#111 Strange Stories Words A humongous black cloud barreled toward us as I stood on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. “What the heck is that?” I asked a park ranger standing nearby. “Imported California air,” he said. The easterly winds blow it this way every day. Heck, it used to be that we could see over two hundred miles west from this very spot, but nowadays, we're lucky to see fifty.” Taking out the aspirin tin I always carried for headaches I get from pollution. There were several Cefadroxil pills in the container from when I had pneumonia last winter. I swallowed two aspirin, and I put the tin back in my pocket, the dirty air enveloped me. My brain ached with a hard-squeezing pain. Words of a strange language filled my head. I closed my eyes, and when I opened them again, I was alone. I saw no Japanese tourists, nor any guardrails, or roads. Remembering the cloud and headache, I thought maybe I blacked out and someone took me to a remote area and abandoned me, or I had fallen to sleep and walked to a deserted part of the canyon. Without roads, guardrails and trash cans, the place looked as though no one had been here in a hundred years. That's it. This is some kind of joke. Any minute now somebody will jump out and tell me I'm on camera. I pulled my shoulders back, so I'd look my best when they aired the film on television. I heard a noise in the woods behind me. Must be the cameraman sneaking up on me. I spun around to surprise him, but I was the one surprised when I saw an Indian with his tomahawk raised in the air above my head. Instinctively I kicked him in his deer hide breechcloth. He dropped the weapon and grabbed his crotch, he doubled over in pain. I dove for the tomahawk and had it in my hand when he straightened up and came towards me swung it in a wide arc, hit him in the shin heard the bone crack. I He fell to the ground and rolled in pain clutching his leg. I closed my eyes hoping this was a dream, opened them, and two more Indians came towards me. I got into a fighting stance, but they raised their hands in peace signs. Raising my hand, I gave them one as they came close and spoke in a language I understood. “He was our medicine man,” one said pointing to the Indian howling in pain. “Was?” I said. The other Indian drew his knife and plunged it into the chest of the one with the broken leg. “He disobeyed our chief. They saw you step from a cloud of smoke that filled the chief's teepee. He,” the Indian pointed to the dead one, “wanted you dead so you couldn't use your powers to become our medicine man. Come, the chief's son is ill.” Birds pecked bits of flesh from the dead Indian. My head spun. Where was I? How did I get here? How could I help the chief's son? They took me to a camp where seven teepees covered with buffalo hides stood. Squaws were stacking wood around a pole stuck in the ground. I figured that's where I'd be burned if I didn't do my job as the new medicine man. Inside a teepee, a boy about six months old lay on a bear fur. A man wearing a long headdress silently watched as I approached. “This is our chief, Chikapanagi,” one of my escorts said. He remained silent waiting for me to do something. I did the only thing I knew. I picked the baby up and rocked him in my arms. He was hot as could be. I set him back on the fur, took off my shirt, soaked it in a skin full of water hanging by the door and wrapped it around the baby. I knew this would help bring his fever down. The babies struggle to breathe, and its deep coughing reminded me of when I had pneumonia. His symptoms were the same as mine had been. I picked up a small gourd next to a buckskin bag filled with water. Assuming they used the gourd to drink from, I crushed one aspirin and one Cefadroxil pill, filled the gourd with water and mixed the powdered pills into it, and then fed it to the baby in tiny sips. He cried, coughed, and made ugly faces with every sip. I rocked him for a few hours, slowly I felt him cooling down. I re wet my shirt, covered him with it. The Indian with the headdress smiled because his son was getting better. He handed me a wampum belt. When I took it in my hand smoke filled the tent. The park ranger stood over me. “Are you all right?” “What happened? Where was I? How long was I gone?” “A strange cloud of smog engulfed us. When It blew away, I saw you lying on the ground. You couldn’t have been unconscious for more than a few minutes.” I felt a chill. My shirt was gone. When I raised my hand to cover my chest, it held the wampum belt. 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