I have learned hate. I have been waiting for the
chance to escape, to track you as you once
tracked me, to destroy you.
I am sorry for the pain I have caused you. Now
that we know what you are, amends can be made.
The sun of my world has since gone nova. The
world and all others of my kind are no more.
How can you restore it to me?
Cat slammed against the field and sparks
outlined his entire figure. Billy did not move.
After a time, Cat drew back, shaking himself.
He seemed smaller now, and his body coiled
around and around upon itself, sinking into the
Finally, I will help you - for a price, Cat said.
And what is that price?
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either
am the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any
resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is
A division of
Th Hearst Corporation
105 Madison Avenue
New York, New York 10016
Copyright (C) 1982 by The Amber Corporation
Cover art by Tim White
Published by arrangement with the author
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 90-93388
All rights reserved, which includes the right to reproduce this book or
portions thereof in any form whatsoever except as provided by the U.S.
Copyright Law. For information address Kirby McCauley, Ltd., 432
Park Avenue South, Suite 1509, New York, New York 10016.
First Avon Books Printing: January l991
AVON TRADEMAAK REG. U.S. PAT. OFF. AND IN OTHER COUNTRIES, MARCA
REGISTRADA, HECHO EN U.S.A.
Printed in the U.S.A.
ARC 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 I
FOR JOE LEAPHORN,
AND TONY HILLERMAN
At the door to the House of Darkness
lies a pair of red coyotes with heads reversed.
Nayenezgani parts them with his dark stag
and comes in search of me.
With lightning behind him,
with lightning before him,
he comes in search of me,
with a rock crystal and a talking ketahn.
Beyond, at the corners by the door
of the House of Darkness,
lie two red btuejays with heads reversed.
With lightning behind him,
with lightning before him,
he parts them with his dark staff
and comes in search of me.
Farther, at the fire-pit of the Dark House,
tie two red hoot-owls with heads reversed.
He parts these with his stag
and comes in search of me,
with rock crystal and talking ketahn.
At the center of the Darkness House
where two red screech-owls lie with heads reversed,
Nayenezgani casts them aside
coming in search of me,
lightning behind him,
lightning before him.
Bearing a rock crystal and a talking ketahn,
he comes for me.
From the center of the earth he comes.
NIGHT, NEAR THE EASTERN
edge of the walled, sloping grounds of the estate, within
these walls, perhaps a quarter-mile from the house itself, at
the small stand of trees, under a moonless sky, listening, he
stands, absolutely silent.
Beneath his boots, the ground is moist. A cold wind tells
him that winter yields but grudgingly to spring in upstate
New York. He reaches out and touches the dark line of a
slender branch to his right, gently. He feels the buds of the
fresh year's green, dreaming of summer beneath his wide,
He wears a blue velveteen shirt hanging out over his
jeans, a wide concha belt securing it at his waist. A heavy
squash blossom necklace - a very old one - hangs down
upon his breast. High about his neck is a slender strand of
turquoise heiche. He has a silver bracelet on his left wrist,
studded with random chunks of turquoise and coral. The
buttons of his shirt are hammered dimes from the early
twentieth century. His long hair is bound with a strip of red
Tall, out of place, out of time, he listens for that which
may or may not become audible: indication of the strange
struggle at the dark house. No matter how the encounter
goes, he, William Blackhorse Singer, will be the loser. But
this is his own thing to bear, from a force he set into motion
long ago, a chindi which has dogged his heels across the
He hears a brief noise from the direction of the house,
followed immediately by a loud crashing. This does not end
it, however. The sounds continue. From somewhere out
over the walls, a coyote howls.
He almost laughs. A dog, certainly. Though it sounds
more like the other, to which he has again become accus-
tomed. None of them around here, of course.
William Blackhorse Singer. He has other names, but the
remembering machines know him by this one. It was by this
one that they summoned him.
The sounds cease abruptly, and after a short while begin
again. He estimates that it must be near midnight in this part
of the world. He looks to the skies, but Christ's blood does
not stream in the firmament. Only Ini, the bird of thunder
among the southwestern stars, ready with his lightning,
clouds and rain, extending his headplume to tickle the nose
of Sas, the bear, telling him it is time to bring new life to the
earth, there by the Milky Way.
Silence. Sudden, and stretching pulsebeat by pulsebeat to
fill his world. Is it over? Is it really over?
Again, short barks followed by the howling. Once he had
known many things to do, still knew some of them. All are
closed to him now, but for the waiting.
No. There is yet a thing with which to fill it.
Softly, but with growing force, he begins the song.
FIRST MAN WAS NOT EXACTLY
jumping with joy over the dark underworld in which he was
created. He shared it with eight other humans, and the ants
and the beetles and later the locusts whom they encountered
as they explored, and Coyote - the First Angry One, He-
who-was-formed-in-the-water, Scrawny Wanderer. Every-
one multiplied; and the dragonflies, the wasps and the bat
people later joined them; and Spider Man and Spider
Woman. The place grew crowded and was full of bugs. Strife
"Let's get out of here," a number of them suggested.
First Man, who was wise and powerful, fetched his trea-
sures of White Shell, Turquoise, Abalone, Jet and the Red-
He placed the White Shell in the east and breathed upon it.
Up from it rose a white tower of cloud. He placed the
Turquoise to the south and breathed upon it. From it there
rose a blue cloud tower. To the west he set the Abalone, and
when he had breathed upon it a yellow cloud tower rose up
in that place. To the north he set the Jet, and touched by his
breath it sent up a black tower of cloud. The white and the
yellow grew, met overhead and crossed, as did the blue and
the black. These became the Night and the Day.
Then he placed the Red-White Stone at the center and
breathed upon it. From it there rose a many-colored tower.
The tower to the east was called Folding Dawn; that to the
south was called Folding Blue Sky; to the west, Folding
Twilight; that to the north, Folding Darkness. One by one,
Coyote visited each of them, changing his color to match
their own. For this reason, he is known as Child of the
Dawn, as Child of the Blue Sky, Child of the Twilight and
Child of Darkness, along with all his other names. At each of
these places, his power was increased.
While the towers of the four cardinal points were holy,
giving birth to the prayer rites, the central one bore all pains,
evils and diseases. And it was this tower up which First Man
and Coyote led the People, bringing them into the second
world; and, of course, along with them, the evils.
There they explored and they met with others, and First
Man fought with many, defeating them all and taking their
songs of power.
But this also was a place of suffering, of misery, a thing
Coyote discovered as he went to and fro in the world and up
and down it. And so to First Man he took the pleas that they
First Man made a white smoke and blew it to the east,
then swallowed it again - and the same in every direction.
This removed all the evils from the world and brought them
back to the People from whence they had come. Then he laid
Lightning, both jagged and straight, to the east, and Rain-
bow and Sunlight, but nothing occurred. He moved them to
the south, the west and the north. The world trembled but
brought forth no power to bear them upward. He made then
a wand of Jet, Turrquoise, Abalone and White Shell. Atop
this, he set the Red-White Stone. It rose and bore them
upward into the next world.
Here they met the many snakes, and Salt Man and Woman
and Fire God. Nor should Spider Ant be forgotten. And light
and darkness came up from the towers of the four colors, as
in the other worlds.
But then First Man set a streak of yellow and another of
red and yellow in the east, and these halted the movement of
the white light.
And the People were afraid. Salt Man counseled them to
explore in the east, but the streaks retreated as they ad-
vanced. Then they heard a voice summoning them to the
south. There they found the old man Dontso, called Messen-
ger Fly, who told them what First Man had done. The yellow
streak, he said, represented the emergence of the People; the
other, vegetation and pollen, with the red part indicating all
Then Owl and Kit Fox and Wolf and Wildcat came, and
with them Horned Rattlesnake, who offered First Man the
shell he carried on his head - and promises of offerings of
White Shell, Turquoise, Abalone and Jet in the future. First
Man accepted the shell and its magic and removed the
streaks from the sky.
The People then realized that First Man was evil. Coyote
spied upon their counsels and reported to First Man that
they knew he had stopped the light in the east to gain a
When later they confronted him with it, First Man replied,
"Yes. It is true, grandchildren. Very true. I am evil. Yet I
have employed my evil on your behalf. For these offerings
shall benefit all of us. And I do know when to withhold my
evil from those about me."
And he proceeded to prove this thing by building the first
medicine hogan, where he shared with them his knowledge
of things good and evil.
HE REMEMBERED THE PARTY
the night before he had found the coyote.
Garbed in the rented splendor of a shimmering synthetic-
fibered foursquare and blackrib Pleat 4, Ruffle evegarb, he
had tripped through to the mansion in Arlington. Notables
past and present filled the sparkling, high-ceilinged rooms.
He was decidedly Past, but he had gone anyway, to see a
few old friends, to touch that other life again.
A middle-aged woman of professional charm greeted him,
approached him, embraced him and spoke with him for half
a minute in the enthusiastic voice of a newscaster, until a
fresh arrival at his back produced a reflex pressure from her
hand upon his arm, directing him to the side.
Grateful, he moved off; accepting a drink from a tray,
glancing at faces, nodding to some, pausing to exchange a
few words, working his way to a small room he recalled Gem
He sighed when he entered. He liked the wood and iron,
stone and rough plaster, books and quiet pictures, the single
window with its uninterrupted view of the river, the fireplace
"I knew you'd find me here," she said, from her chair near
"So did I - in the only room built during a lapse in
He drew up a chair, seating himself near her but facing
slightly past her toward the fire. Her heavy, lined face, the
bright blue eyes beneath white hair, her short stocky figure,
had not changed recently. In some ways she was the older,
in others she was not. Time had played its favorite game -
irony - with them both. He thought of the century-old Fon-
tenelle and Mme. Grimaud, almost as old as he. Yet there
was a gulf here of a different sort.
"Will you go collecting again soon?" she asked him.
"They've all the beasties they need for a while. I'm
"Do you like it?"
"As well as anything."
Her brows tightened in a small wince.
"I can never tell whether it's native fatalism, world-
weariness or a pose with you."
"I can't either, anymore," he said.
"Perhaps you're suffering from leisure."
"That's about as exclusive as rain these days. I exist in a
"Really. It can't be as bad as all that," she said.
"Bad? Good and evil are always mixed up. It provides
"It is easy to love what is present and desire what is
She reached out and squeezed his hand.
"You crazy Indian. Do you exist when I'm not here?"
"I'm not sure," he said. "I was a privileged traveler.
Maybe I died and no one had the heart to tell me. How've
you been, Margaret?"
After a time, she said, "Still living in an age of timidity, I
suppose. And ideas."
He raised his drink and took a big swallow.
"... Stale, flat and unprofitable," she said.
He raised the glass higher, holding it to the light, staring
"Not that bad," he stated. "They got the vermouth right
"Philosophy doesn't change people, does it?" she asked.
"I don't think so."
"What are you going to do now?"
"Go and talk with some of the others, I guess, have a few
more drinks. Maybe dance a little."
"I don't mean tonight."
"I know. Nothing special, I guess. I don't need to."
"A man like you should be doing something."
"That's for you to say. When the gods are silent someone
"The gods are silent," he said, finally looking into her
bright ancient eyes, "and my choices are all used up."
"That's not true."
He looked away again.
"Let it be," he said, "as you did before."
She removed her hand from his. He finished his drink.
"Your character is your fate," she said at last, "and you
are a creature of change."
"I live strategically."
"Maybe too much so."
"Let it be, lady. It's not on my worry-list. I've changed
enough and I'm tired."
"Will even that last?"
"Sounds like a trick question to me. You had your chance.
If I've an appointment with folly I'll keep it. Don't try to
heal my wounds until you're sure they're there."
"I'm sure. You have to find something."
"I don't do requests."
"... And I hope it's soon."
"I've got to take a little walk," he said. "I'll be back."
She nodded and he left quickly. She would too, shortly.
Later that evening his eyes suddenly traced a red strand in
the rug and he followed it, to find himself near the trip-box.
"What the hell," he said.
He sought his hostess, thanked her and moved back to the
transport unit. He pushed the coordinates, and as he entered
Freeze frame on man falling.
There was a time when the day light was night light.
Black-god rode upon my right shoulder.
Time spun moebius about me, as I sailed
up Darkness Mountain in the sky.
And the beasts, the beasts I hunted.
When l called them they would come to me,
out of Darkness Mountain.
IT HAD SNOWED THE PREVIOUS
night, dry and powdery, but the day had been unseasonably
warm and much of it had melted. The sky was still clear as
the sun retreated behind a dark rocky crest, and already the
cold was coming back into the world, riding the wind that
sighed among the pine trees. Silvery strings of sunlight
marked the higher sinews of a mesa far to the right, its foot
already aswirl with gray in the first tides of evening. At least
there would be no snow tonight, he knew, and he could
watch the stars before he closed his eyes.
As he made his camp, the coyote limped after him, its left
foreleg still bound. Tonight was the night to take care of that,
He built his fire and prepared his meal, the pinon smoke
redolent in his nostrils. By the time that it was ready the day
was gone, and the mesa and the ridge were but lumps of
greater darkness against the night.
"Your last free meal," he said, tossing a portion of the
food to the beast at his feet.
As they ate, he remembered other nights and other camps,
a long trail of them stretching back over a century. Only this
time there was nothing to hunt, and in a way this pleased
Drinking his coffee, he thought of the hundred-seventy
years of his existence: how it had begun in this place, of the
fairylands and hells through which he had taken it and how
he had come - back. "Home," under the circumstances,
would be more than an irony. He sipped the scalding brew
from the metal cup, peopling the night with demons, most of
whom now resided in San Diego.
Later, with his hunting knife, he removed the dressing
from the animal's leg. It remained perfectly still as he did
this, watching. As he cut away at the stiff material, he
recalled the day some weeks before when he had come upon
it, leg broken, in a trap. There had been a time when he
would have acted differently. But he had released it, taken it
home with him, treated it. And even this, this long trek into
the Carrizos, was for the purpose of turning it free at a
sufficient distance from his home, with a full night ahead to
tempt it into wandering back to its own world, rather than
prolonging an unnatural association.
He slapped its flank.
"Go on. Run!"
It rose, its movements still stiff, leg still held at an awk-
ward angle. Only gradually did it lower the limb as it moved
about the campsite. After a time, it passed into and out of the
circle of firelight, remaining away for longer and longer
As he prepared his bedroll, he was startled by a buzzing
noise. Simultaneously, a red light began winking on the
small plastic case which hung from his belt. He switched o
the buzzer, but the light continued to blink. He shrugged and
put it aside, face down. It indicated an incoming call at his
distant home. He had gotten into the habit of wearing the
unit when he was near the place and had forgotten to remove
it. He never wore the more elaborate version, however, and
so was not equipped to answer the call from here. This did
not seem important. It had been several years since he had
received anything which might be considered an important
Still, it troubled him as he lay regarding the stars. It had
been a long while since he had received any calls at all. He
wished now that he had either carried along the unit's other
component or had not brought anything. But he was retired,
his newsworthiness long vanished. It could not really be
... He was traversing an orange plain beneath a yellow
sky in which a massive white sun blazed. He was approach-
ing an orange, pyramidal structure covered with a webwork
of minute fractures. He drew near and halted, hurriedly
setting up the projector. Then he commenced waiting, occa-
sionally moving to tend another machine which produced a
continuous record as the cracks grew. Time meant very little
to him. The sun drifted slowly. Abruptly, one of the jagged
lines widened and the structure opened. A wide-shouldered
form covered with pink stubble rose up suddenly out of it,
swaying, a raw, bristle-edged opening facing him forward of
the bulbous projection at its top, beneath a dazzling red band
of jewel-like knobs. He triggered the projector and a gleam-
ing net was cast upon it. It struggled within it but could not
come free. Its movements came to correspond with a faint
drumming sound which might be his heartbeat. Now the
entire world crashed and fell away and he was running,
running into the east, younger self of his self, beneath a blue
sky, past saltbush and sagebrush, clumps of scrub grass and
chamisa, the sheep barely noting his passage, save for one
which suddenly rose up, assuming all the colors of the dawn,
swaying.... And then everything swam away on dark
currents to the places where dreams dwell when they are not
Birdnotes and predawn stasis: he was cast up onto the
shoals of sleep, into a world where time hung flexed at the
edge of light. Frozen. His emerging awareness moved slowly
over preverbal landscapes of thought he had quitted long
ago. Or was it yesterday?
He awoke knowing that the call was important. He tended
to his morning and removed all signs of his camp before the
sun was fully risen. The coyote was nowhere in sight. He
began walking. It had been a long time, too long for him to go
further into the portent. His feelings, however, were another
matter. He scrutinized them occasionally, but seldom exam-
ined them closely.
As he hiked across the morning, he considered his world.
It was small again, as in the beginning, though this was a
relative matter - relative to all the worlds he had traveled in.
He moved now in the foothills of the Carrizo Mountains in
Dinetah, the land of the Navajos, over twenty-five thousand
square miles, much of it still grazing land, over a million and
a half acres still wildland, bounded by the four sacred
mountains - Debentsa in the north, Mount Taylor in the
south, San Francisco Peaks in the west and Blanco Peak in
the east, each with its stories and sacred meanings. Unlike
many things he had known, Dinetah had changed only
slowly, was still recognizable in this, the twenty-second
century, as the place it had been in his boyhood. Returning
to this land after so many years had been like traveling
backward in time.
Yet there were differences between this day and that
other. For one, his clan had always been a small one, and
now he found himself its last survivor. While it was true that
one is born a member of one's mother's clan but in a sense is
also born for one's father's clan, his father had been a
Taoseno and there had been very little contact with the
pueblo. His father - a tall, sinewy man, an unusually gifted
tracker, with more than a little Plains blood - had come to
live in Dinetah, as was proper, tending his wife's flocks and
hoeing her corn, until the day a certain restlessness over-
Even so, it was not the lack of clan affiliation which had
altered his life. A Navajo has great potential for personal
contacts through the complex network of tribal interrelation-
ships, so that even though all of the people he had known in
his youth were likely dead, he might still find ready accep-
tance elsewhere. But he had returned with an Anglo wife
and had not done this. He felt a momentary pang at the
thought, though more than three years had passed since
It was more than that. A Navajo alone, on his own, away
from the People, is said to be no longer a Navajo - and he
felt that in a way this was true, though his mother, his
grandmother and his great-grandmother were buried some-
where near the place where he now lived. He knew that he
had changed, changed considerably, during the years away.
Yet so had the People. While the land was little altered, they
had lost many of the small things he remembered, small
things adding up to something large. Paradoxically, then, he
was on the one hand of an earlier era than his contempo-
raries, and on the other... He had walked beneath alien
suns. He had tracked strange beasts, worthy of Monster-
Slayer himself. He had learned the ways of the bellicanos
and was not uncomfortable among them. There were de-
grees after his name, some of them earned. There was a
library in his head, held firmly in the trained memory of one
who had studied the chants of yataalii. More traditional yet
more alien he found himself. He wanted to be alone, what-
ever he was.
He broke into an easy jog, telling himself that its purpose
was to get the cold out of his bones. He ran past walls and
outcrops of granite and sandstone, hillsides of pinon and
juniper. Dead yuccas, their leaves touched with ice, lay like
burned out stars nailed to the ground along his trail. The
snow glinted on distant mountain peaks beneath a perfectly
clear sky. Even after the cold had left him, he maintained his
pace, deriving a kind of joy from the exertion.
The day wore on. He did not break his stride, however,
until midmorning, when he halted for a brief meal upon a
hillside commanding a long view down a narrow canyon
where sheep grazed on dry grasses. In the distance, smoke
rose from a conical, dirt-insulated hogan, its Pendleton-hung
door facing him, there in the east.
An old man with a stick came out from behind a cluster of
rocks, where he might have been resting while watching the
sheep. Limping, he took a circuitous path which eventually
brought him near.
"Ya'at'eeh," the man said, looking past him.
He asked the man to share his food, and they ate in silence
for a time.
After a while, he asked the man's clan - it would have
been impolite to ask his name - and learned that he was of
the Rabbit Redwater People. He always found it easier to
talk with the older people than the younger ones, those who
lived far out rather than near the cities.
Eventually the man asked him his own clan. When he told
him, the other grew silent. It is not good to talk of the dead.
"I am the last," he finally said, wanting the other to
understand. "I've been away a long time."
"I know, I know the story of Star Tracker." He pushed
down upon the crown of his wide-brimmed black hat as a
gust of wind struck them. He looked back along the trail to
the north. "Something follows you."
Still smiling at the way the old man had named him
without naming him, he turned his head and looked in that
direction. A large ball of tumbleweed bounced and rolled
along the foot of the hill.
"Russian thistle," he said.
"No," the other replied. "Something more dangerous."
Despite his years, the fear of the chindi rose for a moment
out of his youth. He shuddered beneath the touch of the
"I see nothing else," he said.
"You have been gone for many years. Have you had an
"Perhaps you should."
"Perhaps I will. You know a good Enemyway singer?"
"I am a singer."
"Perhaps I will see you again on this before long."
"I have heard that Star Tracker was a singer. Long ago."
"When you come by again we will talk more of these
The man looked back once more, along the trail.
"In the meantime," he said, follow a twisted path.-
"I will do that."
Later, as he passed along the streaky blue shale and
frozen crimson clay of a dry riverbed, naked cottonwoods
flanking it like fracture lines against the cold blue of the sky,
he thought of the old mas's words and the things of which
they reminded him - of the sky creatures and water crea-
tures, of the beings of cloud, mist, rain, pollen and corn
which had figured so prominently in his childhood imagina-
tion - here in the season when the snakes and the thunder
It had been a long while since he had considered his
problems in the old terms. A chindi... Real or of the
mind - what difference? Something malicious at his back.
Yes, another way of looking at things...
The day wore on to noon and past it before the butte near
his home came into view, a high-standing wind-sculpture
reminiscent of something he had once seen in a seaweed-
fringed valley beneath the waters of an alien ocean. He
halted again at this point to eat the rest of his rations. Nature
had long moods in the Southwest, he reflected, as he looked
off in that direction. While it was true that the land was little
altered, there had been some change between the then and
the now. He could just make out stands of blue spruce near
the monolith's base, a tree he had not seen in this area a
century and a half ago. But then the climate had also altered
somewhat during the span, the winters becoming a trifle
more clement, coming later, ending a bit sooner than they
He filled his pipe and lit it. Shadows like multitudes of
fingers stretched slowly out of the west. To run all this way,
then sit and rest when the end was in sight-it seemed the
thing to do. Was he afraid? he wondered. Afraid of that
damned call? Maybe that was it. Or did he want a last slow-
moving view of this piece of his life before something
happened to change it? There had been a song.... He could
not remember it.
When he felt that the time was proper he rose and began
walking through the coolness and shadow toward the large,
distant, six-sided house with the door to the east, his hogan
that was not exactly a hogan.
* * *
The sky was darker by the time he reached the neighbor-
hood of his dwelling, and the trees curtained off even more
of the light, casting an as yet starless evening over the raised
log-and-stucco structure. He wandered about it for several
minutes before approaching from the east and mounting the
rough-cut decking with which he had surrounded the place.
He entered then and turned on the light. He had his own
power supply, rooftop and below-ground.
Moving to the central fogon, he arranged some kindling
and struck it to fire. He disrobed then, tossing his Levi's and
red-and-white flannel shirt into a hamper along with the rest
of his clothing. Crossing to a tall, narrow stall, he entered
and set the timer for a three-minute UHF shower. Water was
not a thing to be expended lightly in this region. When he
emerged, he drew on a buckskin shirt, khaki bush pants and
a pair of soft moccasins.
Activating his news recorder and display screen and ad-
justing it to some of his general interests, he passed to the
small, open kitchen area to the right and prepared a meal,
amid hanging ristras of chilis and onions.
He ate in a low, fur-covered chair and the walls about him
were hung with rugs from Two Gray Hills and Ganado,
interspersed with framed photographs of alien landscapes. A
rack of weapons hung on the far wall; a meter-square metal
platform enclosed by shining vertical bars of varying heights
stood nearby, a large console with a display screen to its
right. Its message light was still blinking.
When he finished eating, he toyed with his belt unit and
put it aside. He went to the kitchen and got a beer.
CHILEAN QUAKES ABORTED
and three demonstrators were apprehended after report-
edly setting fire to the car belonging to the official responsi-
ble for the ruling
PETROCEL DENIES PATENT INFRINGEMENT CLAIMS
"GREW OUR OWN," DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH INSISTS
A MILD SPRING FOR MUCH OF THE NATION
EARLY FLOOD WATCHES IN MISSISSIPPI VALLEY
CHIMPANZEE COMPLAINS OF ART THEFT
References to a drugged banana figured prominently in the
bizarre statement taken today by Los Angeles detectives
KILLED THEM BECAUSE THEY WERE THERE,
MOTHER OF THREE EXPLAINS
It's been a long time since you left me.
Don't know what I'm gonna do.
I look up at the sky and wonder -
Earthlight always makes me think of you.
COLUMBIA STUDENTS SKYDIVE FROM ORBIT
TO SET NEW RECORD
"Naturally the university is proud," Dean Schlobin re-
STRAGEAN AMBASSADOR CLOSETED WITH
Stragean Ambassador Daltmar Stango and Consul Orar
Bogarthy continue a second day of talks with Secretary-
General Walford. Speculation on a breakthrough in trade-
agreement negotiations runs high, but so far the news com-
W. COAST DOLPHINS PRESS CLAIMS
A-1 CANNING BELIEVED READY TO SETTLE
BAKIN M BAWA PREDICTS END OF WORLD AGAIN
I sip the beer and hear the music,
Watch the ships as they arrive.
You packed your bag and went away, love
I feel like H-E-L-L5.
CHURCH OF NATURAL LIFE RADICALS SUSPECTED
IN SPERMOVA BANK BOMBING
MAN SUES TO RECOVER FORMER PERSONALITY
Relying on a district court order, Menninger officials
BANK OF NOVA SCOTIA COMPUTER CHARGED WITH
FELONY IN BONDS MANIPULATION SCANDAL
Oh, I'm sittin' here and hurtin'
In this slowly turnin' dive.
If you ever want to reach me
Just dial H-E-L-L5.
hate somewhere he still exists and there is no force
great enough to keep me from him forever it has taken
a long while to learn the ways but soon i will be ready i
am ready eight days and had i known then what i know
now he would be gone i would be
gone burned? burned they say? nevermore amid the
slagheaps to chase the crawling tubes and crunch them for
their juiciness? but this air too i breathe and only the
jagged and the straight lightnings hold me here i know
the way beyond them now and the trees outside the
walls visions of cities the lesser ones bear i know
the ways i know the forms wait the lesser ones'
twisted minds tell me what i need one will come one
day who will know of the one who is not like the others
who still exists i will leave for that somewhere he
exists eight days i died a little he will die
wholly nothing can keep me from him forever i will
talk first now i know of it words like the crawling
things crunch them taste their juiciness strike now
and see the lesser ones draw back now i know them i
will use them words to tell him the why of
it now i will be a sphere and roll about ha! lesser
ones! p hate i will talk it that when tell it
then eight days burned hate
BACK WHEN NAYENEZGANI
and his brother were in the process of disposing of the
monsters the People had found in the new world, there were
some - such as the Endless Serpent - who were, for various
reasons, spared. Yet even these were tamed to a degree in
their acknowledgement as necessary evils. The world was
indeed becoming a safer place, though some few yet re-
There was, for instance, Tse'Naga'Hai, the Traveling
Rock, which rolled after its victims to crush and devour
them. Nayenezgani traveled on a rainbow and the crooked
lightning in search of it. His brother having counseled him to
take the magic knives with him, he had all eight of them
about his person.
When he came to the place called Betchil gai, he took out
his two black knives, crossed them and planted them. Be-
yond, he planted the two blue knives, crosswise. Farther
along, he crossed the two yellow knives and planted them.
Farther yet, he planted the two knives with the serrated
edges, also crosswise.
He moved then in sight of the giant Rock.
"What are you waiting for, Tse'Naga'Hai?" he asked it.
"Do you not pursue my kind?"
With a crunching, grinding noise, the mossless boulder he
had just addressed stirred. It moved slowly in his direction,
gaining momentum noticeably after but a few moments. It
almost took him by surprise with the speed with which it
But he whirled and raced away. It came on rapidly at his .
back, gaining upon him.
When he reached the place of the serrated knives, Nay-
enezgani leaped over them. The Rock rolled across them and
a big piece broke away.
He continued to flee, jumping over the yellow knives.
Tse'Naga'Hai rolled over them also, and another fracture
occurred; more pieces fell away.
By now, the Rock was bouncing from side to side and
rolling in an irregular pattern. And when Nayenezgani
leaped over the blue knives and the Rock crashed into them
and bounced over, more pieces fell away. By now, its size
was considerably reduced though its velocity was increas-
Nayenezgani sprang over the black knives. When he
heard the Rock grating and cracking itself upon them, he
All that remained was a relatively small stone. He halted,
then moved toward it.
Immediately it swerved, altering its course to bound away
from him. Now he pursued it into the west, beyond the San
Juan River. Finally, there he caught it, and much of the life
and wit seemed gone out of it.
"Now, Tse'Naga'Hai," he said, "the power to harm me is
gone from you, but you are not without a certain virtue I
noted earlier. In the future you will serve to light the fires of
He raised what remained of the Rock and bore it off with
him to show to First Woman, who otherwise would not have
believed what he had done.
FINALLY HE SIGHED AND ROSE.
He crossed to the console beside the area enclosed by the
shining bars. He pushed the "Messages" button and the
display screen came alive.
EDWIN TEDDERS CALLED, it read, followed by the pre-
vious day's date and the time - the time when his unit had
signaled in the wilderness. Below, it listed six other attempts
by Edwin Tedders to reach him, the most recent only a few
hours ago. There was an eastern code and a number, and a
request that he return the call as soon as possible, prefaced
by the word URGENT.
He tried to recall whether he had ever known an Edwin
Tedders. He decided that he had not.
He punched out the digits and waited.
The buzzing which followed was broken, but the screen
"Yes?" came a crisp male voice.
"William Blackhorse Singer," he said, "returning Edwin
"Just a moment, please." The words hurried and rose in
pitch. "I'll get him."
He tugged at a turquoise earring and regarded the blank
screen. A minute shuffled its numbers on a nearby clock-
The screen suddenly glowed, and the heavily lined face of
a dark-haired man with pale eyes appeared before him. His
smile seemed one of relief rather than pleasure.
"I'm Edwin Tedders," he said. "I'm glad we finally got
hold of you, Mr. Singer. Can you come through right now?"
"Maybe." He glanced at the gleaming cage to his left.
"But what's this all about?"
"I'll have to tell you in person. Please reverse the transfer
charges. It is important, Mr. Singer."
"All right. I'll come."
He moved to his trip-box and began its activation. It
whined faintly for an instant. Zones of color moved upward
within the shafts.
"Ready," he said, stepping into the unit.
Looking down, he saw that his feet were growing dim.
For a moment, the world was disarrayed. Then his
thoughts fell back into place again. He was standing within a
unit similar to his own. When he raised his head he looked
out across a large room done up in an old-fashioned man-
ner - dark paneled walls, heavy leather chairs, a Chinese
rug, bookshelves filled with leatherbound volumes, drapes, a
fireplace burning real logs. Two men stood facing him -
Tedders, and a slight, blond man whose voice identified him
as the one with whom he had first spoken.
"This is Mark Brandes, my secretary," Tedders stated as
he watched him step down.
He inadvertently pressed his palm rather than clasping
hands, in the old way of the People. Brandes looked puzzled
but Tedders was already gesturing toward the chairs.
"Have a seat, Mr. Singer."
"Call me Billy."
"All right, Billy. Would you care for a drink?"
-I have some excellent brandy."
"That'll be fine."
Tedders looked at Brandes, who immediately moved to a
sideboard and poured a pair of drinks.
"Early spring," Tedders said.
Billy nodded, accepted his glass.
"You've had a fascinating career. Both freezing and time-
dilation effects kept you around till you could benefit from
medical advances. A real old-timer, but you don't look it."
Billy took a sip of his brandy.
"This is very good stuff," he said.
"Yes. Real vintage. How many trackers are there around
"I don't know."
"There are others, but you're the best. Old school."
"What do you want?" he asked.
Tedders chuckled also.
"The best," he said.
"What do you want tracked?"
"It isn't exactly that."
"It's hard to know where to begin...."
Billy looked out the window, across the moon-flooded
lawn. In the distance, the prospect was broken by a high
"I am a special assistant to Secretary-General Walford,"
Tedders finally stated. "He is here - upstairs - and so are the
Stragean ambassador and consul - Stango and Bogarthy. Do
you know much about the Strageans?"
"I've met a few, here and there."
"How'did they strike you?"
"Tall, strong, intelligent... What do you mean?"
"Would you want one for an enemy?"
"They could be very dangerous."
"In what ways?"
"They'd be hard to stop. They're shapeshifters. They
have a kind of mental control over their bodies. They can
move their organs around. They can -"
"Walk through walls?"
Billy shook his head.
"I don't know about that. I've heard it said, but I've
"It's true. They have a training regimen which will pro-
duce this ability in some of them. Semireligious, quite ardu-
ous, takes years, doesn't always work. But they can produce
some peculiar adepts."
"Then you know more about it than I do."
"So why ask me?"
"One of them is on her way here."
"There are a few thousand around. Have been for years."
Tedders sipped his drink;
"They're all normals. I mean one of those with that
"She's coming to kill the Secretary-General."
Billy sniffed his brandy.
"Good that you got word," he finally said, "and can turn
it over to the security people."
"Not good enough."
Throughout the conversation, Tedders had been struggling
to obtain eye-contact. At last Billy was staring at him, and he
felt some small sense of triumph, not realizing that this
meant the man doubted what he was saying.
"They're not equipped to deal with Stragean adepts," he
said. "She could well be too much for them."
Billy shook his head.
"I don't understand why you're telling me about it."
"The computer came up with your name."
"In response to what?"
"We'd asked it for someone who might be able to stop
Billy finished his drink and set the glass aside.
"Then you need a new programmer or something. There
must be a lot of people who know more about Stragean
adepts than I do."
"You are an expert on the pursuit and capture of exotic
life forms. You spent most of your life doing it. You practi-
cally stocked the Interstellar Life Institute single-handed,
Billy waved his hand.
"Enough," he said. "The alien you are talking about is an
intelligent being. I spent much of my life tracking animals -
exotic ones, to be sure, some very crafty and with tricky
behavior patterns - but animals nevertheless, not creatures
capable of elaborate planning."
"... So I don't see that my experience is really applicable
in this situation," he concluded.
"Perhaps, and perhaps not," he said at last. "But in a
matter like this we should really be certain. Will you talk
with the Stragean representatives who are visiting here?
They can probably give you a clearer picture than I can."
"Sure. I'll talk to anybody."
Tedders finished his drink and rose.
"May I get you another of those?"
He replenished the snifter. Then, "I'll be back in a few
minutes," he said, and he moved off to the right and de-
parted the room.
Billy set down the glass and rose. He paced the room,
regarded the titles on the bookshelves, felt the volumes'
spines, sniffed the air. Mingled with the smell of old leather,
a faint, almost acrid aroma he had not been able to place
earlier came to him again, a scent he had experienced upon
meeting Strageans in the past, in another place. They must
have been about this building for some time, he decided, or
have been in this room very recently, to mark it so with their
presence. He remembered them as humanoid, over two
meters in height, dark-skinned save for silvery faces, necks
and breasts; flat-headed, narrow-waisted beings with wide
shoulders, collarlike outgrowths of spiny material which
served as sound-sensors and small, feral eyes, slitted, usu-
ally yellow but sometimes cinnamon or amber in color;
hairless, graceful in a many-jointed, insectlike way, they
moved quietly and spoke a language that reminded him
vaguely of Greek, which he did not understand either.
It is language, he decided, that sets the sentients apart
from the animals. Isn't it?
He moved to the window, stared out across the lawn.
Difficult to cross there without being detected, he con-
cluded, with even the simplest security devices in operation.
And this place must have plenty. But she could assume
almost any guise, could penetrate the place in an innocuous
Why be furtive, though? That is what they would be
expecting. While the defenders were concentrating on the
sophisticated, why not hijack a heavy vehicle, come barrel-
ing across the lawn, crash through a wall, jump down from
the cab and start shooting everything that moves?
He shook himself and turned away. This was not his
problem. There must be plenty of people more qualified than
himself to second-guess the alien, no matter what the com-
He returned to his chair and took up his drink. Footsteps
were approaching now from the direction in which Tedders
had departed. Footsteps, and the soft sound of voices,
accompanied by a faint ringing in his ears. The language of
the Strageans ranged into the ultrasonic on the human scale,
and though they narrowed their focus when speaking Terran
tongues there were always some overtones. Too long a
conversation with a Stragean normally resulted in a head-
ache. He took another drink and lowered the glass as they
rounded the corner.
The two Strageans wore dark blue kilts and belts which
crossed their breasts like bandoliers. Ornamental pins or
badges of office were affixed to these latter. Between Ted-
ders and the aliens walked another man, short, heavy, with
just a fringe of dark hair; his eyes were jadelike under heavy
brows; he wore a green robe and slippers. Billy recognized
him as UN Secretary-General Milton Walford.
Tedders introduced him to Daltmar Stango and Orar Bo-
garthy as well as to Walford. Everyone was seated then, and
Tedders said, "They will tell you more about this."
The Stragean known as Daltmar Stango, staring at nothing
directly before him, recited: "It has to do with the coming of
your people to stay on our world. There is already a sizable
enclave of them there, just as there is of our kind here on
Earth. There has been very little trouble on either world
because of this. But now, with my present mission to negoti-
ate political and trade agreements, it appears that the settle-
ments will become permanent diplomatic posts."
He paused but a moment, as if to refocus his thoughts, and
then continued: "Now, there is a small religious group on
Strage which believes that when Terrans die there, their life
essences foul the place of the afterlife. Permanent posts will
guarantee that this group's fears will be realized with in-
creasing frequency as time goes on. Hence, they are against
any agreements with your people, and they would like all of
them off our world."
"How large a group are they?" Billy asked.
"Small. Fifty to a hundred thousand members, at most. It
is not their size which is important, though. They are an
austere sect, and many of them undertake a severe course of
training which sometimes produces spectacular effects in the
"So I've heard."
"One such individual has taken it upon herself to correct
matters. She commandeered a vessel and set a course for
Earth. She feels that an assassination at this level will
disrupt our negotiations to the point where there will be no
treaty - and that this will lead to the withdrawal of Terrans
from our world."
"How close is she to the truth?"
"It is always difficult to speculate in these matters, but it
would certainly slow things down."
"And she's due to arrive in a few days?"
"Yes. We received the information from other members of
her sect, and they could not be more precise. They did not
learn the story in its entirety until after her departure, when
they informed the authorities. They were anxious that it be
known she was acting on her own initiative and not under
"Who can say?" he said.
"Yes. At any rate, since a message can travel faster than a
ship, the warning was sent."
"You must know best how to stop one of your own
"The problem seldom occurs," Daltmar said. "But the
customary method is to set a team of similarly endowed
adepts after a wrongdoer. Unfortunately..."
"So we must make do with what is at hand," the alien
went on. "Your people will try to intercept her in space, but
projections only give them a twenty-seven percent chance of
success. Have you any ideas?"
"No," Billy replied. "If it were a dangerous animal, I'd
want to study it in its habitat for a time."
"There is no way and no time."
"Then I don't know what to tell you."
Walford produced a small parcel from the pocket of his
"There is a chip in here that I want you to take back with
you and run through your machine," he said. "It will tell you
everything we know about this individual and about others
of that sort. It is the closest thing we can give you to a life
Billy rose and accepted the package.
"All right," he said. "I'll take it home and run it. Maybe
something will suggest itself."
Walford and the others rose to their feet. As Billy turned
toward the transporter, the Stragean called Orar Bogarthy
"Yours is one of the aboriginal peoples of this continent?"
"Yes," Billy replied, halting but not turning.
"Have the jewels in your earlobes a special significance?
"I like them. That's all."
"And the one in your hair?"
Billy touched it as he turned slowly.
"That one? Well... it is believed to protect one from
being struck by lightning."
"Does it work?"
"This one has. So far."
"I am curious. Being struck by lightning is not the most
common occurrence in life. Why do you wear it?"
"We Navajos have a thing about lightning. It destroys
taboos. It twists reality. Not a thing to fool around with."
He turned away, moved ahead, punched a series of num-
bers, stepped up into the unit. He glanced up at the expres-
sionless humans and aliens as the delay factor passed and his
body began to melt.
Traveling the distance from hill to hill,
passing from place to place as the wind passes,
trackless. There should be a song for it,
but I have never learned the words.
So I sing this one of my own making:
I am become a rainbow, beginning there
and ending here. I leave no mark
upon the land between as I arc
from there to here. May I go in beauty.
May it lie before, behind, above and below,
to the right and the left of me.
I pass cleanly through the gates of the sky.
WE CALL IT THE ENEMYWAY,
the old man said, but the white people came along and
started calling it a squaw danc - probably because they saw
the women dancing for it. You get a special name if you're
the one they're going to sing over, a warrior's name. It's a
sacred name you're just supposed to use in ceremonials, not
the kind you go around telling everybody or just letting
people call you by.
It all started, he said, back when Nayenezgani was pro-
tecting the People. He killed off a whole bunch of monsters
that were giving us a hard time. There was the Horned
Monster and Big God and the Rock Monster Eagle and the
Traveling Rock and a lot of others. That was why he got to
be called Monster-Slayer. His fourth monster, though, was
called Tracking Bear. It was a bear, but it looked more like a
lion the size of a floatcar. Once it came across your tracks, it
would start following them and it wouldn't stop until it had
found you and had you for dinner on the spot.
Nayenezgani went out and tracked the tracker and then let
it track him. But when it finally found him, he was ready. He
wasn't called Monster-Slayer for nothing. When it was all
over, the world was that much safer.
But at about that time, it started to get to him. He suffered
for it because of all those enemies he killed, and the bear just
added another one to their band. Their spirits followed him
around and made him pretty miserable. This is where the
word Anaa'ji, for the Enemyway, comes from. Naayee'
means an enemy, or something really bad that's bothering
you. Now, neezghani means "he has gotten rid of it," and
ana'i means an enemy that's been gotten rid of. So Anaa'ji is
probably really the best word to call it by. It's a ceremony
for getting rid of really bad troubles.
HE PACED. THE SCREEN STILL
glowed. He had not turned off the unit after viewing the
chip. The walls seemed to lean toward him, to press in upon
him. The wind was singing a changing song he almost
understood. He paused at various times, to inspect an old
basket, an ancient flaked spear point, the photograph of a
wild landscape beneath an indigo sky. He touched the barrel
of a high-powered rifle, took the weapon into his hands,
checked it, replaced it on its pegs. Finally he turned on his
heel and stepped outside into the night.
He stood upon the decking which surrounded the hogan.
He peered into the shadows. He looked up at the sky.
"I have no words..." he began, and a part of his mind
mocked the other part. He was, as always, conscious of this
division. When it had first occurred he could no longer say.
"... But you require an answer."
He was not even certain what it was that he addressed.
The Navajo language has no word for "religion." Nor was
he even certain that that was the category into which his
feelings fell. Category? The reason there was no word was
that in the old days such things had been inextricably boun
Roger Zelazny. Eye of cat
Things that flee and things that pursue
have their seasons.
Each of us hunts
and each of us is hunted.
We are all of us prey;
we are all predators.
Knowing this, the careful hunter
is wary. The prey, too, learns boldness
beyond its normal reach.
And then there is luck,
and then the gods.
The hunt is always uncertain.
We skinned the wolf
and in the morning
a human hide hung there.
At night, it became again
the pelt of a wolf.
There is no certainty,
there is no law
in the hunt.
Talking-god be with me.
Black-god be with me.
Luck and boldness
be with me, too.
The First Day
WITHOUT SLOWING, HE ILLU-
minated the dial of his watch and checked the time. An hour.
He smiled, because it seemed that Cat had overlooked the
obvious. He could get far in that time, and all was fair....
He maintained the steady pace which he could keep up for
most of a day. To give in to fears and sprint now would be to
leave himself exhausted in the face of possibly necessary
The wind whipped by him, and deeper patches of shadows
took on an ominous character, hiding eyes, fangs, move-
Dead. The Stragean was dead, A being able to cause fear
in the highest circles. Dead. And Cat had slain her. Soon Cat
would be bounding along, coming this same way. Cat's
enormous, faceted eye could, he believed, see into the
infrared, distinguish polarized light. He was still not certain
as to all of the senses Cat possessed. He could see Cat now,
like a giant chindi, not even slowing as he followed the trail.
Beads of perspiration formed on Billy's brow. A part of
him saw the beast's powers from a completely rational
standpoint. He had fought Cat before when Cat was much
more naive. But Cat had had fifty years in which to become
sophisticated in the ways of this world. Cat suddenly be-
came phantomlike at another level, no longer the -beast that
had been, but something returning, as from the north....
He fought back a renewed desire to increase his pace.
There was ample time, he told himself, a sufficiency in which
to make good his getaway. And why should there be fear?
Bare minutes ago he had been ready to die. Now at least
there was a chance. He strove to contain himself within the
present instant. The past was gone. He had some say in the
making of the future, but this was contingent upon his
behavior now. It was going to be all right. Long before the
hour had run out, he would be totally safe. It was only a
matter of minutes, really....
He jogged on, his mind fixed upon his goal. At last it came
into sight, the trip-box station which would place him be-
yond Cat's reach in the barest twinkling. He saw the lights of
the small building at the crossroads beyond the field he was
now entering. Something about it, though...
As he moved nearer, he realized that the front window of
the place was broken. He slowed his approach. He could see
no one about.
He halted and looked inside. There were three units, lined
against the far wall. All of them were wrecked. It was as if a
piece of runaway heavy equipment had passed through,
snapping or twisting the gleaming standards, upsetting the
control units. The power banks, he noted, were untouched.
That last time Cat had gone out, ranging far to scout the
area... Cat had foreseen a possible escape on his part with
flight in this direction, had acted to remedy this means of
He looked about. The damage should have registered
itself at the area control center. But the hour was late. No
telling when a repair crew might be by.
A map. There would be a line map inside for the area. He
moved to the doorway and entered.
Yes. On the wall to his right. He studied the disposition of
the red dots representing boxes in the area, located his own
position, looked for the next several.
Four miles to the nearest one.
Would Cat know its location? Would Cat have bothered to
look at this thing on the wall, realizing it was a map? And
even if this were the case, would Cat have gone to the
trouble to wreck another? True, he might have wanted to
cover all bets....
But no. Cat's surprise at his failure to flee had seemed
genuine. Cat had expected him to run. While it might be
possible for him to elude the beast and make it this far, it
seemed unlikely that he could reach the next one under these
circumstances. So even if Cat did know about it, chances
were that the next box remained unmolested.
Still, a map and the land itself were two different things.
He was not exactly certain as to the disposition of that next
red dot. Even with the grace period, he could be cutting
He departed the wrecked station, took his bearings and
recommenced his steady stride, cutting through a skeleton-
limbed orchard that rattled about him as he passed. A rabbit
sprang from behind a clump of grasses to veer across his
path and vanish into the shadows to the left. The grasses
were damp, and soon the lower portions of his trousers were
soaked through. Somewhere a dog began barking. He sud-
denly felt as if he were being watched, from no particular
direction. Again the fleeting shadows writhed images.
For a moment, he wondered what time it was, and then
the desire to know this thing fell away. Abruptly, he found
that he was happy. A part of his mind was almost cheering
for Cat, hoping that even now the beast was on his trail. Let
it be close. Let it be very close and clean, he felt. Or else
what the joy in such a context? This was the most alive he
had felt himself in years. There was a new song inside him
now, accompanied by his drumbeat footfalls.
He did not try to analyze the shifting of his mood. The
clutter of circumstance was far too dense for introspection,
even had he felt so inclined. For the moment, it was suffi-
cient to ride with the beat of his flight.
There were times when he felt certain that Cat was right at
his back, and it did not seem to matter. Other times, he felt
that he had already won, that he had far outdistanced his
pursuer, that there was no chance of his ever being overta-
ken. All of his senses now seemed touched with an unusual
acuity - the tiniest night movement was instantly identified,
from the faintest rasp, thump or crackling; shadowy forms
grew far more distinct, and even odors took on a new
significance. It had all been this way once, yes, long ago....
It was before everything that the world had been this way,
that he had been this way. Running. Into the east. Vision as
yet unclouded by veils life was later to drop upon him. He
had been eight or nine years old before he had learned to
But after all of this, he wondered, what traces really
remained of his shift from a near-neolithic to a high-tech
society? He had lived more years under the latter than under
the former, if these things were to be measured solely in
years. The shift had been made successfully, and both ends
of his personal spectrum were available to him.
But it was the primitive which ruled as he ran. Yes. And
this part preferred the day to the night. Yet the joy remained.
It was not that there was an absence of fear. Instead, the fear
was contributing something to that peculiar species of ela-
tion which had risen within him.
As he pounded along, he wondered what the situation was
back at the mansion. What had Walford, Tedders, the de-
fenders and the Strageans made of that sudden attack fol-
lowed by the death of the adept - with no explanation as to
what had occurred? Naturally they would suspect his part in
it, but they must be puzzled by his absence. Even now they
must be trying to reach him - though this time he was not
even wearing the paging unit.
Would they ever learn? He wondered for the first time
what Cat might do later - if things were all over and he, Billy
Singer, had walked into the north. Would Cat retire to some
wilderness area and spend his days passing as some garden
variety predator? It seemed possible, but he could not be
certain. He could not tell whether Cat's hatred was.focused
upon him solely or whether he might hold all of humanity
responsible for his captivity. Images moved within Billy's
mind - crouching in a cage day after day, year after year,
being stared at by passing knots of people. If their situations
had been reversed, he felt that he would hate all mankind.
A sense of irritation began to grow. Why shouldn't Cat
consider him a sacrificial lamb and let it go at that?
He shook his head. No real reason for assuming that Cat
would run amok later. He had given no such indication.
What was he doing thinking these thoughts, anyway? Look-
ing for trouble? It was him that Cat wanted, not him plus
everybody else. And after he had gotten him, it would all be
Sacrificial lamb... He thought again of the sheep he had
herded as a boy. Long, slow days under skies hot and cool,
big skies... Lying on a hillside. Whittling. Singing. Foot-
races with other children. His first tumble with that girl from
over the ridge. What was her name? And later with her
sister. Hard breasts under his hands. The sheep about them
unconcerned. Clouds like sheep on the horizon. Sheep.
Lamb of God. Dora in the sky with turquoise. Running...
Cat. Running. How will you track me, Cat? Do you follow
the same signs I would? Or does your alien eye trace
different marks of passage? Either way, there is no time to
mask this trail. Escape first. Hide afterwards, Speed now is
all. Speed, opportunity. Chance. How. near might you be,
anyway? Or are you still waiting for the time to run?
Turquoise in the sky with Dora to the drumbeat footbeat
here below. On the hillside, far ahead, lights. Night air
comes in, goes out again. Stride is steady. Veer left, beyond
the death-shaped boulder. Up then. Cat come. Into the black
bag. Full entropy is all. But first.
Minutes melting, one to the other. In the distance, the
hum of a super battery-powered vehicle above the cleared
trail which had once been a roadway, lights raking tree
trunks. Heading for the station perhaps. Ay-ah! We live.
Unless Cat even now...
Drawing nearer, he slowed. This would be the place for an
ambush. Why not check the time? Because Cat might have
lied to gain this much of a chase. Once through the box and
the beast would be baffled. Wouldn't he?
Walking now, he examined a new proposition. What had
Cat said about understanding the boxes?
No. Even if he could black-fare his way, he would not
know where to go....
Cat is a telepath.
But of what sort? He had estimated Cat's ability as a
hunting/locator thing, refined, to be sure, during his long
confinement, but basically quarry-intensive, at about a quar-
ter of a mile. Still, there were human telepaths he knew of
who could send and receive around the world and through
outer space. Yet, again, such sophisticated ones he felt he
could block to some extent by slipping back to boyhood
thought patterns. But Cat, too, was primitive. It might not
serve to hide him from the beast. In which case.
The devil with you, Cat! - on all fours now, carefully
clearing the way before him of anything which might give
rise to the slightest sound, his jewelry wrapped in a handker-
chief and stuffed into his pocket, hands moving deftly, knees
and toes advancing into the cleared area in total silence.
Find me if you can. Fight me if you-do.
No response. And nothing between here and there that he
could conceive of as a transformation of his adversary. The
car drew up before the building and hovered. No one de-
He was on his feet and sprinting across the final meters
of the field, through a fringe of trees, over the road-bed
trail. A glimpse through the station window: the units were
Almost laughing, he thrust the door open and crossed the
threshold. Empty. Safe. Breathe easily. He straightened
from his half-crouch, removed his hand from the handle of
his knife. Closed the door. All right. Five paces to liberty.
