TITLE: The Rule of Equity
GENRE: New Adult
Growing up on the rez, the conscript had been shot, stabbed, and shoved into a barb wire fence a few times. He’d been attacked by animals. Nearly lost an arm to a bear. Pain had infinite facets, and he’d experienced more than his share.
But this was different.
This time, he allowed it to happen.
The conscript clenched his teeth as the blind old Indian slowly carved his flesh with an ancient copper knife. The blade tore through his skin like a jagged claw. The medicine man’s faint, warbling voice uttered unintelligible words from a long-lost language. His weathered fingers worked deliberately. The conscript’s pain would pass, but the scars—one above each breast—would not.
There was no rush. The sacred symbols had to be perfect, and perfection took time. Both men breathed deeply in a regular rhythm. The scent of woodland herbs, selected to heighten spiritual sensitivity, filled the smoky room, almost masking the odor of the freshly prepared animal skins that draped the conscript’s bare shoulders.
The knife was made of pure copper ore that had been mined over two thousand years ago on Isle Royale in upper Michigan. From there, it had been transported along waterways to Virginia, hammered into shape with stone tools, and passed down through the generations.
The old man removed the knife and traced the bloody groove with his thick fingernail. A perfect circle. Satisfied, he pinched the barbed deer bone at the center of the circle and plucked it out. The conscript flinched and cried out.