Let’s Play!

Excitedly, almost bouncing, he got this across to the boys: “Enough work! Let us play a game! It is called The Moon Kills!” A nearby pathway, bowered over with branches, pierced by light in many places, presented a very difficult passage for anyone trying to avoid being “lit.” It became the contest-ground. They were divided into two groups, one trying to navigate between shafts of light, the other side “judges” who would watch closely and with sticks, tap players “out.” It didn’t take long for the kids to get lost in the game, momentarily forgetting its dead-serious aspects. There was even laughter—and skills sharpened. Silent movement was urged, and soon enough, the boys were moving confidently, slithering, sidestepping and bending to avoid the moon’s deadly touch. Nights passed.

The better judges became coaches, quietly pointing out where slower-learning boys should creep, how to gauge the line where a silver-dollar-sized beam of light would traverse from a break in the foliage overhead to the ground—or onto a player’s body. By ones and twos, boys were backed off 50 to 75 meters and shown from different angles how those dapples of light, striking their moving pals, could reveal them to watching enemies; how they could determine direction and speed of movement of the “sneakers,” and using sticks as rifles, how easily they could be shot. That enemies could also be seen and shot was not lost on them.