My Favorite Illustrated Book –– Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

RedRoom, the site for readers and authors, had a contest this week. We were to blog about our favorite illustrated book. My choice is a highly personal one. Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could is a book I wrote about a remarkable horse. Tecolote was born prematurely on a freezing night. There was no reason for him to survive–but he did. The book tells and shows what happened as Teco (as we called him) grew into a strong, mature horse.

Tecolote and his Mother, Rosie–
This was taken when he got on his feet.

Although the book is illustrated with photographs that show Teco from his birth all the way to an adult riding horse, the story focuses on his tricky first year. We didn’t know if he would live five days. People from our neighborhood gathered outside the corral where he and his mother lived, praying for him and crying. He looked beyond terrible. Even so, he brought people together from the very start.

Later, when Teco was out of the woods, his mother died. She was an older mare with health problems. Teco faced life as a preemie, then a young horse without a mother. The book centers around how we as his caretakers used the other horses of the ranch and its facilities to give the youngster a secure and normal start. It’s about how he found his place in the herd and made dear friends in the horse and human worlds.

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could is a beautiful tale for children, especially those with disabilities or facing loss. Teco’s story shows people––kids and adults–that those with problems can make it and have good lives. It’s is a kids’ book, 44 pages long.

Why did I stop writing at the end of Teco’s first year? We ran out of photos. Once Teco got his feet under him, he took off. The rest of his life was so normal that there wasn’t anything to photograph. He went under saddle so easily it was laughable, and then just headed down the road.

I cover Teco’s early days in the book, but I’ve never written about what follows here, the final part of Teco’s life.

Sandy & Tecolote–My author picture shows
just my face and a bit of Teco’s cheek.
This is the REAL photo. Teco’s giving me a hug.

Tecolote ended up being my horse. I’m an older rider with so many things wrong with me that I don’t know if I should be riding. Actually, I didn’t ride for several years. Due to an improperly set broken leg from a skiing accident, I developed severe arthritis in my knee and ankle. I had to have my knee replaced and my ankle fused. I also have a bad back. Plus I’m a cancer survivor and pretty chopped up because of that. After all that pain and surgery, I lost my nerve. After a lifetime with horses, I became afraid to ride even the calmest horse.

But my husband wanted me to ride with him again. He cajoled me into trying Teco, who had turned out to be the mellowest horse in the world. My husband’s coaxing worked.

Teco took care of me. I needed a special horse like him––gentle and kind and unspookable––to keep me safe. We became a pair as he took me on many safe, smooth rides up the trail.

One of the things that people who don’t ride don’t know about is the bond between horse and rider. Teco and I became as bonded as an equine/human pair can be.

I loved him. And he loved me back. He did a special thing that no other horse has done with me. I’d approach him, scratching his shoulder and neck the way another horse would if grooming him. He’d wrap his head and neck around me, encircling my body. It was the only way a horse could give a hug. (They don’t have arms, afterall.) He gave me a hug every time I approached him.

The book Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could came out and I entered it in a few contests. Life went on. When my grand kids came to visit, Teco amazed me. He’d never seen kids before, yet he packed them around like a trooper. They fell in love.

Sandy & Tecolote –– He’s my boy,
the horse that got me back into riding

After the kids went home, I got back to writing. I was working on manuscripts for two books. I didn’t go down to the barn for about a week. Finally my husband called and said, “I’ve got Teco saddled. Come and ride.”

I was high as a kite, euphoric. The book contests I’d entered were announcing their winners. I’d found out the night before that Teco’s book had won 2011 Silver Nautilus Award for Children’s Nonfiction (Gr. 1-6).  The Nautilus Award recognizes books that promote spiritual growth, conscious living and positive social change. Previous winners include Thich Nhat Hanh and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I was overjoyed–Teco’s book belonged in that company.

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could
Won the Silver Nautilus Award

My joy lasted less than 24 hours. I went down to the barn. My husband had Teco saddled and ready. There he was, resplendent in his golden coat with its black trim. I found it impossible to look at Teco without feeling happy. He was a buckskin; his body was golden palomino color. His mane, tail, and legs were black. I could run my eyes over him and appreciate his straight legs and how his shoulder angled back the way that a gaited horse’s should. He had a short back and long hip, an adorable face. All of Tecolote was beautiful.

But not that day. He stood in the barn, head down, mucous pouring from his nostrils. He coughed. I didn’t like the look of him at all.

On the other hand, he was saddled. Show me a horse person who can resist getting on a saddled horse and I’ll show you someone who isn’t really a horse person.

I decided to ride him to the arena and see how he did. He walked slowly, head almost touching the ground. He coughed and had no energy. In fact, he acted as though he might fall down.

“This horse is sick,” I said to myself, heading slowly back to the barn. When I got off of Teco, he lowered his head. Liquid poured from his nostrils, splattering on the barn floor.

He had pneumonia. It didn’t respond to the massive doses of antibiotics the vet gave him. I was mystified; I’ve had horses for 55 years and have never seen one with pneumonia. Our part of California is too mild.

Teco kept getting sicker. We took him to the hospital. We have one of the best equine hospitals in the country in our valley. Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center is a wonderful resource. They’ve saved the lives of many of our horses.

They’d save Tecolote, too. When he unloaded the horse from our trailer, my husband said a  half dozen bright young vets swarmed around him.

“They climbed all over him for hours, discussing what might be wrong and doing tests,” my husband told me. They’d fix our horse.

Tecolote: Always Elegant

A day later, we went in for a conference. The vet who was coordinating Teco’s case said, “If we can stabilize him well enough to go home, he can hang out in pasture with his buddies the rest of his life. But you can never ride him again.”

We sat there, stunned. “What do you mean?”

“He’s too dangerous to ride,” the vet explained.

“What’s wrong with him?”

“He’s in heart failure.” He drew a diagram of Teco’s heart, showing how part was greatly enlarged. Their ultrasounds had given them a clear picture.

“But how did this happen?” I couldn’t believe it. “Is it because he was premature?”

“It has nothing to do with his prematurity. It’s been happening over the last two or three years.”

In shock, I realized that no one had ridden him during those years. My husband likes rip-roaring horses with tons of spirit. I wasn’t riding, being too traumatized by all my surgery. Teco stood in pasture, apparently fine, enjoying life with his friends.

And dying. We brought him home and gave him all the zillions of meds the clinic prescribed. Twice a day, my husband ground maybe thirty human pills with a mortar and pestle. He mixed their dust with molasses and water, and loaded the mess into a syringe with the end cut off, which allowed him to squirt the meds into Teco’s mouth. The horse raised his head as high as he could; he did not make it easy.

When the heart begins to fail, it enlarges, trying to make up for it’s decreased strength. It can’t pump enough blood to the animal’s body, and it can’t recirculate fluids. They begin to build up. On a horse, fluids collect along the animal’s belly––the lowest point on his body. Fluid gathers between his front and back legs as well. Teco looked he had a blanket of gigantic kitchen sponges stuffed under his skin from his the front of his chest through his hind legs. The meds did nothing.

Teco’s book kept winning awards. Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could was a finalist in two categories of the 2011 National Indie Excellence Contest:  Animals/Pets General and Juvenile Non-fiction.

I was in this crazy world where the awards kept coming in and Teco got worse. I’d go down to see him in his pasture. He’d be standing there, head down, in a corner by himself. He was leaving this world. He was leaving me.

