“Where are you going?”
Cain tried his best to ignore his brother’s pestering, but as always, Abel had to force him to acknowledge his presence.
“I’m going off to hunt,” Cain replied flatly as he wrapped up the remaining dried goat meat, and papaya fruit into a cloth.
“But the sun hasn’t risen,” Abel continued. “You can’t hunt in the dark.”
“Why are you up, brother?” Cain sighed, “Go back to bed,”
“I heard you coming,” Abel shrugged. “I was worried when you didn’t come back. Father said to just give you some space.”
“Of course he would,” Cain mumbled as he reached for his hunting knife that he made from granite stone and old bark. He strapped the weapon to his ankle before reaching for his spear.
“Where are you going?” Abel asked, watching his brother.
“Let me come with you. It is dangerous to hunt alone,” Abel pleaded.
“I’ve hunted alone plenty of times Abel,” Cain stated firmly. “Why would it be any different?”
“Because,” Abel began. “Father warned us of an entity that roams about the earth- The Banished One.”
Cain paused. Could that have been…?
“I am certain the Archangels will deal with him,” Cain said quickly as he walk past his brother.
“Why must you always be so difficult?” Abel shouted.
Cain turned around to meet the same face who shared features very similar to his own. Rich dark skin on a handsomely chiseled face. Somber eyes, full lips, and a head full of hair that Abel refused to tame or loc. Abel, however looked more like Adam than Cain did. No one spoke of it, but the question still burned in Adam’s eyes every time he looked at Cain. Cain sensed it. His mother, Eve smiled and pretended like she knew not of what the problem was. But Cain knew she knew. Something had been amiss since the moment of his birth and all throughout his life, Adam’s hard stare followed him. The unspoken question seemed silly. After all, Adam was the first human. The first man to spring forth from the dust, a perfect combination of flesh and spirit. Eve had been molded from his rib, the first Wombman. There could not possibly have been another capable of siring. Could it?
Cain brushed off the thought and returned his focus onto his brother. “Will you be quiet? Now I’m going. End of story. You collect berries and carrots. I actually have to kill something, which is beyond your understanding brother.” Cain then brushed past his brother without another word.
“Be safe brother,” Cain heard Abel whisper into the night.
Just as the entity had said, the trek to the west side of the valley-by the water brook took an entire day. Cain’s body riddled with exhaustion as he approached the bubbling creek. He knew this area. Had hunted many a time there, following the trail of the creek until it intertwined with the river that flowed towards the ocean. His feet begged for him to rest, but he would not stop until he reached his destination. The dried goat meat and papaya fruit had long been devoured. And just as he reached but a few hundred yards of the rushing water, there it was: the largest bull he had ever laid eyes upon. Magnificent horns protruded in a glorious challenge from the animal’s head. Large hooves stomped repeatedly on the grass, a beautiful display of his aggression. A shiny black coat that shone brightly under the light of the sun.
Cain gripped his spear tightly, and slowly placed his knapsack on the ground. The animal snorted, and began scratching the ground with his hooves, preparing to charge. This is it, Cain thought excitedly. This is what was waiting for me here! Father would surely be pleased. The animal snorted again and bucked before charging in his direction. Cain swiftly tumbled to the side, barely missing the bull’s horn to his face. The bull skidded to a stop, spun around and charged again. This time, Cain was ready for the beast. He quickly ducked low as the animal charged and used his hunting knife to slice through the bull’s back ankle. The animal screeched in pain, but did a U-turn, focusing his hatred on Cain. The animal missed, and Cain used this as his opportunity to strike the final blow. He plunged his spear straight through its heart. The bull stopped screaming, and finally collapsed in a heap. Blood spurted from the chest wound, seeping out onto the grass, staining it.
Breathing heavily, Cain plopped down next to the bull, pulling his knees up to his chest. The morning rays suddenly felt good on his skin. The icy chill that followed him melted away. He’d done it. Thanks to the entity’s promise.
Could that have been The Banished One? Cain thought as he studied the bull. The majesty of the animal was striking. Never had he in all his years as a hunter seen something like this. Where had this bull come from?
Which would be exactly the same question Adam would ask.
“That is some bull,” Adam stated blandly, suspicion written all over face. “Where did you find it?”
“On the west end, by the creek,” Cain said as he continued to drag the dead animal towards the nearly constructed pyre. “It was a blessing.”
“Hmmmm,” Adam said still staring at the bull. “Indeed it was.”
“That is some bull!” Luluwa exclaimed from behind. “Where did you find it?”
Her smile was as radiant as the sun. Cain quickly turned away when he noticed his father’s disapproving glare, but as she approached, he wondered why Adam rejected the idea of Luluwa being his bride.
“You are going to bring good fortune to this family,” Luluwa chirped. “Mother! Come look!”
Eve emerged from the makeshift hut with baby Aklia in her arms. Her rich dark skin glistened underneath the bright light. She wore her locs piled high above her head, after having decorated the ends of a few stray locs with sea shells they gathered many moons ago.
“Oh my!” Eve gasped as her gaze shifted from the bull to her son. “You have proven yourself to be quite the skilled hunter. I am so proud of you!”
His mother’s demonstration of pride made Cain’s heart swell. His mother had always been good to him. She loved him, and on days when Adam was harder on him that usual, she always gave him a little extra dose of love. Adam, however, kept his eyes focused on the dead bull, his mouth held tightly together.
“Where is my brother?” Cain asked his mother who still looked at him with pride.
“He is out preparing for the Offering, as you should be,” Adam growled as he stalked off. “I will finish building the pyre.”
Cain felt his heart begin to race as pent up anger threatened to spill out into the open. Clenching his fist, he forced himself to summon calm. “Why does he hate me so?” He demanded his mother, who clung Aklia tightly against her chest.
Luluwa shared and uneasy glance with their mother, and without a word, offered to take her baby sister to give the two of them time to speak.
“Adam loves you,” Eve began softly, her eyes pleading with him to just let the situation go.
“Mother, I am going to have respectfully request that you do not lie to me,” Cain gritted through his teeth. “What have I done other than be born to deserve the ire of Adam?”
“You have done nothing wrong my son,” Eve said as tears blurred her vision. Cain’s heart hurt to see his mother’s tears fall like lost diamonds cast from the sky.
“Then tell me why he treats me like an outcast?” Cain continued, wiping away a stray tear from his face. “Tell me. I have done everything this man has demanded of me and still he looks at me as if I plague him with disgust.”
“You know what?” Cain spat. “Never mind. I have to prepare the bull before cleansing. It doesn’t even matter at this point.” Cain looked at the dead bull. Even in death the creature was too beautiful/ Too powerful. Yet the more the he thought about it, too easy to kill.
The stranger kept his word.
“I will get the herbs that mother and I prepared for you,” Luluwa offered as she returned Aklia to Eve.
“Thank you Luluwa,” Cain mumbled, his eyes still focused on the bull.
“No worries dear brother,” she said, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. “You’ve done a fine job. I think Adam is so used to you failing that now that you’ve actually done something right, he doesn’t know what to do.”
Cain shrugged. “Well I’m sick of it.”
Luluwa nodded, understanding filling her soft grey eyes. “We must talk later.” Cain nodded before she walked away, leaving him alone with his thoughts.
Let this Offering be a blessed one, he thought to himself. Please…