Authors: Mahogany SilverRain
Lulu Press, Inc.
Copyright: © 2009 Mahogany SilverRain
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
Kendra sighed as she banged the last CAUTION sign in place. It was winter and the icy cold air she breathed made her lungs hurt and stung her eyes and nose. She hated the cold, but loved her job as a park ranger in the first and oldest national park in the country, Yellowstone. Hell, for sixty thousand a year as a single woman with no kids, she’d brave the cold. Her family criticized her career choice saying, “black women had no place being outdoors with wild animals
and such, leave that to those crazy white men.” Though women have been park rangers since 1917, men still outnumbered them, even fewer were minorities and Kendra was one of a handful of black women that worked in a national park as a ranger, most black women do not work or live in Wyoming. It also didn’t help that she was the only black person she saw on a daily basis, but some African American families would come through during the summer. Besides, she’d loved being outdoors for as long as she could remember. Though not thrilled by wildlife or animals in general, she would be the first to defend their right to live protected and free inside the park. She stood around five foot six with smooth mocha brown skin, curvy with thick legs, small waist and a round bottom. Her lovely gray eyes had come from her paternal grandmother, who was French-Canadian.
Being one of the few African American women in her field, she was often invited to go to schools in the area and talk to children about careers in the environmental outdoors, law enforcement, and geology. She loved when minority children would view her with wide eyes and ask all kinds of questions about being a ranger. She especially loved the questions about “Smokey the bear”.
Only two roads to the park were open during the winter months,
, (Gardiner, Montana), a
nd Cooke City, M
ontana, which is near the border of Montana and Wyoming,
from Mammoth Hot Springs to the parking area at the Upper Terraces
, but the latest weather report said a blizzard was coming and her superiors thought it best to close the park for the next few days. They’d already evacuated most of the tourists and would be campers that were not staying in the park hotels earlier that day. Kendra could hardly believe anyone would want to camp out in this weather, especially with the nice warm hotels and cabins near the springs, but every year, someone tried. The good news was most of the animals were hibernating for the winter but the wolves and bobcats would still be out hunting for food, though they were hardly ever spotted in the heavily populated areas. Still, it was a thought that had her hurrying to post the signs and lock the gate.
She was on duty till morning and as soon as she was done, she’d head to the Lamar Ranger Station for the evening. It was a large facility that included lodging for the rangers who stayed overnight. If it turned out to be a bad snowstorm, she’d be stuck there for days and it was not a bad place to be stuck if one was snowed in. With internet access, TV, hot tub, sauna and gym, it was definitely a good place to wait out a storm.
It was late afternoon and the sun was still out, the ground covered in a heavy blanket of snow. It was peaceful, quiet,
, Kendra thought. One would think that the reports of an impending blizzard were false.
Maybe it’s just the calm before the storm,
she thought to herself as she walked back to the jeep. There was still time and daylight before she needed to get back to the station in Lamar Valley. She checked her gear in the jeep, her radio clipped firmly on her field jacket. She’d hit one of her favorite spots before going to the station while there was some sunlight left.
She was supposed to be indoors today, working at the Albright Visitor Center and museum, which is why she’d chosen to wear her olive green pull over sweater, long sleeve dress shirt, wool skirt, sequoia cone belt and thick brown tights with her dark brown ranger pumps. It was more professional looking for being inside the visitor center around people. She’d even bothered to let down her usually pinned back in a French twist, medium length, natural curly dark brown hair. She wore makeup, natural looking eye shades that accentuated her light gray eyes with a thin line of gel eyeliner and a deep berry lipstick that made her full lips even more enticing.
So when she was told by her supervisor, Marty Brickman, that she needed to go lock the gates of the north entrance, she wanted to knock his head off. He knew she wasn’t dressed to be outside for any length of time and her change of clothing was twenty-nine miles in the opposite direction at the ranger station in Lamar Valley, she wouldn’t have time to go and change before nightfall. Johnson or Peters, the other rangers on site, could have easily done the job and were more appropriately dressed. Not only was she the only black ranger there, but she was also the only female and Brickman tested her patience time and time again with what she called “bullshit” assignments.
