'Through discovery, some seeming anomaly drops out of the darkness, and falls, as a golden link, into the great chain of order.'
Edwin Hubbel Chapin
Extract from chapter 8. Discovery.
Manana lies at the bottom of a ravine overwhelmed by a strange sense of fear finds herself face to face with a Great Eagle, one of the worlds most dangerous creatures.
Mañana's imagination had already been working overtime, with the events of the last hour, but the sight that greeted her was so unexpected, she let out a small cry, more in surprise then anything else. Unfortunately, without realising it, she involuntary jerked backwards and her foot slipped of the rock that was supporting her. Mañana screamed as she lost her balance, again not so much in fear but in surprise as she felt herself falling backwards. In desperation, she lunged out with her other hand, trying to grab the roots that her other hand already held on to.
Unfortunately, for her, the roots were old and rotted and her full weight was too much for them to bear. Before she had the chance to get a firm grip, the roots she already held onto ripped away from the ledge and Mañana, with her arms flailing about her, fell towards the ravine floor.
She fell awkwardly, her head striking against a large rock that protruded rock from the bank. The impact caused her to bite her tongue drawing blood and pain coursed through Mañana as she struck the gully bottom in a tangled heap. Feeling groggy, her mind disorientated from mild concussions from the blow to the head she had received, Mañana sprawled motionlessly on the ravine floor. She felt moisture trickling down her head and neck and knew she had sustained a head wound. How serious it was, she could not tell yet, as her natural instincts told her to be still and wait for the pain to subside. She knew that if she tried to move at this moment, dizziness would sweep in and it could overcome her. For at least five minutes, Mañana lay stationary, spread-eagled at the bottom of the gulley. She used this time to allowing the disorientation in her mind too clear. Satisfied that she was able to function and that her head injury, although painful, may not be that serious, she opened her eyes.
As the sun had already dropped below the eastern mountains, very little light could make its way to the bottom of the ravine, and where Mañana lay, she was immersed in a deep shadow. Her head still throbbing from the impact it had sustained, so at first, her vision was a little blurry. Gradually, things began to come into focus as her eyes became accustomed to the shadow, and it was not long before she was able to make out her surroundings clearly. Looking to her left, she could see clearly the rocks and plants that were randomly strewn along the floor. Directly in front of her, no more then a few inches away, an intricate spider's web was spun between a cactus leaf and a rock. Trapped inside it, an ant struggled uselessly against its inevitable fate. Mañana used this miniature drama as a focal point for her senses. She needed to be sure that they were all functioning correctly and the knock she had taken on her head would not be causing her any more problems. She started to test her fingers, feet and arms, to ascertain that her co-ordination was one hundred per cent and when she was satisfied that the concussion had passed; she moved her hands slowly to the back of her head to check the wound. She was relieved to find that it was only a slight cut; a sigh of relief passed her lips when she noticed that the bleeding had already stopped. Mañana's head still throbbed slightly from her full, but she knew enough about head injuries to know that if she did not exert herself to much, it would not cause a problem. As she was once again checking the wound, Mañana started to feel that something was wrong. Her senses were now becoming sharper and with them, a feeling of unease was creeping through her. This feeling was growing stronger by the second, but slowly the unease faded, only to be replaced in turn by fear. She sensed she was not alone and that there was something dangerous close to her. She could really feel this presence now as it gave off an overpowering sensation of its power and presence. Signs of fear manifested themselves and her body broke out in a cold sweat with goose pimples erupting on her flesh - which she knew were not a result the cold.
There’s danger here. Her instincts screamed at her. She knew she had to get up and get away from where she lay, but was unable to, due to the fear that had now rooted her to the spot. Try as she might, she could just not force her body into any movement. The terrified child was only to aware, that whatever was sharing this ravine with her was very close, as its presence felt so much stronger now. She could even feel the heat that radiated from its body. In desperation, she grasped the crucifix that hung on the rosemary beads around her neck. 'Oh God, please help me,' she whispered.
However, her prayer gave her neither the strength nor willpower to move her legs. Hearing a small movement behind her, she just could not find the courage to turn and face whatever danger was there. Her body trembling, she clutched her crucifix even tighter as tears began to run from her eyes.
'Oh Madonna Negro, please help me,' she cried.
There comes a time, in moments of extreme danger, when instinctively, self-preservation overrides fear and the will to survive becomes paramount. Mañana had reached this point. Her shaking subsided and her hands fumbled blindly around the rocky floor for a weapon of some sort. They fastened on a rock, which her fingers anxiously clawed loose from the rubble and gripped tightly. You must confront this danger; her mind was telling her in a voice that sounded a lot calmer then she felt. Even though fear still gripped the child in its paralysing stillness, a part of her body responded to the frantic signals from her brain and that was the hand that now lifted the rock. Mañana uttered another short prayer, as her nostrils were assailed by the beast's aroma. It was defiantly the smell of a wild animal, yet it was unlike any aroma she had previously encountered. The smell of blood was very strong on it, but she recognised another odour, one that she had smelt before and was familiar with; it was the smell of the dead or dying.