Short Story: At War with Ourselves

John sighed, That’s done, I am home now.  He opened the door and was about to call out to his wife and son, when two men grabbed him. They pulled him through the doorway and slammed him against the wall.

“Traitor!”  One of the assailants yelled into his face as he knocked the wind out of John.

The other assailant smashed his elbow into John’s jaw. John heard a loud popping sound and wondered if his jaw was broken. A salty taste flooded his mouth.

Not able to think about that taste too much because in came another punch to his stomach and an elbow to the shoulder. Driving him down to the floor. In the background, he heard his wife and son screaming and another person yelling at them.

They were kicking him, now that he was on the ground. He was doing all he could to block the kicks with his legs and arms. Punches pummeled his head. He wife and son continued to scream and the assailants continued to hurl abuse.

What seemed like a long time of beatings eventually stopped. Logically, John knew it was only a minute or two, since he still could reason, but it felt like a lifetime. He knew they could have beat him senseless. Silence as the assailants backed off. Even his family stopped yelling.

Only the sounds of boots on wooden floor, approaching, could be heard. John tested his jaw and found it still moved, at least they did not break his jaw.

“Ya fucked up this time, didn’t ya John?” Said a familiar voice but John couldn’t place it in his rattled state. He tried looking up but his head was still spinning.

“What did I do?” He choked out. Yes, a mouth full of blood and at least one tooth knocked out.

“Oh come now John, let’s not play this game.”

“Please, I don’t know what you think I did. I was out..”  He was kicked.

“John… John, that is enough. Lies will just make it worse. You were seen helping that downed pilot. That is treason to help them. You know the Party takes a dim view of this. Especially in light this pilot was part of the attack against the city.”

Fighting to calm himself. “Please, I was out looking for the pilot, like I was supposed to but I didn’t find anyone. I.. I… Please believe me.” He heard his wife start to sob. His son was moaning “No”.   He was starting to lose it too.

Sighing, the unrecognized man directed his men to lift John. He was almost beyond fight at this point.

“John this war is not going to be won by being nice to the other side. They choose this path. I believe you thought you were doing good but we can not allow these radicals leniency. They tried to steal the election last year and see what it got us?” They started to drag him out the door. The man continued. “Cooperate with us and I will try to put in a good word for your wife and son.”

His wife yelled. “How could you?”

John snapped at that moment, his sobbing stopped as the last strength came forth. The accusing tone of his wife drove him crazy.  He knew they would get the truth out of him but his family would never know it. The truth to his family is all that mattered.

Planting his feet, he pushed one handler into the door hard, forcing him to loosen his grip. Then he violently shook off the other man. Turning back into the house, he looked pass the man, who was going for his gun.

To his wife and son. “It was our daughter. My God, I couldn’t turn her in.”

Short Story: Navajo Dreams

I was asked to write a story about the Navajo. So I did some research and of course took some liberty with the actual story.  Hope you like it.

Navajo Dreams

Zalani was happy that she and Jay were finally at Monument Valley. She always liked the Navajo culture and now she was getting to visit. Her boyfriend, Jay, had just had a book published and their reward was to go on an educational, romantic get-away.

Zalani was a singer and met Jay through a friend. They hit it off great and took an interest in each others work. Him a writer and her a musical artist. They thought this would give them some time alone but also a chance to share new songs and stories together. It was their dream to collaborate and create music or stories. This was to be the beginning of that journey together.

Their tour guide, Susan Nez, knew Zalani when they were in Orlando together. There, Susan got Zalani interested in Navajo culture and made it her dream to come visit.

Zal, I have arranged for you and Jay to view a sand painting ‘sing’ or ceremony, tonight. This is a great honor because normally non-Navajo people are not allowed. This is part of the Night Chant ceremony or Tseh’nn-jih Hatal’. Tomorrow is the main and final ceremony but we will go watch tonight too.” Said Susan.

Jay raised a finger. “Susan, do we have to do anything to prepare? Can I take pictures? Or ask questions?” Zalani nodded her head, she really wanted to know everything that goes on.

No, you can not take pictures or interrupt. Sorry, just witnessing is an honor. As for preparing, no, you will only observe. Maybe tomorrow or after, you can ask questions.” Putting her hand on each of them.

Look, I know you want to know everything but truthfully, it is our beliefs and our way. You may see things that most will never know but you will never fully know our ways. Unless you are Navajo. Even most of us do not have more than a basic understanding of The Holy People and the way of the Gods.” Smiling, she gets up and leaves the hotel room.

That night, after a long drive into the surrounding desert, they were at the sand painting ceremony. They were inside a large Navajo dwelling or ‘hogan’ up on the mesa. The night was clear and the Milky Way was in full splendor.

Inside, the hut seemed larger than it did outside. There were quite a few elders seated around an open space. Susan led Zalani and Jay to the side where a few others were seated. Smoke was thick in the hogan already when they entered. In the middle, was a young woman laying down and the beginnings of the sand paintings surrounding her. There were four older men starting to drivel colored sand onto the ground around the lady. A younger woman was also working on a very complex drawing at the woman’s feet. The elders around the central scene were chanting a low rhythmic chant while those in the middle produced a separate counter-chant.

The smoke was more than just smoke, Zalani and Jay felt a buzz coming on. The drone of the chant, the smoke, the excitement of being there and the shared emotions were an intoxicating rush. They both could not take their eyes off the ceremony but she found his hand. The warmth of Jay’s touch made Zalani’s pulse quicken.

They made love after Susan left them, earlier that afternoon. Spurred on by the excitement of being where Zalani always wanted to be and the sensual hug they shared. She wasn’t thinking of sex then but when he held her, his strong body, the feeling of venturing into something unknown and then his smell drove her to the edge. His excitement to be here with her and the nibble on her ear drove her to push him onto the bed.

Wait, what am I thinking?!” she thought to herself. The blood pounding in her ears lessened so the chants came back to the edge of her perception. She strained to focus her eyes and looked at Jay. He was swaying drunkenly to the rhythm of the chants. She started to lose focus again and Jay started to change.

Not blur but to turn to mist, she was stunned, she looked around and everything was starting to mist over. The hogan’s walls were turning dark but then the star lite night came into view. The participants of the ceremony were all shadows in the mist. Even Susan was just mist now.

Zalani thought she should panic but something vaguely warm and comforting made her relax. She still felt Jay’s hand but now she could feel the blood coursing through his veins and then a joyful warmth flowed through her from his hand. A slight tingle and a rush of desire. She felt a soaring heat well from between her legs and spread to her chest. She could feel wisps of smoke gently caress her nipples, the resulting flood of emotion furthering a completely overwhelming feeling in her.

Her mouth dried, a pounding in her head. She continued to feel the warmth from Jay’s hand, a sensual warmth, unlike the incredibly raw heat coming between her legs. Her body throbbed, her mind could barely perceive her surroundings, even her mind’s eye throbbed. The mist danced in her mind.

Then nothing…

Zalani only saw a white light. Nothing else. She could not see her body, Jay or anything. Just white. The emotions and heat where gone. As was the sensation of her body.

That was love from your male, you felt.” Said a voice from nowhere. “A very strong love you two have. Quite interesting.”

Finally, finding her voice, “What happened? Who are you? Where am I? Where is Jay and everyone else?”

You are where you wanted to be. You are in the land of the Dine. Or Navajo to you.” Said the voice.

In front of Zalani’s vision, a form started to coalesce into the form of a wolf. Behind it, the whiteness started to turn into a surrealistic view of the desert plains below them.

Wolves do not speak? Where is this place?” Zalani asked, completely mesmerized.

Wolf? Child I am a Coyote. I am the Coyote. And this is the Glittering World. Or the place you would call home. Maybe slightly out of phase with what your senses tell you.” Said the Coyote, without moving his mouth.

How can …” Zalani started.

Child, that is enough. Listen and listen well. Your male is in trouble. The ceremony opens up the participants to spirits. Spirits both good and bad. Your male has been taken.”

My male, who?” Zalani said still mesmerized but slowly starting to focus.

LISTEN enemy!” roared the Coyote. “If you do not act quickly, you will lose your male forever and he will be made into a force of destruction for the Dine.”

