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Monday, October 18, 2010


The Death prophesied by the Mayans long ago has come to claim the Earth.

It is straining to get into Wolf Howl's hospital room.

But he is the last Lakota shaman and to protect the woman he loves,

he will fight the darkness as long as he can ....}

The cheap wood of the door began to splinter, wisps of growling blackness squirming through the cracks. Shadow looked at the gun in her hand. I hoped she wouldn't shoot through the door.

It would only help the darkness get in quicker.

Her long black hair whipped about her face as she turned to me. "Do something, Drew!"

"Remember how to dance?"

"What? Are you insane?"

"You can have known me this long and ask that?"

The streams of ink mist swam in quick currents together, forming a shape that seemed both unfamiliar and familiar --- and altogether terrifying.


"Remember where we first met?"


"Me, too."

And praying to The Great Mystery that her memories and mine were the same, I plucked the gun from her hand.

After all, there is no more dangerous a creature than a terrified assassin with a loaded gun.

Wrapping my fingers gently around hers, I spun us in a fluid first step of a waltz only I could hear. The black shape lunged for us.

The creature, like the White Man before it, had been too confident, too slow.

I flipped up the first three fingers of my right hand and smiled like my namesake. “Read between the lines.”

I could only imagine the confused look on its terrible face for Shadow and I were no longer in the hospital room to see it.

In fact for a flicker of a heartbeat we were no longer on GrandMother's shores at all.

We were ... sideways.

And then, I felt Shadow stumble in my arms as the contours of the tile floor changed beneath our feet to the curved softness of grass.

I looked down on her stunned face. I remembered that Shadow understood Latin.

"Superior stabat lupus, longeque inferior agnus."

She frowned, "The wolf is upstream, and the lamb is downstream? What the bloody hell, are you --"

Then, she noticed our change in locales. "The Isle of Syke!"

"The Old Man of Storr to be exact."

Frigid winds buffeted us. Night was dying hard.

We were at the top of the weird-shaped remains of an ancient volcanic plug on the ragged hill which overlooked the Sound of Raasay.

The terrain was harsh and moon-like. The grass beneath our feet was black and seared, all the life leeched from it. A new kind of death had come to these shores.

And so had we. I had bent the cloth of GrandMother's dress to nudge us to the largest island northwest of Scotland. The Isle of Skye.

In the Norse sagas it had gone by the name of Skio. What had been that line in the legend of Hakonarsonar?

'The hunger battle-birds filled Skye with blood of foemen killed.' From what I was seeing, the poet must have been a prophet.

Shadow seemed to be of a like mind as the breath left her. We both looked down upon an eerily transformed Loch Leathan.

It stretched as far as the eye could see in the hellish half-light. I tried to swallow and couldn’t.

I could believe this was Man's last day. The loch was blue fire, and white electric mists were slowly rising from the hidden surface.

And laughing dancers who bore no semblance to man or animal floated from wave to wave in flashes of lightning and lilts of ethereal song not unlike the piping of Apache spirit flutes.

Beyond them, ghostly writhing shadows sat in small, graceful sky-blue boats decorated with golden runes and figureheads of black winged creatures.

Only three small boats that I could see, but they headed towards the receding darkness. Away from us.

I finally managed a swallow. If we had come any sooner, they would have feasted upon us. Now, they were chasing the night in search of new prey.

But with the return of night, they would be back. They would be hungry. And we would be dead.

Shadow watched them slip beyond the cusp of the awakening horizon. She shivered. Then, with a whip of her long hair, she turned to me.

"Sideways, huh?"

"It seemed the way to go."

"Now, what?"

"We chase the dawn."

"That's your plan? Live out our lives running in circles?"

I arched an eyebrow. "I believe that's the human condition."

"And when we get tired of running?"

"We stop and face the night."

"And do what?"

"Fight the darkness ... until we can't."

"That's it?"

I suddenly saw the terrified face of the twenty year old she had been settle like an after-image over her taunt face. "That's all there ever was, Shadow."

"No! I refuse to believe that. I - I have to believe there's something more. I have to!"

Her body was so rigid and taunt I half-expected her to snap like a rubber band. I sucked in a breath. I was expecting too much of her.

She was only white. She could only take so much truth. It was bad enough she was going to die, I couldn't crush her spirit as well.

I forced a smile. "Well, I've managed to survive this long by living in denial. There's always that."

I handed her back her gun. She took in a ragged breath. And with a wolf's smile, she chambered in a round.

"Damn straight!"

I figured she had the damned part right. But I wasn't about to tell that to a terrified assassin with a loaded gun. I winked at her.

"Besides, the Aztecs said we had until December. Let's go see how much trouble we can get into in two months."

She winked back. "Now, that sounds like my kind of plan."

I took her left hand and walked into the harsh glare of the last dawn. My heart heavy within me, I looked up into the inflamed frost and flame of the winter sky. Each step felt as if I were losing ground.

I caught Shadow looking at me strange. No. This was wrong. I was behaving like a white. I was the last Lakota. And my People deserved better than I was behaving.

"Excuse me, Shadow."

I gently released her left hand. Unclenching my fists, I raised open palms to The Great Mystery, thanking him for the cold breath in my lungs, for the caress of Winter on my face, and for worthy enemies at whom to bare my teeth and drag with me over the cliffs of death.

Father Sun was warm to my face. And once more I could feel GrandMother firm beneath my feet.

Out of the corner of my eye I could see Shadow tuck her gun under her belt and raise open palms to the inflamed, bruised sky. I smiled.

There was hope for her after all.

Maybe there was hope for us, too.



  1. An Announcement :
    THE KILLER CHICKS have a 3 CONTEST going on right now where you can 3 different Amazon gift cards. Wow. What a deal, right? :

    I know all of you can do much better with 150 words than long-winded me. But here's my flash fiction that I entered :

    They called him "The Snowman" because if coke was sold, and I don't mean the kind that fizzes, he got a cut. They called his bodyguards "Ice and Easy" because the blonde used an ice pick, and the redhead killed real easy.

    "Trick or Treat, Standish," laughed The Snowman. "I got a Halloween message I want you to deliver to McCord, that undead guardian of yours."

    Maybe I was only 13 years old, but I quaked in my shoes for no one. "I got a bad memory. Use the telephone."

    Ice caressed her weapon of choice. "Your bloody body will say it all, Victor baby."

    I saw the black mist ooze under the doorway and smiled wide, "Snowman, I've met your Killer Chicks. Meet Alice, my ghoul friend."

    Many screams and too few seconds later, Alice licked her bloody fingers. "He melted in my mouth ... just like snow."

  2. Hey Roland,
    Much luck on your personal journey. I hope you are well soon!
    Also, I loved your excerpt from today! I wonder... when they were on the black seared grass, or the wind hit their faces, I was itching for a word about what everything smelled like. What do you think?

  3. Roland: Nice ending to the tale, I loved it.

    I liked your 150 - great wordplay and fun to read.

    Best wishes on your journey, make sure you come back soon. Leave us a wink to let us know your fine.

  4. Love this excerpt, Roland! Hope all's well!

  5. Hi Roland. Just caught your comment at Rainy Day Wanderer. Hope the surgeon's kind to you and all's well.

    I hope this particular tale you posted here is not fini. Looking forward to much more..:)

  6. Chasing the Dawn, and awesome concept.

    And no, I couldn't do better in 150 words. So much character description in that. Awesome.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery.