I died. For real. It wasn’t my first time.
Like many others from the village, the Shaman brought me back to continue my life. He told us we had a purpose.
No one gets sick here. They only die when their ancestors call them. That is how it’s always been. People from everywhere came to Shaman for healing.
He even made house calls. We took his presence for granted. It was typical. People thrived.
He told me, “You were asleep, Cricket.”
“But this was not ordinary sleep…”
Shaman nodded and continued hanging forest herbs to dry. I watched as he moved about.
“What is it, boy?”
“I saw something. Before you brought me back. It felt real.”
Shaman held my gaze. “What did you see?”
“A great winged insect flew out of the clouds, carrying men on its back.”
He nodded. He believed me. “I’ve seen it, too. They come soon. We must prepare.”
“What can we do?”
Shaman brought me tea and sat by my pallet.
“My time is near. Those who come bring many changes. You rest now.”
He left me in the hut. But I followed him, unseen, into the forest. I had trouble keeping up. For a long time he sat by the quiet stream. Even the birds were silent.
After a while, he beckoned me.
“What I teach, you must carry by yourself. They will steal if you tell.”
“Teach me Shaman. Please...”
“These men who come know many things. But not what we know. You must take care.” I waited, trying to understand. “You have a bowl. They have a thousand. Each overflows with delicious food. You’ll eat and eat and never feel filled. You will always want more.”
We returned to his hut in the village.
He spoke as we walked. “Be wise else their many will drown our one.”
Inside his hut, Shaman pointed at a carved wooden bowl on the table.
“Is it alive?”
I laughed. “No.”
“When you were asleep, how were you different than the bowl?”
I could only shrug. He set the bowl spinning into a wobble and we watched it settle.
He asked, “Is it alive now?”
“No. You touched it.”
“That’s what God does. He touches us like water. We are ripples in a pool.” He looked to see if I grasped his meaning. “You’ve seen rain falling on quiet water? That’s us. Our ripples spread and join with others.”
“But Shaman, how do you heal us?”
“I do nothing. I get out of God’s way.”
He called the village elders. Everyone gathered. He warned us, “Do not resist. They are powerful and have no respect. Cling to what you know.”
The villagers respected Shaman. But they struggled to understand.
“You cannot resist a flood. Their magic is too powerful. It will dull your vision. They will steal the most precious.”
A few days later, an enormous metal fish appeared from distant clouds. We heard it before we saw it. It hovered, floated down and became silent. Six men emerged and spread out, looking at everything. They walked like us, but didn’t act like us.
A woman, dressed like the others stayed close to the head man. She had a relaxed, easy manner. They spoke and laughed, like friends. Though obviously together, her clothing said they weren’t married.
The others, guards, seemed to be everywhere, here and there, touching, and moving on. They spoke into small objects, or held them to their faces with clicking sounds. They wore belts with metal things attached. None carried blades like our machetes.
No one spoke to them. The villagers watched from their huts.
I’d never seen anything like that fish. Who could think of such a thing? All we had were some tired burros tied with ropes. These visitors were like gods.
The couple in charge stood near the fish and spoke only to Ulises, the translator. I remembered seeing him before.
He asked me to bring him to Shaman. The others waited by the fish, speaking quietly.
I waited outside Shaman’s hut.
Shaman asked Ulises, “Why did you bring them? You call me a friend and do this?” Ulises made excuses. “How much did they pay you?”
Ulises didn’t answer.
Shaman followed Ulises to the visitors. Leaning on a stick, he looked small and alone. Suddenly feeble.
Arriving to the big fish, Shaman bowed to the head man who nodded. Ulises introduced him as Norman. Villagers gathered to see what Shaman would do.
Ulises translated Norman’s questions about Shaman’s healing power.
Shaman insisted, “I am no one special. My little garden provides me with herb tea.”
He offered tea to the visitors who declined. They drank from metal containers.
The woman reached for Shaman’s tea. “I’d like a sip. I’m Ellen…” She drank and nodded in approval.
Through Ulises, she asked, “What is it good for?”
Shaman said, “About anything that ails you.”
Everyone laughed at Shaman’s reply.
Ellen grabbed her neck and screamed in pain. Everyone looked about.
She staggered and collapsed into the arms of a guard. Another grabbed his weapon and pointed it. It roared like a panther. A goat in a nearby pen fell dead.
Norman took her in his arms. She stopped breathing. He held up a dart he pulled from her neck.
“Who did this?”
A guard pointed, “There!”
The guards caught a village boy, named Tauro. They beat him and dragged him to the fish.
Norman rushed at him. “Murderer!” He hit Tauro and made him bleed. Guards restrained Norman. He raged, “Why? Why!”
Shaman spoke to the boy. “What have you done? You did not listen. You ruined everything.”
Tauro said, “I heard they were immortal.”
Ulises spoke to Norman. “Shaman can heal.”
“She’s dead! Her heart stopped. It’s over.”
“Let him try…”
Shaman spoke. “It isn’t me. God wills. I stay out of His way.”
Norman looked at him like he was crazy.
Ulises tried to calm the chaos.
He asked Shaman, “What do you need?”
“I will do my best to revive her. Give me silence and privacy.”
Norman raged at Shaman. “No you won’t. You killed her.” He called out. “Let’s go. Burn the place down.”
I told them, “Kill me if he fails.”
Norman’s guards nodded. Resigned, he said, “Okay… do what you know.”
The guards carried Ellen’s body to Shaman’s hut. Waiting, they smoked cigarettes and joked. Norman settled. The guards prepared to leave while Norman paced.
When the sun disappeared behind the mountain, Shaman pulled back the curtain in the doorway of his hut. Ellen emerged smiling. She touched Shaman’s arm and thanked him.
People gathered. Shaman said, “Let her pass. She’s fine. She was sleeping.”
Stunned, Norman ran and embraced her. Everyone cheered.
He approached Shaman. “How can I thank you? You have done the impossible. You must teach us.”
“What do I know? I don’t fly. I know nothing of weapons killing from afar. But I understand you must take Tauro. I will accompany him.”
Concerned for his safety, villagers surrounded Shaman. He stood by me and smiled.
He said, “I won’t be back. That is how things work. No one controls the flood. Their magic is powerful. One man cannot withstand the flood.” Squeezing my hands, he looked into my eyes. “Take my teaching, do your best. No longer Cricket, you are Shaman. Don’t trade the truth for many unknowns.”
I pleaded, “But we need you.”
He surveyed the village. “They have you. I spent my power with these fish-men. I bought you some time. Keep your distance from them. I must go.”
Shaman joined the visitors who climbed into the fish. It rose up, taking him to their kingdom in the sky.
Of course I knew it wasn’t a real fish. Not only was it not alive, but man made. How else could I describe it, but a miracle? I hope to ride in it, someday.
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
This reads beautifully. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you Katy. One never knows if others will see it as I intended. I'm glad you liked it.