EXCERPT FROM MY LATEST WORK IN PROGRESS "EXPLORATION"

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Part 5

Akecheta was deep in slumber when he started to feel drops of liquid on his face. Thinking it was only a dream the warrior closed his eyes tighter to block out any subconscious thoughts that would disturb his much needed rest. The droplets stopped and Akecheta blindly smiled in his half sleep telling himself he had overcome another obstacle albeit a minor one in his way of thinking. Rolling over on his side he delved further into his sleep. As he journeyed he could feel the droplets hitting him again accompanied by rhythms of warm air. Returning to semi-consciousness Akecheta reasoned it was his eyes to collect his bearings. To his astonishment a white bear cub was directly in front of him and the droplets were coming from the cub’s mouth. Thinking he was about to be the cubs next meal and he would no longer be breathing soon Akecheta quickly rolled out of bed and crashed onto the floor. Lying prone his first instinct was to grab his rifle. But it was not next to the bed where he had placed it. Meanwhile the bear just sat and stared.

 

{Bow and arrows. Where’s my bow?}

 

That too was missing. Akecheta was now near panicked. He checked around the quarters. The door and windows were shut.

 

{How had the bear gotten in? They weren’t known to open doors and there was no food lying around. Where’s my rifle?}

 

And the bear still sat in the same place.

“If you’re looking for your weapons I put them outside.”

Akecheta spun around to see who was speaking.

“Akecheta look at me. I mean you no harm. I put your weapons outside to protect me.”

 

Akecheta just stared at the white bear cub still sitting stationary but raised its head when the warrior heard something speak. Again he looked around the room.

“Don’t panic. The only two in the room are you and me Akecheta. Be still and no harm will come to you.”

“I hear a voice and see your head rise up when I do but your lips do not move. How can this be? Where did you some from? How did you get in here? Why are you here?”

“Wait wait my impatient two-legged. One question at a time.”

“Ok one at a time. I did not know you could talk the human talk. When did this happen?”

“I was given this power temporarily for you to hear.”

“But your lips do not move.”

“You are hearing what I am being told to think.”

“You can think?”

“We have our limitations as do all species including yours but yes we have a brain and can what you call think.”

“But how do I know what you are saying?”

“You are the keeper of the Feather are you not?”

“Yes.”

“That is how.”

“Where did you come from?”

“The mountains in the far frozen north.”

“How did you get here?”

“An Old Man put me here. He told me to tell you he wears a red bandana and you would know what that means.”

“But why did he send you?”

“He said for you to follow me and that some one wishes to speak with you.”

“When and where do we go?”

“We go now and I am to take you to a certain spot told to me by Old Man and then I will go back to my home in the north. What happens after that I do not know. I hope I am doing the correct thing.”

“If Old Man told you this then you are. Let me dress and I will follow.”

While Akecheta was putting on his leggings and moccasins he marveled at the way White Bear Cub placed the warrior’s rifle, bow and arrows gently on the bed. When the cub finished he turned to Akecheta.

“Are you ready?”

“Yes.”

 

That was all Akecheta could say still amazed he was talking somehow with a bear and they could understand each other. Akecheta then realized he had just been shown the power of Creator and the simple way by which Grandfather could display his glory.

 

“Well then we should go now.”

 

Akecheta followed as White Bear Cub lumbered out the front door of Akecheta’s temporary quarters. As he exited Akecheta looked up and noticed the moon was full and nearby stars had been relocated in the shape of an arrow to indicate the direction the pair should travel. If Akecheta guessed, he would have assumed the two would head north towards the Sacred Mountains but he would have been mistaken. Instead they headed southeast towards lands the warrior had never ventured to. What lie ahead was unknown and unexplored by him but he reasoned that White Bear Cub had been sent by Old Man and one had to trust if one was to grow.

 

As Akecheta followed the bear cub he wondered how the bear knew which path to take. Then he noticed that tiny light arrows would appear whether on a tree a rock or on the ground to indicate which way to follow. The two walked for quite a distance when Akecheta noticed the terrain was starting to change. At what appeared to be some sort of border the cub stopped and looked at the warrior. What lie ahead was desert and the fur coating on White Bear Cub would be a definite hindrance rather than a help.

