It’s been four years, maybe longer, since this project sprung into my head. The Hero Twins story was always Rory’s (my younger brother) favorite growing up because it was filled with action, adventure, monsters, and ultimately an ending where good won out. But did good ultimately win? And did those monsters really disappear?
Each week I will post a chapter in my project entitled The Glittering White World, a fiction novel about the Navajo Hero Twins reborn into our age and the monsters who inhabit our Indigenous lands.
Please feel free to post comments and critiques. Enjoy!
The Glittering White World
by Dawn Bear
The giant stood at the edge of a mesa which overlooked a riverbed drowned in sand. Water mills in the distance croaked with rusty thirst, their petals like pinwheels. His largeness was compacted in an ill fitting suit. The threads to the buttons of his glimmering vest held taut, though the fabric stretched like diamonds across his stomach. The flaps of his jacket slapped against him as the wind rushed past. Saliva collected in the corners of his cheshire grin, glittering in morse code to the stars above.
“Be still?” He laughed into the hollowness of the earth before him. He took out a cell phone from his lapel. The screen lit the shadowless ground beneath him.
“It’s started,” he said.
The wind caught the dusty, laced curtains and howled. Spider Woman shot up from her deep slumber. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes. Adorned in Sponge Bob pajamas, she shuffled to the window, all hips, her upper body frail in comparison to her lower proportions. Crows feet dug deep impressions at the corners of her closed eyes before they popped open like two full moons. Her hands, like talons, slammed the window shut.
She maneuvered through the dark, down a hallway of closed doors, past the living room, and into the den. Illuminated by moonbeams sat an old, juniper loom. Hand spun wool intricately woven into an unfinished pattern thumped heart-like with the steadfastness of the beating wind. Spider Man’s spindle creaked next to it, spinning away from the needle, as if a ghost controlled it. The unfinished string flopped wildly against the wood, pounding like a baseball card in a bicycle tire.
Spider Woman grasped the wheel tightly, forcing it to stop. She kneeled before the loom; her hands hovered over the strings, as if reading braille, until they shook to a sudden stop. Trembling, her fingertips tugged at a knot heavily entangled.
The first rays of dawn danced across the sloping weave but the knot would not come undone.
Chapter 1: The Monsters Awaken
The water felt like ice as Ariana splashed it on her face. Her long, black hair hung like a mop in a sloppy bun. She opened the medicine cabinet, filled with white labeled orange bottles decorated with fancy words like Lorazepam and Neurontin and took out her toothpaste and brush. The mirror rattled as she allowed it to slam shut. She hated her image. Her eyes were too big and nose crooked with rounded cheeks, chubbier than most babies.
She spit the paste from her mouth and allowed her toothbrush to swim in her cup of water before she tossed it into the sink, leaving both paste and brush on the counter. The lock to the door had been broken long ago. A drawer was drawn wide open to keep the door from opening unwanted. She took one last glimpse in the mirror, tugging at her face as if she could manipulate it like putty and forced the drawer closed.
Bryant, her twin brother, waited outside for his turn.
“You know looking in the mirror is just gonna make you uglier,” he teased, closing the door behind him.
She scowled and walked down the short hallway, past the unlit living room and into the kitchen where her grandma was making breakfast.
“Morning Grandma. Why are you still in your pajamas?” She pointed to Grandma’s bright yellow cartoon attire.
“Couldn’t sleep.” It was rare to see Grandma in anything but her long skirts and velveteen blouses. “Put this on the table.” Grandma pointed her spatula to the skillet of fried spam and potatoes.
“Eggs?” Ariana smiled. It was rare to have eggs in the morning as their chickens seemed to produce fewer and fewer each year.
Grandma nodded, tossing her chin toward the entry way to the dining area.
“Okay, okay,” Ariana said.
The table in the dining area took up the entirety of the room. Grandpa was already seated in his usual spot, cleaning his bottled lenses with the end of his shirt. His face was lined in deep insets like an old oak but his frame was as spidery as a pine.
Ariana sat in front of him, her favorite spot, easy to escape and better to watch the faces of those she loved.
“Morning, Grandpa,” Bryant said, forcing Ari forward as he scooted behind her.
Ariana punched Bryant’s arm before folding her legs between the table and her chest.
Grandpa nodded, holding his glasses to the light to see if any spots were missed.
“I had a dream last night about arrows that turned into lightning.” White chiclets of teeth grinned from Bryant’s full lips.
Grandma shuffled into the dining room with a fresh pot of coffee. Grey speckled the loosened Navajo bun that pulled her eyes back like she’d undergone a facelift. Beaded shreds of yarn dangled in the back as she bent over to fill their mugs.
“You haven’t had a dream like that since you were a child,” Grandma said.
“It was awesome. Like fireworks shot from my compound bow. I could even feel the surge of the electricity through my arms.” He grabbed at his bicep like Rosie the Riveter.
“You’re probably sleeping too close to the electric heater again,” Ariana said, stabbing at her potatoes with a fork. “You use a release for a reason, you’ve got no muscle.” She laughed as she put a fork full of potatoes into her mouth.
