Cold

I drift.

My living room is lined with large windows all facing in one direction. I see nothing of the interior room as I stand inside at one of those windows. I see only the view; an arroyo that stretches long as a canyon floor. Mostly it is flat, but there are mounds, some as tall as houses jutting up.

Placed almost directly in front of the window I stand at is one of those mounds, all red clay and red-brown sand rising up. Someone has carved into its side, the resulting cave facing me. Inside the predominantly red clay, the walls are decorated with strong and smooth lines.

Wind blows loose top soil in gusts throughout the arroyo, deserted but for the inhabitants inside the cave. There are two. One, a man with tanned skin that looks as though it was genetically designed for the hot desert environment, stands behind a table of wood within the cave walls. His head is bald and he wears nothing but a dust-covered white loin cloth. He is muscular, though not particularly young. Maybe fifty. I don’t recognize him.

Or the man lying, eyes closed, chest slowly rising and falling, on the wooden table. His skin is golden, much like the first in the shade of the sweltering sun and he too is nearly naked, though maybe a decade younger. From the top of the cave, a pendulum hangs upside down; the point facing the roof, the rounded edge of the tear-drop form swinging above the man on the table as the wind gusts cut into the tiny space.

I watch the man who is standing. He is chanting and reminds me of a medicine man. His arms move in rhythmic motions to the words I cannot hear. Then, his face set in calm lines, he reaches for the inverted pendulum, lifts it high and smashes it down hard into the skull of his latest sacrifice to the gods.

The man’s chest on the table no longer rises and falls.

My heart stops in my chest. This cannot be happening! And I am confused. There is no blood. Instead there is only the concaved portion of skull above the now dead man’s right eye.

With an unnerving calm, the medicine man lets go of the pendulum, begins to chant once more. And I am cold. So cold, in the center of that hot desert as the world fades around me.

I wake.