The first Autumn-Men who had come to my world named the red sun Al Rescha and the world Hajar Ahmar. After them came to current Autumn-Men, the Americans, who’d kept the name for the sun but renamed the world to Redstone.
I think it’s an apt name.
The mountain is a spire of red rock jutting up from the desert plains, its sides covered in dark pine trees. I lean against one of the pines with my binoculars raised. Binoculars. The English word weighs as much as the devices do, but they are worth their weight in spices.
Below me is a meadow covered by tall prairie grass that waves in the high wind. A mosque had been built out of stone and timber, but it is overgrown with weeds and moss. The minaret has fallen into a pile next to it. I see the ruins over other buildings, but all that’s left of them are their foundations. The mosque largely survives.
The building’s design and purpose is familiar to me. My father had been an imam once, back on the Lumpong Agency. When was the last time I’d thought of him, of the religion that had been forced on us by the first Autumn-Men?
There’s movement inside the mosque. Fire, at least. Something comes out of the mosque and my breath catches in my throat. The Arabs call them djinn, and the Americans call them fairies. I’m not sure if my people have a name for them because they only appeared after the Autumn-Men did.
The fairies dance between the waving grass and disappear into the trees on the other side of the meadow. A cold shiver runs down my despite the late afternoon heat. I wipe sweat from my forehead; my forearms are still wet, and I know that my undershirt is drenched. It has been a hard ride today through some of the most unforgiving territory on Redstone.
I need a place to rest for the night because Al Rescha is beginning to set, but not here. I will not spend the night at a house of Allah that has been taken over by alien spirits. I go back to my waiting Andalusian mustang to ride around the mountain and then down to a better place to camp.