The single pane windows rattled. Ripples bubbled in her full cup. A loud woo-woo-woo swelled in her ears. Purples and oranges peeked through the lacy curtains behind Grandma as a flood of dust blew in from the open window.
Ariana gulped down the potatoes. The table rocked as she forced her legs down.
Grandpa’s head arched like a turtle peeking from its shell. Before a second woo-woo-woo joined the first, he bounced out the door on one foot as he tried to slip his sockless foot into a western style leather boot.
Bryant rushed after him barefoot.
Ariana covered her ears.
“Ari!” Bryant barked from the entry. “We need your help.”
She slumped in the chair until Grandma flicked the back of her head to get her moving. Plush zombie slippers swallowed her small feet as she pouted, in the art form only a teenager can master.
Tumbleweed heads collected on the barbed wire fence as she trotted out the door to the corral, built in front of the house so Grandpa could easily look out his bedroom window to check on his beloved flock. The air was dry. Black helicopters drove the winds wilder, pelting the warm sand against her naked calves like beebees.
Grandpa leaned against one corner of the sheep corral. Bryant took the opposite. The sheep rammed into one another. Nizhoni and their other dogs circled the corral, jumping and yelping at the helicopters. Wool came off in bunches as the sheep collided against the rails. The aged wood blistered into slivers at the vulnerable points. It couldn’t hold much more pressure.
Ariana chewed on the end of her thumbnail, the glittered polish cracked like little countries on a world map.
“Get some grain and molasses,” Grandpa yelled, his body at a forty-five degree angle to the post as he pressed the weight of his body against it.
Woo-woo-woo. A third helicopter hovered overhead. Not like the news helicopters on television, but the kind in war movies.
Nizhoni looked rabid as she barked at the disturbance.
The sheep rammed into each other. The fence groaned in its weakness.
Ariana ran to their old sky-blue horse trailer. The cavern near the tow where the trailer connected to their truck fought against her pull, pushing her to her ass as it finally gave. The molasses and grain mixture smelt of oatmeal cookies but clumped like vomit into her bin. She ran to the trough as the fence gave. The sheep dispersed, running toward the sun, in the opposite direction of the noise. The dogs trailed behind them, their barks a whisper over the loud uproar.
The helicopters rushed past her to the west as the last sheep trotted from her sight.
“What was that?” Bryant wiped beads of sweat from his cratered forehead, blemishes caused by his adolescent acne.
“Helicopters,” Ariana said.
“I know but why?” He jammed his shoulder into hers.
Grandpa bent over the fractured pieces of wood. The silver of his watch glittered across the sand like a kaleidoscope, while the largeness of the turquoise competed with its face.
“They must want something,” Ariana said.
“They always want something,” Grandpa said, his voice barely a whisper.
“Grandpa’s getting all conspiracy on us again.” Bryant smiled.
Next to the corral, the wind danced in an empty field, splintered with bone-white cornstalks. Dust devils danced around each other, dissipating once one slipped into the metal barbs.
“I guess, we’re gonna be late for school,” she said.
“You’re not going to school,” Grandma said, sneaking up behind her.
“But I have a final in Calc,” she whined.
“Cool. I didn’t study anyway.” Bryant grinned.
“I’m sure if Bryant stays that’ll be plenty help. The sheep can’t get that far with Nizhoni taking care of them.”
Grandpa sulked back toward the house.
Grandma laced her wiry arm around Ariana’s waist guiding her the short distance to the red door that faced east to welcome the sun. Like spiderwebs, cracks decorated most of the windows to their manufactured home, caused by debris or Ari’s failed softball pitches. The entry was haunted by haggard remains of rosebushes. The doorbell was missing its plastic casing and shocked anyone who dared to poke their finger through the sliver to engage the metallic slip. Not that many rang doorbells in their neck of the reservation. Any visitor that came their way was usually a relative of one kind or another.
“Grandma, I really need to pass this class. It’s for college credit and with senior year coming up, I need to watch my grades for admissions.”
Grandma’s arm tightened around her waist.
The silhouette of Bryant lingered in the doorway as he extracted bulls heads from his calloused feet.
“Not today,” Grandma said.
“Or we can go after the sheep now and you can just take me in late. Calc isn’t until fourth period.”
“The sheep will be okay, the dogs are with them. They can wait.”
“Because I said so,” Grandma said, her fingers dug into Ariana’s ribs.
Grandma was normally more diplomatic and patient. She rarely used her authority to end Ariana’s string of questioning, instead humored Ari’s curiosity by giving reason to her decisions. Ariana knew it had to be something serious for Grandma to shut her down so quickly.
“Grandma, why would helicopters be here of all places?” she pressed. “Even our neighbor chapters don’t know where White Cone is.”
White Cone was named after a volcanic shaped mountain. The sand was white as bone, hence the name, but it was more of a hill than a mountain, and not a spot tourists flourished.
“Ari! It’s a discussion for later. Now go inside and finish eating. You need to help your grandpa.”
Ariana stood frozen at the foot of the door. The red didn’t feel as welcoming, instead it felt like a warning, a stop sign that cautioned her to tread lightly because once she crossed that barrier, her world might change.