The Trading Post... Part 7
Daniel raced through the forest, trying to reach the train before the explosion killed so many innocents. His mind went back to quieter times, when he and Ellie were so young and in love. In a moment of what Ellie thought was good, their world had turned upside down. The bridge, old and tattered, had been a place of peace and beauty at one time for them. Looking down at the old tracks that had once guided trains not only into a new land but alos in to the future, he could see the things of the past that had created the world he and Ellie now lived in. The same tracks that, re-created, had altered their lives, perhaps forever.
He heard the shots echo through the trees. He watched as the women of the camp gathered their babies and ran to find cover in the dense forest that surrounded them. Daniel knew that no warriors would be there to save them. They were chasing a train to their own doom. He could not be in two places at once and he somehow knew that his Love was in amongst the women being slaughtered in the camp. How could he stop the warriors from being killed and save his Ellie at the same time?
Suddenly, through the thicket, Daniel saw it. It was the very place that he needed to save them all. He pulled back on the reins of his horse and turned him to leave the forest. Reaching his destination, he dis-mounted and ran inside the Trading Post. The man behind the counter seemed surprised to see Daniel enter. The man spoke but Daniel could not hear his words. Anger filled Daniel as he reached over the counter and grabbed the man by his collar.
"Look at me when you talk! You know I can't hear you! You know because you are the one that took my hearing from me! I am here to stop this massacre from happening all over again!"
The man did not seem frightened of Daniel at all. He looked at him and smiled. "You can not stop this, it has already started. As for trying to scare me," the man said, brushing Daniel's hands from his coat, "I have died again and again and I will die here I am sure, but in another 50 or 75 years, we will all be back to re-live it once more. All except you, I suppose. Each time, it is someone different. The clothes and the face the same as always, but a different person."
"What are you talking about, old man?!?!? You better explain what you mean before I Do "make it happen again."
"You are Nizhoni's man, right?"
"Nizhoni? No, that was my Ellie's great grandmother, I think."
The man smiled again. "Then you don't know. Your "Ellie" is our Nizhoni-Kimama, meaning beautiful butterfly. She was with the Indians until she fell in love with a white man. She was banished from her tribe and we turned her and her husband away because they were in cahoots with the tribe and us. I heard her people cursed her and that she had to keep dieing over and over again. The problem is that everytime She re-lives, we all re-live. I suspect she is gonna die today when the soldiers go through the camp."
"God man, they are already there! I left just as they were starting to kill them."
"If you are trying to save her, why are you here? You should be out there, trying to get her out of the camp. As soon as she dies, poof, we are all gone again!"
"If you are still here, then she must still be alive. Tell me, what can I trade you for her life. She has to live, no matter what!'
"Shoot Mister, I trade a lot of things, but traded for a life to be saved... that's something I have never done. I wouldn't even know how to price it. And, if she did live through it, I don't know what that would do to all of this." The man waved his hand around the room.
"I will trade you anything you want! I just want her to live."
"You go save the world or what-ever you are doing. I will try to make things happen here. Remember, you said anything."
Daniel hurried as fast as he could to reach the train. The warriors were nearly at the train. He waved his rifle at them, trying to get them to stop. He stopped long enough to tie a piece of his white shirt to the barrel. As he raised the rifle high, he felt a sting in his shoulder. He had heard no shots fired. Glancing where the pain was, he saw the arrow, the stone edge buried in his shoulder. Daniel did not care. he had to reach the train and stop the explosion. He rode as close as he could to the tracks until he was beside the train. He pushed himself off of the horse and landed on the back-side of the engine.
"What are you doing here?!?"
Daniel stared at the engineer for only a moment. "I am stopping this from happening! Get off while you still can!"
Without even an explanation, the man leapt from the train. Daniel knew he didn't have long to find the fuse. He followed a long fuse that stretched from train car to train car until he found the dynamite. There was enough on-board to blow up three city blocks. He ripped the fuse from the pile of explosives and tossed it to the wind. Looking down the tracks, he saw a pile of trees that had been left on the tracks. The warriors were as close to the train as they could get now. Another arrow pierced his body. Daniel felt it go deep in to his rib-cage. Wincing withpain, he looked for a place that he could get off of the train. He saw a brush pile and jumped just as the train hit the trees. The sound of timber and steel meeting resounded through all of the forest. Rail car after rail car smashed in to one another, ripping both timber and steel in to pieces of nearly un-recognizable shreds.
Daniel whistled for his horse. Some-how, he knew the buckskin would come. Pulling himself onto the horse, Daniel rode back towards the camp. He glanced back to see the confused looks on the warriors faces as they searched for men. There were none to be found. Daniel knew they would now ride back to the camp. He had to beat them there but the pain and loss of blood were telling him differently.
She hid in the under-brush, watching as the soldiers shot anything that moved. A black-tailed Doe, scared from her hiding spot, ran through the camp. She too fell victim to the soldiers rifles. Ellie looked up from her hiding place, straight in to the eyes of a soldier and his rifle.
"Well hey, you beautiful squaw. I might just hide you and keep you for myself."
Suddenly, the man fell forward as if he had been struck by something huge. He toppled off of his horse and lay at Ellie's feet. She quickly grabbed her knife and raised his head to slit his throat.
"No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o Ellie, do not kill him!" Ellie recognized the voice right away and dropped the knife. She saw Daniel coming through the trees, his torn short covered in blood, arrows protruding from his chest. "We can stop this, you and I! Come to me and let's get out of here.!"
Ellie stood up and Daniel scooped her off the ground. She wrapped around his chest and held on tight. She kissed his neck and cried her tears down his back. "I knew you would come back for me, Daniel. I love you so much."
Daniel gave no response. Ellie did not know that he could not hear her. As they rode deeper into the forest, a shot rang out. Ellie screamed out in pain as the bullet went deep into her spine. She clamped around Daniel tighter so she did not fall off. As the horse broke through the forest, Daniel could see they were back at the Trading Post. As the horse walked up to the door, Daniel and Ellie fell from it's back. Ellie lay looking at the man she had loved, she thought perhaps, for all of her lives. He laid motionless, looking back at her.
The man from the Trading Post came out and stood beside Daniel. Daniel looked from him to Ellie and back. As if the man understood, he nodded at Daniel. "I figured out the price, Mister. Don't worry, she will live."
Daniel smiled and then took Ellie's hand. Through tears, he kissed her softly and pulled her to his body. "I Love you, Ellie, forever. Don't forget to find me in another life-time. I will be waiting."
Ellie looked at Daniel, her eyes wide with fear. "Daniel, what are you talking about?!?! No, no damn you, you can not die now. I Need you to live. Please, Daniel, please... stay with me." Ellie sobbed into his chest, trying to make him listen. She looked up at the man from the Trading Post. "You, you can save him!!! Please, do not let him die."
"I am sorry maa'm, a trade is a trade and all trades are final. Daniel traded your life, for his."
"N-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o Daniel, no-o-o-o-o-o! I have no life without you. Please, come back to me."