The unit to his far left was humming in preparation for a
transfer. Curious, he watched it. It was an odd hour and a
fairly isolated station; he wondered who might be coming
through. Shortly, the outline began to form. It was that of a
woman, somewhat stocky, with close-cropped brown hair.
She wore a dark suit and carried a recording unit bearing the
insignia of a major news service in her left hand. Her eyes
fixed upon him as she took on solidity.
"Hello," she said, studying his garb.
She stepped out of the unit.
"Coming or going?" she said.
"Just going. I only waited to see if you were someone I
"You're a real Indian, aren't you? Not just someone
dressed that way."
"I am. If you called ahead for a car I just saw one pull up
"I did. That must be it." She started forward, then hesi-
tated. "Do you live in this area?" she asked him.
"No. Just visiting."
He moved toward the nearest unit.
"Just a second," she said. "I've come here on a story, or
what could be a story. Maybe you'd know something about
He forced himself to smile as he took another step.
"I doubt that. Haven't seen anything newsworthy."
"Well," she persisted, "there have been reports of pecu-
liar security measures being taken at the Walford place for
some time now. Then suddenly -this evening there was
apparently a power failure and some disturbance. Now
they've gone completely incommunicado. Would you know
anything about this?"
He shook his head, moved forward and stepped into the
She followed him and took hold of his arm just as he
inserted his strip into the slot, effectively blocking his tran-
"Wait. There's more," she said. "Then we learned that
the trip-boxes nearest to the place had been damaged. Are
you aware that the next station to the east is out of order?"
"Could it be a part of that power failure?"
"No, no. They have their own power packs - the same as
Walford's place, for that matter."
He shrugged, hoping her hand would slip away.
"I'm afraid I don't know anything about it. Listen, I'm in
a hurry -"
"You haven't seen or heard of anything unusual in this
He noted that her recorder was switched on.
"No," he said. "I've got to be going now -"
"It's just a feeling," she said, "but I think you know
something about this."
"Lady," he said, "your car is waiting. Go and see for
yourself like a good reporter. I wouldn't hang around here,
"Maybe something will happen to this one, too."
"Why should it?"
"How should I know? But if there's something dangerous
going on, you want to be in its path?"
She smiled for the first time.
"If there's a story in it, yes."
He pushed coordinates.
"Not yet," she said, still holding his arm. "Have you been
by that way at all?"
"Get out of here," he told her, "in the car, or by one of the
other booths. Hurry! This place isn't safe. Don't hang
"I'll be damned if I'll let you go now!" she said, reaching
toward a penlike device clipped behind her lapel.
"Sorry," he said, and he jerked his arm free and pushed
her backward. "Do what I said!" he cried. "Get out!" and
the fading began.
When he stepped from a unit in London's Victoria Station,
pocketing his strip, he had to restrain himself from running.
He drew the back of his hand across his brow and it came
He headed for the nearest exit. The light of a gray morning
shone through it. He was arrested momentarily by the smell
of food from a twenty-four-hour diner. Too near, he decided,
and he moved on outside.
He passed a line of sightseeing hover-vehicles, another of
taxis, their operators nowhere in sight. He continued along
the way for a time, turned at random in a vaguely northward
direction and left the sidewalk. He followed a footpath
among trees leading down what had once been a wide
thoroughfare. There were fewer streets now than there had
been a hundred or even fifty years before, on the occasions
of earlier visits he had made. Some main arteries were kept
cropped for freighters and the occasional personal hov-
ercraft, some had become malls, some had simply deterio-
rated, most had become inner-city wilderness areas, or
parks, as he used to call them.
He followed the twisting ways for about half an hour,
putting a good distance between himself and the station, as
the day continued to lighten about him. Muffled by the trees,
the sounds of the awakening city grew. He bore to his right,
moving into the fringe area.
Above, beyond the walkway, he scanned the faces of
opened and opening establishments. Farther ahead, beyond
an archway, off a courtyard, he glimpsed a cafe's sign. He
mounted a stair to the walk and headed in that direction. He
was, he judged, somewhere near Piccadilly Circus.
Right at the archway, he froze, overwhelmed by a recur-
rence of the feeling that he was being observed. He looked
about. There were a number of people on the walk and in the
courtyard, several of them as distinctively dressed as him-
self for different parts of the world, but none of them seemed
to be paying him particular heed, and none seemed large
enough to represent the total mass of his adversary.
Of course, it could be something behind him in the woods....
He did not feel like discarding any sort of warning, even a
premonition. So he began walking again, passing the arch- '
way. In an alcove near the corner ahead, he could see a trip-
box. Giving in to nervousness might be a sign of weakness as
well as caution, but there was also much to be said for
holding onto as much peace of mind as possible when one
was running. He quickened his pace.
As he advanced, he saw that the alcove also contained a
police callbox. A jerking of its alarm handle should result in
the in-tripping of a bobby within seconds, a setup similar to
that in use almost everywhere these days. Not that he could
see this as helping him very much if he suddenly discovered
Cat at his back. A delaying action, at best. And he would
probably be condemning the cop to death by calling him. He
moved a little more rapidly.
He saw the head of a coyote - no, it was a small dog -
appear around the corner of the alcove, looking in his
direction. His sense of urgency grew. He fought but could
not resist a desire to look back.
When he did, he felt a sudden wave of dizziness. A large
man wearing a black cloak and glasses was just emerging
from among the trees. Billy broke into a run.
He located and withdrew his credit strip as he raced
ahead. He turned it to the proper position for immediate
insertion into the machine's slot. A wave of fear washed
over him, turning quickly to despair. He was suddenly
certain that he could not make it in time. He felt a powerful
impulse to halt and wait for his pursuer.
Instead, he plunged into the box, thrust the strip into the
slot and rapped out a set of coordinates. Turning then, he
saw that the man had dropped to all fours and was racing
toward him, changing shape as he came. Someone
screamed. Overhead, a dirigible was passing. The entire
tableau grew two-dimensional and began to fade. Good-bye,
Run, hunter, he heard faintly amid his thoughts. The next
He stood in a booth at Victoria Station, shaking. But now
it was reaction rather than fear. The fear, the despair, the
certainty of doom had vanished at the instant of transport. It
was then he realized that Cat must have been projecting
these feelings onto him, a slightly more sophisticated version
of his old prey-paralysis trick - a thing he had several times
felt in its more blatant form years ago. He was startled at the
extent to which Cat had developed it since then.
He keyed a chart onto the directory screen and took a new
set of coordiaates from it. His pursuer might have caught
Victoria Station from his thoughts, and -
As he faded, he saw something beginning to take shape
two booths up from him, something resembling a tall,
cloaked, less-than-human figure still in the process of widen-
ing its shoulders and lengthening its forelimbs.
Coming through in Madrid... Bright sky through a dirty
window. A crowd of commuters. No time...
He keyed the directory, hit more coordinates. He looked
about as Madrid began to go away. No sign of an incoming
torglind metamorph. He began to sigh. Finished sighing at
the Gare du Nord box-section in Paris. He summoned the
local directory and tripped again.
Walking. Day brighter yet. From the Tuileries Station.
Safe now. No way for Cat to have followed this time.
Passing up the Champs Elysees. Crossing from the fringes
of the park over the cyclists' trail and onto the walkway, he
smelled the aromas of food from the nearest sidewalk cafe.
He passed several before he settled upon one with a vacant
table, close to a trip-box, commanding good views in both
directions. He seated himself there and ordered a large
breakfast. When he had finished he lingered, drinking count-
less cups of coffee. Nothing threatening appeared and he felt
the flickering beginning of a sense of security. After a time, a
feeling of lethargy settled upon him.
Night. It was late morning here, but it was night in the
place he had left. He had been a long while without sleep.
He got up and walked again. Should he jump to another
city to obscure his trail further? Or had he covered his tracks
He compromised and tripped to the Left Bank. He walked
again. He knew that his thinking was foggy. Filled first with
the necessities of his flight, his mind was now reduced to
slow-motion movement by reaction, by fatigue. It would be
easy to obtain a stimulant to restore full alertness, by
communication with his medical computer and a request for
transmission of a prescription order to a local pharmacist.
But he felt relatively safe now, and he would rather rest and
restore his natural energies than proceed by artificial means
at this stage of affairs. His body might ultimately prove more
important than his mind, his feelings aid his reflexes surer
guides than any elaborate plan. Hadn't he already decided
that primitive was best against a dangerous telepath? Sleep
now, pay later, if need be.
He located a hotel called the St. Jacques near the Univer-
sity. There were several trip-boxes in the neighborhood and
one off the lobby. He took a third-floor room there and
stretched out on the bed, fully dressed.
For a long while he stared at the ceiling, unable to sleep.
Images of his recent flight came and went. Gradually, how-
ever, other images intruded, none of them pieces of recent
things. He drifted with them, his breathing slowing, and
finally they bore him off.
... Watching Dora before the video console, summoning
up swarms of equations, fingers moving across the keyboard
as his mother's had across the loom, introducing new varia-
bles, weaving the fresh patterns that resulted. He did not
understand. But it did not matter. Her hair long and blond,
her eyes very pale. He had met her on his return from a long
expedition, when the Institute had sent him back to school
for an update on astrophysical theory and improved naviga-
tional techniques. She had taught mathematics there....
The equations turn to sandpaintings and finally to skulls,
animal as well as human. Dora is smiling. Dimly he remem-
bers that she is dead. Would she still be alive if she had never
met him? Probably. But... The screen has become a slot
machine now, and the skulls keep turning and stopping,
coming up different colors.... The colors line the walls of
the canyon through which he walks. Long bands of strata in
the roughness to right and left. Strewn at his feet are the
skulls and other bones, some of them gray and gnawed,
cracked and weathered, others ivory fresh, some of them
inset with turquoise, coral and jet. There comes a sound at -
his back, but he turns and nothing is there. It comes again,
and he turns again, and again there is nothing. The third time
it comes, he thinks that he detects a fleeting shadow as he
spins around. The fourth time, it is there, waiting. A coyote
stands laughing beside a pile of bones. "Come," it says, and
it turns away. He follows, and it leads him among the
shadows. "Hurry," it says, loping now, and he increases his
pace. A long time seems to pass as they move through
hidden places. Dark places. Places of forgetfulness. Dora
following. Firelight and dancers. Sounds of rattles and
drums. Nightclub through a whiskey haze. The dusty sur-
face of Woden IV; the tanklike beasts which dwell there.
Bones underfoot, bones all about. Falling, falling ...
Sounds at his back. His shadow preceding him as he pursues
the furry tail of the Trickster. "Where are we going?" he
calls out. "Out and up, out and up," comes the reply. His
shadow is suddenly enveloped by that of a larger one, from
something just at his back. "Hurry! Out! Up! Hurry!"
Awakening to urgency: day grown dimmer beyond the
window. And what was that sound on the stair?
Out and up? Too strong a thing to ignore. He could almost
still hear the coyote beyond the window.
He rose and crossed the room, looked out. There was a
fire escape. Had he noticed it on checking in? He did not
He raised the window and stepped outside. He did not
question the warning. He still seemed to be moving within
the dream. It seemed perfectly reasonable that he continue
on the course he had been following. The evening air was
cool, trail lights illuminated the way below. That damp,
pungent smell on the breeze... The Seine?
He climbed. With some difficulty, he was able to draw
himself onto the slanting roof. People were moving along the
Rue des Ecoles trail, but no one looked upward. He began
moving to his right, toes in a rain gutter, hands sliding along
slate. The dreamlike quality persisted. He passed chimneys
and a dish antenna. He saw a corner ahead. There came a
faint, hollow, hammering sound, as of someone pounding on
a door, below and to his left. He hurried.
The crashing, splintering sound which followed stirred his
imagination but vaguely. There was a booth fairly near now,
were he on the ground....
He moved as if following a magic trail, leading toward
another fire escape he now had sight of. Even the sounds of
pursuit, as a large body passed through his hotel window,
ringing upon the metal stair, and then reared to scrabble at
the roof's edge, seemed but part of some drama of which he
was not even an interested spectator, let alone a principal.
He continued to move mechanically, barely aware that his
pursuer was addressing him - not with words, but with feel-
ings which he would normally, under the circumstances,
have found disquieting.
He glanced back as he took a turn, in time to see the large,
oddly shaped figure in black begin to draw itself upward onto
the roof. Even when the guttering tore loose beneath its
weight and the figure clawed unsuccessfully to gain purchase
on the building, he felt no surge of adrenalin. As its down-
ward plunge began, he heard it call: Today luck is with you.
Make the most of it! Tomorrow
Its words and movements ceased when it landed in a
clump of shrubbery below. And it was only then that he felt
as if he were suddenly awakening, realizing that the world
actually existed, that his position had been precarious. He
drew a deep breath of the night's cold air, swung onto the fire
escape and began his descent.
When he reached the ground, the figure was still a dark
mass within the rue's trailside growth. It was making small
movements and a wheezing noise, but it seemed unable to
rise and continue the pursuit.
It was only after he had hurried into the box, summoned
forth new coordinates and encoded them that Billy began to
COMPUTER FILES PATENT INFRINGEMENT SUIT
BRG-118, recipient of the 2128 Nobel Prize in Medicine,
this morning filed suit in the district court in Los Angeles
claiming that J & J Pharmaceuticals
SATELLITE THIEF STRIKES AGAIN
Valuable experimental components were removed from
Berga-12 by a person or persons unknown during a power
failure now believed to have been induced by
SOLAR REGATTA TO SAIL THURSDAY
REPORTER FOUND BRUTALLY SLAIN
In an out-of-the-way trip-box station in upstate New York,
reporter Virginia Kalkoff's mangled
Don't know what I'm gonna do...
SPRING STORMS HIT SOUTHWEST
SERIES-12 ARTIFICIAL HEART RECALLED
Apologizing for the inconvenience
IN THE DAYS BEFORE NAY-
enezgani, Old Man Coyote once came upon the Traveling
Rock in his journeying about the land. It had spoken to him
and he had answered. Amused that a huge pile of stone
should possess sentience, he quickly set about mocking it.
First he painted a grotesque face upon its side.
"Old Man Stone, you are frowning," he said.
"I do not like this face you have given me," it replied.
"And you are bald," Coyote said. "I will fix that."
He climbed atop the stone and defecated.
"Brown curly locks suit you well."
"You annoy me, Cayote," it said.
"I will be back in a while to build a fire at your base and
cook my dinner," Coyote said, "as soon as I have hunted."
"Perhaps I, too, should hunt," it said.
Coyote set off through the woods. He had not gone very
far when he heard a rumbling noise behind him. When he
looked back he saw that the stone, rolling slowly, had
commenced following him.
"Holy shit!" said Coyote, and he began running.
As he ran along, he saw Mountain Lion resting in the
"Mountain Lion!" he called out. "Someone is chasing
me. Can you help me, brother?"
Mountain Lion rose, stretched and looked back.
"You've got to be kidding," Mountain Lion said when he
saw Traveling Rock. "I've no desire to be a flat cat. Keep
Coyote ran on, and later he passed Bear just emerging
from his den.
"Hey! Bear, old buddy!" he cried. "I've got someone
after me. Will you help me?"
"Sure," said Bear. "There aren't many things I'm afraid
Then Bear heard the noise of pursuit and looked back and
saw Traveling Rock.
"... But that's one of them-," he said. "Sorry."
"What should I do?" Coyote yelled.
"Cultivate philosophy and run like hell," said Bear, re-
turning to his den.
Coyote ran on, down to the plains, and Traveling Rock
picked up speed behind him.
At length, Coyote saw Old Buffalo grazing amid long
"Buffalo! Save me! I'm being chased!" Coyote cried.
Old Buffalo turned his head slowly and regarded the
"You can have all the moral support I've got," Buffalo
replied. "But I just remembered it's time to move the herd.
We've about grazed this area out. See you around, kid. Hey,
gang! Let's get our tails across the river!"
Coyote continued to run, gasping now, and finally he came
to the place where the hawks were resting.
"Help me, lovely fliers, mighty hunters!" he called. "My
enemy is gaining on me!"
"Hide in this hollow tree and leave the Rock to us," said
the chief of the hawks.
The Hawk Chief gave a signal then and his entire tribe
rose into the air, circled once and fell upon the Traveling
Rock. With their beaks, they prized away all of its loose
covering, and then they went.to work along its fracture lines,
opening, widening, removing more material. In a short time,
the Rock was reduced to a trail of gravel.
"There," said the Hawk Chief to Coyote, "it is over. You
can come out now."
Coyote emerged from the tree and regarded the remains of
his enemy. Then he laughed.
"It was only a game," he said. "That's all it was. I was
never in any real danger. And you dumb birds actually
thought I was in trouble. That's funny. That's real funny. No
wonder everyone laughs at you. Did you really think I was
afraid of that old rock?"
Coyote walked away laughing, and the Hawk Chief gave
The hawks fell upon the stone chips, gathered them and
began reassembling them, like pieces of a gigantic puzzle.
When the Traveling Rock found itself together again, it
groaned and then, slowly at first, began rolling, off in the
direction Coyote had taken upon his departure. It picked up
speed as it moved and soon came in sight of Coyote once
"Oh, no!" Coyote cried when he saw it coming.
He began running once again. He came to a downhill slope
and began its descent. Traveling Rock picked up speed
behind him, narrowed the distance that separated them,
rolled over him and crushed him to death.
A circling hawk saw this take place and went back to
report it to the others.
"Old Man Coyote has done it again," he said. "He never
The Second Day
NIGHT, WITH MIST BANKS
drifting down rocky slopes, stars toward the center of the
sky, moonrise phosphorescence at the edge of things. The
floatcar followed the high, craggy trail, winding between
rock wall and downward slope, piercing stone shoulders,
turning, dipping and rising. Sheep wandered across the way,
pausing to browse on spring grasses. There were no lights in
the countryside; there was no other traffic. The windshield
occasionally misted over, to be cleared by a single, auto-
matic movement of its blade. The only sound above the low
buzz of the engine was the occasional urgent note of a gust of
wind invading some cranny of the vehicle.
Billy entered a curve bending to his right, a steep rise to
his left. He felt more secure with every kilometer that
passed. Cat had proved more formidable than he had antici-
pated when it came to using the trip-boxes and functioning
within cities. He was still uncertain as to how the beast had
been able to determine his whereabouts with such accuracy.
A gimmicking of the boxes he could understand, but know-
ing where to go to find him... It almost smacked of
witchcraft, despite the fact that Cat had had a long time in
which to plan.
Still, a change of tactics now ought to provide him with the
leeway he would need for a total escape. He had tripped
back to the Gare du Nord after fleeing the stunned Cat on the
Left Bank. From there he had transported himself to Dublin,
a city he had visited a number of times during Irish excur-
sions, consulted the directory and tripped to Bantry, from
which he had once spent several weeks sailing and fishing.
There, in that pleasant, quiet corner of West Cork, he had
taken his dinner and known the beginning of this small
aecurity he felt. He had walked through the town there at the
head of the bay, smelling the salt air and recalling a season
that might have been happier, though he now saw it as one of
his many periods of adjustment to yet another changed time;
He remembered the boat and a girl named Lynn and the
seafood; these, and the fact that it was a small, unhurried
place, permitting him to slip gradually into a new decade.
Could something like this be what he really most needed
now? he wondered. He shook his head. His grip tightened on
the wheel as he negotiated a twisting descent.
Time to think. He needed to get to a safe place where he
could work things out. Something was very wrong. He was
missing important things. Cat had come too damned close.
He ought to be able to shake him. This was still his world,
for all of the changes. An alien beast should not be able to
outwit him here. Time. He needed some time in which to
work on it.
Vary the pattern, he had decided. If he had left some trace
behind him in the boxes, some means by which his destina-
tion choices might become known, this move on his part
should cancel that effect. He had rented the vehicle in
Bantry and begun the northward drive along the trail he
remembered. Passing through Glengariff, he had continued
onto this way toward Kenmare, moving through a country-
side devoid of trip-boxes, For the moment, he felt free.
There was only the night and the wind and the rocky
prospect. He had been caught off balance by Cat's releasing
him the previous evening. He had done nothing but impro-
vise since then. What he had to come up with now was a
plan, a general defense to sustain him through this trial. A
A light in the distance. A pair of them now., Three... He
raised a container and took a sip of coffee. His first mistake,
he decided, had probably been in not tripping enough. He
should have continued his movements to really cloud the
trail. Cat had obviously been close enough to pick his
destination from his mind. Even when he had jumped more
than once, Cat could have been coming in as he was tripping
out, and so could have learned the next stop.
Four... Kenmare would still be some distance beyond
the first scattered farms and rural residences. This night was
crisp. He descended a long slope. Abruptly, the trees were
larger along the trailside.
The next time he would really mix it up. He would jump
back and forth among so many places that the trail would be
completely muddled. Yes, that was what he should have
done at first -
The next time?
He screamed. The mental presence of Cat suddenly hung
like the aroma of charred flesh about him.
"No -" he said, fighting to regain control of the vehicle
which he had let swerve at his outburst.
He bounced across a field at a height of perhaps two feet,
heading toward a steepening rise. Too abrupt a change in
attitude would overturn the car.
Pulling the wheel around, he succeeded in veering away
from the slope. Moments later, he was headed back toward
the trail. Although he peered in every direction his light
traveled, he saw no sign of the hunting beast.
Back on the trail once more, he accelerated. Shadows fled
past. Tree limbs were stirred by the wind. Bits of fog drifting
across his way were momentarily illuminated by the vehi-
cle's beams. But this was all that he saw.
"Cat...?" he finally said.
There was no reply. Was he so on edge that he had
imagined that single phrase? The strain...
It had seemed so real. He struggled to reconstruct his state
of mind at the time of its occurrence. He supposed that he
could have triggered it himself; but he did not like what this
implied about his mental equipment.
He-spun through a number of S-shaped curves, his eyes
continuing their search on both sides of the trail.
So quickly... His confidence had been destroyed in an
instant. Would he be seeing Cat behind every rock, every
bush, from now on?
Where are you? What are you doing?
Amusing myself. The point of this game must be maxi-
mum enjoyment, I have decided. It is good that you cooper-
ate so well for this end.
How did you find me?
Nore easily than you might think. As I said, your coopera-
tion is appreciated.
I do not understand.
Of course not. You tend to hide things from yourself.
What do you mean?
I know now that I can destroy you at any time, but I wish
to prolong the pleasure. Keep running. I will strike at the
most appropriate moment.
This makes no sense at all.
No. Because you will not let it. You are mine, hunter,
whenever I choose.
He came onto a long, tree-lined curve. There seemed to be
more lights far ahead.
I will tell you, and it will still not save you. You have
changed from what you once were. I see that within you
which was not there in the old days. Do you know what you
To beat you, Billy said. And I will.
No. Your greatest wish is to die.
That is not so!
,You have given up on the thought of keeping up with your
world. For a long while you have waited and wished for an
appropriate way out of it. I have provided you with such an
occasion. You think that you are running from me. Actually,
you are rushing toward me. You make it easy for me, hunter.
...And the lovely irony is that you do not admit it.
You have been in the minds of too many Californians.
They're full of pop psychology...
... And your denial of it makes it that much easier for
You are trying to wear me down mentally. That's all.
No need for it.
You're bluffing. If you can strike now, let's see you do it.
Soon. Soon. Keep running.
He had to slow the vehicle for a series of turns. He
continued to scan both sides of the trail. Cat must be near in
order to reach him, but of course he had the advantage of
straight-line travel whereas the trail -
Overhead, s piece of the night came loose, dropping from
the top of a high boulder which leaned from the right. He
tried to brake and cut to the left simultaneously.
A massive, jaguarlike form with a single, gleaming eye
landed on the vehicle's hood forward and to the front. It was
visible for but an instant, and then it sprang away.
The car tipped, its air cushion awry, and it was already
turning onto its side before he left the trail. He fought with
the wheel and the attitude control, already knowing that it
was too late. There came a strong shock accompanied by a
crunching noise, and he felt himself thrown forward.
DEADLY, DEADLY, DEADLY...
Kaleidoscope turning... Shifting pattern within unalter-
able structure... Was it a mistake? There is pain with the
power... Time's friction at the edges... Center loosens,
forms again elsewhere... Unalterable? But - Turn out-
ward. Here songs of self erode the will till actions lie
stillborn upon night's counterpane. But - Again the move-
ment ... Will it hold beyond a catch of moment? To
fragment... Not kaleidoscope. No center. But again...
To form it will. To will it form. Structure... Pain...
Deadly, deadly... And lovely. Like a sleek, small dog...
A plastic statue... The notes of an organ, the first slug of
gin on an empty stomach... We settle again, farther than
ever before... Center. The light!... It is difficult being a
god. The pain. The beauty. The terror of selfless - Act! Yes.
Center, center, center... Here'! Deadly...
necess yet again from bridge of brainbow oyotecraven
stare decesis on landaway necessity timeslast the arnings ent
and tided turn yet beastfall nor mindstorms neither in their
canceling sarved cut the line that binds ecessity towarn and
findaway twill open pandorapack wishdearth amen amenu-
ensis opend the mand of min apend the pain of durthwursht
vernichtung desiree tolight and eadly dth cessity sesame
We are the key.
HE AWOKE. TO STILLNESS AND
the damp. The right side of his forehead was throbbing. His
shoulders ached and he became aware of the unnatural angle
at which he lay. His right arm felt wet. He opened his eyes
and saw that the night still lay upon the land. He stretched
out his left hand and turned on the interior light. As he did,
shards of glass fell from his sleeve.
He saw then that the windshield was uncracked, and that
the wetness on his arm had been caused by the spilled
remainder of his coffee. He placed his fingertips on his
forehead and felt no break in the skin, but he could already
detect a swelling in the sore area.
The vehicle lay on its right side, off the trail, its front end
partly crumpled against a tree. There were other trees and
shrubs in the vicinity, masking him somewhat from the trail.
He looked upward and to his left, and he could discover no
reason for the broken side window.
Then his gaze fell upon the headrest. There were four
parallel slash marks in the covering material beside his head,
as from a set of razor-sharp claws. He looked again at the
broken side window. Yes...
What are you waiting for?
He swung his feet about, set them carefully against the far
door and rose into the semblance 'of a standing position.
Immediately he grew dizzy and clutched at the steering
wheel. When the spell passed, he attempted to open the
door. It yielded to his fourth effort with a grinding, scraping
sound. He caught hold of the frame and drew himself
upward, suddenly recalling having done something similar
with an old blue pickup truck, coming home from a Saturday
night in town an age ago.