Tecolote–– Making a Full Circle

The vet said he had only a day or two to live when we put him down. If we hadn’t, the end would have been horrible. Just before I left the field so the vet could do his job, I scratched Teco’s neck the way I always did. Sick as he was, he turned his head and neck around and embraced me. A final hug, and he was gone.

I ended up in the hospital in the midst of all this. I started getting chest pains as Teco deteriorated. If you call up your doctor––and my internist was pretty far away––and say, “I’m having chest pains,” that doctor will say, “Go to the Emergency Room right away.”

If you walk into an Emergency Room, a haggard-looking lady in your mid-sixties, those medicos will JUMP. They did every test you can imagine. I was scared stiff, not knowing what was happening with my body.

It boiled down to: My heart was breaking. Tecolote was being ripped from my soul.

* * * * *

Tecolote died May 1, 2011, four days before his tenth birthday. He was a miracle when he was born and a joy all his life. He brought horses and riding back when I thought that part of my life was over. I loved him for the obstacles he overcame in his life, and what he helped me overcome.

Here’s Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could’s Amazon page. You can loook inside the book and see Teco. I put up some photos of him and our other horses on the page, too. At the end of 2011, the book garnered two more prizes. It was a winner in Children’s Nonfiction and a finalist in Children’s Picture Book Softcover Non-fiction of the USA BOOK NEWS “USA BEST BOOKS OF 2011” AWARD.

* * * * *

That’s why Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could is my favorite illustrated book. It’s all I’ve got left of him. I’m glad I’ve got the awards and the book.

I’d rather have the horse.

Tecolote –– He’s free now.

 

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WOW! Words of Praise Sure Feel Good! I’m Honored and my Books Are Honored!


Coming up roses . . .

I’m collecting testimonials for my new books Lady Grace and Sam & Emily. These are books two and three of the Tales from Earth’s End Series, my take on life and rebirth  after a nuclear holocaust. Hoping for testimonials, I sent out some review copies and contacted a few people I know who are really good writers.

I’ve written that the hardest thing about getting testimonials for your book is getting up the nerve to ask. Then it’s up to your skill and the universe.

Wow! Sometimes what I get back after making a request blows my mind! I asked Laren Bright, an Emmy-nominated television writer, for a testimonial about Sam & Emily. What I got back is this:

I have been following Sandy Nathan’s writing since her very first book, Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice. Then came her novel, Numenon. Being a sci-fi fan, I have always been leery of new writers. Sandy put the lie to that for me. Numenon definitely had what I was looking for: a good story, imaginative ideas, and good writing. When I got to the end I was both sad and happy; sad because I was so invested in the story that I wanted to know what was going to happen next and happy because I was assured this was only the first in a series and I would be able to spend more time with these great characters down the line.

Then Lady Grace came along and I found that Sandy had reached new heights in her story-telling and her craft. I told her I thought it was the best thing she had written. But then I read Sam & Emily. Out of the ballpark! It’s a terrific story with wonderful characters – both the good guys and the bad guys – in all kinds of wild situations.

I think what makes Sandy’s writing so powerful is that her stories originate from her real-life experiences. The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, first in the Tales from Earth’s End series, for example, came out of processing the grief over her brother’s death. So her stories are charged with the authenticity of what she’s going through.

If this is your first experience of Sandy Nathan’s writing, prepare yourself for a wild ride. And give thanks that there are Sandy Nathan books already in print and even more on their way.

Laren Bright
Emmy-nominated television writer

It can’t get much better than that! He praised my entire writing career. Thank you, Laren, for your words of praise and vote of confidence.

Thank you, Laren!

Sandy Nathan is the winner of twenty-one national awards, in categories from memoir, to visionary fiction, to children’s nonfiction. And more.

Sandy’s  books are: (Click link to the left for more information. All links below go to Kindle sale pages.)
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy
Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice

Two sequels to The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy are in production with early 2012 publication dates. If you liked  The Angel you’ll love Lady Grace and Sam & Emily.

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They’re Coming! Tales from Earth’s End Books II and III

Sam & Emily: A Romance from the Underground

The sequels to The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy are on the way! If you haven’t discovered The Tales from Earth’s End Series, you have a treat in store.

The Tales from Earth’s End Series introduces characters pushed to their greatest extremity––to the end of the planet and their own lives. The people of Earth’s End must cope with nuclear holocaust, survive on a planet reduced to prehistoric standards, and  adjust to life in an underground tomb––the bomb shelter on the Piermont estate. And you were thinking life is rough!

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy shows a group of people attempting to escape a nuclear holocaust in a ruined future world. It’s part teen romance and part coming of age story, with overtones of 1984. It’s won two national awards in visionary fiction, another in new age fiction & still another in fantasy/sci-fi.

The Angel‘s first sequel, Lady Grace, brings some of The Angel‘s characters back together and puts them in another struggle for existence. This time, they’re fighting against the elements and a degenerate society which the nuclear war has spawned.

The second sequel, Sam & Emily, is a love story involving two characters from The Angel. It’s an epic romance that takes place in the Piermont Estate’s underground bomb shelter after the nuclear bombs have gone off. Sam & Emily can’t escape a passion that lasts a lifetime. This book sizzles.

All three books have a transcendent, looking-for-a-better-world quality. The protagonists are pitted against horrific difficulties. They’re thrillers and well as visionary fiction.

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The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy Wins the 2011 IPPY Award Gold Medal!

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy

A future world only heartbeats from our own

WAAAA-HOOO! Just received notification that my new sci-fi /fantasy / visionary fiction novel, The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy has won the 2011 IPPY (Independent Publisher) GOLD MEDAL FOR VISIONARY FICTION! (Category 20) This is such a thrill! The IPPY Award Contest is one of the largest and oldest competitions for independent presses––in fact, it may be the oldest and largest. Winning is a big deal, and I’m thrilled and honored and excited. I’m going to tell you about it and then go out and crank up the rock ‘n’ roll!

This award feels very good. It marks almost four years of work by myself and my publishing team at Vilasa Press. I want to thank my content editor, Melanie Rigney; my book designer, Lewis Agell; and Kathy Grow and Kathryn Agrell for copy editing and proofreading assistance. Many thanks also to my husband, Barry Nathan for keeping Vilasa Press organized and moving forward.

This is a crazy day. I have been grieving deeply that last few weeks. We had to put my horse down yesterday. His heart was failing and nothing the veterinarians could do could stop it. I tell you, I thought my heart would fail when I lost that beautiful buckskin horse. Here’s his story, Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could. Teco’s story has already won a the 2011 Silver Nautilus Award for Children’s Nonfiction (grade 1-6) in its own right.

And today, I won a national award. I guess that God’s just telling me that it’s not over until it’s over. And that happiness and sadness can exist together.

“If you haven’t read The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, I invite you to do so. It’s available in a number of formats.”

AMAZON:
Trade Paperback
Kindle 99 cents. Such a deal!

BARNES & NOBLE.COM
Trade Paperback
Nook Book 99 cents. Such a deal!

SONY READER BOOK
I’m told by my distributor that the book is available, but I couldn’t find it. Please keep checking. It should be 99 cents.

iBook
iBook store for the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad  99 cents. Yet another great deal for an award-winning book!

Here’s some information about The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, if the book is new to you:

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy is Sandy Nathan’s new science fiction/fantasy novel. Of the special genre of books and films that include 1984, A Brave New World, and The Prisoner Series,  The Angel takes the reader to a dark future world that’s not so different from our own. In the late 22nd century, people are continually watched, disappearing off the streets and from their homes. A shadowy but all-powerful government calls the shots; war rages while the authorities proclaim the Great Peace.

