In the dying light of the flickering fire sat an old Indian.At his feet knelt
the tribe's young children, their faces bright and eager for the story they knew
he wanted to tell. A story of the time when they had lived in strange stone
teepees, or the time after the War when all had to live by their wits and revert
to the ancient ways, the time of rebirth.
The old man stirred and cleared his throat. This would be his last story before
the Great Spirit called him to the Happy Hunting Grounds. He had just one more
tale to tell. He had saved the best till last. He sat back and began to speak.
In the time of the Great Devastation when Manou had cleared all buildings from
this land, the creeks dried up and the clouds disappeared. The days were hot and
the sun beat down relentlessly. There was no way of getting water but to take the
blood of our little brothers, those that still lived, for man in his foolish,
wasteful way had cleared all of the animals homes. The only creatures left had
lived in cages all their lives and, like us were haveing to relearn old ways long
Manou continued to withold the rain though we prayed for it night and day.
People began to form groups for protection and survival, those who shunned the
groups and struck out on their own became like animals. They ran around half-naked
with a coat of fur beginning to form on their bodies. Their eyes had a haunted,
hunted look to them.
They became little more than scavengers and, without the protection a group
afforded were eventually hunted down and killed by animals that fought harder for
One of the tribes formed at this time was made up of our ancestors. My great-
grandfather decided our tribe was better off moving away from the old cities to the
small reserves that had just survived the government's attempts to "relocate" the
Indians to more modern surroundings. He believed that Manou may have spared some of
the peoples who adhered to the ancient ways that he had taught.
It took us eighteen long months to reach the Reserve. 18 months of walking incessantly,
stopping only to hunt, eat and sleep. Some of our people were injured, some killed and
eaten by hungry bears, but we made it at last.
When we got there we found the Indians were gone, the shrubbery dead and the valley,
as everywhere else, was dying a slow and painful death.
Eventually we stopped moving. We had, after all reached the Pacific coast. We stayed
in a small overgrown village, or at least where a village had once been. At this time
many of our people were sick and dying. My illustrious ancestor died leaving a son of
We lived there for a while surviving on water that grew saltier by the day, and those
fish we could catch.
The remorseless sea crept back, inch by slow inch, foot by slow foot. With no rivers to
top it up it was being soaked up by the thirsty sand. The fish started to die off too.
We had some prickly pear cactus that somehow managed to survive on a bi-monthly bucket
of seawater and provided us with something to accompany our fish dishes. We were lucky,
others didn't make it.
Summer became Autumn, became Winter, the only seasonal changes now being a drop in
temperature. Another generation had passed away, giving their blood to the tribe and their
bodies to the cacti. I and some others were bornand learnt to read the signs.
I had nine summers when He came.
The first of the signs was the breeze. It whispered His name repeatedly, tenderly, like the
name of a well-remembered lover. The cactus, caressed by the gentle breeze echoed His name
softly, sweetly. The animals that were left stopped in their tracks, listened then started
to chatter excitedly. We all had a sense of something coming.
I had a head-ache, it was different to any I had had before. I recalled the legend of the
thunderstorm, of how some people would have head-aches in the hours, or even days that
preceded them. I dismissed it as wishful thinking, but the thought lingered in my mind, a
sliver of hope in a world of despair.
That night a stranger arrived in our home
The elders were wary of this stranger. He was different. He had a quiet dignity that bespoke
calmness in a sandstorm. He was tall and had strange markings on his face.
He wore trousers and tunic of a soft-tanned hide. He had a band of leather around his head
with a single black and white feather tucked into it at the back.
He had strings of coloured pebbles and beads dangling around his neck
He had a quiver of arrows strapped across his back- we had read of such thing in the few books
that survived the Devastation- and a bow lying alongside it. At his waist was a long dagger
in a sheath. Both quiver and sheath were decorated in a strange criss-cross pattern.
His long, black, flowing hair billowed out behind him. His deep brown eyes hid untold secrets.
I was intrigued by this silent stranger and felt an immediate and abiding sense of loyalty
Whe he looked at me with the twin black pools of his eyes I knew what he required. I brought
him cooked fish and a whole pitcher of our precious rainwater. Nothing was too good for this
After eating and drinking his fill he turned and strode back up into the hills. His long step
brisk but unhurried. He threatened nothing and nothing threatened him.
My headache continued and I slept little. I reflected instead upon the enigmatic stranger.
When I finally felli asleep my dreams were filled with deer water and above all, twin black
I awoke. My head thumping. It was cold. Colder than Tinter. I stepped out of our teepee. I
could feel the morning holding its breath. Something of momentous import was about to happen.
Without knowing why I started to walk. Faster, faster. I broket into a run. My feet were carrying
me toward the hills. Now I was at the goot of the cliff.
I do no know what happened then but I suddenly found myself at the top of the cliff looking at
a flickering fire.
The breeze whispered to me seductively
I could see him now, raven hair streaking out behind him. He wore only his trousers. He danced
around the fire, faster and faster, the markings on his face joining together into a spring that
flowed down his face and neck, down his body.
He sensed me there and called me to join him. He offered no words in this call, none were needed.
I threw off my tunic. It had become a lot warmer, especially near the fire.
The dance was wildly exhiliarating. We leaped and bounded and ran and danced. Round and round we
went, the thumping in my head a weirdly percussive rhythm beating time to our steps.
Suddenly I stopped. The beating stopped. He had stopped too. I don't know why.
His arms pointed skyward, his head flung back.
I looked where he pointed and saw what he saw and I was afraid. For the stars had been blotted out,
plucked out by an enormous hand.
I fell to my knees and hid my head. The breeze whispered urgently:
I did nothing. This angered the breeze. It repeated:
It was roaring now.I peeped up and saw that my companion had no moved.
The wind was shrieking. Daggers of light flashed from the darkness above and a loud crash sounded
from nearby, with a long awaited hiss the Heavens opened up and let the water through. I was still
in shock when the first drops hit me with a delicious sensation.
I looked for my companion but all I could see was water gushing down the cliffside.
The old man looked around at the faces of the younsters.
"And that was how Manou sent the water, His forgiveness of an erring people."
None of them questioned the statement.
He was tired. oh so tired. He had acheived his purpose, they would tell others and the story would
be told and retold.
He was tired now, and it would be so easy to close his eyes and go to sleep.
As his wrinkled eyelids shut over twin black pools, he fancied he heard the breeze whisper