 

“This is as far as I am supposed to take you.”

“Where do I go from here?”

“I was told you would be shown the way. There is a water pouch and some food on that flat rock. It is for you.”

 

Akecheta walked to the flat surface and discovered meat, fruits and roots were waiting for him. When he turned around to thank the bear cub he was gone without a sound to indicate his departure. Puzzled Akecheta sat on the flat rock, drank from the water pouch and began to indulge in the preparations. As he ate the warrior recognized the rock as the one he sat on when he and his father walked and spoke of the son’s journey oh so long ago. Looking towards the heavens he noticed a star stream across the night sky and eventually disappear leaving a trail of what looked like dust that sparkled and shimmered against the blackness of its surroundings. Concentrating on the beauty of father Sky Akecheta did not notice the person that approached.

 

“When you are done eating we will continue. Save plenty of water as you will need it. It’s hot out there.”

“Thaddeus Jr. How did you find me?”

“I was brought here to help you. Take your time then we will continue.”

“So I’m supposed to follow you? How do you know where to go?”

“Do you see that point way off in the distance?”

“No, it’s too far away. But how can you see it and how do we get there?”

“Akecheta. That is the future which cannot be seen.”

“But that is where you are taking me?”

“No I am taking you towards the future. If you are done eating we must go. Be sure you take your water. Your thirst will increase the more you travel towards the future.”

“Are you going there with me?”

“No I will not go as far as you for now. But I was sent to guide you on the correct path.”

“I am ready now Thaddeus Jr. We should start.”

 

Akecheta stood up and the pair stepped over the imaginary boundary that separated the shortened grassy plains from the desert sands. Instantly the darkness disappeared and replacing its peaceful tranquility was a lazing sun accompanied by searing heat. As the two began to walk Thaddeus Jr. reminded Akecheta to bring the water to which the warrior pointed to the carrier already slung over his shoulder and across his chest. Satisfied the young boy struck out in the lead and glanced over his shoulder to make sure Akecheta followed.

“Don’t worry. I’m right behind you.”

“Just making sure.”

 

Akecheta quickened his pace so that he was astride his young companion and together they walked towards their unseen destination. As the sun rose higher in Father Sky the heat grew more intense. At periodic intervals the two stopped to rest and Akecheta sipped from the pouch. When he offered some to Thaddeus thye boy declined.

“Aren’t you thirsty?”

“No I’m fine. I had my fill a while back.”

“Well just let me know. I’ll be glad to share. There’s plenty.”

“No need. My needs are being taken care of as we speak. Let’s move on.”

“I’m right with you.”

 

The sun rose even higher and the air became stifling. The heat began to blur the vision of the boy and man as they took each step. Off in the distance what looked like a lake appeared.

“There’s water ahead. We should keep moving.”

“That’s the heat playing tricks on your eyes Akecheta. The heat comes out of the ground to fool you.”

“I’ve heard of that before but thought it was a story from our ancestors.”

“Well Akecheta you can see its true. It’s no story. You can tell your people that when you get back to your home.”

Akecheta looked into the distance and saw what appeared to be another figure coming towards them.

“Another trick Thaddeus?”

“No she is expected.”

“She?”

“You’ll see.”

 

The two walked slowly in the direction of the heat lake as the figure walked towards them. As they neared each other Akecheta could not make out who it was but from the stature the figure was human and short. The closer they came the more familiar the figure became. Finally Akecheta recognized the figure as the little girl he had helped in the village of Black Crow. When they were face to face the little girl spoke.

“Are you finding what you seek?”

“What are you doing here? How did you get here? I am sorry you never told me your name.”

“I was sent here just as Thaddeus Jr. was. And my name is Star Gazer.”

“Star Gazer? A most unusual name. How did you come by it?”

