That night, Danielle Laidlaw saw herself in a dream. She lay asleep and unmoving, even as three great birds dove toward her from the midnight sky. Two owls and a falcon locked in combat, slashing and tearing at one another, falling headlong toward the jungle floor.
At the last moment they separated, peeling off in different directions and racing across the grass, before soaring back up into the gloom above the temple to renew the battle once again.
As they fell a second time, the trees began to shake and the Zipacna charged from the forest. In the dream, she could not run, or move, or even shout a warning to the others as they slumbered.
She woke with a start, her heart pounding, her shirt soaked with sweat. But as she looked around, the night was quiet and calm. A soft, humid breeze gently caressed her face.
Despite the dream and its unresolved battle, Danielle awoke feeling surprisingly refreshed. Perhaps a few hours of rest had done more good than she would have believed, or perhaps it was the feeling that she’d finally made the right decision in all the waves of madness.
“What are you up to?” she asked.
“Just watching you sleep,” he said.
“Don’t you have better things to do?”
“Yeah,” he said. “But none as entertaining.”
She looked at him suspiciously.
“You talk in your sleep,” he said.
She had always been a restless sleeper. “I was dreaming,” she explained. “McCarter has been telling me about these birds. Messengers of the gods: a falcon and a one-legged owl. In my dream they were fighting, ripping each other apart in some kind of death struggle.”
“A one-legged owl?”
“The messenger of Xibalba. We found the symbol on one of the stones I bought.”
“And the falcon?”
“The messenger of Hurricane,” she said. “The Sky God: the one who sends the rain. They were fighting over this place.”
She looked around. The clearing was quiet, the small fires burned in the distance.
“Who won?” he asked.
She rubbed the back of her neck. “I don’t know. But then the Zipacna charged and I … I …” Her voice trailed off. She wondered if the dream meant she’d killed them, her inability to speak and warn them standing in for bringing them here under false pretenses to begin with. She looked around the clearing for movement—looking for anything out of place. The absolute peace and quiet stunned her.
“It was just a dream,” she said finally, as if certain of it for the first time.
Hawker smiled at her, staring into her eyes long enough to make her nervous. “Maybe,” he said, and then he looked away.
Danielle studied his face. She recognized the smile now. It was the same cheater’s grin she’d seen on his face in Manaus.
“What are you hiding?”
He nodded toward the sky and she turned her eyes in that direction. The full moon shone like a beacon, luminous enough to cast shadows across the ground, something she never saw in the glare of the city lights. She studied it like she’d done as a child, when her father had brought home a telescope and her interest in science first blossomed. She tried to remember the names of the craters and the vast gray seas, searching for the Sea of Tranquility, where humans had first set foot on another heavenly body.
It was a calming sight, but not all that interesting, at least until her eyes drew back, relaxing their focus. Suddenly, she saw what Hawker wanted her to see: a ghostly white halo surrounding the moon.
“In Marejo, they call it the Lua de Agua,” Hawker said. “The water moon. Moisture in the air, diffusing the moonlight. It means the rains are coming.”
A pang of hope shot through her, accompanied by the fear that it might be false hope.
She did feel it; the air was soft, the moisture heavy in the type of omnipresent way one normally felt in the tropics, a feeling that had been strangely lacking since they’d left Manaus.
“The rains are coming,” he said again. “Maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day, but they’re coming.”
Danielle turned her attention back to the heavens, staring at the ghostly moon. For the first time since the chaos had begun, she felt they might somehow actually survive.