I laid on my bed and stared at the contraband painting of Washington's Inauguration, noticing how everything around me became moving ribbons of light, and how I was drawn closer, into the picture, right next to a kneeling, supplicant Washington, kissing the King James Bible, and almost hearing in my head, "So help me God."
The world went black.
For a split second, fear crept into my mind, the most irrational kind. The last few hours had been strange. After the vision of my ancestor and the discovery of the mysterious device, I feared for my sanity. But since I was well aware of the times I lived in -- a humanities teacher at a government-nationalized charter school -- my dream of an ancestor, with their alarming message about the children of the future, didn't seem any stranger than the present day. Which American generation had ever seen the Declaration of Independence ridiculed? Even the break up of THESE United States?
My mind traveled….
Horse hooves. I heard them distinctly, and they were so out-of-place, that I instantly opened my eyes.
The first thing I saw was fire. A house on fire. And the horses. Yells and shouts greeted my ears. I stood up wearily, and felt my legs go out. My legs felt heavy, as if I'd slept for a thousand years. Before me was a sight that made little sense. A cottage on fire, and in the night sky, a crimson light that moved on ribbons of smoke. The smell of burning things was heavy in the air.
Men on horseback paid no attention to me. A group of them charged back and forth. They wore clothes that I'd not seen since my colonial studies in college: black doublets with white ruffs and cuffs; breeches, garters, and stocking; and on their head, a wide-brimmed felt cap. The men, maybe five or seven -- it was hard to keep count with all the frantic energy -- carried small musket-like guns (arquebuses?), which they shot randomly into the night. I looked at what they shot at, but saw nothing. Through the illuminated night helped by the burning house, I saw a dark, impregnable woods. I feared for it, for just a second, raised myself up, and shouted at the men.
Help me! I dont know whats going on? Where am I?
I knew where I was, but did now want to admit it, even to myself.
The men couldn't hear me. They continued to charge off into the black spots of the night. Shooting and shouting, horses whinnying and rearing up, nearly throwing their riders. It was madness, I tell you!
Feeling my legs gain a little more strength after their Methuselah-like slumber, I got up. I didn't take more than a few steps, when I saw a person. They hid under an overturned cart on the ground. As her face shone out of her hiding space, I saw she as a young girl, with tawny skin and braided hair. She wiggled out a little more, and I could see she wore colonial clothes, though they didn't fit her well, nor did she look all that comfortable in them!
I heard you call for help. I need help too. What tribe were you part of?
I didn't understand what she meant. Tribe? I guess I looked weird. X-Men Rogue pajamas!
You can see me?!
She wiggled out even more. She couldn't have been more than twelve. She reminded me of my students.
Of course, I can see you! You have to help me. The praying men!
I was still lost. Then shots rang out. Horses hooves charged towards us. And the shouts of men, speaking English in a way that sounded like Shakespeare plays that the Drama Club put on.
Ah, another one. Two of them!
I looked at the captain of the men, now grown in number from four to seven since hed gotten the attention of the others. As they approached, they pointed their small muskets at us. I threw up my hands.
She gives the sign of a Catalan mercenary. Are you from the La Flo-rid-a colony, girl? A wench?
I tried to make sense of what he said, thinking about the evils of a Catholic Spain (harhar!), when the other men spoke up, one with a crooked nose and bent fingers, which he kept wrapped around the muzzle of his musket.
We’d be okay just to shoot them, sergeant. If not for being limited on stock. Curse, Standish and his boy! Gun laws!
The sergeant spit.
Wise, Miles. Then we take them to the coast, then. Hurry. This place is gone to the anti-apostle Philip.
Very quickly, things happened, for I don't to skip anything. But its wise to know that immediately on leaving the burning house, on a path between the rows of the dark woods, we heard a noise that brought fear into our hearts, making even the colony men with their guns shake. The sergeant spoke.
Quick. Philip’s devils come for them. With only enough shot, we will never get back to charter!
The crooked fingered man spoke.
Sire, then let these creatures back to where they go. Leave them! Lets sprint for daylight!
Horses hooves galloped down a dark trail, and I laughed -- almost -- at the state of things. The tall trees on either side seemed to grow larger and loom over us. I felt a chill. The girl, who I thought had to be one an Indian, perhaps an Algonquian, spoke to me. I was very much reminded, again, of my students, who I missed so much now (as you can imagine!)
We can go to my village. If its still there. But we need to travel through the woods….
I shrugged, knowing, in this dream, I didn't have many options. So I followed her into the black wilderness of the woods, which I felt press around me, and swallow me, and take me into their bosom.