Through Native American prophecy one man has learned of, and prepared for, the coming environmental and economic meltdown: The Mother of all Disasters.
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Think of the 1800s, the wagontrains, and the people who crossed the prairie looking for a better life. Now fast-forward to the new millennium and the worldwide economy totally crashing, causing unbelievable chaos and violence. Through Native American prophecy, Aaron Hodges sees it coming and envisions building a hidden colony to ride out the likely decades-long crisis.
When the crash came nobody could point a finger and blame a specific thing. The United States and the world were locked in drought, stagnant economy, and rampant pollution. Too many people were wasting too much, demanding too much standard of living, and too much money created too much free time and entertainment, for, as one height was reached boredom prevailed, and more and greater thrills were demanded.
More wood, more metal, more food and drink, and more oil.
The oil flow stopped.
Then the flow of supplies stopped. The civilized world found itself trapped inside a steel, concrete, and plastic wasteland with no utilities, no food, no water.
And no gasoline.
Set in the near future, novel runs for two years. The main theme is a modern-day wagontrain with over sixty people driving sixteen covered wagons pulled by four-horse teams for 30 days across 300 miles from southern Minnesota farming country to northern Minnesota wilderness. Background themes include the economy, environment, and a shadowy “master race” organization out to eliminate the Native American. This novel is character-driven, just normal people loving and finding love, surviving, and reacting to circumstances as best they can. You will like the characters, you will care what happens to them, and at the end you will cheer.
Aaron Hodges is the bellwether. He sees the future through the prophecies of his Nez Perce friend, Four Crows. As Aaron sits on a log, Four Crows makes a symbolic painting on the back of his suede shirt, and speaks to him with a ghostly voice from the past, and future, a future that will see the unification of the Native American and the civilized world falter.
Consequently, Aaron makes preparations early, but, unable to believe such a disaster could really occur, he gets sidetracked with a factory job, a Las Vegas gambling trip, buying a small farm, fighting environmental battles, but does stumble onto a beautiful location for a hidden self-sufficient colony. But the people he attempts to recruit for colonists also cannot visualize such a bad thing happening, especially the love of his life, Caroline. When the crash actually happens, martial law is declared quickly. There will be no taking a caravan of vehicles down a hardtop road. So some 60 people go cross-country in 16 “covered wagons” each pulled by a 4-horse team, over fields, prairie, and forest, about 40 days and 300 miles from southern Minnesota farming country into northern Minnesota wilderness.
Already rich by inheritance, available at age 25, Aaron has left the money in the bank for that proverbial “rainy” day. The Las Vegan trip just adds to the chest.
Old Paint is Aaron’s rusty van that he lives in while working and traveling.
Caroline Jentner is the love of Aaron’s life. She has a partly-crippled, seven-year-old daughter, Jennie. Little Jennie doesn’t have a big part, and doesn’t appear until chapter 12, but when she does appear she will capture your heart. You will come to love her, and she helps Aaron and her mom finally get together near the end of story. Caroline often has the viewpoint, and sees the world quite differently from Aaron.
George, a senior citizen hobo, is picked up by Aaron just outside a truck stop at Cheyenne, Wyoming; he has no last name and a peculiar body odor. Aaron and George will both get a job at the same factory where Caroline works, George will help Aaron and Caroline get together after an absence of 19 years. Later, George will become Aaron’s handyman at his small farm, and throughout their relationship George serves as Aaron’s living conscience.
Daniel Friskop, a modern-day mountain man who dresses the part. When we first join Friskop he’s in Nevada capturing his future horse companions, Horsefire and Applechaser. When Aaron approaches him to scout for the wagontrain and lead them to the Wilderness Bowl, 2 other animals have joined him: Julian, a wolf-dog, and Satire, a lynx who rides on the back of Horsefire. Friskop agrees but they never become very close friends, especially when Friskop notices Caroline.
Paul Bacardi (John Running Light) Leading Native American character. He grew up at Embrace Lake Minnesota, became an attorney in Nevada with many rich clients. When he becomes involved with Tongowari (who he helps rescue from STIM) he reclaims his Indian name and begins to suspect his relatives in Minnesota are not his true relatives.
Tongowari, the southern princess. She is escorted out of southern Mexico by Two Shirts of the Rabbit to the village by the Sauntering River in Nevada, where an international powwow is taking place. Her marriage to the northern prince will unite all Native Americans from both continents.
From Chapter 7 "You Will Lead"
The job was somehow connected with the yet-unencountered medicine man. He would humor the supervisor a while longer.
Ten minutes passed.
With an arrogantly-slow, moccasin shuffle, a dark-skinned man with a dusty black vest hung on his torso finally approached from the direction Conrad had gone. The other one. The one who received whatever other dirty jobs were available.
Two Shirts of the Rabbit was taller than Aaron, slimmer, bareheaded, wore ragged blue jeans, had long black hair held in a ponytail by a leather thong, and dark eyes that sometimes shone with a fierceness not only offending and intimidating, but a reminder to everyone of the rabbit’s ancestors: Chiricahua Apache.
The Indian’s mouth broke into a grin as he came within hailing distance, “Hear you’re screwing up over here, hippie.”
