It was the first time in weeks Dan hadn’t woken up shivering with dread. Giving up on sleep, Dan had pulled on his jeans and a tee-shirt, and tip-toed out the back door, boots tucked under one arm and the camera swinging from his neck. The truck started third go, regular as clockwork, lurched to the end of the drive and chugged passed ranches and through desert, and along the historical park’s neatly tarred tourist road. The sky was starting to gray out by the time he reached the trail leading up the mesa wall and he decided to put the kiva off a little longer to take pictures of the dawn.
Now the voice in his dreams echoed through his mind. He sighed and prepared to move on. His grandfather had spoken to him only once about the images and voices plaguing his sleep. Gruff and spare, the old man had confided that his own mother had been so gifted.
“Listen. Most times the dreams’ll be rubbish. Young boys got lots of big thoughts rollin’ ‘round their head. But you got to listen always, ‘cause sometimes it’ll be the spirits an’ they get mighty pissed when you don’t pay ‘em no mind.”
Dan didn’t like what his grandfather had said and he didn’t really believe in it. But he couldn’t ignore it. His mother had eased his worries with stories, long walks and lots of hugs, but that wasn’t going to happen this time. Dan was all grown up. His mother was long dead. He had to face the dreams alone.
Again the woodhen squawked and Dan lowered his camera to look across at the nest. It was then that Nick Somers stepped into his life. Rocks slid from behind, gravel and dried wood crunched beneath a heavy footfall, and Dan forgot both birds and dreams.
“You a photographer, a hermit or just plain lost?”
Dan nearly dropped the camera. “Shit!”
“Sorry to interrupt.”
Dan turned to see a pair of denim legs and earth-stained hiking boots standing behind him. “What?” He struggled to his feet, off-balance with the surprise of finding he had company. “That’s not what I meant. Where the hell did you come from?” He squinted up at the man, studying his face for a moment before looking past him. The stranger was alone and Dan relaxed with relief.
The man, his face shaded by a purple Minnesota Vikings cap, grinned and jerked his thumb back toward the main tourist trail. “Down there,” he answered. “Figured I’d have the place to myself for a few hours. That your truck in the parking lot?”
Dan slung the camera strap over his shoulder and wiped his hands down his thighs before resting them on his hips. “Yeah, it is. This area’s off limits to tourists, y’know. You’ll get kicked out if you’re caught.” He dragged his gaze back to the man’s face and noticed the tired lines that creased outward from eyes and mouth. Straw-blond hair poked from beneath the cap and disappeared under the upturned collar of an old college letters jacket. Thin beneath the jacket if the gauntness of the face was anything to go by.
The man’s lips shifted into a smile caught somewhere between not quite happy and wryly amused. “You’re here.”
“I work here.”
“Well, I guess I’m caught then. You going to kick me out now?”
Dan thought about it. He’d like to. The man had shattered his morning quiet; only problem was that Dan didn’t really work for the park. He was on the books sure enough, but only as a seasonal laborer and guide, and the season had been over for two weeks.
“This time you’re off the hook.”
They grinned at each other, the stranger’s mouth settling into a friendlier shape that altered the hard edges of his face into something more approachable. Dan decided right then that he liked the man and stuck his hand out.
“I’m Dan Tenney.”
The man looked from Dan’s face down to his hand and back again before he returned the gesture and they shook hands.
“Nick Somers.” Nick’s gaze stayed on the move, staring past Dan and at the dawn he was now missing.
Dan turned to the horizon and the white sun breeching distant hills. “She’s a beauty, isn’t she?”
“That she is.”
“My mother used to call it ‘God’s Picture’.” Dan heard Nick shift beside him, felt the man
direct his eyes from the landscape to him. He snuck a look. Yep, the guy was staring at him.
He felt like he was back in boot camp. Somers had the same all-seeing hawkish gaze as his old drill sergeant. His back automatically straightened, chest puffed out a little. He’d lost a lot of weight since his discharge but he was still in pretty good shape.
Prophetic dreams have haunted Dan Tenney since childhood, foretelling him of a life-changing event that is soon to take place. But before he can learn the meaning of his visions, he is attacked by a shadowy group of extremists: the Brotherhood of the Grail.
Finding sanctuary underground, an ancient relic comes into his possession and Dan begins to understand the path his visions have laid out before him. His quest will be fraught with an otherworldly people and an event that could tip the balance in favour of human existence-or disastrously against it. The mysterious Brotherhood will do everything in their power to prevent Dan from fulfilling his destiny as the Bearer of Ouroboros
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Genre - Fantasy
Rating – PG-13
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