Leroy Watches Jr. Is Free Sunday 10/19/2014! Today!
Leroy Watches Jr. is a very good man.He’s an upcoming shaman whose grandpa is Grandfather, the famous Native American shaman ofMogollon: A Tale of Mysticism & Mayhem. Leroy has the Power in his blood. He’s been healing people and animals since he was four. He should be able to change the world, except for one thing––that Coyote. The Trickster, the Native American spiritual entity that pops little jokes all the time, LOVES Leroy. Everything the poor man tries messes up. He’s seen by his people as a joke, not a hero.
This happens in spades in Leroy Watches Jr. & the Badass Bull.Leroy’s dad is a famous rodeo bullfighter––they used to call them “bull clowns”. He protects cowboys bucked off by the terribly dangerous bucking bulls. He needs Leroy’s help; it’s his last rodeo. They’re giving him a big party at the rodeo and his arthritis is crippling him. Would Leroy go with him and heal him, just for that one rodeo? (Leroy’s not a big rodeo fan.)
What can a son do? Leroy goes to the rodeo and helps his dad. Days later, he’s the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitive.
One Amazon reviewer said: “5 Stars! Absurd, hilarious, Western good time! One part cowboy narrative, one part shaman’s journey, and two parts hilarious. If you are a fan of Western, Native American shamanic culture, or even just the absurd, I am certain you will love this book. It’s a fairly quick read, perfect for that hot summer afternoon, and Nathan’s ability to write outstanding, believable dialogue really brings the characters to life. As you read “Leroy,” you’ll be transported to the American southwest. You’ll find yourself elbow-deep in the story of Leroy and his family. This absurd and bizarre farce will have you laughing out loud. ”
There’s more for you here: I’ve got a FREE EBOOK SHORT for you, never before seen. About a witch. More than a witch: Vanessa Schierman has PhD in Theoretical Physics and did initial work on Berkeley’s Cyclotron. Forget brooms and pointed hats. Download it through my website:
Vanessa Schierman PhD, Witch
WHO IS VANESSA SCHIERMAN PhD, WITCH? She’s a witch, first off, and a character that runs throughout my upcoming novels, starting with her own short story (which is pretty honkin’ long, really) presented below. She’s all over In Love by Christmas, my Christmas book which is coming out in days. Vanessa Schierman PhD, Witch will be a book of short stories about Vanessa and her eccentric and increasingly dangerous-to-others life. The first story is “The Richest Person in the World.” That’s Vanessa. But she’s always had such good taste and modesty that she didn’t brag about it or reveal the extent of her assets. Something happens that peeves her––so she tells all to NET WORTH Magazine. The rest … you’ll have read the story. Which you can very easily.
To download Vanessa, go to my website, SandyNathan.com, and hit the button at the top of the first page. That will take you to a page from which you can download a copy of your choice––mobi, epub, or pdf. I’d love it if you signed up for my mailing list, too. The signup box is right there … Vanessa’s short story is a gift, I’m not going to coerce you into “you gotta sign up to get the book,” but good manners are good manners. Vanessa emphasizes this again and again. Of course, she is a witch.
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy––A future world only heartbeats from our own
Hurry! Hurry! Get your free angel here. All you have to do to get your free angel is hit that link sometime during July 21st or 22nd and she will be delivered to your Kindle or Kindle app. Will it be a real angel?
Ah, come on. For real angels, you gotta do more than hit a link. Start praying now and maybe you’ll get a real one before you die. This is not a real angel, it’s an eBook about an apparent angel, who isn’t even an angel, really.
My book The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, will be FREE this Saturday and Sunday through the Amazon KDP program. If you have a Kindle or one of the apps for Kindle, you can download my eBook about a dancing extra-terrestrial. OK. So she’s not an angel. She’s lovely and angelic and utterly innocent and good and kind, which just naturally makes some people want to kill her.
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boyis a story about a girl from out of town–way out of town, another planet––who drops in on a mission to save her planet. Little does she or anyone on her world know, things on Earth have reached a very bad state. So bad that we’ll blow the place up––all of it, every living thing––the next day unless someone does something right away.
Eliana doesn’t know this. She knows she must find “the Golden Boy.” She does this effectively, finding him at an upscale high school for the arts in New York City. But he isn’t who she thinks he is. And there the plot doesn’t just thicken, it explodes.