There was a trail. Even in the dark he could read it. Cat
had been there and gone. He felt the broken twigs, traced
impressions in the earth with his fingertips. He followed it
for perhaps twenty meters, heading off across the country-
side. Then he rose and turned away.
What's your angle, Cat? What do you want now? he
He heard only the wind. He walked slowly back to the
roadway and continued along it. He was certain that only a
few miles remained until he reached the town.
Perhaps ten minutes passed. No other traffic had come
along, but he suspected that he was not alone. A large body
seemed to be moving far off among the trees to his left,
All right, Cat, he said. There is no point to my taking
evasive action now. If you are going to strike, strike. If not,
enjoy the walk.
There was no response, and he broke into a jog.
A feeling of nausea came over him before he had gone far.
He ignored it and kept moving. He decided that it could be a
reaction to the blow on his head.
But as he ran, his feelings came to include a fear that Cat
was about to spring on him. He tried to thrust it away but it
grew, and then he recognized its irrational roots.
I feel it, Cat. But I know what it is, he said. What's the
point of it? I'm still going on to Kenmare, unless you kill me.
Are you just playing games?
The intensity of the feelings increased. His breathing grew
ragged. He felt a sudden urge to urinate. A sense of immi-
nent doom was upon the trail for as far ahead as he could
Something like a small dog crossed his path. In that
instant, his apprehensions vanished.
Was that the shadow I saw in the woods? he wondered. Is
Cat long gone? Was my fear real, rather than induced?
Or is it all your doing, Cat? Is it your plan to make me
doubt myself, to break me before you destroy me?
He jogged for a mile before a floatcar approached from the
rear and drew abreast of him. Its driver offered him a ride
As they moved forward, Billy felt within him the distant
laughter of his pursuer.
To get out, to go away, to think. These were his preoccu-
pations as he came into the town. He needed to escape for
even a short while to someplace where Cat could not ob-
serve the workings of his mind. It was necessary that he
continue his flight, try yet again to blur the trail sufficiently
to gain respite for analysis of the situation, for planning.
He had the driver drop him at the trip-station. He assumed
that somewhere Cat was reading his mind to learn his
destination. He began chanting softly in Navajo, a section of
the Blessingway. He entered the station and moved toward a
booth. The place's only occupant was an old man seated on
a wooden bench against the side wall to his right. The man
looked up from his news printout and nodded to him.
" 'Evening," the man said.
He entered the booth and pressed the coordinates for
... in beauty.
Now to Munich...
... all about me.
He cleaned himself in the washroom there and tripped to
... to the right of me.
He had a sandwich and a glass of wine.
... to the left of me.
He tripped to Ankara. For a time, he stood outside the
terminal and watched the sun rising upon a hot, dusty day.
... before me.
He tripped to Al Hillah in Saudi Arabia, and from there to
a bank of booths in the Rab al Khali National Petroleum
Yes. Here, he decided, stepping forth among the great-
leafed, towering trees, their barks scaled and brown and
ringing in the wind. He followed a marked footpath through
Here, amid Freeman Dyson's old dream, he thought, he
might be able to feel his way to something that he needed to
know, here in what had once been known as the Empty
Quarter, now an enormous forest of genetically tailored
trees larger than redwoods, their sap rising, their pro-
grammed metabolism synthesizing petroleum which flowed
downward through a special set of vessels into roots which
formed a living network of pipelines, connecting at various
points to an artificial pipeline which conveyed it to the vast
storage areas which constituted one of the world's great
petroleum reserves, against those functions which still re-
quired the substance. They filled what had once been a
wasteland, utilizing the abundant sunlight available there.
Self-repairing and timeless against the blue of the sky, they-
were both natural and the product of the technology which
informed the planet's culture, as surely as the trees of the
street parks which delivered their own products, or the data
net which, had he not disassociated himself from it, could at
this moment deliver to him almost any information he
Almost. Some things had to be worked out alone. But
here, in this combination of the old and the new; the primi-
tive and the modern, he felt more at ease than he had since
the entire business began. There were even birds singing in
He walked for a long while through the forest, pausing
when he came to a small cleared area containing a pair of
picnic tables, a waste bin, a shed. He looked into the shed:
foresters' maintenance equipment - power diggers, pick-
axes, saws; chains and cables; gloves and climbing spikes. It
was dusty, and spiderwebs like gossamer bridges connected
each to each.
He closed the door and moved away, sniffed the air and
looked around. He seated himself with his back to the bole
of a middle-sized tree, some few stalks of coarse saffron and
lime grass tufted about the hillock among the roots. He filled
his pipe and lit it.
Cat wanted his death and had tried to convince him that he
did, too. The idea seemed absurd, but he looked at it more
closely. Much of the universe was one's adversary. He had
learned that as a boy. One took precautions and hoped for
the best. Time was flowing water, neither good nor evil and
not to be grasped. One could cup one's hand and hold a little
of it for a while, and that was all. It had become a torrent,
though, in the past decade of his own life - which covered
about thirty years of real time - and he could contain none of
it. The big world had changed rapidly during that span. The
dancers had exchanged masks; he could no longer identify
Save for Cat.
But that was unfair, he saw, even to Cat. Cat he could
understand. Cat was simple, monomaniacal, in his desire.
The rest of the world was dangerous in changing and compli-
cated ways, though it generally lacked malice and premedi-
tation. It was an adversary, not an enemy. Cat was the
enemy. The universe was that which ground down and rolled
over one. And now...
The tempo had increased. He had felt it all his life, from
his first school days on, intensifying, like a drumbeat. There
had been lapses, true; periods when he had come to terms
with the new rhythms. But now - He felt tired. The last
responses were no longer appropriate, not even among his
own people. Looking back, he saw that he had felt best on
those occasions when he had gone away, into the timeless
places among the stars, hunting. It was the return that was
always the shock. Now... now he just wanted to rest. Or to
go away again, even though the next return...
Dora. It had been peaceful with Dora also. But that did not
help him now. Thinking of Dora now only caused him to
look away from the real problems. Did he really want to die?
Was Cat right?
He could almost hear singing within the unnatural tree
which paralleled his backbone, vibrations humming along
To want to run away, to want to rest and change no more
He bit down hard on the pipestem. He did not like all of
this bellicano thinking, this hunting for hidden motives.
Perhaps there was something to it. His jaw muscles re-
If the hidden sources of his feelings did equal what Cat had
been talking about, he had been running toward death ever
since Dora's fall and -
Dora? How did she figure into this part? No, let the dead
rest and not trouble the living. It would be enough to admit
that all of the changes in society itself - a society into which
he had not been born but of which he had tried to make
himself 'a part - were sufficiently overwhelming to have
brought him to this point. Take it from there. What next?
What did he really want? And what should he do about it?
Suddenly a memory unfolded, startling him with a knowl-
edge he had possessed all along. After the shock of the
recognition he grew depressed, for he knew then that Cat's
words had been true.
Each time that he had fled by means of a trip-box he had
had his ultimate destination at the back of his mind. All of
the jumping about he had done before heading for his goal
had been as nothing. Cat had needed but to read that final
destination, to go there and begin patrolling the city, hunting
first his mind and then his body. This seemed more than
carelessness on his part. It was as if he had intentionally
given himself to Cat and kept the information hidden from
his own scrutiny. How could he trust himself to do anything
On the other hand, doing nothing could prove equally
fatal. He was surprised at his sudden willingness to admit to
a hidden death wish. He was determined not to yield to it,
however, not in this duel with Cat. He puffed on his pipe and
listened to the birds.
Had he this destination in mind when he had departed
Kenmare on the first of this latest series of jumps? It seemed
that he had....
All right. He rose. He had to assume that Cat was aware of
it and could put in an appearance at any time. The longer he
remained here, the greater the beast's chances of finding him
unprepared. He dusted off his trousers and muttered
"Damn!" He still needed time to plan.
He slapped the side of the tree and headed across the
picnic area toward the trail. A huge crow darted past him
and he halted. Thoughts of Black-god tumbled through his
mind, and of the ways of the hunt.
The only trip-station in the area was the one he had used.
Cat could emerge there at any moment, perhaps just as he
was approaching. No, that would not do. Because he was
defenseless, it was prudent to continue the flight. But the
risk involved in attempting it right now seemed too high.
IT CAME DOWN FROM UTAH
and Colorado, and it was big and black and nasty. When it
attacked, the people fled for cover and waited. It lashed and
splashed and filled gullies. From Lake Powell through the
Carrizos it boiled and roared. It licked Shiprock with
tongues of flame. The patches of white in the high places
were diminished beneath its slavering. It rolled across the
land and hauled itself over the mountain peaks. Its breath
was fast and sharp, snapping limbs from pine trees, twisting
pinons. Arroyos became muddy snakes. There were mists,
and in some places rainbows. The thunder no longer slept.
Legends could no longer be told.
The Keeper of Clouds has unpenned his charges.
The Keeper of Winds has unlocked his gates. -
The Keeper of Waters has opened the sky.
The Keeper of Lightnings waves his lances.
The Keeper of Satellites has observed,
"One hundred percent of probability of precipitation."
HE EMERGED FROM THE TRIP-
box and looked about. He stood for a time as if listening.
Then he dropped to all fours and entered the forest, his form
altering as he advanced. He had detected the mind which he
sought. It was filled again with the feelings of that chanting
and all of the obscure imagery associated with it. But while
this masked the underlying thoughts it in no way obscured
the direction and location of the thinker. Finding the body
should not be all that difficult.
His movements grew more and more graceful as the lines
of his body flowed to assume the catlike form he favored.
His eye sparkled like a liquid thing. His incisors overhung
his lower lip by several inches. They, too, sparkled. His
passage among the great petroleum trees was almost sound-
less. Whenever he froze and sought impressions he became
almost invisible within the dappled patterns of light and
On one such occasion a leaf fell. Cat pounced upon it, a
living blur. He straightened then and shook his head. He
stared at the leaf. Then he started forward again.
Perhaps this should be the time. The game was not prov-
ing as complex as he had hoped. If there were no interesting
fight or flight, if nothing exciting happened this time, it might
be best to conclude things here. The hunter seemed to have
lost his edge, seemed weary, too troubled to provide the
He glared for a moment at the black bird which cried out
above his head, circling and then darting away.
Come back, dearie. Just for a moment. Come look again.
But the bird was gone.
Cat flicked his wide tail and pressed on across a low
spongy section of forest floor. It was not that much far-
ther.... He increased his pace and did not slow again until
he was near to the picnic area. Then he studied and circled
and studied again.
The man was just sitting there, his back against a picnic
bench, smoking his pipe, his mind filled with that senseless
chant. It was almost too easy, but this was the way he had
read him earlier: willfully careless, ready to die. Still...
There was no sport in it. A few taunts, and perhaps he will
You see. It is as I said. When you run from me you
approach me. Why was 1 not peed at some other time, when .
you still cared to live?
The hunter did not reply. The chant continued.
So you have admitted the truth. You accept what I told
you. Is that your death song that you sing?
Again there was no response.
Very well. I see no reason to prolong things, hunter.
Cat passed among the trees and entered the cleared area.
Last chance. Will you not at least draw your knife?
Billy stood and turned slowly to face him.
At last. You are awake. Are you going to run?
Billy did not move. Cat bounded forward. There followed
a splintering sound.
When the ground gave way beneath the beast, the moment
was frozen in Billy's mind. He had had some doubt as to the
appropriate width when wielding the power shovel to dig the
trench which encircled him. As its covering gave way and
Cat vanished below he was pleased that his estimate had
proven adequate. He moved immediately to bridge it with
the picnic table.
You will not hold me here for long, hunter, Cat told him
Long enough, I hope.
Billy crossed over the trench and emptied the wastebin
against the trunk of a nearby tree. He struck a light and set it
to the heap of papers.
What are you doing?
If one of these trees goes up, the whole area burns, he
said. They're all connected below and full of inflammables.
You won't make it back to the box if you let this burn.
Billy turned and began running.
Congratulations, Cat told him. You have made it interest-
Good-bye, Billy said.
Not quite. We've an appointment.
He ran on until the trip-box was in sight. Rushing into it,
he inserted his strip, activating the control and punched
coordinates at random without looking at them.
You have bought respite, Cat told him. But at another
level you have betrayed yourself again.
Have I? Billy answered, as the forest blurred.
He walks in a twilight land amid
jungle-shrouded cities. The cries of unseen birds come to
him across the shimmering air. It is pleasantly warm, and
there is a smell of dampness and decay. His path is a
glistening ribbon among ruins which appear less and less
ruined as he advances.' He smells burning copal and his
guide gives him a strange beverage to drink. Colors flash
beneath his feet and his way becomes bright red. They come
at length to a pyramid atop which a blue man is held
stretched across a stone by four others. Billy watches as a
man in a high headdress cuts open the blue man's chest and
removes the heart. He sips his drink and continues to watch
as the heart is passed to another man who uses it to anoint
the faces of statues. The body is thien cast down the steps to
where a crowd of people waits. There, another man very
carefully removes the skin, its blue now streaked with red,
dons it like a robe and commences dancing. The other
people now fall upon the remains and begin eating, save for
the hands and the feet, which are removed and set aside. His
guide departs for a moment to join the crowd, returning
moments later, bringing him something and indicating that
he should eat. He chews mechanically, washing it down with
the balche. He looks up, realizing suddenly that Dora is his
guide. "On the fifth day of Uayeb my true love gave to
me..." She is not smiling. Her face is, in fact, without
expression as she turns away, beckoning for him to follow.
The blood-red way leads at length to a gaping cave-mouth.
They halt before it, and he can see that within there are
statues at either hand - fanged, scrolls upon their foreheads,
dark circles about their eyes. As he stares, he becomes
aware of people moving about slowly inside. They are
placing bowls of copal, tobacco and maize upon a low altar.
They are chanting softly in words which he does not under-
stand. She leads him across the threshold, and he sees now
that the place is illuminated by candlelight. He smells
incense as he stands listening to the prayers. He is given to
drink a beverage of corn gruel and honey at each pausing
between rituals. He sits with his back against the rock,
listening, tracing circles upon the poor with his fingertip. He
is given another gourd of balche to drink. As he raises it to
his lips he looks upward and pauses. It is not Dora who has
brought him the drink but a powerful youth, clad in the old
manner of the Dineh. At this person's back there stands
another man - larger and even stronger-looking. He is simi-
larly garbed, and the resemblance between the two is strik-
ing. "You seem familiar," Billy tells them. The first man
smiles. "We are the slayers of the giants Seven-Macaws,
Zipacna and Cabracan," he answers. "It was we," says the
other, "who journeyed down the steps to Xibalba, crossing
the River of Corruption and the River of Blood. We followed
the Black Path to the House of the Lords of Death." The
other nods. "We played strange games with them, both
winning and losing," he says. And they say in unison, ßWe
slew the Lords Hun-Came and Vucub-Came and ascended
into light." Billy sips his balche. "You remind me," he says
to the younger one, "of Tobadzichini, and you," to the other,
"of Nayenezgani, the Warrior Twins of my people, as I
always thought they must look." The two smile. "This is
true," they say, "for we get around a lot. Down here we are
known as Hunahpu and Xbalanque. Rise now to your feet
and look off yonder into the darker places." He gets up and
looks to the rear of the grotto. He sees there a trail leading
downward. Dora stands upon it, staring at him. "Follow,"
says Hunahpu. "Follow," says Xbalanque. She begins to
move away. As he turns and follows after her, he hears the
cry of a bird....
BILLY STEPPED FROM THE TRIP-
box and looked about. It was dark, with a tropical brilliance
to the stars. The air was cool and damp, bearing smells he
had long associated with jungle foliage. The coolness
seemed to indicate that the night was nearing its end.
He passed beyond the station's partitioning, where he
read the sign which identified it. Yes. Things were as he had
sensed them. He had come to the great archaeological park
of Chichen Itza.
He stood upon a low hill. Narrow trails led off in many
directions. These paths were faintly illuminated, and here
and there he saw people passing slowly along them. He
could discern the massive dark forms of the ancient struc-
tures themselves, more solid and deep than the night's lesser
gloom. Periodically, some portion of ruin would be bril-
liantly lighted for several minutes, for the benefit of night-
viewers. He recalled reading somewhere that this ran
through a regular cycle, its schedule available at various
points along the way, along with computerized commentary
and the answering of questions concerning the place.
He began walking. The ruin was big and dark and quiet
and Indian. It comforted him to pass along its ways. Cat
could not find him here. This he knew. He also understood
Cat's parting words. He had betrayed himself, in a sense, for
his final destination had been present in his mind even as he
had struck the random coordinates which had brought him
here. When he finally journeyed to that last place it would be
to face his enemy.
He laughed softly then. There was nothing to prevent his
remaining here until Cat's time limit had run out.
Some of the more fragile ruins he passed were protected
by force fields, others permitted entry, climbing, wandering.
He was reminded of this as he brushed against a force
screen - soft, harder, harder, impenetrable. It reminded him
of Cat's cage back at the Institute. Cat's had also been
electrified, however, providing shocks which increased in
direct proportion to the intensity of the pressure from
within. Cat had seldom brushed against it, though, because
of his peculiar sensitivity to electrical currents. In fact, that
was how Billy had captured him - accidentally, when Cat
had collided with the electrified force screen which had
surrounded one of the base camps during an attempt at
backtracking and ambush. The memory suddenly gave rise
to a new train of thought.
A light flashed on far to his right, and he halted and stared.
He had never been here before, but he had seen pictures,
had read about the place. It was the Temple of the Warriors
that he beheld, a bristling of columns before it, their
shadows black slashes upon its forward wall. He began to
move toward it.
The light went out before he got there, but he had the
location as well as the image fixed in his mind. He continued
until he was very near, and when he discovered that no force
field blocked his way he passed among the styli and began to
climb the steep stair on its forward face.
When he reached the level area at the top he located
himself to what he took to be the east and sat down, his back
against the wall of the smaller structure situated at the
center. He thought of Cat and of the death wish that was
defeating him because he could not adapt, because he was
no longer Navajo. Or was that true? He thought of his recent
years of withdrawal. Now they seemed filled with ashes. But
his people had many times tasted the ashes of fear and
suffering, sorrow and submission, yet they had never lost
their dignity nor all of their pride. Sometimes cynical, often
defiant, they had survived. Something of this must still be
with him, to match against his own death prayer. He dozed
then and had a peculiar dream which he could not later recall
in its entirety.
When he woke the sun was rising. He watched the waves
of color precede it into the world. It was true that there was
nothing to prevent his remaining here until Cat's time limit
had run out. He knew that he would not do this. He would go
on to face his chindi.
... After breakfast, he decided. After breakfast.
"I DON'T CARE!" MERCY
Spender said, raising the bottle with one hand, the glass with
the other. "I've got to have another drink!"
Elizabeth Brooke laid a hand upon her shoulder.
"I really don't think you should, dear. Not just now,
anyhow. You're agitated and -"
"I know! That's why I want it!"
With a snapping sound, the bottom fell out of the bottle.
The gin raced shards of glass to the floor. The odor of juniper
berries drifted upward.
Walter Sands smiled.
"Mean of me," he said. "But we still need you. I know
you'd like to go and rest in the home again. It will be harder
for us if you drop out now, though. Wait a while."
Mercy stared downward. A look of anger passed and her
eyes brimmed, sparkled.
"It's silly," she said then. "If he wants to die, let him."
"It's not that simple. He's not that simple," Ironbear said.
"And we owe him."
"I don't owe him anything," she said, "and we don't even
know what to do, really. I -" Then, "We all have something
that hurts, I guess," she said. "Maybe... Okay. I'll take
"I wonder what hurts the thing that's after him?" Fisher
"The data are incomplete on the ecology of the place it
comes from," Mancin said.
"Then there is only one way to find out, isn't there?"
asked Ironbear. "Go to the source."
"Ridiculous," Fisher said. "It's hard enough touching a
human who's gone primitive. The beast seems able to do it at
short ranges because they share some bond. But to go after
the thing itself and then - I couldn't."
"Neither could I," said Elizabeth. "None of us could. But
we might be able to."
"We? Us? Together? Again? It could be dangerous. After
that last time -"
"We don't even know where the cat-thing is."
"Walford's man can order another check on TripCo's
computer network. Locate Singer again and the beast will
soon be there."
"And what good would that do us?"
"We won't know till we get that information and give it a
"I don't like this," said Fisher. "We could get hurt. It's a
damned alien place you're talking about. I touched one of
the Strageans yesterday and had a headache for half an hour
afterwards. Couldn't even see straight. And they're similar
to us in a lot of ways."
"We can always back out if it gets too rough."
"I've got a bad feeling about this," Mercy said, "but I
guess it does seem like the Christian thing to do."
"The hell with that. Is it going to do any good?"
"Maybe you're right," Mancin said. "It doesn't seem all
that promising when you analyze it. Let's tell Walford how
Singer did it, tell him about the beast and the deal they made.
Then get the computer check to narrow the field. They can
send an armed force after it."
"Send it after the thing that killed the thing an armed force
"Let's locate them," Ironbear said, "find out what we can
and then decide."
"That much makes sense," Sands said. "I'll go along with
"So will I," said Elizabeth.
Mancin glanced at Fisher.
"Looks as if we're' outvoted," he said, sighing. "Okay."
"Call Tedders. Run it through TripCo. I'll be with you."
BILLY STEPPED THROUGH INTO
his hogan, leaving the transport slip in place. He switched on
the guard and turned off the buzzer. He was not receiving
calls just now.
His secretary unit told him that Edwin Tedders had called
several times. Would he please call back? Another caller left
no name, only the message, "They grew them with insula-
tion, I learned. You knew that, didn't you?"
He turned on the coffee maker, undressed and stepped
into the shower. As he was vibrated clean, he heard the
rumble of thunder above the cries of the nozzles.
When he had emerged and dressed himself in warmer
clothing he took his coffee out onto his porch. The sky was
grey to the north and curtains of rain hung there. A fast wind
fled past him. To the south and the east the sky was clear.
Light clouds drifted in the west. He watched the rolling
weeds and listened to the wind for a time, finished his coffee
and returned to the inside.
Billy picked up the weapon and checked it over. Old-
fashioned. A tazer, it was called, firing a pronged cable and
delivering a strong electrical jolt at the far end. They had
fancier things now which ionized a path through the air and
sent their charge along it. But this would do. He had used a
similar device on Cat before, once he had learned his weak-
Then he honed a foot-long Bowie knife and threaded his
belt through the slits in its sheath. He inspected an old 30.06
he had kept in perfect condition. If he could succeed in
stunning Cat, it could pump sufficient rounds through that
tough hide to hit vital organs, he knew. On the other hand,
the weapon was fairly heavy. He finally selected a half-meter
laser snub-gun, less accurate but equally lethal. He planned
on using it at close range, anyway. That decided, he set to
putting together a light pack with minimal gear for the trek
he had in mind. When everything was assembled, he set an
alarm, stretched out on his bedroll and slept for two hours.
When the buzzer roused him the rain was drumming on
the roof. He donned a waterproof fleece-lined jacket, shoul-
dered his pack, slung his weapons and found a hat. Then he
crossed to his communications unit, checked a number and
Shortly the screen came to life, and Susan Yellowcloud's
wide face appeared before him.
"Azaethlin!" she said. She brushed back a strand of hair
and smiled. "It's been a couple of years."
"Yes," he said, and he exchanged greetings and a bit of
small talk. "Raining over your way?" he finally asked.
"Looks as if it's about to."
"I need to get over to the north rim," he told her. "You're
the closest person I know to the spot I have in mind. Okay if
I come over?"
Sure. Get in your box and I 11 key ours.
He stepped in, pocketed his strip and punched TRANS.
He came through in the corner of a cluttered living room.
Jimmy Yellowcloud arose from a chair set before a
viewscreen to press palms with him. He was short, wide-
shouldered, thick around the waist.
"Hosteen Singer," he said. "Have a cup of coffee with
"All right," Billy said.
As they drank it, Jimmy remarked, "You said you're
going over to the canyon?"
"Not down in it, I hope."
"I'm going down in it."
"The spring flooding's started."
"Nasty-looking gun. Could I see it?"
"Hey, laser! You could punch another hole in Window
Rock with this thing. It's old, isn't it?"
"About eighty years. I don't think they make them just
like that anymore."
He passed it back.
They sat in silence for a time, then, "I'll drive you over to
wherever you want on the rim," he said.
Jimmy took another sip of coffee.
"Going to be down there long?" he asked.
"Hard to say."
"We don't see much of you these days."
"Been keeping to myself."
"You ought to marry my wife's sister and come live over
"She pretty?" Billy asked.
"You bet. Good cook, too."
"Do I know her?"
"I don't think so. We'll have to have a squaw dance."
A sudden drumming of rain occurred on the north side of
"Here it comes," Jimmy said. "Don't suppose you'd care
to wait till it stops?"
"Could be days. You'd go broke feeding me.,"
"We could play cards. Not much else for a ranger to do
this time of year."
Billy finished his coffee.
"You could learn to make jewelry - conchos, bracelets,
"My hands just don't go for that."
Jimmy put down his cup.
"Nothing else to do. I might as well change clothes and go
along with you. I've got a high-powered hunting rifle with a
radar sight. Knock over an elephant."
Billy traced a design on the tabletop.
"Not this time," he said.
"All right. Guess we'd better get going then."
"Guess we should."
He let Jimmy drop him on the northward bulge of the rim
above the area containing the Antelope House ruin. Since he
bad had the ride he had decided to come this much farther
eastward. Had he walked over, he would have descended at
a point several miles farther to the west. Jimmy would have
taken him even farther eastward had he wished, but that
would have been less useful, starting him at a place beyond
the point where Black Rock Canyon branched off from
Canyon del Muerto proper. He wanted to pass that point on
foot and confuse the trail there. If he made things too easy
Cat would become suspicious.
Staring downward into the broad, serpentine canyon, he
saw a wide band of dully gleaming water passing down its
center, as he had suspected, It was not yet as deep as he had
seen it on occasions in the past, rushing with the seasonal
meltoff between orange, salmon and gray walls, splashing
the bases of obelisklike stands of stone, cascading over
irregularities, rippling about boulders, bearing the mud and
detritus of its passage on toward the Chinle Wash, creating
pockets of quicksand all over the canyon floor. Several
hundred of the People made their homes there during the
warmer months, but they all moved out for the,winter. The
place would be deserted now.
A light rain was falling, making the wall rocks slippery. He
cast about for the safest way down. There, to the left.