 

“When I was born I was given the name Bright Eyes because my eyes were always wide open to take in my surroundings. But my Grandmother noticed that I was always looking into the night sky. She said nothing could distract me when I stared into the heavens. So she gave me the name Star Gazer and that is who I have become.”

“You speak very well for a child your age.”

“These are my Grandmother’s words. She said I will grow into them just as Thaddeus has grown into his.”

“So you two know each other?”

“The man Mason Free brought Thaddeus Jr. to the village and introduced us. Just as Thaddeus has no parents my parents are also dead and Black Crow acts as my father.”

“This is good to know that different peoples look out for their children. I have heard stories that have led me to think otherwise.”

“Do not worry. Black Crow is a good father and the other women in the village look out for me as well. My Grandmother does what she can but she often needs help. The younger raves see she wants for nothing. I am glad that is our way.”

“I am sorry about you parents but am glad you are well cared for.”

“Well it is time to get going. Thaddeus are you ready?”

“I will walk with you Star Gazer.”

 

Akecheta let the two young ones lead and he followed closely behind. He kept a small distance to give the two a chance to talk. He marveled at the way the two children cloud carry on while the intensity of the heat increased to the point sweat poured down the warrior’s forehead and practically blinded his vision. But these two children carried on as if they had not a care in the world and they were strolling among the prairie grasses instead of the sand which temperature had reached the point where Akecheta was glad he had taken the time to put on his moccasins. No wonder the White Bear Cub had stopped where he did. His unprotected paws would never stand up to this heat. It was then Akecheta looked down and saw that Thaddeus and Star Gazer were barefoot.

 

{How in the world?}

Thaddeus stopped his conversation and turned around.

“I think we should stop here and rest. There’s some rocks nearby where we can all sit.”

Akecheta looked around and saw nothing but heat seared flat ground.

“Trust us Akecheta they are there. Your eyes play tricks.”

“I have no choice but to trust the both of you Star Gazer.”

“You always have a choice Akecheta sometimes you just can’t see it.”

The three changed direction and walked towards the west. After a while they came upon a drop in Mother Earth’s skin and below them was a group of flat rocks to rest upon.

“Thaddeus how did you know?”

Star Gazer looked at the warrior.

“We were told and we listened. Let us rest.”

“Fine by me. Are either of you thirsty? There’s still some water left.”

“We are fine. Sit over there. Drink what you need and leave the pouch open.”

 

Akecheta, although puzzled, did as instructed. He sat down across from the children in amazement they had not have anything to drink nor did they have anything on their feet to protect them from a heat so intense it would definitely leave burning scars on unprotected flesh. But neither showed any signs of pain or discomfort.

 

Now Akecheta looked towards Father Sky and saw a bank of dark clouds rolling in from all sides. A storm was encircling them and the warrior looked for shelter.

“Do not worry Akecheta. No harm will come to us.”

 

Akecheta could only sit and watch as the clouds thickened. The skies blackened as if the sun was being blocked out. The increased clouds had the desired effect of turning a sun blazoned sky into a moonless night. Akecheta gazed at the two young ones who appeared unmoved and unshaken by the actions taking place above. Then the clouds opened up and released their moisture. The steady rainfall turned into a deluge of welcoming coolness. Neither lightning nor thunder was present to cause any alarm to the three travelers. Just a liquid that was appreciated by both body and spirit. Star Gazer motioned to Akecheta to make sure the top was off his water pouch to refill it. As soon as the warrior took off the top a steady stream of water fell into his carrier as if directed from above the storm. Within minutes the pouch was refilled and the top reset. When this was accomplished the dark clouds parted leaving a heavy mist far overhead to lock out any direct sunlight. This would keep the surface of the now cooled sands of Mother Earth from being a danger to the humans as they traversed the land.

The atmosphere was that of early dawn or late dusk. The brightness of day was gone and the three retraced their steps to the path they had vacated to find their resting spot. When they were back on the correct path the journey began anew with Star Gazer and Thaddeus leading and Akecheta following closely behind.

 

Traveling what seemed to be another ten miles under the misty overcast skies Thaddeus pointed to a particular spot ahead of them.

