The leader pointed to his head. “In here. Broken, your mind not working right. Everything all messed up, saying you hear things that other people don’t.”

No. That was his brother. Mathias was broken, he’d been broken since he was twelve, when Gabriel had lost his older brother. “I’m not broken,” he said. “My brother is.”

The leader laughed. “And yet you are cursed with the eyes,” he said. “They say these people, they talked to the ancient gods, hear everything they say, are granted their most precious wishes. Is this true?”

“I wouldn’t know,” said Gabriel, eyes glancing towards the weapons the other men held, weapons trained on him, trained on the two children.

The leader stepped back, spreading his arms wide. “I think we will test your gods.” He pointed towards the lake and the weak dawn, pointed towards his men, and the three of them were escorted to the shore. The forest had fallen silent around them, the morning mist clung reluctantly to the water, refusing to give in and run from the rising sun. As Gabriel’s eyes saw the water and the mist, familiarity crept into him. He knew this place, or at least, this place knew him. The leader pointed to the taller of the boys, pointed to his man, then pointed to the water. The man took the boy by the neck, pulled him into the water, knee deep on the man, chest high on the boy. Around the two, the water kept quiet.

“The villagers know better than to come around here,” the leader said. “Get on your knees, boy.”

The muzzles of the rifles trained on him, Gabriel obeyed. His eyes stayed riveted on the man and the boy in the water, wondering what would happen. But his mind knew, that dark spot in the back of every person’s mind, the spot that knew what humans were capable of in the name of vengeance. Two of the guerillas took up places beside him, held him fast by the shoulders so he couldn’t move.

The leader gave a nod to the man in the water. Wordlessly, the man shoved the boy under, holding him. Thirty seconds had passed and the boy began to struggle. Gabriel’s movements mirrored the boy’s as he struggled to run into the water, to knock the man down, to pull the boy into the air, give him needed oxygen. The fingers of the guerillas clamped down on his shoulders, holding him to the ground. Kneeling as he was, he couldn’t get any leverage with his legs. “Stop!” Gabriel said. “What are you trying to do?”

“Why don’t you ask your gods to make my man stop?” the leader asked.

“I don’t know what gods you’re talking about!” Gabriel tried to shake the hands off of him. They didn’t move.

The leader motioned to the man, the boy was pulled out of the water. The boy’s mouth gulped in the air, the water that had taken the air from him coursing down his face, a face darkened with the flush of trying to stay alive. “The gods of your people, broken boy. The villagers, they want to know these gods. They look for people like you. It seems they’ve found one and never told him that this was our area. This is our base of operation. Don’t you know anything about the civil war? Don’t you know anything about our god?”

“No,” said Gabriel. He knew nothing.

Another flick of the leader’s wrist and the boy was pushed under again. “Then you should ask the gods you know to save that boy.”

“My god is the same as yours!” The struggles had stopped, the body the man held underneath the water became still.

The leader put his face close to Gabriel’s, almost intimate in its closeness. Gabriel could see the stubble, the lines the course of this man’s life had etched on his face, the scars from teenage acne, the bright belief in what he was doing was right lighting his brown eyes. “That’s where you’re wrong. You see, my god would have saved that boy.” He raised his hand, motioned again. “This is your last chance, boy. Your last chance to have your gods save this last child. If they don’t save him, you’re next.” The leader stood and turned to the little boy.

The guerilla had the boy by the neck, pants soaked to mid-thigh. The water would be up to the boy’s shoulders. He would be eye level with the still body floating in the water. “What’s your name?” the leader asked the boy.

“Lalo,” came the answer, quick and soft. Desperate to say the right thing so that he wouldn’t end up like his older brother.

“And his name?” The leader pointed to Gabriel.

Lalo met his eyes, held them. “Gabriel,” he said.

“What is he to you?”

Lalo still looked at him. Gabriel wanted to close his eyes, escape from the reverence in the boy’s eyes, in the wonder. Nothing, he was nothing to the boy, nothing to all these people. They were all mistaken.

“He hears the gods,” said Lalo.

“I don’t hear anything,” said Gabriel.

“He would be your guardian angel, Lalo,” said the leader. “He will talk to those gods of yours, those gods of his, and save you.”

“I can’t.” Gabriel tried to sound strong, but his voice came out as soft as the water lapping against the shore.

“You can,” Lalo said, even as the guerilla took him into the water, placed his hand on the back of his head. Only as the boy’s head was submerged into the water did Lalo break eye contact with Gabriel. At first Gabriel shouted at the guerilla leader, shouted at the sky and whoever would hear. Then he whispered, then he shut his eyes. A man pried them open, made him watch as Lalo’s body stopped thrashing, stilling as the last waves of his struggle smacked against the shore. Two little boys had died, he didn’t even know the name of the older boy. They drowned, like his mother, and it was his fault. He had chosen to go after his mother’s memory, his mother’s people. He had chosen wrong. For the first time in his life, he wanted to die. Looking at the two small bodies floating in the water, at the determined muzzles of the rifles, at the disdain in the leader’s face, Gabriel knew he’d chosen to feel that way at a most appropriate time. He would be next, he would die in the same place and manner as his mother.

The leader studied him. “You cry as silently as your gods,” he said.