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The wanderer
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4,350 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is the sequel to the Twilight Zone-like fiction story I posted last month. If you haven't read the first one, parts of this one might leave you wondering!

My apologies to those who were looking forward to some Fred and Barney stuff. I wasn't able to work Barney into his one, though I'm considering writing an "alternative sequel" that would have Fred and Wilma coming across Barney and his wife, also trapped in the past. They could 'make the best' of it by introducing some modern ideas!

Here goes:

Twilight in the Desert: The Sequel

Fred turned to Wilma with a stunned look on his face. Hers mirrored his as they turned back to stare at the native people in the valley, who had equally stunned faces. The people gathered close together and Fred and Wilma could see by their arm movements and faces that they were discussing the strange apparition on the ridge overlooking the valley; that of two people, oddly-clad, and with a noisy, shiny "beast", the motorcycle. One of them threw back his head and gave a loud call, and in minutes young men came running from a nearby ravine, sticks and digging tools in their hands. When they reached the group of people they looked up where the elders pointed.

"Do you think they're friendly?" mused Fred, his voice laced with uncertainty. Wilma didn't answer right away, her mind raced through everything she could think of and she didn't come up with anything that explained what they were looking at. To be more precise, she understood WHAT and WHO they were looking at, but the 'how and when' was unexplainable.

"Oh, I imagine they're friendly, it just depends who you are!" said Wilma with a wry smile. "What little I know about the native people of old days, they were usually superstitious and scared of things they didn't understand or couldn't explain!"

"Well, I don't imagine they've seen too many people dressed like us, or know what a motorcycle is," Fred said uneasily.

The people in the valley were sorting themselves into two groups, and it appeared one group was to stay in the village. They were the older people, the women, and the children. The boys and younger men were arming themselves with spears and funny-looking things Wilma remembered being called "Atlatls", which were a type of spear-thrower. As they started toward the ridge it seemed as though some of the warriors dissolved and disappeared, and Fred and Wilma knew they had slipped off among the trees and dunes and would probably flank them.

"We'd better get out of here!" said Wilma in alarm.

"Maybe we should wait and see if they're friendly. They might just be coming to find out if WE'RE friendly and what we're doing." Fred was unsure of what to do, but it seemed like they should find out more about these people. They didn't know how long they'd be among them and what sort of interaction they might end up having.

As the main group approached they formed a "V", the one out front, they presumed, being the leader. They narrowed to a single line as they followed the trail winding up the hill, which Fred and Wilma recognized as being where the modern-day highway was.

When the trail came out on the flat the group widened back out to a "V" and came to a stop about 100' away. For several minutes they stared at the strange-looking pair of pale-skinned people in front of them. Then the leader shook his spear at them and yelled strange words in a bark-like voice.

Fred and Wilma looked at him, uncomprehending, and shrugged.

"We come in peace! Take us to your leader!" Fred called back. In a quieter voice aside to Wilma he said, "well, can't hurt. The probably don't understand us any more than we understand them!"

The band of people murmured among themselves, the voices getting louder and more sharp. The leader seemed unsure, then with a resolute look that seemed as though he'd decided not to lose face among the other men, he held his spear upright in front of him and chanted something. The men around him gave a shout that sounded like agreement.

"Not sounding good! Let's get out of here!" Fred jumped onto the motorcycle with Wilma right behind, helmets still dangling from their hands. Wilma reached around and grabbed Fred's helmet so he could start the motor. It roared to life and Fred turned the handlebars to spin it around and go back the way they came. The blacktop had disappeared and they were spitting up sand and gravel from the tires.

The band of natives were about 20' away when the motorcycle came to life with a loud roar. They came to a sudden stop and stared in disbelief at the monster that made so much noise and was now throwing sand and rocks their direction. As one, they turned and ran back the way they came, fleeing for their lives from the monster and the people who rode it.

Fred's motorcycle was a highway bike. It didn't even do that good on graded gravel roads. It tended to follow the ruts, and now Fred was having a hard time guiding it over the sand through the scrubby bushes. They topped the hill and followed the path where someday in the future a hard-surfaced two-lane road would run. There was a long, gentle down-grade, then they started into a sandy wash and the bike bogged down. It started weaving and fish-tailing in the sand, so Fred stopped.

"We'll have to get off and push it through the sand," he said. He held the handlebars and pushed it while steering, and Wilma walked behind, pushing on the sissy bar. They made slow progress and soon sweat was trickling down their backs. When they were through the wash they got back on the motorcycle and Fred started the motor. They had to travel slowly, using their feet for balance as they wound among the rocks, brush, and cactus. The dirt on the top of the mesa was a dusty clay and the motorcycle was heavier than the sandaled feet and desert animals that walked the trail, so it broke through the crust and bogged down unexpectedly. After a couple miles of that, they came to another wash. This one had steep dirt and gravel banks, and the path down into it zig-zagged in short switchbacks.