All is not bad in this fictional realm, for the angelic extraterrestrial, Eliana, appears on the streets on New York City on a mission to save her planet.  As radiant and pure as the world around her is tarnished, Eliana must find the Golden Boy. He turns out to be Jeremy Edgarton, a tech genius on a planet where technology is outlawed, a revolutionary, and the FBI’s most wanted. They find themselves caught up in an explosive adventure when Jeremy decodes new transmissions and discovers that a nuclear holocaust will take place the next morning.

The themes of The Angel read like pure sci-fi, but author Sandy Nathan explains, “I’m a former economist. While the love story between Jeremy and Eliana enchants, the back-story––the hideous world around them––is the product of my economist’s mind interacting with current events. We’re in the worst economic melt-down since the 1930’s, with no end in sight. Some events in  The Angel are based directly upon history. For instance, Germany’s economic distress during the Great Depression is one factor contributing to the rise of Adolf Hitler. Could a totalitarian government arise from our current conditions? Maybe.  The Angel’s world is just a heartbeat from our own. In writing  The Angel, I wanted to entertain my readers and challenge them to discover solutions.”

 

So the book has a vision, a powerful vision, and a dark vision. And it’s also got a love story that will melt your heart. And the sequel is well into production. I’ve been told it’s even better than The Angel.  Whoa. Something to look forward to.

What’s the rest of the news? It ain’t over yet. The 2011 IPPY AWARDS haven’t announced all of their winners, and the 2011 Indie Excellence Awards announce May 15th. The Best Books of 2011 by USA Book News doesn’t announce until September 2011.

So I may have more good news!

Sandy Nathan Ridin' High!

 

All the best,
Sandy Nathan

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Tecolote, The Little Horse That Could, Faces His Gravest Challenge

2011 Silver Nautilus Award

Life is a trip. Two days ago, I was notified that my book, Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could, had won the 2011 Silver Nautilus Award for Children’s Nonfiction (grades 1 – 6). I was ecstatic. Winning is always fun, but this was more than that. Teco and I have bonded; he’s my boy and my personal riding horse. His lovely essence is entwined with mine.

The day after receiving the award, my vet told me that Tecolote would never be ridden again, in fact, he might die. I’m reeling. I can’t make sense of it.

Teco got pneumonia a week or so ago. Out of the blue. I think the very strange weather we’ve been having––rainy and cold one day, 88 degrees the next, back to rainy and cold––triggered it. He was a very sick horse. I’ve not seen a sicker horse. I won’t describe it, because it was awful.

We had the vet out. He gave him a strong course of antibiotics. (The drugs they have available now are wonderful.)

But Teco didn’t get better, or all the way better. The vet gave him another course of antibiotics and did an ultrasound of his lungs. Definitely pneumonia. Not all gone. It should have been gone.

He stopped eating, even fresh grass. Weight was falling off of him.

Barry went down to feed one morning found him down on the ground. Teco wouldn’t get up. He called me, but the horse had gotten up by the time I reached the pasture. The same pasture in which he was born that cold night ten years before. “He’s OK,” Barry said. The horse was nibbling on pasture grass. He was OK.

Later, I found him in the corner of his pasture, head down, lipping at dirt (despite grass all around). Looking so dejected. Kicking at his belly now and again like he was colicky.

He’s in the hospital now––Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center––which I consider the best equine hospital anywhere. I thought for sure they’d be able to fix him. They’re so great; they can do anything.

Barry spent three or four hours over there the first day with very skilled vets swarming around the horse, doing high powered ultra sounds and who knows what else. Teco’s illness didn’t add up. There were so many parts to it. It must have been brewing for a while. The vets did say that it wasn’t because he was premature. If it was that, it would have shown up years ago.

Tecolote

Tecolote is resting comfortably in the hospital now, undergoing treatment. The pneumonia triggered a bunch of things. I can’t write them all down. The vet said so many things; my mind’s a blur. And I’m crying.

It’s his heart. It’s beating at twice a normal speed; it’s enlarged. Fluid is accumulating. He still has pneumonia, but they can’t give him more antibiotics now because his digestive tract is messed up.

If they can stabilize his heart so that he’s well enough to come home, no one will ever ride him again. Riding a horse with a bad heart isn’t a good idea. If they can’t stabilize him . . .

Horses are heartbreakers. Animals are heartbreakers. People are heartbreakers.

If you engage in the world, if you fall in love and love, you open yourself to all the pain the the universe. We’re mortal. Those we love are mortal. They die. We’ll lose them, and we will feel pain.

Tecolote’s fighting the battle of his life now, doing it in his calm, gentle way. Even the vets are exclaiming about what a kind, patient horse he is.

I want to share this video with you. It shows some photos of me riding Tecolote. I didn’t realize when we took the photos that that ride would be one one my last with my boy. The absolute last ride was when I got on him  and rode him slowly down to our arena a few days ago. He coughed almost every step and didn’t want to move. He did though, in his plucky way. I got him to the end of the arena and thought, This horse is sick. I’m taking him in.

When I got back to the barn, Teco put his head down and fluid poured from his nostrils. That was our last ride together.

Please think of him as he fights to live. Tecolote, the little horse that could.

(Here’s a link if the video doesn’t show up on this post.)

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Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could Wins the 2011 Silver Nautilus Award!

 

Press Release. April 25, 2011:

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could by Sandy Nathan has won the  2011 Silver Nautilus Award for Children’s Nonfiction (Grades 1-6).

The Nautilus Award recognizes books, audio books, and e-books that promote spiritual growth, conscious living & positive social change. In addition to its awards for adult literature, the Nautilus Awards recognize distinguished contributions to the worlds of art, creativity and inspirational reading for children, teens and young adults. Previous winners include: Echart Tolle, Thich Nhat Hanh, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and . . . Sandy Nathan . Author Sandy Nathan also won the 2009 Silver Nautilus in the Indigenous/Multicultural category with her novel Numenon. (Once on the link, scroll down to find Numenon.)

“I’m terribly excited about this win,” says author Sandy Nathan. “The Nautilus Award means so much to me. It’s purpose––recognizing life-enhancing, life-changing literature and spoken art––aligns with my life’s purpose––producing books that enhance and change the lives of those around me. I couldn’t be happier.

Tecolote’s win is especially meaningful. The little premature and soon-orphaned horse in the book grew up to be my horse. He’s the only horse we own who is reliable enough for me to ride. I’ve got a replaced knee, fused ankle and a couple of other physical dings that make me very cautious about getting on a horse. Tecolote is my boy. He takes care of me.

“One of the things about horses that makes them so special is the way they bond with human beings. Or maybe it’s the way we bond with them. Whatever. Teco and I are bonded. That’s a sweet experience.

“We thought Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could was a natural for the Nautilus Awards. Tecolote’s been inspiring us since he showed us his will to live after being born prematurely and then losing his mother when he was so young. His sweet story of trouble and triumph inspires children and adults.”

 

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

What are the reviewers saying about Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could?

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could has a five star average (as high as it can go) on its Amazon reviews. Here are a few words reviewers have said about the book:

Rebecca Johnson, Amazon Top Ten Reviewer: “Sandy Nathan is such a good story teller you will be captivated from the first word until the last. She has included adorable pictures which make the story come alive. This is such a warm and amusing tale it made me laugh out loud a few times. I loved how Sandy Nathan explains how horses grow up and need special attention to be well mannered and tame. This is not just a children’s book, it will be enjoyed by people of all ages. What a lovely book.”

