Spirits of the West are often found in unexpected places. They can be found in a saloon in Colorado territory, on a wagon train in the plains of South Africa, or on a distant planet in another galaxy. They can be the bringers of revenge or the protectors of the weak. Indulge yourself in eight paranormal stories with western spirit in Spirits of the West…
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Glimpsing the Wanekia
Ever since I was little, I had the sense there was another world lurking beyond this one. That if you could just peel back the shaggy off-colored wallpaper of reality, you could glimpse another universe entirely, one that might or might not have your best interests at heart.
I wrote Wanekia about twelve years ago, when I was just starting to get my feet under me as a short fiction writer. I’d written my first novel and had failed to sell it, so I took the advice of many an old pro and decided to scale back my efforts, learn to tell stories in short form, master that, then get back to writing books. That I was arrogant enough to assume I had it in me to master anything is beside the point, but honestly, I was writing and revising to completion a couple stories a week, totally smitten with the process. Story ideas came and then they went.
The two young heroes of Wanekia are full of energy, curiosity, and more than a little arrogance. They’re only boys, and as I look back on that time in my life, I realize I was barely a man myself. Maybe I was just channeling my own frustration, my inability to find something incredible in the mundane. Becoming a successful writer, it was the one thing I wanted most, and it was always out of reach, much like the promise made by the Wanekia himself.
I chose, I think, 19th century Native America because I grew up with a deep love and fascination for the great tribes that called this continent home long before my people, white Europeans and their descendants, claimed and took it. If I had the choice to write a story like this again again, I wouldn’t, because my personal dedication to social and cultural sensitivity has grown exponentially in the years since. Yet I did study Native American history in college, and I was interested in doing the place and time justice if I was in any way able. In my research, I encountered a fascinating messianic Piute figure called Wovoka, the Wanekia, a man who promised that his special Ghost Dance would wash away the whites and rejuvenate native peoples, allow them to take back their ancestral homelands.
He was an interesting character that blended into his mission the lore of his people and the creation and destruction stories told by the Christian missionaries who were everywhere at the time. I wanted to talk about spiritual things, but I lacked the awareness within myself to do it properly. I also wanted to suggest that the unseen powers of this world were very real and very powerful, and I suppose that does come across in the end. Magic is everywhere if we’re willing to look for it. I know that now, and I suspected it strongly then.
The truth is, I started writing science fiction, fantasy, and horror because I was never really satisfied with life as it appears on the surface. When I was a kid, I must’ve believed so firmly in another world I caused my own unintended and unwanted fear complex, a potent and very unnerving anxiety about death, the afterlife, and beings of conscious flowing energy, spirits, specters, terrors, frights. Ghosts.
Or whatever passes for them in reality. Because what’s the difference between a ghost and a being who simply lives beyond our knowing? And who’s really in charge of this place, anyway? What if the creatures who call themselves the lords of this world only want domination and control? And if a single being among them, or even a small group of beings, rebelled and attempted to help humans, aid them in their worries and strife, wouldn’t they be the ultimate heretics?
I put two and two together in my own small yet creative way, but this was not my story to tell. I firmly believe that. Like I said, I wouldn’t write it again if I had the chance. I’d let the idea pass through my mind, smile at it, and then allow it to disappear with my deepest respect. I do hope you enjoy it nonetheless. You must know that whatever you’re dealing with in this life, whatever hardships you’re going through, they do end, there is a next phase, and a next, and a next, and though that life of yours is short, eternity, the assuredness of something beyond, it’ll be there to greet you. That’s what I believe. That’s what I’ve always known.
But I don’t need to convince or convert you. Read the story and allow yourself to be whisked away to another time, another place, a dark dimension not quite as safe as the one you know and love.
About the author
Six authors… eight stories… explore the Spirits of the West…