An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey
“I will not wake him,” said the Owl Man.
“Who, then?” asked the warrior.
Both were the most junior and newest members of the High Priest’s house, and they were the only ones left on duty in the hours before first light. Both knew what happened to the last ones to wake the High Priest.
“Pok,” said the Owl Man. “Pok should wake him because he is in charge of protecting this canyon.”
“I will not wake Poke,” said the warrior. He knew the order: do not disturb the Chief Warrior.
“They must know,” said the Owl Man who had been with the High Priest’s house more than a moon longer than the young warrior.
“So who do we tell?”
The Owl Man’s eyes darted from side to side. “If we do not say anything soon, they will be the last to know. That will be worse than waking them.”
“Maybe we should wait until it’s visible from here,” said the warrior. “In case they want proof.”
The Owl Man eyed him. He has a good point, he thought. “You are right. We have not even seen this new star. We just have the runner’s word from the High House.”
“Runners do not lie. If he said he saw it, he saw it.” The warrior stood tall to emphasize his thumb-width’s height advantage over the Owl Man. “But maybe it will go away before it rises over the canyon wall.”
“I am not a skywatcher,” said the Owl Man. “I do not know these things.”
They stood quietly, both their eyes searching from side to side in the darkness, looking for an answer, a way to do their duty and not risk their necks.
The Owl Man sighed. He glanced at the orange flicker of the dying signal fire from the High House. The risk of not telling the High Priest about the unexpected appearance of a new star in the sky began to seem more grave than merely waking him. He sighed again.
“We must tell someone,” said the warrior.
“I will wake the High Priest,” said the Owl Man. He looked at the rim where he expected the new star to appear along with a sliver of moon, but he saw only the usual smudges of light. “I will wake the High Priest,” he said again. He looked at the warrior who held his gaze a moment, then nodded.
“And I will wake Pok,” said the warrior.
The Owl Man and the warrior both nodded, but they stood without taking a step in the chilly morning air.
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Am I too obscure about the new star? Just for the record, it’s the Taurus supernova that exploded into the Crab Nebula, visible on earth as the brightest object in the sky (other than the sun and the moon) for about a month beginning on July 4, 1054. Imagine being down in Chaco Canyon and reports come in about this new star, but you can’t see it yet because it’s not risen above the canyon rim. Would you wake the High Priest before you actually saw it?