A short story in construction, working on editing and adjusting. This one is an attempt at flash fiction. If you enjoy it please visit my Short Stories Page to find more.
Summary: 977 words
Debate happens in the night between two Indigenous people over the fate of their people and what they are willing to do to change it, with explosive results.
By Daniel Hansen
The fire crackled as they stood there in the dark. I had climbed this bluff overlooking the reservoir on a hunch. A belief that they would be here based on nothing but a gut feeling that they would be camped to see the damage they were about to inflict.
They had built the fire in the old way, slightly dug into the ground so as not to be as noticeable, but in the darkness, they had not dug deep enough and the light had guided me the last bit to find them.
The sound of the dam chugged below in the darkness, its outline visible in the moonlight. The sound of water lapping against the concrete just barely heard under the crackle of the fire.
“Hello agent,” they said without the ranker that many had for my kind, “it is late, too late.”
I could feel the exhaustion in their voice, it reached out of them and echoed my own, this hunt had been long. They wore a thick black hoodie that covered their face, though thick black hair stuck out from it like tentacles reaching out to taste the air.
“You don’t have to do this,” I said with a sad smile, knowing my words were like the wind for the person before me, but needing to speak in the hope that they would be cut by that wind.
They shrugged and turned their back to me, “the voices would disagree. Do you hear them, agent? Do you hear the voices of the salmon calling out to be born, the orcas and bears begging to be fed? I can hear your ancestors whispering. Can you?”
I smiled grimly, this was what it always came down to, “I am just as Indian as you are.”
They sighed, “of course you are, but one of us chooses to listen, while the other chooses to speak.”
They quieted then and the fire filled the silence. I had nothing to say, and they had nothing to add. We both knew that my choices had to lead me here to find a way to stop theirs. Putting a firm barrier between us, and which side we had chosen.
Finally, they spoke, “your grandmother understands your choices, even if she may wish for my success.”
I took a breath, my grandmother had been dead for several years. She had known that I had joined the agency, and though she had not been completely supportive, she had understood. I only wanted the best for my people. For my reservation. That I would do whatever it took to make sure their lives were better, that they were protected. Even if it meant me living my life as an agent.
“You know nothing of my grandmother,” I spat at them.
“I do not, beyond that she stands there beside you, protecting you, even now, when you stand against our people.”
“I stand for my people,” I seethed, letting them get to me, “you endanger what we have.”
They laughed then, staring into the darkness they laughed at me, “you enjoy deciding who is and who is not our people. We have been blocked from the path that was meant for us, as are our cousins, and I seek only to free us all to take our journey. I merely clear the path for others.”
“You are a zealot, an extremist, our people need to work this system, and you are making it harder.”
“Work the system that kills us and our families,” they whispered as the dark hoodie turned to me in the night.
I swallowed my frustrated response and tried to change tactics, “you are damaging the world with these acts.”
“You know as well as I do that the work it takes does not stop with a simple explosion, build-up needs to be cleared, lifetimes of gathered muck and ruin, not to mention the rebuilding of what was covered.”
They laughed again and turned back to the night, “none of that will start without the initial push I give to the world. Our family are out there waiting for us to act.”
“The lives that will be lost.”
“Lives are already lost, our own family is not able to be born, not able to eat, not able to live as they should.”
“Our family,” I scoffed.
They turned then in anger, the black hoodie whipping around to face me. I felt a moments fear that that darkness would come for me, and I reached for the gun at my side, “they are our family more than these, these,” they waved their hand at the night, “killers that hold sway and choke our life from us.”
“I will stop you,” I said to the night, realizing that rationalizing was impossible. The cold steel of my gun firm in my hand.
“You are already too late,” they whispered as a loud crack filled the air. A rumbling thunder on a clear night.
“You cannot do this,” I screamed running up beside them. Their shoulder brushed mine as I stared down into the night and watched a sharp flash fill the night.
I staggered, blinded as the dam cracked and water began to pour through. I whispered prayers I knew, as I realized the city below would soon be washed away in the name of this struggle. I fell to my knees and wept for those I had failed to save, “You cannot do this.”
“Cousin Salmon says differently,” the night whispered back as the fire’s crackle was drowned by the sounds of the dam giving way in the night.
I spun gun out to stare into the darkness, realizing that I was alone upon this plateau as the dam split and water rushed finally freed from its imprisonment. I breathed out as the wind whispered back to me, “We shall clear the path.”