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Angels Of the Anasazi
By Jack Mitchell
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Jack Mitchell
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe shadow of the tree line slowly withdrew from the canyon floor as the sun moved higher into the clear blue sky. The calls and whistles from the birds, combined with the sound of the small stream of water as it rippled over the rock floor, created a musical lullaby. Those sounds, in contrast to the rugged landscape, added to the peaceful spirit of this small canyon. A hawk was slowly circling overhead as it kept constant lookout for a meal that it could silently swoop down and get.
A cooler breeze came down the canyon as the wind stirred slightly. The hawk adjusted his wings to stay in the same pattern of flight as he too became aware of the change in the wind. A little squirrel moved along the edge of the rocks, staying under the overhanging brush, to keep out of sight of the hungry hawk. The squirrel abruptly stopped and ducked behind a rock outcropping as he noticed something strange on a flat ledge in the canyon floor. He slowly moved his head out to see what was lying so still. He sensed no danger and moved slowly from his hidden place to investigate. The hawk had not noticed and moved farther down the canyon and was now out of sight of the watchful little squirrel. The squirrel ventured closer to the sleeping figure.
Shadows of the canyon wall had covered the still form, but sunlight had now edged closer to the head of the sleeping form and its warmth and brightness began to awaken it. The little squirrel noticed a slight movement and crouched down, ready to run if needed. He was wary of the four-legged cats that visited this small canyon to drink from the fresh water and escape the heat of the day, but this was not anything like them. Could this be one of the two-legged creatures he had seen before the last snow melted? Several of the creatures came and left after collecting some water in round pots they carried with them.
The creature slowly moved his leg, and the fingers of one hand slowly extended. Soon it opened one eye and then the other as it awoke from the deep sleep that had kept it so still. The little squirrel saw this movement and quickly darted to safety behind a small bush, but he kept his attention on the stirring figure. He still sensed no danger, yet caution was his nature and this was a time to be cautious. The squirrel determined that this was certainly one of the two-legged creatures. What the little squirrel did not know was that this creature is a man, and in time, these men would dominate all creatures.
When the man had fully awakened, he looked around and saw the steam of water had collected itself into a small depression in the rocky canyon floor. He kneeled down, carefully putting his lips into the water to try it. Seemingly safe to drink, he satisfied his thirst and then submerged his head into the water as if to revive his senses. He wiped the water from his face and shook it from his hair while looking up into the blue sky overhead.
'What is this place?' he wondered.
Small white clouds had now joined with the blue of the sky adding to the colors he saw before him. The multi colored rocks around him contrasted with the green of the small trees and bushes in this small canyon. Red, grey and brown bands of color were visible in the walls that rose on both sides of him.
'Why am I here?' he thought. He searched his mind for answers to his questions. His memory failed to provide him with the answers he needed as though wiped clean of everything before this moment. He looked over his well-muscled body to see if he was injured in any way. All appeared fine except for a small cut on his chest that was already beginning to heal. He felt a tender spot on his forehead and bent down to see his reflection in a pool of water. He could see a swollen area and some dried blood. This injury had also begun to heal. He was over six feet tall and had the body of a mature man with an athletic build. He could tell from his reflection that he appeared to be around the age of twenty with light hair and blue eyes.
He was clothed in a wrap of white cloth that covered his loins, held in place with a cord the color of the blue sky. A single golden ring hung around his neck as a type of necklace that had no beginning or end. His hands explored the necklace, and it seemed there was no way to take it off, as it was too small to remove over his head.
His feet were bare, and he felt the warmth of the sunlit rock, as he stood all alone in this lonely and strange new world. His mind raced with questions of where he had come from and how he got to this place. The landscape that he saw before him was unfamiliar.
"Are there other people like me in this place, and what kind of creatures will I find?" he spoke aloud. Hearing his own voice broke the spell, and from the corner of his eye, he noticed something moving. The little squirrel ran quickly up the canyon floor and away from the startling sounds.
"Do not be afraid of me little one," the man said. The little squirrel heard him but seemed to move even faster to the cover of the brush. It ran from sight and, once again, the man felt all alone.