Zalani started to remember Jay and her body started to materialize from the whiteness around her as the surrealistic landscape started to surround her.

Jay? My Jay? Where is he? What has happened?” She was starting to panic.

The Coyote bobbed his head up and down. “Good, you are starting to listen.” The Coyote turned and then looked back at Zalani “Get on my back enemy Zal. Now, no time to waste.”

Zalani climbed on the back of the massive Coyote and once seated the Coyote sprang forward. The landscape blurred around them as the Coyote moved quickly forward.

Listen enemy Zal. We will catch up to the spirits that have taken your male, Jay. I can not interfere with this but you will need to hold him and bring him back to the ceremony.”

How do I do that? I do not even know where I am or how to fight spirits.” Zalani said with an edge of fear creeping into her voice.

Love, child, Love is how you fight” Coyote said in a softening tone. Then quickly back to the hard, demanding voice. “Enemy Zal, you must be strong. The spirits will try to keep you from holding Jay. You must want to save him. Then you must love him.”

I do love him. With all of my heart.” Zalani wailed.

You will lose him if you fail enemy Zal.” said Coyote.

Why do you call me an enemy if you help me?”

All those not Dine are enemy. Some are good and some are bad.”

Up ahead there were figures moving forward at a slow pace. In the midst of them was bright object.

There they are, enemy Zal. They have your male, Jay. They would break down his defenses and flood his being with evil. Then send him back to harm the Dine and I can not let that happen.” Stated Coyote.

What do I do?” cried Zalani.

Go to him child. Hold him no matter what you see. They will try to trick you and force you to leave. Do not leave until you have awakened him.”

With that she was standing in front of the shining object with a large group of dark figures half surrounding the object. Coyote was no where to be seen.

Leave him alone!” she yelled. Nothing, the figures did not move. The bright object started to throb.

Zalani was scared, she was not sure if the object was Jay or something meant to trap her. “Jay, is that you? Please say it is you.”

Nothing. The throbbing intensified but still no voices, nor indication it was Jay. She took a few steps closer to the object. As she got closer, the brightness dulled. Then it stopped. There was Jay with another woman making out with him.

What the hell is this?” Yelled Zalani. Anger rising in her mind. The woman stopped kissing Jay, who, Zalani saw was unconscious. The girl was her friend Susan.

Susan looked at her and said, “He is mine, he said he wants to be with me, not you.”

NO!” yelled Zalani. “You are not real.” Then she stepped closer and Susan started to turn to mist. She quickened her pace and Jay’s body seemed to get no closer. He lay there, not moving or anything. The figures still stood there unmoving.

Please, Jay, wake up. I love you! I am not going to let you go! Please Jay, come to me.” She was yelling and desperately running towards him but still he would not move nor did the distance seem to close between them.

She was crying and struggling to get closer. “Please Jay, I love you! Wake up!” Then the distance closed a little and the dark figures blinked once and then looked a little less clear than before.

Hope renewed in her. A well of emotion of love and desire flowed through her. More strongly and fiercer than she ever thought she could, she loved and wanted Jay. “JAY, I LOVE YOU!” she said with all the feeling she could muster. In that moment she closed the entire distance to the body of Jay. Standing above him she looked down at a diseased body of Jay. It was covered with large black bubbles on his face, the eyes looking at her were red with blood trickling out of the corners.

“Stay away” the body of Jay said.

Zalani stopped, suddenly the strength starting to drain from her. She looked at the dark figures and they blinked again but came back more clearly than before. She threw herself at the body, hugging him with all of her might.

“Jay I love you, please come back to me.” Over and over again she said that. Hugging as hard as she could.

The chanting of the elders suddenly stopped. A loud CLAP echoed through the hogan and Zalani was holding Jay’s prone body inside the hogan. All eyes were on her. Susan looked horrified.

Zalani looked from her friend and the elders making their way towards her and then back down to Jay. He opened his eyes, gave a weak smile.

“You came for me. Coyote said your love is what would save me. I love you Zalani.”

A little short story: For Me?

Here is something I did up for someone dear to me.  Hope you like it. Please let me know if you like.

For Me?