L.C. Evans, author Talented Horsewoman: “The book is beautifully illustrated with photos of Tecolote and the other horses on the farm. It would be a great gift book for horse lovers of all ages. Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could is written simply enough so children can read it themselves, but it will also appeal to adults.”

Zippora Karz, author The Sugarless Plum: I absolutely loved this book! Through Tecolote’s journey we feel the love of a mother for her child, (horse for filly and colt), how to find friends, play with them, and create mischief as well. This is a story for any age. I cried and laughed and marveled at all the ways love can be expressed in our lives.


* * *

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could is available on Sandy Nathan’s Web Site and on Amazon in print and Kindle forms.

Tecolote as a paperback book.

Tecolote as a Kindle book.

Tecolote is an adult horse.

From Sandy Nathan: “My preference is the paperback book. It’s color, inside and out. The book is beautiful. In addition to all the photos, the print book has a header and footer on each page. The header––a long strip across the top––is clouds and blue sky. The footer is green grass. They emphasize the country feeling of the book.”

“On the other hand, you can download the Kindle version in a minute and be reading it. You can’t beat the price: 99 cents. I was very pleased at how the pictures came out in the Kindle book. Very clear, though black and white.

“We’re working on getting Nook, Sony, and iPad versions ready.”

 

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#SampleSunday Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money A Sample: Chapters 1 and 2

A SAMPLE OF NUMENON by SANDY NATHAN––CHAPTERS 1 & 2

BUY ON AMAZON  HARDBACK $9.99

BUY ON AMAZON PAPERBACK $18.95

BUY ON AMAZON KINDLE  99 cents

My twitter ID is: @sandravaldine

Chapter 1

He darted across the lawn, fleeing along the lake’s shore. Treetops lashed the sky and leaves tumbled past him. Looking over his shoulder, he saw the towers of his home stark against the thunderheads.  Something was after him. He couldn’t see it, but knew it wanted to destroy him.

He felt the wind blowing off the lake the way it did when he was a child.  The  piercing  cold  left  him  shivering  and  weak.  He  heard  his father’s voice,  bellowing from within their stone mansion.
Then he was inside, moving through the great hall. Gothic arches admitted slashes of light. People and things seemed to pop into existence out of the shadows. “Hello, Master Will.” A servant fawned. “Good show on winning the Championship!” Win more! Win more!

He ran along the lakefront, his soul tossed like the treetops. Some- thing was trying to get him—he dodged this way and that, searching for a way out. Tears stung his eyes and his legs ached.

Will sat up in bed, heart pounding, sweat running down his cheeks. He looked around frantically, before realizing it had been one of his . . .

Had anyone seen him like that? His eyes searched the room until he was satisfied that he was alone.

He didn’t try to go back to sleep. Will got up and put on his jogging clothes. He would run in the gym until he was so exhausted that the nightmare couldn’t return. As he left his room, he glanced at the book by his bed. He seldom read psychology, considering it self-indulgent. But someone had written a book supported by decent research, a book that gave him answers.

People called him a genius. The label didn’t matter to him, but he knew it was true. Only a genius could do what he had done. That book explained the rest of it: The flashes of insight, the vision of what life could be, and the drive to create it formed the sunny side of his brilliance.  The  nightmares  and  horrors  were  its  other  side,  the  negative perks that came with his gifts.

Will  snorted  bitterly.  His  dark  side  was  as  big  as  the  light.  He made his way to the gym on the lower level of his home. The house was shuttered for the night. Bulletproof metal shades covered every window. He placed his palm on the sensor by the elevator. The door opened.

“Is that you, Mr. Duane?” A voice came from a speaker. An operative. “Yes. The sun will rise again.” He carefully enunciated that night’s passwords  for  the  voice  recognition  system.  He  knew  he  had  been monitored from the moment he stepped outside his bedroom. “No surveillance while I’m running,” he ordered.

Lights  went  on  when  he  entered  the  gym,  rippling  across  the equipment-filled expanse like the surf rolling across a rocky beach. The house’s lower level was dug into the hillside to allow it a larger foot- print  than  the  fifteen  thousand  square  foot  residence  above.  Every conceivable training device found its place on the floor. An indoor track circled  the  workout  area.  Handball  courts  were  beyond  the  far  wall; outside, past steel-clad windows, the pool awaited.

Will  was  a  runner.  He  didn’t  warm  up,  simply  launched  himself onto the track. He’d run until the sound of rough breathing, the smell of his father’s cigars, his gravely voice, and the revulsion at what happened  disappeared.  He’d  run  until  his  chest  ached  and  he  couldn’t think. If he was lucky, the joy that came from running would set him free. His legs moved easily as he began. His breathing expanded and became rhythmic. He’d hit a groove in a few minutes. Until then, his mind roved.

He’d had the nightmares as long as he could remember. He thought of them as spells. He had no idea what anyone else would call them. Once past  childhood,  he’d  never  told  anyone  about  them.  They  were  deeper than  dreams;  sometimes  he’d  come  out  of  one  to  find  that  the  world seemed dangerous and unreal. He had a hard time shaking the feeling.

They all began the same way. The world became silent and empty, a colorless, foreign landscape. He could feel the malice behind every- thing. And then he was running along the North Shore of Lake Michigan where he had been raised. His father bought a mansion built by one of the old Robber Barons the moment he could afford it. He manufactured a family tree to go with his new wealth. Will scowled. They were not American royalty. They didn’t have a fancy pedigree. Will hated pretense. He’d seen enough.

He could recall the whiskey-roughened voices in the library when his  father  and  his  friends  played  poker.  Cigar  smoke  penetrated  the walls. They joked about fancy women and what they’d do with them later. His mother was in the house, awake—how could his father talk about that with her there? They spoke of Micks and WOPs and kikes. These were good Christians who praised Jesus on Christmas Day and screwed anyone they could the rest of the time. They got country clubs, while their workers got union busters and substandard wages.

During the day, he was the perfect son. But in his sleep, he found himself running along the lake. As a child, the nightmare came almost every  night.  A  river  of  darkness  sucked  him  down.  The  evil  in  that darkness was so absolute that no terror could express it. He fought the murk and filth as something toyed with him; a malignant something hid behind the opacity of daytime life. If he made a mistake, it would capture him. He would have to crawl for it forever, doing its will.

He’d awaken, screaming and sobbing. His mother would come. “Will,  Will—what’s  the  matter,  darling?”  He’d  rave  about  something terrible that was going to get him. She’d sit up stiffly and pull the
bell cord for his nanny. “Will, I don’t know where you get these stories. I simply don’t understand you.” She’d finger an amulet she had, a jade piece, as she left the room. Her quick steps and averted eyes told him that his mother was afraid of him.

What happened next depended on his nanny. They changed all the time. A few held him and petted him until he went back to sleep. Most caned him for his wild imagination and refusal to shut up. That was at his father’s orders: “Make a man of him.”

The  beatings  taught  him  to  bury  his  screams  in  his  pillows  and never tell a soul about the night visions. With good reason—they took him to realms that separated him from everything good.
They say I’m the Prince of Darkness, Will thought, pausing to tie his shoelace. I am. You can’t be a good person and know what I know. He had seen things about human nature that revolted him in his spells, but  he  knew  what  he  saw  was  true.  His  reality  wasn’t  for  ordinary people; it was his special gift. Will’s mouth tightened.

All his life, his father had told him what he thought of him: “You’ll never be the man I am.” He bellowed the words when he was drunk, and said them silently when he was sober. No matter what Will won,
or what team he captained, or how good his grades were, they were never good enough.

