I slept in fits all night as the waters continue to roar past the mountain top I sat on which had turned into an island in the middle of a churning river of rocks, mud and trees. I finally gave up on sleep and started searching around in the dark for wood that was dry that I could use to start a fire. I wasn’t cold, I think it was just to have something to occupy my thoughts and keep my hands busy. It didn’t take long to have a nice pile ready for when I got a flame going. I crept along trying to be quite but realized after a few minutes that there was no point to that, the sound of the water was a constant rumble so who cares, I wasn’t waking Jager, Culsit or the Scout with the noise.
I settled down and started getting my tinder ready and struck a fire in just a few minutes. As the flames began to build, I could make out Culsit and Jager balled up asleep next to the rock we had taken shelter behind. I scanned carefully for a few minutes but could see the scout anywhere. I started to get worried and stood and looked around for him. I didn’t notice him when I was looking for the wood and I couldn’t find him now. After a few minutes of looking and thinking I just couldn’t decide if I should wake Culsit and tell him. I sat by the fire again and then more I thought on it the more I came to realize it didn’t matter. There wasn’t anywhere he could have gone, so he was probably just wedged in somewhere trying to escape the noise and wind.
I sat there for hours, just feeding the fire and staring into the flames. It’s strange what your mind conjures when you do that. You swear at times you can see scenes play out in the flames, almost to the point that you stare so hard your eyes water. I guess I was still in this trance like state when Culsit plumped down beside me.
“You scared me!” I said as I jumped from my thoughts to the present.
“You cold little brother?” Culsit asked while pointing to the roaring fire I had built.
“No, just bored I think and I wanted to push back the darkness a bit you know?”
“I guess, of course, you fire is too big but I will let it pass, I don’t think it matters anymore if anyone sees the flames but you might want to let it die down, we need to save the wood.” Culsit said as he stared into the flames himself now.
“Good point, I wasn’t thinking. By the way, have you seen the Scout, I can’t recall his name sadly in all this but I haven’t seen him in hours.”
“He’s gone little brother, just after dark.” Culsit said without even looking away from the fire.
“Gone! Where? How?” I exclaimed.
“From the world, he was one of the ones that just can’t handle things like this. I have talked to you much about being different haven’t I? He was one of those that wasn’t different. Beings like you and I and Jager there are made to handle the storms this world hurls against us. Some are born with a spirit that fights and strives no matter what, others are born with a spirit of surrender. Some spirits are old and wise and know that no matter what the problem, no matter what the pain, no matter what the struggle is, we put one foot in front of the next and just keep going. Sadly those spirits are few, the majority, just sit down and stop walking. They have no vision, they see no path even if they stood in the middle of the largest trail over the mountain, they just refuse to see it or walk it. To be honest, I didn’t know his name either. I didn’t want to know because you could see the spirit in his eyes and that is was weak. I have too much to do myself beside carry a weak spirit on my back.” Culsit droned on and on before looking from the fire to me as he finished his words.
“I understand, I never really thought about looking at things like that before. I just always do what needs to be done and not worry about it too much.”
“You have learned a lot in a short period of time little brother but your spirit is old. I look at your eyes and I see that fire, that drive. You are no different from us, you want to know what’s over the next ridge. You want to know how to do things, make things and survive things. What some see as a horrible tragedy, you settle down and see a chance to learn something but more importantly you keep walking the path.” He ended with a grin.
“You two are nothing but little kids playing in the dirt!” Jager said as he slowly rose and came to the flames.
All Culsit did was grunt and I just looked at him and smiled. We sat that for what seemed forever without another word. Jager never mentioned the scout nor did he look for him. It seems like Culsit, he knew and didn’t care. I wanted to ask but figured it might be one of those things best left alone.
“I think I’m going to run down to the store and grab a Coke and chocolate bar. You fur bags want something?” I said with a grin as I stretched and started to scan the waters around us as the grayness of down started to spread.
They just laughed but I rummaged in my bag for some dried deer meat and passed it out. I was joking about the store but I wasn’t about being hungry. I popped a piece in my mouth and started chewing and swallowing.
“He’s just like a young one!” Culsit said pointing at me. “ I am surprised I don’t have to show him how to do everything. Don’t eat it so fast little brother. Put a piece in you mouth and just chew and let it sit. It makes the hunger go away and leaves you with more food.” Culsit said and laughed with Jager as usual.
