Tuesday, December 1, 2009

An Excerpt from Dispel the Mist

The excerpt I've included is a dream that Native American Deputy Tempe Crabtree has which is a warning about what is to come in Dispel the Mist.
* * *
Her first dream was about her grandmother. Once again, Tempe was a child, cuddling against the soft warm body. Grandma’s nut brown wrinkled face, always expressive when she told Tempe the Indian stories. Love for her granddaughter apparent in her dark eyes. Tempe smelled the lavender that grandma always sprinkled into her dresser drawers. In the dream, she told a story Tempe had never heard before.

In the old days, women learned never to leave their acorn meal unattended. All day long they made ground acorns on the big rocks near the river. Then they took the meal down to the water to wash out the poison. They left it in the sun to dry, but when they came back it was gone.
Grandma paused dramatically and Tempe gasped. Who could have taken the acorn meal?
None of the women took it. None of the children took it. When they looked around they found big footprints in the sand where they left the meal, so they knew the Hairy Man had eaten it. He liked Indian food too and was smart enough to know he needed to wait until the acorn meal was leached of its bitterness before he took it. After that, they always set aside a portion of the leached meal for the Hairy Man. The women always wondered if the sound of them pounding the acorns let him know when it was time to come for his share of the food.

Tempe wanted to ask her grandmother questions about the Hairy Man, like did he still come for the acorn meal, but she faded away.
The only reason Tempe remembered this dream was because she had an urgent need to go to the bathroom. On her way back to bed, she noticed Hutch hadn’t joined her, so it must still be evening. Still sleepy, she thought briefly about the dream deciding it had absolutely no relationship to Supervisor Quintera’s death and promptly returned to her slumber.
Her next dream was a nightmare. Tempe knew she was on the reservation, but it was different looking as familiar places often are in dreams. The buildings all seemed dilapidated and badly in need of repair though she couldn’t see them clearly because of a grayish-yellow swirling mist surrounding everything. Jagged black mountain peaks poked through the clouds. Though she was alone, a feeling of menace was so prevalent, she could almost smell it.
In fact, she did smell a sour aroma mixed with smoke, like someone was burning trash with something toxic in it. Not knowing exactly what to do or where to go, she walked down the road which instead of being paved was dirt, and filled with rocks. No vehicles were around, either moving or parked.
Without warning, a large man who resembled Cruz Murphy stepped out of the fog. He held up a hand, palm out. “Stop. Danger ahead.”
“Maybe I can help,” Tempe said, moving closer to him, but as she did, he faded into the mist.
“Chief Murphy. Cruz, wait. Tell me what’s going on. I need to know.”
He didn’t answer, but another figure appeared from the gloom, Daniel Burcena dressed all in black. His features sharp and menacing. “You should heed warnings that are given to you. You may have native blood flowing through your veins, but your heart isn’t on the reservation. Everyone who lives here can see that. Go back where you came from.”
“I loved my grandmother,” Tempe said. “I’m sorry I wasn’t proud of my Indian heritage. Let me make it up to her.”
“It’s too late. Way too late.”
A warning siren blew. People ran from the buildings, spilling out onto the road and crowding around Tempe. What was going on? The siren stopped for a moment. It sounded again. More shrill this time. It stopped and then shrieked again.
It was the phone. Tempe shook the nightmare from her mind and picked up the receiver. “Deputy Crabtree.”
A strange voice, one that sounded like it was electronically altered growled, “Stay away from Painted Rock.”
“Who is this?”
No answer.
Again no answer, though she could hear breathing.
“This isn’t funny. If you want to tell me something, speak up.”
The connection broke. Tempe stared at the receiver before she replaced it.
Hutch raised up on an elbow. “What was that all about?”
“I haven’t a clue. Someone warned me to stay away from painted rock. Do you know what that is or where it is?”
He shook his head. “Nope, never heard of it, but sounds like something that might be on the reservation.”
“Maybe.” Tempe looked at the time on her digital clock. Four a.m. What fool would call a deputy at four in the morning with such a cryptic message? She never heard of a place called painted rock, so why would she go there? Maybe that was the idea, to entice her to go. She’d certainly had some interesting dreams but had no idea what they meant. Hopefully when she slept again, no more dreams would interrupt her rest.

* * *

Dispel the Mist is available at all the usual bookstores, but until December 31 it's 20% off at the publishers website, Mundania Press, if you use the code SANTA.



Morgan Mandel said...

Great job of inserting the sense of smell, along with the usual kind of descriptions into your novel.

Morgan Mandel

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I enjoyed writing the entire book, but this scene was my favorite.