Tanya, a beautiful white swan, swam casually on the calm lake. Not always in the company of the other swans, Tanya liked to go her own way. She loved to go to the burbling pond on the other side of the lake because it was peaceful and many animals came there to drink. She loved to watch the other animals, wondering what their life was like.

Gliding effortlessly into the burbling pond, Tanya saw a duck, fish diving in the pond. Smiling and curious she moved towards the duck.

Hello, friend duck, you are wasting your time, there are no fish here.” Merrily she said.

Starring at her. the duck stopped, mesmerized by her beauty. Then quickly recovering. “Hello beautiful lady, there are, if you know where to look.”

No no, friend?????” She queried.

Jaime, my lady, and you?”

My name is Tanya. It is a pleasure to meet you. And you are teasing me Jaime, no?”

Would I tease such a beautiful swan?” Jaime asked innocently.

I think you would.” she giggled. Tanya thought, he is cute in a duck sort of way.

Yes, you are right. But truthfully, there are fish here if you look the right way.” With that Jaime, dove and in seconds came up with a small fish in his bill. Tossing the fish in the air towards Tanya.

Tanya caught the fish and with wide eyes. “That was incredible. And such a delicious small fish. Thank you Jaime.” She plunged into the water.

She came up, but with no fish. “Where are they? Are you tricking me? I did not see anything.”

Jaime laughed, “It takes time, my dear. You have to learn how to look and where to look.” He looked down, then dove. Coming up a few seconds later to flip another small fish to Tanya.

After swallowing the second delicious prize, “Will you show me how to do?”

Of course, it would be my pleasure.” Jaime cheerfully responded. “First you need to learn to see like a duck.”

See like a duck? How do ducks see?” She asked, honestly perplexed by his statement. Of course we see the same thing, right?

Look at that tree over there. The one that fell down. What do you see?” he asked.

Tanya looked at the tree. Of course it was a tree but she figured he wanted a different answer. She studied it for a minute and then smiling, said. “I see a tree. A home to many animals and bugs. I see the smaller birds and rabbits making homes in the wood or under it. I see insects crawling over it, termites eating it and mushrooms growing on it.” She finished feeling proud of her insight.

Wow, that was wonderful. I never thought of it that way. You truly have a different insight to the world.” He looked at her with admiration. “I am so happy I met you Tanya. You have taught me something today. Thank you.”

She smiled and blushed with his praise. Then tilted her head and gave him a look, “Okay now your turn Jaime. What do you see.”

A tree.” He said. Then she started to flap her wings in protest. He laughed and said, “Okay Okay, I was just teasing.”

She smiled. She was starting to like Jaime. He was not like the other swans or ducks that she met. He was funny. She shook her head then looked at him. “I am waiting.”

Clearing his throat, flapping his wings and then concentrating on the tree. Making a big show of things, in a comical way.

I see…. A sapling, small and delicate, stretching to get to the light. Slowly growing taller and stretching further and further from the ground. I see that young tree delighting in the squirrels and birds that rest on his branches. Being irritated by the rabbits that burrow under his roots but not overly, enjoying the little rabbits bounding over and under his base. I see that young tree grow older. Standing tall among its fellow trees. Feeling the breeze run through his branches. The sensual rains brush his leaves like the kiss of a lover’s gentle lips. I see an older tree, standing tall among his younger neighbors, enduring the cold of winter as he has done so many times before. Now blocking the ice cold winds from the sweet young trees around him. I see, now the wise old tree, despairing of another winter. Knowing his time is short on this wondrous earth.” Then quietly, “I see that great old tree, losing his fight to stay upright. Falling to the ground and hitting hard. Slowly, having his life drain away as the leaves and twigs flutter to the ground.”

That was beautiful.” Tanya said. She leaned over and nuzzled him with her bill and they floated there together, saying nothing and looking that the tree. Both seeing the tree in the way the other saw the tree. They stayed there until the sun started to go down.

I must go.” Tanya said.

I know, but I wish you would not.” Jaime whispered.

I will come again tomorrow.” Tanya promised and with another nuzzle she glided away.

Watching her glide away across the pond in the failing light. He whispered, “Could a swan love a duck.”