He moved to the spot he had selected and studied it more
closely. Yes. It could be done. He checked his pack and
commenced the descent. The way led down to the high, firm
talus slope which followed the wall's base.
Partway down, he paused to adjust his pack, brush off
moisture and look sideways and back in at the petroglyph of
a life-sized antelope. There were a number of them about,
along with those of other quadrupeds, turkeys, human fig-
ures, concentric circles; some of them continued onto the
fourth-story level of the large ruin built against the base of
the cliff. His people had done none of these. They went back
to the Great Pueblo period, in the twelfth to fourteenth
centuries, work of the old Anasazi. He worked his way
down and around, and the going suddenly became easier.
Here the slant and overhang of the wall protected him from
When he reached the bottom he turned to the east, the
splashing waters off to the right, faded grasses and scrubby
trees about him on the slope. He made no effort to conceal
his passage but advanced with long, purposeful strides.
Across the water at the base of the opposite cliff stood Battle
Cove Ruin, a small masonry structure with white, red,
yellow and green petroglyphs. It, too, went back to the
Great Pueblo days. As a boy he might have feared such
places, feared rousing the vengeful spirits of the Old Ones.
On the other hand, he would probably have gone through
them on a dare, he decided.
Jagged lightning danced somewhere in the east - ik-
ne'eka'a. A slow roll of thunder followed. He felt that Cat
was probably in Arizona by now, having seen the Canyon de
Chelly Monument in his mind, the Canyon del Muerto
branch in particular. Locating the trip-box at the Thunder-
bird Lodge would be kind of esoteric, though. Doubtless Cat
would have arrived by way of Chinle - which meant that he
stil had a long way to come, even if he had gotten in a few
Good. Black Rock Canyon was not that far ahead.
The track of the wind upon my fingertips,
mark of my mortality.
The track of the rain upon my hand,
mark of the waiting world.
A song that rises unbidden within me,
mark of my spirit.
The light of that half-place
where his mount danced for Crazy Horse,
mark of that other world
where powers still walk, stones talk
and nothing is what it seems to be.
We will meet in an old place.
The earth will tremble. The stones will drink.
Things forgotten are shadows.
The shadows will be as real
as wind and rain and song and light,
there in the old place.
Spider Woman atop your rock,
I would greet you,
but I am going the other way.
Only a fool would pursue a Navajo
into the Canyon of Death.
Only a fool would go there at all
when the waters are running.
I am going to an old place.
He who follows must go there, too.
Windmark, raintouch, songrise, light,
with me, on me, in me, about me.
It is good to be a fool when the time is right.
I am a son of the Sun
and Changing Woman.
I go to an old place.
When Cat emerged from the trip-box at Chinle he wore a
dark cloak, glasses and floppy-hat disguise. The station was
empty now, though he could see a couple of minutes into the
past in a limited fashion with his infrared vision and knew
from the heat signatures that two people had recently been
standing inside the doorway for a while. He moved forward
and looked outside. Yes. A man and a woman were walking
away. Presumably one had met the other here and they had
stood talking for a time before going on their way. As he
watched, they crossed the street and entered a cafe to his
left. Their thoughts served to remind him that for many
hours he had been growing hungry. Without moving, his eye
also took in countless images of the nearby wall map. He
was getting the idea of such things better now, and he would
remember all of the markings on this one. When he saw
something which corresponded to a feature, he would have
his directions, though he felt he already knew them. In the
meantime, he would follow his feelings and his hunger while
He departed the station. Half of the sky was overcast and
the clouds seemed to be moving to cover more. He felt the
dampness and negative ionization in the air.
He passed along the street. Three men rounded the corner
and stared at him for an unusually long while. Stranger.
Odd. Very odd, he read. Something funny about that one,
the way he moves... Images then. Childhood fears. Old
stories. Similar in ways to Billy's stream of consciousness.
More people approaching from the rear. No design to their
movement in his direction. But the same curiosity flowing.
He selected. He broadcast fears and old forebodings:
Flee! Man-wolf, shapeshifter! Gnawer of corpses! I will
shoot corruption into your bodies, blow the dust of corpses
into your lungs. Wolf, wearer of the skin. I will track you and
The men at his back hastily turned into an open shop.
Those before him halted, then quickly crossed the street.
Almost amused, he continued to broadcast the feelings for a
time after they had departed. It cleared the way before him.
People would begin to emerge from buildings and halt, then
return within, as if suddenly recalling something undone
inside, experiencing the resurgence of childhood fears. Bet-
ter to give in and rationalize later than to brave them out for
But they are real, he reflected. I am the shapeshifter who
could strike you down without effort. I could have stepped
from your nightmare legends....
He picked the direction of the Chinle Wash from a retreat-
ing mind, turned at the next corner and again at the follow-
Silly. No one in sight now. There will be no trouble, he
Stretching and contracting, he bent forward. Soon he was
loping along the street. Not far, not too far. This way was
indeed north. The town thinned out, fell away. He departed
the roadway, ran beside it, cut across country. Better,
better. Soon now. Yes. Downhill. Trees and desiccated
grasses. A faint flash of light. Much later, a soft growl from
the eastern sky.
Down, down into a barrenness of sand and moist earth,
detached tree limbs and half-sunken stones. Firm enough,
firm enough to run and -
He halted. Ahead, a primitive sentience, wandering.
Automatically he fell into a stalking mode of progress.
Hunger remembered in this almost delicious spot, save for
the moisture. Slow now, beyond the next bend...
He halted again as soon as he saw the canine, a lean, black
dog, sniffing about the heaps of rubble. Parts of it might do,
if he diluted them....
He sprang forward. The dog did not even raise its head
until his third bounding movement, and by then it was too
late. It let out one short whimpering noise before the pro-
jected feelings hit it, and then Cat's left paw shattered its
Cat raised his muzzle from tearing at the carcass and
swiveled his head so as to cover every direction, including
straight up, with his many-faceted gaze. Nothing. Nothing
moving but the wind and its consequences. Yet... He had
felt as if something were watching him. But no.
He fell to tearing the bones free, breaking them, grinding
them, swallowing them along with large gulps of sand. Not
as good as crunching the tube-crawlers back home, but
better than the synthetic fare they had given him at the
Institute. Much better. In his mind, he roamed again the dry
plains, fearing nothing but -
What? Again. He shook himself and ran his gaze entirely
around the horizon. There was nothing, yet he felt as if
something were stalking him.
He dropped into a lower position, spitting out pieces of
dog, baring his fangs, listening, watching. What could there
be to fear? There was nothing on this planet that he would
not face. Yet he felt menaced by something he did not
understand. Even when he had met with krel, long ago, he
had known where he stood. Now, though...
He sent forth a paralyzing wave of feelings and waited.
Nothing. No indication that anything had felt it. Could this
be like dreaming?
Time ticked nets about him. The sky flared briefly beyond
his right shoulder.
Gradually the tension went out of him. Gone now.
Strange. Very strange. Could it be something about this
He finished his meal, thinking again of the days of the hunt
on the plains of his own world, where only one thing could
cause such uneasiness in him....
Whatever it was, it fell upon him like a boulder out of
nowhere. He bunched his legs beneath him and sprang
straight up into the air when it hit, head thrown back, a sharp
hissing noise passing his throat. For an instant, his vision
swam and the world grew dim. But already his mind was
spinning. This he could understand, after a fashion.
Among his kind the mating battles were always preceded
by a psychic assault from the challenger. This was somehow
similar, and he possessed the equipment to join it.
He could not tell exactly what it was doing inside his head,
but he struck at it with all of his hate, with the desire to rend.
And then it was gone.
He fell across the carcass of the dog, teeth still bared,
slipping back into an earlier mode of existence. Where was
the other? When would he strike? He ranged with all of his
senses about the area, waiting. But there was nothing there.
After a long while, the tension flowed away. Nothing was
coming. Whatever it had been, it was not one of his own
kind, and it had not been a battle challenge that he had felt. It
troubled him that there was something in the area which he
did not understand. He turned toward the north and began
Mercy Spender and Charles Fisher, who sat at either side
of him, reached to catch hold of Walter Sands's shoulders as
he slumped forward.
"Get him up onto the table - quick!" Elizabeth said.
"He just fainted," Fisher said. "I think we ought to lower .
"Listen to his chest! I was still with him. I felt his heart
"Oh, my! Somebody give us a hand!"
They moved him onto the table and listened for a heart-
beat, but there was none. Mercy began hammering on his
"You know what you're doing?" Ironbear asked her.
"Yes. I started nursing training once," she grunted. "I
remember this part. Somebody send for help."
Elizabeth crossed to the intercom.
"I didn't know he had a bad heart," Fisher said.
"I don't think he did either," Mancin replied, "or we'd
probably have learned that when we gave each other a look.
The shock when the thing struck back must have gotten to
him. We shouldn't have let Ironbear talk us into going in."
"Not his fault," Mercy said, still working.
"And we all agreed," Fisher said. "The time seemed
perfect, while it was remembering. And we did learn some-
Elizabeth reached Tedders. They grew silent as they lis-
tened to her relay the information.
"Just a moment ago. Just a moment ago," Fisher said,
"and he was with us."
"It seems as if he still is," Mancin said.
"We're going to have to try to reach Singer," Elizabeth
said, crossing the room and taking her seat again.
"That's going to be hard - and what do we really have to
tell him?" Fisher asked.
"Everything we know," Ironbear said,
"And who knows what form it would take, that strange
state of mind he's in?" Mercy asked. "We might be better
off simply calling for that force Mancin suggested."
"Maybe we should do both," Elizabeth said. "But if we
don't try helping him ourselves, then Walter's attack was for
"I'll be with you," Mercy said, "when we do. Some-
body's going to have to take over here pretty soon, though,
till the medics trip through. I'm getting tired."
"I'll try," Fisher said. "Let me watch how you do it."
"I'd better learn, too," Mancin said, moving nearer. "I do
still seem to feel his presence, weakly. Maybe that's a good
Sounds of hammering continued downstairs, from where a
shattered wall was being replaced.
He crossed the water above a small cascade, knowing
things would be relatively solid at its top. Then he moved
along the southern talus slope, leaving a clear trail. He
entered Black Rock Canyon and continued into it for per-
haps half a mile. The rain came down steadily upon him and
the wind made a singing sound high overhead. He saw a
cluster of rocks come loose from the northern wall far
ahead, sliding and bumping to the floor of the canyon,
splashing into the stream.
Keeping watch on driftwood heaps, he located a stick
sufficient for his purpose. He walked near the water's edge
for a time, then headed up onto a long rocky shelf where his
footprints soon vanished. He immediately began to back-
track, walking in his own prints until he stood beside the
water again. He entered it then, probing with the stick for
quicksand pockets, and made his way back to the canyon's
Emerging, he crossed the main stream to its north bank,
turned to his right and continued on along Canyon del
Muerto toward Standing Cow Ruin, concealing his trail as he
went, for the next half-mile. He found that he liked the
feeling of being alone again in this gigantic gorge. The stream
was wider here, deeper. His mind went back to the story he
had heard as a boy, of the time of the fear of the flooding of
the world. Who was that old singer? Up around Kayenta,
back in the 1920s... The old man had been struck by
lightning and left for dead. But he had recovered several
days later, bearing a purported message from the gods, a
message that the world was about to be flooded. In that
normal laws and taboos no longer apply to a person who has
lived through a lightning-stroke, he was paid special heed.
People. believed him and fled with their flocks to Black
Mountain. But the water did not come, and the cornfields of
those who fled dried and died under the summer sun. A
shaman with a vision that did not pay off.
Billy chuckled. What was it the Yellowclouds had called
him?" Azaethlin" - "medicine man." We aren't always that
reliable, he thought, given to the same passions and misap-
prehensions as others. Medicine man, heal thyself.
He started past a "wish pile" of rocks and juniper twigs,
halted, went back and added a stone to it. Why not? It was
In time, he came to Standing Cow Ruin, one of the largest
ruins in the canyons. It stood against the north wall beneath
a huge overhang. The remains of its walls covered an area
more than four hundred feet long, built partly around 'im-
mense boulders. It, too, went back to the Great Pueblo days,
containing three kivas and many rooms. But there were also
Navajo log-and-earth storage bins and Navajo paintings
along with those of the Anasazi. He went nearer, to view
again the white, yellow and black renderings of people with
arms upraised, the humpbacked archer, circles, circles and
more circles, the animals.... And there, high up above a
ledge to his left, was one of purely Navajo creation, and
most interesting to him. Mounted, cloaked, wearing flat-
brimmed hats, carrying rifles, was a procession of Span-
iards, two of them firing at an Indian. It was believed to
represent the soldiers of Lieutenant Anthony Narbona who
fought the Navajos at Massacre Cave in 1805. And below
that, at the base of the cliff, were other horsemen and a
mounted U.S. cavalryman of the 1860s. As he watched, they
seemed to move.
He rubbed his eyes. They really were moving. And it
seemed as if he had just heard gunshots. The figures were
three-dimensional, solid now, riding across a sandy waste....
"Always down on us, aren't you?" he said to them and to
the world at large.
He heard curses in Spanish. When he lowered his eyes to
the other figure, he heard a trumpet sounding a cavalry
charge. The great rock walls seemed to melt away about him
and the waters grew silent. He was staring now at a totally
different landscape - bleak, barren and terribly bright. He
raised his eyes to a sun which blazed almost whitely from
overhead. A part of him stood aside, wondering how this
thing could be. But the rest of him was engaged in the vision.
He seemed to hear the sound of a drum as he watched
them ride across that alien desert. It was increasing steadily
in tempo. Then, when it had reached an almost frantic
throbbing, the sands erupted before the leading horseman
and a large, translucent, triangular shape reared suddenly
before him, leaning forward to enfold both horse and rider
with slick membranous wings. More of them exploded into
view along the column, shrugging sands which yellowed the
air,' falling upon the other riders and their mounts, envelop-
ing them, dragging them downward to settle as quivering,
gleaming, rocklike lumps on the barren landscape. Even the
cavalryman, now brandishing his saber, met a similar fate, to
the notes of the trumpet and the drum.
What other fate might be expected when one encountered
a krel., let alone a whole crowd of them? He had given up
quickly on any notion of bringing one back to the Institute.
Two close calls, and he had decided that they were too
damned dangerous. That world of Cat's had bred some very
Cat. Speak of the Devil... There was Cat crossing the
plain, lithe power personified....
Again, amid a shower of sand, the krel rose. Cat drew
back, rearing, forelimbs lengthening, slashing. They came
together and Cat struggled to draw away....
With the sound of a single drumbeat, the scene faded. He
was staring at anthropomorphic figures, horses and the large
Standing Cow. He heard the sounds of the water at his back.
Peculiar, but he had known stranger things over the years,
and he had always felt that a kind of power dwelled in the old
places. Something about this manifestation of it seemed
heartening, and so he took it as a good omen. He chanted a
brief song of thanks for the vision and turned to continue
along his way. The shadows had darkened perceptibly and
the rock walls were even higher now, and for a time he
seemed to regard them through a mist of rainbows.
Going back. A part of him still stood apart, but it seemed
even smaller and farther away now. Parts of his life between
childhood and now had become dreamlike, shimmering, and
he had not noticed it happening. He began recalling seldom
used names for things around him which he had thought long
forgotten. The rain increased in intensity off to his right,
though his way was still sheltered by the canyon wall. A
trick of lightning seemed to show momentarily a reddish
path stretching on before him.
"A krel, a krel," he chanted as he walked, not knowing
why. Free a cat to kill a Stragean, find a krel to kill a cat...
What then? He chuckled. No answer to the odd vision. His
mind played games with the rock shapes around him. The
Plains Indians had made mare of a cult out of the Rock
people than his people had. But now it seemed he could
almost catch glimpses of the presence within the forms. Who
was that bellicano philosopher he had liked? Spinoza. Yes.
Everything alive, all of it connected, inside and out, all over.
"Hah la tse kis!" he called out, and the echo came back to
The zigzag lightning danced above the high cliff's edge and
when its afterglow had faded he realized that night 'was
coming on. He increased his pace. He felt it would be good
to be past Many Cherry Canyon by the time full darkness
The ground dropped away abruptly, and he made his way
across a bog, probing before him with his stick. He cleaned
his boots then before continuing. He ran a hand across the
surface of a rock, feeling its moist smoothnesses and rough-
nesses. Then he licked his thumb and stared again into the
Moments came and went like dark tides among the stones
as he strode along, half-glimpsed images giving rise to free
association, racial and personal.
It seemed to sail toward him out of the encroaching
darkness, its prow cutting a V across his line of sight. It was
Shiprock in miniature, that outcrop ahead. As he swung
along it grew larger and it filled his mind....
Irresistibly, he was thrown back. Again the sky was blue
glass above him. The wind was sharp and cold, the rocks
rough, the going progressively steeper. Soon it would be
time to rope up. They were approaching the near-vertical
He looked back at her, climbing steadily, her face flushed.
She was a good climber, had done it in many places. But this
was something special, a forbidden test....
He gnashed his teeth and muttered, "Fool!"
They were climbing tse bi dahi, the rock with wings. The
white men called it Shiprock. It stood 7,178 feet in height
and had only been climbed once, some two hundred years
earlier, and many had died attempting the ascent. It was a
sacred place, and it was now forbidden to climb upon it.
And Dora had liked climbing. True, she had never sug-
gested this, but she had gone along with him. Yes, it had
been his idea, not hers.
In his mind's eye, he saw their diminutive figures upon its
face, reaching, hauling themselves higher, reaching. His
idea. Tell him why. Tell Hastehogan, god of night, why - so
that he may laugh and send a black wind out of the north to
blow upon you.
He had wanted to show her that he did not fear the
People's taboo, that he was better, wiser, more sophisticated
than the People. He had wanted to show her that he was not
really one of them in spirit, that he was free like her, that he
was above such things, that he laughed at them. It did not
occur to him until much later that such a thing did not matter
to her, that he had been dancing a dance of fears for himself
only, that she had never thought him inferior, that his action
had been unnecessary, unwarranted, pathetic. But he had
needed her. She was a new life in a new, frightening time,
When he heard her cry out he turned as rapidly as he
could and reached out for her. Eight inches, perhaps, sepa-
rated their fingertips. And then she was gone, falling. He
saw her hit, several times.
Half blinded with tears, he had cursed the mountains and
cursed the gods and cursed himself. It was over. He had
nothing now. He was nothing....
He cursed again, his eyes darting over the terrain to
where, with a flick of its tail, he would have sworn a coyote
had stood a moment ago, laughing, before it vanished into
the shadows beyond the rise. Fragments of the chants from
the old Coyoteway fire ritual came to him:
I will walk in the places where the black clouds come at
I will walk in the places where the rain falls upon me.
I will walk in the places where the lightning flashes at
I will walk in the places where the dark fogs move about
I will walk where the rainbows drift and the thunders roll.
Amid dew and pollen will I walk.
They are upon my feet. They are upon my legs....
When he reached the spot where he thought he had seen
the creature, he searched quickly in the dim light and
thought that he detected a pawprint. Not important, though.
It meant something. What, he could not say.
He is walking in the water....
On the trail beyond the mountains.
The medicine is ready.
... It is his water,
a white coyote's water.
The medicine is ready.
As he passed Many Cherry Canyon he was certain that
Cat was on his way. Let it be. This thing seemed destined, if
not with Cat at his back then in some other fashion. Let it be.
Things were looking different now. The world had been
twisted slightly out of focus.
Dark, dark. But his eyes adjusted with unusual clarity. He
would pass the cave of the Blue Bull. He would go on. He
would take his rations as he walked. He would not rest. He
would create another false way at Twin Trail Canyon. After
that, he would obscure his passage even further. He would
go on. He would walk in the water.
Come after me, Cat. The easy part is almost over.
Weak flash. The wind and the water swallow the thunder.
He is laughing and his face is wet.
The black medicine lifts me in his hand....
The Third Day
WHEN THE CALL CAME
through that Walter Sands was dead, having failed to re-
spond to treatment, Mercy Spender said a prayer, Fisher
looked depressed and Mancin looked out of the window.
Ironbear poured a cup of coffee, and for a long while no one
Finally, "I just want to go home," Fisher said.
"But we reached Singer," Elizabeth replied.
"If you want to call it that," he replied. "He's gone
around the bend. He's... somewhere else. His mind is
running everything through a filter of primitive symbolism. I
can't understand him, and I'm sure he can't understand me.
He thinks he's deep under the earth, traveling along some
"He is," Ironbear said. "He is walking the way of the
"What do you know about it?"
"Enough to understand some," he answered. "I got inter-
ested in Indian things again when my father died. I even
remembered some stuff I'd forgotten for a long time. For all
of his education and travels, Singer doesn't think in com-
pletely modern terms. In fact, he doesn't even think like a
modern Indian. He grew up in almost the last possible period
and place where someone could live in something close to a
neolithic environment. So he's been to the stars. A part of
him's always been back in those crazy canyons. And he was
a shaman - a real one - once. He set out several days ago to
go back to that part of himself, intentionally, because he
thought it might help him. Now it's got hold of him, after all
those years of repression, and it's coming back with a
vengeance. That's what I think. I've been reading tapes on
the Navajos ever since I learned about him, in all of my
spare moments here. They're a lot different from other
Indians, even from their neighbors. But they do have certain
things in common with the rest of us - and the shaman's
journey often goes underground when things are really
" 'Us'?" Mancin said, smiling.
"Slip of the tongue," he answered.
"So you're saying this vicious alien beast is chasing a
crazy Indian," Mercy stated. "And we just learned that the
authorities won't go into those canyons after them because
the place is too treacherous in the weather they're having.
Sounds as if there's nothing we can do. Even if we coordi-
nate as a group mind, the beast seems able to strike back at
us pretty hard - and Singer can't understand us. Maybe we
should go home and let them work it out between them-
"It would be different if there were something we could
do," Fisher said, moving to stand beside Ironbear. "I'm
beginning to see how you feel about the guy, but what the
hell. If you're dead, lie down."
"We could attack the beast," Ironbear said softly.
"Too damned alien," Mancin said. "We don't have the
key to his mind. He'd just slap us away like he did last time.
Besides, this mass-mind business seems very risky. Not too
much has really been done with it, and who knows how we
might mess ourselves up? In any kind of cost-benefit analy-
sis of it there's little to gain against unknown risks."
Ironbear rose to his feet and turned toward the door.
"Fuck your cost-benefit analysis," he said as he left the
Fisher started after him, but Elizabeth caught his eye.
"Let him go," she said. "He's too angry. You don't want
a fight with a friend. There's nothing you can say to him
Fisher halted near the door.
"I couldn't reach him then, can't reach him now," he said.
"I know he's mad, but... I don't know. I've got a feeling
he could do something foolish."
"Like what?" Mancin asked.
"I don't know. That's just it. Maybe I'd better..."
"He'll brood for a while," Mancin said, and then come
back and try to talk us into something. Maybe we ought to
agree to try to reach Singer and get him to head for some
safe spot where he can be picked up. That might work."
"I've got a feeling it won't, but it's the best suggestion so
far. How'll we know where a good spot is?"
Mancin thought for a time, then, "That friend of Singer's,
the ranger," he said, "Yellowcloud. He'd know. Where's the
printout with his number on it?"
"Ironbear had it," Elizabeth said.
"It's not on his chair. Not on the table either."
"You don't think... ?"
Ironbear, wait! Elizabeth broadcast. We're going to help!
But there was no response.
They headed for the stair.
He was nowhere on the premises, and they guessed that
he had tripped out from one of the downstairs boxes. They
obtained the number from Information, but no one answered
at Yellowcloud's phce. It was not until half an hour later,
while they were eating, that someone noticed that a burst-
gun was missing from the guard room.
COYOTE STEALS VOICES FROM ALL LIVING THINGS
Nothing was capable of movement following Coyote's
theft of sound from the world. Not until he was persuaded to
call the Sun and Moon to life by giving a great shout and
restoring noise to the land
NAYENEZGANI CONTINUES CIVIC IMPROVEMENT PLAN
At Tse'a haildehe', where a piece of rock brought up from
the underworld was in the habit of drawing itself apart to
form a pair of cliffs and closing again whenever travelers
passed between. Nayenezgani today solved the problem by
the ingenious use of a piece of elk's horn
2-RABBIT, 7-WIND. HOME TEAM SUCCESSFUL.
Quetzalcoatl, arriving this morning in Tula, was heard to
remark, "Every man has his own rabbit." This was taken as
a good sign by the local population, who responded with
tortillas, flowers, incense, butterflies and snakes
KIT CARSON GO HOME
I KILLED THREE DEER ACROSS THE WAY
BET THEY WERE LAME
SINGERS DO IT IN COLORED SANDS
FOUR APACHES KILLED A NAVAJO NEAR HERE
THAT'S HOW MANY
SPIDER WOMAN DEMONSTRATES NEW ART
"I believe I'll call it textiles," she said, when questioned
SOMEDAY VON DANIKEN WILL SAY
THIS IS AN ASTRONAUT
(place here eye1.tif)
PORT SUMNER SUCKS
CHANGING WOMAN PUZZLED BY SONS' BEHAVIOR
"I suppose they get it from their father," she was heard to
say, when told of the latest
BILLY BLACKHORSE SINGER AND
HIS CHINDI PASSED THIS WAY
O-SINGER, O-CHINDI, AT END OF FIRST HALF
BLACK-GOD IS WATCHING
THE YELLOW MEDICINE LIFTS ME IN HIS HAND
WHEN IRONBEAR OCCURRED
within the trip-box in Yellowcloud's home, the first thing to
catch and hold his attention was a shotgun in the other man's
hands, pointed at his midsection from a distance of approxi-
mately six feet.
"Drop that gun you're carrying," Yellowcloud said.
"Sure. Don't be nervous," Ironbear answered, letting the
weapon fall. "Why are you pointing that thing at me?"
"Are you Indian?"
"Ha'at'i'i'sh biniinaa yi'ni'ya?"
Ironbear shook his head.
"I don't understand you."
"You're not Navajo."
"Never said I was. Matter of fact, I'm Sioux. Can't talk
that either, though. Except maybe a few words."
"I'll say it in English: Why'd you come here?"
"I told you on the phone. I've got to find Singer - or the
thing that's after him."
"I think maybe you're what's after him. It's easy to get rid
of bodies around here, especially this time of year."
Ironbear felt his brow grow moist as he read the other
"Hold on," he said. "I want to help the guy. But it's a long
story and I don't know how much time we've got."
