Don't Write What You Know;
Write What You Care About -- Passionately!
- Charles Combee
While camping in a remote canyon in Utah Jim accidently sees an ancient rite taking place with a coyote like creature presiding over it. Now this creature wants Jim dead.
Audrey and her family go hiking in Utah and are attacked by this creature. Audrey is the only survivor, but she is pulled into a strange world of darkness and glass. She is 'rescued' by Jim, but is still linked to the creature, whose hold on her will end in her death unless Jim can find a way to break that link.
In his dreams, or are they ancient memories, Jim begins to learn more about Coyote as well as the magics that previously bound him. But those dreams end without teaching him the full magics. Can he find a way to free Audrey and stop Coyote from once again terrorizing humankind?
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I slid around the corner of the building, breathing in hushed bursts. I convulsed as I tried to silence my breath, tried to minimize every sound I made. I wanted to disappear, to become a breath of wind, silently sighing as I made my way along.
I felt the sweat trickle down the side of my face, partly from exertion, the remainder a product of fear. Bile rose in my throat and the acrid mixture forced a sharp cough as I drew it into my lungs.
So much for silently sighing.
The parking garage was dimly lit, and I was able to merge into the dark shadow of night rather well, although I regretted the shirt. It was light blue, a color I favored, but not right now. The shirt gathered shards of light from the surrounding air and fluoresced, a small patch of pale blue beckoning from the surrounding gloom.
I waited, straining to hear. You know, it’s funny how you know that you can’t improve your hearing by exerting yourself, but you can’t help it, you have to try.
Especially in times like these.
My breathing slowed, and I wasn’t gulping for air anymore. As I felt my breathing even out, I relaxed a little bit. I convinced myself he hadn’t seen me after all. I was actually beginning to think I was going to make it. That I could escape.
I waited a few minutes more, just to be safe and gingerly stepped away from the wall, stepping lightly, noiselessly. I sidled down the passage, keeping the wall close, and I maintained contact with it, brushing my left hand lightly down it as I moved towards the corner.
The air noticeably brightened as I advanced, and soon I was at the corner. This is where the lightly used hallway merged into the regular confines of the garage, and I stopped, considering my next move. I knew I couldn’t stay here forever. I needed to move on, to get out of the parking area and into the apartments above.
I sighed softly and steeled myself. I poked my head out briefly, making sure to minimize the time my head would be visible. I didn’t see anything, just the dull gray driveway slanting upwards to my left. I hesitated. I still didn’t see anything. The garage was deserted. It felt as if it were ripped from our universe and was deposited on the farthest shore of time and space. The desolation, the loneliness, was palpable. I took this as a good sign and moved slowly forward out into the light.
I took a few steps when I heard a strange noise. It was a clicking, a sharp noise that burst towards me in a staccato that shattered my sense of relief, my fear returned in a rush that created a wrenching sensation through my whole body. I was frozen, unable to move, and any chance of escape became irrelevant.
The clicking soon transposed itself into the reality of a set of two hairy feet ending in sharp claws. The feet were canine in basic shape and form, and the only aspect of them that was abnormal was that the creature strode on them upright. Coyote was striding towards me, a casual maelstrom of power and malevolence.
I froze, indecisive. No use running. He would just catch me anyway.
“What do you want?” I barked. “How did you find me here?”
Coyote stepped softly towards me, stopped, just out of reach. He was clad in the same outfit as before. A red blazer and bowler hat, strangely incongruous, both were worn as if they were part of a designer outfit. He didn’t have the ivory pipe though. His eyes caught mine, and they gleamed with a feral ferocity only matched by his intelligence.
“Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” he inquired softly. “Now I’m going to have to wake up, again. I haven’t been awake, not really, not for a long, long time.”
I stared at him, a strange mixture of stark terror and curiosity running through me, chilling the marrow of my bones.
“What are you?” I managed to blurt out. “What were you doing down in that canyon? I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
“You’re never going to see anything like it again,” he responded quietly. “You weren’t meant to see that. It is for us, not you. Humans aren’t allowed, aren’t supposed to know.”
“What are you talking about?” I demanded. “Why wasn’t I meant to see it? What do you mean when you say, “wake up”? You were awake that night, weren’t you?”
Coyote grinned at me. “You’ll find out,” he responded calmly. “All things will be clear. You’ll understand what you’ve done. One more thing,” he added. “Don’t come back to the canyon, ever.”