I grinned back. “If I run out I’ll just cook one of you fat lumps.”
That brought a deep laugh from both. As the light got brighter I walked up to the top and looked around. The water had dropped maybe twenty feet and sometime during the night had reversed direction. It was flowing back out to the coast and the sea but who knows how long it would take for it to drop enough for us to move. I scanned for a mark on the bluff across to the South so that I could measure how far it dropped over the hours. As I made my way back to the fire I noticed Culsit and Jager standing by the large oak that still stood alone down the ridge near the water so I made my way to them to see what those two where at.
“Time to try to send a call.” Jager said as he swung a branch as big as my leg and longer than me like it was nothing. The cracking sound it made as it smacked the tree was almost painful with nothing nearby to absorb the echos.
We stood for a few minutes turning our head listening for a response. None came so Culsit picked up two large stones about the size of basket balls and clapped them together so hard I’m surprised they didn’t crack. Still nothing came back. I gave up and marched back to the fire and sat down to greet the full light of day.
I added just a small amount of wood as those two came back and sat down. Not a word passed between us for a few hours. We just sat by the fire and watched the water as it ran by and continued to drop. By lunch the I stood on the top again and could see that the water had dropped a lot from the mark I was using to measure it against. So much so, that I could see that only a few feet of water separated us from being able to walk back towards where we had left the others before the waters had come.
As I strode up to Culsit, I noticed they had put the fire out and seemed to be waiting on me.
“Lets move little brother.”
We moved down and the stepped over the water onto the next ridge but I had to get a run and go but made it. The ground wasn’t as muddy as I expected it to be. Just more like after a heavy rain than the deluge that had torn past. Although, most leaved, small trees and rocks seemed to be scattered about or piled into areas here and there, wherever the water had pushed it. It was a lot to take in but we just kept putting one foot in front of another. We jumped from ridge to ridge like this for the rest of the day. Sometimes the gap was so wide that Culsit would have to toss me across, that was no fun but as darkness started to fall we found ourselves on top of a long ridge that had been spared the water. It was covered in wildlife that had avoided the water. Just by looking you could tell that food and firewood wasn’t going to be a problem here. Disturbingly we hadn’t seen anyone else in our days travel. I wasn’t surprised however, we really had covered that much territory with our ridge hopping but maybe tomorrow travel would be easier.
The night passed quickly it seemed. We ate a deer that Jager brought in and I boiled several cups of water for us to share. Not much was said between us, I think mainly because all our thoughts kept turning to what we would try at daybreak and most importantly what we would find. I know my thoughts swirled around like that and I could tell by looking it seemed to be the same with Jager and Culsit.
Sleep came in fits for all of us but luckily daylight started creeping back in and we prepared to move again. It seemed that in the night, a lot of the animals moved on just like we planned on doing. Thankfully, the water was way down to the point where I wouldn’t have to be thrown across anymore and I was glad to see that.
We skipped breakfast and moved off at a fast past just as soon as it became daylight. I know we could have moved into the darkness but I think this world was as new to them as it was me and this was no time to risk an injury because one of us missed a hole or drop covered by debris.
All day we moved with the occasional stop for some wood knocking or rock clapping but we never heard a response. I think just like myself, these two had started to worry as much me. As we topped a ridge just about an hour and prepared to stop for the night, Culsit pointed about a half a mile west at a sparking of flame on the ridge there. All three of us took off at a run. Well, those two trotted but I had to flat run to keep up. As we got closer we slowed and finally came to a stop and spread out. We knew our people was in this direction but we had to make sure these where out people.
I looked over to where Culsit sat crouched being a large pine in the gathering darkness and he motioned me to go in close and take a look. I nodded and dropped to all fours and started the bear crawl I had learned and started my approach towards the camp.
I knew that even if it was our people, I could get within inches of them without them knowing. If it was strangers, I would be in and out without them being any the wiser. My only concern would be with other Bigfoot. They would be the only ones that would have a chance at detecting me coming in.
I slowly made my way, stopping to look and listen for anything that shouldn’t be there. Shadows near trees, rocks out of place, you’d be surprised at how many Bigfoot you probably stared straight at in you life in broad daylight and never even noticed a thing. I would notice but so far, everything looked as it should.