Yellowcloud motioned toward a chair with the barrel of
"Have a seat. Roll up the rug first, though, and kick it out
of the way. I'd hate to mess up a Two Gray Hills."
As he complied, Ironbear probed hard, trying to penetrate
beyond the stream of consciousness. When he found what
he was seeking, he was not certain he could wrap his tongue
around the syllables, but he tried.
"What did you say?" Yellowcloud 'asked, the weapon's
barrel wavering slightly.
He repeated it, Yellowcloud's secret name.
"How'd you know that?" the other asked him.
"I read it in your mind. I'm a paranormal. That's how I
got involved in this thing in the first place."
"Like a medicine man?"
"I suppose in the old days I would have been one.
Anyway, there was a group of us and we were tracking the
thing that's tracking Singer. Now the others want to quit, but
I won't. That's why I want your help."
The rain continued as he talked. When the callbox buzzed,
Yellowcloud switched it off. Later he got them coffee.
Running now, into the bowels of the earth, it seemed.
Darker and darker. Soon he must slow his pace. The world
had almost completely faded about him, save for the
sounds - of wind, water, his drumming feet. Slow now. Yes.
Ahead. Something in that stand of trees. Not moving. A
He advanced cautiously.
It appeared to be - But no. That was impossible. Yet.
There it was. A trip-box. He was positive that it was against
regulations to install one in the canyon.
He moved nearer. It certainly looked like a trip-box, there
among the trees. He advanced and looked inside.
A strange one, though. No slot for the credit strip. No way
to punch coordinates. He entered and studied it more
closely. Just an odd red-and-white-flecked button. Without
thinking, he moved his thumb forward and pushed it.
A mantle of rainbows swirled before his eyes and was
gone. He looked inside. Nothing had changed. He had not
been transported anywhere. Yet -
A pale light suffused the canyon now, as if a full moon
hung overhead. But there was no moon.
He looked again at the box, and for the first time saw the
sight on its side. SPIRIT WORLD, it said. He shrugged and
walked away from it. Save for the light, nothing seemed
After some twenty paces, he turned and looked back. The
box was gone. The stand of trees stood silvery to his rear,
empty of any unnatural presence. To his right, the water
gleamed in its rippling progress. The rain which fell into it
seemed to be descending in slow motion, more a full-bodied
mist than a downpour. And the next flash of lightning
seemed a stylized inscription on the heavens.
Plainly marked before him now was the trail he must
follow. He set his foot upon it and the wind chanted a
staccato song of guidance as he went.
He moved quickly, approaching a bend in the canyon;
more slowly then, as his slope steepened and narrowed. He
dropped to a wider shelf as his way curved, hurried again as
he followed it.
As he made the turn, he saw outlined to his right, ahead, a
human figure standing on the opposite bank of the stream, at
the very tip of a raised spit of land which projected out into
the water. It was a man, and he seemed somehow familiar,
and he had a kind of light about him which Billy found
He slowed as he drew nearer, for the man was staring
directly at him. For a moment, he was not certain how to
address him, for he could not recall the circumstances of
their acquaintance, and a meeting here struck him as pecu-
liar. Then suddenly he remembered, but by then the other
had already greeted him.
He halted and acknowledged the call.
"You are far from home," he said then, "from where I met
you just the other day, in the mountains, herding sheep."
"Yes, I am," the other replied, "for I died that same
A chill came across the back of Billy's neck.
"I did nothing to you," he said. "Why do you return to
"I have not returned to trouble you. In fact, I have not
returned at all. It is you who have found your way to this
place. That makes it different. I will do you no harm."
"I do not understand."
"I told you to follow a twisted way," the old singer said,
"and I see that you have. Very twisted. That is good."
"Not entirely," Billy told him. "My chindi is still at my
"Your chindi turned right instead of left, following the
false trail into Black Rock Canyon. You are still safe for a
"That's something, anyway," Billy said. "Maybe I can do
"Perhaps. But what is it exactly that you are doing?"
"I am following a trail."
"And it brought you here. Do you think that we have met
"I guess not. Do you know why we met?"
"I know only that I would like to teach you an old song of
"That's fine. I'll take all the help I can get," said Billy,
glancing back along the way. "I hope it's not a real long one,
"It is not," the old singer told him. "Listen carefully now,
for I can only sing it three times for you. To sing it four times
is to make it work."
"Very well. Here is the song...."
The old man began chanting a song of the calling of
Ikne'etso, which Billy followed, understood and had learned
by the third time he heard it. When the singer was finished he
thanked him, and then asked, "When should I use this
"You will know," the other answered. "Follow your
twisted way now."
Billy bade him good-bye and continued along the northern
slope. He considered looking back, but this time he did not
do it. He trekked through the sparkling canyon and images
of other worlds and of his life in cities rose and mingled with
those about him until it seemed as if his entire life was being
melted down and stirred together here. But all of the asso-
ciated feelings were also swirled together so that it was an
emotional white noise which surrounded him.
He passed a crowd of standing stones and they all seemed
to have faces, their mouths open, singing windsongs. They
were all stationary, but at the far end of the group something
came forward out of darkness.
It was a man, a very familiar man, who stood leaning
against the last windsinger, smiling. He was garbed accord-
ing to the latest fashion, his hair was styled, his hands well
"Hello, Billy," he said in English, and the voice was his
He saw then that the man was himself, as he could have
been had he never come back to this place.
"That's right. I am your shadow," the other said. "I am
the part of yourself you chose to neglect, to thrust aside
when you elected to return to the blanket because you were
afraid of being me."
"Would I have liked being you?"
The other shrugged.
"I think so. Time and chance, that's all. You and Dora
would eventually have moved to a city after you'd proved to
your own satisfaction how free you'd become. You took a
chance and failed. If you'd succeeded you would have come
this route. Time and chance. Eight inches of space. Such is
the stuff lives are bent by."
"You are saying that if I'd proved how free I had become I
still wouldn't really have been free?"
"What's free?" said the other, a faint green light beginning
to play about his head. "To travel all good paths, I suppose.
And you restricted yourself. I am a way that you did not go,
an important way. I might have been a part of you, a saving
part, but you slighted me in your pride that you knew best."
He smiled again, and Billy saw that he had grown fangs.
"I know you," Billy said then. "You are my chindi, my
real chindi, aren't you?"
"And if I am," the other said, "and if you think me evil,
you see me so for all of the wrong reasons. I am your
negative self. Not better, not worse, only unrealized. You
summoned me a long time ago by running from a part of
yourself. You cannot destroy a negation."
"Let's find out," Billy said, and he raised the laser snub-
gun and triggered it.
The flash of light passed through his double with no visible
"That is not the way to deal with me," said the other.
"Then the hell with you! Why should I deal with you at
"Because I can destroy you."
"Then what are you waiting for?"
"I am not quite strong enough yet. So keep running, keep
regressing into the primitive and I will grow in strength as
you do. Then, when we meet again..." The other dropped
suddenly to all fours and took on the semblance of Cat,
single eye glistening, "... I will be your adversary by any
Billy drew the tazer and fired it. It vanished within the
other's body, and the other became his double again and
rose, lunging at him, the dart and cable falling to the ground
and rewinding automatically.
Billy swung his left fist and it seemed to connect with
something. His double fell back upon the ground. Billy
turned and began running.
"Yes, flee. Give me strength," it called out after him.
When he looked back, Billy saw only a faint greenish glow
near the place of the windsingers. He continued to hurry,
until it vanished with another turning of the way. The voices
of the windsingers faded. He slowed again.
The canyon widened once more; the stream was broader
and flowed more slowly. He seemed to see distorted faces,
both human and animal, within the water.
He had felt himself the object of scrutiny for some time
now. But the feeling was growing stronger, and he cast
about, seeking its source among fugitive forms amid shadow
No reply, which could mean anything. But no broadcast
apprehensions either - unless they came on only to be lost
amid the emotional turbulence.
Cat? If it is you, let's have it out. Any time now. I'm ready
whenever you are.
Then he passed a sharp projection of the canyon wall and
he knew that it was not Cat whose presence he had felt. For
now he beheld the strange entity which regarded him, and its
appearance meshed with the sensation.
It looked like a giant totem pole. His people had never
made totem poles. They were a thing of the people of the
Northwest. Yet this one seemed somehow appropriate to the
moment if incongruous to the place. It towered, and it bore
four faces - and possibly a shadowy fifth, at the very top.
There were the countenances of two women, one heavy-
featured, one lean, and two men, one black and one white.
And above them it seemed that a smiling masculine face
hovered, smokelike. All of their eyes were fixed upon him,
and he knew that he beheld no carving but a thing alive.
"Billy Blackhorse Singer," a neuter-gendered voice ad-
"I hear you," he replied.
"You must halt your journey here," it stated.
"Why?" he asked.
"Your mission has been accomplished. You have nothing
to gain by further flight."
"Who are you?" he said.
"We are your guardian spirits. We wish to preserve you
from your pursuer. Climb the wall here. Wait at the top. You
will be met there after a time and borne to safety."
Billy's gaze shifted away from the spirit tower to regard '
the ground at his feet and the prospect before him.
"But I still see my trail out within this canyon," he said
finally. "I should not depart it here."
"It is a false trail."
"No," he said. "This much I know: I must follow it to its
"That way lies death."
He was silent again for a time. Then, ß Still must I follow
it," he said. "Some things are more important than others.
Even than death."
"What are these things? Why must you follow this trail?"
He took several deep breaths and continued to stare at the
ground, as if considering it for the first time.
"I await myself at its ending," he said at last, "as I should
be. If I do not follow this trail, it will be a different sort of
"Worse, I think," he added.
"We may not be able to help you if you go on."
"Then that is as it must be," he said. "Thank you for
"We hear you," said the totem as it sank slowly into the
ground, face by face sliding from view beneath stone, until
only the final, shadowy one remained for an instant, smiling,
it seemed, at him. "Gamble, then," it seemed to whisper,
and then it, too, was gone.
He rubbed his eyes, but nothing changed. He went on.
...I walk on an invisible arch,
feet ready to bear me anywhere.
outcoming fra thplatz fwaters flwng awa thheadtopped tre
andriving now to each where five now four apartapart horse
on the mountain ghoti in thrivr selves towar bodystake like a
longflwung water its several bays to go and places of ourown
heads to sort sisters in the sky old men beneath the ground
while coyote trail ahead blackbrid shadow overall and
brotherone within the chalce of minds a partapartatrapatrap
"My God!" Elizabeth said, sinking back into her chair.
Alex Mancin poured a glass of water and drained it.
"Yes," said Fisher, massaging his temples.
Mercy Spender commenced a coughing spell which lasted
for close to half a minute.
"Now what?." Fisher said softly.
Mancin shook his head.
"I don't know."
"Ironbear was right about his thinking he's in another
world," Elizabeth said. "We're not going to move him."
"The hell with that," Fisher said. "We tried, and we got
through, even if he did turn us into a totem. That's not
what's bothering me, and you know it."
"He was there," Mercy said, "in the spirit."
"Somebody call the hospital and make sure Sands is really
dead," Fisher said.
"I don't see how they could be mistaken, Charles,"
Elizabeth said. "But Mercy is right. He was with us, some-
how, and it seems as if he's still somewhere near."
"Yes," Mercy put in. "He is here."
"You don't need the spirit hypothesis for what I think
happened," Mancin finally stated.
"What do you mean?" Elizabeth asked.
"Just the memory of how he died. We were all of us
together, functioning as that single entity of which we under-
stand so little. I think that the trauma of his death served to
produce something like a holograph of his mind within our
greater consciousness. When we are apart like this it is
weakened, but we all bear fainter versions, which is why we
seem to have this sense of his presence. When we recreated
the larger entity just now, the recombination of the traces
was sufficient to reproduce a total functioning replica of his
- mind as it was."
"You see him as a special kind of memory when we are in
that state?" Elizabeth asked. "Will it fade eventually, do
"Who can say?"
"So what do we do now?" Fisher asked.
"Check on Singer, I suppose, at regular intervals," Man-
cin said, -and renew the invitation to be picked up if he'll
climb to some recognizable feature."
"He'll just keep refusing. You saw how fixed that mental
set of his was."
"Probably - unless something happens to change it. You
never know. But I've been thinking about some of the things
Ironbear said. He's owed the chance, and we seem the only
ones who can give it to him."
"Okay by me. It seems harmless enough. Just don't ask
me to go after that alien beast again. Once was enough."
"I'm not too anxious to touch it myself." '
"What about Ironbear?"
"What about him?"
"Shouldn't we try to get in touch and let him know what
"What for? He's mad. He'll just shut us out. Let him call
us when he's ready."
"I'd hate to see him do anything foolish."
"Like go after that thing and find it."
"Maybe you're right. I still don't think he'd listen, but -"
"He might listen to me," Fisher said, "but I'm not sure I
can reach him myself at this distance."
"Why don't we locate the nearest trip-box to that canyon
and go there?" Elizabeth said. "It will probably make every-
"Aren't Indian reservations dry?" Mercy asked.
"Let's tell Tedders and get our stuff together. We'll meet
back here in fifteen minutes," Fisher said.
"Walter thinks it's a good idea, too," Mercy said.
There is danger where I walk,
in my moccasins, leggings, shirt
of black obsidian.
My belt is a black arrowsnake.
Black snakes coil and rear about my head.
The zigzag lightning flashes from my feet,
my knees, my speaking tongue.
I wear a disk of pollen upon my head.
The snakes eat it.
There is danger where I walk.
I am become something frightful.
I am whirlwind and gray bear.
The lightning plays about me.
There is danger where I walk.
"I dropped him back here," Yellowcloud said, jabbing at
the map, and Ironbear nodded, staring down at the outline of
the long, sprawled canyons.
The rain, growing sleetlike, pelted against the floatcar in
which they sat, parked near the canyon's rim. Reflexively,
Ironbear raised the collar of his borrowed jacket. Pretty
good fit. Lucky we're both the same size, he decided.
"I watched for a time," Yellowcloud continued, "to make
sure he got down okay. He did, and I saw that he headed east
then." His finger moved along the map and halted again.
"Now, at this point," he went on, "he could have turned
right into Black Rock Canyon or he could have kept on along
Canyon del Muerto proper. What do you think?"
"Me? How should I know?"
"You're the witch-man. Can't you hold a stick over the
map, or something like that, and tell?"
Ironbear studied the map more closely.
"Not exactly," he said. "I can feel him out there, down
there. But a rock wall's just a rock wall to me, whether I'm
seeing it through his eyes or my own. However..." He
placed his finger on the map and moved it. "I'd guess he
continued along del Muerto. He wanted lots of room, and
Black Rock seems to dead-end too soon."
"Good, good. I feel he went that way, too. He chose a
spot before it on purpose, I'd say. I'll bet the trail gets
confused at the junction." Yellowcloud folded the map,
turned off the interior light and started the engine. "Since we
both agree," he said, turning the wheel, "I'll bet I can save
us some time. I'll bet that if we head on up the rim, past that
branch, and if we climb down into del Muerto, we'll pick up
his trail along one of the walls."
"It'll be kind of dark."
"I've got goggles and dark-lights. Full spectrum, too."
"Can you figure out where he might be from where you
dropped him and how fast he might be going?"
"Bet I can make a good guess. But we don't want to come
down right on top of him now."
"If something's after him, he's liable to shoot at anything
he sees coming."
"You've got a point there."
"So we'll go down around Many Turkey cave, Blue Bull
Cave - right before the canyon widens. Should be easier to
pick up the trail where it's narrow. Then we'll ignore any
false signs leading into Twin Trail Canyon and start on after
Winds buffeted the small car as it made its way across a
nearly trailless expanse, turning regularly to avoid boulders
and dips which dropped too abruptly.
"... Then I guess we just provide him with extra fire-
"I'd like to try talking him out of it," Ironbear said.
"Sure. You do that," he said.
Ironbear scanned the other's thoughts, saw his impression
of the man.
"Oh, well," he said. "At least I learned to shoot in the P-
"You were P-Patrol? I almost joined that."
"Why didn't you?"
"Afraid I'd get claustrophobia in one of those beer cans in
the sky. I like to be able to see a long way off."
They were silent for a time as they traveled through the
blackness, dim shapes about them, snowflakes spinning in
the headlight beams, changing back to rain, back to snow-
Then, "That thing that's after him," Yellowcloud said,
"you say it's as smart as a man?"
"In its way, yeah. Maybe smarter."
"Billy may still have an edge, you know. He'll probably
be mad to see us."
"That beast has chased him all over the world. It's built
for killing, and it hates him."
"Even Kit Carson was afraid to go into these canyons
after the Navajo. Had to starve us out in the dead of winter."
"Why was he scared?"
"The place was made for ambushes. Anyone who knows
his way around down there could hold off a superior force,
maybe slaughter it."
"This beast can read thoughts."
"So it reads that there's someone up ahead waiting to kill
it. Doesn't have to be a mind reader to know that. And if it
keeps following that's what could happen."
"It can change shape."
"It's still got to move in order to make progress. That
makes it a target. Billy's armed now. It won't have it as easy
as you seem to think."
"Then why'd you decide to come?"
"I don't like to see any outsider chasing Navis on our
land. And I couldn't let a Sioux have the first shot at the
Without Yellowcloud, I wouldn't be worth much out here,
Ironbear told himself. Even the little kids around here must
know more than I do about getting around in this terrain,
tracking, hunting, survival. I'm a damn fool for butting into
this at all, physically. The only things I know about being an
Indian come from Alaska, and that was a long time ago. So
why am I here? I keep saying I like Singer, but why?
Because he was some kind of a hero? I don't really think
that's it. I think it's because he's an old-style Indian, and
because my father might have been that way. At least I think
of him that way. Could I be trying to pay off a debt of guilt
here? It's possible, I guess. And all of my music had an
Indian beat to it....
The car slowed, worked its way into the shelter of a stone
outcrop, came to a halt. The snow had turned back to rain, a
slow, cold drizzle here.
"Are we there?" he asked.
"Almost," Yellowcloud replied. "There's an easy way
down near here. Well, relatively easy. Let me get us some
lights and I'll show you."
Outside, they donned small packs and slung their weap-
ons. Yellowcloud shined his light toward the canyon.
"Follow me," he said. "There was a slide here a few years
ago. Made a sort of trail. We'll be more sheltered once we
reach the bottom."
Ironbear fell in behind him and they made their way to the
rim of the canyon. Its floor was invisible, and the rocks
immediately before him looked jagged and slippery. He said
nothing, and shortly they began the descent, Yellowcloud
playing his light before them.
As they climbed, the force of the rainfall lessened, until
about halfway down they entered the full rainshadow of the
wall and it ceased entirely. The rocks were drier and the
pace of their descent increased. He listened to the wind and
the noises of the rain.
Moving from rock to rock, he came, after a time, to
wonder whether there was indeed a bottom. It began to seem
as if they had been descending forever and that the rest of
time would be a simple repetition of the grasping and lower-
ing. Then he heard Yellowcloud call out, "Here we are!"
and shortly thereafter he found himself standing on the
canyon's floor, stony shapes distorted and flowing in the
"Just stay put for a minute," Yellowcloud said. "I don't
want any trails messed up." Then, "Can you use that trick of
yours to tell whether there's anyone nearby?" he asked.
"There doesn't seem to be," Ironbear replied a few mo-
"Okay. I'm going to use a normal light for a while here.
Make yourself comfortable while I see what I can turn up."
Several minutes passed while Ironbear watched Yellow-
cloud's slowly moving light as the other man studied the
ground, ranging farther and farther ahead, passing from left
to right and back again. Finally Yellowcloud halted. His
figure straightened. He gestured for Ironbear to come along,
and then he began walking.
"Got something?" Ironbear asked, coming up beside
"He's been this way," he answered. "See?"
Ironbear nodded as he regarded the ground. He saw
nothing, but he read the recognition of signs within the
"How long ago was he by here?"
"I can't say for sure. Doesn't really matter, though. Come
They hiked for nearly a quarter-hour- in silence before
Ironbear thought to inquire, "Have you seen any signs of his
"None. A few dog tracks here and there are the only other
things. It couldn't be that size, from what you told me."
"No. It's got a lot more mass."
Yellowcloud ignored the false signs at Twin Trail Canyon
and continued along the northeasterly route of the main gap.
There was a hypnotic quality to the steady trudging, the
unrolling trail of rock, puddle, mud, shrub. The cold was not
as bad as it might have been with the wind softened as it was,
but the numbness Ironbear began to feel was more a mental
thing. The waters splashed and gurgled past. His arms
swung and his feet strode in a near mechanical fashion.
... Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes...
The wind seemed to be talking to him, seemed to have
been talking to him for a long while, lulling words, restful
within the routine of the movements.
... Lull, lull, lull, lull. Yes, rest, yes, rest, yest, yest,
It was more than the wind and the rhythm, he suddenly
knew. There was someone -
Power. Blackness. Death. It walked at his back. The
thing. The beast. It was coming.
And there was nothing he could do about it. He could not
even slow his pace, let alone deviate from his course. It had
him completely in its power, and so deftly had it taken
control of him that he had not even felt the insinuation of its
presence. Until now, when it was far too late.
Yes. Yes, son of cities. You seem different from this other
one, and both of you block my way. Keep walking. I will
catch up with you soon. It will not matter then.
Ironbear tried again to turn aside, but his muscles refused
to obey him. He was about to probe Yellowcloud's mind to
see whether the other man had yet become aware of his
condition. He held back, however. The creature somewhere
to the rear was exerting a form of telepathic control over his
nervous system. He could not tell whether it was also
reading his thoughts. Perhaps. Perhaps not. He wanted to
keep his own telepathic ability away from its awareness if he
possibly could. Why, he was not certain. But he felt -
He heard a sound to the rear. A dislodged stone turning
over, it seemed. He knew that if he did not break free in a
few moments nothing that he felt would matter anymore. It
would all be over for him. Everything. The beast Singer
called Cat was almost upon him.
His feet continued their slow, steady movements. He tried
to visualize Cat, but he could not. A malevolent shadow with
sinuous movements... a large eye drifting like a moon...
The images came and departed. None seemed adequate for
the approaching beast - powerful, fearless...
An image leaped to mind, a question keeping it company:
How strong a mental impression could he project? Fisher
could create solid-seeming illusions with ease. Could he .
manage with a fraction of that verisimilitude if he backed
it with everything he had? Perhaps just enough to discon-
There was no real pause, though, between the idea and the
effort. The speculation ran simultaneous with the attempt,
habit of the reflective part of himself.
The sandy stretch across which he had just passed... He
projected the image of its eruption, with the shining triangu-
lar form bursting upward, lunging forward, reaching to em-
brace his pursuer....
Krel! Krel! he sent, concentrating to achieve perfection in .
He halted, feeling the panic waves from behind him,
aware of controlling his own movements once more, aware,
too, that Yellowcloud had halted.
Krel! But even as he reinforced the image with every
feeling of menace and terror with which he found himself
freshly familiar, even as he unslung the burst-gun and fitted
his hand to its grip, he realized that while his movements
were now his own he was afraid to execute the necessary
turn to face the thing which stood behind him.
The report of Yellowcloud's weapon shattered his paraly-
sis. He spun about, the burst-gun at ready.
Cat, in the light of Yellowcloud's beam, was dropping to
the ground from an erect posture, and that awful eye seemed
fixed upon his own, burning; boring.
He triggered his weapon, moving it, and dirt and gravel
blew backward from a line traced on the ground in front of
Yellowcloud fired again and Cat jerked as he plunged
forward. Ironbear raised the muzzle of his own weapon and
triggered another burst. It stitched a wavering line along
Cat's neck and shoulder.
And then everything went silent and black as he felt the
impact of Cat's body upon his own.
They sat or lay in their rooms at the Thunderbird Lodge,
not far from the mouths of the canyons. It was as if they
were all together in one room, however, for the walls did not
impede their conversation.
Well? Elizabeth asked. What have you learned?
I'm going to try again, Fisher answered. Wait a few
You've been at it for quite a while, Mancin said.
Sometimes there are snags - unusual states of mind that
are hard to pick up. You know.
Something's wrong, Mancin said. I've been trying, too.
Maybe we're too late, Mercy put in.
Don't be ridiculous!
I'm just trying to be realistic.
I got through to Yellowcloud's house while you were
trying for contact, Elizabeth said. His wife told me that he
and Ironbear left together some time ago. They went over to
the canyon, she said.
After Singer? Mancin asked.
She wouldn't say any more about it. But why else?
I'm going to try again now, Fisher said.
Wait, Elizabeth told him.
You're not getting anywhere by yourself.
You mean we should get together again and try?
Why not? That is why we're here. To work together.
Do you think Sands... ? Mancin began.
Probably, Elizabeth said.
Yes, Mercy said. But he wouldn't hurt us.
Well, you're right about why we're here, Mancin said to
And if we can't locate Jimmy? Fisher said. What then?
Try again with Singer, Elizabeth said. Perhaps this time
Now you travel your own trail, alone.
What you have become, we do not know.
What your clan is now, we do not know.
Now, now on, now, you are something not of this world.
Walking. Through the silver and black landscape. Slow
here. Confuse the way. As if for an ambush from behind
those rocks. Erase the next hundred feet or so with a branch
of shrubbery. Good. Go on. The way is clear. Vaguely red-
and-white flecked. Walking. Skyflash mirrored in waters
twisting. Faint drumbeat once again. Consistency of wind-
sound within the slant of walls. Small spray glassmasking
face here, eyelash prisms spectrumbreaking rainbows geo-
metric dance of lights. Wipe. Shadows leapback. Coyotedog
smile fading between the light and the dark. Cross here,
splashing. Wherever trail runs follow the feet. Around.
Over. Masked dancers within the shadows, silent. Far, far to
the rear, a faint green light. Why look back? To turn is to
embrace. Climb now. Descend again. It narrows soon, then
widens again. A thing with many eyes sits upon a high ledge
but does not stir. Frozen, perhaps, or only watching. Louder
now the drumbeat. Moving to its rhythms. Fire within the
heart of a stone. Rain yei bending, bridgelike, from above to
below. Birdtracks behind a mooncurved wall. Thighbone of
horse. Empty hogan. Half;burned log. Touch the mica that
glistens like pollen. Remember the song the old man -
Faint, faint. The wind or its echo. Tired word of tired
Across again now, to that rocky place.
I feel you - up there, somewhere - tracker...
Something. Something he should remember. This journey.
To follow his trail. But.
Your friends did not stop me. I am still coming, hunter.
Ghost of the echo of the wind. Words in his head. Old
friends, perhaps. Someone known.
Why do you not answer me? To talk gives nothing away.
