CHAPTER 8 ‘The evil that men do’
It was dark now, in the outside world, but here in the cave where Samson sat next to his fire it was light as the fire illuminated the cavern around him; he did not need the light from his torch unless he wanted to look into the corners where the darkness still clung tight. Samson had drunk plenty of water he had also now eaten the potato crisps that he had taken from the cabin; now though he was totally out of food; tomorrow he would have to find some berries I’ll use the survival book to show me what I can eat! Samson lay back on the bed of heathers he had made earlier; he thought of many things and then sleep and exhaustion came over him as he drifted into a deep sleep that lasted hours, he dreamt of many things; happy things and happy times until the nightmares came and took hold!
* * * * *
The Mexican sat in the clearing as the moon shone bright overhead; Cowboy and Johnson were somewhere off to the right around thirty metres away they were talking to each other, their voices very low, every now and again a laugh could be heard as it travelled on the breeze. The Mexican was oblivious to anything they were saying his thoughts were elsewhere; they were with the crow he replayed what the crow had seen earlier; seeing through the creature’s eyes. The boy knew that the crow had been following him but that didn’t matter they were close now; tomorrow they would have him then all this could be put behind them and Mr Calcone would pay them what he owed. The Mexican mumbled words; words that any normal man would not speak; they were the Devils words and when these words were spoken the Devil acted! The Mexican had his eyes closed; he was now seeing other things; a school; children catching a school bus, a family doing things together. The Mexican recognised the family as the one they had killed; the family that he and his partners had killed the previous day; now he was inside the boy’s dreams; inside the boy’s nightmares!
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Samson was deep in sleep tossing and turning; around him the shadows danced on the walls; the fire cackled away as the regular drips from the water landed in the pool below them. Samson was oblivious to all the sounds as his mind saw the men killing his family once again, the replay set on continuous. He watched the horror over and over again, a witness as the evil unfolded, a witness who was helpless to help and then he was running, running for his life! On and on he ran through the darkness and the forest as it closed in around him, he saw eyes that glowed red, heard the loud wind, saw the faces and the features as they moved around them. He saw a fire, watched it as it came to life, shapes on the walls began forming; dancing around him; faces looking at him; faces that changed to different forms, different features. Spirits crept up on him watching him from directly above tickling his neck.
He was unaware of the snakes as they entered the entrance of the cave; six Rattlesnakes from various parts of the forest entered the mouth of the cave; they arrived at the same time; entering the cave as one! En-masse they made their way into the second chamber slivering into the tunnel where they moved to the T-junction instantly taking the left turn. They were now entering the small gap as one by one they entered the chamber; the chamber where Samson slept, caught up in his own nightmare!
The Killdeer Mountains; North Dakota; 23:40 local time:
Annawan sat beneath the cloud covered sky, the moon had long been covered by cloud, an unnatural cloud; the small fire in front of him glowed a deep blue as he chanted his ancient songs. He closed his eyes as he continued his quiet chants; after several minutes his eyes entered a cave, he travelled through tunnels turning until he entered a large chamber; a fire burned on a ledge. Next to the fire was a pile of logs and next to these a bed of heathers; on top of this bed was a form; a human form; a small boy lay asleep. Six rattlesnakes slivered along the floor of the chamber; they moved slowly past the pool and across the floor; toward the sleeping boy! Annawan spoke slowly ‘Kikta; Cicala wanji (wake-up little one)’ his voice was wise and soothing ‘Kikta; etaha lena Zuzeka Iha-ble (wake-up from these snake dreams)’ the old man puffed up his cheeks and blew gently. Then he spoke in English ‘wake up little warrior’ with his eyes still shut tight he smiled sadly as the flames on the fire where he sat on the mountainside subsided, retreating into the fire, the fire was now just a faint glow of embers. Annawan’s age old features looked sadly through time and space into the cave where the young boy was about to be attacked, his chanting had returned although now it was just an unrecognisable murmur!
He continued his steady chanting with his head swaying steadily from side to side, his eyes shut tight; sadness and age the only expression on his face!
The Rocky Mountains; 23:55 local time:
Samson could hear a voice in his dreams; in his nightmares, the voice was talking soothingly talking to him; instructing him; the words were foreign to him until they came in English! Samson could recognise the voice it was the man who spoke to him the previous night in his sleep the man who told him not to fear the wolf or the bear he was talking again ‘wake up little warrior’ he whispered. Samson’s mind was trying to establish who the man was talking too then suddenly Samson’s second voice told him he’s talking to you; wake up!
