Chapter 10 ‘Déjà vu’
Akecheta had reached the far bank and was now on the move again; there was a feint sound somewhere in the distance; the sound came again, he stopped abruptly as he strained to listen. Another sound told him they were gunshots! His brain tried to calculate the distance, something inside his brain told him that they were a lot further away than what he had originally thought but I’m close enough to hear them……..that’s a positive. The little part of his brain that spoke to him regularly told him that the magic was making him hear things he should not normally hear; making the sounds travel further than usual. The wind and time were bringing them to him, making him hear them, telling him what was happening; all this was alien to him, Akecheta knew that he had to accept these things Wakatanka is with me; Annawan is with me! He looked skywards and was shocked to find the hawk had gone; but he knew in his mind that the eagle would return; never-the-less he had to continue; Akecheta began to run again; this time he ran toward where the gunshot sound had developed!
On and on he ran; jumping obstacles that blocked his path; ignoring jutting out branches and twigs that grabbed at him trying to slow his pace the enemy is trying its best to slow my progress down but with a sheer determination he continued, ignorant to their attempts to slow him. Akecheta would not be stopped I am the one true Sioux, I am Akecheta, I will not fail his senses told him that he could not be stopped, he was alive; his nerve ends tingled with anticipation as he moved easily through the forest. His whole body was tuned into the environment around him with each step he made animals moved from out of his path leaving the way clear for him to continue with his constant pace; his relentless pace!
* * * * *
Samson now lay on his back looking skyward; his chest rising and falling as he took in the air that fed his lungs; he was biting his top lip as he thought through his options. There had been no sound from the hill above for around fifteen minutes, but that did not mean they were not there? He raised his head slightly and looked at the distance he had crawled around three hundred metres and the last time he had heard his pursuers they were around two hundred metres further back and higher up the bank. The coloured man had said that he had seen the dust cloud, if that were the case they would be heading down the bank to check it out; so why had they not already got down there? Why have they not got down here and seen me? He lifted his head again to look further back; his eyes scanning around him; also checking out the other side of the stream. But there was nothing, no sign of movement, no sign of his pursuers and no sign of wildlife, the only sound being the noise of running water from the slow moving stream!
Of course another idea came to him they could be waiting for me up ahead after all it made perfect sense; they would be sure that he would not head back toward the road! The human instinct would take him away from them to run in the opposite direction and they would know that; this thought made him unsure, he could not stay where he was so do I chance running out into the open or crawl back the way I came; back toward the road? His mind was spinning with thoughts on what to do when a noise brought him back to the present; his breathing stopped as he heard a flutter; a couple of beats then a loud “cackle” ‘oh no!’ he sighed. His attention was instantly drawn to the other bank of the stream and to the clump of moor birches some fifteen metres away then Samson saw it land?
The crow landed twenty or so metres away; it landed onto a thick branch of a moor birch where it cackled again, then again I don’t believe it Samson watched as the bird just stared at him they’ll see me; it’ll show them where I am? As he watched the crow another movement caught his eye further down the bank from the direction he had crawled; an arm came into view. Samson was on his feet in a split second and running again; the pain from all his aches and knocks was gone once again; well not gone, forgotten, the pains were somewhere deep in his mind in some locked room, just waiting for the time when the door would open once more. There were other things on his mind now as he darted from his position; more important things than aches and pains; his course took him under the American plum tree and toward the waiting undergrowth which he entered with a crash. He heard the twigs snapping from somewhere behind him and also from around him as he ploughed his way through the bushes and trees, stopping for nothing he moved quickly side onto the hill; gradually climbing but still moving side on. He could hear someone following but dared not look behind, he had to focus on his footing one wrong step and he would be down; if he went down he would be done for! They would catch him; he knew he had to focus on the course he was taking.
