An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.
The scream woke all the light sleepers in the village and they poured out of their houses carrying sticks and axes and throwing stones.
“Who made the scream?” Natwani asked over and over. People pointed in different directions.
“It was not human,” said a woman whose quivering voice betrayed her fear.
Too many people began talking, some saying the scream sounded like an evil spirit, others saying it was an animal.
Natwani quieted them. “Is anyone missing?” He felt the need to act, to run somewhere and help someone or attack an enemy. He didn’t know where to turn.
Everyone eventually return to their sleeping mats, but a disquiet hung over the village, and the next night when the screams happened again people came out into the night angry and hysterical.
“The village is haunted! We must abandon it!” cried a woman with small children.
“If it is a person, we must kill her,” said a man, which made two women angry who said they must kill any men who want to kill women.
Natwani calmed them and sent them back into their houses, then he gathered a group of men and set up a watch the next night.
Early the next morning closer to first light than midnight, a figure with white hair ran into the village and screamed like a tortured spirit in the courtyard beside the great kiva, then ran down the slope out of the village. Natwani had been roused out of a fitful doze and with a half-dozen other men he chased the screamer until they lost him in the darkness.
When they returned, everyone in the village waited for him.
“It is a man,” said Natwani. “A man with white hair.”
“Did you catch him?” asked a woman.
“He is fast and he hides well.”
The next night they set a trap of a strong cord stretched low across the pathway out of the village, with four strong men in hiding to pounce when he tripped over the line. But the white-haired screamer leaped over the cord as if he knew it was there.
The next night, Natwani and the men resolved to use deadly force and the best archers hid in the shadows of the trail down the slope, but the white-haired screamer didn’t return. For the next five nights they waited, and on the sixth they gave up, and shortly after midnight the screamer screamed and the frazzled village roused.
“It’s not a man,” said an elderly farmer. “It’s a spirit in the wind that looks like a man.”
They held an impromptu all-night ceremony in the great kiva, everyone in the village present, and in a quiet moment when the fire had died to coals and many dozed, the white-haired screamer dropped through the entrance in the roof without using the ladder and landed with a hard thud on the floor. He screamed and spun about and began to climb up the ladder to escape, but his leg did not work properly and he struggled. Natwani pulled him down as others added sticks to the fire and in the light they all recognized him.
“Lucio,” Natwani said. “The Sun Spider man.”
Lucio screamed again, rolled his eyes and thrashed, but Natwani held him.
“Why?” Natwani asked.
Lucio went limp, and began to sputter. “No sun. No sun. Without Sun Spider I … nothing. No sun. No sun.”
# # #
I didn’t know myself who the screamer would be … then the Sun Spider man stepped into the role. It’s funny how the subconscious of a writer works. Things happen that I can’t rightly claim.