Sunday, August 5th
Kian woke with a start. The sun was not yet up, but she could feel the day beginning. She rolled over to look at the clock. Six AM.
Kian pushed the covers down and reached for her oversized tee shirt, the one with the grey wolves on the front. She rolled her legs off the side of the bed and glanced at her bedroom door. It was closed but she’d left it open a crack the night before. For Lucky. Then she heard him scratch, so she pushed herself off the edge of the bed, and went to the door. Lucky came strolling in, chattering all the while. “Okay, okay, Lucky. I wasn’t the one who locked you out.”
She pulled out her dresser drawer and removed a pair of leggings. She wondered why they were called leggings. They were really tights without feet.
Once properly dressed, she stepped into the hallway. The door to the spare bedroom was closed. That was odd.
Using her sense of touch, using her skin as eyes, she sent them out, looking for danger. Nothing. Only the sense of someone sleeping in the spare room. That must be it, Aidan’s in there. She tiptoed into the hall and down the stairs.
Once in the kitchen, she fell into her usual morning routine popping the coffee in the Keurig, feeding the cat, and pouring coffee to enjoy on the deck. But when she put her hand on the doorknob, she hesitated. Her skin felt restless. This time she listened and stayed inside.
Kian took her coffee mug over to her father’s desk behind the dining table. She set it on the mahogany desk and sat in her father’s old leather chair. Burnished by years of wear, it had taken on a bronze patina. The desk was large and spacious, but seemed empty without her father’s papers and books piled on top. She turned the chair to look at the bookshelves that lined the back walls.
The books’ yellowed pages were a testament to the passage of time. This made them all the more inviting to her. But she was looking for something in particular, something about Geronimo, the Apaches, or maybe even medicine men. She took a book from the shelf. It looked promising. Inside she found sepia photos done by Edward Curtis. She opened it to a page with a corner carefully folded down. It showed a Native American woman, an Apache. Under the picture Kian’s mother had carefully written, “Chokole.” So her mother knew something of the people called Apache. Coincidence?
Kian moved her fingers over the picture, noting the high cheekbones, the almost oriental eyes. She wondered what Chokole meant and why her mother had written it there.
She put the book on the desk and, taking a sip of coffee, turned the chair to look at the bookshelves again. The books made her feel closer to her parents. Maybe they would reveal more about their lives and interests.
The library was systematically arranged. One shelf was devoted to Native American topics, another to megaliths, a third to American pyramids, and yet another to Egypt. Her father had always been meticulous.
Kian stood up and pulled down the first volume of Schwaller de Lubitz’s The Temple of Man, a large and cumbersome two-volume set. When she opened it, pages of her father’s tightly scribbled notes fell to the floor. She picked the notes up, placed them back in the book, and vowed to spend more time with her father’s library. It fascinated her.
Kian surveyed the shelves again. Something was drawing her. She let her gaze soften and lose focus. Then she noticed it. One book stood out of place. It was smaller than her father’s more academic texts, and when Kian took it down she saw that it was a work of fiction. She found that strange. Her parents never read fiction. Kian sat in her father’s chair, took another sip of coffee, and looked at the title, Watch for Me on the Mountain, by Forrest Carter.
When she opened the small paperback to the first page, she immediately caught the scent of old books. She started leafing through, letting the book fall open where it would. Someone had carefully underlined some passages. On page 13 she read, “The time for counseling others is in the waxing of the moon toward the full…people felt and thought less narrowly. They were more giving….” That, she thought, ruled out trying to talk to the mob at the chambers anytime soon.
On page 76, she read another underlined passage, “…how easily people forget the food their spirit body needs and are made slaves to the powers that feed their earthly bodies.”
Curious now, Kian looked for the copyright. Nineteen-seventy-eight, six years before she was born. She could picture her parents reading and underlining passages. It was a comforting image.
Then she came to Chapter 21 and found the word, “Chokole.” For the next ten minutes, Kian was totally absorbed in what she read.
According to the book, Chokole, an Apache warrior woman, had been shot and, leaving her earth body, was shown a High Valley where her people could live in peace. There was only one way in and it was well hidden but in her vision, Chokole was shown the secret. To tell her people, she would have to return to her mangled, paralyzed body and wait for Geronimo’s return. Chokole chose to do this willingly because, if she did, Geronimo could take the children to the High Valley. There they would “remember the food their spirit bodies required,” living the old ways in harmony.
A willing sacrifice, Kian thought as she closed the book and let it rest on her lap. She was now feeling a bit drowsy so she let her head fall back to rest on the chair. As she closed her eyes, she wondered if this could be a true story.
Kian could feel her vision narrow, the familiar tunnel form. Images raced in front of her, then she saw her mother’s face. Kian watched.
