“The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits”
by Marcha Fox and Pete Risingsun
“Infused with a sense of danger, the intricate plot and dramatic storyline create a breathtaking and intense story.” –Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Review
Charlie Littlewolf knows there’s something suspicious about the accident that killed his best friend. Determined to solve the mystery, he must return to a way of life he’s shunned for decades. Will the Cheyenne grandfather spirits respond before a black ops team kills him, too?
RURAL FALCON RIDGE
FASTING VIGIL DAY 1
April 20, Friday
It was still dark when Charlie sat before the fire pit the next morning. He made an offering, then began a ceremonial fast. The last time was under Eaglefeathers’s direction, prior to leaving for college. It was difficult. He didn’t make it through the entire four days, even with his grandfather’s encouragement. He berated himself for being young, weak, and foolish.
Upon dousing the fire, he climbed into his pickup to return to the accident site. The headlights swept the road ahead, beams vanishing as they probed empty space beyond sheer drops. Their lethal potential blared through him as never before, fingers tightening their grip on the steering wheel.
When he arrived the traffic cones were gone. It looked the same as always. Vain hopes flared. Was it only a nightmare?
A cliff face loomed skyward beside the cutout as he pulled in, killed the lights, then the ignition. Darkness consumed the cab. He got out and closed the door. Its report rebounded as his rantings had two days before.
There was no moon, dawn’s light occulted by towering rock. Walking blindly bordered on insanity, yet using the truck’s emergency flashers or his flashlight felt wrong. Inability to see the dangers ahead fit why he was there.
His footsteps crunched along the pebble-strewn shoulder as he felt his way to the tailgate. Metal screeched as he pulled it open and sat down to wait for his eyes to adjust.
Stars appeared, starting with the brightest. Jupiter lingered toward the west, Mars and Saturn overhead, flanking the Milky Way. Shadows took shape where the celestial dome ended beyond distant trees. It seemed impossible that starlight alone could light the way, yet it did.
He slid from his perch, crossed the road, and resumed the same position as the day before. The leaves of the aspen to his right sang in the morning breeze.
Jupiter faded as the sky greyed with first light.
Like his anger at Maheo.
Grief, however, remained, his gut eviscerated.
His mind shifted to Bryan. He couldn’t remember a time when he wasn’t in his life. Even when life placed them on opposite sides of the globe.
As adolescents they discovered they had the same birthday and declared themselves twins. They shared youthful adventures, the pains of growing up. Teen crushes, and heartbreak. They encouraged each other through hard times, even when geographically separated. Their ability to sense each other’s distress was uncanny, this time no different.
Except this time Bryan couldn’t tell him what was wrong.
There was something he should do.
Why did the accident occur here? Spirits of all kinds occupied the area. Eaglefeathers made sure he knew its history.
Many years before the government forced their people to leave the land where they were born—land that Maheo gave to them. Rather than go to Indian Territory in Oklahoma or other remote reservations, a small band slipped away and came there.
A few years later white men lusting after silver and gold arrived. Conflicts arose that resulted in them forcing innocent people as well as a small herd of horses to perish in that canyon.
Their medicine man, Black Cloud, blessed the area with protection from further exploitation by the white man. Should any attempt to do so, he would not prosper.
Did Bryan stumble onto the curse? If so, how? He never thought of him as white, yet he was. Had he discovered something? His white brother, like himself, was driven by curiosity and clever at unearthing secrets.
His thoughts halted at the sound of a vehicle approaching on the other side of the road. The coming weekend brought increased traffic. He stood when the driver of a white SUV full of kids stopped and rolled down his window.
“Do you need help?” he asked. “Did your truck break down?”
Charlie forced a smile. If only it were that simple. “No. I’m okay. Thank you.”
The man waved, rolled up his window and drove away, expression puzzled.
He sat back down and contemplated how Bryan and his grandfather had affected his life while the sun crawled across the cloud-strewn sky. At times it felt as if they were standing beside him, that he could see them if he were to open his eyes. Any comfort it wrought, however, quickly collapsed to another onslaught of soul-crushing anguish.
His thoughts stalled at the sound of another car, this time on his side of the road. He got up when it came to a stop and the motorist, an older gentleman, rolled down the passenger side window. The man’s grey eyes were kind and sympathetic.