"We can't get the motorcycle down. We'll have to go along the top and find a place to cross." Fred wiped his brow with his arm. They got off the motorcycle and Fred said, "Let's push it over between those rocks where we can get it mostly out of sight.

Once they pushed the bike off the trail it sunk almost a foot in the soft sandy dirt. With a sigh, Fred suggested they just leave it where it was. They started to walk along the wash on the top of the bank, heading uphill with the assumption they might be able to get above the ravine made by rainwater run-off. But they both knew they'd never get the motorcycle through the soft dirt. After a while they came to another trail, and without a word Fred led the way down into the wash. They walked in the shade along the bottom until they came to the trail that climbed out the other side.

"We need water," said Wilma as they looked at the trail that climbed up the bank. "Maybe we should stay in the wash and head downhill. I know it'll eventually end at the river, but we might find a spring or a pocket of water before we get there."

"Yeah, one of those 'tanks', the bowl-like places in the rock where rainwater collects and stays for days or weeks", said Fred, remembering the ones they saw at the nearby Valley of Fire State Park, back when they were in the modern age. "From the top of the bank we'd probably be able to see the red rocks of Valley of Fire, and I bet those same springs and tanks are there, even in whatever year this is. That seems safer than the possibility of running into more of those native people by the river."

They climbed up the trail and from the bank above the wash they could see the jumble of red rocks in the state park. They headed southwest, up and down over knolls and washes until they reached the red rocks. Fred led the way as they climbed over the rough red sandstone, peering down into cracks and holes. Wilma stayed close to Fred, the hairs on the back of her neck prickling. Once or twice she was sure she heard sand trickle down off rocks behind them, but when she cast a quick look over her shoulder, no one was there.

With a sigh of relief Fred found what he was looking for. In a scooped-out bowl in the rock between two boulders was water from a recent rainfall.

"Is it safe to drink like that?" Wilma asked as Fred got down on his hands and knees and prepared to scoop some out.

"Uhn-oog-dah-bah! Uhn-oog-dah-bah!" came an urgent voice behind them. Wilma let out a yelp and spun around. She was looking into the brown eyes of a young man she guessed was in his early teens. He gazed back at her, and she felt like he was more curious than threatening, although he pointed at the water and again muttered the words and shaking his head and upper body.

Fred jumped up and stepped in front of Wilma, who peered around his shoulder. The boy made scooping motions with his hands, then crossed his arms and brought his hands down sharply.

"I guess he thinks we shouldn't drink the water?" Wilma asked. Fred had been fumbling in his pockets, feeling for anything to use as a weapon, while keeping his eyes on the young man. His fingers wrapped around the bic lighter he carried for 'emergencies', though he'd never considered it more than a novelty to do so. It was something to make him feel he was at least a bit prepared.
 

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The wanderer
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4,350 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
In a quick movement Fred pulled the lighter out, flicking it as he did, and held out his hand. The lighter was hidden in his palm and the steady flame appeared to rise from his fingers. The boy jumped back, then leaned forward with a look of wonder on his face. He tilted his face this way and that, then reached a tentative finger toward the flame.

It wasn’t quite the reaction Fred was hoping to get. His mind raced as he analyzed how much threat this boy potentially held. Looking at the childish expression of awe, he had a hard time reminding himself of what the boy was likely capable of.

A sharp voice came from the rock above them and all three looked up. Another boy jumped and landed next to the first one. His words sounded like a reprimand, and the first boy stepped back and stood taller, raising the sharpened stick he held in one hand in what almost seemed a reluctant move.

Suddenly there was a bright white flash and both boys’ eyes widened in fear and they turned and ran. Fred spun to see Wilma holding her digital camera in her hand. The flash when she took the picture had frightened the boys.

“Good thinking!” Fred said in a shaky voice. They leaned on the rocks for a minute, then walked out into the sunshine. “Let’s just head straight back to the uhaul-camper.”

Wilma nodded her agreement and they headed southeast from the red rocks. They should have been able to see the blue water of Lake Mead in the distance, but there was no sign of it. The Hoover Dam apparently hadn’t been built yet! They came to the deep wash just before the turn-off to where they were camped, but a four-mile walk was still ahead of them. A spring seeped through the wash but it just left damp sand in a trail to the river. The could have stopped to dig a hole and let the water slowly fill it, but they decided to keep walking.

“Oh, I know this plant! It’s called ‘Mormon tea’, although I don’t remember what it’s real name is. People make tea out of it when they have colds! But I remember when I saw on the internet, it said you could chew the stems to relieve thirst! It makes you salivate!” Wilma reached down and broke off some of the stems. She held them up and looked at them, somewhat skeptically, then shrugged and put one between her teeth and started chewing. She held the bunch toward Fred. He looked at her for a minute, watching her chew, then took one of the needle-like stems and put it in his mouth. They looked at each other for a few minutes, then Fred raised an eyebrow and shrugged.