Jumping a small ditch Samson was now back onto the path he had walked earlier in the day, a small puff of dust flew up behind as he hit the path running. There was a noise in his ear, followed by a slight breeze as the crow flew right by him; carrying on it landed up ahead onto a juniper branch that damn bird, if it’s the last thing I do I’ll kill that damned bird! Samson had always been a lover of animals but right now he really wanted to see that bird dead and the sooner the better was how he saw it, as he now passed directly beneath the branch where the crow perched. Footsteps behind him; they were now on the path some way back, Samson carried on running as the crow again overtook him; just skimming the top of his head; if he had tried he probably could have pulled the thing right out the air. Samson actually felt a little annoyed that he had not tried to grab the bird; but he now had more pressing thoughts to deal with as he rounded a corner in the path again passing beneath the crow; it cackled loudly as Samson passed it by. Up towards his left Samson could see a clearing; he had noticed it earlier in the day but he had come to this point via another route; the clearing looked quite flat and Samson felt quite sure that he could put some distance between him and his pursuers if he took that route. With his mind made up he branched off to the left and on toward the clearing. Knowing that if he did not put some distance between him and his pursuers he would get shot! That thought kept his legs moving faster than he had ever run in his life.
Once Samson hit the clearing he moved with ease through the short grass which was littered with wild flowers; red clovers and ox eye daisies were spread amongst the ankle length green grass; which brushed his hiking boots with each step. Samson had made a good choice and was well through the clearing and back into the undergrowth long before the pursuing English man had reached the clearing. A noise could be heard in his ear as the crow again approached him from over his right hand shoulder. This time Samson flung his arm up and out to his right, flicking his hand just as the crow was reaching his shoulder area. Samson felt his hand hit the crow sending the large black bird careering into the cranberry bush at the side of the path; Samson heard the crow crash into the bush and felt like whooping with joy but the thought of what was following him drove him onwards. Besides a little voice in his head told him that he had not seen the last of the crow, the little voice told him that the bird would be back to haunt him damned bird, I hate that damned bird!
Killdeer Mountain; North Dakota 13:25pm local time:
The old chief cleared the area around where he had had his fire on the previous two nights; he stockpiled a large pile of wood before he set about making another small pile of wood ready for the night ahead. Once the pile of wood was ready he picked up a small bowl with a yellow paint inside then using his finger he began painting on the rock at the near side of the unlit fire. He drew the outline of the sun then the moon, colouring them both in with his index finger; then he placed the bowl on the floor at his feet. Withdrawing his knife he nicked the side of his hand, blood instantly began to drip; Annawan let the drops of blood drip into the bowl then he mixed the yellow paint with his own blood and made a dark orange colour. Once he was happy with the shade of colour he had created he began colouring in the sun as it set on the rock. His picture depicted the sun throughout its daily cycle until it eventually the sunset turned to night then there came the moon around which he shaded black skies using a piece of burnt charcoal from his previous nights fire. All the time he painted he sang songs under his breath, ancient songs; the songs of his people, the words passed down from generation to generation, ancestor to ancestor. Annawan knew that this could be his last day alive; his last day on the earth but that thought did not bother him he would return as another animal just as Wakatanka would permit; perhaps he would come back as his namesake “The Attacking Hawk” he dearly hoped that it would be so; nodding to himself as he continued his ritual. A bead of sweat rolled from his forehead and down his temple until eventually it reached his neck; whatever happened this day, his spirit would be with the land; of that he was sure, just like the spirits of his ancestors. His only concern now was for the young brave whom he had sent on this mission; he had his whole life ahead of him; he was the one who could keep the honour and memory of the Lakota Sioux going to keep the traditions alive. Akecheta had to make it through the danger; if he could pass this test their name would continue as would the traditions of his people; a sudden thought occurred to him what if neither of us makes it through……what if we fail? Annawan put that thought to the back of his mind; he would not allow any negative thoughts they had to succeed; this evil had to be defeated the memory of our people won’t let us fail he nodded again as he continued with his ritual. The ritual he was performing was called “The Hanbleceya (cry for a vision)” Annawan carried on with his vision quest ritual, where only the worthy will see the vision, just as he had in the previous nights. His quiet chanting continued, now he chanted with closed eyes; later he would again smoke the pipe of peace and his ancestors would show him the way, and they would watch over Akecheta!
