Government corruption ignites a 19th century Cheyenne curse….
In 1879 a drunken hoard of silver miners raided a Cheyenne village while the tribe’s warriors hunted buffalo. A small band of young braves, not yet old enough to join the hunt, escaped and rode for help. Their efforts failed when they were discovered by the raiders, who ran them over a cliff along with all the tribe’s horses that had been left behind.
When the warriors returned and found the devastation, the tribe’s medicine man, Black Cloud, placed a curse on the site.
A century and a half later, a scandalous Top Secret project is under construction in the same Colorado wilderness. Bryan Reynolds discovers that its roots lie in the same greed, corruption, and exploitation of the Earth that precipitated the curse. But before he can expose what he’s found, he’s killed in a suspicious accident that his wife, Sara, miraculously survives. Her memory of where they were or what they’d discovered, however, is gone.
Neither Sara nor Bryan’s life-long Cheyenne friend, Charlie Littlewolf, will rest until they find out what Bryan discovered that resulted in his death.
Charlie is acutely aware that the only way to solve the mystery is through connecting with the grandfather spirits. To do so he must return to his roots and the teachings of his medicine man grandfather. His journey back to the Cheyenne way includes ancient rituals and ceremonies that guide him and Sara to the answers they seek.
As a descendant of Black Cloud, his destiny is deeply embedded in the fulfillment of the original curse, which was triggered by the scandalous government project Bryan discovered. Charlie’s quest has only just begun.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This book evolved from what was supposed to be a "cozy mystery" into a cross-cultural conspiracy thriller that will require a trilogy to tell in its entirety.
I allow my characters to take the lead, which also required me to connect with my co-author, Pete Risingsun, an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, to help authenticate the story's main character.
It's a mystery with depth that incorporates how Native Americans were treated as the USA's borders expanded centuries ago to the white man's exploitation of the earth's resources, then and now.
Upon the trilogy's completion, it will embody Crazy Horse's prophecy, "Upon suffering beyond suffering; the Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world. A world filled with broken promises, selfishness, and separations. A world longing for light again. I see a time of Seven Generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again."
We wrote this story because it is one that needs to be told.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I do not "come up with characters." They come to me as I write, then take over the story from there. They appear on the stage of my mind and I'm as an observer who simply records what they say and do. This story has a long cast of characters such that the book includes a Dramatis Personae to help readers keep them straight.
BRYAN & SARA'S CABIN
RURAL FALCON RIDGE, COLORADO
April 17, Tuesday
Charlie Littlewolf regarded Bryan's timbered A-frame through narrowed eyes.
Something wasn't right. A few hours earlier a dark, heavy void had crumpled his chest in a suffocating wave. His white brother's truck was still gone. No one answered the door or their phones. He and Sara were supposed to be there all week for spring break. Bryan was the most dependable person he'd ever known—always where he said, when he said. Charlie was the one who operated on "Indian Time."
Where was he?
He never left without saying goodbye. Or more accurately, Ne' Stae va' hose vooma'tse. Cheyenne for "I will see you again."
Never the finality of "Goodbye."
The rearview mirror of his old pickup framed the sun as it sank toward the Rockies, slivered moon in close pursuit. Maybe something came up back in Denver and they had to leave.
No—he would have called. At least texted.
A week before when Bryan messaged they were coming up, he mentioned he and Sara were going skiing. If so, they should be back by now.
He stiffened. Maybe one of them got hurt. Perhaps they were at the hospital.
He turned the key in the ignition and the old engine sputtered to life. Rear tires spun in slushy spring snow as the truck swung around, then squawked through bumps and washouts troubling the unpaved road. He continued past the turnoff to his own cabin, then turned left at the two-lane highway to Belton.
When he got to Belton Regional he drove around back to the emergency room entrance, then cruised the parking lot, looking for Bryan's Silverado.
Nonetheless, the sick feeling in his gut persisted.