“Not bad. And I think it’s working. I feel less thirsty already!” said Fred. He turned and they continued across the wash and started the climb up the other side. The top was steep and they used their hands to hold on to rocks and plants. Fred’s face rose over the bank and his gaze landed on several feet. They were brown, dirty feet. Some had what looked like braided sandals, other feet were bare. Without following the feet up the legs he knew what he would see if he looked up.

“Go back down, Wilma!” Fred shouted as he started to lower his foot back down. Hands grabbed his arms and pulled him over the top and deposited him on the ground. “Run, Wilma!”

Wilma hesitated for a minute and started to reach into her pocket for the camera, but noise from below made her look down. Climbing up on each side of her, and already to her legs, was two more of the native people. They grabbed her arms and all but carried her the rest of the way up, depositing her next to Fred. The men stood around them, having what appeared to a be a discussion of what to do with them.

Fred studied them out of the corner of his eyes. They were dressed the same as the first ones they’d encountered, but some of them, at least, he was pretty sure weren’t the same ones from that group. There were six of them, and although a few of them were older, they certainly didn’t appear frail.

“Psssst! Fred!” Wilma whispered urgently. “I have to ‘go’. I really have to.” Fred nodded so she knew he heard her, and he thought for a minute. Then he stood up. The men raised their sticks threateningly but didn’t speak or stop him.

“Um…well…it’s like this. My wife needs to, um…to use the bushes.” The men stared at him without understanding. Fred racked his brains. Then he walked over to a bush and made motions like he was relieving himself, and pointed to his wife, then back to the bush.

“ahhh, uhngh!” the men murmured and nodded in understanding. One of them pulled Wilma to her feet and motioned toward the bush. They stood there and folded their arms, waiting silently.

“I’m not going to ‘go’ while they watch!” Wilma protested.
 

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The wanderer
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Fred walked toward the men and stood with them a minute. Then he turned around and faced away and motioned for them to do the same. They made sounds of exasperation but they did the same. A few minutes later Wilma called that she was done. Fred and the men turned around, and they motioned for Fred and Wilma to walk with them. Two of the men went ahead and the rest walked behind.

Fred was angry. He whispered to Wilma “I thought you were going to run for it! I thought you made the whole thing up!”

“What?!!!” Wilma was stunned. Did Fred really think she could out-run those native people, even with a few seconds head start? “These people don’t have a clue what we’re saying! I could have just told you! And you didn’t say anything about me running! I don‘t want to be by myself, and where would I get help? From Dino?”

“Yeah, and how long can dogs survive shut in a camper without water?” Fred mused. “Poor Dino.”

They walked in silence for a while, the hot sun beating down on them. After about an hour they stopped in the shade of a large rock. Wilma slid her shoes off and inspected her feet, rubbing red places that were starting to blister. One of the native men watched her, then grunted. He got up and walked over, squatting in front of her and looked at her feet. He walked away then, out among the bushes on the desert floor. In minutes he was back with a flat, almost heart-shaped cactus pad speared on the end of a stick. He knelt down and rubbed it in the sand to remove the spines, then broke it open. Using a small sharp-edged stone he scraped some of the pale green center out of the cactus. (Note: Beavertail Cactus)

Sitting next to Wilma’s feet he rubbed the slimy, mashed cactus onto Wilma’s feet. Almost immediately her feet felt cooled and soothed. He waved his hands over them as though he was trying to dry the goo. Fred, getting nervous about the intimate contact, pushed his hands against the native mans hands and started fanning Wilma’s feet himself. Wilma, worrying the man would take offense, raised her hand in a motion she’d seen them do among each other and interpreted as a greeting or sign of friendliness.

The brown eyes stared back steadily, then he raised his chin and moved away.

“Stop trying to speak their language before you do something wrong and make them mad!” Fred hissed to her. “What if that means something different from a woman to a man than it does man-to-man!”

“You’re right. I’ll be more careful.” Wilma said. She knew these men were curious and suspicious of them, and probably wished they hadn’t appeared and interrupted their life. She didn’t think they were violent or hostile, though. She and Fred had been to some of the local historical sites but didn’t know much about the native Americans of the area, except at one time they were called “Paiutes”. It seemed as though they weren’t a violent people, from what she recalled.

The leader of the group rose to his feet and barked an order. Everyone rose, and Wilma quickly shoved her socks and shoes back on her feet. They continued walking north, back toward the valley and the village.

“I wonder what they’ll do to us when we get there?” Fred mused. “They’re not cannibals, are they? I wonder if they’ll tie us to a pole and build a fire under us?”

“I don’t think any of the American Indians were cannibalistic! At least not when they weren’t starving, and these people look well-fed,” Wilma answered.

They climbed down into the wash near where the motorcycle was abandoned and walked down-slope toward the river. Around a bend they came across two young native men having a mock-fight with their spear sticks. The whole group walking toward them stopped and stared.

The boys were dressed in the sparse native clothing and trimmings, but their heads were covered with shiny black balls. Wilma’s hand flew to her mouth to stifle a giggle. Fred shot her a warning glance, but in seconds they were both laughing at the sight of the primitive young men in their native attire wearing motorcycle helmets on their heads.

