Hawk Moon is the sequel to Prophecy Rock and was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe award for young adult fiction. Please check the ebook store for links to online stores.
The ghost town seemed to shimmer like a mirage in the moonlight. It spooked her. This place had always spooked her. Even at midday.
As they walked into the town, a dust devil swirled down the street. The wind moaned through the old buildings. Myra wondered what it would have been like to live here in the old days, maybe as the daughter of a prospector and his wife who’d crossed the Great Plains in a wagon train.
Ashcroft came into being in the summer of 1880, near the road leading over Taylor Pass. Within a year, about five hundred people lived in Ashcroft, about the same as Aspen at that time. Soon, a telegraph wire crossed the pass connecting the two towns, and the population swelled to two thousand. But the good times didn’t last long. By the end of the century, a depressed mood swept through the mining communities as the value of silver fell, and Ashcroft was abandoned. Now, more than a hundred years later, what remained of the town was slowly collapsing.
Myra glanced at her companion, then quickened her pace through the chilly autumn night. She stopped in front of one of the buildings in the heart of Ashcroft and peered through the entry. The door had disappeared long ago; the interior was a dark hole. A whisper of wind seemed to beckon her. She felt her heart pounding.
“You wanna go inside?” Will asked.
She turned to Will Lansa, whose brown eyes stared intently at her. In the light of the full moon, his high cheekbones emphasized his Native American heritage. “I don’t know. It gives me the creeps.”
“It’s just an old building, Myra.” He stepped through the doorway, and she lost sight of him.
“Hey, come and take a look at this, will ya?”
“What is it?”
“Come here. Hurry.”
She hesitated, then moved into the building. She smelled the odor of damp, rotting wood. But there was something more here, too. Something that made her feel tense and cold. The beams creaked and moaned. Even in here, the cool wind penetrated her bones.
She took two cautious steps in the direction of his voice, wishing she hadn’t followed him. Then she saw him standing in front of a window bathed in faint moonlight.
“It’s a red fox,” he whispered.
She relaxed her shoulders, exhaling, then took another step. “A fox? What’s it–”
Something tugged on her scarf. Tugged again. She shrieked, clawed the scarf off, and bolted for the door. She raced into the middle of the wide dirt road, and for a moment she thought she saw herself from high above as she spun in circles at the very center of the ghost town.
“Jeez, Myra. What happened?” Will asked as he loped out to her.
“Something grabbed me. It pulled my scarf.”
“Myra, you probably hooked your scarf on a nail or something. I’ll go get it.”
She reached for his arm. “No. I want to get out of here right now.”
“What about your scarf”
“I don’t care. It’s old.”
They walked in silence past several dark buildings. When they were out of the town and on the path leading to the parking lot, Myra starting feeling more at ease. “I guess that was sort of silly of me to get afraid like that.”
“I can see how it might happen.”
“Do the Hopis believe in ghosts?” She knew that Will’s knowledge of Hopi ways was limited, that until this past summer, when he’d visited his father, he’d known very little about his heritage.
“We believe in our ancestors, the power of the kachinas, and the reality of the spirit world. I don’t know about ghosts.”
It was the first time she’d heard him speak of himself as a Hopi. His experience with his father, who was Chief of Police on the Hopi reservation, had made a strong impact.
Even though they’d started seeing each other again this fall, Myra had noticed a difference in Will. He was quieter, more introspective. It was as if he were always mulling over things that had happened during the summer. From what he’d told her, there was plenty to think about.
But Will wasn’t the only one who had undergone some trying times. She’d asked him to meet her here because she had something to tell him and she wanted to do it away from school and friends.
They reached the parking lot, and Will walked her to her mother’s minivan. She turned to face him, and the brisk wind rippled through her hair. Events of the summer had left her confused and frightened. She’d remained silent about what she’d seen and found out, but the others involved were watching her too closely. She was certain something was going to happen, and before it did she wanted to tell Will about it.
Will didn’t touch her, didn’t try to kiss her. He just stared at her, his chiseled features not giving her any hint of what he was thinking.
Talking to him lately had been nearly impossible. He was busy with football practice every afternoon after school, and this week the coach had extended the practice time an hour in preparation for the final game of the season against Leadville for the conference title. Today, though, he’d agreed to meet her, and now she was going to tell him everything. She hoped he could help her decide what she should do.
Then they both spoke at the same time. “Will.”
They laughed nervously.
“There’s something I’ve got to tell you,” he said. “Something important.”
“Me too, but go ahead. You first.”
“I don’t feel right about seeing you anymore.” He shrugged. “It’s just not working out for me.”
Myra was caught off guard. She knew their relationship had been strained lately, but she hadn’t been expecting that. “Why not? Did I do something?”
“No, it’s got nothing to do with you. I’ve got to be alone now. I need to figure some things out.”
“Does that mean we can’t talk to each other anymore?”
“I hope we can still be friends, but . .
“Yeah, I know how it is.” She turned her back on him and opened the minivan door. “I guess we won’t be going to Paige’s tomorrow night.”
“Let’s talk tomorrow at lunch,” he said.
If he wanted to break up, that was it. She slammed the door. Will stared at her through the window, then walked off toward his Jeep. She heard the engine rev up as she reached into her jacket for her keys.
He hadn’t even asked what she’d been planning to tell him. He was so caught up in his own world—his football and his musings about his Hopi self—he didn’t even know there was something wrong in her life and it involved people he knew. Now Myra was at a loss as to who she should turn to, what she should say. But she just couldn’t hold it back any longer. She hated to involve her mother, but …
She jumped in her seat, spun around. “My God, you scared me. What are you doing in here? How did you get here?”
She saw a blur of movement and something heavy slammed against her head. She groaned at the terrible pain that exploded in her head. She reached for the door handle, struggling to escape, but then she was struck again. Her hand fell away and she sank into a vast sea far below the waves of pain.