The eight stood in a circle around the small fire pit. Outside the shelter, the rain poured so hard it was like a steady, deafening sound. Cora stepped closer to the fire and stared into it. She glanced up and nodded to Leena. Taking Dade’s hand, she whispered, “Let’s hope some ancestors are available tonight.”
Dade lifted her hand and kissed it before he let go. “I’ll make sure they are.” He picked up the shaker sitting in front of him and gently began to shake it from side to side. His lips moved in a silent chant, and he closed his eyes.
Owen watched as Leena and Steven both turned their backs to the circle and faced the pouring rain. Raising their hands, they lowered their heads in concentration. If he hadn’t seen it with his own eyes, he’d never have believed someone telling him.
As their heads came up, the wind seemed to continuously circle the shelter and block out the pouring rain. He could no longer see or hear the heavy downpour.
Not knowing what to expect next, he looked back at the others. Chris, Kasey, and Rachel were standing with their hands clasped and staring into the fire as the flames rose higher. The flames were almost white now, and he blinked to make sure it wasn’t just his eyes.
Dade’s motion with the rattle became faster and louder as he moved to stand beside Cora. Her head was thrown back and her eyes closed, and she seemed to be shaking with the rhythm of the rattle. Her eyes flew open, and she stopped shaking to look into the fire. He could see the sweat beading down her face, and her hands trembled. The look on her face told him she was afraid, but she said nothing. She reached empty hands toward the fire, and the flames flew higher. Not knowing what else to do, Owen went to stand behind her in case he was needed at some point.
She stepped back and cried out in fear. He caught up her shoulders and held her tight as Dade instructed him to do. Glancing over her shoulder and into the fire he saw, he wasn’t sure what, images but they blurred together and he couldn’t understand them.
Cora cried out again and sagged back against him. He caught her tight against his waist and held her to his chest. His own chest began to burn. He didn’t know what was going on, but he felt compelled to stop it. “Stop now!” He said roughly.