His nightmares ended the same way: A vortex dragged him toward the malevolence at the core. The stalker. He clawed against the whirlpool. His father appeared above him, grabbing his arms and hauling him to safety.  Will  looked  into  his  father’s  eyes  with  sobbing gratitude,  and saw the stalker’s hatred blasting back. His father was the demon, as evil as hell.
The old man bent to Will’s ear, drawing in a breath to say something . . .

And the dream ended. Wherever he was sleeping—at school as a youngster,  or  later,  in  some  woman’s  bed  or  his  own—he  woke  up, sweating and gasping. If he wasn’t alone, he’d hide his panic, jumping out of bed and throwing on his clothes.

“Is there anything wrong?” the woman he was with would say, confused.

“No, no. No problem.” He’d leave no matter what time it was; he couldn’t let any of them see his terror. They’d be afraid of him if they knew what he saw. They’d leave him.
Of course, he would never go back to any of them anyway—they’d seen him like that. He stopped bringing women home, and never took them anyplace he couldn’t make a fast exit.

Will took off, flying along the track. Unaware of the pounding of his feet on the gym floor, the sweat flying from him, or how long he’d run.
He would forget. He would forget. He couldn’t forget.

The funny part was, even if he wanted to tell someone how much he suffered, who would care? His father had been a millionaire, and he was the richest man in the world. No one cared about the rich kid— Will knew that better than anything.

He knew what his father was going to say when the dream stopped: “It will get you in the end, no matter how hard you run.”

Will ran faster. His torso was erect and his mind clear. His breath moved in and out without effort. His legs fired away like steel shafts. He could go forever. He was so strong, he would go on forever. He tore around the track.

When he ran, nothing but his power existed. Will didn’t feel the ache in his heart that whispered on quiet nights. He had no longing for a childhood that didn’t happen or anger over the one that did. He never noticed the little boy inside him that still hoped everything would turn out fine. When Will ran, only running existed.

Tonight  he  wanted  more  than  relief  from  pain.  Will  pushed  his limits, hoping that it would happen.

It  did.  When  he’d  run  himself  close  to  oblivion,  the  light  burst from the base of his spine and traveled upward. His back arched and his chest expanded. The force moving through his body was so powerful that he couldn’t run. He stopped abruptly, bouncing along the track. He  slammed  into  the  side  of  the  gym,  sliding  for  a  yard  or  two.  He stayed on his feet and swung to face the wall, pressing his chest against it. The column of light rose up his back. Groans escaped him. He put his arms out, palms hugging the wooden surface. His head twisted to the right, as though he were trying to face the center of the room. His face contorted as the energy moved upward. He couldn’t stop what was happening, and didn’t want to.

The pillar of light rose up his back. When it climbed above his head, it exploded into a brilliant golden fountain, brighter than the sun. He rose onto his toes. The energy unfurled around him, spreading and spreading, moving everywhere. It felt like it reached the edges of the universe. Will was its center. He knew things when the light surrounded him; he could see  relationships  between  ideas,  organizations,  and  people  that  were hidden from him before. The worst business problems became simple.

The bliss that came with the light was hard to accept. He felt so much pleasure that it shocked him. He had chased pleasure all his life, but this was beyond that. Sex paled in comparison. He pushed off the wall and walked down the track, his hands reaching up, enraptured. He talked to it, the Light.

“I love you. I love you. Oh, stay with me. I love you.” On like that, words he’d never spoken to anyone. The Light could understand what he said, he knew that. It heard his dreams and desires, his sadness and pain. And it fixed him; it healed him, at least for a while. With it, he could keep going. The Light was the most precious thing in his life.

Will  had  no  idea  what  it  was.  The  closest  he  could  come  to  an explanation was that column was his soul. Or maybe God. He thought it might be God, except that he didn’t believe in God.
The bliss played with him, flowing upward in a torrent. He moaned in  delight,  walking  around  the  track,  face  alight.  He  held  his  hands high, reaching for something unseen. “I love you!” he shouted. “Oh, I love you so much.” He danced, filled with joy. Tears of gratitude splattered the floor. The gym was magic, enchanted. He skipped and laughed like a child.

The Light had come to him years before. After being whipped because he had a nightmare, Will crawled into his bed and pulled his quilt over his head. He shook with a child’s shuddering sobs—and the Light came to him. Delight traveled up his spine, erasing his pain. Will found himself lifted to a place as wonderful as his nightmares were horrible. The Light showed him a world he never dreamed existed. In it, he found  creatures—people  and  animals  and  things  he’d  never  seen— moving between luminous hangings across a mythical landscape inside him. Every touch was ecstasy; every sound, a chorus.

The dazzling column had no physical characteristics, but he felt it was a person. It could understand like a person. It had different parts. One was female. She was like a mother or angel. Her presence suffused the good place, and she enfolded him, making everything that happened all right. He called her Beloved. She and the Light kept him alive. If  the  dark  torrent  yanked  him  down,  the  ones  who  lived  in  the bright place brought him back. They brought him back, regardless of what he did in the ordinary world or the dark dreams. They loved him no matter what he did.

One day, they showed him a world where people cooperated, where commerce served everyone, and the good that everyone said they wanted came to be. They told him that his job was to make it real. It was real; he had touched it . . . Reality, the numenon. The thing as it exists. He named his corporation after it.

The world of Light was his deepest secret. He couldn’t explain the beauty of that realm; words would defile it.

Besides,  if  they  thought  he  was  crazy  because  of  his  nightmares, what would they say if he told them about a Light that gave him answers and protected him? Or an angel called Beloved?
Will didn’t trust his experiences: He thought he was crazy.

He’d never heard of anyone who had such encounters. They didn’t talk about them at Stanford or its Graduate School of Business, where he went to school. No one talked about such things at meetings of the Numenon Board or any other corporate venue. He wished he could ask someone, “Does a brilliant light surge up your from ass and give you unbelievable pleasure—then tell you how to solve that merger problem?”

He knew how that one would go over, so kept his mouth shut.

Will felt the rapture drifting away. “Don’t go . . .” he cried. It always left.  He  knew  it  would  come  back—when  he  needed  it.  Running  as hard as he could was a good way of getting it to return, but he couldn’t make it do anything. It came tonight because he needed it––after Marina kicked him out, after everything else, he needed it.

When the light had gone, Will threw a towel around his shoulders. His  legs  shook  as  he  walked  to  the  elevator.  He  was  so  exhausted that he could barely place his palm against the sensor. “The sun will rise again.”

He got into the elevator and became aware of something. He punched a button on the wall and spoke into a microphone.

* * *

Rick Bromberg took off his headset and handed it to the guy on the next shift, still shocked by what he’d seen. He resisted the desire to tell his  replacement  about  it.  Pretty  good  for  my  first  night  at  the  freak house, he thought.

He had been thrilled to get the job, even it if was the night shift; it paid better than any job he’d ever had and offered perks you couldn’t get anywhere else. Passing the test to get into the place took everything he’d learned getting his MA in Computer Science and what the Marines taught him about surveillance. But he passed.

And he signed the inch-thick contract that granted him the privilege of coming to work. He knew all about the non-competitive agreements that  were  standard  in  Silicon  Valley  employment  contracts.

But  this one, shit—if he breathed one word about what he saw in this house, they’d have his first-born child.

