The Awakening

Flash Fiction by Pamela Eason
Original Photo by J.C. Winkler. See license & photo link below story

When they flew past the

S’eveiller, North Dakota
Established 1918
Population 584 

sign, they relaxed the Ninjas’ throttles. The demonic howl quieted to a whirling hum. What had been a streak of snow-colored light broke apart so that anyone could see that Gabriela, dressed in blizzard-white leather, was followed by six pairs of similarly-clad riders. It wasn’t until days later that the old prophesy predicting their arrival was recalled:

That sweet day is hastening,
When twelve white riders she will lead,
‘Round the square with breakneck speed.
Bringing the awakening. 

Ambroise Babineaux, English Translation, 1956

The prophecy had been traced to Ambroise Babineaux, the town’s founder and a transplanted Cajun from New Orleans, who’d had a night vision after consuming too much jambalaya made especially spicy by his grandmother, Madame Babineaux.

Gabriela, oblivious to Babineaux and to her part in his vision, was just looking for some spicy gumbo to satisfy her craving. The billboard fifteen miles outside town promised, 

Caillouet’s Café  
Best Gumbo in North Dakota
100 Esplanade Ave., S’eveiller
Exit 32, Right at Bienville Street

Dead air smothered expectations though as the riders rolled through town. Blank-faced people tapped and swiped at phone screens and bumped into sidewalk signs and each other. The sign above 100 Esplanade flashed, 

Caillouet’s Internet Café

Through its windows, could be seen rows of backs hunched over keyboards beneath dreary lights.

Gabriela, whose stomach groaned for gumbo, turned to the twelve and shouted, “Gun it girls!” Engines thundered. Gabriela and her twelve riders roared around S’eveiller Square until heads raised, doors opened, life dawned, eyes sparkled, and wide grins spread across faces.

Gabriela lifted her hand. The riders circled around her to a stop.

“Let’s cook some gumbo!” she shouted.

The twelve whooped a hearty “Yeah!” as they throttled rumbling engines.

Cyrile Caillouet, holding open his café door, said, “Let’s cook up the whole menu! The recipes are right here in my head.”

Cheers rose from one end of Esplanade to the other. Perked-up townspeople broke into a bustle and went home to raid freezers and refrigerators.

By late afternoon, crawfish, crab, and Andouille smothered in seasoned roux steamed in big pots hauled from dusty shelf pantries to S’eveiller Square. Pans of caramel pralines cooled beneath budding white poplars as guitar strums, accordion squeals, tuba moans, and riffs from dusted saxophones and trombones spiced the air. 

That night, bellies jiggled and faces giggled as townspeople danced to two-step waltzes and sidewalk jazz. When aching feet finally cried in their shoes, lawn chairs were pulled from truck beds and hatchbacks and settled around Gabriela and the twelve who told how the western wind feels on your face when you’re riding beside a running river between majestic mountains into the setting sun. 

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