Fire of the Gods
by Carley Evans
Sitting here in the dark, on the ledge beside the opening to our cave, I’m happy to have the glow of the fire I stole from the Chakra in the valley. I can see their flame from here. It rises in the trees, sending eerie shadows into the limbs and canopy of the forest. I can faintly hear their chants. I presume they’re calling down rain from their god, Hotan. I look at the night sky. The stars laugh, twinkling. Not a wisp of cloud in the expanse. I don’t think it’s going to rain no matter how hard the Chakra pray.
Anu is snoring behind me. I can’t sleep when she snores so loudly. I tried rolling her over but she just rolled back and kept snoring. So, here I sit in the dark beside the small fire.
I remember when the fire of the gods first came down from the sky. The day was fiercely black with rolling bubbling clouds rushing across the valley toward our cave. We sat at its edge and watched the band of rain moving our way. Suddenly claps of thunder, and flashes of lightning; a tree in the valley below lit up with flame.
We didn’t see the Chakra, but we heard them shouting. The rain let up briefly and the fire consumed the tree in a flash of smoke and flame. We could see small dots of red among the trees moving away from the smoldering, still ablaze stump. The small fires disappeared. The rain returned in a torrent. The stump stopped burning. The world grew still as fog rose from the ground.
Two days later, Anu spotted the first of many night-time fires. She pointed.What’s that? I didn’t know, but the odor wafting from the forest was the same as when fire descended upon that tree. The Chakra had the fire of the gods. I wanted it for Anu and the others in our cave.
Two more days, and I climbed down the escarpment to the floor of the forest. I carried a bundle of twigs and sticks and dried grass in a stone I’d fished from the creek bed. The stone had just enough of a depression to properly function as a bowl. I wrapped a rabbit skin over the top to keep the kindling from blowing away. I tied the bowl to my back with another skin so my hands remained free for the climb down into the valley.
I found the Chakra without difficulty. The flames of their fire led me. They were all asleep when I found them in the dead of night. My skill of the quiet step allowed me to steal the flame right out of their fire without awakening any one of the tribe.
The fire was ours. Rabbit tasted better when cooked in the fire of the gods. Winter nights were warmer in the cave with the fire of the gods. And, the Chakra in the valley lost nothing by our gain.