He  hadn’t  meant  to  do  it;  it  was  just  so  boring,  sitting  in  that cubicle alone. There were five of them on duty. He didn’t realize they’d be manning separate stations. True, it was better professional practice to have five people in separate rooms monitoring the screens than all of them together. The urge to talk came up when guys were together—it was a natural thing. Rick had even given in to the urge to drink beer once in a while on other jobs. He never brought the stuff, but if it was there, hey . . . Yeah, guys in the same room could miss things.

Before  showing  him  to  his  security  booth  that  night,  his  super- visor had told him that they meant it here. His name was Dunkirk. He was a fucking stiff—a Brit who acted like the Empire hadn’t fallen. He was one of the commandos Duane had all over. “We are here to facilitate  Mr.  Duane’s  security.  We  do  that,  and  nothing  else.  Have  you read your contract?”
Yeah, he had.

“Any  breach  of  contract  will  be  taken  very  seriously.  Mr.  Duane gives the orders. If he tells you to do something, or not to do some- thing, you will do whatever he wants. If you don’t, you’re fired, that’s it. No appeal.” Dunkirk had looked at him with those frost-blue, British eyes. “Or, if you must appeal, you will appeal to Hannah Hehrmann. You will never forget that experience, and you will lose. Now, it’s time to begin the shift.”

Everybody was scared stiff of Hannah Hehrmann. He hadn’t seen her.  Hadn’t  seen  Will  Duane,  either,  until  the  monitor  showed  him walking out of his bedroom in the middle of the night. Looked just like all the magazine covers: white hair, tall even on a screen. Good looking for  an  old  guy.  Duane  was  in  his  mid-sixties.  Rick  couldn’t  imagine being that old.

He heard him say, “No surveillance while I’m running.”

Yeah, Rick heard it. But as the time went by, he began to get worried. Duane’s old, he thought. How could he run that long? What if he had heart attack and they didn’t find him until the next day? So, he flipped a couple of switches and fired up one of the screens.

Rick knew that Will Duane couldn’t tell he was watching. He knew his stuff; he had an advanced degree in stealth. Besides, Dunkirk gave him his introductory walk around that afternoon. They stood in the gym, and he said, “Mr. Duane does not like to be aware that he is being observed. The house’s surveillance system is designed so that none of the monitors or sensors can be seen or detected in any way. For instance, do you see any cameras in this room?”

He looked around and shook his head. “No. Nothing.” Yet when Dunkirk took him to his cubicle and replayed the videos, Rick could see himself on five cameras and hear every word they said. The gym was loaded. That’s what he called smooth.

He wasn’t worried that his boss would know he was taking a peek. When he first saw the old man on the screen, he couldn’t believe how hard he ran. He must have been an Olympic runner when he was young. Now, for Pete’s sake. Mr. Duane was tearing up the track, and he’d been out there a long time.

He almost punched a button for help when his boss suddenly stopped and bounced into the gym wall. A heart attack, Rick was sure. That’s what he gets for being so built at his age. He couldn’t help but compare his paunch to Will Duane’s non-existent belly. But then, Duane put his hands out straight and started moaning and arching his back like he
was humping the wall. He turned his head to the right like a corkscrew.

Rick’s eyes widened. Jesus, was he possessed, or something?

He’d heard a lot of stories about Will Duane being a warlock or the fucking devil, even. Lots of stories about his new boss were out there. When he started doing that shit, Rick stared into the monitor, mouth open.  His  new  boss  started  dancing  around,  waving  his  arms  and screaming, “I love you.” This was certifiable, Rick thought. Real nutcase stuff. Which he’d also heard—that Will Duane was crazy.

But then his shift was over and he came back to earth. What Duane did was his own business—if you’re the richest man on earth, you can do what you want. If he wanted to hump the wall or dance around his gym all night, who cared?

Rick  went  to  the  checkout  point  where  they  patted  them  down before letting them go home. As he was being searched, he thought, Why all the need for security? What else does Duane do in here? It was only his first night and the place was starting to get to him.

Dunkirk  burst  in,  looking  at  Rick  like  he’d  run  over  his  dog. “Bromberg, I need you in my office.”

His  office  was  a  cement-walled  cell  with  monitors  ringing  every wall. They hadn’t been watching him, had they?

“I need your identification badge, your code book, and your keys.” Dunkirk looked as scary as a skinny Brit could. He handed them over. “I need you to sign here, showing that you understand the reason you are being terminated and you will . . .”

“What? I’m being fired? For what?”

“You were spying on Mr. Duane as he ran, Bromberg, against his orders.”

The expression on Dunkirk’s face and the cement walls, plus all the monitors and steel doors got to him. He told the truth. “Okay. I did watch him for a while, but I won’t tell anyone what I saw.”

“Definitely not, Bromberg. You’ll never mention it again, nor will you mention your reason for relocating.”

“Relocating? I’m not . . .”

“Yes, you are. And you’ll be no more trouble to us. You are banned from employment at Numenon or any Numenon partner . . .”

“That’s practically the whole world!”

“Yes, it is, Bromberg. So you’ll be happy that we secured employ- ment for you at your new location.”

“Where is it?”

“I’m not at liberty to say. A car is waiting for you . . .” “

But how did you know?” Rick sputtered.

“Mr. Duane told me.”

“How did he know?” Rick’s voice rose in a wail.

“Mr.  Duane  knows,  Bromberg.  He  knows  without  all  this,”  he waved his hand at the banks of monitors. “I don’t know why he keeps us on, really.”

* * *

Will  stood  swaying  in  his  bedroom.  Traces  of  light  seeped  from behind the metal clad windows. The silk draperies didn’t hide the fact that  the  new  day  had  arrived.  Should  he  get  dressed  for  work?  Will wore a robe embroidered with the Numenon logo that he’d put on after showering. His face felt like a leaden mask; his eyes kept blinking as though they were filled with grit. He couldn’t think of his schedule for the day, didn’t notice the lovely furnishings of his vast room. Not the Turner over the bureau or  the  little  Monet  he  loved.  The  bed  beckoned.  A  minute  won’t hurt, he thought.
Will laid down and pulled the quilt over his head.

He ran through the grey-green world, the thing he feared behind him, roaring for his blood. He turned his head, and something overran him. He was tossed without mercy, slammed into the ground. He rolled and tumbled, landing on his feet, battered but alive. He watched the juggernaut’s howling progress.

It  destroyed  everything.  He  watched  everyone  die,  smashed  and bent, torn to pieces. The maelstrom killed those he loved first, then the rest. Everyone died; all humanity. Billions of bloody, ruined bodies piled up around him. He was the only one left.

He stood in the void, surrounded by nothing.

He  had  to  live  when  everyone  he  loved  was  dead.  Everyone  he hated, too. Nothing was left, not even hatred. He had to go on living and living and living. Realizing that caused his jaw to drop, and pulled his hands to his mouth. Made him curl into a ball.

He lay, dazed. His chest rose and fell. The movement of his ribs was the only thing he could grab onto to tell him he was alive.

Was it a prophecy? Was that going to happen? Nothing could tell him; everything was gone. He felt a rumbling below the earth and heard the sound of rocks grinding together. His stomach roiled at the noise.

He realized what it meant: The stalker was coming for him.

His Beloved appeared from nowhere, speaking softly. “Yes, my dar- ling, it is true. The fate you have fought for so long will come to be very soon—in days. You have one chance to save yourself and all you love.” Whispering, she told him the way out.

Will did as she directed. It was already shaping up: He had a call in to the Indian shaman. He’d made it in hopes that what Marina said was true.  He’d  heard  from  her  once  since  she  threw  him  out.  She  wrote: “He’s a great holy man who has helped many people. If Grandfather tells me I should see you again, I will. But only then, Will. You and I are done.”