The Rocky Mountains 14:40 local time:
Samson stood crouched over with his hands on his knees; he had been running for what felt like two hours, or so he thought; his lungs were taking in as much oxygen as they could take. Surely his pursuers had to stop as well; surely they had to have air; they had to breath after all, he listened intently for any sign that they were still following; he was higher up now and could make out the path further down below him. The sun beat down upon him as he fought for every breath of air he could take; his mouth was dry again and he now had no water; stupidly he had left his pack behind you should have picked the pack up. Still it was too late for regrets; what was done was done, all that mattered now was what was to come, what he still had to do and that was move, keep moving keep trying to stay alive; to stay one step ahead of them I have to stay one step ahead!
Every single muscle in his body ached, they actually felt like they were going to explode, like at any one moment his thigh or his calf would just blow a hole in his trouser leg and leave his muscles on the path as a trail for his pursuers to follow! How long can I keep this up for? Samson was now desperate for a rest, even just for one minute just let me have one minutes rest! After several more hobbling steps he stopped again and crouched over holding his hands on his thighs as his lungs took in the beautiful air they still craved; his chest rising and falling in rapid motions!
The day was hotter than anything he had ever experienced in his short life, it was a good thing that he still had the t-shirt tied around his head, or else he would surely have had sunstroke again. The t-shirt was soaked through and every minute a trickle of sweat would escape from the sodden material and roll down his temple onto his cheek or neck. There was a noise further down on the path below him! Samson held his breath in anticipation as he saw the Englishman come into view time to get going again he turned and began running again; was there any slowing these men down devils more like!
Samson was now at the top of the hill just coming over the brow heading for the downward slope on the other side; he could feel his blisters, the heel’s of his boots were now rubbing harder as he started his descent, the pain shooting up his thighs like hot irons. He knew he had to just put it behind him try to forget the pain but with each step he could feel the skin on his heel stretching as the heavy material cut deeper. ‘Flip-flops’ he panted imagine you’re wearing flip-flops on a beach somewhere his lungs were gasping for breath with each step he made; a massive doubt in the back of his mind telling him that he was not going to see this thing through! ‘Come on Samson, keep going, it’ll get easier; I promise’ but still the doubt remained. The terrain was levelling out again as the slope began rising away to his left, Samson continued in the direction he was running side on with the incline halfway up. The stream still flowed beneath he could see it every now and again glistening through the gaps in the trees; thoughts of drinking the water began to come to the fore of his mind the cooling water ‘oh God what I’d give for a drink of cold water’ he spoke to himself in ragged breaths or even one of those juicy plums! He swallowed hard, the sensation of swallowing hurt his throat and that feeling made him want to cough and gag.
A sound travelled on the stillness that had come to gather around him; it was a twig or a branch Samson was not sure which? The only thing he was certain of was, if it was his pursuers the distance was closer now than they had been anytime previously! Oh no they’re catching up Samson turned his head, looking over his shoulder; the Englishman was gaining he was now around sixty metres away. Samson saw his face, a contorted face, a demonic face, twisted with anger and rage; the sight had Samson’s heart stopping suddenly with fear ignore the face and run. The face was not human; his heart had stopped but his legs were still moving; Samson tried to swallow but fear had hold on his throat, it felt like he had a rock wedged deep inside his throat, it was so dry. He needed to turn, to look in the direction he was running but his brain would not let him; still he ran forward while looking over his shoulder at the Englishman as he chased after him his eyes could not leave the evil that was closing in on him. He or rather “It” was closing the gap with increasing speed, Somehow Samson was still running along the path even though his eyes were totally focussed on the demon that chased after him; fear had him now and it was not letting go; It was going to happen, you could almost read the script and it did, it was then that he tripped……….!
