No one in Sedona knew that Shina, the old shopkeeper of Moonlight Crystals and only daughter of the last shaman of her faraway tribe, had befriended a mysterious coyote. Shina had named him Cody the coyote and although she seemed to know everything about Cody—his favorite foods, his hiding spots, and his moods, she was unaware of one crucial fact: Cody could speak.
Cody's first spoken word had emerged at dusk, two summer solstices ago. Though initially scared, he had soon started to eavesdrop on locals and tourists alike, but primarily Shina, with her endless monologues. Naturally mischievous, Cody pranked unsuspecting tourists, imitating voices and spilling people's secrets in what many reported as an "eerie, disembodied voice."
Though oblivious to his secret, Shina still sensed when Cody was up to no good, scolding him gently, but then giving him berries and watermelon. Cody hated keeping his secret ability from his best friend and protector but thought it better that way.
One summer afternoon, dozed atop a thick branch of his favorite Blue Palo Verde, Cody was building up the courage to come out to Shina when he heard two young voices approaching. Two twins, one in a red cap and one in a blue cap—definitely not local—walked underneath him, plotting some mischief.
"There he is,” Red cap pointed at a tourist walking up Soldiers Pass Road.
"He's going into that witch store."
When Cody saw the man walking into Moonlight Crystals, he immediately followed the twins into the shop, where they were already swapping all the labels on the crystal shelves, hiding as soon as the tourist approached. The man perused the selection and took two handfuls to Shina. Distracted by the heat, Shina did not notice the price discrepancies. Only after the man left did she realize that he had walked out with her most precious crystals for a pittance.
It did not take Shina long to discover the twins giggling in the back of the store. "Did you boys mess with my crystal labels?"
"Chill old lady. We haven't touched your witch stuff," said Red Cap.
Meanwhile, Blue Cap grabbed a box of amethysts, spilling them onto the floor. "Oh, but this box fell!"
Shock kept Shina from reacting as the twins slipped past her, but when she did react, she reached the door faster than lightning, grabbing Red by the collar. However, the youth proved too strong and came free, but not before sending Shina stumbling onto the floor.
Cody the coyote ran to his friend, who was pushing herself into a sitting position. He placed a paw on her knee. “Are you okay?” Cody asked.
“I’m fine, shizhé'é,” she replied, mindlessly at first, but then fixing Cody with a frightened stare, as if she had seen a ghost. "Dad?" She began rubbing her eyes as if trying to wake from some dream.
Cody took this moment to disappear into the street, ignoring his faux-pas to instead find the twins to teach them a lesson. Their scent led him right into the Lost and Found Trail, east from the shop along the state road. When he found them, they were sitting against a large boulder in the middle of a clearing, hiding from the sun.
"Micky, do you know how to get back?" Blue Cap asked.
"Dude, you know dad was a ranger here before he passed."
"Oh, yeah. Our father, mighty Ranger Fickle."
Cody recognized the name, remembering a divorced but genial man who had always left berries for the coyotes at the entrance to Thunder Mountain Trailhead. Cody the coyote crafted a plan and climbed to the top of the large rock, casting a long shadow in front of the twins that looked like the horned demon of some folktale. Doing his best imitation of Ranger Fickle's voice, Cody shouted, "Shame on you, Micky."
The twins gasped beneath as their father's voice echoed against the rocky hills and the horned shadow unfolded before them.
"Upon this rock one of you shall be offered as a sacrifice to Ma'ii," Cody continued, "The spirit of the mighty Coyote." As he said this, Cody hoped the twins did not know that the Navajo did not actually practice human sacrifice.
The twins screamed, looking up but unable to see Cody, likely blinded by the sun behind him. In spite of their sunburn, they had gone as pale as limestone.
Cody the coyote let out a primal growl that drove the twins away from the clearing, deep into the woods, and far away from the trail. When he could no longer sense their scent, he climbed down. That'll teach them, Cody thought as he made his way back to Shina’s, half panicking, half hoping.
The doggie door behind Shina’s shop was shut, as well as the front entrance. A sign on the door announced something unintelligible to Cody. Disappointed, he lay down among cacti, gray thorn, and desert broom growing in front of the shop and waited.
Three sunsets later Shina had not returned. Even the lost twins, bruised and scratched, came with their mother, who insisted they apologize to the shopkeeper. She read the sign, "Family emergency," and walked away like many others who visited the closed shop. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Cody the coyote had lost all hope and, defeated, returned to his favorite tree and fell into Death’s slumber.
The people of Sedona noticed that the eerie voices and mysterious pranks had stopped, which many believed a sign that the trickster spirit had crossed to the afterlife.
However, every summer solstice, at dusk, some folks see a four-legged shadow, half human, walking the streets of Sedona and the surrounding trails. Others find their berries half eaten and their watermelons gotten into. At night, others say, a disembodied voice calls one’s name and reveals secrets. More often, though, one can hear a plaintive cry, not quite animal, not quite human.
If one listens close enough it appears to call out a single name: Shina.
About the Creator
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Original narrative & well developed characters