The IPPY (Independent Press) Award Gold Medal in Visionary Fiction–This is an important win in the largest and oldest competition for independent presses.
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy is the winner of four national awards, including the coveted Gold Medal in Visionary Fiction from the IPPY (Independent Press) Awards. Also won the Visionary Fiction category in the National Indie Excellence Awards. The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy has 22 reviews on Amazon with a 4.6 out of 5.0 possible rating. Very highly rated. I like the book, and other people like it, too.
I wasn’t going to enter any book contests this year. Lady Grace, my new sci-fi, fantasy, visionary fiction novel, dribbled out of the publisher’s arms when most of the contests were within minutes of closing. But, like a compulsive gambler, I couldn’t leave book contests alone. I got the Lady in the IPPYs (Independent Press) Awards, sliding in just under their “drop dead date”.
The IPPYs are the oldest and largest book contest open to independent publishers and authors. It’s a great contest, and very prestigious. I’ve entered it many times and done well.
Never at the last minute, though. The management offers nice discounts on entry fees if you get your entry in early. Unfortunately, I didn’t get mine in early. My husband growled at me as I put the book package together. “How many awards are enough? How much are you going to spend this year?”
Answer: There is no “enough.” Ever. Anywhere. In anything. You spend what you need to go the distance. I mean, did they tell Secretariat his saddle cost too much or he ate too many oats?
Since the early-bird special had come and gone and my husband was still snarling about how much contests cost, I put Lady Grace in one class in the IPPYs––I didn’t hedge my bets entering two or three. The category I entered was Visionary Fiction.
Jenkins Group, sponsor of the IPPYs began announcing winners on April 27, six days ago. They seem to be announcing awards when the judging of a batch of categories is finished. As of this sitting, Wednesday, May 2 at 1:03 PST, Visionary Fiction is practically the only category NOT announced.
Six days is a long time to hold your breath.
Talk about stretching my neurotic tendencies to the max. In the last six days, I’ve learned it’s as bad to go into something from a strong position as it is a weak one. My 2011 novel, The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, WON the Gold Medal in Visionary Fiction at the IPPYs last year. YAY! Talk about a feel good moment. I’ve won Bronze and Silver Medals before, but never a Gold.
So I should feel confident, right? No. My inner self-talk goes like: “They probably will give it to someone else to spread the awards around. Also, you’ve done a bunch of touch ups to the cover since you sent the book––the ink was barely dry when you mailed it. It probably isn’t good enough. You don’t know what the other books in the category are like. They may be FAN-SUPER-TASTIC. Can I stand it if Lady Grace “only” gets a Bronze or Silver? What if it don’t get nada? AHHHH!”
This skillful manipulation of my inner state by repeated negative thoughts might be considered The Anti-Secret. This is the antidote to Rhonda Byrnes’ famous Secret. Rhonda’s book goes like: “If you wish for it hard enough, something will come.” Maybe not what you wanted, but something.
I do not consider myself particularly neurotic. I think of my self as the female, West Coast, Protestant version of Woody Allen.
I’m going to sit at my computer, fully experiencing my pain and heart palpitations (really) until the Jenkins Group posts those wins. Or losses.
Sayonara! I will let you know what happens, win or lose.
THE RESULTS JUST CAME IN: SOMETIMES YOU WIN, AND SOMETIMES YOU LOSE.
THIS TIME I LOST.
Sandy Nathan is the winner of twenty-one national awards for her writing. She’s won in categories from memoir, to visionary fiction, to children’s nonfiction. And more.
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.
I Love to See You Smile . . . A Valentine’s Day Video and Gift for my Readers & Friends
Valentine’s Day is here. I’ve always thought of it as a day retailers thought up to sell pink and red stuff and pump up demand for greetings cards. I’m not much of a romantic.
Except that I am. I’m sentimental and romantic. I love the people who read my books and write to me saying they love them. I like all you smart people who can appreciate a quirky book that doesn’t fall smack in the middle of some genre. I love it that you understand and love my sci-fi/fantasy/romance/end-of-the-world/visionary prose.
I love writing for you and I appreciate your being my readers. That’s not exactly romantic, but it’s very true.
Many Thanks and Happy Valentine’s Day!
My Valentine’s Gift to You: Special Valentine’s Offers
So you can get ready for the sequels, I’m offering ten free ebooks of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy.
