Children of the Coyote
Two young people
sitting in a cave miles away having lunch, stop eating. The girl looks over at the boy.
"Some thing has
happened." She says. "Do you feel it?"
boy says. "I feel a great sadness. What do you feel?" Lizardfoot asks softly.
"I feel sorrow
like some one close to me has died." Tagalong answers.
who?" He asks, looking into her eyes.
After a moments thought
they both whisper, "Speaks First".
The girl covers her
face with her hands and sobs. Lizard moves closer and puts an arm around her shoulders.
She reaches out, encircles his neck and bares her face against his chest still sobbing.
Unsure what to do next he simply holds her caressing her hair and stares out of the
entrance to the cave. Memories of the ancient leader of the people come to him and a tear
runs down his cheek. He wipes it away with the back of his hand sniffs and clears his
"How much longer
before the meat is cured sufficiently to pack?" He asks quietly.
She sits back, shakes
her head to clear the hair from her face. She wipes her eyes, then after a few deep
breaths, she says with a catch in her throat. "Maybe tomorrow, or the next day.
"We must be on our
way soon." He says seriously. "I have a feeling of urgency that I can't shake. I
feel that some thing very important is about to happen and we are a part of it."
"I want you to
show me how to use the new rock thrower that you and the old man developed. The one that I
have is almost useless. I can't hit any thing with it." He continues.
She reaches behind her
and pulls her pack to her. She retrieves the bag of rocks and hands it to Lizard.
He opens the bag and
removes the hide sling. He holds the flimsy looking tool before him and looks at it
sidewise. "I don't know, are you sure this will work?" He asks suspiciously.
"Of coarse it
works I have been practicing and I can hit almost any thing I throw at. It is really very
easy, almost like throwing a rock with your hand only with much more force. Let's go
outside and I can show you how to use it." She says rising to her feet and starting
for the entrance to the cave. Lizard follows.
Soon they are standing
at the base of the cliff in front of their cave.
"What shall we use
as a target?" She asks as he joins her.
"How about that
large boulder over there." He suggests, pointing to a house sized chunk of rock
"That is a little
big don't you think and a little close too." She teases. "How about that little
one over there she says." Pointing to a pumpkin sized rock forty paces away.
possibly hit that little rock from here." He says
"Oh yeah? Well you
just watch." She replies as she centers a stone in the pouch of the sling.
twirling the sling above her head. Once, twice, then on the third she releases the loose
end of the sling. The projectile whizzes through the air and with a loud crack knocks a
large chip off the target.
Lizardfoot stands with
his mouth agape. He turns to Tagalong. "Just luck." He says. "I bet you
can't do that again."
"Oh yeah? What do
you want to bet?" She asks, smiling at him.
"If you can do
that again on your next try, I will bring in all the firewood for tonight." He
replies with a smirk on his face.
She winds up again,
throws and "THWACK" her aim is good once more.
He looks at her
incredulously. Then he shrugs his shoulders, shakes his head and mutters to himself.
"I should know better than to bet with you by now. Okay, show me how you do it."
She complies, and after
a short time Lizardfoot is able to occasionally hit the small target.
"This is much
better than the wooden rock thrower that I have. I will have to make one of these for
myself, but now I have some fire wood to collect." He says with a smile.
"I will take the
pup and go check the snares to see what we will be having for supper." She says as
she stuffs the sling into the bag and attaches the bag to her belt. "Come on
pup." She calls to the little canine. "Let's go for a walk."
The puppy rises from
where she is sleeping under a bush. She stretches yawns and follows Tagalong.
Lizard watches them as
they walk away. He can't help but notice the sway of Tagalong's backside as she moves.
Again he feels that now familiar tingle that he gets when he looks at her.
He sighs and begins
looking for firewood.
Lizard is in the cave
dumping his last load of wood when Tagalong enters. She is carrying two rabbits. Tag, sets
the rabbits down near the fire pit then walks to the cave entrance and peers out at the
oasis that has been their privet domain for the last few days.
Lizardfoot notices her
standing at the cave mouth with her arms across her chest, her hands griping her elbows as
if she were hugging herself. He approaches her and places a hand on her shoulder. At his
touch she spins around to face him, her eyes wide and full of fear.
back?" He asks.
