The Glittering White World
By: Dawn Bear
Big Giant and Rock Eagle Monster
The truck groaned as Big Giant leaned against it. Rock Eagle Monster walked around him to fill the truck.
“I’m just as powerful as you are,” Rock Eagle Monster grumbled to himself.
The Big Giant kicked at the pump, pissed at Changing Woman. It was the second time she had taunted him and he fell for it.
“The bitch knows who I am,” he said. “At least what I look like.”
“Wasn’t smart of you to go there. Best to stick to eating people. No witnesses after.” He licked the corners of his mouth. “You should’ve been more patient.”
“I can tell you one thing,” Big Giant said, resting an elbow against the hood, his belly bulging from his unclasped coat. Buttons dangled from loosened string. “She’s not as powerful as she used to be.”
“I have something that will make you happy,” Rock Eagle Monster said, he rubbed his hands together anxiously. “I know who the children are.”
Big Giant stood up straight. A smile crossed his face. “Now that changes everything.”
Rock Eagle Monster jumped up and down, excited.
“There’ll be no more sheep for you,” Big Giant boasted. “This week we feed off the sweetest meal of all.”
“I thought he didn’t want us to eat them,” Rock Eagle Monster said.
“While he’s in his fancy home off the reservation, we sit here and do the grunt work. I ain’t no grunt. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.”
Rock Eagle Monster hit the side of the truck and jumped again. “When?”
Big Giant stretched cat like. His shoulders puffed against his cheeks. “We’ll strike in two days.”
Rock Eagle Monster spun and danced excitedly.
Big Giant leaned against the truck, his index finger and thumb rubbed his bare chin. “This will be fun,” he said jumping back into the truck. “Keep your phone on, I’ve got some things to prepare.”
Rock Eagle Monster took the nozzle from the truck, tapping the side of the truck like it was a steed. It peeled out of the little gas station in Indian Wells, a cloud of dust left in it’s wake.
The Horned Monster
Horned Monster stood in the middle of a wooden paneled oval room with a tower like throne where the chair heads were situated. The balcony was empty. An emergency meeting was being held and no media or bystanders were allowed outside of the legislators.
“We have come here to discuss the situation on the Navajo reservation,” he said, his third chin trembled as he spoke. “Now, I know, some of you believe we should open the borders, however I think it is still too early for us to make that gesture. We cannot allow this infection to impact our United Dairy Men and it is too soon to tell if the people themselves have not been affected. I propose we send more military to the borders to ensure no one gets out until we find out what is going on.”
The legislator from Navajo County, the only Native person in the room, tapped into his microphone. The room echoed with the sound of his voice clearing. “I heavily oppose we send more militia. We are not living in the days of Custer and the Ghost Dance, we live in modern times. Fifty-three percent of the Nation lives off the reservation, many here in the valley of the sun, if we cut them off from their families and send off more guns, who knows what reaction we will see.”
Horned Monster nodded his head empathetically, taking a handkerchief to his beading forehead. “I understand where you are coming from Yazzie, your family, after all, is trapped there, but we need to look at the larger picture. If we let one man out and he has whatever those sheep had, then we risk a national epidemic.”
“What about our water supply? Much of it comes from the Colorado River. If we cut them off, shouldn’t we be more cautious of the water we are damming off into our own water supply?” A woman in an ill fitting pant suit said, the representative from Coconino County. Her lipstick ran into her teeth.
A roar of talk vibrated off the walls. Frightened eyes bulged from over styled hair.
Horned Monster raised both hands, gesturing for peace. “We have tested the water and there is nothing to be frightened of, in fact we have begun emergency measures to begin diverting it further so that it cannot be contaminated by what is causing this epidemic.”
Yazzie’s face turned to iron. “The water tables have already been depleted, you cannot move a river just because it suits you. As it is, only seventy-five percent of the nation has access to potable water. And another thirty percent still has to haul water, water that most of you would deem too awful to drink. If you take the river you take away their ability to sustain.” He took a deep breath, his silver buckle dug into his informal western shirt covered by a suit jacket. “There are federal treaties in place which protect the river and the nation.” He slammed his hands against the desk. “You cannot take the water.”
“It is with the permission of the federal government that we issue these emergency measures. The Colorado River does not only service Arizona but Nevada and California. It is too precious to allow it to become contaminated with the Navajo disease.”
Yazzie’s eyes teared. “We are people. The world will see what you’re doing. This will not slide.”
Horned Monster smirked, petting his bolo tie.
“Any other speakers,” a pleb asked. “Then we shall put it to a vote. All in favor?” A domino of hands went up. “Those opposed?” One lone shaky hand raised. “The yay’s have it.”
Horned Monster shook as the other legislators passed him. Only Yazzie sat defeated in his seat, visibly broken. Horned Monster went over to him, his back shelled the man from view. “I’m sorry, Yazzie. No bad feelings?” He put his sausage fingers out to the man in a fake gesture of camaraderie.
