Raana Blows Their Cover

An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.

In the frenzied celebration sparked by the arrival of thirty enormous logs for new construction, each carried without touching the ground by dozens of men and helper women from three days’ walk to the west, Raana and Tootsa came face to face.

“You little …” Raana said, lunging to grab Tootsa. Like a rabbit, Tootsa darted through the barest gap between two log carriers. They lost their balance and shouted as Tootsa pushed through. Raana watched Tootsa and two other boys scurry into a snaggle-toothed gap in the wall of a ground-floor room under renovation.

Once inside, the boys climbed through passages and up ladders left by stonemasons who were adding a sixth level of rooms. On the roof of the third level, the three boys peeked over to watch the crowd, searching for Raana.

“There he is,” said one, pointing.

“Who is that?” asked Lightfoot.

Raana, my uncle. I told you about him.”

“Oh, yeah. He helped the warriors when they massacred the villagers.”

“He wants to be a warrior himself.”

“What’s he doing here?”

“Up to no good, I’m sure,” said Tootsa.

They watched Raana scan the tops of the second and third levels, obviously looking for the boys. But then he turned to a nearby high-ranking warrior and approached him.

“Look,” said Lightfoot. “He’s giving up his secrets right now.”

Tootsa’s eyes darted from side to side as he thought of what they might do to stop him.

“What would he tell them?” asked Lightfoot.

“About Tuwa and the orphan army being here in the canyon,” said Tootsa.

“How can he know they’re here?”

“He knows this is where they were headed.”

“If Pok finds out they’re here and want to knock him off and the High Priest too, he’ll kill everybody …”

“Look,” said Tootsa. Raana followed the warrior toward the main courtyard entrance, and before he stepped around a wall, he scanned the roof lines again, his eyes seeming to lock onto where the boys were hidden. Then he stepped out of sight.

“I’ve got to tell Tuwa,” said Tootsa.

“And I’ll alert all our ears. Let’s meet in the burned-out kiva before orange light. You, come with me.” Lightfoot cuffed the other boy and they left.

Tootsa lingered a moment, expecting to see alarm among the warriors, search parties beginning to scour the place, but he saw only log carriers walking unsteadily from exhaustion or too much corn beer. Maybe they wouldn’t believe Raana, he thought. He turned and walked away, listening for anything unusual, and when he was clear of the bustle of the great house, he ran to find Tuwa.


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

17 responses to “Raana Blows Their Cover

  1. Anasazi Stories

    Laura: I love that you noticed that and pointed it out! In my original, I had the whole place getting alarmed like a stirred-up antbed. But it felt wrong. Then one day, digging in the garden, it hit me — the absence of alarm is more alarming when alarm is what you expect.


  2. The first sentence/paragraph is superb. Sets us up efficiently and articulately before the action begins. It provides a good balance.

    • Anasazi Stories

      Thanks, Ryan. It’s likely too subtle to tell, but I’m playing with POV here, specifically omniscient POV, and this is an experiment in setting up a scene in that viewpoint, then telling the scene in good ol’ third person. You comment helps me figure out how well it’s working.


  3. KjM

    Oh this cannot bode well – for someone. You leave the reader with many questions, chief among them the trap mentioned by the commenters.

    This is a serial novel you’ve got going here and you have mastered the art of leaving your readers thirsting for more.

    Excellently done.

    • Anasazi Stories

      Thank you very much. As for a serial novel — well, sort of. I think of the stories in this blog as being sort of a wrapper, a cocoon, around my primary story, which is my work-in-progress novel. The cocoon (this blog) contains stories that mirror something in the main piece, or illuminate action outside of the main piece, or let me play with some new storytelling techniques. Isn’t that what a blog should be? A laboratory? It is for me.

      But you are also very right — this is kind of an extended, or one-step-removed serial novel, and there are lots of folks who are on the cusp of getting into heaploads of trouble in the Anasaziland of my stories.


  4. I felt the same was as Laura while reading the story, that a trap was being set. There’s steady tension through the whole piece that’s left me wondering what happens next! And the word choices and dialogue really pulled me into the culture of the characters too. 🙂

    • Anasazi Stories

      Thanks very much for your comment, Violet. I’m pleased by your reaction to the piece. I don’nt think I’m giving too much away to say that the word “trap” should be plural. Several traps are in the works here. Maybe even a few I haven’t recognized yet.


  5. Ah, you give me just a snippet this week. No fair. I want more.

    That first paragraph was a bit hard to follow. I think it might come off better by breaking it into shorter, snappier sentences.

    Overall the reader (at least this reader) gets a sense of the hostility, bad history, between uncle and nephew, and a lurking sense of real danger.

    • Anasazi Stories

      Jon: As always, I love your comments. I’m a fan of the critique. I have a penchant for long opening sentences, and you hold me accountable for that. Ryan liked the opening paragraph, but I think you rightly point out that shortening the sentences would make it more readable. I think I was born 100 years too late for the length of sentences I sometimes want to write.


  6. You are great at building tension. I found myself reading faster and faster. Then to discover the warriors were not alarmed was masterful.

    • Anasazi Stories

      Chris: I’m a disciple of John Irving, who said, “I always begin with a character, or characters, and then try to think up as much action for them as possible.” In other words, give life to a new being and then start getting them into as much trouble as possible. That creates the tension. Which should further the plot. Which means I got work to do. Plot? Oh, yeah. Plot. My characters make my plot become so complicated I can barely keep track of it anymore.


      • Oh what tangled webs we weave when we get caught up in our own plots! I know what you mean. Curious if you keep a character calendar? I’ve found that helps when there are a lot of characters to keep track of and the plot starts to get complex. I think it works better than outlining. Google Calendar works well, but an old fashioned desk blotter type calendar is good too.

      • Anasazi Stories

        Jon: I don’t know about a character calendar. What does that mean? You mean when a character enters a scene or period of time, and when they exit? Or when they are born and when they die and some important things they do along the way (I do that, in a spreadsheet, along with key dates for all my historical facts). I’m interested. Please tell me more.


      • It’s really just an ordinary calendar that covers the time frame of the story. I use it to keep track of who is doing what, when. I keep track of what different characters, ones not even in the scene, are doing. It’s a plotting device used to keep events straight and action moving. It helps prevent logical plot flaws from creeping in. I find it most useful when there are a lot of characters doing a lot of different things.

        Interesting that you use a spreadsheet. I do that too. The combo of a spreadsheet and calendar really help keep things straight in my mind. I need all the help I can get along those lines.

  7. I like the way you let the dialogue carry the narrative. It added great momentum to this. Nice job.

    • Anasazi Stories

      Thanks, Greta. Have you ever read any John O’Hara short stories (back in the heyday of shorts, sixty, seventy years ago)? The guy could tell entire stories with towering implications and complexity purely through dialogue. I’ve always admired that. I guess it comes out sometimes.


  8. The absence of an alarm heightens tension more than having it raised would, leaving me to wonder what trap is being set. Nicely done!

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