It is still dark and Pyramie rises from his bedding and slides his body down the ledge toward the water so that he can sit upright...
There he cuts loose the tether. Dogo then follows him out from the place where they hid for the night. They have to walk around the pool to get back to the trail. When they reach the trail, the dog sniffs around and retrieves the scent he followed the day before. They resume walking.
Pyramie runs to wake himself. The sun rises. There is red in the sky. When full light comes he slows his pace and stops to eat. He feeds the dog and they sit for a while. Pyramie looks at his own feet, which are covered with thick skin like bark. He picks at this. Flakes fall to the ground. Then he stops and rubs his foot in the dirt. They continue traveling.
The trail moves upward. It becomes steep and they round a corner and can see the high place for the first time. Shattered gray ledges surround the foot of the mountain. At the bottom of the ledges large piles of thin rock lay strewn in front of the tree line at the forest where trunks and branches are broken from the falling rocks above.
Pyramie and Dogo move up the trail. As they walk up, the ground changes into loose dirt and small broken rocks that slide down as they walk. Some of these pieces fall in cascades behind them, and Pyramie must watch for the rocks that Dogo dislodges above.
They ascend the slope for the morning. The trees become smaller. Soon, there are no trees. There are only shrubs – green and squat shrubs surrounded by dark gravel and sharp gray rocks. As he ascends farther, many of the rocks become round and smooth, like in the river bottoms.
From this elevated position Pyramie looks at the forest around as far as he can see. At the bottom of the mountain, smoke rises off from the canopy.
Pyramie watches it there for a time and then turns and continues the climb upward, to where thin clouds hang and the air is moist. He would like to move slower so that he can be hidden when he finds Her, but Dogo trots ahead and Pyramie has to keep pace with the animal. Sweating, he breathes hard. Ahead, Dogo rests whenever he gets the chance. He runs forward until he is barely visible on the trail above, then stops and stays, waiting for Pyramie. When Pyramie arrives the dog runs off again, having rested.
It takes time for Pyramie to reach the orange, black and white dog again. When he reaches him this time, Pyramie gives him water and Dogo drinks. His tongue hangs from his mouth. Pyramie wants to tie him up, as they are getting closer to the top, but when he reaches for the dog, Dogo runs away up the mountain.
“Dogo!” he calls quietly. The dog continues, but Pyramie does not shout because he is afraid to make too much noise. He hopes that Dogo will stop, but this time he runs faster. Now Pyramie does not see him; he is nervous. He quickens his pace and looks for his dog on the trail. He can’t find him. Then the dog barks from up where the high place flattens and the white clouds lie.
Pyramie runs to catch him. He walks around a massive fractured rock and finds the painted canine with a silver-haired woman, barking around her in circles as she holds out food and talks to him. When the dog sees Pyramie, he backs away, barking once more.
Pyramie approaches the two and puts his hand on Dogo’s back and watches the woman. She is bulbous in animal shrouds and feathers. Her hair is long, cinched in the toothy jawbone of a fish that holds it in one long strand that is not braided. Carved snakes hang from her belt.
She takes one step toward him, and he backs away, raising the spear.
“You are a young man,” she says.
“I am no one. I will leave here.”
“You are someone,” she says. “You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t.” Then she squints and adds, “You are a rover.” She turns. “Come!” and does not ask him again or look to see if he is following. He is.
She mounts the top and he follows. There, splintered rocks stand all around but the top is verdant under the clouds – the only ones that rain. Ripe red bushes grow alongside the rock ledge, and lining the walk skulls lie in patches of moss. She walks Pyramie down the path where shoots grow between the stones marking the trail. Several dark turned poles line the edge. These poles are not straight but carved in undulations like many layers of fruit or the bellies of mother bush demons. Beyond the poles and at the end of the trail stands a hut of stacked stones. Its roof is mossy green with flowers and grasses.
The woman enters, pushing forward the skin flap, and he follows. Inside it is dark. She is sitting on the other side of the opening. He sees a red blade resting near her hand. Between them in the center is a carved stone hung with fresh white flowers. She observes him.
“They are afraid of you,” she says.
“I am afraid of them.”
“I do not think you will be forever.”
“No?” he says.
“You are brave to come.”
“I wanted to see what you were.”
“Do you know?”
“They say I should cut your head off.”
“I want to give you something.”
Light comes in through an opening near the top of the hut. Pyramie is in the light where it falls low, but she is not. The feathers are on the floor. There are the animal skins and the belt with the snake idols, and they are on a raised animal mat. She is on top. There is a scent in the air. Her hair drapes his forehead. She rests on her hand. Dogo barks outside.
It is raining when he leaves in the clouds in the morning. He carries a solid bubinga spear topped with the sharpest obsidian blade from the Warriors who came before. They were the Others, she told him, and he was one of them before his people were made Gatherers.
Leaving the hut, he draws water from her pool at the top and stands to look in the direction he did not know existed. There is orange sand there, and endless blue. It stops raining. She tells him it is the desert. She tells him it is the ocean and he can have it. It is his. He tells her she is wrong and walks down the trail, back to what he knows. She is behind him. Dogo stands beside him. She stops at the edge of her trail and takes his hand.
“You are not afraid of them?” she says.
“No.” He waits, looking at her. Then he says, “I am not afraid of you.”
“We know,” she says. “Where will you go without them?”
“They are looking for me. I will not go anywhere. I have not killed a Hunter yet.”
“But you will. And then?”
“I will kill them until they leave me, like the wild man.”
He continues walking down from the high place. She watches until he is out of sight. He and Dogo travel only a while before the day calls clouds upon the top again. They leave the clouds and the rain ceases. Then they come out of the shadow into the day’s light where it is hot.