EAGLE LAKE, IDAHO
The moon gazed across Eagle Lake through a veil of mist, watching over this valley of lofty white pines and locked gates that welcomed only those with the purest of blood. Those who fought boldly for the strength of their humanity.
Fresh snowmelt lapped against the muddy bank, its sting icing Sarah's toes, blasting up her ivory skin like the storms that thundered through these rocky canyons each spring. In this early morning hour, dressed in a cotton nightie, she didn't feel the noble strength of her Aryan blood. Didn't feel it at any hour really. Her blood seemed to fail her whenever she needed it most.
These nights alone on the lakeshore, she wasn't even certain what she believed, but Lukas stockpiled enough passion in his heart for both her and their baby. Before they'd married, Lukas had assured her that he would erase any doubts lingering in her mind, but she was fifteen now and the doubts only swelled with age.
The bright eye of the moon blinked—or had it winked at her? Perhaps it was mocking her like those who didn't want them in this valley.
Town was just twenty minutes away. She'd attended public school in Coeur d'Alene for a short time until Father found out she was required to pledge that every citizen in their nation was under God. He pulled her out of second grade but not before a classmate—a black friend—told her that God was love and He had the audacity to love everyone, no matter the color of their skin. Her school friend told her about this love and so did her brother, before Father banned her from speaking with both of them.
The glazed surface disappeared for a moment, black and then a white sheen frosting the lake. Two colors that haunted her both day and night.
As the black and white melded into gray before her, it seemed, in the strangest sense, that they needed each other.
If God created mankind and a world full of color, why would He love only those with the lightest of skin? Why were those who reflected the variety of nature's palette seemingly less in His eyes?
These questions burned like the icy water on her toes, but she didn't dare ask them. The Aryan Council, led by her father, didn't appreciate questions. Their nation was supposed to be of one mind. Always. The lesser races, Father had explained, were spawn of Satan's alliance with Eve, after she'd been banned from the Garden.
Sarah was supposed to believe that anyone stained brown was marked as an enemy of God, but out here her mind could go rogue. She could be who God created her to be, far beneath her layers of skin. Ask the questions churning inside her. Out here all the colors of night, the sweet smell of pine, replenished her soul.
Lukas and their sweet daughter, three months on this earth, were asleep in the cabin behind her. Fifty other members of their esteemed council, including her parents, were also sleeping in the cluster of cabins.
She'd found no peace in this remote enclave, its chapel rumbling with hatred, the armory stocked with enough weapons to take out the entire town and a good chunk of Idaho along with it.
But a different God seemed to reign along the shores of Eagle Lake. One that embraced peace instead.
Lukas and Father had tried to erase her doubts, but neither had succeeded. When her soul cried out in desperation, she could find a glimpse of God here and feel, for the briefest of moments, as if she were truly alive. On nights like this, when her heart longed for answers, she desperately needed this glimpse.
A smooth stone glimmered by her foot, and she plucked it from the mud, tossing it back into the water. Then she listened to its gentle splash before it disappeared.
What would it be like to untie one of the boats along the dock and drift away? Or wander into the cold water, let it swallow her up in depths that dropped hundreds of feet, mirroring the height of snow-swept mountains around them?
What would it feel like to just be gone?
A coyote howled in the distance, mimicking a baby's cry. And the cry brought her back. No matter how much she wanted to leave this compound, this life, she couldn't leave Elsie behind.
The mist shivered as if it knew the sunlight would chase it away soon.
That everything was about to change.