The Ancestors


I'm walking along the base of a cliff which rests on a river bank. To my left, the beach stretches out for about a quarter of a mile to the river. To my right is the cliff, which rises maybe 50 feet or so above me. It is made of a broken tan rock that is comprised of clay and sand, much like you find at the Hanford Reach. I walk parallel to the cliff, which runs as far as I can see in either direction.

I hear some voices behind me and turn to see a group of people far behind me standing next to the cliff. I turn and start walking when I catch a figure in the corner of my eye leaping out from a hole in the cliff behind me.

It's an old Native American man who has jumped out of an opening in the cliff that I failed to spot in passing.

"WOOOO WOOO WOOO" he cries, clapping his hand to his mouth in a B-Western war whoop. He laughs at my surprise.

"Come on," he shouts, beckoning me toward the cave. "The ancestors want to show you something."

I feel very frightened, like I could come to harm in the cave. But I'm also curious and follow him.

He stops just inside the mouth of the cave and begins inspecting some small impressions on the cave wall that look as if they might have been carved by someone.

"Are those from the ancestors?" I ask.

"Naw," he shrugs. "That's nothing."

Suddenly I am inside the cave and he stands between me and the cave opening. Now there are two of him. One at the cave entrance and one beyond me inside the cave. This one beckons me to follow him into the heart of the cave. He leads me through the cavern toward a black tunnel. I am very afraid now and sense that beyond are a great number of malicious spirits down the tunnel who want to do me harm. Someone has spray-painted swastikas on the cave wall.

The old man laughs and beckons me to follow him toward the blacktunnel. Just before we enter the tunnel a second opening appears to my left. Inside is a well-lit cavern that contains a gift shop filled with customers. Too frightened to enter the tunnel, I move toward the gift shop.

Suddenly I am walking back out of the cave carrying two books of scenic photography. The old man is behind me, laughing at me and motioning me to leave the cave. Embarrased, I do.

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