He bared his teeth at me in a garish caricature of a smile and gave a short bark. He took his hat in hand and bowed to me, a gesture both mocking and derisive.
I felt a rush of anger hit me. I literally saw red, and a quintessential moment passed over me. I lost control of my emotions, which I rarely do, and the finely balanced scale between fight or flight crumbled, landing squarely on the side of fight.
I rushed him, and while my plan wasn’t really thought through very well, the basic idea was good. I hoped to deliver a crushing blow and disable his main weaponry, a mouthful of baleful, extremely sharp teeth.
As I closed within arm’s reach, I delivered a slap to the side of his head…or what I took to be his head. My arm sliced through empty air, and I panicked as I lost my balance and tumbled to the cement floor. I rolled and came up ready. I’m a brown belt in a Philippine martial art known as Arnis, so I recovered very quickly and raised my arms in a defensive stance.
Nothing. Coyote was gone, vanishing into thin air like a wisp of steam, gently losing cohesion and fading away like the last breath of light on a winter’s day. The space was too open to account for his abrupt disappearance. I moved a couple of steps over to where he had been standing a couple of seconds before. I thought I might find a couple of claw marks in the paint on the floor. I investigated all around me carefully, but there was nothing. Instinctively, I sniffed the air. A faint smell of…something. It was a raw, pungent odor that elicited a feeling of the primeval forest.
I shook my head, trying to clear the funny smell. The garage was empty. I was shaken and afraid. I stood; my mind aflame with one burning question. How had this creature found me?
I gave up on finding him and slowly headed upstairs to my apartment. I unlocked the door and cautiously entered. It seemed like my normal, regular, reassuring living room. Nothing was out of place, and I didn’t see any evidence anyone had visited. Maybe I was being paranoid but seeing Coyote downstairs had given me the creeps.
I tossed my jacket on the back of the couch and headed to kitchen to make some coffee. I always like coffee in the evening; I find it somehow completes the day.
I was nearly to the fridge; actually extending my arm to grab the handle, when I suddenly paused. A faint aroma wafted its way into my nostrils, insinuating its way into my conscious. I recognized the smell from downstairs in the garage. I hesitated and turned, whirled, and ran into the bedroom. I touched my finger to the safe I keep on the dresser. It sprang open, and I grabbed my handgun. I knew it didn’t help the last time, but it gave me the feeling of security I needed, here and now.
I crept back into the living area and searched the whole apartment carefully. I opened all the closet doors and returned to the bedroom. I steeled myself and crouched down quickly, checking under the bed. After all, Coyote might make a perfect monster to terrorize young children. The only thing I saw was a reminder I should vacuum once in a while.
Resting easier now, I returned to the kitchen and made my coffee. I kept the gun with me, though. The whole experience had really unsettled me, and I needed the pistol, a security blanket that allowed me to push back the thoughts that assailed my peace of mind, as if a piece of metal could somehow banish the monster in the closet and shine a light on the dark corners where evil dwells.
A few hours later, I crawled into bed. I tossed and turned for a bit, brief visions of Coyote suddenly stepping out of the closet, assailing me, these thoughts nipping every chance of dropping off to sleep like a Blue Heeler hard on the heels of an unfortunate cow. These thoughts whirled for a bit, but my mind finally cleared, and I drifted off to sleep.
~ * ~
The ancient man was carefully making his way along a trail that threaded along the edge of a steep cliff. He cautiously navigated the final scramble up a rock slope towards his home. The intricate patchwork of stone and clay formed a cliff dwelling, and a wooden, handmade ladder formed a final defense against any enemy that might assail the tribe, as they lived in their aerie. Pulling the ladder up behind him, he effectively left any approaching enemy with the unenviable task of climbing straight up a sheer cliff to enter the dwelling area. He approached the funny key-shaped door that offered the only entrance to a set of rooms that formed his personal living area. The whole village complex formed an incredible feat of engineering. It was only approachable by following the narrow ledge that yawned over the canyon below. With the ladder pulled up, no human could ever enter the village. It was safe, even from an enemy much more agile than any human. He shivered and fervently hoped it was enough.
~ * ~
I woke with a start and a strange feeling. My head was covered in beads of sweat, and my heart raced. I wasn’t sure what happened; I just knew the dream was vivid, and the fear the ancient man felt as he prepared the dwelling for the night was intensely real.