“Nothing new,” Aaron grumbled as he handed over the goggles.
Two Shirts took over the torch, handled it with expertise, and spoke while he worked, “You do no worse than anyone else, Hodges.”
“Oh? Why does he bait me then? Hobby?”
“Something like that, I suppose. Conrad doesn’t like you.”
Aaron hunched his shoulders, “I’d like to know why.”
“The painting on your shirt,” Two Shirts kicked off a hanging rod, started another cut, “He doesn’t like me either. Indians are unpopular these days, and so are people who show any sign of sympathizing, as you, Hodges, with that painting.”
“I don’t exactly sympathize,” Aaron shrugged, “Just common decency. Human rights.”
“Your true politics don’t matter. You wear the painting, and, to Conrad, you wear it proudly. I’ll try to explain. The Indian has caused a guilt complex. Romantic motion pictures have played a part. We’re usually portrayed as wise and noble stewards of the forests and prairies, and in the beginnings we’re always many, and proud, and powerful, but by the end we’ve been beaten and reduced to a starving band of savages with our hands out. No matter how the story’s written there’s always that unavoidable end.
Aaron listened, and watched the Indian cutting off steel rods as if slicing through butter.
“The early years saw us living quietly on the reservations, or playing the drunken, skid row Indian,” Two Shirts continued, “But today we have lawyers, doctors, sociologists, and there’s a growing literate class, literate in our own languages, too, that is. You see, we’re absorbing white man’s knowledge but also researching our own heritage.”
“So all that sounds good, Rabbit. I don’t see the guilt.”
“More than guilt. The guilt has simmered for generations, and now is coming to a boil with some people since the failure of the Indian Termination policy, especially during the last twenty years.”
“Yes. A termination of our treaty-guaranteed rights as independent Indian nations, and the abolishment of the reservations. The goal was, and always has been, to assimilate us into white society. Eventually we would have disappeared as a race. And since that failure we’ve continued being the Indian problem. Today we’re leaning toward even more isolation and demanding retribution. But we’re receiving very little. You see, for the Indian to gain, the white man must give, and that is adding even more guilt, such as the eminent domain principle that so easily took our reservation lands for such as huge water projects.”
“I’ll tell you what, Rabbit, I can’t imagine Conrad suffering from guilt over anything.
“Nor can I. Conrad is a product of the guilt.”
They both saw the supervisor approaching.
“I’ve been with you long enough,” Two Shirts announced, “Because of your painting I have wished to speak with you.” He shut off the gas. The pop seemed quieter, “Can you meet me at Last Chance tonight?”
“Good. Try not to be followed. Buy gas, then walk into the desert toward the sun.”
“I’ll be there.”
“One hour after work,” the Indian added, “The attendant, though unfriendly and curiosity-stricken, never-the-less can be trusted.” Two Shirts handed over the torch, goggles, gloves, and smiled, “Do the job right, now, hippie.”
**** end of scene
Another partial scene from C7
The small brown man took a breath, then continued, “More centuries passed. Determined religious men finally entered their domain, and converted many to Christianity, and introduced civilized diseases. For a thousand years the Hohokum blood had remained pure, but as Christianity spread, so did the young people leave the peaks and addict themselves to drugs and alcohol, and intermarry, until now. Only the aged Hotowatah, the sixtieth descendent of the original Hotowatah, remains of royal blood. He copulated with three of the purest and healthiest of virgins. Nineteen years ago, two gave birth to sons who now are guardians of the third.”
The arroyo lines deepened more, as if the man were smiling.
“A daughter,” Raven Hawk said, “The Princess Tongowari, Shining Flower of the Half Moon, destined to be queen of all Indian people from all corners of the north and south continents, and she is now ready to take her place.”
The old Indian stopped narrating and kept gazing straight ahead, was silent for several seconds, then, “Two Shirts of the Rabbit, you are ready to leave?”
Two Shirts stood immediately, “I am, Raven Hawk.”
“Good. Do not return to your lodging. You will find what remains of the Hohokum people near ancient Mayan ruins, near where the River of the Sun flows. You must travel overland as the raven flies. You will bring the princess and her two guardians out of Mexico to the village by the Sauntering River in Nevada, at which time there will be a powwow with all major tribes involved.”
“I understand, Raven Hawk.”
“Good. Go now, Two Shirts of the Rabbit. Avoid people of all races, and God speed your return.”
Two Shirts reached behind his head and removed the leather thong. His hair, wild, black, shining, fell loosely about his slim shoulders. He gazed calmly and fiercely at Aaron, and handed over the thong.
Aaron accepted it, squeezed it, felt warmth from it, and strength, and instantly felt gooseflesh travel his whole body.
“The thong is medicine, Aaron Hodges. I hope to see you again, but fear I will not.” Then the young Apache turned and loped out across the hot sand, away from the station, away from civilization, south.
Awed, Aaron watched. There was no shuffle as the young Apache disappeared among desert growth, no questions asked, no fear shown.
“There are many dangers about, Hippie Boy,” Raven Hawk said, “A persecution of the Indian people has begun, and will intensify in the coming months.”
