Fear of Flute

An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.

Nuva lived like a cave-dwelling cat in the deep antechambers of the great house of the High Priest. Her white skin and albino-pink eyes felt a healing power in the darkness. She could see in the faintest of light and avoided brightness as if it would cauterize her soul.

Between the light and the dark came Chumana, the private fortuneteller to the High Priest. In open court every afternoon, Chumana sat draped in turquoise and copper bells, her face hidden behind a wicker mask woven with feathers and cotton fibers and disks of ocean shellfish. The High Priest called her the Goddess of the Future. He never asked questions of her, nor did she speak, in public. But she heard everything said in audience with the High Priest. Afterward, he would often ask her opinions. And just as often, he would ask if the albino woman had said anything.

“What do you think of Pok’s story?” the High Priest asked.

Chumana had removed her costume and wore flowing cotton robes dyed deep ochre red that looked black in low light. She painted her face the same color and powdered white around her eyes. The High Priest had never seen her any other way. She liked that.

“The fear he says his warriors have of the mysterious flute music in the canyons is his fear,” she said. “He thinks it somehow means the loss of his power. But he has much more to worry about than a flute player stalking him in the twists and shadows of the side canyons.”

“What’s that?” the High Priest asked.

“Something big that I don’t yet know. Pok’s weakness is what he does not allow himself to see. Sometimes I think it is his own warriors, sometimes the invisibles — the cleaning women and stonemasons and orphans. I will see it clearly soon. Before it happens.”

“What does the albino woman think?”

“She says he needs more tsimona plant.”

The High Priest nodded. He, too, thought Pok needed more medicine. He had been too agitated and distraught lately. “Tell her to make it and I’ll see to it that he takes a double portion every time he sees me.”

*          *          *

After his daily council with the High Priest, Pok began to feel hot and lightheaded, the world spinning wildly with every turn of his head. He staggered, but refused the help of hands offered by his closest warriors. He lurched toward his sleeping quarters where he threw up into his night pot, but couldn’t lie down because the world spiraled and he couldn’t make it stop.

On his hands and knees he rocked to the rhythmic motions of a rainbow that danced in his mind until he recognized the sounds of flute music echoing in a narrow canyon, against the walls of his room, inside his skull. He saw the flute player hiding in the shadows, his back to Pok, yet somehow watching, his eyes as piercing as the screeching high notes that came from the crumpled man’s flute.

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16 Comments

Filed under #FridayFlash, Anasazi, Ancient Americans, Chaco Canyon, Chimney Rock, Historial Fiction

16 responses to “Fear of Flute

  1. Pingback: The Witchery of Flutes « Anasazi Stories by Jeff Posey

  2. dan

    Glad to hear we are going to see more of the relationship between Nuva and Chumana. You only touch on the interplay between them here but it is a fascinating part of this short narrative.

    As always, the way their life still manages to reflect modern culture while remaining so different makes me smile. I love that the answer to Pok’s problems is upping his dosage. Another great peek into the Anasazi.

  3. I’ve only just begun dipping my feet into your Anasazi Stories and they’re, truly, unlike anything I’ve ever read before–and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Thanks for expanding my horizons a little.

    I feel that after a couple weeks’ reading, I’ll be able to give you a little more constructive feedback.

    • Anasazi Stories

      Ryan:

      You know how to make a storyteller feel good. Thanks for taking a look and thinking about it and letting me know your thoughts. I look forward to your constructive comments, because I truly am trying to master my craft. That means I need people to help me see things I can’t.

      –Jeff

  4. A tantalizing piece. While you feed us wonderful hints of the setting and society, I am left wanting more. What really haunts Pok? The flutist in the canyons or the demons in his head? A very disturbed character.
    ~jon

    • Anasazi Stories

      Oh, it’s the demons in his head more than the flute player. I don’t even know all the demonds in Pok’s head, and I created the miserable man. Still, somehow, someway, there’s something redeemable in the guy. I’ve got to find that. Still working on him. As always, I value your comments, Jon.

      –Jeff

  5. KjM

    So much unseen. Everything Chumana wears seems to be a costume, preventing others from really seeing her.

    So how does she appear to Nuva I wonder?

    Again, a wonderful dip into a world beyond our everyday – vigorously brought to life. Thank you.

    • Anasazi Stories

      Interesting thought about Chumana and her costumes. In her prior life, before she became the fortuneteller for the High Priest, she showed herself genuinely to the world. But now that she’s become part of the oppressive regime, she hides. Is that from shame? Or is it purely self-protection, trying to preserve a genuine core while having to be a party to things of which she does not approve? Very interesting. You’ve made me think about my character more deeply. Thank you.

      –Jeff

  6. Jen

    I’m so sad for Pok. I wish I could help him. 😦

    • Anasazi Stories

      Ah, so you find something worthy in him? Interesting. I do too, though I can’t yet name it. He’s not a complete sociopath. Like everyone else, he’s a product (victim) of what’s been done to him. Does he deserve death? I daresay he does. But even the very wise cannot see all ends. I paraphrase Gandalf from Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.”

      Thanks, Jen.

      –Jeff

  7. I look forward to reading a new Anasazi story each week. Your descriptions of their way of life are spectacular.

    • Anasazi Stories

      Thanks, Chris. I love imagining and writing these, and my work-in-progress novel. I’m obsessed with it. Sometimes I get hung up trying to come back to our so-called reality, my mind lingering in this constructed world of the Anasazi.

      –Jeff

  8. battypip

    I do love your Anasazi stories, they feel like nibbles round the edge of a whole great big story. This one is wonderful, the mysticism is fascinating.

    • Anasazi Stories

      Thanks, Battypip. You’ve nailed it. My blog is exactly that — nibbles around the edges of my long-form narrative (otherwise known as a novel). These are my worksheets to reflect heat and passion and understanding back into my core story. At least that’s my logical explanation for what otherwise might just be called good plain fun. I’m having a grand time making up and telling all these flash scenes.

      –Jeff

  9. What a tidy paradox! Wonderful descriptions in this story. Now I want to know more about the relationship between Nuva and Chumana…

    • Anasazi Stories

      Hmmm, a “tidy paradox.” Interesting phrase. That makes me want to strive for a messy paradox. Messy is good. I like messy. Leave the clean-up for the end. Yeah. Tidy up after the mess.

      And you’ll be seeing more about the Nuva-Chumana relationship. They’re bound together so tightly even I don’t fully understand it. That means I need to write more about it outside the core of my big story. They’re hiding something from me. I can feel it, and I’m going to get to the bottom of it, by golly.

      –Jeff

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