She did include a phone number where he could reach the shaman. He originally called the old man hoping he could get her back, but then he had that dream. He had to go now; the world of light required it.

The sucker didn’t return his call . . . He kept him waiting.

When the shaman finally called him back, Will was ready to detonate.  He  forced  himself  to  be  civil;  he  agreed  to  everything.  “I’ll  go wherever you want; I’ll do whatever you want. I’ll go on your retreat, just tell me how to get there.”

The  old  man  didn’t  sound  surprised.  It  was  as  though  he  knew what Will would say.

“Bring you best warriors,” the shaman said. “As many as you want, as long as they’re your best.” And then he laughed.

Will’s stomach clenched. The joy in the old man’s laughter hit him like a fist.

And then he gave orders that would make it come to pass. “I want you  to  go,  too,  Betty,  and  a  few  others  from  the  Headquarters.”  They looked at him in disbelief. He convinced them: “We have to go. This is the most important thing we’ll ever do.”

But he would never tell anyone the real reason for their pilgrimage.

 

Chapter 2

The boy felt his legs trembling and cramping, moving purely by the force of his will. He heard the breath enter his lungs, rage, burn  there,  then  exit,  only  to  reenter,  burn  again.  The  child couldn’t run any longer, he was run out. He shouted at his little brother, “Go there! Into the canyon! Hide!”

The younger child veered off, going in the direction the older boys had taken. The boy turned, running at the horsemen, trying to provide some cover for his brother. The two horses headed straight at him. He heard the hard staccato of the gallop on rock. A lasso’s whir filled his ears as one rider swung his loop overhead. He charged the men, waving his arms.

The horses ran past him. He stopped, bewildered. Before he could turn, something grabbed him around the waist and jerked him back- ward. He was dragged, popping over ruts like a twig. One bounce flipped him  onto  his  belly.  His  face  hit  a  rock.  His  arms  were  pinned  to  his sides: He couldn’t protect himself. The impact was so hard; he didn’t know  his  tooth  had  chipped.  He  didn’t  know  what  happened  until everything stopped and he found himself lying in the path.The  lariat’s  loop  bound  his  body.  Like  a  tight  fishing  line,  it  ran straight to the stranger’s saddle. At the end of the rope, the horse loomed above the boy, larger than any horse he had seen. It stared at him, ears pointed like spears. Loud blasts of air came from its nostrils. It moved the thing in its mouth, and streams of white foam splattered its chest. When the beast’s hooves hit the rocks, sparks flew. It danced around and the foreigner yelled at it.

“Whoa, Buddy. Whoa. I know he smells like shit. It won’t kill you! Whoa, you . . .”

Eventually, the horse settled and stood stiffly, arching its neck, and backing to keep the rope taut. The man looked directly at the child. The boy had seen such men before, but never had been close enough to one to see his pale blue eyes. He became stiff, shaking. “Y’re in a hell of a fix, ain’t you?”

He couldn’t understand the stranger’s words, but he smiled in a way that told the boy what he already knew: This man would enjoy killing him. His father had warned of these people and kept their band out of their way. The warnings had not been strong enough.

His breath came in fast pants, and his heart felt like it would jump out. He shook all over. The man began reeling him in, hand over hand, looping the lariat on his saddle, dragging him across the rough ground. Rocks struck him, bloodying his face, bruising his flesh. The smashing impacts  dazed  him,  and  as  they  did,  he  realized  that  a  monster  was ahead of him. It was a two-headed demon, both horse and man. A skin- walker, a giant of the mountains, come to eat his flesh. His body moved like he had the falling sickness, shaking out of control.

Windborne streams of sweat and saliva lashed him as he groveled. Rowels of spurs that were as big across as his face spun and flashed. The interloper’s stench assailed him. The closer he got, the more terrifying the monster became. The giant horse began tossing its head. Its feet started moving up and down so fast that sparks flew without stopping. When he finally was dragged next to the animal, he felt nothing: no pain, no injury—only terror. His body went limp. The horse spun away from him and tried to run.

“Knock it off. It’s just a kid. A fucking digger kid.”

The rider reined hard and finally, the animal stood still. When that happened,  the  cowboy  yanked  him  up,  dangling  him  in  front  of  his face like a fish on a line. They looked into each other’s eyes. The man was  opening  his  mouth  to  speak,  when  suddenly  the  boy’s  paralysis lifted. In that instant of freedom, the child lunged, tearing into the flesh of his captor’s chest.

“God damn it to hell!”

The man shouted, and then struck him. A blow made his ears ring.  Another  blow,  and  everything  went  blank.  When  he  could remember again, he was tied face down on the saddle in front of his captor. Something was stuffed in his mouth, and something else was tied around his head.

“Try that again, you little bastard!”

The other rider returned with the smaller boy over his saddle. “The big ones got away,” he said to the first.

“This little fucker bit me, damn it to hell!” He rubbed his chest. “Damn waste of effort. You can’t do nuthin’ with this bunch. They’re never gonna educate ‘em fit for nuthin’.”

“It’s a job, Roy. It pays good.”

A  third  rider  came  up  behind  them  and  halted  his  horse.  “Slim pickin’s,” he said, eyeing the two little boys.

“The rest of ‘em high-tailed it up that draw.”

“Why, hell, that’s a blind draw, I bet,” the third one said, grinning. “It’d be easy as shootin’ fish in a barrel.” The other two grinned back. “Throw me them runts, an’ you go get the rest.We’ll save the tax-payers some money.” The boy was thrown across the front of the third man’s saddle.  It  wasn’t  hard  to  do:  He  was  small,  even  for  his  People.  His younger brother was tossed on top of him. When they ended up back at the band’s camp, the boys were dumped into a mule-drawn wagon, balong with some girls their age and some older kids that were too slow making their escape.

Dazed and exhausted, the boy saw his father standing in the open space before their shelters. His face was bruised and bloody and men with guns surrounded him. The agent waved a paper in his face.
“I do, too, have the right. My right is here. They gotta go to school— it’s the law. We’ll make ‘em civilized Christians. We’ll make ‘em good Americans, every one.” The children sat in the wagon, crying silently, looking  at  their  parents  who  stared  back  with  hopeless  tears.  The mothers’ faces beseeched the agent and his hired hands. The boy sat looking at his father. Why didn’t he do something? He looked for his mother, and then remembered she ran away with his baby brother and sister when the scouts came back saying that the white men brought a wagon.  The  band  knew  what  that  meant.  The  boy’s  father  had  protected  his  clan  as  long  as  he  could,  moving  far  into  the  wilderness. They couldn’t go any farther.

His father was a man of peace: surely he could reason with these white men. Then the group waited, silently, until the two riders returned.

“Couldn’t find any of ‘em! That’s the last of the bunch I reckon we’ll get. The rest got clean away.” One rider chuckled (he’d have to clean his guns when he got home).
As the wagon pulled out, the boy’s father came to life. He remembered the words in English, though he knew his father spoke in their language; try as he might, he couldn’t remember a word of his tribe’s tongue.

His father shouted, “I will come for you!”

He called his son’s name, but his mind was a blank. He couldn’t remember his own name, which his father had given him in their lan- guage; he couldn’t remember it at all.
“I will come for you! I must move the camp. I must find the boys who ran. Then I will come for you!” The wagon pulled out and his father ran beside it, looking in the boy’s eyes, “You are the leader, my son! You will be Chief one day. You will be great. I will come for you, my son. I will come for you, or the sun will cease to shine.”