“Two Shirts spoke of the persecution, but I just don’t see why they have to walk, clear from Mexico, the Yucatan….” Then he realized the frivolity of that statement.
“I have more to tell you, Hippie Boy. This will be our only meeting. You will leave soon. Even now your nation calls you.”
Aaron lifted his hat, ran his fingers through his hair.
“Unhappy events are in the wind, my son, and you must be brave to meet the challenge of them.”
“Challenge, Raven Hawk? I, too, have a mission?”
“You are perceptive, Hippie Boy, but not all-wise. You must learn many things, for one day a group of your people will look to you for guidance, but you must enlist the help of others, which through cooperation and unity, will cause your sanctuary to flourish.”
Colony. Had to be. He should rejoice, but, “I, don’t understand.”
“You understand enough. There will be signs. Civilized man’s black gold is not infinite, nor is the grain in his bin, nor the moisture in his grainfields, but he will not believe until too late. You will have time.”
“Time to prepare. You will lead.”
Partial scene from C31 The Decision
“You’d ask people to do anything, wouldn’t you? But I guess I’ll do it. Caroline probably will too, but she’ll think you’re crazy.”
No comment. George decided to move away from the touchy subject of Caroline, “Anyway, how do you plan to clothe thirty people?”
“There’ll be a good deal more people than thirty, and yes, clothing will present a problem. We’ll take a lot with us. In time we’d have to revert to the spinning wheel. There’s some coming, and linen, doesn’t that come from flax somehow?
“Somehow? Don’t you know?”
“There’s lots of things I don’t know, George. I admit it, but I’ll find out from my books. And there’ll always be skins.”
“Skins? Good lord, Aaron, you could let them people buy some clothes once-in-awhile. You expect them to go back to the stone age?”
“What if there wasn’t anyplace we could buy things, George? What if things collapse like it did in the nineteen-thirties? There’s people a lot smarter’n me predicting that. And if it happened today it’d be a lot worse. We already have a hell-bending drought!”
“We are getting by. And what about yer colony-to-be? It probably won’t rain there either!”
“I don’t know,” Aaron admitted, pushing the half-eaten omelet away, rising, “We’d have to make good use of the water we did get, and keep it on the land, like we’re trying to do here. Many things would have to be worked out once we get there.”
“You’re darned right there’s‘a lots‘a things to work out and I think you’re crazy to even consider it, and crazier yet to think other people’d be crazy enough to consider it.” A bit severe, perhaps, and George was sorry after saying it, but his boss was so immature at times, always bouncing from one thing to another, spending his money, “I’m sorry, Aaron, but good god, boy, can’t you see it? People won’t do what yer askin’, they won’t be able to. People have had it too easy for too long. They’re too soft!”
“I’ve got several families picked out,” Aaron came back, leaning over and resting his hands on the table, “And one thing they aren’t is soft.”
“Oh yeah? Have you talked to’em?”
“You know I have, George, not recently, though, and they had the same attitude as you,” He laughed, “Just not quite so verbal about it.”
George laughed too, then reached over and patted Aaron’s arm, “You really think things aren’t going to get better, huh?”
“A long time from now, maybe.” Aaron straightened, “But I think it’ll get a lot worse first. One has to tear down an old house before he can build a new one in the same spot. The transition period can sometimes get pretty rough.”
True logic to that, “Any idea where your colony will be?”
“All I know for sure is it can’t be here.” He walked to the cupboard and began removing dehydrated food, “Too many people here, George. They’d all be clamoring to get inside. I’m thinking way up north, close to the Canadian border.”
“Mighty cold. Bout twice, three times as cold as it gets here.”
“Then we won’t go outside in winter except for recreation.”
“You’ll all go stir-crazy!”
“Nope.” Aaron fetched a knapsack from a pile of boxes, “The stonehouse’ll be built into the side of a hill. It’ll be plenty big and toasty-warm, and we’ll have plenty to do. Anyway, we’ll be satisfied. The original pioneers stayed home.”
“You’ll be busy all right! If you’re going to make all your own clothes and everything! You’re really going to do it, aren’t you?”
Aaron set the knapsack on a chair and began filling it with the dehydrated food, and continued munching on the omelet, “Yes. I figure we’ll have all summer to get established.”
“All summer? When do you think this disaster is going to happen?”
“I don’t know,” Aaron headed back to the corner, glanced back, and raised his brow, “Soon.”
George watched his young employer rummage through the stacks of equipment, and supplies without further comment.
After several minutes, Aaron, fully ready, hesitated at the door, “I’ve prepared papers, George. They’re at the bank right now, and they know who you are even though I doubt you’ve ever entered the place. Anyway, in the event of my death, or a very long absence, you will inherit this place. So, if you choose not to go along with us to the colony…well, I know how much you like it here, George. Oh, and the text lies on my bed.”
George regarded his fanciful employer with the crazy ideas but didn’t speak. He had expected either to go quietly along or be turned out to the road again.
Aaron raised his hand in farewell, then turned and opened the door and departed.
George took a long drink of the cold coffee, then picked up his fork and began eating the cold omelet.
End of chapter