Dreams of Blood (Rhett Williams)

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With a scream, Rhett Williams sat bolt upright from his sleep, his wife waking at the noise and a look of fear in her eyes. In her native tongue she asked him if it was the nightmares again. He nodded. She ran a hand down his sweat drenched back, urging him to go see the medicine man immediately, and not to wait until morning like he had the times before. She could tell the dreams were getting worse from his fitful sleep to now, this primal yell that seemed to echo throughout the night. A friend stuck his head inside their tipi to make sure they, or rather he, was okay.

“I’m alright,” he replied in their Athabaskan-based speech. “But, you’re right. I need to go see the medicine man tonight.”

He dressed in a simple shirt and trousers, not bothering to don boots. Across the Northern New Mexico sand he walked, feet calloused and far too acclimated to the rough ground. As their friend woke the medicine man from his own sleep, Rhett could hear the conversation within the shaman’s domicile as he sat outside on a rock just high enough to serve as a chair, wiping sweat from his eyes as they stung. Everyone was concerned. Hell, now he was concerned, too.

The shaman emerged with the items he deemed necessary in an attempt to cleanse Rhett from any evil spirits that clung to him and attempted him harm inside the world of dreams, when the mind goes free and slips into places that only the spirits fully understand, and where only we can go once we shuffle off this mortal coil.

Wafts of smoke fanned around Rhett’s body swirled around like gray serpents then dissipated into the moonlit night. He breathed in the tendrils, blowing the gray out of his mouth as he exhaled. The smell was nice, calming, but he was unsure if this was doing any good.

This was the twelfth night in a row the nightmares came. The first four nights were mild, the second grew more intense as more and more details became clearer and clearer until the last four nights, with the dreams now being so vivid that he could feel the earth beneath his feet, smell the stench of blood in the air, and see the town he did not know the name of stained red as bodies littered the ground.

Rhett told all that came to him in the night what he saw, shutting his eyes and recalling almost every moment of the horrible nightmare with cruel clarity. He told them about the evil spirits that clung to that place, infecting it like a horrid pox leaving behind scars that would never fade. He spoke to them of good people laying down their lives hoping to combat the darkness that surrounded the town and almost all of its outlying areas. But what stuck with him most was the blood.

In the dream, as he walked, he felt the mud squelching beneath his boots, not made of soil and water, but of the earth and so much blood that it soaked the ground until it was a mire. He had seen blood before, when he was a sergeant for the United States Cavalry, some his own and some that belonged to others, but this was...too much. This was an entire town’s worth.

The shaman offered him something to smoke, and as Rhett breathed it in and breathed it out, his memory of the vision deepened. He looked around in the image of the town that lay inside his tormented mind and there it was, a clue to the name and whereabouts of this place.

“Brimstone. Something bad is going to happen in Brimstone.”

The shaman nodded, performing a short ceremony that very night, in which he gave Rhett his true name, hard for a white man’s tongue to even begin to pronounce, but he knew the translation well.

The next morning Rhett gathered what things he could dressing in his old cavalry coat and tying his yellow bandana over his head, saddling up his painted horse, a gift from his wife’s father, slinging the saddle and saddle bags over the blanket his wife’s grandmother had woven for him. His wife looked on, saddened that he was leaving, but stoic and steadfast in the knowledge of why he was leaving. The spirits had spoken to him, and charged him with this task and she knew that he was going to make damn certain to do it, if for the only reason to quieten the spirit’s voices.

He slid the massive buffalo rifle into his saddle’s rifle boot, checked his long-barreled Peacemaker, tucking it into his old flap holster, and mounted up. He leaned over, giving his wife a kiss full of love. It was time for him to ride to this town and stop whatever was going to happen, and silently they both acknowledged that he may not come home. This was, unfortunately, the way.

Members of the tribe saw him off as the horse galloped away to the East. They waved somberly, knowing not of what fate awaited him, the young man who came to their tribe named Rhett Williams only a couple of years ago, and who saved the life of their leader, the head of the Jicarilla band of Apache. Today he rode away a new man, one that the spirits spoke to, and now given a new name.

He Dreams of Blood.