The man decided to follow the flow of the water as it made the journey to lower ground. He understood the laws of nature that caused water to seek its level and hoped it would lead him to others, like himself, who needed the water to survive. He realized he needed to stay near water, for he had no way of taking any with him. His thoughts turned to food and what he could find that would satisfy that basic need. The air to breathe was fresh and cleaner than usual.
"Usual to what?" he spoke aloud again.
How could he recognize the things around him? How could he understand so much in the environment but not know things about himself? He only hoped that would change in time. The flood of questions came again, and he dropped his head and stared at the water that continued to flow at his feet. He would have to find the answers to these questions as he explored this new place. He knew that he must move forward and see what would happen next. The answer to his past and future lay ahead.
The small canyon began to grow larger as he continued to follow the small stream. It finally ended in a large canyon that extended for some distance ahead. Tall walls framed the low ground of the canyon, as a picture that was beautiful but harsh. He followed the small stream as it continued down one side of the large canyon.
The sun was directly overhead now, but it was not extremely hot. In the far distance, he could see mountains with snow still resting on the peaks. He saw some flowering plants and felt this must be the spring of the year.
He walked for some time and still had not seen anything moving except the grass blowing in the wind. Overhead he could see an occasional bird or hawk moving from one side of the canyon to the other, as if keeping watch on his movements and alerting all things on the path before him.
The rough ground had begun to take its toll on his bare feet. He was stopping more often to rest and allow them to recover before moving on. As he started up a slight rise on the path, he wondered if he would see any sign of life when he reached the top. As he scanned the horizon, he felt certain he saw something ahead that appeared different from the natural surroundings. It gave him hope of finding some kind of life. He quickened his pace, as he felt a new surge of energy flow through him, with the thought of this potential discovery.
As he approached the unusual shape, it became more obvious that it was a structure created by something or someone and not formed by nature. He slowed his pace some as he grew closer, to see if there was anything occupying what seemed to be some kind of dwelling. He did not want to walk into any danger, as he was not sure what to expect.
"Hello," he cautiously spoke. "Is anyone there?" There was no sounds or movement, so he called out again. "Hello! Is anyone there? I mean no harm!"
He continued walking forward as no sounds or movement resulted from the sound of his words. The dwelling, built by human hands, appeared unoccupied at the present. Built both in and out of the ground, it had short walls with a covering over the top forming a roof. As he walked closer, he could see broken pieces of what appeared to be an object, perhaps a pot or cup. As he reached the small doorway, he carefully stooped to look inside, aware that danger could still await him. It appeared to be empty, and from the condition of grass mats left on the dirt floor, it seemed to have been that way for quite some time. The people that lived here had abandoned their home and moved away.
"Moved to where?" he muttered to himself, as he looked into the distance with a sense of loneliness overcoming him once again.
At least he had found some shelter as the sun had started to reach the rim of the canyon and darkness would soon be upon him.
With light still coming through the small doorway, he pushed some of the remaining mats into a bed for himself and felt it was comfortable enough to rest. The little stream had finally disappeared before he reached this place and he knew he would go back to quench his thirst before beginning a new day. He sat outside leaning against the mud wall of the dwelling until the light had disappeared, replaced by an unbelievable number of stars. He recognized the familiar night sky and the distant stars as they moved across the heavens, but the patterns they made were strange and did not stir any memories.
He was asleep in the dwelling, when he heard the sound of a distant animal. It was calling into the night, much as he had called out, for something to hear him. No answer came to the animal's call, and it soon grew silent, perhaps feeling as lonely as the man who heard his call.
Before he returned to sleep, he had noticed it appeared to be lighter outside, and he wondered if this place had short nights. He arose and went to the door to see if the sun was beginning to rise. Instead of the sun, an object in the sky that bathed the land with soft light greeted him. He stood looking for some time, and it appeared to move across the sky just like the sun. The night air was much cooler now and the light provided no warmth at all. He had recognized the warming sun, but he did remember a name for a light such as this during the night.
He returned to his bed and soon fell asleep. He did not dream, and the night passed silently. The animal that had been howling passed where he was sleeping and moved on down the canyon. He was unaware of this and slept until the sun brought a new day.
The man awoke as the sun began to warm the air, and he stepped outside his temporary home to stretch his legs, as the low ceiling of the house preventing him from doing so inside. He wondered if the people who lived here were smaller and did not need the height. Perhaps they were satisfied to squat or sit as he had done while inside. As he started back up the trail to get some water, he became aware of a feeling in his stomach that reminded him that he had not yet found food. He began to wonder how long he could endure.