Her mother’s face grew older and her laugh lines grew deeper, but her blue eyes sparkled with ever more life. “My daughter, you owe your life to Chokole. Geronimo brought many of the Tineh, what you call Apache, to the High Valley. On one trip he found seven white children wandering the desert. Your great-great-grandmother was among those children. Geronimo gave them a choice. They could follow him but never return to their own world, or they could continue their journey. If they chose to go their own way, he would give them what he could spare, but the trail was long and hard. He did not think the children would survive.
“They all chose to follow Geronimo and found a home with the Mescalero in the High Valley. Within a generation, there were no children with blonde hair or blue eyes. And then I was born.
“My own mother died at my birth, but before she did, she had a vision that I would be sent back to the white world on an important mission. When I was six, I was taken to a church, unable to speak a word of English. The pastor and his family took me in and raised me as their own, but I never forgot my roots.
“At eighteen, I returned to the High Valley and was initiated as a warrior and medicine woman.
“It was then that my own visions started. I saw your father in one and knew it was time to return to the white world and the mission I was given.
“When I left the High Valley again, I did not know what my destiny would be, except that I knew I had to return to your world and find your father. I left everything I had and all the people I’d loved.”
Kian’s mother smiled at her and said, “I have not regretted it. Just look at you. I am so proud.”
Kian had so many questions but when she tried to open her mouth to speak, no words came out.
“Think your thoughts, dear. I will hear them.”
Kian mustered all the force she had within her, “Why didn’t you come back? Where are you?”
“Your father and I have lived in the High Valley for many years now. I need to explain and we don’t have much time. It was not the men in your father’s family who were the Keepers of the Ark; it was the women in mine. It was in the High Valley where it had been safe for generations. When we realized Jacob had the wings, your father and I went to get the Ark. But I had to go into the High Valley alone. It is our rule. I left your father at the hotel.
“I got the Ark but on the way back, I had a vision. I saw men holding your father. I took two warriors with me and we were able to free your father, but there were a dozen of them against four of us and they had assault rifles. Your father was badly injured. We were caught in a deep canyon. The two warriors went up onto the canyon ridge to distract the men while your father and I got away. The only escape was the hidden tunnel back to the High Valley.
“Kian, we have a rule. If you are not born in the Valley and you find yourself there, you must make a choice. You can stay or you can die. Your father chose to stay. I stayed with him.”
“Mom, it’s not fair that they wouldn’t let dad leave.”
“Maybe not, but that rule has kept the Ark and my people safe for generations now.”
Kian wanted to ask about her father, how he was. She had so many questions, but her mother cut her off. “There is more to tell you. When I took the package to the post office, I intended to go back to your father. But I saw men watching me and I knew it was not over. They would not rest until they had the Ark.
“I told your father I was coming to you and he would not stay behind.”
“But you said…,”
“If he left he would have to die. Yes, dear, but it was his choice. We are taking the ancient tunnels. Go to the caves, we will be there tomorrow.
“Kian, there are others on the Second Road. We cannot stay any longer or we will be discovered. They do not yet know you have the vision. Be careful when you use it.”
Kian felt an odd sense of dread pass through her.
“Go, Kian. Now!”
Frightened, Kian fled quickly down through her vision back to safety.
Still dizzy from rushing back so quickly, Kian forced herself to open her eyes.
“Woman, you scared the hell out of me!” Jimbo was sitting on the edge of the desk, concern in his eyes and fear in his voice. “You were out like a goddam light. Where were you?”
“I…I don’t know. Somewhere.” Kian was having trouble focusing. She was still fuzzy, but more than that, her body felt heavy, like a huge weight was pressing against her limbs. She could move, but it took tremendous effort. She waited for her thoughts to clear and willed herself to focus on Jimbo’s face before continuing, “I was sitting here and then images of my mother came. Where’s Aidan? I need to talk to him.”
“Scotty and I changed places. When I got back out there, that son-of-a-bitch Power was there with two more of his minions. He spent the night bossing everyone around. By four it was clear I wouldn’t be getting any sleep, so I got Scotty to go out for a while. I hope you don’t mind, but I got me some quality time with that old cot of yours up there.”
“Of course not, it’s yours any time you want it. I’m sorry the bed’s not more comfortable.”
“Beats the hell out of the branches I’ve been sleeping in.” Jimbo grinned, a dimple forming on his cheek. “Look, I better get out again. I’ll send Scotty back. You’re okay by yourself for a while, right?”
“Sure,” Kian said, deciding she needed a long shower. What was it Uncle Jacob used to say? Come back slowly or you’ll feel it. Well, she sure felt it now.
Watch for me on the Mountains is available through Amazon and other outlets. (https://www.amazon.com/Watch-Me-Mountain-Forrest-Carter/dp/0385300824/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500899242&sr=8-1&keywords=watch+for+me+on+the+mountain). I have been told by an Apache elder that it is a true story.