He parked and got out. His worn flannel shirt failed to shield him from the chill as twilight conceded to night. The ER's double doors loomed ahead. The smell of antiseptics, disinfectants, and alcohol wipes assaulted him as he went inside. To his left, a local policeman conversed with two ambulance attendants.
"Bad situation all around," the cop was saying. "Think she'll make it?"
"Hard to say," one of the EMTs replied, expression grim. "We had to resuscitate her twice. She's in pretty bad shape."
Charlie swallowed hard, their words impaling his heart like daggers. Heavy feet headed in their direction. The conversation halted.
"Excuse me, officer. Was there an accident?"
The cop's expression clouded as wary eyes met his own. "Yeah. Wreck out one of the canyons. Truck went over the side."
His heart hammered like a ceremonial drum. "Can you tell me who it was?" The cops brows lowered, expression conflicted. "Was their name Reynolds?"
The policeman worked his jaw, then nodded. "Yes, actually, it was. Who are you?"
He introduced himself and the two men shook hands. "Are you a friend of theirs?"
Charlie's eyes closed involuntarily. "Y-Yes."
The man's look softened. "I'm sorry."
Charlie blinked and glanced away, mustering control. "Where?"
"That big canyon out Highway 17. A few miles north of Falcon Ridge. One of those blind turns."
The familiar location appeared in his mind. "Are they both…"
The man hesitated. "No. The woman's alive. So far. Her injuries are extensive, though."
"But her husband's—gone?"
"I'm afraid so. I hate to ask, but do you suppose—"
Intuition's stealthy whisper finished the sentence. Charlie turned and strode away without looking back. He pushed his way through the door, then held it open for a distraught couple carrying a toddler to rush inside. Back in his truck, he clenched the top of the steering wheel and rested his head on his fists, breathing hard.
Which was more cowardly? Refuse to identify the body? Or cry? He sniffed hard to restrain the tears, forbidding their bid for freedom.
He didn't remember driving home. Only that his heart had become an icy stone, like those tossed aside by the snowplow's unfeeling blade.
A sleepless night followed.
When dawn's grey light tinted his cabin window he got up, slipped on his denim jacket, and drove north on the two-lane highway. Several miles later, his headlights fell upon orange traffic cones strung with yellow police tape.
An indentation in the canyon wall yielded enough space to park a short distance away. He crossed the road, then sat cross-legged between the markers a few feet from the precipice's edge. Blackness filled the gorge beyond, ground beneath him chilled by morning dew.
The location's sordid history gave him chills. Now it had claimed another. Someone he cared about. The turbulence and unrest of the spirits brought hackles to the back of his neck.
Those who died there over a century before had suffered a bad death. They returned to Seana, the world of spirits, by the short fork of the Milky Way. A place from which some returned to cause trouble. Having a violent death, Bryan could be among them.
He remained until the rising sun's rays skimmed the pines, then worked their way into the ravine. At last he arose and stepped to the edge, hoping not to see what was surely there. He gripped the aspen beside the road as he leaned over the edge.
The familiar tan pickup lay on its side several hundred feet below, partially submerged in the icy waters of Tomahawk Creek.
The undeniable evidence expanded the cavernous gap deep inside his chest. His eyes shifted skyward, fists clenched at his side, no longer able to restrain a primal scream. Keening mingled with a plea for answers reverberated from the canyon walls.
"Why my brother? Everyone has been taken. Everyone! My father. My grandfather. Even my wife, taken by another man!"
Another prolonged wail exploded from his throat. It faded to a growl, grief overruled by anger. "Why are you doing this to me?" he snarled. "What have I done to deserve this?"
Rage spent, but still defiant, he folded his arms and dropped back to the ground. His petitions continued, some aloud, others silent, but always demanding, angry, and bitter.
Cars and trucks whizzed by, some slowing, some not. Sunset came, answers didn't. When darkness fell, he trudged back to his truck. As he drove home a realization struck with the ferocity of a spring thunderstorm. That bad feeling the day before—he should have known.
His brother did tell him he was going home.
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