In the blackness of unconsciousness Petey watched as battles raged about him. Indian tribes clashed upon the sacred earth. The most savage came out triumphant. They celebrated with bonfires, treating their captured women with more brutality than Petey cared for. Time moved forward and he grew sick from the animal and human sacrifices. But still he had to watch, captive as he was to Devil’s Flat.
The white man came and another brutal battle raged before him. Petey was unsure which side was worse. The white man won. They burned the dead Indians in a giant funeral pyre, blackening the sky and fouling the air. From that fire rose the spirit angry and spiteful. All but one man fled. The man, an old trapper by his clothing and weapons, stood his ground. He fought the spirit with Indian magic, causing the ground to rise up. At last, the man was able to bind the spirit.
The land lay before Petey, as he knew it. Devil’s Flat; a land mark of bloody battles and sacrifices, of bonfires and burnt flesh. He watched as the man descended from the Flat, strangely able to follow him though the woods. Taking a path that was familiar to Petey, the man at last stopped at the sight upon which Grandma B’s house stood.
Time sped up. Petey watched the land change. Trees cut down, farmers moved in, the town built. All the while Grandma B’s house changed but slightly through the years, an organic growth of additions. Petey watched as it remained stead fast, always facing the Flat; a guardian and protector.
“Are you about finished?” Grandma B’s voice pierced the blackness and Petey’s eyes flew open. She stood between him and the shadow, hands on her hips.
The shadow dropped the arms that it had been pointing at Petey. “Hisss training mussst begin.” It hissed.
“Damn straight it must. But I ain’t going to be able to do anything with you lording over him.”
“Hisss training mussst be fassst he will be called upon sssoon.”
Grandma B pointed a finger at the shadow and it slunk away. Training? Petey scrambled up as Grandma B turned upon him. She looked at him with an expression he couldn’t understand.
“I guess Morgan ain’t the only one with a deadline.” She heaved a big sigh. “Come on Petey, there’s work to be done. Your father will drop off your things tomorrow. You’ll be living with me from now on.”
“What? Why?” Petey scrambled down after Grandma B more confused than ever. He hadn’t done anything worth getting kicked out for. He and his Pa had, had bigger arguments before.
“You’ll study the Devil’s Flat lore in the morning. Then you can go work at the Body shop with your Pa. When you’re done there you’re to make quick time back. Chores until dinner, then training after that until bed time.” Grandma B stopped and Petey nearly ran into her. She turned around to look at him. “Have I made myself clear?”
“Yes, Grandma B.” Petey knew better than to argue with that tone of voice.
“Good.” She resumed her swift pace back to the house. “You’ll sleep in Morgan’s room tonight.”
And so Petey did, though it felt odd; like he was desecrating a shrine. Yet at the same time, just being in Morgan’s room was a comfort. Deep down Petey knew this was the closest he was ever going to get to her. Head buried in her pillow he fell asleep, tears washing his face.