Authors: G.P. Ching
Tags: #General Fiction
Table of Contents
Soul Catcher: The Soulkeepers Series, Book 4
Copyright © G.P. Ching 2013
Published by Carpe Luna, Ltd., P.O. Box 5932, Bloomington, IL 61701
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from the author or publisher.
First Edition: March 2013
Cover art by Adam Bedore at Anjin Design.
“I have no doubt that in the future, the laws that criminalize so many forms of human love and commitment will look the way the apartheid laws do to us now-so obviously wrong. Such a terrible waste of human potential… And never let anyone make you feel inferior for being who you are. When you live the life you were meant to live, in freedom and dignity, you put a smile on God's face.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
The Soulkeepers Series
The Soulkeepers, Book 1
Weaving Destiny, Book 2
Return to Eden, Book 3
Soul Catcher, Book 4
Lost Eden, Book 5 (Coming Soon)
The Last Soulkeeper, Book 6 (Coming Soon)
hevy! Come on, time to go.” Chevy’s father yanked the cord to raise the window shade, his voice holding more than a hint of frustration.
Chevy Kikmongwi tossed an arm across his eyes to shield them from the offending light. He ignored his father’s prodding. Why did he need to participate in this stupid ceremony, anyway? Welcome to modern civilization. Time to evolve beyond believing in rain dances, even if he
half Native American.
“I’m not leaving, Chevy. You may choose to live with your mother, but until you’re eighteen you will respect and participate in Hopi traditions with the rest of the tribe. Now move!”
With no intention of getting out of bed, Chevy flipped to his stomach and pulled the pillow over his head. He should have realized moving back to Flagstaff from Sedona would mean increased visits from his father, but he’d hoped the year away would dull the big man’s desire to involve him in tribal affairs. Unfortunately, his dad was not the type to give up easily or take no for an answer. Robert Kikmongwi was not like Chevy’s mother and did not back down from his fifteen-year-old son. Without warning the futon flipped on its side, and Chevy’s body crashed to the linoleum.
“Owa! Geez, Dad. What the hell? I could’ve broken a hip or something.” Slowly, Chevy propped himself on his elbows.
“Next time, be ready, and this will be less painful for both of us.” In a red t-shirt and jeans, his father didn’t look any more Native American than anyone else’s dad in Flagstaff, but looks could be deceiving. A member of the Walpi village, he bought into all of the Hopi mythology, hook, line, and sinker. He probably believed the Snake Dance actually brought rain.
No getting out of this. Guess he’d have to get through it. “I need a minute,” Chevy said.
“Yeah, I’d say so. Smells like a brewery in here.” Oh, he was pissed. He was doing that thing where he closed and opened his fists.
“A couple of the guys came over and, you know.”
“Yes, I do. Doesn’t your mother have any rules?”
Chevy grunted and ran a hand through his too-long black hair. “If you got a problem with Mom’s rules, go talk to her about it. Our rules work for us.”
“What you mean is, you like having no rules and Shelly likes not having to worry about parenting you.”
The shrug Chevy gave said it all.
His father slapped the doorframe as he exited the room in a huff. With much effort, Chevy stood, head throbbing in time with his heartbeat.
. The bathroom door wavered in his adjusting vision until he stumbled through to the porcelain sink. He fished a painkiller out of the medicine cabinet and tossed it to the back of his throat, rinsing it down with water from the tap. When he was finished, he spread his eyelids, one side at a time, careful not to tug on his new eyebrow piercing, and dripped some Visine over his chocolate browns. Had to look presentable for the native ladies. A little flirting would go a long way to shorten a slow ceremony. If he was lucky, Raine Nokami might find him in the crowd. She was hot enough to make a day on the reservation worth it.
As he climbed into the shower, the fighting started. Dad must have found Mom, which meant she’d come home last night after all. They’d be rehashing all the ancient history about how she’d promised to raise him the Hopi way. That wasn’t going to happen. No way was he going to live in a clay box and farm corn in the desert. And for what? To follow the divine direction of some Great Spirit? Did they even know how people on the outside laughed at their antiquated faith?
Nope, Chevy had bigger plans for himself. Plans to change the world.
Stepping from the shower, he toweled off and tied his hair back into a ponytail. He brushed the taste of stale beer from his mouth and dressed in jeans and a gray t-shirt. Then, as loudly as possible, he exited his room, hoping the stomp of his feet and the slam of the door would shame his parents into giving the argument a rest. The sooner he hit the road, the sooner this would be over with, and he could get back to his real life.
* * * * *
The red dirt of route 264 billowed up around the tires of his dad’s Jeep. The two-and-a-half-hour drive from Flagstaff to the reservation was an exercise in small talk. How was school? Did he have a girlfriend? Like Chevy would share any of his personal thoughts with his parental units. Eventually, the one word answers and head nods ebbed the flow of questions, and the even hum of the road replaced the forced conversation.
“We’ll have to go on foot from here,” his dad said as he parked the Jeep in a gravel lot outside the village.
Like Chevy didn’t know that. This wasn’t his first visit to First Mesa or Walpi, but he held his tongue and obediently followed on the footpath.