This book won four national awards, including the Gold Medal at the IPPY (Independent Press) Awards. Contact us at
firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange download. Offer expires February 29th.
Note that we have raised the price for the multi-award winning, hardback edition of Numenon to the full retail of $24.95 on Amazon. Why? Don’t get me started. You can always get Numenon for $9.95 plus shipping through our website: Buy Numenon Here
Free Numenon on Smashwords Offer Expires: February 29, 2012
That’s not it! I made a special video for you, just to make you smile! See below–––
Every once in a while, something works out right. This blog post grew from one of those things that came out just right.
I was looking for a way to say thank you and that I appreciated your support. I wanted to do it with a video. And I did. This video came out right. Please take a moment to view a little film that expresses my feelings for you. You may want to let it run through once with no sound so that it can buffer. It’s high resolution, so you can play it full screen.
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.
What to authors do when they’re not writing? In an earlier post, I said we “get real,” meaning think about our books and their characters and do things to make them realer in our minds. Of course, by the time you write and publish your book, you can almost touch the people and things in it, they’re so real to you.
In that earlier post, I shared an imaginary interview with a character from The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, an award-winning visionary fiction novel of mine released in early 2011. Doing a spoof interview is one way of making characters real and sharing that reality with others. Another way is making a video. The video below is my take on what the characters of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy look like.
Not familiar with the book? Here’s a two sentence summary: Tomorrow morning, a nuclear holocaust will destroy the planet. Two people carry the keys to survival: a teenage boy and an intergalactic traveler. The date is 2199, or thereabouts.
When we’re not doing things like creating the above, we writers write. I’m working away on two sequels to The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy. The books are in production with an early 2012 release date planned. If you liked The Angel, you’ll love Lady Grace and Sam & Emily.
WHAT DO AUTHORS DO IN THEIR SPARE TIME? We “get real,” meaning think about our books and characters and make them even more real in our minds. When I write a book, it’s like I’m in a play, and playing all the parts. I know what each character feels and how he relates to the other characters. I get a clear image of how he looks, moves, and speaks. Writing is a wonderful experience, when it’s going well. If I’m blocked or the words don’t flow, I’d just as soon chew on steel wool. Or cockroaches, or something.
A two sentence synopsis of the book: Tomorrow morning, a nuclear holocaust will destroy the planet. Two people carry the keys to survival: a teenage boy and an intergalactic traveler.
Here’s an “interview” I did with a character from THE ANGEL, Sam Baahuhd. The interview turned this into a short story while I was writing it. (The pieces I write don’t always do what I expect.) Sam’s being interviewed by a TV station of his time. The year is 2199.
What does Sam Baahuhd look like? This is as close as I could get. It’s impossible to convey how masculine Sam is, or how hunky.
Sam Baahuhd, Headman of the Village at Piermont Manor, c. 2199
Here’s what the station’s advertising says about the following interview:
WNYC’S STAR REPORTER MEREDITH CARLISLE INTERVIEWS VILLAGE HEADMAN SAM BAAHUHD.
Join Meredith at Piermont Manor in the Hamptons! Our favorite investigator visits one of the poorest areas in America and one the USA’s greatest and oldest stately homes. Tune in at 3 PM for a view of life in the 22nd century.
WNYC––NEW YORK CITY’S ONLY NETWORK
At the shoot on the estate:
“Meredith, I don’t like it here,” my stylist says, backcombing my hair furiously. I sit at my dressing table on the estate’s lawn. I’m Meredith Carlisle. But everyone knows that.
“Did you see all the trees driving out here? Weird,” he whispers.
“It was very weird.” I turn to the rest of the crew. “Everyone: This is the country. They have trees in the country. We’ll do the show and get back to New York.”
“They don’t have that in the country,” Alfred, the director, points at the stone mansion stretching as far as we can see. “I’ve been trying to figure out how to get it all on camera.”
I stare at the enormous structure. The mansion is like a wedding cake made of granite. Breathtaking. “We’re at Piermont Manor. It was constructed in the 1800s, four hundred years ago. Nobody gets in here. We had to agree to interview this idiot to be allowed in. Who is he? Sam who?”
My crew edges toward the van. They’re freaked out by the acres of lawn and all the trees. The lack of skyscrapers. I take control.
“Alfred, where is the man we’re supposed to interview?”
“I asked those guys over there,” Alfred points to a group of very large men standing on the other side of the lawn. He cowers a bit.