He woke with a start; dazed and still half asleep; Samson shook his head, clearing his vision; something felt strange; he could sense danger all around him. Instinctively he rose to his feet; the shadows from the flames danced around the walls, they were alive the shadows are alive; how is this possible? Samson caught movements along the floor? His mind was still not quite with him as he tried to shake himself back into reality, he looked from the moving shadows on the walls back to the shapes that moved along the floor what are they suddenly he caught something in the firelight ‘snakes’ he spoke it out loud; the word echoed around the cavern. Instinctively he reached down and grabbed his spear as one of the snakes moved toward him; Samson held the spear at arms length and stabbed at the snake. The spear pierced the snake halfway along its body Samson pulled the spear back but the snake was still attached to the point; it writhed with pain until Samson swung the spear with both his arms. The snake detached and went flying through the air to the far side of the cavern where it crashed into the wall killing it outright. A second snake struck out at Samson’s leg causing Samson to leap over the fire; the snake followed in Samson’s path striking again until it landed in the hot embers; where it fought the flames to escape; its attempts were futile as the flames took hold; the snake sizzled to its death.
Another snake slivered toward him as he brandished the spear like a cosh and brought it down with all his might; the strike caught the snake at the top of its head, instantly paralysing it; Samson then stabbed it with the spear tip. His heart was pumping like there would be no tomorrow; adrenalin flowed through his veins; another movement to his right then behind him he could hear a rattle; he turned just as the curled snake struck out! Samson stepped sideways as the rattlesnake landed by his boot; without hesitation Samson brought his boot crashing down onto the rattlesnakes head.
With his other boot Samson kicked into the flames; sending hot embers over the rattlesnake that approached from his front; he reached down to grab a log when something to his right shot at him quickly! As Samson’s right hand grabbed one of the logs a Snake struck; its teeth caught onto Samson’s jacket sleeve; luckily its teeth missed his skin; but now this snake was attached to Samson’s arm sleeve. Samson flailed his arm around in desperation trying to dislodge the snake; to loosen the snake as the other snake moved toward him! His left arm grabbed out at another log; picking it up Samson threw it at the advancing snake catching it on its tail; the snake re-coiled backwards then shot forward as it struck through the air toward him! In desperation Samson brought his right arm around to defend the attack; the other snake was still attached to his sleeve and just as his arm came around the snake which was attached to his sleeve released its grip. It detached with the force of Samson’s swing it caught the other striking snake just before it impacted with Samson. The two snakes hit each in mid flight; they flew off to the left as one both of them entwined onto each other!
Samson reached out and picked up his spear; he ran to the two snakes and stabbed through the entwined reptiles; they twitched several times until the lifeless forms went still. Samson was breathing heavily; he looked around the cavern; the shapes from the shadows had gone; he searched the floor for further movement as he put his boot on the two dead snakes and pulled out his spear. Samson held the spear out in front of him; looking for more of the dangerous creatures; there was no further movement, but still he was not satisfied. One by one Samson approached the dead snakes and stabbed each one making sure that he had indeed killed them; he noticed that it was getting darker then he realised why!
‘The fire’ he barked in fear; he had kicked the embers over one of the snakes and now the fire was starting to go out, the cavern was getting darker and Samson knew if he was in darkness he would have no chance fending off another snake attack. Quickly he grabbed some more logs and twigs and began to place them on the remains of his fire; he dropped to his knees and crouching down he blew gently at the base of the fire. After twenty or so gentle blows the fire began to catch again, Samson let out a massive sigh; his heart was still beating heavy; his breathing began to stabilise; composure began to return and with it came ideas?
‘Looks like we’ve got something to eat’ his voice echoed as he walked over and gathered the dead snakes, he piled them up by the pool. His arm suddenly felt wet and itchy? Instantly Samson pulled off the fleece jacket and inspected the inside, after this he inspected his own arm; there was something on his skin; it was in the exact same spot as the itch. He then realised what it was ‘rattlesnake venom’ he whispered; then without any hesitation he threw the jacket into the pool and began to wash the arms of the jacket at the same time he washed the venom from his own arms. Once he was happy that he had got rid of any evidence of rattlesnake poison he placed his jacket on the bed of heathers and moved it closer to the fire then he untied his penknife from around the end of his spear.
