December 28th, 1890ad.
The White Man entered the tent.
Its animal-hide flanks were tough and shaped into a cone on a wooden frame.
He pushed the flaps aside like he was entering a slum, trying not to touch too much.
Smoke filled his nostrils from the small fire in the centre, a bright hearth that warmed the body and mind, so it was said. His blue US Cavalry uniform hung from him like he was a scarecrow, limp and loose. He had lost weight since being issued it.
The man he had come to see sat cross-legged, an elder of the Miniconjou Lakota, holding himself straight as if he were meditating.
The White Man wiped the dust from his dirty-white gloves.
He had had to fight his way to this tent.
“I know what you seek,” the native shaman said, unworried about his uninvited guest. His voice was deep and croaky like many of his kind when they reached old age.
The White Man couldn’t help but show his nervousness.
“How do you?”
The elder smiled, his darkly tanned ruddy and wrinkled face scrunching up with the movement. He only had a few winters left in him.
“I have been chosen to see things that others may not. As an elder, the spirits talk to me more vividly than my other kin. And they have shown me your fate, Colonel. The spirits have deemed you of the Other Kind, and are not welcome on these lands, nor your soldiers.”
“What is my fate?” he demanded, his hand brushing the revolver on his hip.
The elder chuckled at the movement, unafraid.
“Your fate is tied to that of this tribe, these people,” he replied calmly, making a sweeping gesture with one long arm. “Your fate will always be tied to the Lakota.”
This angered the White Man.
“No,” he growled in reply.
“Then why did you come, White Man? Why bother?”
“I have heard many stories about you, old man. That you see things. The future, for example. They say you know people’s fate.”
The old man chuckled again. “Do they? Perhaps. I see many futures. Many pasts. Many presents. Would you like to hear one?”
The White Man nodded cautiously.
What was the harm?
“The spirits guided me in seeing the end of our world. They showed me a great rock like that of ages past, descending onto our plains, wiping it clean of us all. I see a warrior of great destiny, striding the stars, bringing light to the darkness. I see his face, younger than his years, shrouded in time, and I see his name.”
He paused, catching his breath as if reliving the entire experience over again.
“What name?” asked The White Man, leaning forward.
The White Man looked visibly shaken.
“From the Bible?”
The elder shook his head slowly.
“No, Colonel. Something far worse. But then you will not be around to see it, Colonel James Forsyth.”
The White Man jumped up at the mention of his name.
“Do not speak of this to anyone,” he warned.
The elder just chuckled, watching as the Cavalry officer marched out of the tent, grumbling to himself.
“White Men don’t usually believe me anyway,” he smiled.
He sighed. He had seen his own fate, and that of his tribe. But there was hope for his people, for what White Men called humanity.
“Caine,” he repeated, running the name over his tongue like an unfamiliar tasting chunk of meat. “Terra must fall.”
He shook his head, and stood to stretch his legs, stepping outside as the White Man charged away on his horse. Soon they would come back, soon they would find his tribe. There would be blood, he knew.
Blood at this place the White Men called Wounded Knee.