The Glittering White World
By Dawn Bear
Rock Eagle Monster
The light from the cell phone glowed green against the Rock Monster’s skin. His heavily beaked nose was extenuated by the shadows, but hid the alarming largeness of his teeth as he smiled.
“It’s started,” was all that was said before the call was disconnected.
The hairs on his arms prickled like feathers at the excitement brewing inside of him. The white tips of San Fransisco peak miraged in the distance as he dove off the flattened mountain to his trailer below.
Changing Woman laid before a waterfall, allowing the sun to kiss her skin. She rolled over to her belly, branching out her arm to catch the mist. Her young skin transformed before her into a coarser texture, as if she went from teenager to middle aged within a matter of minutes. Lines dug in deeper at the knuckles and her hair lost the shining vibrance of youth. It was too early for her to take on this form. Something had gone wrong.
Chapter 2 : Big Giant Swallows a River
Sweat stung against Ari’s burnt skin. She had been roaming for hours seeking out the loose sheep, not finding a single one. Though it was no surprise, as she found herself steering further and further west as the day went on. Toward the closest windmill.
To her right were the mesas where Bryant and her had built their secret fort, hidden in the crevice of a curve surrounded by trees which shaded them against the beating sun. Only, there were no heads of green peaking at the base of the mesas.
A glimmer of movement caught her eye. The sound of nearby footsteps carried on the breeze. Clucking across the earth, a group of four wild horses meandered, ebony manes overrun, but beneath the thickness of their chestnut coats, skin gave way to bone. The windmill froze, unmoving in the sudden heaviness of the wind. She treaded on an empty river bed, one that had been full only the day before. There was no water.
The windmill groaned with thirst. Ariana ran toward the it. The field of sunflowers which had always seemed out of place in their desolation, bent limply as she trampled over their fallen heads. She fell to her knees in exhaustion. The sand caught under her nails as she dug, but the water was gone, as if it was swallowed up overnight. The stems bled their milk onto her skin as she cradled a single wilted bud.
She felt a heaviness fall across her shoulders as a shadow crossed hers.
“It’s time to go home,” Grandpa said.
“What happened to the river?” she asked, amazed at his somber calmness.
Grandpa kneeled next to her, picking up a handful of sand and allowing it to catch in the wind. “It’s started,” he said.
“What’s started? What do you mean?”
He pulled her to her feet. The florescent essence of her pink Nike’s muffled by the dust that caked them.
“Do you remember the hero twins?” He asked. The point of this cowboy boots dug into the earth as he moped along side her.
“It’s my favorite story.”
“What do you remember about it?” he asked.
“That the twins saved the people from the monsters.”
“And what did the monsters do?”
Ariana froze. “I don’t remember,” she lied, standing before their wood pallet gate.
Grandpa held it closed, the dogs jumping and barking on the other side. “Not one thing?”
She bit the end of her thumbnail. “Big Giant swallowed a river.”
The gate crowed open, rattling as it slammed shut. Her body stiffened at the smack of the gate as dogs jumped at her waist.
Grandpa scratched at the ruff of Nizhoni’s neck as she struggled to push the others away, tripping on the way in as they caught under her feet.
“Before the twins were born to save our people, the Big Giant tormented us with his thirst. He ate our children and he drank up full river beds.”
“But isn’t that all just a metaphor for the droughts that happened in this area?” she asked, biting the edge of her thumbnail.
Grandpa stopped before the door, one boot on the doorstep, one on the ground. “Sometimes things are more than they appear. Monsters are real, Ari, and I’m afraid it’s time for us to face them.”
Ariana’s eyes watered. She didn’t want to believe the words that came from Grandpa’s lips, but the seriousness and the shadows that dug into his mahogany skin warned her that he was serious. Something was happening and they wouldn’t be able to sit idle.
“Are the sheep home?” she asked, wanting to get away from the topic.
Grandpa nodded, opening the door for her.
She hesitated before walking in. An unknown figure waited at the head of the hallway, blocking her needed escape to her room.
The stranger was tall, with hair streaming like a waterfall to her waist. Her eyes glimmered like the sun in youthful playfulness, but age lined her lips. She wore mocs with tattered jeans and a paisley button up top.
“Hello,” Ariana said, recovering from shock. She extended her hand to the stranger, but instead was pulled into a hug. It was warm and familiar. She wanted to melt into those unknown arms, instead she stiffened, arms at her sides until the stranger released her.
Ariana looked to Grandpa, begging for an answer.
“Ari, this is your mother,” Grandma said from her loom.
The stranger’s eyes locked with Ari’s. She smiled and feelings awakened within Ariana, feelings she thought she had let go of long ago. She turned to run out the door but Grandpa blocked her path of escape. He grabbed her waist and maneuvered her back into the den.
Bryant sat in front of a silent television, a cacophony of colors danced across his face. Grandpa seated her next to him.
“You said our mother was dead,” Ariana said.
Grandma continued to comb her fingers through the string. “We said she was gone.”
“Gone,” Ariana laughed. “You don’t think gone could mean the same thing as dead when you’re five years old?”
Bryant’s hand fell to her knee, squeezing it to comfort, but she brushed it away.
Grandpa sat in his recliner across from them, next to the television, resting his head in the L of his hand. “What was said was to protect you.”
“Papa? Tell me it isn’t true.” Tears burned at the corners of Ariana’s eyes, illuminating the golden flecks in her eyes.
“You knew we assumed she was dead and you let us believe it,” Bryant said, his Adam’s apple bouncing up and down as he tried to swallow down his emotions.
“You lied to us,” Ariana said. The tears streamed down her face.
The stranger sat next to her. Ariana scooted in as close to Bryant as possible. He put his arm around her, letting her head rest on his shoulder.
“I know it’s a bit of a surprise,” the stranger said. “I never meant to surprise you like this, but I had no choice.” She mimicked Bryant’s gesture, trying to pull her close, but Ariana flinched and the strangers arm quickly returned to her lap.
“What’s going on?” Bryant asked. “You’ve never hidden anything from us before.”
Grandma struggled to pull herself up, holding onto the juniper posts for support. She shuffled to her recliner next to Grandpa. “We didn’t want to hide anything. We weren’t even sure if any of this would happen in this lifetime. But it’s happening and we had to summon your mother.”
“What do you mean summon?” Ariana asked.
“Remember your dream this morning?” Grandma asked Bryant.
He nodded. His hand clenched and unclenched at his knee.
“It wasn’t coincidence the dream returned. It’s because the people need you, and your mother is here to help.”
Bryant’s chest bounced with each exaggerated laughter. “It was just a dream, Grandma. Just like when I was a kid.”
“What did you see in the west?” Grandma turned to Ariana.
She bit her lip. “An empty river bed.”
“And who do you think swallowed it?”
“That’s just a story, like the stuff in the bible,” Ariana said.
“I’m sure some weird scientific gibberish can explain it,” Bryant added.
“It’s real,” Grandma said, her fingers waffled together across her lap. “And the monsters are back.”
“I’m here to help you defeat them,” said the stranger.
A peel of laughter vibrated through Ari’s body. “You’ve all gone crazy.”
Bryant’s eyes focused on the ground. “If what you say is true, why would I dream as a child? Nothing happened then. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Grandma and Grandpa stared at him in dead seriousness.
“You dreamt then, because you’re spirit was more open to remembering who you are,” the stranger said.
“And, who are we?” Ari rolled her eyes.
“The hero twins,” said Grandpa.