Featuring the Sixth Doctor
By Shaun Collins
Ezhno awoke with the sun as its first rays crested the horizon. The sky was already brightening with the coming day, but he slept until the sun rose properly, in honor of the city he lived in and the gods they served. He washed briefly, dressed and started about his day, packing a small meal and tools in a pack. He was in need of supplies to continue to make the arrowheads and spear points that were so in demand these days, and his own stores of obsidian, coastal shells and leather thongs were almost gone. He hoped to return in time to actually begin work on a few. There was a new design was rattling around in his head itching to be put to use, but suspected today would be all about foraging or trading for parts
He couldn’t have been more wrong.
As he left his solitary hut and moved about the city, the sights and sounds of Cahokia filled him. The bakers were already hard at work firing their ovens, bushels of just harvested corn were stacked up next to the granaries, and people moved too and fro preparing for the day. Cahokia was a major trade center, located on the Mississippi river, and goods from the city were in high demand all across the Midwest… including his arrowheads.
Ezhno darted down an alley between huts intending to cross the corner of the Grand Plaza on his way out of town. Looming over the plaza—indeed the entire city—was the terraced Great Mound. It stood nearly 10 stories tall and was crowned with the temple and residence of the Paramount Chief. Construction on the last terrace apron had finished just last year, and while the work had been hard and backbreaking, looking at the sheer size of the structure, Ezhno knew it was worth it. This city would stand for thousands of years. He had just reached flat, wide and open Great Plaza—already filling with people for the day’s ceremonies and gatherings—and barely dodged a spear thrown at a still-rolling disc-shaped rock as children played Chunkey. They shouted an apology, and he waved back, adjusting his pack slung over one shoulder and continued.
As one of the cities better known and respected artisans, Ezhno lived just inside the fortified bastions that surrounded the Great Mound and Plaza, and he had to cross through the barricade to the outlaying city on his journey to the river. He passed more huts, more people and more children playing in the morning sun. He weaved between the ceremonial burial mound that held the remains of the last Great King, and a small lake until he finally reached the outskirts of town. He knelt by the lake edge, cupped his hands and drank deeply. Though not an old man by any stretch of the imagination, his walk across town had already winded him, and Ezhno knew his work on the new arrowheads would have to wait. Cahokia had simply gotten too large to traverse easily. By the time he found what he needed for supplies and walked back it would be too late in the day to accomplish anything of real value. Best to make this trip worthwhile, and get a fresh start on the design tomorrow.
He was debating weather or not to take a short nap by the lake when he heard a noise he couldn’t place. It was as foreign a sound as he had ever heard, like a beast wheezing and groaning. A tall blue box suddenly appeared next to him, fading into existence before his very eyes. Despite being terrified, Ezhno couldn’t help it. He reached out and caressed the totem with his fingertips. It was smooth like wood, but warm and alive to the touch, and he snatched his hand back before he lost it. An artisan without hands wasn’t much good to the community.
Voices came from within the box, and Ezhno fled to the relative safety of the tree line, abandoning his pack on the lakeshore.
“Peri, welcome to Cahokia, the city of the sun!”
“I remember reading about this place in college. The largest mound settlement in America, right?”
“The largest city in North America. Well, north of Mexico anyway. At this time in history, it’s larger than most European cities, including London.”
Two voices, a male and a female; his deep and gruff, the woman’s more lyrical. Ezhno peeked out from behind his hiding place and nearly dropped to his knees. The woman had short dark hair and wore a strange form-fitting peach tunic that covered her breasts but left her belly bare. The man’s outfit was bright as a rainbow and incorporated just as many colors. His head was topped with a fiery mane of sun blond curls. Surely these were gods. Who else could appear out of thin air?
“Weren’t they cannibals or something?”
“Cannibals?” The man sounded offended. “No. But they did practice human sacrifice, so we better be careful. We’ll just nip into town and get some measurements of Woodhenge for the archeologists to settle their bet and be off.”
“I didn’t know you liked archeologists so much.”
“The truth is Peri, I don’t. When you can travel in time, you tend to point and laugh at archeologists. But I admire and respect them, Professor Wood in particular. So I’m doing her a favor. Come on,” he said, gesturing at the city rising up before them. “Let’s take a quick tour. The city won’t be abandoned for another hundred years or so, but best not to dawdle.”
“Why was it abandoned?”
“Archeologists aren’t sure. But I have a theory or two I’ll put to Professor Wood when we get back.”
As the pair walked off toward the city, Ezhno snuck from his hiding place and looked at the strange cabinet again, then at the two people who came out of it. Who were these strangers that knew so much about his home and yet spoke about it as if it had passed into memory? Spies? Cahokia wasn’t at war with any other tribes, trade with the great city was too important, and it was heavily defended. He thought gods much more likely, but Ezhno resolved to find out for sure. He snatched his pack up off the ground and began following the strangers.
To be continued…
* Author’s Note – So this was my final project for Archeology class this semester. We had to write a fictional account of one of the places we learned about in class. Cahokia (pronounced Ka-Ho-Kia) was the most recent, and therefore most fresh in my mind. As I wrote about Ezhno going about his day, I was suddenly struck with the idea of adding the Doctor to the narrative. Once that idea took hold, it wouldn’t let go. And so Doctor Who made it into a serious paper. So… do you guys want more? Cause I have NO idea where it goes from here. lol. Let me know!