“If you were raised here, with the others, it would be time for your coming of age ceremony.”
“Yeah?” Chevy internally groaned. Not another ceremony.
“I’d present a challenge, a test of courage, and if you succeeded in overcoming the challenge, you would be invited into the
and be part of a ritual. After the ritual, everyone here would consider you an adult.”
“Adult enough to decide I never want to come back here?” Chevy snapped.
It was a cruel thing to say. The older man’s forehead wrinkled with the grimace that crossed his face, but he didn’t say anything to rebuke Chevy’s comment. Instead, he raised his proud chin to the pueblos on the top of the mesa, the warmth of the August sun already hot enough to bring a sheen of sweat to the surface of his skin.
This was going to be a majorly long day.
“Cheveyo!” The high voice that called his Hopi name cut through the distance like a bird’s caw. Raine. Her straight hair floated behind her, spread like black wings, dwarfing her petite frame as she raced toward him. Dark eyes cut to his soul.
Thankfully, his dad swerved to go talk to a man Chevy didn’t recognize and was out of earshot by the time she reached him. Her brown arms flung around his neck and pulled him into a tight hug before backing to a respectable distance. “I’m glad you came,” she said.
“Good to see you too, Raine, but don’t call me Cheveyo. My name is Chevy.”
“Not here it’s not.” She smiled and the world stopped turning. “When you were born, your mother held you up to the rising sun right over there.” She pointed to the edge of the red-rock crag. “And when the first rays touched you, she named you Cheveyo.”
Chevy shook his head and laughed. She always pushed this, every time he visited. “Yeah, and because she was white she didn’t realize she’d chosen a bad name. She thought it meant spirit warrior, but it doesn’t. Cheveyo is an ogre that steals children in their sleep. If you were named after a monster, you might prefer a nickname too.”
“I think it sounds tough. Roll with it.” Her eyes flashed and she took a half step closer, tossing her hair over her shoulder. Oh, she smelled good, like sweet spices. “Maybe, you’ll become such a great man Hopi will have to change the meaning of the name.”
. Chevy held his tongue. He didn’t want to risk making her angry and losing her company.
His father appeared at his side. “Raine, so good to see you. How’d it go yesterday?”
“Good. I think the spirits helped me.”
“Helped you do what?” Chevy asked.
Patting her shoulder proudly, his father answered for her. “Raine was chosen as the Antelope Maid. She told the story yesterday and is going to be part of the ceremony today.”
“Wow. Congratulations,” Chevy stuttered. “Who had the honor of accompanying you as Snake Youth?”
Please don’t say Drew
“Drew,” Raine whispered as if she could sense Chevy’s dread.
“That’s cool,” Chevy responded too quickly. He nudged his father’s elbow. “Hey, we should find Grandma before the ceremony starts.”
“Good idea. Nice to see you, Raine.”
Close behind his elder, Chevy gave Raine a small wave goodbye as he headed toward the plaza. The frown she wore darted straight into his heart. Hell, it wasn’t her fault the tribe had paired her with Drew for the ceremony. But Chevy dreaded the ceremony even more, now. Raine wouldn’t be by his side, silently poking fun at the festivities. Instead, she’d be a part of the irrational display. It almost made the experience worse.
He battled with himself all the way into the adobe-walled village. Should he be more supportive of her? Of the tribe? No. No, he couldn’t allow himself to be pulled into this. Living the Hopi way was a prison. The reservation was literally landlocked, surrounded by the Navajo. Walpi didn’t even have running water for God’s sake. This was not the life for him.
His grandmother, Willow, emerged from her pueblo and embraced him in a bone-crushing hug, surprisingly strong for her four-foot-ten-inch frame. “Welcome home,” she said. “Come. Let’s find a place to observe.”
Observe. That was all he could do. He wasn’t actually part of all this. Sadly, his father and grandmother wouldn’t participate either, even though they probably wanted to. His grandmother was a medicine woman, deeply faithful to the traditions. She would observe and explain to him in some weak effort to make him understand. Everyone tried so hard to bring him along. They would be better off when he turned eighteen. He’d never come back here, and his Hopi relatives would eventually forget about him and go on with their lives. For now, he sat between them on the bench on the edge of the plaza, waiting in the hot Arizona sun, under a cloudless blue sky. The painkiller he’d taken was wearing off, and his head began to throb.
“Over there is the
,” his father said, pointing at a crude shrine of sticks and animal skins. The focal point was an altar covered in brightly colored sand. “That’s where they keep the snakes. The snakes carry the prayers of the faithful to the underworld, and if our dance is acceptable, the spirits will send rain.”
Chevy rolled his eyes.
“They come,” his grandmother said, stating the obvious. He couldn’t have missed the drumbeats. The snake priests and their attendants paraded into the plaza, beating drums and shaking gourd rattles. One by one, the priests reached into the
, pulling out whatever snake their fingers wrapped around first. The diamond-shaped head of a rattlesnake poked out from one of the priest’s fists.
. He didn’t remember them using poisonous snakes in the past, but then a couple of years had passed since his dad had forced him to attend a Snake Dance. With any luck, he wouldn’t have to watch anyone die today.