"When I got to
first snare I found a rabbit. I took it and went to the next; there I found another
rabbit. All the time I had the feeling I was being watched. When I came to the third snare
it was empty so I went to the next. There I found a pile of feathers. Some thing had
stolen the grouse that was caught in it. I began looking for the tracks of what ever had
raided our snares. I expected to find the spore of a coyote or bobcat." She says
blandly then a shiver goes through her.
"What is it?"
He insists. "What did you find?"
sure?" he asks with raised eyebrows.
"Of coarse I'm
sure." She snaps.
"I'm Sorry, I
didn't mean to question your tracking ability I was just hoping that you were wrong."
He says gently.
"What do we do
now?" She asks, ignoring his apology. He thinks a moment then says, "it's too
late to go any where now. We are safer here tonight than we would be out in the open. We
will just have to be careful and keep the fire going high tonight. In the morning we can
leave early and maybe we will not have a problem with the Night Killer. I have been
collecting a supply of pitch knots for just such an emergency. We can set them up at the
cave opening. They will burn bright for a long time and will likely keep the cat
away." He continues.
sure?" She asks. "I am frightened." She goes on, another shiver rattling
Lizard looks at the
ground and shakes his head. "No," he says. "I only now that Bringer of
Fire, told me that the four legged ones are afraid of the flames and the fire will protect
"I sure hope
Bringer of Fire is right." She says quietly.
"Me too," he
mumbles. "One of us will have to stay awake to guard while the other sleeps. We can
take turns, that way if anything happens we won't be caught unaware. The one on guard can
also keep the fire going." He continues.
That evening in the
cave it is as bright as day what with the burning pitch torches arranged across the
opening and the fire in the pit burning high. The two young people huddle together in fear
and watch the cave mouth for any sign of the big cat. Sensing the tension in the two
humans, the pup lies with her chin resting in her paws, her eyes wide open ears forward.
Every now and then the little dog rises and walks to the entrance. For a few moments she
sits, looking into the darkness, then whining uncertainly she returns to her former
Fatigue is catching up
with Tagalong. She can no longer keep her eyes open. Soon she sags against Lizardfoot. He
puts an arm around her and supports her head on his shoulder. He leans his head back
against the rock wall of the cave listening to her steady breathing. Soon, he to is
fighting to stay awake. He shifts Tagalong so that he can lay her down on her robe. He
covers her with his own and stands up. He walks to the opening of the cave, steps passed
the torches and standing on the lip he relieves himself over the side. The only sound he
hears is the rumbling of the waterfall and the crackling of the fire. He inspects the
torches and finds two that have burned down. These he takes into the cave where he adds
them to the fire pit. He takes up two fresh ones and returns to the entrance where he sets
them in place. As he turns back to the fire he sees the pup standing between himself and
Tagalong. The pup stands with her ears perked watching the opening a low growl rumbling in
Lizardfoot stops in his
tracks listening as hard as he can.
that a noise outside or did I just imagine it." He wonders.
He strains his ears but
still can hear nothing except the waterfall and the fire.
he says to the pup as he approaches. "There is nothing out there."
He reaches down to
scratch the pup behind the ears. A screaming roar freezes him in place for a split second.
Tagalong sits straight up. Throwing the robe from her she jumps to her feet.
Lizardfoot grabs his
spear in his right hand, pulls a burning torch from the fire with his left and pivots to
meet the intruder. He rushes at the cave entrance where the great cat can be seen pacing
back and forth, growling, confused by the smoke and flames.
The Cat screams and
again Lizardfoot feels his knees buckle but he fights against the fear. Leading with the
spear and feinting with the burning brand he lets out his own battle cry, some what puny
compared to that of the monster at the door but he keeps up the harangue as he pokes first
the spear, then the firebrand at the animal. The cat easily defends it self against
Lizards attack, swatting the spear out of the way and dodging the burning stick. The
torches effectively keep the cat out side the cave opening. The battle continues for many
minutes, Lizard jabbing, parrying and yelling, the cat swatting, dodging and screaming.
The pup wades into the melee adding to the general confusion by barking and charging the
giant Puma. The cat takes an effortless swipe at the pup and the little animal is hurtled
into the blackness out side the cave.
