The skies are crimson and magenta. A cold wind pushes on my back as I make my way through the arid wastes. I hear the wind brush past my ears, whispering, and I feel it push the hairs on the back of my neck with unseen hands. I adjust my leather jacket's collar, lifting it up to protect myself from this chilly violation of my being.
The trail is hard to find. Two centuries of floods, sunshine and the winds scratchy fingers have sculpted new paths and erased the old ones. As my legs complain about their task, I trek through a canyon at the foot of a jagged cliff face. The dust is going to be a major problem very soon if the winds keep picking up. The sky in the distance is brown - a bad sign. I have about two minutes before a dust storm will make progress impossible.
It all began this morning, when I met a strange Indian where I fuel my vehicles. He was rather tense and distraught and mentioned that he knew I shared bread with women from the stars. He said I needed to meet a chieftain of his tribe who had an important dream to share with me and even told him to wait for me at this gas station where I would appear at a certain time. I was cynical at this point, naturally, until he mentioned Isis' name. He told me to meet the chieftain an hour before sunset at his village. The directions he gave were to no known village I am aware of, and I know the locations and land of most of the Indian reservations in the state. The trail I am supposed to recognize is easily centuries old, and I suspect once was followed by Conquistadors as they sought, in vain, for the seven cities of gold. My SUV, a half-hour's march back behind me, seems like it might as well be hundreds of miles away. This Chieftain better be on the level, or I am in heap big trouble.
I take my water bottle and pour some of its contents on a handkerchief. I tie the wet handkerchief tightly around my nose and mouth. It should afford me some small protection. As the dust storm approaches I look for some spot that can provide a measure of cover in the cliff face, until it subsides. I see a small crevice sculpted out of the rust colored rocks, about fifty yards up near a plateau, and make my way towards it.
As I get closer, I see it is more than just a crevice. It is a small cave entrance. I quicken my pace and already it is hard to see. The dust buffets my skin, my eyes squint and I am relieved I bothered to look for shelter not even twenty seconds later, when it would have been impossible to spot.
I enter into the cave. It is twisted and well protected from the dust storm after I get just five feet into it. The walls are smooth and the cave is not dark. I wonder if it is some form of phosphorus mineral or some other explanation. Then I realize I smell smoke.
"Welcome to my home."