Echo: Diary Entry #3
(Mercury Rose & Dave R.)
June 1979: High Sierra Mountains, California
I loved going to the mountains each year. Getting away from the big city and into the deep pine forests and climbing to high mountain lakes for a few months during the summers; it was my way of rewinding from the year, and seemingly connect with something else within me. Our family has a cabin up in the high mountains, where it snows all winter and the run- off in the summer would make the river swell to white water and tumble down through the valley and by our sleepy cozy home.
My imagination would run high, as most children’s do, but my dreams were deeper and felt so real that I would wake up in the pre-dawn hours, with a cold sweat and a fear that someone was watching me. Someone who knew everything, every fiber of every being, and the truth behind life.
I felt wild then, and would run our barefoot and fancy free, running through grass and onto logs over rushing rivers. Climbed rope swings and giant redwoods. I imagined fairies in meadows as I scrambled over creeks on fallen logs. I ran with the wind in my hair and felt in tune with nature. But I knew there was something more. To this world, to this nature I was running through and relishing in. But at the time I was not quite sure what that was.
When I was nine I had an experience. I loved climbing up a rocky outcropping above the cabins where we lived in the summer. It was a place few people noticed or went to, and I loved the challenge of scrambling up the rock through trees, finding cracks in the rock to pull myself up, and finding little shelves above the hamlet where the only sound was the wind through the pine trees and an occasional bird cry or chipmunk surprised by my presence. It was a place of solace for me.
One day, however, I was meditating in the sun on a rocky outcropping when I heard what sounded like steal horse shoe on rock, the creak of a leather saddle, and a cock of a rifle. I knew these sounds from watching western movies with my Dad.
My eyes opened and I froze, fearful and bewildered. There was no way there was a horse behind the rocky outcropping I was stationed. Sure there was a road that wound up behind my vantage point, but no one owned a horse there, or had use, or legal reason to cock a gun.
I was shaking in fear because the sounds were soo real. But I couldn’t sit there forever in frozen state of fear. Just then I heard someone dismount and boots on dirt and rock. I gulped, and pulled myself up to peak over the other side. I saw a shadowy figure in black..
A gun fired and the bullet ricocheted on the rock and I ducked. Another one spun off the side and I felt dirt and rock hit the back of my head. I had to get out of there!
I never had gone back down the way I came up, until then. I scrambled down the rock on my butt, slipping on the pine needles and not caring if anyone saw my very ungraceful attempt at survival. As I did so I heard a shout from the shooter, and then retreating hooves of a horse. The wind caught whatever else was happening above me as I made it down the rocky surface to behind some cabins. I snuck by the cabins and got onto the road, the asphalt warm in the midday sun. I ran down the road towards home, and then paused at the road that led up to around the outcropping; where the shooter would be. Seeing no hoof marks in the dirt, or any sign I decided against investigating and ran home… confused, and yet, knowing that that experience had felt all too familiar to me for some reason.. but how? Was my imagination just too much, or was something else going on…
That night in my dreams I relived the experience over and over, however the shadowy figure looked more real, palpable and calculating. He wore a dark duster and his horse was a bay. And in the dream I was older, and armed, and shot back at him before retreating down the hill.
I woke up in a cold sweat, but hot, as if I was actually running down that mountain. And then it struck me. The searing pain in my side. I didn’t know what was going on and cried out. As I tried to get my bearings and my bedroom spun out of control around me I realized I was feeling what a bullet wound would be. As I knew that thats what it was. Why? How would a nine year old girl have that knowledge?! I reached for the area my hand drew blood. I could feel the wet sticky substance on my fingers, and could smell the coppery tincture of what exactly it was. I somehow managed to pass out from the pain, or fall asleep…
In the morning I woke up, no longer in excruciating pain, and the blood was no where to be found. Was that a dream, or nightmare? As I sat up in bed I felt some pain and found a circular bruise where the dreamy bullet wound had been…. What was going on?
He found me.. somehow… I cursed under my breath as another shot hit the rocks beside me. I thought I had lost the posse, but apparently I hadn’t shaken them as well as I had hoped. Or this was another bounty hunter, which was possible as he was alone.
I had climbed up this rocky mountain, pushing my horse to his limits, until I knew I couldn’t push him farther. Then I hid him in the thick brush and had taken a defensive position up on a rocky outcropping. But this guy had found me..
Another gunshot went off and I got nicked by the dirt and rock. Time to move! I cocked my pistols and shot a few rounds at him, hoping the rock would be sufficient cover. And when the assailant had backed off because of my barrage of gunfire, I hightailed it out of there, and down the rocky outcropping, the vertical way down.
By the time I reached the half way mark he had recovered from his fear, and was shooting at me from above. I swung by my arm to grab onto another granite slab, which gave me, finally adequate cover. I breathed a sigh of relief, and that was when I noticed the blood. The $@#$!# had got me, hit me in the side. I breathed in the hot pain that I suddenly noticed and checked out the wound. It was a thru and thru, on my side above my right hip, and bloody. But I had been through worse.
I tied it off so the blood loss would slow, dragged out my flask from my pocket and checked my rounds. Below me, hidden in the thicket was my horse, rested and waiting for me. It was just a matter of getting down the rest of the way……
Written by S.B. Inspired by D.R.