Dreams That Burn In The Night

BOOK: Dreams That Burn In The Night
13.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub










All of the
characters in this book

are fictitious,
and any resemblance

to actual persons,
living or dead,

is purely


"Into Every Rain a
Little Life Must Fall," copyright © 1975 by Greenwillow Books.

"Mother of Cloth,
Heart of Clock," copyright © 1975 by Greenwillow Books.

"A Sunday Visit
with Great-grandfather," copyright © 1975 by Green-willow Books.

"Nocka-Nocka and
the Dirty Old Man," copyright © 1975 by Greenwillow Books.

"Love Life of the
Leglorn," copyright © 1975 by U.P.D. Publishing Com­pany.

"Three Dream
Woman," copyright © 1977 by New Dimensions.



Secret of the
White-Head Hawk

Dancing the Dead
Safe into Their Beads

Love Life of the

Mother of Cloth,
Heart of Clock

I'm a Spy in the
House of Love

Taboos: A Women's Studies Perspective
{with Jim Morrison)


Last Wish
Fulfillment and Testament

Into Every Rain a
Little Life Must Fall

Gods Who Could Not

Closely Watched

A Wounded Knee
Fairy Tale

We Are the People
Our Parents Warned Us About

Three Dream Woman
{with Michael Bishop)

Sunday Visit with Great-grandfather

Sleep Is the Only

Report on the
Recent Outbreak of Entertainment from


On the Way

White Brothers from
the Place Where No Man Walks

We All Lived in the
Warm Aquarium

Nocka-Nocka and the
Dirty Old Man

The Night Xenex
Sanurian Took a Wallflower to the Prom

The Second



He moved like a
secret no man would ever know. His steps were quick and light as he moved down the mountain. He
was sure of foot as if he had spent a lifetime running. He had the frost of winter in his long
unbraided hair and the slowness of cooling ashes in his blood. His skin was dry and wrinkled from
a lifetime spent in the sun. The old men in the village did not know where he came

One day he was
there, like a sudden summer storm, standing under the meat-drying racks, silent, mysterious, his
burning eyes like two soaring hawks as he watched the children at play.

Old Bear went up to
him, words of welcome on his tongue but a great feeling of disquiet in his heart.

"Who are you? How
do you come to be here?" But the old one did not speak, gave no indication that he even heard. He
turned abruptly and walked back up the mountain. The old one gave no answers to the questions
shouted at his back.

Old Bear felt a
coldness in his stomach, as if the breath of a demon had passed across his body.

The old one came
back again and again.

He spoke to no man,
this strange one who watched the children at play. The old chiefs spoke of him, and they were
frightened of this old one who would not speak and whose purpose was un­known.

"He is
demon-touched," said Domea the shaman. "I feel it in the crackling of my bones. He is here for a
secret that is deep within his heart. It is not good. It is well to fear him. Perhaps it
would be wise to drive him away from the camp.
But then, the world is touched by wind from all directions. One cannot know all. His coming may
be an omen of good. We must not act before we know the weather, bad or good."

"He is a spy sent
by our enemies," said Rainmaker. "He counts our bodies, our women, and weapons. Our enemies sent
him. We should capture him and make him tell us what he knows."

"A spy would not
stand in plain sight," reasoned Domea. "In­stead of that, I think there is something of another
world in him. Can you not see it in the way he moves? His body shows him to be of great age, yet
he moves like a young deer. He belongs to a bigger world. Let us wait and see. He dances outside
in his own dark night, but we shall see his fire in time if we but wait."

Rainmaker stood up
by the council fire, his face red in the dancing light. "He seems evil to me. We should drive him
away before he does us harm."

Old Bear also stood
by the fire, but his face was in shadow, smoke rising toward him in the chill night wind. "Let us
ask him to eat with us, to sit by us and tell us of the thing that is inside him. If he is not
human, we will drive him away."

Rainmaker held his
hands out, palms down. "Better we should kill him and be done with it. I say he is a Dark Walker.
He is kin with the eaters of souls. Let his name be lost to the world. De­stroy him."

There was a shout
in the darkness, the sound of people scurry­ing hurriedly to one side, breaking the great circle
around the fire. A figure dressed in dark skins moved slowly toward the center of the fire. It
was the old one. In his arms were branches and dried bark. He moved to the fire.

With great fear,
those sitting around the fire gave way, moving back into the darkness.

The old one looked
neither to the left nor right, standing at the edge of the great council fire. His eyes had been
closed, but he opened them now and stared deep into the great fire. Slowly, he bent to his knees
and carefully put the wood and bark into the fire. The flames crackled and popped, rising red
with new heat and flame into the night sky.

Great was the fear
that ran through the people. Children hid behind their fathers and mothers, and knives and spears
were held tightly by warriors ready to attack.

