Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Will knelt over the hole, deepening and widening it with his trowel. He dropped the last of their potatoes inside and tamped the earth down over them.

"Are you sure this will work?" Ikea asked, handing him some sticks.

"I saw it work on the reservation." He built a little teepee so he could start a fire. "I don't know why it wouldn't work for us."

"I still think we ought to cut them up and fry them."

Will disagreed. Ikea was a poor cook, and the last time she had done that, the potatoes hadn't cooked through. "We're running low on lard, remember?"

"Yeah. Okay." While Will started a fire over the buried potatoes, she wandered over to their main cooking fire and examined a pot of boiling liquid. "I don’t know about this."

"Mother says pine needles are a good source of vitamin C."

"What's that?"

"Something important." He didn't want to admit he wasn't sure.

"Well, it doesn't smell like anything I want to drink."

"We'll add some honey. That will help."

"You and your weird foods."

She was one to talk. Will got to his feet and stretched. "Are you going to stay and watch these fires? I thought I'd go down to the wagon and get some cheese to go with lunch."

"Yeah. I should start making tortillas, anyway." She peered at the boiling pine needles again. "Do you think these are done? I need someplace to cook."

"You could cook over the potatoes. But yeah, the pine needles are done. Let the pot cool and we'll strain the liquid out when I get back."

Will walked down the trail to the mine, where they had stored their goods. A faint glow from deeper in one of the tunnels attracted his curiosity, and instead of searching their sacks of food, he picked up a solar lantern and went to investigate. Near where the main tunnel branched toward a narrower, darker one, he found Coyote sitting on the floor in an underground niche.

He was intent on a project, with a row of neatly tied bundles on the hard-packed earth beside him.

"What are you doing here?" Will said. "I thought you were on watch."

"I have more important things to do."

"More important than taking your turn on guard duty?"

"It's okay. I traded with Tiffany. Galileo said I could."

Will was impressed. Coyote rarely asked permission for anything. "This project must be pretty important."

"It is."

Will took a good look at what Coyote was doing. He was filling cloth bags from a larger sack of what looked like black sand. "Why do you think we'll need explosives?"

"We need to blow up the train today. Something happened."

"Is Diana— are our people safe?"

"I hope so."

Will tried to calm a rising sense of foreboding. Why should he believe someone who heard voices and destroyed trains for fun? He looked again at Coyote, still filling his sacks with powder. Suddenly the mine felt colder than usual. "What are you not telling me?"

"Nothing. I've said all I know."

"Don't bullshit me. You're planning to blow up a train today, and you're not happy about it? What are you hiding?"

"Just stuff that doesn't make sense," Coyote said in exasperation. "I keep seeing people dying behind glass, unable to break through and get out." He met Will's eyes. "That's really all I know. That and a feeling I have."

"Man, I should know better than to ask you anything. You only say enough to scare a person."

"I bet I scare myself more than I scare you."

Will sensed Coyote wasn't looking for sympathy. "What can I do?"

"Help me get these charges finished and placed. Start making fuses. If we hurry, we may even have time to dislodge the rails."

"We don't even know we're supposed to do this."

"We will. Soon."

Will rummaged through the food wagon and pulled out a jar of honey and a large piece of cheese wrapped in cloth. "I need to take these to Ikea, first. Is there be enough time for that?"

"Oh, sure."

"Should I tell the others?"

"No." He looked toward the mouth of the mine and the cloudless sky beyond. "Someone's coming in another couple hours. Let them give the news. That will be the best way."

1 comment:

Alice Audrey said...

It's fascinating the way the scene starts off so mundane - the kind of thing I've experienced - then we get to Coyote and it gets otherworldly. I love it.