“Akecheta you are to stand where I point and honor the four directions four times and when you have finished you are to face towards the spot of the unseen future.”

Akecheta did as instructed and came to rest facing the unseen future.

“You must stand there and trust. Do not move.”

Akecheta remained motionless and steadied his breathing.

“Now you must close your eyes and empty your mind. You will hear things but do not open your eyes until you hear my voice.”

 

Akecheta closed his eyes and began to envision his parents and his group if friends while he was growing up. As this was happening he could hear strange noises coming from above and feel peculiar vibrations all around him. But he kept his eyes shut. This continued for a time and the temptation to see what was happening around him was great but he resisted. He could hear Thaddeus and Star Gazer singing a song known only to them as the ground continued to vibrate around him. On cue when the two finished their singing the noise from above and the vibrations stopped.

“You may open your eyes now.”

 

When the warrior reopened his eyes he was surrounded by a circular wall of lances stuck into Mother Earth and protruding well above his head. Akecheta approached the lances to see if he could push them to the side but they would not be budged. He looked towards Father Sky and noticed the tops of the lances were covered in a substance that was the color red. His thoughts went immediately Thaddeus Jrs. Father, General Albright, and how these lances reminded him of the massacre of Atwood’s best friend at the time. The red substance was the color of blood and Akecheta was saddened.

“Am I caged in here for some reason?”

“No Akecheta, on the contrary you are to be released. Look up.”

Akecheta diverted his attention to Father Sky once more only to see the mist had thickened while his eyes were closed.

“Released? How? By who?”

“Be patient.”

 

Without missing a beat a bolt of lightning appeared and began a rapid descent towards Akecheta. Instinct took over and the warrior crouched as low as he could to avoid being hit. But he was not the target. Instead the lightning struck the top of one of the lances and instantly ignited it. The flames shot up and quickly spread on both sides until the top of the circle was ablaze. Akecheta stood up and watched in amazement as the flames and heat soared upwards. He stood in awe as he watched the conflagration burn a perfect circular hole in the now blackened mist far above. What was revealed to him was the scene miles above Mother Earth’s atmosphere and far beyond the sight any person had ever seen.

 

He watched as the flames and heat burned their way deeper into the heavens. Past the stars they had been taught to use to find their way. Past the moon used to measure their months and seasons. Past the unknown objects that did not twinkle as the stars did. Well beyond the known to the unknown. While this was being revealed to the warrior Thaddeus and Star Gazer began chanting. Akecheta lowered his line of sight instinctively to find he could now see through the solid wall of lances. He watched as Thaddeus and Star Gazer joined hands while they chanted and with their free hands motioned a hailing gesture to all the directions. Akecheta redirected his sight to the wonders of above and stood in silent awe of the beauty, glory and power that was being revealed to him. As his sight was mesmerized above Akecheta could hear the sound of other voices coming towards his direction. He spun around and around to see young children of all ages were approaching. Some were as Star Gazer was, some as Thaddeus was, some as Mason was and some as a race he had heard about but never encountered. Now he understood why the medicine wheel was painted the way it was. Red, Yellow, Black and white. All equal in space on the wheel to depict balance and harmony.

 

As the children approached they took up the chant started by Thaddeus and Star Gazer. When they neared the outer perimeter of the lance circle they each took a position and waited for the circle to be complete before they joined hands. Upon completion the chant changed and increased in intensity. All exterior noise was blocked out as the young ones called out to the above. Akecheta delighted in the strength and harmony of the voices which grew louder as each verse was completed.

 

As the chant gathered strength the ground below Akecheta’s feet began to move. Fearing another tremor Akecheta sat down in case the next one knocked him off his feet. The children chanted louder and the ground began to shake. When the chant reached a certain pitch the ground began to raise taking Akecheta upwards. Slowly at first the ground rose but the lance circle was large enough to insure Akecheta’s safety. But to make sure the warrior placed himself in the center of the circle so he would not stray close to the edge which was probably beyond the structure of the lance wall.