“What did they say?” My crew’s undue nervousness is irritating.
The whites of Alfred’s eyes glint in the sunlight. “I don’t know what they said. They speak a foreign language.”
“Great. Why didn’t anyone find that out? Alyssa, you’re the production manager. Do we have a translator?”
“No, Meredith. I’ll try to find one.” Alyssa looks around helplessly.
“Oh, wait. Someone’s coming.” My jaw drops. I can’t stop looking at him. He’s the same as the mansion. Breathtaking. A huge man. Shoulders like forever. That chest. He strides out forcefully. Something wafts from him. Manliness.
My jaw drops farther as he gets closer. Also, my nostrils twitch. He’s dirty. It’s real dirt, not something applied by the makeup department. He appears to be sweating copiously. He takes off his hat. His graying hair is matted where the hat’s brow band pressed it tight.
“Hello there?” I extend my hand, despite my disgust at his grimy paw. “You must be Mr. . . “ I search for Alyssa and she mouths the pronunciation. “Baaaaah-huuhd.”
“Mr. Baaaaah-huuuhd.” I smile broadly.
“Ma name i’ Sam Baahuhd. A’m th’ headm’n o’ th’ vil’ an’ o’ersee’er o’ th’ big house.” He nods at the mansion.
“Oh,” I say. “Who?”
He repeats what he said.
“Do you have anyone who speaks English? I don’t speak your language.” He’s very appealing close up, if filthy. My heart flutters.
“Ah fergot tha’ yer not o’ th’ Hamptons. Been out here s’ long, we got our own way o’ talkin’. Ah’ll pretend yer th’ hooch man out at Jamayuh. Ah always speak proper English when ah’m w’ him. Canna make a deal otherwise. Can ye understand me?”
“Yes, Mr. . . .”
“Baahuhd. Ye say i’ like this, with th’ air comin’ from here.” He presses my belly, forcing the breath out of me. I feel faint. Something comes off of him, like a force. It’s wonderful.
“Baahuhd. I see. Well, we’re set up for the interview,” I indicate a couple of club chairs set on the mansion’s front terrace. “Any chance of us getting a peek inside?”
“Nah. Jeremy’s got ‘er wired up. Get any closer ‘n’ ye are an’ ye’ll nah go nowhere again.” He smiles, showing surprisingly white teeth.
“Yeah. An’ more. D’ ye know Jeremy Egerton?” I shake my head. “He’s the lady’s son, Mrs. Veronica Egerton. Ye know of her?”
“Oh, yes. Veronica Edgarton is famous. And rich. And beautiful. She’s the general’s . . .”
“Aye. She owns th’ big house an’ the village an’ all th’ rest around here. An’ me, too.”
“She owns you?”
“Might as well. Ye know why yer here t’day?”
“Yes. To interview you.” My cheeks tremble from smiling so much.
“Nah. Yer here because Jeremy Egerton sent word to let ye in.” He looks me in the eye. It’s terrifying, though thrilling. “If Jeremy hadn’t tol’ me to let ye in, ye woulda been chased back to th’ city th’ minute you set foot on this place. That was three hours ago, out on th’ road. Jus’ so we get straight on it.”
“Certainly, Mr. Baah . . .”
“Baahuhd.” He walks to one of the chairs and sits down. “OK. Le’s get this goin.’ Ah got work to do. What ‘er yer questions?”
“I thought that the natives of the Hamptons didn’t like to be asked questions.”
“We don’. Usually, we shoot before we get t’ askin’ questions. But ah figured this was a chance t’ say some things we don’ get t’ say.”
“And what’s that?”
“That we’re not animals. We’re in th’ Hamptons because we was born here, jus’ like ye were born in th’ city. Weren’t our fault. Weren’t our fault that we don’ have schools an’ have to work like we do. Weren’t our fault that we got nothin’.
“We risk our lives seein’ that the lady keeps that,” he tosses his head toward the mansion. “An’ we get very little thanks fer our trouble.”
“You risk your lives?”
“Yeah, lass. Th’ Hamptons is a dangerous place. We get th’ people who run away from th’ cities. Th’ people escape from th’ torture camps––there’s one o’er at Jamayuh, th’ next town down. We got the hooch runners an’ them that deal in the weed and mushrooms. An’ th feds. All of them is dangerous, an all of them want this place.” He smiles. “Coupla times a year, they come t’ get it.” The smile broadens. “Ain’t got it yet.”