Before he began cooking Samson sharpened the end of the spear with his knife; just in case he had any more visitors. Once the spear was sharp he turned his attention to the dead rattlesnakes and to his now rumbling stomach. Samson pulled the survival book from his back pack and searched through until he came to the section ‘Animal Kills – Skinning and cooking’ as he read he would constantly glance over to the entrance of the chamber. Step 1: Make sure your snake is dead before moving forward to the skinning stage; be careful when handling the snake's head, as it could still contain poisonous venom. Get rid of the snakes head immediately. Believe it or not, the decapitated head can still bite for a few hours. Be sure to wear gloves if possible when cutting and disposing of the snake's head! Samson held up the dead snake in his hands ‘definitely dead’ his voice again echoing around the cavern as the snake flopped down in his hand; as he held it up he was cautious not to go anywhere near the head. Step 2: Turn the snake belly up then starting at the head make an incision with a sharp knife down the stomach to its tail. Samson followed the instructions; turning the snake belly up he pierced the spear through the snakes head and held it secure with his left hand. Then using his right hand he pierced his penknife into the skin just below the head, surprised at how easily his blade went in. It was tougher now as he tried to slice along the body; he stopped several times often having to revert to a sawing motion. Eventually Samson had reached the tail; his hand was covered in blood and guts and any other rubbish from the snake’s insides; his face was turned into a ghastly expression. Step 3: Cut through the tail meat and peel away the meat from the skin; gut your snake meat and wash it off in cold water then cut your meat into three inch slivers. Samson completed the procedure by washing the meat in the pool again; feeling better once he had got the blood and guts from off his hands.
Next Samson put the end of his spear into the hot part of the fire and left it heating for a minute then he used the spike; puncturing it into a piece of the meat; he held the spear above the fire; watching as the meat cooked. After the previous escapade with the snakes Samson had no intention of going back to sleep; he had had enough sleep for one night; he felt strange almost violated! His dreams had been visited how is that possible? How can someone come into my dreams while I’m asleep? The old Indian man had also come to him in his dream and warned him; there was definitely something strange about the whole event; and after what had happened it had put Samson off the notion of sleep for a long time!
* * * * *
Akecheta had slept well his visions had taken him into the cave with the small boy; he had seen him defeat the snakes that had been sent to kill him. A brave boy; a fighter; like me; perhaps we should name him Akecheta too his veins still tingled just as they had the previous day only now he sat looking into the dawn sky; the birds were alive with life; the forest a hive of activity. It was now his turn to join them; to get him back on the move; to find the small boy and help him against this evil which had been foretold by the elders. Akecheta rose to his feet; gathering his belongings; he put everything away in its rightful place; he looked at the fire, which was now out and pondered disposing of the remains. Picking up a stick he scattered the remains of the fire; after he had finished you would not have known anyone had ever been there. Slinging the rolled blanket over his shoulder he grabbed the bow and arrows and began off in the direction of the small mountain; he had seen the hawk circling in the sky off in the distance and knew it must be a sign? A sign that he was meant to follow, of that he was most certain; it was Annawan’s hawk and Annawan had told it to guide him to show Akecheta the way; he held his hand to shield the bright sun; the hawk still circled. Akecheta began to jog; a steady jog as he progressed quickly toward the small mountain, the tingling had returned; his heart pumped true. So long as the blood flowed through him he would not let Annawan, his tribe or even the memory of the elders down I will fight to the very last breath; of that I promise!
* * * * *
Samson had cooked all the rattlesnake meat; eating lots and also storing lots of the cooked meat in the empty crisp wrapper from the previous night’s feast. He had no idea what time it was, it felt like he had been hiding out in the cave for days, he tried to imagine what a miner trapped underground would feel like, some were trapped for days when mineshafts collapsed. Most often they were trapped without any food or water at least I had food and water he was glad he had eaten plenty and rested his whole body now felt refreshed. He also knew that it must be light outside and if it were light he would have to move; move on out of his hiding place back into the open and back into danger; he swallowed perhaps I could stay here? ‘No; that’s not what you’re doing, we’re going to find help and safety!’
“You hope you are.”
He tried to block out the mocking voice; was it his own voice? Or was it the voice of the man in the forest the one who wore the cap; the one with the scars? Samson shook his head trying to get the thought of that man out of his mind; he hoped to God he would not see him again.
“Does he answer you; your God? Does he tell you what to do?”