It was as if he gave her every menial, trivial task he could think of and she was no rookie, she’d been on the job for damn near six years. She had built a reputation of being trustworthy, a hard worker who fought for the “underdog”, going to bat for anyone who needed it. She didn’t know what his problem with her had been but mouthing off to him wouldn’t do anything but place her job in jeopardy and she loved her job too much. She was actually being considered for a supervisory position now and maybe that’s what his problem was, afraid she’d take
job. She always took pride in her work so she had no choice but to do what she was told. Luckily,
she had an extra pair of snow boots and her felt ranger hat in her jeep, at least her feet and head wouldn’t be freezing.
She opened the jeep door and shook the snow from her boots before climbing inside. She’d finally managed to calm down now and after all, being at the museum had been boring to say the least and she preferred the outdoors. She stopped at Prospect Peak, not far from Roosevelt tower on her way back to the station in Lamar Valley. It was peaceful as she stepped from the jeep, taking off her felt hat. An icy breeze blew making her curly hair whip wildly about her face.
The view was breathtaking as she stood overlooking the valley below. It was one of her favorite places in the park. It was cold, but she enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the calm she felt being out here. Then something caught her eye. In the distance at the bottom of the hill, four figures emerged.
she thought as she reached inside the jeep for her binoculars.
Buffalo,” she said aloud after getting a good look.
But what are they doing out here so far from the buffalo ranch in Lamar Valley?
There were two larger ones and two smaller ones. They looked to be walking slowly toward the ranch but then suddenly they broke into a run. Kendra looked around to see what might have spooked them when she noticed a pack of wolves charging toward the four scared bison. There were seven or eight of them at least. Even if the larger two got away, the younger ones were defenseless against so many hungry wolves. Kendra needed to do something.
Buffalo ranch, this is Ranger Jones, over,” She spoke into her radio.
With no reply, she spoke again, “Buffalo ranch, do you copy? This is Kendra Jones, over.”
We copy Ranger Jones, what’s up?” a cheerful voice said. It was Jill, the station’s radio operator, the only other female at the station who didn’t work in the gift shop, museum or café; she was also Brickman’s wife. Kendra breathed a sigh of relief.
Hey Jill, I’m at Prospect Peak. I need assistance; four buffalo out here are about to attacked by a wolf pack, over.”
Negative, all buffalo are accounted for and are secure for the night Ranger Jones.”
Copy that, but are you sure? I’m looking at four bison, two large and two small ones, over.”
Ranger Jones, the storm is about to come in, I suggest you head here to the station and that’s an order!”
Kendra knew that voice, Brickman, of course he’d already be there.
But sir, what about the bison? Over.”
Not our problem Jones and don’t try to be a hero! Now, get your butt back here pronto before you get your silly ass stuck in the blizzard! Do you copy Ranger Jones?”
Copy that sir, on my way, over,” Kendra said reluctantly. She’d rescued more than a few animals out here, an elk that had gotten caught by the antlers in tree, a baby moose that wandered away from its mother and so on.
She picked up her binoculars to check out the animals again. To her surprise, the wolves were not attacking the bison, who’d stopped running, it looked as if the wolves were playing with the bison!
What the hell?
She thought as she stepped further away from the jeep, forgetting that she was on a sloped hill and there was a drop off of more than one hundred feet below. She slipped, losing her balance and rolled to the bottom of the hill.
They could no longer hide among the Crow Indians in Montana. They were an Arapaho race of shamans that the native tribes called “shadow people”. They could shift at will into any animal of their choosing. Their shifting abilities made them dangerous to the Crow people because the government somehow found out about them and wanted them caught and tested to see if their abilities could be used in some way for the military and more. They’d been hunted for years and moved from tribe to tribe seeking safety, but the tribes would be harassed by government agents.
They were safe under the tribal government until the federal government overruled them. They didn’t want to make trouble for the tribes that had graciously taken them in. Their numbers were few already and in order for their race to survive, they needed a safe place, away from the humans to breed and practice their magic.
It was his father’s idea to live among the protected animals of the Yellowstone National Park. Joseph Blackhorse and his family were coming from Montana. They had lived everywhere from New Mexico, Colorado to Montana near the Canadian border. Each time,
within weeks, the government had located them, either because someone had given away their secret or there were spies inside the tribes.