Samson was still looking over his shoulder when his foot hit the rut in the ground then his other foot caught on the branch which jutted out from the left hand mound; Samson was falling forwards and downwards, he tried to roll. His shoulder landed with a loud thud; luckily his head managed to avoid the rock and just hit into the dirt; Samson rolled onto his front, onto his hands and knees. His face was inches away from a pile of bear pooh oh no bears and demons he rose to his feet as the footsteps approached from behind I’m done for! Samson turned seeing the Englishman now twenty metres away and gaining he was moving almost ghostlike over the ground; almost invisible yet there in front of him, in his line of vision the demon was gaining. ‘Run’ he spoke it aloud the words escaping from him as he tried to register what he had just said to himself; he suddenly came back alive, his brain controlling his senses once again. Samson was not caught yet and instantly he sprang back into action as he sprung up from the floor and turning away from his quarry Samson ran once more, one final time into the fray! Then suddenly as he sprinted forward a movement caught his eye on the path up ahead? Directly in-front of him blocking his route; a large black bear was blocking the path, standing directly in front of the route Samson was heading! Samson stopped dead in his tracks demon behind, bear in front, can this get any worse? His first thought was to just collapse; collapse and let them take him whichever one wanted him the most they can battle over me but then his second thought came?
The Indian man in his dreams had told him; he pictured the man and his words “do not fear the wolf or the great bear” what did he mean and who was he? More importantly could he be trusted? What option do you have Samson! It was true; he was right out of options the demon was nearly upon him; Samson did not look behind, everything was now happening in slow motion. His brain told him to follow the Indian man’s words to do as he had told him in his dreams; his mind was made up as he began running again forward; forward toward the black bear; toward the black bear that now reared up onto his hind legs, toward the black bear and his certain death!
The bear had now completely risen up on its hind legs, standing taller than before, showing his height and fearlessness as Samson ran toward it; as he got closer and closer Samson realised that the bear was not even looking at him his sole attention was on the thing that was chasing after him! Samson had now reached the bear and was ducking as the bear stepped forward and around him swiping with its mighty paw; Samson heard the blow connect with the demons head sending him careering into the undergrowth. The bear roared as the demon rose to his feet and launched at the big black beast. The bears teeth sank into the demons shoulder; harder and harder, deeper and deeper it bit into him; until its bottom jaw and top jaw reached each other then with an almighty yank the bear swung its head with all its force. Samson had stopped; he watched as the demons arm ripped from his body; his face not human he bit back at the black bear; but the bear deflected the attack with his mighty paw. The swipe caught the demons chest, knocking him momentarily off balance. With his only arm the demon grabbed the bear’s neck, but the bear swung another paw, its claws scratching the demons face, the force nearly knocking the head from the off the demons neck and shoulders.
Movement caught Samson’s eye further back along the track it was the large coloured man, or what was the large coloured man as now he too had become inhuman! The bear turned to face the new foe, roaring loudly at this new oncoming demon; Samson heard a familiar voice in his head “run little warrior; run!” The voice came to him like a voice in dreams; Samson did as he had been instructed and ran side on along the bank following the dirt path; refusing to look behind, his sole focus was now along the path.
* * * * *
Cowboy minus an arm lunged at the big black bear just before Johnson could pull his gun from his holster; the bear stuck out his mighty arm quick to deflect the blow. Then just as Cowboy turned to attack once more the bear’s claws entered Cowboys body around his kidney area; with all its force it flung the defeated body to the floor as it prepared for its next attack. Johnson had already withdrawn his pistol and now fired several shots into the bear as it moved toward him. Each shot that he fired hit the bear as it moved step by ever slowing step until eventually the huge beast collapsed to the floor defeated; its huge body trying to capture each last breath until Johnson walked up and shot the beast in the head ‘die you fuck!’ his demonic voice had taken on a whole new sound!
Cowboy was lying on the floor bleeding out; one arm missing and the other was pressed to where his kidneys had previously been ‘hhhhellp me’ he whispered hoarsely.
Johnsons voice had now returned to normal ‘you dead boy; you ain’t gonna be fuckin no more mommas’ his loud southern accent boomed as he aimed the pistol to Cowboys head and shot; there was no remorse as he stood above his partner in crime. Staring at the two dead bodies before him, Johnson licked his lips before his face began moving around; bubbling and bumping around his face; he turned his attention back to the boy fucking boy!
