Rock City [18]

I woke to the front door slamming and heavy thumping boots on the ceiling. A male voice I didn’t recognize hollered, “GRACE…!!” The urgency of his tone was unmistakeable.
I jumped up and made my way through the map room and up the stairs, fumbling at smoothing my hair as I went.
Grace was standing a little too straight- the posture of someone being brave in the face of bad news.
She was facing Charlie and another smallish, slight, shadowed figure that I didn’t recognize. I heard her say, “I felt it when it happened…” and I recalled the moment where she’d zoned out, while she was teaching me. I’d felt her feeling it, and had written it off.
“We need to take him to the Stones,” said Charlie, “NOW.”
They all headed back out the door, and I followed in my socks. I wasn’t going to miss this. We piled into Charlie’s pickup truck. Grace and I were in the back, under the cap, with Al, who was unconscious. Charlie and the other person- Skelty? was it?- rode up front.
We jounced along some roads going much faster than we were supposed to be going, turning a few sharp corners, and finally arrived at our destination: a byway kind of place, with a small souvenir stand, a couple of picnic tables, and about a hundred very large geological concretions.
Known as “Rock City” and “The Thunderbird Eggs”, the place was one I’d visited years ago, while still married. The concretions are spheroids that range in diameter from about the size of a house down to about the size of a small car. They exist in the middle of almost flat farmland in the middle of dry country south of Minneapolis.
My borrowed tourist tshirt made mention of them.
The Lakota have traditions around these sorts of concretions. They claim that they belong to the Canoti- the “little people”- and that it was a very bad idea to mess with them. I knew this because I’d spent a little time at Standing Rock, during the protests, and had been warned by an elder to avoid messing with them at all costs.
And here we were, about to mess with the giant ones. I took a deep breath and helped to blanket-stretcher Al out of the bed of the truck. [A blanket stretcher is when you lay your patient in the center of a blanket and then roll the edges of the blanket towards them, forming a sort of “handle” to grab onto].
With very little discussion, we schlepped him down the hill to a concretion that was hollow through its center. Then, with no ceremony whatsoever, Charlie and Skelty wrestled his head and shoulders into place inside the mouth of the tunnel through the rock. Grace and I ran around to the far end of the tunnel, where she grabbed the top edge of the blanket and began pulling him through as they pushed on his legs.
She called through, as she huffed and heaved, “I didn’t bring a gift, did you?” Charlie groaned, and Skeltie uttered a few cuss words.
I fished the twinkling black rock out of my pocket, “Shinies, right? I have this-“
As I laid it on the top of the tunnel, Grace paused in her tugging and glanced up at me, then yelled, “NOOOOoooo!” in abject horror.
But it was too late, I’d already made the offering, and the Fair Ones didn’t like it when people tried to reneg on their commitments.
At first I didn’t notice. The pebble sat where I’d set it, I was standing in the same spot, the Stones, too, were all in the same places. The air was more or less the same temperature, although it smelled a bit differently.
The main thing that clued me in that there’d been a change was that there was no more human noise. No more Skeltie, swearing steadily under his breath, no Charlie huffing and puffing to get Al’s body moved into place, no Grace making small grunting noises as she heaved on his blanket, trying to position her beloved through the hole in the rock.
And the trees were… funny. Not shaped at all like the trees I’d walked under while helping to carry our improvised stretcher.
And there were two suns. One was pink and high in the sky, the other was strangely a bit blue, and was heading for the horizon.
A figure stood off to my right, perfectly still, and I realized as soon as I’d gotten a good look at them that I was no longer on Planet Earth.

Published by goddesswest

I'm a painter and am writing something now. People keep asking me to put it together in an easier to access place, so here I am. Plan to get some of my artwork in here too, eventually.

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