“You fight to keep the estate for Mrs. Edgarton?” I’m shocked, but I shouldn’t be. The Hamptons are like the Wild West once was.
“I got plugged three times so far. Not countin’ the nicks.” He rubs his chest where he’s been shot. “Ah’m scarred up lak an ol’ bear. It’s war out here. Jus’ like in the cities.”
“We don’t have war. What are you talking about?”
“Whad’ya think th’ smoke runnin’ along the horizon is? There’s a war.”
“There’s no war. If there were, the government would have told us about it. President Charles says everything is fine.”
He nods his head and smirks. “When ye drove in, did ye happen t’ see big round bowls cut out o’ th’ ground,” he uses his hands to indicate large depressions, “all lined with cement? An’ wi’ long pointy things stickin’ out of ‘em, aimed at the sky?”
“Yes. They’re all over the place. President Charles said they’re satellite dishes to help our screen reception.”
“No, lass. They’re atomics. An’ they’re set to go off t’morrow morning. Early. All over th’ world.” He’s looking at me steadily. He’s so magnetic I almost believe . . .
No! I can’t believe what he’s suggesting. The president would lie? There’s going to be an atomic war? That’s treasonous. We’re in the Great Peace. Everyone knows that. A niggling thought about my daughter’s third grade teacher disappearing comes up. No, she took a leave of absence.
“I’m not going to listen to this.” I turn to Alfred. “Pack up, we’re going back.”
“No,” Sam says just a little bit louder than normal. Everyone freezes and looks at him. “Yer gonna get ev’ry thing ah say, an’ yer gonna play it on the tellie today. Tha’s why Jeremy let ye’ come out here. You gotta tell the people wha’t happenin’.”
“A nuclear war starting tomorrow? The government would have told us.” I’m shaken. For some crazy reason, I believe him and know that I’ll do what he says. “What will we do? Where can we go?”
“Yer gonna go back an’ show ‘er on th’ tellie,” he says to the others. Then he turns that million volt gaze on me. “Fer ye, there may be a way out. Yer a pretty thing. Ye could be one ‘a’ ma wives.” His smile is mesmerizing.
“Wives?” The idea seems worth considering.
“Ah got four. Ye’d be ma fifth, but we gotta big house. The stable, yon.” He points to a barn.
Fifth wife to . . . His dirty hands make up my mind. “No. I’ve already got one ex-husband. I don’t need to be married.” I regret the words as I say them. There’s something about him.
“OK. Ye’ll take th’ camera back t’ the city an’ play ‘er today. Ye need t’ tell the people to . . . to run. Or t’ stand. They’ll die, either way. But they d’serve a warnin’. Tis only fair.
“Tha’s what ah got t’ say. Now git. Ah’m done wi’ ye.”
I watch his back as he heads toward the stable. Broad shoulders. Easy gait. Powerful.
I feel drawn to him. No. I made the right choice. We have to get out of here.
“We’ve got the van packed, Meredith.” I hop in as it pulls away from the mansion.
“You know we can’t play what we got,” Alfred says as we jolt down the rutted road. “It’s treasonous. Everyone knows that the Great Peace is baloney. We’re in a war. But it’s covered up. This will blow the cover. The feds will kill us.”
“Yes, we can. Sam said to,” I’ll do what Sam told me to do no matter what. “We have to give people a warning.”
“Why, Meredith? There aren’t enough bomb shelters in the world to save everyone. We’re going to die.”
And then it sinks in. If what Sam said is true, we’ll die tomorrow.
I should have taken his offer. He wasn’t scared about what’s coming. He must have a shelter or something. “Turn around! We need to get back to the Piermont estate.”
The van shudders to a stop.
“What’s that?” There’s something in front of us. A vehicle across the road. Another vehicle pulls up behind us. Black figures are moving toward our van.
“What is it, Alfred?”
“Open the door,” a black-clad commando yells. “Give me the cameras.” We give them to him.
“I’m Meredith Carlisle of WNYC. Those cameras are the property . . .”
“I don’t care who you are.” He uses some very rude language, and tosses something in the van, slamming the door. It clatters on the floor. I see a digital timer counting down.
After the explosion, the commandos gather near the flaming remains of the van. “We got the treasonous materials. Should we look at them?”
“Nah. The president said everything is all right. That’s good enough for me.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.