The men who’d been escorting Fred and Wilma turned to look at them and glared. The boys yanked the helmets off their heads and threw them away, standing with sheepish looks on their faces. The leader walked over to them and began to speak. A conversation took place and the boys were very animated. They kept holding up their hands in a fist, then pointing at Fred. The leader walked over to Fred and took his hand. He turned Fred’s hand over and looked at all sides of it, then spoke to the boys behind him. One of the boys walked over and rolled Fred’s fingers into a ball and held the hand up and made a sound that in English would have sounded like “Ta Da!”

Everyone looked expectantly at Fred’s hand, but nothing happened. Fred figured out what was going on.

“Ahhh!” he said in a comprehending tone. He slipped his hand into his pocket and grabbed the lighter. Using his other hand he waved it over his pocket like a magician would, looking straight into the eyes of the leader, saying “wait…for…it” as though they were magic words. He knew the leader had no idea what he was saying. Then he brought his hand up as he flicked the bic and cried “Abra-ca-dabra!”

The men all drew back with “ooohs” and “ahhhhs”, and the young men jumped up and down and made noises like “I told you so!”

“Abba-cadabah?” said one of the men hesitantly.

Slowly Fred said “Abra-ca-dabra!” and the men practiced it slowly, looking at Fred for approval. After several practice tries, they had it right. One of the men held his hand up in a fist and cried “ABRA-CA-DABRA!” and looked with pride at his hand and waited. And waited. His face crumbled. He walked sadly over by Fred and looked at the flame, then at Fred, and said quietly “Abra-ca-dabra?” and shrugged.

Fred opened his hand and let them see the bright orange plastic lighter. He let the flame go out, then showed them how to touch the little plastic pad that caused the flint-and-steel action which lighted the butane fluid inside the plastic tube, and the flame reappeared. They watched with intense curiosity, then Fred held it out toward the man who’d tried to light his hand with magic words.

The leader stepped in front of him and grabbed the lighter. He played with it for several minutes, pushing the little pad, but not quick and sharp like it takes to light it. Fred reached for it to show him again, and the leader pulled his hand away with a growl and kept trying. Finally in frustration he flicked it fast and it lit. He howled in joy and jumped around. The others cheered with him.

Then as quickly as they’d become interested in it, the leader’s face got a bored look and he handed it to the man who’d wanted it in the first place, and he spun and barked an order. They began walking again. The man with the lighter played with it as they walked along, lighting it over and over. The leader glared at him and the lighter disappeared somewhere on his person among his clothing and other belongings.

Soon they came to the muddy flats along the river and turned north. They passed small cultivated fields with young squash and corn plants. Palm trees and mesquite trees grew along the river valley, and the brush was thick. They wound along at the base of the bluffs, just above the mud. They came to the clearing Fred and Wilma had seen from the hill above. People of all sizes and both genders gathered around. Words flew thick and fast but none that Fred and Wilma understood. They sat quietly where the men motioned them to sit, near one of the larger fire rings. Someone brought a large stake and it was driven into the ground with what looked remarkably like a sledge hammer, but was a stone lashed to a pole. Men took turned pounding until the stake was firmly into the ground, with about 2’ sticking up.

Suddenly their feet were grabbed and a soft twine rope tied to each ankle. They were hobbled, with a short rope between their feet, and a rope about 3’ long tied to the stake. The rope appeared to be braided and twisted from some kind of plant fibers.

Fred sat studying the ropes and knots. It was almost amusing, like an old cartoon. He mumbled to Wilma “yeah, like I can’t just take out my pocket knife and cut this stuff!”

“Well, at least wait until they’re not looking!” she replied. She looked around. There were a half-dozen buildings, most about the size of a good-size garden shed, built out of poles and thatched with palm fronds. One was larger than the others. Rocks were stacked tightly to make storage ‘boxes’ in front of each of the huts and were covered with poles and then fronds. Their clothes were woven, some from what appeared to be cloth fiber and some from plant fiber. A young girl brought them a gourd full of water and handed it to Wilma, then scurried away. The water tasted slightly chalky but was refreshing. Wilma handed it to Fred after she took a long drink.
 

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The wanderer
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4,350 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Soon it appeared as though everyone had gotten bored with them and gone back to what they were doing. Boys ran along the river bank, flushing out rabbits and trying to catch them. Girls carried water from the river in what looked like woven jugs. Older people worked on a variety of projects. An older man appeared to be making a spear, winding threads around a pointed rock and a stick. Some women sat near a small stream that flowed into the river, pulling out flat grasses they had soaking in the water and coiling and wrapping them. Wilma figured they were making baskets or jugs. Women were grinding corn on large flat rocks, holding a long round rock and rubbing it forward and backward over the corn. Men were turning strips of fish hanging on horizontal poles over a smoky fire. There was activity, steady and calm, all around them. No one seemed hurried. No one seemed alarmed. There was quiet pleasant chatter and occasional laughter.

