36. Singing

HEREi [Contextii] [GGiii]

36. Mika’s Not Singing

868 BCiv

Fort Jezreel, Jezreel Valley, Israel

Obadiah opened his apartment door. “What’s up?”[modern] [Settingv]

Zak stood in the hallway. “It’s Mika, sir.”

“Can’t the stable boss take the boy’s singing?” vi

“Um, Mika’s not singing. He’s begging for someone to kill him.” He led Obadiah out the front door of headquarters.

In the middle of the threshing floor, Mikayhu offered a sword to a friend.

The bodyguards and the stable boss, the boy Ahab had slapped, circled them.

Obadiah joined the circle.

Mika offered his friend the sword handle. “Take the sword, Yotam.”

But Yotam backed up to the city gate. [detail?vii]

Mika pushed the handle toward him again.

No, Mika. Forget it.” Yotam raised his hands and flattened against a gatepost.

Three boys jogged up. “What’re you guys doing?”

Mika ignored the newcomers and pointed to his forehead. “Hit me with the sword, Yotam. Here.” [SDviii beat, or smell, or sound]

Stop, Mika. I’m not playing your game.”

Mika slumped. “Oh, you must. You really must.” He sagged to his knees and folded his hands toward Yotam. “I’m not playing a game. The Lord says if you don’t hit me, the moment you leave, a lion will kill you.” [GG’s versionix]

Obadiah gasped. A lion. Was Mika serious?

I’m out of here.” [modern] Yotam slid past Mika and shot across the plank bridge.

Obadiah pressed a fist to his mouth. Hadn’t Yotam understood the word lion?

No-ho, Yotam!” Mika dropped the sword. “Don’t go.” He wept as he struggled to his feet, then lurched out of the fort.

Obadiah followed him as far as the planks. Why would the Lord send a lion for not striking a friend?

Zak and the others collected around Obadiah and craned their necks.

Yotam sprinted [settingx]to the road, turned toward Beitshan, and passed out of sight behind a small grove.

Come back!” Mikayhu darted after him.

Obadiah raised a hand to Zak. What if there really was a lion? “Keep the guys here.” He jogged down to the road.

Mika was closing in on Yotam when a deep roar rolledxi Mika back. A lion leaped from a boulder and knocked Yotam to the ground. The boy yelled and flailed his arms, but the huge jaws closed on his throat. Blood shot into the air.

Obadiah looked away then turned back again.

Blood pooled in the dirt, and the lion straddled Yotam’s chest in silence.

Yotam lay on his back, absent the front part of his neck.

“Uhn!” Obadiah covered his mouth with his hand.

Mika gagged and stumbled back.

Obadiah grabbedxii him by the shoulders. “What are you doing, child?”

Please, sir.” Mika pressed his palms against his cheeks, but he planted his feet wide. His voice held steady and low. “This is the Lord’s doing. It’s not your affair.”

Obadiah stood back. The lad had grown, yet he was still child the Lord had used to name Ahab’s commandos.

With Obadiah a few paces behind him, Mika marched up the grade, retrieved the sword from the threshing floor, and held it out to the three friends who had heard the lion’s roar and Yotam’s yells. “The Lord wants you to strike me with this. Give me a wound.” He bowed and pointed to his head.

One boy glanced around wild-eyed. “You’ve gone crazy.”

A second boy covered his head with his arms and backed away.

The third took the blade. “Remember, you asked for this.” He whacked Mika on the head.

Obadiah ducked. “Oh!”

Mika staggered and clutched the wound. Blood ran down his face. He wobbled back to the friend who had struck him and pulled a white scarf from his pack. “Thank you, my brother. Please tie this over the wound.”

Obadiah rubbed his brow. Mika had stuffed that cloth into his bag before any of this started. {BUTxiii}

The friend knotted the scarf and slipped it over Mika’s head so it covered the wound and drooped in front of Mika’s eyes.

Mika peeked out from under the scarf. “Thank you.” Then he wobbled out the gate and down the slope. But instead of heading toward Yotam and the lion, he turned and rounded the curve toward Megiddo.

Wait here.” Obadiah tapped Zak on the wrist then crept through the bushes to the road.

Mika waited by the path, looking toward Megiddo as blood dripped from his chin.

The clip-clop of many hoofs approached from the sea.

As Obadiah crouched behind a bush, Ahab’s chariot rolled around the curve surrounded by fifty bodyguards on horseback.

With the scarf over his eyes, Mika stepped into the path and wiped blood from his face. He called in a strange, high-pitched voice. “A prisoner. A prisoner. They brought me a prisoner.”

Obadiah tapped his foot in the dirt. Why this act?

As Ahab’s chariot rolled to a stop, his bodyguards tipped their spears toward Mika. Ahab gripped the rail and shook his head. “What’s your problem, soldier?”

Mika called again. “They brought me a prisoner. Said if you lose him, it’s your life for his life. But I got busy, and the prisoner disappeared.”

The king spat out his answer. “Why bother me with this? Like you said, a life for a life.”

Mika pulled the bandage off his head.

The bodyguards pointed their spears to the ground. Everybody knew the boy.

But Mika had lost his bounce. He approached with heavy feet and rested his head on the chariot rail. “Oh, King.” He turned his face up. “King, the Lord says, you let Ben-Hadad go free, so it’s your life for his life, your people for his people.”

Ahab’s face lost color. He slumped against the rail, his robe soaking up Mika’s blood and tears.

Mika backed to the edge of the path and stood with his head down.

The driver nudged Ahab. “Where to, my king?”

Ahab did not respond. His mouth hung open and his arms loose at his side. xiv

The driver shook the reins, and the royal chariot drove on.

Mika knelt in the road and wept.


Background

Bandage – 1 Kings 20:35-43

iHERE

ii I needed a little more explanation or context in the first scene with the lion and Mika asking his friends to wound them. But I’m very tired so it might just be me! – Becca

iiiMaybe look for ways to ramp up the tension in the scene with Yotam and give Obadiah some action? Mika’s request is weird and strange, so maybe Obadiah tries to talk to Mika down and figure out what’s going on. While Obadiah is doing that, maybe Yotam gets angry in response to Mika? I think you could add a little more to Yotam’s responses and actions before he disappears.

iv BC vs. B.C.? Be consistent.

vAdd sun, wind, flowers, birds, trees? While the sun melted into a buttery haze,

viHow/why is Mika here at the fort instead of with his uncle Gera in Samaria? Ahab sent him to learn with stable boss? Why not let him go back and help with his father’s trees? Ahab insisted the fort was safer location – did not acknowledge the danger was from Asherah thugs.

vii[Maybe give a detail to help the reader picture Yotam?]

viii Could some kind of beat, or smell, or sound be added in this group to add atmosphere and paint a word picture?

ixHe crouched [is this what I should picture?] to his knees and folded his hands toward Yotam [folded and extended his hands like in a pleading gesture?].

x Consider adding another setting detail or two. For example, is he sprinting across grass or sand?

xi Loud v. deep? Also, not sure how a roar would roll him back. Stopped him in his tracks or the like but rolled? I can’t see that… maybe just me.

xiiBecca – I was surprised to see how close Obadiah was to this scene, that Mika could stumble back and he’d be right with Obadiah already. Does Obadiah close the distance first to grab him by the shoulders, or was he really that close?

xiii[But Obadiah didn’t see him putting the cloth into his bag—he came upon Mika and his friends when Mika was asking someone to strike him.] GG

xiv Consider letting us hear his voice here. Does it tremble or quaver or something else?

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