He was Havasupai and knew the desert's indifference toward life, yet, he was willing to test his heritage in this desert's cruelty; with the rising sun at his back, he stepped into the vile sands.
__This journey was his chosen trial... a crossing of "El mal pais" as the Mexicans called this place... to the river that marked this desert's edge as it snaked its way beneath the western hills... where the sand burned its way into the mountains feet. Poised there, these mountains laughed at such foolish journeys of such foolish men, and this traveler sensed their laughter but ignored that flouting cackle. As he walked on, he knew he'd reach the far edge if one gnawing need could be met... sweet water to allow his folly to reach a kind end.
__At noon of the third day, there were but six more miles of sand and grit, and the paradox of this sun that brutally parched his hide while it aptly served as his guide to the west. But he had lost his balance of thought, and his vision became his enemy by joining forces with this desert's sea of shimmering images. His moccasins became allies of this sand, faltering and stumbling and interferring with his progress across the dusty waves; as his power bled away, the Havasupai spoke with the spirits of the desert__ ancesters that had traveled here, and had mastered this test, in that time just after, the time before time.
__The Havasupai's stumbling vision drew him to an odd and puzzeling place, the magic sight of a pool that lay in this trickery of the desert's sands. Water, a tantalizing comedy that touched his stinging feet. "Water?" He wondered? He formed his mistrusted sight, into a distrusted word that he spat into the foul air of this less trusted desert. But hope knelt him. He cupped and reached his hands into an illusion; he prayed that a spirit sip might rise free of this untruth, and soothe the truth of his thirst.
__Suddenly, snarled words ruptured the desert's hum, and framed in that aging day's sun, a ghostly silhouette seethed, "You cannot drink of this water! It is mine! Through all time I've kept it from thieves and plunderers and mis-begotten wanderers, such as you, that test this desert's sand! I have the only right to the life of this water. This is the only liquor between you and your death dance, and you'll not steal this water from me!"
__"Surely you'd not miss the one sip I would take." The indian tried to reason. "One sip would be such a small loss to this queer pool. Perhaps you'll drink of it yourself and travel with me to the mountains__ just one sun to the west; there a river floods with all the worlds water__ for all the world to drink!"
__"No! You'll not drink," the silhouette bellowed, "and I'll not travel with you, to leave my wealth laid open to the gypsies that drift through my desert's frozen time! Go from here! Leave my pool to me, and this desert's spinning sands!"
__The Havasupai levered his body forward, and again pursed his hands. Slowly he streached into the vague... trembling and uncertain, he reached into that vaporous and truthless promise. Sputtering broke the silence, and the Havasupai quickly recoiled at that repulsive and recognizable sound. Sweet water, ruptured by a putrid stream as it cut through its growing and frothen circle. With his emptying insult, the silhouette had fouled his pool with the venom of his arrow.
__The Havasupai withdrew his still dry hands, rose from his knees and stood into the salt of his disbelieving eyes, and through clenched teeth he spoke, "I pray your facelessness remains with you and floods your dreamtime! Spirits condemn the faceless!" As his words struggled across his leathered lips, he turned away and chose a consequence much wiser than the impulse of vengeance. He rejoined his test, the journey to the mountanins... and the river.
__Steps passed under him, and with each dusty measure he pondered the sightlessness of the silhouette's reason. "Soiling all that was his... to keep just one sip from me? Greed plagues us, and we foul our lives with decisions sired by the panic of loss. Cursed greed, that parasite infests us all as we gamble in the games of tomorrows... that may never come!"
__Shafts of lightning shattered the dust, and drumming above the desert sands their throbbing burst the grainy air. They summoned the Indian's eyes back to the soured pool and the silhouette's vacant soul.
__Blackened clouds spooled above the pool, and the silhouette had thrust his arms upward into the churning vapors. He had plunged his hands into the bowles of that seething soup; in that lancing light and pounding thunder, he chanted his pagan drone. He became the storm's rage, he forged and carved, he had created the storm. He was the sculptor of this tempest, the tempest was he. He was the conjured gale, that wore a haloed mask.
__Spinning free of the pool, slung away by the silhouette's wizardry, the Nimbus followed the ordained. By each step, by every new hollow in the sand, this Nimbus traced the Havasupai's footfalls and gnawed its way across the dunes. The Nimbus found the Havasupai's soul, hovering above his conciousness.
__This Nimbus of the storm... this totem of the Havasupai's spirit ancesters from that time before time... were freed from their eternal cave. Ghosts of his forefathers burst open their spirit flesh to rain a moments life on their withered son. Before moonrise he reached the mountains that laughed, and the river that rimed this deserts western edge. Done was his test.
A single question rose above an unanswerable mass, and of that kaleidoscopic tumbling behind his eyes, the Havasupai asked the spirits of that rising moon.