In the sudden flare
of firelight, the old one stood plainly revealed to the people. His face was painted with their
clan sign. He said no word, stood up, putting his hands out toward the fire. He bent so close to
the fire he seemed almost to be in it.

The strange one
turned slowly, his arms outstretched before him, as if reaching out to the people. In sign
language he made the words for "Great Spirit Bless You," his hands moving like great talking

The flames shot
high into the night sky.

Then, as silently
as he had come, he dropped his arms and walked back through the broken council circle and
disappeared into the mountains from which he had come.

The people wrapped
their robes about them and muttered to each other, whispering about this thing of great
strangeness that had been visited upon them. No one could tell if it was a good thing or a bad

The mystery grew
with each passing day.

The old one came
again and again.

Each time it was
the same. He stood somewhere quietly in the shadows, watching the children of the village at
play. It fright­ened the mothers of the village. It scared the children too. They felt sometimes
like field mice with a large owl in the sky above them.

And as the mystery
grew with each passing day, so did the fear grow in the people's hearts until there were many who
would kill the old one. On the day they decided this thing, chose that this strange one must die,
the old one came down out of the moun­tains dressed not in the rough skins, torn and dirtied,
that he had always worn, but in a much faded robe of their clan.

Old Bear went up to
the strange one again. "Who are you, old one? Why do you come among us, dressed in the robes of
our clan?" He felt the need to ask because he had been chosen by the people to kill the old man
and the task did not rest easy with his heart.

The aged one from
the mountains looked into the eyes of Old Hear. His voice was thick and uneasy upon his tongue,
as if he had slept a long time.

"You ask my name?
It has been long, long since I have used it. So long since I have spoken to other beings of blood
and skin. I once lived in your world, and I was then called Long Deer."


Old Bear stepped
back, fear like a cold knife against his throat. "Long Deer was from this village! There was a
child of that name. We played together as children in the days long gone by. But Long Deer was
taken as a child from this place by a demon! Are you a demon, old one?"

The old one's eyes
seemed to burn like the sun, bright enough to see the whole world. The words came slowly,
uneasily, as if each word had to be frightened into coming out. "I was touched by demons. The
demons that touch all men in their deeds and their sleep. But I am no demon. Do not be afraid of
me." "You are strange to us, and we fear what is strange." "And so they choose you to kill me.
That is why you speak to me this time with a meaning different from the last time you spoke. I
know this to be true, but you must not fear me. The pur­pose in my heart will harm no one who
fears me or any that could love me."

Domea the shaman
came then, wrapped in his robes of magic, carrying a spirit bundle to ward off evil. Rainmaker
came behind him, carrying a spear in one hand. Fear was a war mask on his face. They had heard
the strange one's first spoken words, and now they came closer that they might hear

Domea came closest,
feeling safe, protected by Ms own magic. Rainmaker stayed at what he thought was a safe distance,
a few careful steps beyond immediate treachery.

The shaman stared
at the old one's robe, much faded, tracing the old clan signs with his sharp eyes.

"You are of our
people. That is the message of the wood you brought to our council fire?" The strange one did not

The shaman said,
"First you come painted in the way of our people, then clothed in a robe of our clan. We see
signs that you are
our people, but we do not recognize you. You
are a stranger with some secret purpose, yet you do these things. Why? What is in your

I he itrunge one
smiled, like a cougar showing its teeth to an

enemy. "I am
with you. But I do not walk your paths through

world   My heart belongs to this clan, and I make it known

only because your
fear makes you want to kill me."

Rainmaker held his
spear tightly, fear and surprise in the dark
planes of his face. "He knows what we think," he whispered. He turned the spear so that
the stone blade faced the strange one. He was a brave man, but the demons could not be killed and
his ter­ror of them made him a child.

Domea shook his
head slowly. "It is a thing beyond my under­standing. I would learn more."

But Rainmaker
pressed forward, spear upraised.

"Kill him!" he
cried and lunged forward.

Domea whirled
around as Rainmaker attacked. His hands came down hard across the front of the spear, knocking it
down toward the ground. The stone blade bit deep into the earth and Rain­maker, taken completely
by surprise, tripped and fell heavily to the ground.

With a curse,
Rainmaker tried to rise, raising his spear again, aiming it at the old one.

Domea put his foot
on Rainmaker's shoulder, forcing him back to the ground. Rainmaker struggled to rise.

"Fool! Old woman!"
said Domea, his face dark with anger. "Is killing the only thought you have? You must let us
learn what we can. To right blindly in the dark is a sickness that takes the heart out of a

Rainmaker stopped
struggling. "Let me up." His face was still flushed with war madness. In his mind was only fear
and killing.

BOOK: Dreams That Burn In The Night
13.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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