Yazzie stood, butting Horned Monsters hand away. His boots clucked across the carpet as he exited the room.
Horned Monster took a look around the room of his victory and saw no one was left. His laugh quaked and the water glasses clanged. “I will be still no longer,” he said to the room. “I will show them how to still themselves. I will show all of them that they cannot defeat me. This world is mine.”
Chapter Seven: Weapons Are Gifted
The hummers swarmed the Chapter House in White Cone like grasshoppers. Grandma had sent the Twins on yet another excursion to see if supplies had finally come. Cell phones had stopped working, even the old reliable antennae only produced snow on their televisions. The radio played nothing but the occasional emergency message, asking them to stay indoors. Staying indoors was hard. Many people had already gone through all the old ramen and spam in their cupboards, not knowing something like this would happen. They couldn’t even beg a sheep from a neighbor because there was none to be had. Even the corn looked weepy.
When Ariana had stepped outside after a short breakfast, ready to jump into the truck, the husks leaned and wept. She didn’t know if it was because of everything going on or because they wept with Corn Pollen Woman. Jeff had not come home. Ariana was secretly grateful. It was better for him to stay away. She couldn’t face seeing him lay so still like she saw Alex.
They parked in front of the Shell station, a lucky spot with the crowd.
“I figured they would air drop the supplies, like you see them do on television to places in Africa and Iraq,” Bryant said. His voice was calm, almost empty, it lacked the teasing brightness she was used to.
“Why are they carrying so many guns?” she asked. The men stood statuesque in front of their vehicles, guns in hand, not as relaxed as she had seen the day before at the border. Those men seemed not to be concerned about a bunch of old people and children until they started talking back.
“Just to keep order,” Bryant said. “That’s what the military does, they bring order, right?”
A line of mahogany skinned men and woman tongued from the entrance of the Chapter House toward the housing basketball court.
Alex’s sister, Tarrah, sat against the wall of the laundromat west of the chapter house. Through the dirty and bug splattered windshield, Ariana could see Tarrah’s red rimmed eyes. Her cheeks were swollen and red but the rest of her face was chalky. Even her normal rockabilly hair style was flattened and pulled back into a plan pony. Her bangs stuck to her skin like open gashes.
Ariana couldn’t face her. She got out of the truck like she didn’t see her and scurried to the back of the line, putting her hood over her head even though the morning was warm.
Her pits began to sweat but being uncomfortable was far better than facing Tarrah. A finger tapped at her shoulder and she jumped.
She turned around to find Tarrah standing before her. She was a freshman, a couple years younger than she was, but had a mature look about her, the kind of look where she could go into a gas station and get cigarettes without being carded.
“Oh, you scared me,” Ariana said, cradling her heart with her hand. “You ok?”
“Have you seen Alex?” she asked, her voice cracking, a single tear slipped past her eyelids and down the dip of her nose.
Ariana stood still and silent.
“No one’s seen him since yesterday,” she said.
“I thought you guys took him home,” Donavan emerged protectively behind Tarrah, the basketball held to his side like a teddybear he wasn’t ready to part with.
“Not exactly,” Ariana began, she bit her lip. Her dentist always said she had good teeth, carnivore teeth, he had said, and they now dug into her lip until she could taste the salty iron of her own blood.
“What happened? I saw him jump into the back of your truck,” Alex said.
“I know we don’t know each other very well, but you were the last one who saw my brother,” Tarrah said. “Please tell me he’s ok.”
“We didn’t take him home,” Bryant said, handing Ariana a bottle of diet soda, her least favorite. “It’s all they had. Everything else was sold out.” He shrugged, hovering close to her side.
“If you didn’t take him home then where did you take him?” Donavan’s voice rose. He was a few inches shorter than Bryant, but it didn’t stop him from getting within in a nose of him.
The line of faces around them turned and stared. Other high school friends left the basketball court and spots in line to circle around them.
Bryant pulled at Ariana toward the truck. Dirt pelted her bare calves as Donavan and Tarrah rushed behind them with their crowd of onlookers.
“You can’t just leave,” Donavan said, his frame blocked their path.
Ariana stumbled into Bryant’s back, almost knocked off balance as he tried to avoid running into Donavan. He pulled at her arm roughly to make sure didn’t fall, his eyes watered with his apology.
“No one’s leaving,” Bryant said. His knobby fingers held up in surrender. “Let’s just go to the side so we aren’t holding up the line. People have been waiting here for hours and are hungry. They just want to get in and go home.”
Tarrah’s face flooded. “What happened?” Her voice pitched higher than normal. Nostrils flared to her widened nose.
Bryant opened the truck door, forcing Ariana to sit down in the cab. The door was kept open.
