Each summer when my daughter goes to camp I write her a story and send it to her in parts, one each day while she’s gone. This time the story is kid Robin and the Robber Barron a sort of retelling of the Robin Hood stories.
Beyond the cracked boulder the path lead straight up to the flat stone face of the tower. The tower was humongously tall with a single flat rock face pointing out toward the desert. From a distance the rock face appeared perfectly smooth and flat, but up close it was clear that there were cracks and breaks in it, and darker veins where the rock had worn away with water and wind. These dark veins held openings to tunnels and chambers and vast caves if you could get to them.
Robin walked along the face until she found a place where one of the veins was relatively low, and definitely climbable. Finding footholds and handholds she pulled her way up the face until she reached a ledge where the light colored soft rock was below her and above her and the darker vein created a pocket in between them, almost like a sheltered path along the edge of the wall. She could walk along this path, ducking down because it was too low for her to move standing, and she moved forward exploring the architecture of the vein.
Fr a moment she thought she heard something and then, when she turned to look, she thought she saw something out of the corner of her eye. This startled her and she jumped, nearly throwing herself off the ledge and down to the ground 30 feet below.
She could have sworn that she had seen something but how could something be up on this ledge with her? Then she remembered the drink that Channo had given her. Could the spirits be offering her visions already? She would have to take care.
She moved along until she came to a place where a great crack had opened up in the face of the tower. Robin remembered that this crack could be seen from down below and it rise up many feet above her into the higher parts of the tower. It was hard for her to see in the darkness, but it looked like the ledge she was on, though it fell away where the crack appeared, actually continued on inside the crack, making the crack a sort of doorway. Robin would have to leap into the darkness, hoping her eyes had not deceived her. Otherwise she could take the safer route across the chasm by climbing down and then back up to the ledge on the other side.
Robin trusted her eyes and turned toward the great crack. She stepped back untul her foot came to the very ledge behind her, ran two steps and lept out into the darkness.
As she landed she realized that she had misjudged the depth of the ledge and there was no wall on the other side. Her feet skidded on the dusty stone and slid off the edge and she fell into the darkness.
When she opened her eyes she saw a pair of eyes staring down at her, eyes glistening with a light of their own. A dark inhuman silhouette surrounded the eyes and a canine growl erupted through the silence. Then it was gone. Nothing.
Robin was afraid to move, but she started breathing again after the fall and she found she could move her fingers and toes. After a few moments she sat up and rubbed her head and neck. On her head behind her right ear she found a lump forming, but it didn’t seem particularly serious, but it hurt. She had some other small cuts on her arms and a deeper gash on her leg, but noting horrible. She tied a cloth around the one on her leg, and looked up to see how far she’d fallend.
It was not far. Only a few feet, and the sides of the crevice she’d fallen into had taken most of her fall (hence the cuts). She tried to crawl up the side of the crevice but it was such steep soft dirt that for each step she took she fell back nearly as far or further. The crevice appeared to coninue around and up if she walked further into the cave, so she chose to move that way.
As she moved around the crevice turned into a tunnel which slowly wound up and through the tower. Robin came to an opening, and when she entered she saw a cave with a pool of water at the floor and openings in the ceiling that let light in. There was a ledge up avove and across the pool, and on this ledge stood two men and a dog.
The two men were white men, and they stood arguing. One one blond and the other dark. Robin couldn’t hear what they said, but they were clearly heated. As they argued the dog became more an more agitated. It was a large dog, a shepherd or a Labridore, it was hard to tell in this light, but as the argument continued the dog’s hackles rose visibly and it bared its teeth and growled. The men began to fight, and as they did so it changed. It grew larger and more wild. More like a wolf than a dog, and more like the wolf of fairy tales than the one Robin had come to know in the wild.
One of the men, blond with a lined face that belied his youth, drew a gun from the holster worm by the other and shot the dark haired man, who fell to the ground and disappeared.
The dog when wild at this, barking and growling and the blond moan. The dog attacked and was shot by the blond man, but it did not fall. It backed up, barked, and attacked again, and the man shot again and the dog fell away. And the dog attacked a third time. This time the tog grabbed the wrist of the man and his hand and gun moved into the light.
The gun was silver, like nothing that Robin had ever seen. In the moonlight it glowed a pale blue, with black handles and images of buffalo imprinted on the sides. Somehow the gun seemed familiar to Robin, like she had seen it before after all, and flashes of memory seeing thos black handles sticking up out of a holster, and she remembered her father wearing that holster.
The dog wolf was shot again, and again it lept and grabbed the wrist of the man. This time the man’s hand shook so and the gun went sailing out over the ledge, this time to land at Robin’s feet. She bent down and picked it up, carefully holding it like it was a delicate butterfly. She looked up in time to see the man bearing down on her as he reached for the gun in the dead man’s other holster.
The two reached up and fired simultaneously. As if time stopped, the bullets slowed in the air and met one another with a crack of sound that Robin felt more than heard. The cave erupted in flaming light and Robin hid to shield against it. When she opened her eyes again, them men, the dogwolf, and the guns were gone. She walked up to the ledge where they had been, but there was nothing. She walked along the ledge and found an opening to a lookout on the side of the Tower.
She sat and watched the stars glow. Not long after sitting there, Rinn showed up, her deep black hair glistening in the moonlight like it had stars in it. “Are you real?” she asked Robin.
“Yes,I am real, Rinn. I don’t think I’ve ever been more real. Are you OK?”
“Yes, I’m OK. The night has just been… interesting. Ok, I’m…” At that moment gunshots rang out. They were far away, all the way down at camp. Two gun shots, then on more, then quiet.“Why would there be…” Rinn started to say, but Robin interrupted her.
“I’m going down, Rinn. “ she held up her hand to stop Rinn interrupting her. “I know how important what we are doing is, but shots in the camp is an emergency and somehow those shots sounded familiar. Stay if you wish, but I’m going down.”
“I’m not done, Robin. Something is here I need to see, so I’ve got to stay. I’ll come as soon as I can.”
Robin nodded understanding, touched Rinn’s arm and said, “Be safe.”
Rinn moved down the ledge and into the pool cave and Robin immediately started making her way climbing down the side of the tower.