He shook his head angrily ‘stop it; stop doing this to me!’ Just ignore the voices Samson, keep doing what you’re doing and ignore the voices, you have nothing to fear from yourself, concentrate on the task in hand. With that last thought he began crawling out of the small opening and into the dark tunnel, he left the small fire to dwindle out on itself; he crawled cautiously back towards the outside world and towards whatever fate awaited him!
The sun shone brightly through the mouth of the cave lighting up the floor inside, the light made him squint as he looked into it God that hurts he closed them and opened them again, repeating it several times; after each time his vision began to clear. Samson dragged his pack behind him holding the spear out in front as he climbed out of the small tunnel into the second chamber. Standing up tall he put his arms through the rucksack straps and dusted himself down time to go he made his way cautiously to the entrance, to the daylight that waited there to greet him; his eyes began to sting as they adjusted to this new brightness. Samson was not bothered about his eyes stinging, it felt good again to breathe the air, the clean air; once he got to the entrance he scanned the banks above and to the sides of the cave. His eyes were drawn to the floor around the entrance; he searched the covering looking for any signs of a visitor, a feeling of relief came over him; it looked exactly as it had the previous day; undisturbed well that’s a little bit more good news!
The heat from the sun warmed him as he placed the t-shirt back onto the top of his head tying it with the bindweed; he held the spear like a walking stick then began walking again. His route took him downward; down the slope, twice he nearly slipped in the leaves that covered the floor; his eyes always on the lookout for snakes snakes and crows he felt a shiver go all the way down his spine, for all he knew the whole forest was against him. A feeling deep inside told him that the one in the baseball cap was evil, that it was the man in the baseball cap who had visited his dreams I don’t fancy bumping into him again Samson shivered again. But he was also visited by the old Indian man and Samson sensed that the Indian man was not evil, he was a good man, of that Samson was sure. I wish I had a watch he looked up to the sun ‘what time must it be?’
The sun beat down through the canopy above, through the branches of the sugar maples with their helicopter seeds. He could make out the odd gypsy moth on the undersides of the leaves; holding his hand above his eyes to gain a better sight advantage he looked hard there were lots of them hiding from the light. Constant checks over his shoulder told him that he was not being followed he would also check the trees; the crow the day before had un-nerved him a little! Still the more he travelled with no sign the better the feeling please help me ‘help me get to safety!’
He walked slowly taking in the surrounding area and also taking in the landmarks after all you never knew if you’d have to return to the same spot! In front of him there was a tall Atlantic white cedar; it was a funny shape the trunk went up then separated into two further trunks but these created a shape; almost like a love heart. Samson smiled at the thought the love heart tree further up along one of the branches was a yellow throated warbler; it chirped several times; again Samson smiled. It was the first time he had smiled properly since the nightmare had begun; his path took him beneath the large tree; winged seeds covered the floor some had begun to grow into small saplings. The warbler chirped from above; suddenly something caught Samson’s eye?
He moved closer to the tree trunk to investigate; about six feet from ground level there was a clump of fur; Samson swallowed hard ‘bears’ he whispered as he checked in every direction! There had been many stories of bear attacks in the Rockies, but as a wildlife fan he had also watched many programmes on the television that also told how bears were not as dangerous as people thought. Whichever the case Samson did not want to wait around and find out; it was time to leave this area behind him and quickly, there was another incline to his right. Samson negotiated the incline quickly, once at the top he made his way down the slight slope; sideways on he slid down the slope; a bit quicker than what he intended; leaving a small cloud of dust in his wake and also a bit more noise than he would have cared for!
Once he was on the flat he began walking quickly again still using the spear as a walking stick; Samson stopped suddenly what was that? He listened intently trying to make out the sound it’s an engine of some kind or maybe a generator? ‘That’s no generator’ his mind began its optimistic thoughts ‘It’s a car; oh my God it’s a car!’ His heart was pumping furiously; hope began to take over him it must be a road and the road will lead to safety? Samson began moving quicker now; he had turned onto another path and was marching toward the sound; although now the sound had almost disappeared! It did not stop him from walking toward what he knew was the route to safety; back to civilisation, to a town, to a city and to the Police where he would report those murderers and what they did; what they did to his family. Anger began to well inside as he thought about the prospect of turning in the men who had taken away his whole life ‘I’ll show you; you’ll pay for what you did to them; you’ll see!’