Ghost-cat, chindi-thing. Yes. Cat.
I am here, Cat.
And I follow you.
It is a good place you have chosen.
It chose me.
Either way. Better than cities.
Billy paused to muddle his trail, create the impression of
another possible ambush point.
... Coming. You cannot run forever.
Only so far as I must. You are hurt...
Yes. But not enough to stop me. We will meet.
I feel you are stronger here than you were before.
Whichever of us wins, it is better this way than any other.
We are each of us the last of our kind. What else is there for
I do not know.
It is a strange country. I do not understand everything
Nor do I.
Soon we will meet, old enemy. Are you glad that you ran?
Billy tried hard to think about it.
Yes, he finally said.
Billy thought of the song but knew that it was not the time
to sing it. Thunder mumbled down the canyon.
You have changed, hunter, since last we were this close.
I know where I'm going now, Cat.
Hurry then. I may be closer than you think.
Watch the shadows. You may even be nearer than you
Silence. The big widening and a clear view far ahead. He
halted, puzzled, suddenly able to see for a great distance.
Like a ribbon, his trail led on and on and then wound
upward. He did not understand, but it did not matter. He
broke into his ground-eating jog. In the darkness high over-
head, he heard the cry of a bird.
Farther yet, he returns with me, Nayenezgani,
spinning his dark staff for protection.
The lightnings flash behind him and before him.
To the ladder's first rung,
to the Emergence Place
he returns with me;
and the rainbow returns with me
and the talking ketahn teaches me.
We mount the ladder's twelve rungs.
Small blue birds sing above me,
Cornbeetle sings behind me.
Hashje-altye returns with me.
I will climb Emergence Mountain,
Chief Mountain, Rain Mountain,
Corn Mountain, Pollen Mountain....
Returning. Upon the pollen figure to sit.
To own the home, the pre, the food,
the resting ploce, the feet, the legs, the body,
to hold the mind and the voice, the power
of movement. The speech, that is blessed.
Returning with me. Gathering these things,
Climbing. Through the mists and clouds,
the mosses and grasses,
the woods and rocks, the earth,
of the four colors. Returning.
"Grandchild, we stand upon the rainbow."
RUNNING. THE WIND AND WA-
ter-sounds now a part of the drumbeat. Path grown clearer
and clearer. Blood-red now and dusted as with ice flakes.
The ground seemed to shake once, and something like a
tower of smoke rose before him in a twisting at the side of
the trail. Changing colors, the pillar braided itself as it
climbed, and five shifting faces took form within it. He
recognized his guardian spirits.
"Billy, we have come to ask you again," they said in a
single voice. "The danger increases. You must leave the
trail, leave the canyon. Quickly. You must go to a place
where you will be met and taken to safety."
"I cannot leave the trail now," he answered. "It is too late
to do that. My enemy approaches. My way is clear before
me. Thank you again. There is no longer a choice for me in
"There is always a choice."
"Then I have, already made it."
The smoke-being blew apart as he passed it.
He saw what appeared to be the end of the trail now, and a
small atavistic fear touched him as he realized where it,
would take him. It was to the Mummy Cave, an old place of
the dead, that it ran, high up the canyon wall.
As he advanced, it seemed to grow before him, a ruin
within a high alcove. A green light played behind one of the
windows for an eyeblink and a half. And then the wind was
muffled, and then it rose again. And again. Again.
Now the sound came like the flapping of a giant piece of
canvas high in the sky. He kept his eyes upon his goal and
continued to follow his trail toward the foot of the wall. And
as he ran the sound grew louder, felt nearer. Finally it
seemed directly overhead, and he sensed each beat upon his
body. Then a dark shape moved past, through the upper air.
When he raised his eyes he beheld an enormous bird-form
dipping to settle atop the cliff wall high above the place of
the Mummy Cave. He slowed as he neared the foot of the
wall and encountered the talus slope. And he knew as he
beheld the dark thing, settling now and staring downward,
that he beheld Haasch'e'e'shzhini, Black-god, master of the
hunt. He looked away quickly, but not before he met the
merciless stare of a yellow eye fixed upon him.
Must I end this thing beneath your gaze, Dark One? he
wondered. For I am both the hunter and the hunted. Which
side does that put you on?
He mounted the slope, his eyes now following the trail
gone vertical up toward the recessed ruin. Yes, that did seem
the easiest route....
He approached the wall, took the first foothold and hand-
hold and commenced climbing.
Climbing. Slowly over the more slippery places. A strange
tingling in the palms of the hands as he mounted higher. Like
the time -
No. He halted. Everything he was was a part of the hunt.
But it was also a part of the past. Let it go. Climb. Hunt.
Position is what is important. That lesson comes with mem-
ory. Achieve it now. He drew himself higher, not looking at
the dark shadow far above, not looking back. Soon.
Soon he would enter the place of death and await his
pursuer. The running should be nearing its end. Hurry.
Important to be up there and out of sight when Cat enters the
area. Wet handhold. Grip tightly.
Glance upward. Yes. In sight now. Soon. Careful. Pull.
After several minutes, he drew himself up onto a ledge,
moved to the left. Another hold. Up again.
Half crawling. Okay now. Rise again. Move toward the
wall. Enter. No green light. Over the wall...
He passed along the rear of the wall, peering through gaps
out over the floor of the canyon. Nothing. Nothing yet in
sight. Keep going. That large opening... '
All right. Halt. Unsling the weapon. Check it out. Rest it
on the ledge. Wait.
Nothing. Still nothing. The place was damp and filled with
rubble. He ran his eyes across the open spaces before him,
the entire prospect palely illuminated through screens of
phosphorescent mist. But waiting was a thing at which he
excelled. He settled with his back against a block of stone,
his eyes upon the canyon, one hand upon the weapon.
Nearly an hour passed with no changes in the scene before
And then a shadow, slow, inching along the wall, far to his
left and ahead. Its creeping barely registered, until at some
point he realized that there was nothing to cast it.
He raised the weapon - it had a simple sight - and zeroed
it in on the shadow. Then he thought about the accuracy of
the thing and lowered it again. Too far. If the shadow were
really Cat he did not want to take a chance on missing and
giving away his position.
It stopped. It flowed into the form of a rock and remained
stationary for a long while. He could almost believe that the
entire sequence had been a trick of light and shadow.
Almost. He drew a bead on the rock and held it there.
You are somewhere near, Billy. I can feel you.
He did not respond.
Wherever you are, I will be there shortly.
Should he risk a shot after all? he wondered. It would take
Cat a while to assume a more mobile shape. He would
doubtless have several opportunities during that time....
Movement again. The rock shifted, flowed, reformed far-
ther along the wall.
Suffer, tracker. You are going to die. Four first shot will
betray you and I will dodge all of the successive ones. You
will see me when I am ready to be seen and you will pre it
The movement commenced again, drifting toward a real
rock beneath a shelflike overhang. Within the amorphous
form the glittering of Cat's eye became visible; his limbs
began to take form.
Billy bit his lip, recalling having seen a torglind meta-
morph run up a near-vertical wall on the home planet. He
triggered the weapon then and missed.
Cat froze for a split second as the flash occurred high
overhead, then moved more slowly than Billy had antici-
pated, leading Billy to believe that the beast was indeed
injured. Cat sprang back toward a line of stones nearer the
wall. And then, realizing his mistake as he glanced upward,
his legs bunched beneath him and he sprang forward again.
But not in time.
A large slab of stone facing, blasted loose by the shot, slid
down the wall, striking the shelf beneath which Cat
crouched. Even as his feet left the ground, it descended
Hunter! I believe - you've won.... '
Billy fired again. This time he scorched the earth ten yards
off to the right of the fall. He moved the barrel slightly to the
left and triggered the weapon again. This time the top of the
rubble heap exploded.
It seemed that he could make out a single, massive fore-
limb projected near the front of the pile. But at that distance
he could not be certain.
Was that a twitch?
He fired again, blasting the center of the heap.
The canyon rang with a massive cawing note. The flapping
sound began again, slowly. He looked up briefly and
glimpsed the shadow moving off to his right.
"It is over," he sang, head rested upon his forearm, "and
my thanks rise like smoke...."
His words trailed off as his eyes moved across the canyon
floor. Then his brow furrowed. He raised himself. He leaned
forward to peer.
"Why?" he said aloud.
But nothing answered.
The trail he had followed did not terminate at this place.
Somehow he had not noticed this earlier. It ran off to his
right, curving out of sight beyond the canyon wall, presum-
ably continuing on into the farther reaches of the place.
He slung his weapon and adjusted his pack. He did not
understand, but he would go on.
He returned to the place where he had climbed and began
His shoulder ached. Also, it was raining on his face and a
sharp stone was poking him in the back. He was aware of
these things for some time before he realized that they meant
he was alive.
Ironbear opened his eyes. Yellowcloud's light lay upon the
ground nearby, casting illumination along a gravel slope.
He turned his head and saw Yellowcloud. The man was
seated with his back against a stone, legs straight out before
him. Both of his hands were gripping his left thigh.
Ironbear raised his head, reached out a hand, levered
"I live," he said, swinging into a sitting position. "How're
"Broken leg," Yellowcloud answered. "Above the knee."
Ironbear rose, crossed to the light and picked it up, turned
back toward Yellowcloud.
"Bad place for a break," he said, advancing. "Can't even
He squatted beside the other man.
"I'm not sure what's the best thing to do," he said. "Got
"I've already called for help. My portaphone wasn't
damaged. They'll be along with a medic. Get me out of here
in a sling if they have to. Don't worry. I'll be okay."
"Why are we still alive?"
"It didn't think we were worth killing, I guess. Just an
annoyance, to be brushed aside."
"Makes you feel real important, doesn't it?"
"I'm not complaining. Listen, there's dry wood along the
wall. Get me a couple of armloads, will you? I want a fire."
"Sure." He moved to comply. "I wonder how far along '
that thing has gotten?"
"Can't you tell?"
"I don't want to get near it at that level. It can hurt you
just with its mind."
"You going after it?"
"If I can figure a way to follow it."
Yellowcloud smiled and turned his head, gesturing with
"It went that way."
"I'm not a tracker like you."
"Hell, you don't have to be. That thing's heavy and it's
running, right out in the open. Nothing fancy. It couldn't
care less whether one of us knows where it went. You take
the light. I'll have the fire. You'll be able to see the marks it
He carried over the first load of kindling, went back to
look for more. By the time he returned with the second load,
Yellowcloud had a fire going.
"Anything else I can do for you?" he asked.
"No. Just get moving."
He slung his weapon and picked up the light. When he
played the beam Up the canyon he saw the tracks readily
"And take this." Yellowcloud passed him the portaphone.
"Okay. I'll go try again."
"Maybe you ought to aim for its eye."
"Maybe I should. See you."
He turned and began walking. The water was a dark,
speaking thing whose language he did not understand. The
way was clear. The tracks were large.
The wind stirs the grasses.
The,snow glides across the earth.
The whirlwind walks on the mountain,
The rocks are ringing
high on the mountain, behind the fog.
The sun's light is running out
like water from a cracked pitcher.
We shall live again.
The snowy earth
slides out of the whirling wind.
We shall live again.
AROUND THE CURVE OF THE
canyon wall, walking. Gusts of wind here over stream grown
wider, swirling glittering particles across watersong gone
wild. Other side more sheltered but the red way lies close to
the wall, here, rising now. Ripples like rushing pictographs.
Pawprints of the perfidious one. Ice-rimed bones beside the
trail. Rabbit. Burnt hogan, green glow within. Place of
death. Shift eyes. Hurry on. Shine of crystal. Snow-streaked
wall, texture of feathers. 'Bail winding on. As far as the eye
will go. What now the quarry?
Pause to drink at the crossing of tributary streamlet
Burning cold, flavored of rock and earth. Fog bank ahead,
moving toward him, masked dancers within; about a south-
blue blaze. Rhythms in the earth. He is become a smoke,
drifting along his way, silent and featureless, rushing to
merge with that place of flux and earthdance cadence. Yes,
and be lost in it.
White and soft, smothering sounds, like that place where
he had hunted the garlett, so long ago...
Dancers to the right, dancers to the left, dancers crossing
his way. Do they even see him, invisible and spiritlike,
passing among them, along the stillbright, stillred way writ-
ten upon the ground as with fire and blood?
One draws nearer bearing something covered by a cloth
woven with an old design. He halts, for the dancer moves to
bar his way, thrusting the thing before him. It is uncovered,
displaying a pair of-hands. He stares at them. That scar near
the base of the left thumb... They are his hands.
At the recognition they rise to hover in front of him, as if
he were holding them before his face. He feels them, glove-
like, at the extremity of his spirit. He had skinned game with
them, fought with them, stroked Dora's hair with them....
He lets them fall to his sides. It is good to have them back
again. The dancer moves away. Billy swirls like a whirlwind
of snow and continues along his trail.
There is no time. A cluster of gray sticks, rising from the
earth on the slope to his right, beside the trail... He pauses
to watch as the sticks turn green, bumps appearing along
their surfaces to become buds. The buds crack, leaves
unwind themselves, turn, enlarge. White flowers come
He passes, swinging his hands. Another dancer with an-
other parcel approaches from his left.
He halts, hovering, and with his hands he accepts the gift
of his feet and restores them to their places on the ground
below him. The many miles we have come together...
Walking, again walking, upon the trail. Feeling the heart-
beat of the earth through the soles of his feet. There is no
time. Snowflakes blow upward before him. The stream has
reversed its direction. Blood flows back into the wounded
deer lying still across his way. It springs to its hoofs, turns
and is gone.
Now, like curtains, a parting of the fog. Four masked
dancers advance upon him, bearing the body that is his own.
When he wears it again, he thanks them, but they withdraw
He moves on along the trail. The fog is shifting. Every-
thing is shifting but the trail.
He hears a sound which he has not heard in a great
counting of years. It begins off in the distance behind him
and rises in pitch as it comes on: the whistle of a train.
Then he hears the chugging. They no longer make engines
of this sort. There is nothing here for it to run on. There is -
He sees the rails paralleling his trail. That ledge ahead
seems a platform now....
The whistle sounds again. Nearer. He feels the throb of
the thing, superimposed upon the earth rhythms. A train
such as Be has not beheld in years is coming. Coming,
impossibly, through this impossible place. He keeps walk-
ing, as the sound of it fills the world. It should be rushing up
beside him at any moment.
The shriek of the whistle fills his hearing. He turns his
Yes, it has come. An ancient, black, smoke-puffing dragon
of an engine, a number of passenger cars trailing behind. He
hears the screaming of its brakes begin.
He looks back to the area of the platform, to where a
single, slouched figure now stands waiting. Almost familiar...
With a clattering and the cries of metal friction the engine
draws abreast of him, slowing, slowing, and passes to halt
beside the platform. He smells smoke and grease and hot
The figure on the platform moves toward the first passen-
ger car, and he now recognizes the old dead singer who had
taught him the song. Just before boarding the man turns and
waves to him.
His gaze slides back along the coach's windows. Behind
every one is a face. He recognizes all of them. They are all
people he has known who are now dead - his mother, his
grandmother, his uncles, his cousins, two sisters...
Dora is the only one who is looking at him. The others
stare past, talking with one another, regarding the land-
scape, the new passenger....
Dora is looking directly at him, and her hands are working
with the latches at the lower corners of the window. Almost
frantically, she is pushing and lifting.
The whistle blows again. The engine surges. He finds
himself running, running toward the train, the car, the win- .
The train jerks, rattles. The wheels turn.
Dora is still working at the latches. Suddenly the window
slides upward. Her mouth is moving. She is shouting, but
her words are lost among the noises of the train.
He shouts back. Her name. She is leaning forward out of
the window now, right arm extended.
The train is picking up speed, but he is almost beside it.
He reaches. Their hands are perhaps a meter apart. Her lips
are still moving, but he cannot hear her words. For a
moment his vision swims, and it is as if she were falling.away
He increases his pace and the distance between their
hands narrows - two feet, a foot, eight inches....
Their hands clasp, and she smiles. He matches the train's
velocity for a moment before the tension begins. Then he
realizes that he must let go.
He opens his hand and watches her rush away. He falls.
How long he lies there he does not know. When he looks
again, the train is gone. There are no tracks. There is no
platform. His outstretched arm lies within the icy stream.
Snow is falling upon him. He rises.
The big flakes drift by. The wind has died. The water
sounds are muted. He raises his hand and stares at it like a
new and unfamiliar thing within the silence.
After a long while, he turns and seeks the trail again. He
continues his journey along it.
Trudging. Alternating elation and depression, finally all
mixed together. To have caught her and then had to let her
go. To ride Smohalla's ghost-train through the snow. An-
other breaking apart. Would there be a putting together
He realized then that he was traversing an enormous sand-
painting. All of the ground about him was laid out in stylized,
multicolored fashion. He walked in the footprints of the
rainbow, passing between Eth-hay-nah-ashi - Those-who-
go-together. They were the twins created in the Second
world by Begochiddy. First Man and the others had come up
from the Underworld along this route. The painting itself
was one used in Hozhoni, the Blessingway. His trail fol-
lowed the rainbow to the cornstalk, where it changed to the
yellow of corn pollen. Upward, upward along the stalk then.
The sky was illuminated by a brilliant flash as he passed
alongside the female rainbow and the male lightning. Passing
between the figures of Big Fly, heading north to the yellow
Emerge to take up the trail again, passing the mouth of the
large canyon to the right, continuing northward. Alone,
singing. There was beauty in the falling snow. Beauty all
Admire it while you may, tracker.
Cat? You're dead! It is over between us!
Am I, now?
I touched-your limb at the place where you fell. It was stiff
and glassy. There was no life in you.
Have it your way.
Nor could anythirig have gotten out from beneath that
heap of stone.
You've convinced me. I will go back and lie down.
Billy looked backward, saw nothing but snowfall within
...But I'll find you first.
That shouldn't be too hard.
I am glad to hear you say that.
I like finish what I start. Hurry.
Why don't you wait for me?
I've a trail to follow.
And that is more important than me?
You? You are nothing now.
That is not too pattering. But very well. If we must meet
upon your trail again, we will meet upon your trail.
Billy checked his weapons.
You should have taken the train, he said.
I do not understand you, but it does not matter.
But it does, Billy said, rounding another rock and seeing
the trail go on.
A whirlwind of snow danced across the water. He heard
the thump of a single drumbeat.
... The blue medicine lifts me in his hand.
THE PAIN IN HIS SHOULDER
had subsided to a dull throbbing. He peered into pockets of
shadow as he passed them, wondering whether the beast
might be waiting to spring upon him, knowing the fear to be
irrational since the tracks lay clear before him - and why
should it go to the trouble of doubling back to lay in wait for
him when it could have taken an extra second to smash him
in passing back when they had met?
Ironbear cursed, still looking. His breath emerged as
plumes of steam before him. His nose was cold and his eyes
Yellowcloud had been right. There was no problem at all
in following this trail. Simple and direct. Deep and clear cut.
Was that a movement to the left?
Yes. The wind stirring bushes.
He cursed again. Had his ancestors really led war parties?
So much for genetics...
Jimmy. Don't shut me out!
I won't, Charles. I can use the company.
Where are you? What's happening?
I'm in the canyon, following the thing.
We're here in Arizona, at the hotel near to where the
To help, if we can. You're following the beast? Is Yellow-
cloud with you?
He was, but it broke his leg. He's sent for help.
You've met it?
Yeah. Got a sprained shoulder out of the deal. Put a few
shots into the thing, though.
Were you unconscious?
I wondered why I couldn't reach you for a while there.
Have you been in touch with Singer?
We have. That's one crazy Indian.
I think he knows what he's doing.
Do you know what you're doing?
Being another crazy Indian, I guess.
Looks like we cross the water here.
I think you ought to get out. That's two trails you're
following, not one.
It's starting to snow now. God, I hope it doesn't cover the
tracks. Melting when it hits, though. That's good.
Sounds as if that thing almost killed you once.
They're changing shape.
Yeah, and moving nearer the wall. Wonder what that
It means you'd better shoot at anything that moves.
Something wet and glassy here... Wonder what its blood
How far along are you, anyway?
Don't know. My watch is broken. Seems as if I've been
Maybe you'd better stop and rest.
Hell, no. It's time to try jogging for a while. I've got a
feeling. I think I'm near and I think it's hurt.
I don't want to be in your mind if it gets you.
Don't go yet. I'm scared.
For the next quarter-hour he felt Fisher's silent presence
as he ran beside the pleated wall. They did not converse
again until he slowed to catch his breath near a turning
It's going slow here, sneaking. But there's only a little of
that glassy stuff he observed.
You go slow.
I am. I'll just switch to the blacklight and put on the
goggles. I'll get down low and look around the corner.
There was a long silence.
I don't see anything.
He turned the light toward the ground.
The trail's changing again. I'm going to follow it.
Wait. Why don't you probe?
I'm afraid to touch its mind.
I'd be a lot more afraid of the rest of it. Why not just take
it very slow and easy? Just scan for its presence. Sneak up
mentally. I'll help.
You're right, but I'll do it myself.
He reached out into the pocket canyon before him. Gin-
gerly at first. Then with increased effort.
Not there. Nothing there, he said. I see the trail, but I
don't feel the beast. Singer either, for that matter. They
must have gone on.
It would seem...
He neared the corner, walking slowly, observing the
markings on the ground. The markings were altered beyond
the turning, forming a troughlike line. They narrowed, wid-
ened, halted in the form of circular depressions.
He paused when he saw where they led, rushed forward
when he saw something other than rock.
Singer's prints marked the ground before the rough cairn,
near to the protruding limb. It was a longer while before he
could bring himself to move a few stones and then only after
probing thoroughly. He kept at it for several minutes, until
he was sweating and breathing heavily. But at last he beheld
the eye, dull now, in the sleek, unmoving head.
He got it, Fisher said. He nailed the thing.
Ironbear did not respond.
It's over, Fisher told him. Singer won.
He's beautiful, Ironbear said. That neck... the eye, like
Dead, Fisher said. Wait while I check. I'll tell you where to
climb out. We'll have someone pick you up.
But where's Singer?
I guess he knows how to take care of himself. He's safe
now. He'll turn up when he's ready. Hang on.
I'm going after him.
What? What for?
I don't know. Call it a feeling. Say I just want to see the
man after all this.
How'll you find him?
I'm starting to get the hang of this tracking business. I
don't think it will be too hard.
It's all over - and that's a dangerous place.
His trail has run through safe spots so far. Besides, I've
got a phone here.
Don't you flip out, too!
Don't worry about it.
Ironbear turned away, pushed up his goggles, shifted to
normal spectrum, began following Singer's tracks.
I'm going to leave you for a time, Fisher said. I'm going to
tell the others. Also, I've got to rest.
Ironbear headed north. For a moment it seemed that he
heard a train whistle, and he thought of his father. Fat
snowflakes filled the air. He wrapped his muffler around his
nose and mouth and kept going.
when she heard the news,
opened the bottle of gin she had brought along
& poured herself a stiff one,
humming "Rock of Ages" all the while;
feeling responsibility dissolve,
deciding which books to read
& what to knit
during her convalescence;
offered a word or two
for the soul of Walter Sands,
whom she saw before her
in the glass,
shaking his head;
"Rest in peace," she said
& chugged it,
& when she went to pour another
the glass broke somehow
& she was very sleepy
& decided to turn in
8 save the serious part
k her sleep was troubled.
tripped home when he heard the news,
the game being over,
his side having won
4 after he'd said good-bye to the others
& gone through,
he visited the kennels
& played with the dogs for a time,
lithe, yipping & licking -
he could read their affection for him
& it warmed him -
& then visited his console,
a glass of warm milk at his right hand,
taking action on the multitude of messages
which had come in,
too keyed up to sleep,
thoughts of the recent enterprise
dashing into and out of his mind
& the smile of Walter Sands
seemed to flash for a moment
on the screen
as he read a list of stock quotations
& toyed with a pair of souvenir dice
he'd found in the bottom drawer
of the dresser in the back room.
wanted to get laid,
at the intensity of the feeling,
but realized that the previous days'
pace & tensions, suddenly relaxed,
called for some physical release, too;
& so she bade the others farewell
& tripped back to England
to call her friend to join her
to talk of her recent experiences,
listen to some chamber music
& lay the ghost of Walter Sands
which had been troubling her
more than a little.
Charles Dickens Fisher
in his room at the Thunderbird Lodge
with a pot of coffee,
looked out of the window at the snow,
thinking about his brother-in-law
& the Indians
in western movies he had seen
& wilderness survival
A the great dead beast
whose image he caused to appear
before him on the lawn
(frightening a couple across the way
who happened to look out
at that moment),
recalled from a video picture
he had summoned earlier,
eye blazing like Waterford crystal,
fangs like stalactites;
& then he banished it
& produced a full-sized
image of Walter Sands,
sitting in the armchair
looking back at him,
A when he asked him,
"How do you like being dead?"
"It has its benefits,
it has its drawbacks."
GOING. ALONG THE WESTERN
rim of the canyon now, heading into the northeast. Turning,
taking an even more northerly route. Away from the canyon,
across the snows, toward the trees. His way had brought
him over the water and up the wall nearly an hour before. Up
here where the wind was strong, though the snowfall had
lessened to an occasional racing flake.
He bore on. A coyote howled somewhere in the trees or
beyond them, ahead. A woodland smell came to him as he
advanced, and the sounds of rattling branches.
He looked back once before he entered the wood. It
seemed that there was a greenish glow rising just above the
rim of the canyon. He lost sight of it in a snowswirl a
moment later, and then there were trees all around him and a
diminishment of the wind. Ice fell with crisp and glassy
sounds when he brushed against boughs. It was like another
place, a place of perpetual twilight and cold, where he had
hunted what he came to call the ice bears, the sun a tiny,
pale thing creeping along the horizon. At any moment the
high-pitched whistle of the bears might come to him, and
then he would have only moments in which to throw up the
barrier and lay down a paralytic fire before the pack swirled
in toward him. Move the barrier then to preserve the fallen
before their fellows devoured them. Call for the shuttle
He glanced overhead, half expecting to see it descending
now. But there was only a pearl-gray folding of clouds in
every direction. This hunt was different. The thing he sought
would not be taken so simply, nor borne away for enclosure.
All the more interesting.
He crossed an ice-edged streamlet and his way swerved
abruptly, following its course through an arroyo where
something with green eyes regarded him from within a small
cave. The ground rose as he advanced, and when he
emerged the trees had thinned.