After drinking his fill and washing the dust from his body, he was prepared to continue his journey. He looked at the water. It had always been close, but now that it seemed to stop at this spot, he became concerned that water might be the most serious of his needs. He knew he could go without food, but finding another source of water would be more beneficial. Unfortunately, there was no other choice but to continue forward.
He had been walking for most of the day with no sign of water or food. He was hoping to find another shelter and not have to sleep out in the open. When the sun began to reach the far canyon wall, he picked up his pace to make as much progress as possible before the light was gone. The light provided by the white object at night was not enough to travel after dark on this rough ground, and he felt it would not be safe to continue walking. As the sunlight began to cast shadows on the wall of this side of the canyon, it made it harder to make out the features of the rock face. What looked like another overhang became only a shadow. The strange and shadowed shapes played tricks on his mind.
When it was almost too dark to go any farther, he noticed a gap in the canyon wall ahead. Was it a shadow? Could this possibly be another smaller canyon with water? It joined this large canyon in the same way as the small one from which he had started his journey. He tried to make it before it got too dark but had to give up after falling several times. He found a place with some soft ground between two boulders that had fallen from the canyon face and he stopped for the night. Even the thirst and hunger he felt could not overcome his exhaustion and he fell fast asleep.
A slight stirring of the morning air awakened the sleeping man as the first light of the day brought the same strange shadows to the opposite canyon wall. The hunger and thirst was now taking its toll on his body, and he knew he must go on. When he reached the entrance to this smaller canyon, he continued following the trail others had traveled before. It seemed to be the way to go as both animals and men, he hoped like himself, had the same need for food and water. While making his way up this canyon, he saw an area before him that seemed greener than anything else did and he hoped it meant water would be there.
As he approached the site, a herd of deer suddenly bolted across to the other side of the canyon, and he watched them as they ran away. He realized that the male and females, followed by small babies, meant that life in this place could not be as harsh as he felt. He was right, as water was the reason the deer stopped before being scared away by his presence. The deer had made the water muddy, and he had to go farther up the canyon to find a clear pool for him to drink. His spirit lifted as he fell to his knees to taste the fresh water.
Little did he know that he had been very fortunate, as water was particularly hard to find in this arid land. Anything traveling without knowing where to find water could easily die.
"Thank you God for this nourishment to my body for you are the giver of life," said the man without thinking.
He paused and looked to the heavens, puzzled that he did not fully remember why he felt the need to give thanks to God. He wondered why he had spoken to a God he could not remember. Would this God speak to him or even hear his thanks? Would it help to ask God to show him the way and provide food?
Somehow, he felt fortunate to have found water and this good fortune might not always be with him. He decided it was time to move on. This particular canyon was quite long, and as he moved along its side, there was no escape from the sun. The sun had risen and crossed the sky directly overhead, and he was not able to find the morning or evening shade, as he had the last few days.
He continued following the path as it headed up the canyon, and he could see many flowering plants. He wondered if any of them would be suitable for food. He knew that nature provided many nourishing plants but, also, produced others that could cause death if eaten. The hunger had not become so severe that he would take that chance.
In the distance, he thought he could see another overhang of rock that may provide shelter from the sun. He realized it was time for some rest, for his feet were beginning to be a real problem. Most of the surface on which he had been walking was dried ground with cracks in the surface like open mouths awaiting a drink of water. There were some grass and small bushes, but they were always thin enough to reveal the parched ground. The small trail he had been following sometimes crossed rock outcroppings. He continued to walk over the rocky area for fear of losing the trail. This proved exceedingly difficult and painful to his bare feet.
As he finally reached the resting spot, thoughts of who he was and why he was here once again took control. Did someone send him here? Would he die, abandoned, in this place? If someone sent him here, why had they not prepared him for this trip, knowing the environment that he would be facing? Was he to prove himself in some way? Could they have sent him here knowing that he could die? Is this what is going to become of him in the end? The questions seemed endless.
Excerpted from Angels Of the Anasazi by Jack Mitchell Copyright © 2011 by Jack Mitchell. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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