1559 c/o David Peak

MDLIX: Children of God

From the sky: giant steeds, a cracking thunderhead billowing beneath their hooves — straddled by giant skull-faced men, buried in cloaks the color of smoke — blooming starless night in their wake. The bringers of that-which-must-be. For all, eventually. Terror. Disaster. Death.

Hundreds of gentle Christ’s soldiers dead, their bodies strewn about, bundled in black and brown, face-down in the thick glop of the shoreline, the shimmering waters — metallic overcast sheen — like so many misplaced angels, eternally earthbound with wings clipped of flight.

The soft and lost voice of Icarus muffled in the hurricane’s wind — the boom of the horse’s hooves.

Once grandiose — a giant — cannons powder-primed, the Spanish galleon submerged first — sucked into the swirl of the wind-whipped waters, its bloated hull snapping like some ancient tree felled by dry rot, by the blades of the doers of the devil’s deeds. It cracked and nosed into the whirling black abyss of fables, of sea-monster lore.

The other four ships, Caravels, lightly tossed about until the winds grew bored, sails torn like tissue, they followed their mother into the depths with something only remotely resembling reluctance.

When the winds died down and the skull-faced men rode off into the sky, to hide behind that cowardly gray sun, the men and women who survived, some washed ashore, beaten, nearly drowned, others emerging from the ruins of their humanly constructs, they sat on the soft ground and watched the waters quiet.

The colony would be moved, they said—they agreed. They would begin again. Pensacola would be a name that remained on the maps of future generations, for future children. No, they said, it would not be erased so easily. Not by such a darkness, by such hatred.

Like so much of the earth’s shed refuse, they spun away from their center, that thing which history has taught us does not hold, leaving that coastline behind. And though they did not know it, could not say for sure, they felt those unblinking, watchful eyes up above. And their footprints sank into the soft ground, an easy trail for their demons to follow, an atlas of so much sorrow.