* * * * *
Samson had heard the shots and knew the bear had eventually stood no chance; shot followed shot seven in total then there was a short pause followed by another shot then another. Samson had to get away from here he looked around seeing a familiar sight; it was the love-heart tree. I’ve been before, earlier in the day ‘the cave’ it was around here about half a mile he was sure; half a mile along the side of the bank; hope returned if he kept moving forward he would eventually reach the cave. If he could make it into the cave where he stayed the night previously the men would not be able to get through the small gap into the cavern; Samson was certain that he would be safe in there I have to reach the safety of that cave!
As he moved along the slope his tread nearly lost its footing on more than one occasion; slightly slipping on the narrow track, each time he managed to correct his positioning. Samson knew if the coloured man came into view before he reached the cave he would be shot; the man was trigger happy, but slow! Samson had noticed that he was not as quick as the Englishman; the Englishman had kept up a good pace leaving the coloured man who he had heard was named Johnson way behind him. Samson was glad that his Father had made him take up soccer and running; it was this fitness that had kept him alive since he had found himself thrust into this nightmare. A cold feeling went down his spine; some inner feeling was telling him that the man was gaining that he was in real danger again!
Samson rounded a curve in the bank and there in front of his eyes around forty or so metres away, its mouth gaping wide; was the mouth of the cave and his sanctuary. His mouth was so dry now he was finding it hard to breath; his lungs were gasping for air; his throat was becoming swollen and his airways were shrinking. It was as if his throat were about to seize shut; his tonsils felt like exploding; the soreness nearly making him gag. Samson tried to spit but could not find the energy to clear his mouth; as he tried again he began to cough this nearly making him gag again get to the cave; you’ve got to get to the cave! Twenty steps, nineteen, eighteen keep going; you can do it five steps, four, three, two, one; Samson stepped into the cool mouth of the cave. It looked spooky in the daylight reminding him of the film “The Empire Strikes Back” where they flew into the cave in the asteroid belt but really it was a monster’s mouth forget that you’ve been in here before, besides what’s the alternative? Turn back…… back to them? That thought made him want to give a nervous swallow but the pain in trying nearly had him retching; as he now reached the first tunnel; on his hands and knees Samson entered the tunnel. Pushing the spear on before him feeling and prodding his way along deeper into the black hole; he had a thought that this must be how a blind man must feel, frightened and scared of what unknown danger lay before them, but still he moved through the darkness!
Just wanting to collapse Samson found the energy to crawl down the pitch black tunnel; cursing himself for leaving the backpack ‘the torch; Jesus you idiot; you left the God damn torch’ his small voice echoing loudly around him. Blindly and with his head twice hitting the low roof of the tunnel he made it to where the tunnel forked off left and right, on instinct he took the left hand path until eventually he banged his head again, this time harder ‘aaargggh’ the sound of his voice echoing once more around him, the roof had now lowered considerably. You know the cave….he doesn’t Samson belly crawled the last few metres until he dropped into the chamber he had slept in the previous night; he clambered into the middle of the chamber, hearing the odd drop of water plop into the pool at the far end of the cavern. Samson now had another fear the snake teeth; where the hell did I put the heads? He remembered reading that the poison was still in them even when the snake was dead; he had to find them safely before he ended up puncturing himself on their sharp teeth; if he did that the outcome would be severe he would probably end up killing himself!
* * * * *
The Mexican had already picked up the backpack left by the boy earlier and was now walking along the path to where Cowboys body lay dead; he reached the body. He looked upon the scene; scanning every millimetre of the site, no expression came over his features; his eyes like pools of tar as he stared, first at Cowboy then the dead bear; something about it all told him it was not right. Cowboy had chased the boy and the bear attacked him; why not attack the boy? Bear attacks were rare especially by black bears but they were not unknown; but now as he looked upon the dead body of his fellow murderer and compatriot in crime he was stung by the ferocity of the scene before him. His senses told him this was more than just a bear attack! He looked around again, his right eye began to twitch; there was some other magic at work here, they had some kind of unseen foe aiding the boy; working against them? The Mexican knew that he would have to draw this foe out into the open; only then could he deal with it properly, once he knew what it was, this new enemy. But he also knew he could not be defeated he had the help of a power no living thing could comprehend; they would catch the boy and use it against this unseen force; his eye twitched again several times, his scars now looking prominent and sore from their redness!
* * * * *