Wilma woke with a start. She felt sunburned and grainy. Fred sat with his arms around her and she had her head leaned back on his chest. The sun was edging toward the mountains in the west. People were gathering, and fires had been built up. Soon everyone was eating, and Fred and Wilma watched quietly. When everyone was finished, some of the young women went around and cleaned up crumbs and leftover food. It was scraped together on a board and brought to them, placed on the ground next to them. The woman who brought it walked away without looking at their faces.

“We get their garbage?” Fred asked in disbelief.

“It’s food!” Wilma shrugged. She started picking through the food. She popped a piece of what looked like a yellow sponge into her mouth. “Kinda’ like cornbread, only not sweet at all!”

Fred watched her, then reached for a piece of dried meat. “Smoky-tasting, but really good!”

There were green and yellow bits of vegetables they didn’t recognize, either by appearance or taste, but they ate them anyway. In fact, they ate every crumb and bit of food on the board. No one came to take the board away. Instead, groups of people gathered near the various fires and talked or played games. Some worked on things with their hands. One woman seemed to be braiding a pair of sandals. Another was painting designs on a basket with a stick and a small woven bowl of dye.

After a while the same young girl went around with the gourd of water and offering it to people. She’d return to the woven jug from time-to-time to refill it, then continue her rounds. After she’d offered water to every person, big and little, she came over to Fred and Wilma and handed it to them. With a sigh, they took it and drank.

“Germs. Are we kind of like blood-brothers with them now? Or should I say “spit-brothers’?” Fred said half-humouredly. Wilma just smiled. The girl thought she was smiling at her. She looked back at Wilma with a serious look, then her lips twitched and she curled them upward into a smile. Wilma caught her breath in her throat. Then the girl reached out and touched the necklace around Wilma’s neck. From it hung a small metal palm tree, the trunk painted brown, the leaves painted green. It was about an inch tall. The kids had given it to her for Christmas in honor of her affection for palm trees. It wasn’t palm trees she liked so much as the warm climate they represented, but the palm trees WERE pretty.

“You like this?” Wilma said gently. She reached up behind her head and unclasped it, then slowly reached her hands up to clasp it around the girl’s neck.

Suddenly she was bowled to the ground and there was shouting around her. The young girl’s eyes had widened in fear, but just as Wilma was knocked down she slipped the necklace into the girl’s hand. The men shook her and pointed at the girl and shouted words she didn’t understand. The girl got up and ran toward one of the huts. Apparently they thought she was reaching for the girl’s neck to hurt her!

When things calmed down Wilma could see the girl watching her from the shadows. Wilma darted her eyes around at the others, then raised her hand in the friendship greeting. The girl returned the gesture, then held up the necklace for a minute, hugged it quickly to her, and then it disappeared out of sight.

After dark the camp began to get quiet. Most of the people disappeared into the huts, but a few of the men stayed around one of the fires late into the night. Fred and Wilma drifted in and out of sleep. Once when they were both awake Fred grumbled “Aren’t they going to let us go to the bathroom or anything?”

Fred felt disoriented when someone shook him. He started to speak and a hand slid over his mouth. He opened his eyes and saw the two young men who’d been playing with the motorcycle helmets. He motioned to Fred to be quiet, and Fred saw Wilma had been wakened, too, and was sitting up. One of the boys pulled a sharpened rock from his waistband and started sawing through the ropes. Wilma wondered why they didn’t just untie it. Fred reached into his pocket and pulled out his pocket knife. The boys drew back in fear, then leaned forward to see what strange, wonderful thing their pale friend had this time.

They made soft sounds of amazement when Fred opened the knife and the metal blade glinted in the dim light of the stars. With a quick motion he sliced through the rope around his ankles. The boys eagerly pulled Wilma’s ankles toward Fred and motioned to the rope. Fred took one of the boys’ hands and put the shaft of the knife in it and nodded his head. After a quick, questioning look the boy sliced through Wilma’s rope. He started to make ‘happy’ noises and his friend silenced him. The first boy handed the knife back to Fred, who folded it and put it in his pocket. The boys motioned them to follow and ran in a half-crouch back the way Fred and Wilma had been brought in. When they were around the curve, out of sight of the village, the boys stopped them. They pulled out braided sandals and motioned toward their feet.

“They want us to change into those!” Fred said. “I get it. They don’t want us leaving tracks with our shoes!” Both of them sat down and quickly removed their shoes and socks. The boys helped them get the sandals on and tied. They stuffed their socks into the shoes, tied the laces together, and hung them around their necks, then stood, ready to walk. The fibers of the sandals were soft but slightly prickly. At first they felt like the sandals would slide right off their feet, but soon they realized the sandals not only fit snug against their feet, but they were on firmly and were easy to walk in. Wilma enjoyed feeling the contours of the ground through them.

They by-passed the wash they’d hiked down earlier and continued along the course of the river. After a couple hours of walking they turned up a gully. One of the boys walked ahead and motioned for Fred and Wilma to step where he did. The boy was stepping from rock to rock, leaving no tracks. The second boy came last, checking each step behind them to see that they left no trace. Fred guessed they were half a mile from the river before the boys relaxed and they all began walking normally. He figured the boys knew how far from the river those tracking them would look up each ravine, gully, or wash.

