"Will," he heard his wife breathe. "What is this?"
These were Indians like he’d expected to see paintings of at the Museum of the Plains Indians on the reservation. Indians with head bands and colorful feathers. Indians with long flowing hair. Indians with painted faces. Indians with bows and arrows.
Fierce war cries and shrieks erupted across the Northern Montana plains, echoing through the open windows of the Range Rover.
These were angry Indians.
The scene, the setting was both stunning and terrifying. So many colors, and so many faces. The details were magnificent. Braids, leather, the weaponry. Their eyes. Feathers that hung from necks, from spears, from headbands, from belts. Bodies glistening with sweat from the heat of the overhead sun. Horse after horse, warrior after warrior pushed ahead by a great cloud of dust that stretched far into the plains.
Yes, Will realized, this is real.
The charging Indians were bearing down fast. Will dropped the transmission into reverse and hit the gas, shouting to himself, unaware of the exact words that came out. The rear wheels spun up thick plumes of dirt as his wife fell into a hysterical scream. The mounted Indians were rapidly nearing. Just as the engine’s RPMs wound out with the retreat, Will slammed on the brakes and twisted the steering wheel hard to the right, incoherent words and sounds still pouring from his mouth. The front end of the Range Rover slid around in a 180 degree turn, over the side of the dirt road, jolting them, throwing them painfully against the restraining seat belts. They came to a rest.
Suddenly, Will and his wife were looking in the opposite direction of the charging Indians, at the impoverished and lifeless houses of the reservation. At the rutted dirt road running through it.
The native warriors of the Plains were almost on top of them. The haunting war cries grew louder. Arrows flew past. The thundering hooves shook the earth beneath them.
The immense fear that had seized Will now tightened its grip. His mind was paralyzed. He couldn’t think. He couldn’t move.
His wife’s hysterical shrieking brought the panic back to his movements. He shifted swiftly into drive and then his foot crushed down on the gas pedal. The wheels whirled in an effort forward, the speed rapidly increasing as the tires gained traction with the packed dirt. The tires fully connected and the Range Rover exploded forward.
Just as it did another flurry of arrows struck the ground all around.
The speedometer hit 15, 20, 25, 30, as the neighborhood of houses sped closer.
The pounding hooves and haunting cries drowned out the sound of the engine.
The warriors were upon them.
The dirt road was flying by underneath.
A horse’s mane blowing wildly in the wind only a few feet to Will’s left caught his eye. He turned his head and, for an instant, time seemed to standstill. The Range Rover was no longer moving. His hysterical wife was motionless. The charging Indians had ceased! And there was absolute silence.
The face of a fierce Blackfoot Indian Warrior, a red painted line drawn down both cheeks, locked eyes with him through the open window. This was an Indian from another time, another place.
There was no sound.
And then, the chaos of the moment rushed on once more. The shrieking Indians. The rumbling hooves. His wailing wife.
The racing Indians gradually fell back as the SUV continued to gain in speed.