Wednesday, April 11, 2012


A Brave Encounter
By DJ Barber

The bear stood up on its hind legs, snarling, as it swatted a large paw at its adversary. The Horror took a sudden dodging step backward and then, clenching a massive fist, sent a crushing blow into the bear's head. The bear fell limp to the ground. The Horror grabbed the bear by the nape of the neck and dragged it upward into the higher hills, the bear's weight seemingly no more than merely a small branch.

A cold wind picked up as a steady snow began to fall. The Horror made its way to the cavern which was a few hundred feet below the elevation where the trees ceased to grow and the jagged peaks thrust into the darkening clouds, and began its feast. Multi-colored scales ranged from smudgy-yellow to muddy brown. The Horror's fangs well overlapped its lower jowls. It had finally eaten one of its many kills.


The old brave threw a few smaller pieces of kindling on the fire. He sat and waited before he added the small log for some minutes. In his younger days he had been known as Running Walker; for to others even his walking gait seemed as a run. But now, having grown old, and yes, weary in his age, the others now merely called him Walker.

The spirits were alive this night. He heard them call; for something stalked the high mountains—something evil. Walker skewered some venison on a thin stick and held it over the fire. He was alone—the tribe had taken its yearly pilgrimage south, and being an honorable man, Walker had stayed behind so as not to be a burden to the others. It was the way of things when one had lived so many summers; that the young continued life's journey—and the old stepped aside for the honor of the tribe.

Up in those high mountains winter had already begun. Walker debated venturing there to expedite nature's course. But the spirits sang a warning call—and no natural death awaited there.

Walker chewed a bit of venison as he rose and strolled over to his bedroll which was packed with provisions that would last little more than a week--if he were prudent. He reached inside and pulled a small leather pouch free and took it back to the fire. He picked up the skewer and nibbled off another bit of venison and then set to work.

He was not a shaman, nor did he know well any of the higher gifts or crafts. He was but a warrior—and not nearly the best of his tribe, not even in youth. But he had lived a long, long life—and in it had learned many things. Those spirits that called from the darkness of the high country—they weren't just wandering and lost. For Walker could recognize—did recognize—the calls of his ancestors. And there was more than a warning cry being sounded—there was anger!

From the pouch Walker removed a handful of shimmering dust, a gift given in his youth from one of the Others. Always hidden and prized-- he cast some of the dust toward the fire. The fire rose in a burst of white smoke for several minutes. And Walker now could clearly see the ancestors of old in the midst of the smoke.

That Nature was worshipped, adored even, was the way of Walker's tribe. The Eagle, Hawk, Bear, Elk and Cougar were among the beasts of the mountains who earned the tribe's highest respect and honor.

But high above, in the realm of snow, there was present an evil, an evil that didn't belong in this sacred and special place. And the ancestors bemoaned its presence; for it had killed many in its wake—and this evil had ill intent to continue its atrocities.

Walker wrapped himself in his warmest skins and sat with the fire until it went cold. He then rose up, and taking but a few items from the bedroll, he ventured east into the high country—the realm of snow.


The spirits guided Walker in an unerring path. In his travels, Walker found evidence of the fell beast above. Dead deer, an elk that appeared nearly broken in two gave Walker reason to pause. But the ancestors called still louder, the song of strength, steeling Walker for the encounter that lay not so far ahead.

Early in the morning on the second day since leaving the dead fire, Walker came upon a massacred cougar. It lay across a large rock by a flowing stream, taunting and cruel—obviously a warning. Anger, not fear, welled up within the old brave and he seethed with rage. But as fate would have it, a gentle snow began to fall, cooling Walker's anger—and just in time—for now a cooler head would be required.

It stood waiting—the Horror—as if it had known some challenge its way came. Walker saw it and stopped, not prepared at the gruesome sight of it. Larger than the long-legged bear, standing tall, its thick tail flicked like a serpent’s tongue. A deep grunt emitted from the Horror's bowels and it gave a snarling growl.

Walker peered skyward and called in a loud voice—sang the song of his ancestors, the mighty warriors cry! The snow ceased to fall. The combatants contemplated one another.

The Horror came a running, wanting to end the standoff with one mighty blow. Walker began once again to sing, and as the Horror came close, he quickly slid aside as the Horror stumbled past into the mountain stream. It gasped in the water's coldness, sputtering and growling as it crawled out of the water and got to its feet.

Walker pulled the leather pouch free from beneath his many skins and flung the shimmering dust into the air between himself and the Horror. The dust hung there in the coldness in a shape recognized by Walker--The Great Spirit of the Sky!

The Horror looked on in some bewilderment at this new adversary, screamed loudly, and rushed forward. Walker rushed forward, too! The approaching footfalls of the Horror were like an earthquake rolling through the mountains.

Walker—Running Walker--and the Horror collided by a great pine tree that rose to the pinnacle of the forest. The great tree split asunder and crashed down upon the Horror. The Great Spirit of the Sky lifted from Walker and ascended to the heavens as Walker watched in awe.

Moments later, Walker sat down by the shattered, great fallen tree as the snow began to fall in earnest. He pulled the skins tightly about his body and waited for the spirits of the ancestors to return; knowing his final earthly task was now complete.

- - -
Writing is better than sniffing glue. That was told to dj barber long, long ago and far, far away. And he has found that to be true. dj always works when he can and whistles when he should.


- - -

Help keep Yesteryear Fiction alive! Visit our sponsors! :)

- - -

Blog Archive