In a narrow canyon they stopped and drank from small jugs the boys carried on string over their shoulders. They were offered seeds and bits of dried meat from pouches tied to their waists. Fred and Wilma nibbled on the food and felt surprisingly replenished. They sat there looking around. The shadows of the rock and dirt walls rose up to meet the stars. A light breeze blew down the canyon, which meant morning wasn’t far away. In the evening the hot air rose upward through the canyons, shifting to sink back down as morning neared and the air cooled.

One of the boys began to act restless. He kept looking at Fred, or more precisely, toward Fred’s mid-section. Fred wondered what was making the boy anxious, and he looked down at his shirt, his belt, and his pants. He didn’t see anything odd. When he looked up, the boy was holding a length of the rope they had cut off Wilma’s ankles. He held the rope across the sand in front of him and made cutting motions with his other hand, then pointed at Fred’s pocket.

Fred grinned and pulled out the pocket knife. He showed the boy how to open it and pantomimed that one side of the blade was sharp and could hurt him, and that the other side wasn’t sharp and wouldn’t cut. The boy opened and closed the knife about a dozen times and looked into the hollow slit in the handle where the blade folded in to. Then he cut the rope into many small pieces, watching the action as though he was absorbing it with all of his senses. When there wasn’t anything left long enough to cut he looked around for other things to cut, but the other boy laid a hand on his arm and said something to him. They rose to their feet, motioning Fred and Wilma to do the same. The boy folded the knife, looked at it longingly, and handed it back to Fred.
 

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The wanderer
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Soon the gray edge of dawn was spreading across the sky to the east. When they reached the place where Wilma had frightened the boys away with her camera, they stopped. The boys looked at them questioningly, and with motions and strange words, they gestured all directions and looked expectantly at Fred and Wilma.

“I think they want to know where we were going. Or something like that.” Fred said. He turned and pointed southeast, toward where the uhaul-camper was. One of the boys climbed up the tall rock and looked all around. When he climbed down he took the lead and they started walking. The boys kept them near the base of the mountains as they skirted the desert floor. Each time they reached a wash the boys would point down it and look questioningly at Fred and Wilma. Fred shook his head ‘no’ and they kept walking. Finally they reached one of the hot springs at the base of the mountain and Fred pointed downstream from it, toward where Lake Mead used to be, or rather where it would be someday, and they started downhill along the tall oasis grasses that grew along the wet channel.

One of the boys uttered a cry and suddenly Fred and Wilma were pulled to the ground. The four of them crept on their bellies into a break in the weeds. The damp sand soaked through their clothes as they sat breathing hard and trying to be quiet. One of the boys raised up slowly among the grasses and peered back the way they came. He spoke to the other boy, who also rose up and looked. The next words they said had the same tone as cuss words exploding from the mouth of modern teens.

With resignation and a few more of those colorful-sounding words, one of the boys crawled out of the grass and along the bank, then stood and began to walk back up the slope. A minute later they heard him talking to someone. A quiet voice answered him, and they wondered who he was talking to. They heard him give a big sigh, then come walking back toward them. It was light enough for them to recognize the young girl who had brought them water. She walked over and sat next to Wilma on the wet sand and leaned against her.

Wilma was startled, then put her arms protectively around the girl as the other boy started shouting at her. The first boy shushed him and pointed with a sweeping motion back toward the village. They had a short, urgent argument, then rose and started walking. Fred, Wilma, and the girl followed. The boys muttered from time to time, but other than that they walked in silence.

They came out onto a point where the land split into a multitude of ravines and dropped to the river valley. Fred and Wilma could make out the shape of their camper in the distance, high and dry on a knob of land, where it used to sit a couple hundred feet from the shore of the lake. Instead, now the land sloped down and down to the bottom of the valley where the Virgin River flowed through, having been met by the Muddy River a few miles upstream.

Fred pointed toward the square shape of the camper and said “That’s it, that’s our camper. That’s where we’re heading.” He knew they wouldn’t understand his words but he hoped they understood his meaning.

The sound they made sounded like “Wow” in modern English as their sharp eyes saw the camper, barely visible over the mounds of sand and plants between them and the camper.

The going was rougher here. Rocks and gravel lay over the sand, and they had to climb in and out of ravine after ravine. Sometimes they’d follow a spine or a ridge for a while, or walk along the bottom of a ravine, then climb out and over another. Cactus was mixed in among the greasewood and other brush, and rodents had dug entry holes to their tunnels around the base of the plants. If they walked too close to the plants, the ground would give way and they’d drop a few inches into the collapsed tunnels.