“Did you know them?” he asked.
Touched by the simple words of understanding, Charlie nodded, any response stuck behind the lump in his throat. The man offered him a bottle of water. It was rude to refuse a gift, so he accepted it and whispered thanks.
He no sooner got settled when another vehicle came along, this time a pickup. It didn’t slow down, much less stop. The dust it left behind invaded his parched throat and triggered a coughing fit. He eyed the water bottle.
No food, no water.
He toughed it out, grateful it was only the first day of his fast.
The sun crept westward, dropping toward the mountain tops beyond the yawning canyon. Eaglefeathers’s absence as well as Bryan’s loomed as the night.
The day felt wasted. He knew no more now than when it began.
As he prayed to close the day’s efforts, lamenting the loss of his grandfather’s guidance, an impression struck at the speed of thought.
Why did you not bring him with you?
He stiffened at the ridiculous thought. How? His grandfather had crossed over years before—
—but still lived in the world of spirits.
Of course. How could he be so dense?
His teachings lived on as well.
As he considered the source of the mysterious words, a vision appeared in his mind. The old man had given him many things over the years whenever he and his father, Frank Littlebear, traveled to the reservation to attend a ceremonial sweat, a sun dance, sacred buffalo hat, the sacred arrow, or fasting at Novavose, their name for the Sacred Mountain.
He remembered showing them to Bryan, who compared them to Boy Scout Merit Badges he received as he worked toward the rank of Eagle Scout. Charlie didn’t argue, but knew his were different. They were sacred. Blessed by his grandfather, a strong and worthy medicine man. Each item retained a measure of his essence. Others were handed down, like his medicine bundle.
All were stored in the chest he and Bryan built from local cedar. He bowed his head, ashamed he’d further ignored his teachings. Again it made sense no answers had come. He imagined the old man’s piercing look, awed when rather than scolding peace surrounded him like a blanket in the cool of night.
Return tomorrow with the sacred items. Do that which you were taught and you will receive answers.
His head bowed in humble thanks. Venus winked as a beacon on a far mountain top, waxing crescent moon trailing in her wake.
MEET THE AUTHORS
Marcha Fox earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Utah State University in 1987, which facilitated a 20+ year career at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Her interests expand far beyond the world of aerospace and hard science, however. The esoteric realm of metaphysics and all things weird and wonderful hold her interest as well.
When her attempt to debunk astrology backfired, she pursued knowledge in that field. She graduated from the International Academy of Astrology’s professional development program in 2012 and is the sole proprietor of ValkyrieAstrology.com. Much of the popular website’s content can be found in “Whobeda’s Guide to Basic Astrology.”
Her previous fiction work includes her epic Star Trails Tetralogy series, which has been highly acclaimed for its family-oriented plot as well as its palatable and STEM-friendly science content described in detail on http://www.StarTrailsSaga.com.
Born in Peekskill, New York, she has lived in California, Utah, and Texas in the course of raising her family of six children, now grown. Besides writing, she pampers her two cats, maintains an active astrology practice of international clients, and tries to keep up with her home, yard, friends, and family.
Social Media Contact Links
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marchafoxauthor
Blog Page: http://marcha2014.wordpress.com/
Series Website: https://www.Dead-Horse-Canyon.com
Pete Risingsun is an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe who has served as a spirit helper to medicine men in ceremonial sweat lodges. He’s a proud fifth generation descendant of Chief Iron Shirt, who was a lodge keeper and powerful medicine man.
Born in 1950, he was raised on a small ranch east of Busby, Montana. He attended Montana State University, then worked for Exxon in Billings, Montana for a year before returning home to the reservation as adult education director for the Northern Cheyenne tribe where he also raised black angus cattle and bred championship Quarter horses. He has served as a Tribal Council member and was the first Northern Cheyenne elected to serve as a Rosebud County Commissioner.
He’s the proud father of one daughter and grandfather to two. Pete is currently retired, but in addition to co-writing The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits” he makes and sells sweet grass braids, a sacred plant used in various ceremonies.
Social Media Contact Links
Series Website: https://www.Dead-Horse-Canyon.com
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