The night is cool and moonless, lit by stars dangling in their positions of record. A slight breeze carries the smells from mountains to the west, their outline limiting a deeper darkness below the glowing wash of the Milky Way.
The hunter glides silently across bunch grass and opuntia among piñon pines. His moccasined feet whisper on the soft forest duff; his dark clothing sucks in star light, making him a mousey hole in the deep gray background. If he were to look up, which he never did, only the white flags his eyes would surrender the presence of a human being disturbing the uncaring night.
His prey stands on the near horizon, invisible for now, its exact position known to the hunter through long stalking and planning. The remaining ground between hunter and prey is bare of vegetation, making it easier to avoid detection and alarm.
He stoops forward and begins to crawl, holding in his left hand a complicated arrangement of strings and wood, pulleys and cams, with a large hoop attached at the front. Hours of practice help him keep the tool from scraping across the ground.
Sounds penetrate the silence, sounds the hunter knows come from beyond his prey, hissing and rumbling sounds as of large objects moving swiftly across hard packed surfaces, sounds occasionally accompanied by a broad sweep of lights across distant mesas. So much the better to mask the tiny whispers of his inevitable stalk.
Soon he comes to the base of a slight rise on which his prey awaits. Its dark outline obscures occasional stars beyond. He is in place. It is time to act.
In a practiced effort, he removes a long iron spike from the folds of his clothing and presses its pointed end into the yielding soil. It penetrates a good six inches and then stops as expected. He removes another bulkier, cloth-wrapped object and with several well placed, muffled blows, drives the stake deep into the bosom of the soil, making firm and loving contact with the moistness held therein.
Rising to his knees he quickly fits a slender shaft to the string of the complicated device in his left hand, an aluminum shaft with imitation feathers at one end and a gleaming, sharpened point at the other, catching the distant glint of approving stars. He rises fully to his feet, raises eyes, hand and shaft to the heavens and draws back the string to its knock point at the corner of his mustached mouth. And holds…
For a moment he stands like a statue of an ancient god casting prayers to the heavens, indistinguishable from the constellations above, at one with the Earth, content at the task at hand, focused, relaxed and alert.
Then the smooth, practiced release of string and shaft. The coiled forces in the bow throw themselves through wooden limbs, curving cams and rolling pulleys. The shaft springs forward with an almost audible cry of joy, leaping for the night sky and freedom. Or nearly. For as it rises into the cold desert air, a slender but strong thread follows its path, uncoiling from the reel on the face of the bow, tracing a hissing curve of the arrow’s trajectory, up into the sky, over the top of the towering prey, to the peak of its path, the apex of its ambition, the denouement of its escape from the bounds of material being.
Suddenly the thread draws taught, anchored as it is to the iron stake firmly imbedded in terra firma at the archer’s feet. The arrow stops abruptly and falls toward Earth, captivated once again by immutable gravity, it’s stellar ambitions thwarted, redirected to a nobler cause. As the arrow falls, the thread follows after, downward toward the prey, the tower, the bristling antennae, the circling girders, the electricity pulsing through wire and cable, the radiation broadcast outward in scintillating concentric waves.
The archer leaps back just as the slender aluminum line contacts the tower. Sparks fly out into the night, lightening flares in a clear sky, electricity, freed from the confines of aluminum and steel and insulated cable, suddenly finds an open path to it’s unrequited love, the ground, the Earth, the ultimate destination of coursing electrons, deep into the bowels of the earth. The tower shakes with instantly released power, quivers, vibrates and is still.
On the highway below, a sleek, dark automobile purrs smoothly along the Interstate, it’s lone occupant holding a small plastic device to his ear.
“Damn,” he says to the empty interior, “no connection!” In his consternation, the driver drops his cell phone into an open latté cup, firmly trapped in it’s automotive cup holder, splashing hot coffee onto his shin. He lurches for the cup, jerking the steering wheel to the right, overcorrects and the shining automobile careens off the highway onto the gravelly verge, hits a guard rail, tips and rolls through the bordering fence into a copse of desert juniper. Dust settles, quiet returns. A lone headlamp glares obliquely into the night sky, fades and goes dark.
On the hill above, the tower stands naked, empty, disempowered, rising, aspiring but never reaching the apex of its desire. A piece of paper, taped to a metal leg, flutters fitfully in the morning breeze.