Suddenly Fred yelped and hopped on one foot. Immediately the three young native people looked at the ground where Fred had stepped. In a flash one of the boys darted over and grabbed something off the ground and held it up. Carefully holding a scorpion near it’s tail so it couldn’t sting him, he held it out for the rest to see. The other boy murmured something and the first one agreed. The girl looked at it, then turned and walked across the rocky ground toward a spiny ball of a plant. She pulled one of the stalky leaves down and used a rock to saw at it and cut it loose. (Note: Yucca)

She spoke to one of the boys and they started gathering sticks as though they were going to build a fire. When they had it all laid out, Fred reached for his lighter, but realized the “abra-ca-dabra“ Indian had it. Wilma reached into her pocket and pulled out hers, then squatted down and lit the fire. One of the boys had been holding a flat board and a stick, which appeared to be their fire-starting equipment. He grinned and shoved the fireboard and spindle back into the pouch on this waistband. The girl stirred the fire, then waited for it to burn down to coals.

Meanwhile, Fred was in misery with the stinging pain in the side of his foot. Wilma made motions like pouring water over it, thinking it would soothe the pain, but the three natives shook their heads. Wilma searched her pockets for anything that would help, maybe even some aspirin, if she was lucky. She came up with several plastic wrapped mints from a restaurant they’d been to recently…well, “recently” in their real life!

Thinking this would be a nice treat she showed them to the natives, unwrapped one, and popped it in her mouth and sucked on it. They watched her, then picked up the clear plastic wrapper and turned it over and over, speaking in amazement. They held it up and looked through it. Wilma handed them each one, and they admired the red and white ball inside it. She tore another one open, and they did the same with the ones they had. They dumped the ball into their hand and marveled over it and the wrapper.

Wilma handed the mint she’d just opened to Fred, and he put it in his mouth. Wilma opened her mouth and showed them the candy was still in her mouth. The inside of her mouth was stained red. The natives hesitantly put the candy into their mouths, then immediately spit them back into their hands and looked at them suspiciously. The girl tentatively licked hers with her tongue, then as she got used to the flavor she carefully placed it on her tongue. After a minute she took it out again, then put it back in her mouth. The boys held theirs for a while, then carefully poked them back into the wrappers.

The fire had burned to coals and the girl set her water pouch on the coals. She started to cut the stiff green stalk-like leaf with a rock, and the boy who had cut up the rope with the pocket knife stopped her. He came to Fred and pointed toward his pocket. Fred took out the knife and handed it to him, saying “Knife” and pointing to it.

The boy held up the knife and repeated the word. “Knife” He looked questioningly at Fred.

“Knife,” Fred agreed. Then he pointed to himself and said “Fred.” He pointed at Wilma and said “Wilma.”

The boy looked back and forth between them and then said “Wed? Frilma?”

Fred laughed, then corrected him. The boy pointed to himself and said what sounded like “Aye-hoo-yit”. He pointed to the other boy and said “Jum-koo-yah”. The girl pointed to herself and said “Mah-yah-li”.

The boy cut up the stalk for the girl, then folded the knife and handed it to Fred. Fred put his hand over the boy’s hand and gently pushed the hand toward the boy. The boy understood the gesture and slid the knife into one of his pouches. He muttered a word that might have meant “Thanks”, but the look on his face made words unnecessary.

The girl, Mahyahli, put the plant pieces in the water and watched it while it heated to a boil. She motioned Fred to sit and she took her water pouch off the fire. She fished out pieced of the plant with quick fingers, blew on them for a minute, then placed them on the sting on Fred’s foot. She pulled off a strip of cloth that had been tied around her head and tied it around Fred’s foot. Then she handed him his sandal. He put it back on and got to his feet.

“Wow, it’s feeling better already!” he said. “These people know their medicines, don’t they? How come we don’t?”

“We should, shouldn’t we?” Wilma said. “We’re always trying to lug along First Aid kits, which are a good idea, but we might not always have them with us. We should know what we can use for food and medicine in any place we spend time.”
 

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The wanderer
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
They were a few ridges away from the uhaul-camper when they heard shouts behind them. Turning, they saw many of the men from the village spread along the base of the mountains. They were pointing toward the small group below them and grouping themselves together, now that they had spotted what they were after.

The five of them hurried down yet another bank and up the next. Each time they topped a ridge they looked back for a glimpse of their pursuers.

“Hurry, hurry,” Fred urged Wilma.

“Ahn-dah-lay! Ahn-dah-lay!” urged the young natives.

Rocks skittered down as their feet scurried up slopes. Their chests heaved with their breathing, and they grabbed each other’s arms to help get up and down the slopes. Wilma’s blue and orange ****’s, hanging over her shoulder by the laces, slid off her arms. “My shoes!“ she yelled, but kept running.

Soon they were on the last rise and hurrying down toward the uhaul camper. The band of men chasing them topped the rise only a dozen yards behind them, yelling with triumph. They paused to watch the small group run across the rocky flat toward the strange shiny box of the camper.

Fred and Wilma, leading the small group now, raced around the uhaul-camper as the men on the hill let out whoops and charged toward them. Fred ground to a halt and Wilma ran into him. They stared in shock at a hummer parked next to the uhaulhe. The back door was open and piles of clothes, camping gear, and Cabelas bags were heaped on the seat.