 

Higher and higher the ground rose and Akecheta watched  as he passed through the darkened mist which could be seen through the transparent lances. He became mesmerized by the actions that were taking place. As the ground swell started to reach the outer limit of the black mist a blast was felt beneath the warrior’s feet. In a moments flash he could see through the floor that had separated from the now stilled land mass.

 

The warrior sat as he looked up and could see an enclosure being fashioned to the top on the now extinguished lances. A sound was heard above his head to indicate his compartment had become a shelter to protect him from any dangers that may lie ahead. Upward and faster he traveled to the outer reaches of Father Sky. As the enclosure penetrated the blackening of the heavens Akecheta was glad there was no barrier to keep him trapped inside the confines of Mother Earth and Father Sky. He was traveling from what was known and what was speculated into the realm of his ancestor’s dreams and visions. Akecheta looked down and could see Mother Earth becoming smaller and smaller the further he traveled. Much to his surprise he saw that Mother Earth spun in a circle rather than Father Sky, Sister Sun and rather Moon circling around his home. Off to the east he could see the brightness of the Morning Star. To this he offered a silent prayer in hopes that someone was doing the same below.

 

Akecheta recognized that his enclosure offered no means of escape. His instincts told him he was not being caged but this was a necessary protection. He understood without being told that to venture out of this enclosure would mean certain death. He did not know how or even why but the lessons he had been taught, grow up with and honed told him to be still and enjoy the journey. Sitting down on a flattened stomp that had appeared Akecheta would occasionally sip from his water pouch. The majority of the time was spent looking at the sights that were passing before his ever widening eyes. To absorb all would be impossible but to absorb enough and understand was a necessity. So the warrior sat, looked, saw and studied. What had been an object of protection had turned into a mode of transportation. It was now traveling through the darkness of the heavens at a rate of speed slow enough for Akecheta to understand there was more to Creator’s vision than just Mother Earth and Father Sky.

 

Just as the warrior thought he had seen wonders to be understood the stars began to swirl and twist above him. The bodies gathered together in a sphere and began to split into two separate groupings. Then they began to rotate in opposite directions which resulted in sparks lunging outward in all directions. Their spinning increased in intensity and the frequency of sparks flashed before the warrior’s eyes. Watching the dance of the spheres Akecheta noticed the distance between the spinning globes was increasing as they grew bigger in size and intensity. The dance continued as the spheres slid down the opposite sides of the transparent enclosure.

 

This movement continued until the spheres had settled underneath him. Then as if the rhythm and tempo of an unseen musical force was keeping time the spinning action of the spheres grew to a frantic pace. Sparks shot out in all directions with such a frequency they were forming a solid wall of light. Akecheta sat dumbfounded as the wall of light gathered strength and approached the enclosure. Then a hyge blast of light energy was released sending the enclosure outward reaching a speed where all was a blur. The warrior could feel the enclosure tumbling, spinning, twisting and turning through the heavens but all sense of up or down, left or right was gone. All was correct and balanced in any and all directions. A multitude of streaming lights passed by at a rapid pace leaving the warrior to wonder where he was headed and when he would stop.  The speed began to decrease and Akecheta sensed he was approaching his unknown destination. Eventually the enclosure came to a rest. Akecheta sipped water as he gazed in all directions. Finally he asked himself.

 

“Where am I?”

AS soon as he said that a portion of the transparent lances became solid and words appeared.

“You are here.”

“But where is here?”

“In the center and beginning of everything.”

“Who are you?”

“I am who I am.”

“Are you Old Man?”

“No. He is my son. You know me as Grandfather.”

Akecheta fell silent completely stunned.

“Why am I here?”

“I brought you here to remind you of you.”

“What do you mean?”

“You are on a journey that started long before you were born. It took time for things to be right to put you on Mother Earth.”

“I thought you appeared as a burning bush?”

“That was another time. Different ways are used for different peoples and even different species.”

“You mean you appear to the four leggeds, the winged ones and others?”

“Yes that is the essence of A’ho Mitakuye Oyasin is it not? As your ancestors and elders have taught all are related. And all would mean everything would it not?”

