Dogo walks into the trail and sits and watches them approach. . .


The skins they wear are light-colored. There are several Followers along with the Mother’s women.

Leading the procession are two Hunters and a single Warrior. They carry wood spears and watch the painted canine as he rolls around in the dirt, growling to himself and biting at something on the orange spot of his hindquarters.

            The Warrior raises his hand, and the procession of Followers and women stops. When he does that a Hunter moves forward to the dog. As he reaches the dog, he smiles and puts his spear butt onto the trail. “He has lost his pack,” he says, turning back to the procession.

            The dog then sits up and walks near to him. The Hunter laughs, but Dogo grabs the wood end of the spear and tears it from him in a violent jerk and runs into the golden grass with it trailing behind. As he disappears, a spear shoots out of the trailside and strikes the Hunter by the platform in the throat. He falls dead without sound beside the young Warrior, one of his arms twisted behind him, broken, on the ground. The wood handle stands up out of his neck, blood traveling up the shaft and drizzling down into the dust.

            The women scream, their feathers fluttering, some drop their plumes meant for fanning in the dirt. The nearest Follower releases his grip on the platform corner. The heavy platform tilts to one side with Theo on it. A woman in her feathers slips beneath it and the platform crushes her leg, mangled and purple. She squeals. Others try to pull her out from under it. But the stone wood of the platform can’t be moved, and Theo remains on top hiding behind the seat fixed there as the woman howls and claws beneath it.

            One of the Mother’s women then pulls out a red blade and holds it before Theo; she will protect the Gift. At the same time, the Hunter without his spear runs back toward the platform, but Dogo lunges from the grasses and connects with his face up high, bringing him to the ground with his jaws tight around his cheeks. The Hunter screams in a muffled way that echoes inside the painted canine’s jowls, matted wet. Remembering himself, the Hunter reaches for his blade now, but the canine then tears out his throat and runs forward to escape the woman with the red stone who nearly cuts him.

Dogo darts back into the grasses beyond her reach, and she stands there open after swinging, holding her blade out and Pyramie brains her with a swipe of the stone-headed club. She saw him at the last moment and died with him in her eye. With the follow-through from the strike Pyramie crushes the hip of the Warrior who had hesitated and turns and puts in the head of the Follower nearest him. Another Follower is neither man nor woman but holds a short spear, and Pyramie impales twice before he turns to the Mother’s women running off into the forest.

            He looks from the fleeing women to the last Follower, who is wetting himself, and he cuts him in the neck where his blood and air escape together, mingled. The man falls dead, wriggling in the dust, and Pyramie turns to the Warrior who is crawling for his spear. “You are not ready!” he says, and ends the young Warrior there in the dirt and blood. Then Pyramie gets clubbed in the side of the head.

He saw the club and nearly dodged it, but it strikes him, drawing his blood, and he falls to the ground, but gets up and chases the woman who struck him, discarding his own club in the tall grass as he runs. It was Theo.

He catches her and she turns before he spears her. When he sees that it is she, he drops the spear to his side, but she kicks and punches him, driving her knee upward. He falls to his side, taking them both down as he goes.

When they land, he rolls between her legs, angry now, and tears aside her covering, removing his own. She knows him now. He pins her and her feet touch his back, but when he feels the bulge in her belly he releases his grip and rubs her protruding stomach. At that he tries to pull away but her legs hook tight around him. “It is a child!” he says.

            “It is yours.”

            “It cannot be.” He stutters, unsure.

            He tries to pull away, raising them both off the grasses, but she holds firm with her heels in the small of his back and he ceases pulling away. “It can be yours.” She says clutching his wrists. “It is yours.”