The madness subdued to a feeble gurgle, allowing the moment to peek in. Eating sacred mushrooms in the woods, hiding from the frenzied lust of corrupt masters… he slept at the base of a rotting redwood whose bleeding hearth provided solace while the worms and the carrion became eternal. He had been running naked lost in delirium having discarded his few belongings in a frothing pile of upturned mushrooms and silver-cocooning roots where he had performed the ritual. When he realized he had been running as fast as he could whirlwind like through the thick angular intestines of the deep forest, he began to count the gliding feathers of obsidian gilded eagles enveloping him in whirlwind cacophonies of whispering runes; the sacred breath was the forests chant his grandmother had soothed him to sleep with when he was eleven years old. He was twenty seven years old now and her ashes had fed the Maize crops and the people danced. He sought that wisdom that would now nurse, feed and heal the city through war.
When It became apparent the sun had lodged itself momentarily behind the phalanx of trees, the splintering light teased him out as he cautiously crawled out of the base of a rotting redwood tree and took a deep, prolonged breath. He savored the rush of life that greeted him; canopies swayed to unseen energies and the sound of a vibrant ecosystem warmed his ears.
Apparently, he had eaten more fungus than was recommended, his mouth was dry and his eyes felt like strained, plump grapes-ready to burst from the severity of experiences he had witnessed transpire. His foot nudged a meticulously preserved racoon skeleton, entangled in faded yellow moss and numerous writhing roots, its alabaster arms folded neatly on a translucent chest of splayed bones, a cathedral reminiscent of anything but the framework of life lived and perished.
“You know they’ll be looking for you, right?”
The guttural language seeped thick in his ears, like tallow his grandmother had used in making ceremonial candles in his youth. He turned around slowly, expecting a human, only to find a full grown, motley splashed wolf, looking at him through lost, bored eyes, as if a three hundred pound talking wolf was a formality not to be gasped at but responded to accordingly.
Blood-Paw had secretly started a sect somewhere deep in the forest of a tribe, returning to worship the nature deity Lupus; who according to lore had led the citizens to throw off the shackles of the witchery before. Some of the young had forsaken the decrees of the Nu-Inquisition in secret-had turned back to the old ways, leaving the others addicted to dangerous, new ways of thinking that were leaving behind the teachings of the universe. Elders were yearning for traditional ways of being that were not controlled by systems of fear drenched totalitarian regimes, and were tired of endless civil war and internal strife within the structures of power. Now, with father and Blood-Paw gone, it was time to take the soul of the Republic back, a meta-revolution to honor the father, the mother, the ancestors and the tribe, it was time to act.
Moon-tooth they called him, just for kicks. When he was four, his family left him at home one weekend on accident, and it wasn’t until Billie opened the garage door and heard his whimpering that she realized he had been alone from Friday morning until Sunday afternoon. Time was forgiving in the surplus of food that resided in the family’s once pristine kitchen. And it was for this reason that Billie quietly packed a few assorted belongings and quietly made her way with Moon-tooth in tow out the rust-speckled gate that bordered her father’s summer cabin with the wide open expanse of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Billie’s father would be beyond furious-but would have his scattered provisions to buy her some time. It would not take long for him to put two-and-two together and when he did, there would be brimstone shooting through the air and she had no intention of getting burned, not this time, not ever again; besides-her step brothers and Karen would help whip him into a frenzy, and she had had it with them too, all of them. So now it was just her and Moon-tooth, just the way she had pictured it.
The young girl with warm clay for knees walked to a rocky trail as the sun dappled crimson the horizon; shadows commenced to creep from crevices, racing for the edges of oblivion, wasting no time in filling in the blanks of a landscape in motion, facilitating the throes of a young life in transition, waiting for consequence to take her away forever from danger-besides, Moon-tooth had promised to show her magixs.
Billie and Moon-tooth walked in silence. The sheared vertical enclave of rock was a welcome distraction to their silent observations. “The mountains are as big as my dreams Moon-tooth.” He looked at her with his saucer-shaped eyes. They were obsidian pools of black honey rippling with raven’s blood alit with black flame. Smoky curls of decimated stars rose sharply from behind his stare, but she didn’t comment, she thought it would be rude. They walked hand in hand in silence for the better part of an hour, they knew the path well as it was where they had first met months ago. At first, he had looked like a puppy, and it was initially how she got him inside by virtue of empathy. But after feeding him for a while, he began to change, first color and then shape, until he was what he was know. At first she had panicked, but after a while, it began to make sense to her. She had been praying ever since she could remember for something to take her away, had never doubted for a minute that somehow something would heed her request, and now that it was here, she couldn’t help but be a little excited.
When Billie was five she had fallen into the river chasing an opal-minted frog; and had gotten a black eye and chipped tooth for trying to see what those dancing eyes were trying to tell her.
Jack, her father, had reeled back on his scarlet 15 pound sears-roebuck pole; irate that his daughter had not heeded his warning to watch her footing on the dimpled wet sand of the river bank fording the granite slabs of their mountain retreat.
“Didn’t I tell you to wear your boots girl?” he semi-barked, fighting his own footing trying to snatch a decent sized salmon for dinner. The the three kids forever unaware he had been daunted into caring for them after losing his wife to cancer.
“I know pa,” she muttered under her breath, frustrated with her mothers inherent diligence at seeing exactly what those pair of eyes had been dying to tell her.
This had all coalesced into years of brittle attempts at discipline. Billie was hell bent on reaching some sort of platitude of independence. Taking care to not anger her father as she did her best to care for he sibling in the darkness of her mother death was something that kept her up at nights. Those blessed dreams of whispering encouragement keeping her going through adolescence in the mountain town of her desolate birth.
Moon-tooth beckoned to a seemingly desolate crag of rocks, grabbing Billies hand with the delicate reverence of a caring friend. She knew what he meant; with his diminishing ability to utter sounds and express himself with his animated arms; it was time to rest and eat-the echoing light fading without remorse an added bonus to their comfortable silence.
When she had first found him, he had been able to walk upright and bereft of fur. Now, he had a flimsy film of loosely knit hair adorning every faction of his body. He had had clothes on. A sturdy pair of cobalt blue overalls had buckled seemingly over his slightly stooped frame.
Her father had overwhelmingly denied the death of his wife to the point where the neighbors could no longer make any sense of why a single man, in charge of 4 young children, would turn away any attempt at community or condolence in a town populated with only a half dozen during hunting season.