Eden's Hammer - By Lloyd Tackitt



HE ARRIVED IN THE VILLAGE with a crushing sense of foreboding gnawing at his gut. It had been eating him inside out the entire three weeks of the trip. Roman had called him home, saying they were facing a disaster, an event that could mean the death of everyone in the village. But Roman wouldn’t say more over the radio. Adrian had to live with the open-ended statement until he returned home. It created such urgency that he pushed his horse as hard as possible to get home as fast as he could.

Roman gave Adrian a tight hug after Adrian dismounted. “Glad you made it back safely; we’ve got big trouble coming and need your help bad.”

“Tell me.”

“Big trouble headed this way,” Roman repeated, momentarily losing his smile. “But there’s time for you to rest up first. It’s not coming today or tomorrow.” With a strained grin, he added, “Those are nasty looking scars on your neck. Where’d you get that little wolf? And where in hell did you get that shitty haircut?”

Adrian smiled in spite of his three weeks of tension. “Whoa, Uncle Roman! One thing at a time. The scars are from a grizzly bear I had a fight with last winter—they go all the way down to my stomach. I found the wolf pup on the way home, and I cut my hair with my knife a few weeks ago.” He felt only a tiny easing of the tension. He had to know what the “trouble coming” was, he knew how fruitless it would be to rush Roman when he was in this mood, but he would try anyway.

“Now tell me what the problem is.”

Roman reached a hand out to the puppy that was sitting on the horse’s saddle where Adrian had been carrying him. It snarled and bit viciously at Roman’s fingers. Snatching his hand back, he said, “Tough little guy, eh? What’s his name?” The wolf cub continued a low rolling growl at Roman.

“Bear. I thought it kind of fitting, since everyone’s been calling me ‘Bear’ lately. With a little luck, it might be confusing enough that the name will slide off me and stick to him. Tell me about the trouble.”

“Not just yet. Not until I hear the story of you fathering grizzly bear cubs all over the mountains. I have to hear that one first. The ham radio net is buzzing with it. Did you really sleep with a grizzly sow?”

Adrian smiled ruefully. “That’s a long story, better told sitting down. I’m hungry as a bear, though—when do we eat? Tell me about the trouble, damn it!”

Sarah heard Adrian’s voice through the open cabin door and came running out to him, holding a bunched up portion of her long dress in one hand to keep from tripping on it. Her face was lit up with a huge smile at the sight of the beloved nephew that she and Roman had raised from an early age.

“Aunt Sarah! My God, you’re more beautiful than ever!” Adrian laughingly shouted. The sight of her momentarily raised his spirits. He picked her up off her feet as though she weighed nothing and whirled around in happy circles. Roman whooped loudly and shouted, “Sarah, did you know you raised this boy to go off and have bear cubs? You’re the proud grandma of four-legged creatures covered with fur. Bet they look just like him, too!”

Sarah pulled back to better see Adrian’s face, and while beaming at him, she said, “Better they look like him than you, or they’d be too ugly to catch their own food, old man.”

Roman grinned, scratched his head, and said, “You have a valid point there, woman. When do we eat? The boy is hungry.”

“As soon as Jerry and Shirley can get here. Food’s already on the stove.”

Adrian’s face lit up with an even bigger smile “Yes, ma’am. I’ll unsaddle this horse and rub him down. You mind if the pup comes in the house? He’s pretty young, and I don’t want to tie him up.”

Sarah walked over to the horse, putting her hand out to the pup and then scratching it behind the ears. “Sweet little thing, isn’t he? Sure, you can bring him in.” She plucked the wolf cub off the saddle and carried him toward Jerry’s house with her. Roman shouted at her retreating back, “Go ahead, old woman, take little Bear with you—I don’t want him getting used to me handling him.”

Adrian winked at Roman, who snorted and