he'd never seen a man with long, straight black hair before. It held a dull sheen whenever the sunlight captured it. He wore a thick canvas-like skirt which covered his lower body, and around his waist was a leather belt containing pouches that made subtle noises as they marched back toward the wharf.
Back in the village, the dead lay everywhere, an uncommon sight for his eyes. Dismembered bodies and body parts were strewn about while others revealed gaping holes in their backs. Portions of skulls went missing. Entrails, brain matter, and blood splattered the streets, buildings, fountains - everything! Sergio's stomach lurched and acid stung the back of his throat. The man behind him shoved the fire stick in his back, and he swallowed. The vile, acidic taste spread throughout his mouth.
His captor forced him aboard a smaller metal boat to join other captives, and when it was full, they set said with two captors watching everyone. A small explosion to his left caused him to turn, just in time to see the aftermath of a killing on another boat. He watched the dead body being dumped overboard. Panic ensued until the invaders on his boat yelled and pointed his fire stick at everyone.
As they approached the larger metal vessel, his jaw dropped at its massive size. Nothing in his experience could match this piece of machinery. A large door opened on the side and they tossed a rope ladder down. His captors forced everyone to climb aboard, and they were led to an unoccupied open space in the ship's gut. Men, women, and even children were crammed into the space, and the noise volume increased as they shoved more villagers inside. The smell and the heat became unbearable.
An eternity later, a deep humming vibration beneath his feet surprised him and the sensation of movement stirred. The large metal vessel, which made the largest Spanish Galleons appear as moderate-sized fishing boats, was on its way somewhere. He had no idea where they were heading or what would happen to them. At that moment, Sergio's entire world existed in that locked compartment of the vessel.
Time meant nothing aboard the vessel. Whenever the hatches overhead were open, daylight filled the compartment, and his captors lowered wooden buckets of water which prisoners immediately fought over. In other wooden buckets, a strange type of cooked grain was lowered, and the captives fought over that meal also, but whenever meat was lowered, extreme viciousness took place and led to many losing their lives. Everyone had morphed into wild savages.
Once the hatches were closed, only the tiniest slivers of light entered the space. The appalling stench suffocated everyone, and no matter if he stood or sat, he never knew what was beneath him: blood, urine, vomit, or feces. Death would be preferable to this confinement.
One day the hatches were opened, and their captors bustled about in earnest. Sergio thought feeding time had returned, but the ship didn't feel like it was in motion anymore. The door to the captive space was opened, and his captors began moving everyone out. When it was his turn, he crawled up the stairs until he reached the top, then flung his arms over his eyes to hide them from the sun. The ocean air diluted the stench which had enveloped him for so long, then he gazed at the other captives. He wept at their sorrowful expressions and bodies, but he wasn't alone. Many others wept.
They were led back into the smaller metal boats, then were rowed ashore. He took another look at the metallic colossus that shouldn't float. It was a monstrous miracle. Nothing could stop it. But it was the sight in front of him which he dreaded.
Hundreds of natives packed the shore. Tan-skinned people with straight, jet-black hair and tattoos. Most of the grown women were bare-chested and had tattoos and skirts similar to the men, but theirs were more ornate and lacked the leather belt. Beads encircled their necks. Some native men and women wore ornate masks containing jewels and feathers, while the native children gawked at the captives and restrained from touching them.
They passed by the gauntlet of natives right into the jungle, but Sergio had never seen foliage like this. Large ferns spread out in every direction. The trees bore slim trunks with full, wide canopies and deep-green leaves. The smell of moisture among the plants consumed the jungle. The longer they marched, the darker the jungle became, and the more he sweat.
Up ahead, daylight stabbed the jungle's darkness.
The captives found themselves standing in a large, grass-covered plain, and poised before them was an enormous step pyramid that reached far into the sky. A wide stone stairway led up to the stone temple on top. More natives surrounded the pyramid, chanting in unison. The stone gargoyle-like structures protruding from the base of the edifice resembled deformed dragons or lizards with their tongues flailing. Off to his left stood a large, monolithic stone, its texture smoother than any he'd ever seen, and carved within the stone were four words:
The name 'MAYANS' struck a chord with Sergio. He'd heard the stories which swept throughout Spain a few years after the voyages of Christopher Columbus and Ponce de Leon to the New World. It was the name given to the native people they'd captured and hauled back to Spain. Could these be the same people? Their science was far superior to Spain's. Then he thought for a while.
They developed nothing of importance in his village because they were a simple people. Better living conditions and technologies were bestowed to those living in the larger cities, places where nobility resided, away from Spain's shores. Maybe the same thing was true in the New World. Maybe the islands surrounding the mainland of the New World had simple villagers. Was it possible that the New World's technology was much greater on the mainland than on the islands? If the fate of the island villagers had reached the mainland of the New World, they may have decided to retaliate and strike back at Spain, and possibly all of Europe. This could be just the beginning. What had the Spanish explorers unleashed?
His mind jolted back to reality when a young captive kicked and screamed while being manhandled up the long staircase by two burly native men. Three native men stood in front of the temple on top, wearing masks and shouting to the people below. The chanting of the natives grew louder as they flung the man onto a stone table within the temple and held down while on his back. The chanting continued, and a large, masked native man held something above his head. Sergio watched as the man slammed his hands down onto the young captive's chest. A horrific yell erupted from him, clearing the trees of any resting birds. The chanting continued. The large, masked man tugged something from the young captive's chest, then held it high. Sergio witnessed the blood covering his hands.
The remaining two masked natives lifted the young man's body and tossed it onto the stairs where it tumbled over and over, his arms and legs left to flail until his body stopped near the bottom of the staircase.
The young captive's heart was missing, replaced by a gaping, bloody hole!
Two more native men took hold of the next captive, a woman, and marched her up the long staircase. Her screams pierced the jungle. Soon, it would be his turn.
Word Count: 1967