“Please tell me,” Tarrah said, snot clung like webs at her fingers as she brushed them against her nose.
Ariana felt the tears sting but forced them back, folding her arms over her chest.
“Alex did come with us,” Bryant said. “But we didn’t take him home.”
“Then where’d you go?” Donavan spat as he shouted.
“Jeff and I wanted to know what was going on at the border,” Bryant said, his knuckles whitened as he clenched the door ready to slam it at a moments notice.
Ariana scooted her legs under the glove compartment.
“We told him he should stay here when we changed our minds, but he wanted to see too.”
“Alex wouldn’t do something like that,” Donavan said.
“Maybe if you didn’t always hide him in your shadow you’d know more about him,” Bryant said.
Donavan’s fist raised.
Tarrah forced her way between them. Her hands on Donavan’s chest.
Donavan looked at her angrily but subsided.
“Please,” she said. “I just want to know where he is. If you start fighting we’ll never know.”
Ariana got out of the truck. All she could see is Alex and how he tried to save a life and gave his instead and how she did nothing. If it were Bryant, she would want to know too. “There’s no easy way to say this.”
“Just tell me,” Tarrah pled.
“He’s dead,” she said. “I’m so sorry, Tarrah, but he’s dead.”
Tarrah fell to her knees in sync to Donavan’s jaw dropping. Donavan’s index finger rubbed the butt of his nose. His nostrils flared and grew red as he visibly pushed back the tears. Tarrah’s knees crumpled on the broken granite. Her head swaying right to left in disbelief.
Ariana fell beside her, her knees already blood worn and tender from falling so many times over the last few days. The sweater hung from her arm like extra skin after liposuction as she pulled the younger to her.
“I’m sorry, there was nothing we could do,” Ariana said. “I didn’t mean to keep it from you, but I didn’t want to believe what we saw.”
Donavan’s palms hung to the truck bed. His head down, body bobbing up and down as he fought back the emotion.
“What happened?” his voice cracked like he was going through puberty all over again.
Bryant told him the bloody details of the day before. Of the family in the bronco, of the Code Talker and the medal and how Alex was the only one who tried to talk any sense into the men at the border and paid his life in the process. Ariana cradled Tarrah as she rocked back and forth in the process. Shadows fell across them as he spoke their story, shadows they did not notice. Shadows of the people who had gathered for supplies and instead came to find their story.
“He was just trying to help,” Bryant said. “He’s a hero.”
Ariana looked up to see the angered faces of the crowd. Faces that mimicked Donavan’s through his emotion, but all unique in what they took from what Bryant said.
“We need to do something,” an unknown man said.
“They can’t just kill our elders and children like that,” another strange voice said.
“A life for a life.”
“An eye for an eye,” someone mimicked the bible.
Before Ariana knew what she was doing she found herself repeating the words Esther had shared with her, at first in a whisper, “Put your feet down in peace,” then it grew louder, “Put your hands down in peace,” and louder, “Put your head down in Peace,” until she belted it out in a song, “Then you are at peace. There is peace all around you. Be still. Be still. Be still.” The song grew louder as an elderly woman repeated its familiarity, and then the men and suddenly everyone was joined in song.
“Put your feet down in peace.
Put your hands down in peace.
Put your head down in peace.
Then you are at peace.
There is peace all around you.
Be still. Be still. Be Still.”
They sang and sang it again. Some men and women wiped tears from their eyes as the song drew deeper emotions from the depths of their heart. Others drummed their heart beats on nearby walls, truck beds or ground. The earth rumbled with their hurt as thunder echoed across the parking lot.
Ariana’s body trembled with unfamiliar power. She felt the colors of the rainbow in her thoughts with a sunbeam shooting through the clouds as if breaking through the fogginess of her memory, of what she had forgotten.
The grasshopper suited men drew forward. Their rifles broke up the crowd until they met the center. The voices of unison faded as a gun pointed straight at Ariana’s forehead and the others pointed in the direction of the people.
“There will be no congregating on my watch,” the man with the rifle said. “Disperse or get in line.” The other rifles pointed to the mouth of the chapter house which had grown empty of people to feed it.
One by one people lined up or went back to their vehicles, until all was left was Bryant’s fingers digging into her shoulders as she stared the man down as the head of the rifle grew warm from her forehead.
“Go home,” he said. “There will be no supplies for you.”
Bryant’s hands tightened on her shoulders as the man backed away.
Lightning flashed just behind the Chapter House as they got into the truck. It rumbled like an earthquake as the thunder sounded louder than anything than they had ever heard before. The line of people ducked like a bomb had dropped and then a flood of rain began to pour.
“Let’s go home,” Ariana said, shaken. She was sure the thunder had come from one of them, but wasn’t sure who. All she knew for sure was her power was awakening, and she needed embrace it. She needed it to awaken because without the powers she didn’t know how they would survive the battle ahead of them.