The whooping of the natives was drowned out by a loud “*** *** ***” that filled the air, and military helicopters rose into view from the river bottom and hovered next to the fin of land the uhaul was parked on. Ground troops in battle gear climbed over the top and stared into the eyes of dozens of primitive natives with spears.

Wilma fainted.

EPILOGUE:

Fred and Wilma sat in the uhaul. They were glad to be home, parked in their own driveway. They hadn’t yet unpacked the uhaul from their winter of snowbird camping in southern Nevada, but the kids and grandkids had come for a cook-out to welcome them home. Stuffed with burgers and cokes, they were sitting in the uhaul listening to Fred and Wilma’s tales.

“Wow, Mom, you and Dad sure had some wild dreams. Maybe you should go somewhere else next winter!” said one of their daughters. She got up and idly walked around the uhaul, looking in the cabinets.

Fred laughed and said “Well, it was mostly Wilma. I don’t really dream.”

“Oh, so those were both MY dreams? You talk like you were there, like you saw it all, too!” Wilma poked him indignantly. She still felt funny, like she didn’t really grasp what was a dream or what was real, but she was playing along with the reality thing. “Come on, I have chocolate cream and lemon meringue pies!” She rose and led the way toward the house. A couple of the kids dawdled behind, not wanting to be in the mad rush for pie.

Fred put his hands in his pockets as he walked along. “Anyone seen my pocket knife? I can’t find it.”

In the uhaul one of the daughters looked in a plastic bag and said to her sister, “Wow, they must have spent a fortune at Cabelas! Look at all this stuff!”

“That’s nothing, you should see this picture on Mom’s camera! They must have gone to some serious Indian re-enactments!” said another.

One of the grandsons appeared in the doorway with a stone-tipped spear. “Look at this really cool spear I found behind the seat! And…” he said mysteriously as he pulled his other hand from behind his back, “look at THIS!” He held up a Kevlar combat helmet.

“Mom!” the two women yelled as they ran toward the house.


Far away in time and distance, three young Paiutes sat in a shady canyon. One played with a shiny metal knife, and another played with a small palm-tree shaped metal pendant. The third one walked around awkwardly in bright-colored shoes that no longer had laces. Finally one of them pointed at the setting sun, and all three reluctantly put their treasures back in their hiding places. With a sigh they headed toward the wisps of smoke in the valley on the river bank.

THE END
 

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It's a shame there are other things in life that require your attention. It seemed to me that there were many directions you wanted to go with this and just didn't have the time to do it. Thanks for a very entertaining story.
 

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The wanderer
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yeah, I had a hard time staying focused writing it, but hopefully it'll provide some light entertainment.
 

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Yeah, I had a hard time staying focused writing it, but hopefully it'll provide some light entertainment.
Very good GS !!!... did you bring any of those peyote beans back from the desert ? or did yawl eat all of them out there?.... :D

Having lived in the Desert I can attest to the fact that there is something out there... don't know what it is but it's been there forever...just the odd sound or a strange scent or a breeze when there is nothing moving.. you either learn to just accept it or you get out of there... either way, you will never forget it...

Powerful Medicine...
 

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The wanderer
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Very good GS !!!... did you bring any of those peyote beans back from the desert ? or did yawl eat all of them out there?.... :D
...
Back? Heck, we're still down there! Been 9 weeks ago today since we rolled out of our snowy yard in NW Montana in single-digit weather! Still snow on the ground and kinda cool up there.

It's sunny and around 80 here! Why would we go home? :D

Yeah, ya spend enough time in the desert and it has a profound effect on a person! I love it here!
 

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The wanderer
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed the stories! I'm glad you did! :)
 

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Thumbs up!

Again with the **** thing?
Our Nlke overlords watching over us?
 

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The wanderer
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thumbs up!

Again with the **** thing?
Our Nlke overlords watching over us?
Glad you liked the story!

I wondered about the **** thing, about the shoes. I couldn't make it go away, but figured everyone know what it said!
 

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Resurrecting this!

I enjoyed both your stories, gypsysue!

Stories like that keep you guessing about the direction and explanation. They were a welcome relief from thinking about today's troubles...

LOL! Never occurred to me the "****" said anything but "Shoe", until I read the posts afterward! I kept wondering how "Shoe" could be a bad word!

Guess now I know!
 

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The wanderer
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I'd all but forgotten about these two little stories! I had so much fun writing them! I'm glad people are still reading and enjoying them!

Thanks, Magus and wildcat!
 

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I'd all but forgotten about these two little stories! I had so much fun writing them! I'm glad people are still reading and enjoying them!

Thanks, Magus and wildcat!
And you're still denying bring home some dream beans?....bad girl..bad bad!!
 

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The wanderer
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
And you're still denying bring home some dream beans?....bad girl..bad bad!!
They're long gone by now, buddy! :D You'll never be able to prove it! lol :eek:
 
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