“Yes most certainly. But why am I here?”

“You are on an exploration. A journey that has taken you a long way and I think you need to be reminded of that path. That is why I have brought you here. To help you heal.”

 

The words stopped appearing on the lance wall and the interior of the enclosure darkened. Images started to appear and Akecheta kept his focus on the things being presented for him to view. Images of the past to remind him of the present were being revealed to the warrior. The pictures were shown in a way that told a story. A scattered but linear version of Akecheta’s life up to the present. He watched himself on the ever pressing quest to find that mystical and, what he thought, mythical Feather. Forward to his father telling him he must follow his own heart. Tears came to his eyes as Wasicu, Nicki and Ichika appeared. Close friends long ago but never entirely forgotten. The finding of the Feather and being saved by the singed ones as he fell. The coming together of the Sacred Nation. The soldier invasion he stopped with the help of the Feather. And Ska, No words were good enough for those memories and the love that grew between them and the loss he felt when she was killed in that bloody war. Time had passed and much had changed. He had grown in many ways. Pictures of Standing Bear, Little Fawn, Blind Owl, Atwood, and many others flashed before him. With these thought the warrior sat and smiled. Much had been done and much more was needed to do. When the images stopped Akecheta was silent for a while. When he recovered he broke the silence.

 

“At first I did not know why you brought me here. But I am glad you did.”

“Akecheta it is good to reflect upon oneself every so often to see if the direction you chose is the direction you are headed.”

“And if it’s not?”

“Then it is up to you to determine if you need to change your path.”

“But you already know that.”

“Yes but you don’t.”

 

When that was spoken a gentle mist formed within the enclosure. Inhaling this Akecheta’s eyes grew heavy and try as he might to keep them open they fell shut. When he opened then he was lying on his back in the bed in the quarters Mason had prepared for him. He jumped out of bed to gather his wits. Was it a dream or a vision? How long had he been gone? Had he been missed? How would he explain his absence? He went to the front door and walked outside for some fresh air. Mason happened to be walking past his quarters making his nightly rounds.

“Akecheta I thought you’d be asleep by now. Is everything ok?”

“Um. Oh yes Mason. Everything is fine. Thank you for asking. I am tired so I’ll go back inside now.”

“Well goodnight then.”

“Good night Mason. See you in the morning.”

 

Akecheta went back inside and just sat on the edge of the bed. The dream was so lifelike it was almost real. The warrior looked around to see if there were and signs of a change. Not seeing any he stood up once more and walked around the room. As he approached his rifle something caught his eye. Among the rifle, bow and arrows something had been added. He moved his weaponry to one side and behind them was something wrapped in a white hide. When he unwrapped this bundle he found pieces of the lance wall, a necklace made from bear claws and a water pouch. Knowing what took place in his mind had actually happened Akecheta raised his arms and thanked Grandfather once more. Exhausted he lie back down on the bed and let a deep and restful sleep penetrate his being.

 

Comments

Dave Volek Added Jun 25, 2018 - 7:42pm
I read parts 1 and 2. I read a few paragraphs from this excerpt, and it sounds real good. Not in the mood for lots of long reading on a computer screen.
 
When will this book be available as an ebook?
Ric Wells Added Jun 25, 2018 - 7:55pm
Dave I'm about half way there. When published it will be on Kindle. All my books are there. Just Google ricwellsbooks. Should get you there.
wsucram15 Added Jun 26, 2018 - 10:36am
Great one..I remember the first part, but you added such a good second part. Really good Ric.
Ric Wells Added Jun 26, 2018 - 10:42am
Thanks Jeanne.
wsucram15 Added Jun 26, 2018 - 11:03am
never a problem..this is going to be an awesome book.  It really is.
Ric Wells Added Jun 26, 2018 - 11:22am
Part of the fourth book in my series.
James Travil Added Jun 26, 2018 - 11:33pm
I really good read Ric, I've got to go back and read the other parts! Can't wait for the book!
opher goodwin Added Jun 27, 2018 - 11:01am
Good stuff Ric - keep at it!!

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