His father couldn’t keep up. The boy watched him recede into the distance. That was the last time he saw his father. It was 1918.

The old man lay back on his bed, gasping at what he had remembered. Starlight illuminated the interior of the lean-to, but all he could see was his father’s form, hands grabbing the wagon as he ran along- side so many years before. The sun was going down, and it outlined his father’s head, the bright light surrounding him like a halo. He turned to the wall, pinching back tears.
Even with his eyes closed, his mind showed him the canyon where it happened as clearly as if he stood in the path. A brilliant blue sky arched overhead. Canyon walls topped by spiky pine trees loomed on each  side.  The  cheerful  sound  of  water  played  down  the  stream bed, dancing past rocks and trees with fluttering leaves. He and his brother ran through the scene, a beautiful place where something ugly occurred. He had lived perhaps eight summers when he was stolen.

The old man’s mind was an open corridor. That morning, he could see everything he had ever done and feel each event as though it were happening. Bud Creeman had told him about amusement parks; the Shaman had never been to one. He told him about a ride where you got in a little boat  that  floated  in  a  darkened  indoor  stream.  Without  warning,  the channel would widen and— wham— a scene would appear. This morning, the boat took the direction it had been commanded, going back in his life. He would watch whatever it presented, knowing the Great One willed it, knowing he would need what was revealed in the week to come.

He reflected upon what would soon unfold. Thousands were coming to be with him and learn what he had to teach. The coming week was the last Meeting—the retreat had grown beyond anything he imagined.

It was the last chance that many of his People would have to meet him and imbibe wisdom of their Ancestors.Preparations had been made to assure the Meeting’s success. The campgrounds were groomed and facilities repaired. The Founders had studied everything touching the Meeting, making sure they were ready. Paul Running Bird’s report, tabulating the data he’d gleaned, was part of the preparations.
Grandfather knew all this, just as he knew that those questions Paul had  presented  to  him  last  night  were  the  reason  he  felt  the  pain  of remembering his past. He wanted to hate Paul’s report, but knew that everything that happened was the work of the Great One.

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Are you sick of people trying to fix you?

I'M ON THE WARPATH!

I'M ON THE WARPATH!

I’m on a bazillion e-mail lists––I swear, they must reproduce in the night. Every day, I get ecstatic emails about some new system or formula that will FIX ME. Or MAKE ME HAPPIER, MORE FULFILLED. A MAGIC BULLET THAT WILL  BRING ME THE SECRET OF MY DREAMS, the dreams I haven’t DARED TO DREAM BEFORE.

All I have to do is listen to a free teleseminar, where I will be seduced into signing up and plunk down big bucks.

Thing is, I ain’t broke. I’m happy, fine, doing well, I don’t need anybody’s friggin’ system to fix me––and I resent these self-appointed gurus assuming they have the right to make the offer. (I have a real guru, and she doesn’t sound like that at all.)

There’s more. I have an MA in Marriage, Family, & Child Counseling from Santa Clara University. I worked had getting that degree and did very well. I began my meditation practice in 1975 and have worked hard in the inner and outer worlds to make my spiritual self the one that runs things. I’ve had three or four professional careers that taught me to exercise my brain and will, and personal skills. The challenges I’ve dealt with myself––cancer and my leg falling apart, for a couple––and in my family have strengthened and tempered my soul.

I know both from a professional, theoretical standpoint and from the work I’ve done on my self that the so called miracle transformation in 30 days or less doesn’t exist.

I know for a fact how hard it is to change, barring acts of God and grace, and how stupid these Get Enlightened Fast schemes are.

There’s no easy way, folks. No fast track to a magic life. You slog through in the trenches, day by day. That’s where the breakthroughs occur, as St. Teresa of Avila pointed out. Daily life is the ground of spiritual transformation.

Read St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, Rumi, Mirabai. No easy, sign up now and be free trip will take you where you want to go.

Here’s my promise: I WILL NEVER ATTEMPT TO FIX YOU. You’re fine right where you are, just as you are. And so am I. I’m going to get off all those stupid mailing lists starting now.

This is the first Sandy Nathan discussion post from my Amazon Author Page.

You can read the original on Amazon through either of the links above.

COMING SOON: LOWERED EXPECTATIONS!

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Numenon Is a Semi-finalist in the IPPYs! 2009 Independent Publisher Awards

Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Sandy Nathan’s book, NUMENON, has been named among the Semi-finalists in the in VISIONARY FICTION in the 2009 Independent Publisher Awards, the “IPPYs”. The judging will continue, naming finalists and Gold, Silver, & Bronze medal winners.

The “IPPY” Awards have recognized the best indie-published books of the year since 1996.

This is the fourth national honor for Numenon. The book recently won the 2009 Silver Nautilus Award in the Indigenous/Multicultural Category.

The Nautilus Award was established to find and reward distinguished literary contributions to spiritual growth, conscious living, high-level wellness, green values, responsible leadership and positive social change. The Nautilus Awards are dedicated to “changing the world one book at a time.”

Numenon, by Sandy Nathan, is a Nautilus Book Awards Silver Winner!

Numenon, by Sandy Nathan, is a Nautilus Book Awards Silver Winner!

NUMENON ALSO WON TWO NATIONAL AWARDS PRE-PUBLICATION: It won the BEST BOOKS AWARD in VISIONARY FICTION from USA Book News. Numenon also won the NATIONAL INDIE EXCELLENCE AWARD in RELIGIOUS FICTION.

The judging continues in the the 2009 Nautilus and IPPY Awards. Gold Nautilus Award winners will be announced on May 29th. IPPY Finalists and Winners are being posted daily. The finalists for the IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Award in New Age have yet to be announced: Numenon is entered in that category.

“I’d like to thank everyone for their support of me and Numenon,” says author Sandy Nathan. “Your prayers and good wishes are much appreciated––and still needed. We’re at the finish line now. Please continue to send your good energy,” says Sandy Nathan.

“If you’re interested in buying Numenon, I would urge you to buy the version that has won the prizes: the first edition hardback.

“The hardback edition has been winning prizes because it’s a good book–and it’s drop dead gorgeous. The dust jacket is beautifully designed and printed. The Numenon logo, title and author’s name are embossed; running your hand over the jacket’s surface is lovely. Under the protective jacket, the book’s black, three-part cover is stamped in gold. The Numenon logo is on the front, the spine’s design matches the dust jacket’s.

“The book’s endpapers are a golden color, printed with an artist’s rendering of the Mogollon Bowl, the site of the retreat to which the caravan is headed. None of the other versions have this. The book’s interior is as elegant as the rest of the book, with the Numenon logo heading each chapter. The book is printed on acid-free paper: It will last a very long time.

“If you love books and want a book you will keep and treasure, this is your edition. If you’re looking for a special gift, here it is.

“A great deal is available on my web site––the hardback version of Numenon and the trade paperback of Stepping Off the Edge, both signed and inscribed to you, with no shipping for $29.95. Click here to see the offer. We offer free shipping on all purchases of 2 or more books. Email us on the order page for details.

“We also offer a paperback and Kindle edition through Amazon. We’re offering the KINDLE VERSION FOR AN ASTONISHING 99 CENTS for a limited time. This is a book that’s a winner of four national awards. Wow!

“We’re working on versions for Sony readers and other electronic readers. Those will be coming soon/

Sandy Nathan: "It's about the good times! May they all be good times!"

Sandy Nathan: "It's about the good times! May they all be good times!"

Once again, thanks for the support and good wishes!

Sandy Nathan


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