Behind him Lizard hears
a scream only slightly less terrible than that of the great cat, a scream, not of fear or
loss but one of vengeance.
Some thing buzzes
passed Lizardfoot's left ear. The torch in his hand explodes into a shower of hot embers.
The stone from Tagalongs sling carries them into the face of the cat driving one large
coal deep into the creatures left eye, destroying it.
The giant Puma leaps
back into the darkness from the lip of the cave. It can be herd screaming in agony as it
thrashes on the sand below trying to extinguish the pain in its ruined socket. Then the
two young people here the terrible beast moving away. Soon it is quiet once more; all that
can be heard is the crackling of the fire and the tumbling of the falls.
Tagalong sinks to the
ground. Covering here face she begins to sob. Lizardfoot steps to her side. Dropping to
his knees he takes her in his arms, she berries her face against his neck.
he says gently. "It's gone, we are safe."
She only sobs harder.
pu...puppy," she manages to blubber.
he mumbles. "Brave little bugger," he says soberly.
A noise causes them to
look around. Behind Lizard, stands the soaking wet little dog.
Tagalong squeals with
delight and holds her arms out to the whelp. The puppy runs up to her. When it is between
the two humans the dog begins shaking the water from her fur. Holding their hands before
them to ward off the spray, the two young people start to scold the pup. They stop, look
at each other and laugh heartily. Tagalong picks up the wet little canine and cuddles it
to her. Lizardfoot reaches out and takes both the girl and the dog in his arms. The two
humans embrace with the puppy between them happily liking at both their faces.
After a long embrace
Lizardfoot sits back and says; "I think it will be safe to get some sleep. I don't
believe that the cat will return again tonight. By dawn I want to be packed up and out of
"I'll stay awake for a while. I don't think I can sleep right now, I'm still too
frightened. You try and get a little rest, I'll begin packing the meat so we will be ready
to leave at first light." She says.
says but if you hear anything don't hesitate to wake me.
"Don't worry I
will," she answers emphatically.
Lizardfoot lies down on
his robe and in a short time he is asleep, breathing softly.
Tagalong sits near the
fire holding the puppy, her eyes wide staring at the entrance to the cave. Despite the
heat of the fire she shivers as she recalls the fight with the giant Puma. Luck alone had
saved them. Had she missed the creature or worse yet, had she hit Lizardfoot with the rock
they would both be cat food by now.
says to the pup. "I can't sit here holding you all night or I will go to sleep."
She sets the little
animal down, stands and walks to the meat smoking rack. She checks the moisture content of
the jerky and decides that it is sufficiently cured to be packed away. Walking back to
where the packs are stored, she picks them up and returning to the rack she places equal
amounts of the food in each pack. Done with that, she carries the packs back to their
place against the wall behind the sleeping area.
"What can I do
now." She asks her self.
Looking around she
notices that some of the torches at the entrance are burning out, so she pulls two from
the fire and moves to the cave mouth to replace them. As she stoops to set the torches in
place, she is brought to attention by the chilling scream of the huge cat, far away.
Quickly she sets up the beacons and retreats to the fireside. She grabs her spear and sits
down on the side of the fire furthest from the opening. The pup sits next to her and
whines to be petted. With the spear clutched tightly in her right hand she scratches the
pup behind the ears. The pup rolls onto her back so that Tagalong will rub her belly.
As the gray light of
dawn begins to seep into the cave, Lizardfoot wakes up. He looks toward the fire and sees
Tagalong curled up on the ground with the puppy curled against her. He reaches over and
gently touches Tagalongs shoulder. The girl sits straight up, eyes wide with fear.
Grabbing her spear she looks around.
wrong?" She asks with panic in her voice.
says. "It's okay. It's morning and we should be leaving here soon."
replies rubbing sleep from her eyes. "I already packed the meat." She says as
she rises to her feet. "All we need to do is eat something and fill the water
bladders. Then we will be ready." She continues
In a short time they
are ready to leave. As they pass out of the cave mouth the two young people turn and look
at their snug camp. They sigh in unison.
"This was a good
camp." Lizardfoot says as they turn to leave.
agrees. "Except, that it is also the home of the Puma." She continues with a
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