Once I finally got into a position where I could watch the fire, I counted two humans and three Bigfoot. What worried me was the fact that the Bigfoot never sat by a fire in the open and never and I mean never sat around without someone watching. None of this seemed right. I couldn’t make out faces because all of them had their backs towards my direction which again, never had I seen a Bigfoot do this. They always sat in sort of a triangle pattern, that way eyes looked in a complete circle all around them. Not this time, which just made my skin tingle with alarm. Maybe I was just jumpy from the flood and the trip here but my mind was in overdrive. Every movement and sound drew my attention. It must have taken me twenty minutes to cover as many feet but here I was, not more than two feet behind the closest human and I still couldn’t make out enough features to figure out who I was looking at.
I sat still for until well after dark and no one moved very much. Maybe to lean over and stoke the fire but not any movement so that I could identify them. As my legs began to get numb I had a thought. A distraction, if I could toss a stone over them, maybe they would stand or go look in that direction and I could hopefully see who I was looking at.
I searched around with my right hand, looking for a stone big enough for my purpose. I was surprised how dry it was all up to this point. I was beginning to thing this was the top of a wide mountain that had been spared completely from the waters. As I thought about that possibility I tossed the rock but none of them even flinched.
That tingle had turned to the beginning of a panic, maybe I had just crawled my over confident butt into a trap. All I could think was that this was probably going to hurt when a voice that sounded as soothing as an angels came from the figure closest to me.
“John, enough of playing around like Culsit. Stop playing cat and come sit with me.”
As soon as I heard her voice I knew it was Vanessa, so I just gave up all caution and stood hoping it wasn’t the stupidest and last decision of my life.
“How did you know it was me?” I asked as I sat and looked into her face as it glowed with the fire, ignore all those around us.
“I felt you spirit coming. I was testing you to see if you was listening for my spirit but either you didn’t hear it, or you a little to dense to listen.” She said as a smile spread across her face.
“Umm, no I didn’t, I must admit I don’t understand what you’re talking about.” I said as Culsit and Jager walked in and I realized they was shaking hands and talking to Rory and exchanging greetings with the other Bigfoot that seemed to be from Jagers’ group. I turned my attention back to her.
“How did you hear my spirit?” I asked in amazement.
“John, I was sent into this world again for you. I am Vali.” She said. When she did, all the others heads snapped around and mouths dropped open for each and every one of them. I just sat there not knowing who or what that was but I was guessing it was important by the others reactions.
“And a Vali is?” I asked with a little bit of tiredness creeping into my voice as I stretched my legs out.
“Vali is my name John.” She spoke as she stood and took on a whitish golden glow. The other bent a knee to her but I just kept sitting. I’d seen so much and been thru so much I just didn’t care at this point.
“And?” I asked a bit sarcastically as I glanced and Culsit and he shook his head no and grimaced. I began to realize this might be a problem.
“And!” She exclaimed as I watched as she grew in height to even dwarf Culsit.
“I am Vali, Goddess of the fallen, Goddess of Vengeance!” Her voiced seemed to echo off the moon.
I jumped to me feet, startled. Maybe I should have cared because it seemed like I was in a bit of trouble here.
“I, I….” My voice trailed off, I couldn’t think of a word to say.
As I stared up at her face, a smile spread across her face and she shrank back down to her normal, for me anyway, size and leaned in to give me a hug.
When she did, I heard Culsit and Jager gasp and I started to worry this might be it for me.
As her head leaned into mine, I began to think it was for the end but instead it was to whisper into my ear, which made me grin and I grabbed her and kissed her. Culsit let out a chirp and gasp that was comical but it seemed he was really frightened because the hair on the his back was standing straight up. I just kept kissing her and gave him a wink.
He fell over. I stopped and Vanessa turned to look at him and we both laughed. I couldn’t think of any other time that I had shocked Culsit so much in all the time that I have known him. Now I know he didn’t know what she whispered to me and I know I would never tell him but I guess to him, I just went for broke since he figured she was going to end me.
She wasn’t there to end me, she was there to be a beginning.
If you liked this chapter, you might want to head over to Amazon and buy yourself a copy of “The Enemy”. The exciting first book in this series so you can see how our friends got to this table looking to their futures.