His way took him to the left then, continuing uphill. He
mounted higher and higher until he came at last to stand atop
a ridge commanding a large view of the countryside. There
he halted, staring into the black north, into which his trail
ran on and on for as far as he could see in the odd half-light
which had accompanied him on this journey. Opening his
pouch, he cast pollen before him onto it. Turning then to the
blue south, way to the earth-opening from which he had
emerged, he cast more pollen, noticing for the first time that
there was no trail behind him, that his way to this place had
been vanishing even as he walked it. He felt that he would be
unable to take a step in that direction if he were to try. There
was to be no return along the way that he followed.
He faced the yellow west, place where the day was folded
and closed. Casting pollen, he thought about endings, about
the closing of cycles. Then to the east, thinking of all the
mornings he had known and of the next one which would
come out of it. Seeing for a great distance into the east with
unusual clarity, he thought of the land over which his vision
moved, adding features from the internal landscape of mem-
ory, wondering why he had ever wished to deny this Dinetah
which was so much a part of him.
For how long he looked into the east he could not tell.
Suddenly the air about his head was filled with spinning
motes of light accompanied by a soft buzzing sound. It was
like a swarm of fireflies dancing before him. Abruptly they
darted off to his right. He realized then that it was a warning
of some sort.
He looked to the right. There was a green glow moving
among the trees in the distance. He looked away, placing his
gaze upon his trail once again, and then he moved off along
Shortly he was running, ice particles stinging his face,
driven by gusts of wind which raised them in occasional brief
clouds. The snow did not obscure the trail, however. It was
visible through everything with perfect clarity. Continuing to
follow it into the distance with his eyes, he saw that it ran
into an arroyo twisting off to the left. It seemed to narrow as
it entered that place. Following, he saw that the narrowing
continued until it appeared the thinness of a Christmas
ribbon toward the center of the declivity. Strangely, how-
ever, the portion he was traversing appeared no narrower,
though he knew that he had already reached and passed
beyond the place where the thinning had begun. Instead, he
detected a new phenomenon.
At first it was only that the arroyo had seemed somewhat
deeper and longer than his initial impression had indicated.
As he moved more deeply into it, however, the place itself
seemed larger, a huge canyon with high walls. And the
farther he progressed, the steeper the walls became, the
greater the distance from wall to wall. It also was now.
strewn with massive boulders which had not been apparent
at first. Yet the red way he followed remained undiminished.
There were no signs of the contraction he had noticed
An enormous white wheel flew past him, sculpted and
brilliant, five-limbed like a starfish. Immediately another
moved slowly overhead, descending. He realized that it was
The place was larger than Canyon del Muerto, much-
larger. In moments, its walls had receded into the distance,
vanished. He increased his pace, running, leaping, among
the huge rocks.
He topped a rise to discover a massive glassy mountain
looming before him, its prismatic surfaces retailing rainbows
at peculiar angles.
Then he was descending toward it, and he could see where
his trail ran into a large opening in its side, a jagged slash-
mark through stone and sheen, like a black lightning bolt
running from about a third of its height downward to the
A gust of wind blew him over and he regained his footing
and ran on. A snowflake crashed to the earth like a falling
building. He raced across the top of a small pond which
vibrated beneath him.
The mountain towered higher, nearer. Finally he was
close enough to see into the great opening, and he saw that it
shone within as well as without, the walls sparkling almost
moistly, rising in a pitched-tentlike fashion to some unseen
point of convergence high overhead.
He rushed within and halted almost immediately. His
hand went to his knife before he realized that the men who
surrounded him were multiple images of himself reflected in
the gleaming walls. And his trail running off in all directions
He bumped into a wall, ran his hands down its surface.
His trail seemed to go straight ahead here, but he saw now
where the real only seemed to join the illusory. It slid to the
right, he could tell now.
Three paces and he bumped into another wall. This could
not be. There was nothing else for the trail to do. It pro-
ceeded directly ahead here, with no deviations, reflected or
He reached forward, felt the wall, searched it. His reflec-
tion mimicked his movements.
Abruptly, there was nothing. His hand moved forward as
he realized that only the upper portion of his way was
blocked. He dropped to all fours and continued onward.
As he crawled, the reflections shifted in the shadows
around him. For a moment, from the corner of his eye, to the
right, it seemed that he was a slow, lumbering bear, pacing
himself. He glanced quickly to the left. A deer, a six-pointer,
dark eyes alert, nostrils quivering. Multiple reflections
caused them all to merge then, into something that was bear
and deer and man, something primeval, working its way, like
First Man, through narrow, dark tunnels upward to the new
The reflections ahead showed him that the overhead space
was growing larger again, turning into a high, narrow,
Gothic arch. He rose to his feet as soon as he noticed this,
and the animal images slipped away, leaving nothing but the
infinity of himself on all sides. All colors, in various intensi-
ties, lay ahead. He went on, and when he saw that he was
heading toward a way out, he began to run.
The area of light seemed to grow slightly smaller as he
advanced upon it. The reflections which ran beside him now
varied through prisms and shadows. And he noted that they
were all differently garbed. One bounded along in a pressur-
ized suit, another in a tuxedo; another wore only a loincloth.
One ran nude. Another wore a parka. One had on a blue
velveteen shirt he had long forgotten, a sandcast concho belt
binding it above the hips. In the distance, he saw himself as a
boy, running furiously, arms pumping.
Smiling, he ran out through the opening, along the red
way. The canyon walls appeared and closed in on him,
diminishing in height as he advanced.
He halted and looked back.
There was no shining mountain. He retraced his steps a
dozen paces and stooped to pick up a piece of stone contain-
ing a cracked quartz crystal which lay on the ground. He
held it up to his eyes. A rainbow danced within it. He
dropped it into his pocket, feeling as if it held half of time and
He ran for nearly an hour then, and ice crystals scratched
like the claws of cats at rocks and tree limbs, at his face. The
frozen earth made noises like crinkling cellophane beneath
his feet. Streaks of snow lay like crooked fingers on the
hillsides. A patch of sky lightened and thunder rumbled
nearby. His way led into the mountains, and soon he began
When I call,
they come to me
out of Darkness Mountain.
Pipelines cross it,
satellites pass above it,
but I hold the land before me,
and all things that hunt
and are hunted within it.
I have followed the People
across the eons,
giving the proper hunter his prey
in the proper time.
Those who hunt themselves,
however, fall into a special category.
Certain sophistications were unknown
in ancient times.
But you are never too old to learn,
which is what makes this business interesting
and keeps me black-winged. Na-ya!
Out of Darkness Mountain, then:
Send an ending.
And climbing, Everything strange. He had lost track of
time and space. Sometimes the countryside seemed to roll
by him, other times it seemed that he had moved for ages to
cover a small- distance. The trail took him among more
mountains. He was no longer certain as to precisely where
he was, though he was sure that he was still heading north.
The snow turned into rain. The rain came and went. The trail
led upward once again and moved through rocky passages.
In places, streamlets rushed by him, and he passed through
narrow necks with his back pressed against stone, fingertips
and heels his only purchase. The clouds were occasionally
delineated by a bright scribbling, to be wiped away by the
grayness moments later.
He passed through an opening so narrow that he had to
strip off his pack and jacket and go sideways. It cut sharply
to the left, and he knew that he could have missed it even in
full diylight without the guiding trail that led him on. Glow-
ing forms seemed to writhe in crevasses he passed before the
way widened again, like the mating movements of the tall,
spindly anklavars on the world called Bayou.
When he turned and stretched his cramped muscles, he
halted. What was this place? There was a ruin built.into the
cliff face to the right. Farther ahead there was another, to the
left and higher, at a place where the canyon continued its
widening. Stone and rotted adobe, they were ruins with
which he was not familiar, though he had once thought that
he was aware of almost all of them. He was tempted to pause
for a quick investigation, but the drumbeat commenced
again, slowly, and his trail ran on to greater heights.
The canyon turned to the right, its floor rising even
farther, its walls spread wider. He climbed, and there were
more ruins about. The name "Lukachukai" passed through
his mind as he remembered the story of a lost Anasazi ruin.
The wind grew still and the pulse of the drum quickened.
Shadowy shapes darted behind broken walls. He stared at
the high, level place before him. He saw the end of his trail.
A chill passed over his entire body, and he felt the hairs rise
on the nape of his neck.
He took a step forward, then another. He moved cau-
tiously, slowly, as if the ground might give way beneath him
at any point; It was right, though, wasn't it? Of course. All
trails end the same way. Why should this one be any
different? If you tracked anything through its entire life,
from its first faltering step until its final faltering step, the end
was always the same.
Back beside a rock, beneath an overhang, his trail ended
before the vacant gaze of an age-browned human skull.
Beyond that, he could not see the way.
The rhythm of the drumbeat changed. Mah-ih, the Trick-
ster, Coyote, He-who-wanders-about, peered at him from
beyond the corner of a nearby ruin. A white rainbow yei
formed an arc from the top of one canyon wall to the other.
He heard the shaking of rattles now, accompanying the
drumbeat. A green stem poked through the ground, rose
upward, put forth leaves and then a red flower.
He walked on. As he advanced, the skull seemed to jerk
slightly forward. A flickering occurred within it, and then a
pale green light grew behind all of its apertures which faced
him. Far off to the right, Coyote made a sudden, low,
As he neared the end of the trail the skull tipped backward
and turned slightly to the right, keeping the eyesockets fixed
directly upon him.
A rasping voice emerged from the skull:
"Behold your chindi."
"I used to play soccer," he said, smiling and drawing back
his foot. "Those two rocks up by the ruin can be the goal
The ground erupted before him. The skull shot upward to
a position perhaps a foot higher than his head. It rode upon
the shoulders of a massive, nude, male body which had
grown up like the flower before him. The green light danced
all around it.
"Shadow-thing!" Billy said, unslinging his weapon.
"Yes. Your shadow. Shoot if you will. It will not save
Billy continued the movement which brought the snub-
gun forward, reversing it in his hands, driving its butt hard
upward against the skull. With a brief crunching noise the
skull shattered, and its pieces fell to the ground. The trunk
beneath dropped to one knee and the arms shot forward. A
massive hand caught hold of the weapon and tore it from
Billy's grasp. It cast it backward over its shoulder, to fall
with a clatter among rocks far up the canyon and to vanish
The left hand caught his right wrist and held it with a grip
like a steel band. He chopped at the other's biceps with the
edge of his left hand. It had no apparent effect, and so he
drew his hunting knife, cross-body, and plunged it into the
headless one, in the soft area below the left shoulder joint.
Suddenly his wrist was free and the thing before him was
falling backward, knees folding up toward the chest, arms
Billy watched as the other rolled away, darkening, losing
features, growing compact, making crunching noises in pass-
ing over gravel and sand. It had become a big, round
boulder, slowing now....
It came to a halt perhaps fifteen meters distant, and then,
slowly, it began to unfold into a new form. It unwound limbs
and shaped a head, a tail...
Cat stood facing him across the canyon of the lost city.
We. shall continue where we left off before the interrup-
tion, he said.
MERCY SPENDER WAS JERKED
out of a deep, dreamless sleep. She began to scream, but the
cry died within her. There was a twisted familiarity to what
was happening. She drew herself into a fetal position and
pulled the blankets up over her head.
Alex Mancin was spinning figures across his video console
when it hit. When his vision wavered and dimmed, he
thought that he was having a stroke. And then he realized
what was happening and did not resist it, for his curiosity
was stronger than his fear.
Elizabeth Brooke twisted from side to side. It was getting
better every second. In just a few more moments... Her
mind began to twist also, and she shrieked.
Fisher was in communication with Ironbear when the
mental storm broke and they were sucked into another state
What the hell is it? he asked.
We're being pulled back together again, Ironbear replied.
Who's doing it?
Sands. Can't you feel him? Like a broken lodestone,
reassembling itself -
Nice image. But I still don't under - Ah!
Plosion ex. Im noisolp.
ashes falling back into bonfire, fireflame along the
across the night arcing east drawn. tgthr brainbow four
containing ffth reassembling spring pushing upward beneath
erth snows clds sorting moisture bright spikes fling waters
flwng hllw-eyd ruins facing knifemanhanded and rockdreamt
beast lost within this place of old ones weeeel frthgo
endlessly unwrapping thoughtveiling countereal ity downow
bhind substances tessences and above fireflame waterfiow
and blow weI fish the toilet of the world and let the spiral
remain powr now the pwr ander seav nightebbing kraft tofil
manshadow in shdworld he travel and wI the fireflame Iwe
like blude tofil circulate and recur along the mariform out-
fireflame along the
HE STANDS, CROUCHING,
blade in his left hand. He moves the weapon slowly, turning
it, raising it, lowering it, hoping for a glint or two to catch the
vision behind the eye. The beast takes a step forward. The
green light is trapped within the facets of that eye. Whether
the blade holds any fascination for it he cannot tell.
The beast takes another step.
A gentle rain is falling. He is uncertain when it com-
menced again. It increases slightly in intensity.
His right hand moves to his belt buckle and catches hold
of it. He turns to extend his left shoulder, continuing the
movements of the blade.
The beast's tongue darts once, in and out. Something is
not right. Size? Pattern of movement? The cold absence of
projected feelings when it had communicated?
Still a little too far to spring yet, he decides. He turns his
body a little more. He releases the belt buckle and slides his
hand farther to his left, the movement masked by the flap of
his jacket, by the angle at which he now stands. Is it reading
his mind at this moment? He begins the Blessingway chant
again, mentally, to fill his thoughts. Something inside him
seems to take it up. It runs effortlessly within his breast, the
accompanying feelings flowing without exertion.
Soon. Soon the rush. His right hand comes upon the butt
of the tazer. His fingers wrap about it.
Two more steps, he decides.
Now is the time of the cutting of the throat...
He draws the weapon and fires it. It strikes home and the
beast halts, stiffens.
He drops the tazer, snatches the knife into his right hand
and lunges forward.
He halts several paces before the creature, for it begins
melting and turning to steam. In moments, the form has
dissolved and the vapors have collected into a small cloud
about three meters above the ground. Lowering the knife, he
raises his eyes.
Smokelike, it now drifts, passing to the left toward a huge
pile of rubble from some ancient landslide. He follows,
Neat trick, that.
I am not the beast you slew. I am that which you cannot
destroy. I am all of your fears and failings. And I am
stronger now because you fled me.
I did not flee you. I followed a trail.
What trail? I saw no trail save your own.
It is the reason I am in this place, and I presume I am the
reason you are here.
The smoke ceases its movement, to hover above the rock
Of course. I am the part of yourself which will destroy
you. You have denied me for too long.
The smoke begins to contour itself into a new form.
I no longer deny you. I have faced the past and am at
peace with it.
Too late. I have become autonomous under the conditions
De-autonomize, then. Go back where you came from.
The form grows manlike.
I cannot, for you are at peace with the past. Like Cat, I
have only one function now.
Cat is dead.
...And I lack a sense of humor.
The form continues its coalescence. Billy regards an exact
double of himself, similarly garbed, holding a knife the exact
counterpart of his own, looking back at him. It is smiling.
Then how can you be amused?
I enjoy my one function.
Billy raises the point of his blade.
Then what are you waiting for? Come down and be about
The double turns and leaps to his left, landing on the
farther side of the heap. Billy rushes around it, but by the
time he reaches him the other has regained his footing. He
wipes his brow with his free hand, for the rain still descends.
Then he drops into a crouch, both hands extended, low,
knees bent. The other does the same.
Billy backs away as the other advances, then shuffles to
his right, feinting, beginning the circle. He studies the
ground quickly, hoping to steer the other into a slippery
place. As his eyes move, his double lunges. He blocks with
his left forearm and thrusts for the body. The point of the
other's blade pierces his jacket sleeve and enters his arm.
He is certain his own blade has bitten deeply into his
adversary's left side, but the double gives no sign of it and
Billy sees no blood.
"I am beginning to believe you," he says aloud, feeling his
own blood dampen his arm. "Perhaps I cannot kill you."
"True. But I can kill you," the other replies. "I will kill
Billy parries the blade, slashes the other's cheek. No
wound opens. No blood appears.
"So why do you not give up?" the other says.
"Supposing I were to throw down my knife and say to hell
with it?" he asks.
"I would kill you."
"You say you will kill me whether I fight or do not fight?"
"Then I might as well fight," Billy says, thrusting again,
parrying again, slashing low, moving back, thrusting high,
"Warrior tradition. Why not? It's the best fight around."
As he backs away from a fresh attack, Billy almost
stumbles when his right foot strikes an apple-sized stone.
But he recovers and brushes it backward as if it were an
annoyance. He slashes and thrusts furiously then, halting
the other. Then he takes a big step back, positioning his foot
He kicks the stone as hard as he can, directly toward his
double. It flies as from a catapult, striking the other's right
kneecap with a satisfying thunk.
The figure bends forward, blade lowering. His head falls
into a tempting position and Billy swings his left fist as hard
as he can against the right side of his adversary's jaw.
The double falls back onto his left side, and Billy kicks
again, toward the knife hand. His boot makes contact and
the blade goes clattering across rocks into the distance. He
flings himself upon the fallen form, his own blade upraised.
As he drives the blade downward toward the other's
throat, his adversary's left hand flies up and the fingers wrap
around his wrist. His arm stops as if it has encountered a
wall. The pressure on his wrist is enormous. Then the right
hand rises and he knows somehow that it is about to go for
He drives another left against the other's jaw. The head
rolls to the side and the grip on his wrist slackens slightly.
He strikes again and again. Then he feels a powerful move-
ment beneath him.
His adversary bunches his legs, leans forward and begins
to rise, bearing Billy along with him. He strikes again, but it
seems to make no difference. The other's movement carries
them both to their feet and that right hand is coming forward
again. Billy seizes the extending wrist and barely manages to
halt it. He pushes as hard as he can but he is unable to
advance his knife hand.
Then, gradually, his left hand is forced back. His right
wrist feels as if it is about to snap.
"You chindis are strong sons of bitches," he says.
The other snarls and flexes his fingers. Billy drives his
knee into his groin. The double grunts and bends forward.
Billy's knife advances slightly.
But as the other bends forward, Billy sees over him,
beyond him. And he begins singing the song the old man
taught him, the calling of Ikne'etso, the Big Thunder, recall-
ing now when he had transferred power from the sandpaint-
ing to his own hand.
First, to where the totem stands - the same four figures
below; but now, crowning the spirit pole, the shadowy fifth
form has grown more distinct and is shining with an un-
earthly glow. It seems to be smiling at him.
You have, I see, gambled. Good, it seems to say, and then
the pole begins to elongate, stretching toward the now
To where, second, the rainbow now arches in full spec-
And his gaze continues to mount, to the rainbow's crest.
There he sees the Warrior Twins regarding him as on that
occasion so long ago. A dark form circles above them.
Nayenezgani strings his great bow. He puts an arrow to it,
draws it partway back and begins to raise it. The dark form
descends, and Black-god comes to sit upon Nayenezgani's
The double tightens his grip and twists, and the knife falls
from Billy's hand. He can feel the blood running up his left
arm as the strength begins to ebb and the other draws
him nearer. He continues to utter the words of the song, call-
The pole stands to an enormous height now, and the figum
atop it - now a man from the waist up - is raising his right
hand and lowering his left, pointing at him. He is reaching,
The drumbeat grows louder, comes faster. The rattling
sounds like a hailstorm.
Despite a final effort to thrust him back, the double stands
his ground and draws Billy into a crushing embrace. But
Billy continues to choke out the words.
Nayenezgani draws his bowstring all the way back, re-
leases the arrow with a forward snapping motion of his left
The world explodes in a flash more brilliant than sunlight.
In that moment he knows that he has entered his double and
his double has entered him, that he has fused with the
divided one, that the pieces of himself, scattered, have come
home, have reassembled, that he has won....
And that is all that he knows.
The Fourth Day
BANK OF NOVA SCOTIA COMPUTER
PLEADS NOLO CONTENDERE
STRAGEAN TRADE AGREEMENT NEARER REALITY
DOLPHINS SETTLE OUT OF COURT
ILI REPORTS MISSING METAMORPH
Now you travel your own trail, alone.
What you have become, we do not know.
What your clan is now, we do not know.
Now, now on, now, you are something not of this world.
NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC TO
PREMIERE LEVIATHAN" SYMPHONY
Charlie, an aged humpback whale who makes his home in
Scammon Lagoon, will hear the first instrumental perfor-
mance of his composition via a satellite hookup to full-
fidelity underwater speakers. Although he has refused to
comment on the rehearsals, Charlie seemed
TAXTONIES DO IT AGAIN
When their leader's clone's bullet-riddled body was found
in the East River, a potential riot situation was only tempo-
SMUDGE POTS IN VOLCANO CRATER CAUSE PANIC
A pair of tourists from Jetax-5, whose culture is noted for
its eccentric sense of humor, admitted to
GENERAL ACCEPTS NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
crawling, he made it into a sheltered place. He leaned his
back against a wall and dipped his finger into the blood.
WHOOPING CRANE FLOCKS TO BE PRUNED
Hunting permits will be issued to deal with the overpopu-
lation problem in flocks of the once rare crane which has
now become a nuisance.
"Who can sleep with all that whooping?" complained
BERSERK FACTORY DESTROYS OUTPUT
HOLDS OFF NATIONAL GUARD FOR 8 HOURS
HOSTAOES RELEASED UNHARMED
There was an old bugger from Ghent
Spilled his drink in the sexbot's vent.
He screamed and he howled
As if disemboweled.
Instead of coming, he went.
COMPUTER THERAPIST CHARGED WITH MALPRACTICE
BLACK HOLE TO BE AUCTIONED
At Sotheby Park Bernet next Wednesday
A WET SPRING FOR MUCH OF THE NATION
t otempl fling across beside the
waters andown theating of thearth after fireflow fromigh
wright but rong oh sands the merger each with sands sands
sands sands ourglass runneth over days roulette struck fire
andown thever narrowing tunnels of being we go fireflow
part a part freverdreaming newslvs dreams tove touched the
shaman mind beneath the bead fireflow across the windrawn
days andown conditions of being focused through fireflood
lens anew the hunted self achieved rainwet snowblow
windcut daythrust knifeslash fireflown are the hunted and
hunting selves the landscape dreamspoken nder earth of
mind through heart of stars toth still the running the
burgeoning the everrun foreverrun one frevermore as lps
that kss the lightning creationheat everflow firetotem apart a
part one frever and run
Mercy Spender, awakening with a taste for tea and the
desire to attend a dog race - strange thought - called Fisher
and asked him to join her in the dining room. Then she
showered, dressed, combed her hair and thought about
makeup for the first time since her early singing days.
Fisher rummaged through his thoughts, wondering
whether his illusions could use a touch more class. How long
since he had been to an art gallery? Studied himself in the
mirror. Perhaps he ought to let his hair grow longer.
Out the window, new day clearing, snow melting, water
dripping. He hummed a tune - Ironbear's, now he thought of
it. Not bad, that beat.
Alex Mancin decided to undertake a retreat at a monas-
tery he had heard of in Kentucky. The money market could
take care of itself, and the dogs would be fed and groomed
by the kennel keeper, poor bastard. They were such stupid
Ironbear turned and sidled, passing through the narrow,
rockfallen place between sheer rises. As he had progressed,
his ability to read the trail signs had grown better and better,
exceeding perhaps what it had been in those long-forgotten
days in the Gateway to the Arctic. Now, as he entered the
canyon, he felt that he was nearing the trail's end.
He did not pause to study the ruins about him but moved
directly to the area amid charred brush and grasses where
the ground indicated that a struggle had occurred. He squat-
ted and remained unmoving for a long while when he
reached it, studying the earth. Chips of turquoise, dried
blood... Whatever had gone on here had been very vio-
Finally he rose and turned toward the ruin to his left.
Something had crawled or been dragged in that direction. He
opened his mind and probed carefully but could detect
Vague images passed through his awareness as he ap-
proached the ruin. He had been present as part of the being
which the Sands construct had formed here under highly
symbolic circumstances, had felt the telekinetic power
reaching, felt the blast. But after that event, nothing. He was
swept away at that very point, to continue his tracking.
... And then he saw him, propped against a wall near a
corner of the ruin. At first Ironbear could not tell whether he
was breathing, though his eyes were open and directed to his
Moving nearer, he saw the pictograph Singer himself had
drawn on the wall with his own blood. It was a large circle,
containing a pair of dots, side by side, about a third of the
way down its. diameter. Lower, beneath these, was an up-
Inhaling the moment, Ironbear shook his head at what was
rare, at what was powerful. Like the buffalo, it probably
would not last. A life's gamble. But just now, just this
instant, before he advanced and broke the feeling's spell,
there was something. Like the buffalo.
High on the mountain of fire
in the lost place of the Old Ones,
fire falling to the right of me,
to the left of me,
before, behind, above, below,
I met my self's chindi,
Shall I name me a name now,
to have eaten him?
I walk the rainbow trail.
In a time of ice and fire
in the lost place of the Old Ones
I met my self's chindi,
became my chindi's self.
I have traveled through the worlds.
I am a hunter in all places.
My heart was divided into four parts
and eaten by the winds.
I have recovered them.
I sit at the center of the entire world
sending forth my song.
I am everywhere at home,
and all things have been given back to me.
I have followed the trail of my life
and met myself at its end.
There is beauty all around me.
Nayenezgani came for me
into the Darkness House,
putting aside with his stag
the twisted things, the things reversed.
The Dark Hunter remembers me,
Coyote remembers me,
the Sky People remember me,
this land remembers me,
the Old Ones remember me,
I have remembered myself
coming up into the world.
I sit on the great sand-pattern
of Dinetah, here at its center.
Its power remembers me.
Coyote call across the darkness bar...
I have eaten myself and grown strong.
There is beauty all around me.
Before me, behind me, to the right
and to the left of me,
corn pollen and rainbow.
The white medicine lifts me in his hand.
The dancer at the heart of all things
turns like a dust-devil before me.
My lightning-bead is shattered.
I have spoken my own laws.
My only enemy, my self, reborn,
is also the dancer.
My trail, my mind, is filled with stars
in the great wheel of their turning
toward springtime. Stars.
I come like the rain with the wind
and all growing things.
The white medicine lifts me in his hand.
Here at lost Lukachakai I say this:
The hunting never ends.
The way is beauty.
The medicine is strong.
The ghost train doesn't stop here
anymore. I am the hunter
in the eye of the hunted. If I call
they will come to me
out of Darkness Mountain.
ðÏÐÕÌÑÒÎÏÓÔØ: 26, Last-modified: Mon, 11 Aug 1997 13:24:06 GMT