by Jackson Powerfight
The trio of three Cree warriors brought their canoe out into the wide current that tumbled through the valley. They lone passenger, a Frenchman named Napoleon Football looked with dire apprehension at the surging waters below and then ahead where the river seemed to come to a halt far short of where the natural horizon should be. “We see the waterfall,” said the oldest Cree, reading the look in Napoleon’s eyes. Then he turned forward, dipped his oar in the water and drove the canoe ever faster towards almost certain destruction. “But—“ said the Frenchman before he was silenced by the old chief. “Do your people lack nerve as well and understanding?” he said, not even turning around this time. “Have patience, and perhaps both will come to you.”
The current alone now carried the men forward. Only the occasional précised and coordinated flicks of their oars were necessary to keep then on the desired path. The edge of the waterfall and the air beyond sped towards them at an alarming rate. Napoleon slouched low in his seat and gripped the sides of the slim vessel in terror. The other men betrayed nothing but a steadfast calm. The rollicking waves, even as they threatened to spill over into the simple vessel, were time and time again thwarted by their deft maneuverings.
A curtain of water fell across Napoleon, drenching him to the skin and shocking him out of his horrified paralysis. “This is madness!” he shouted, but the roar of the rapids dwarfed his voice. He opened his mouth to shout again, but the words choked off in his throat. The old chief had turned around again. He stared at Napoleon, his eyes hard and shockingly stark amidst the turmoil surrounding them. He brought his fist up as if to strike Napoleon, who cowered before him, squeezing shut his eyes and turning his face to take the blow.
“I pity the women of France.” Said the Cree, hardly raising his voice to be heard. “Open your eyes and see what men can do.” Napoleon obeyed the order and the old chief turned back to his crew. They were almost to the edge of the great shelf of cartwheeling water. The river was lost behind them in the thickening mist. “Now!” shouted the chief with all of his voice and as on the three Cree rose to their knees and attacked the water with great sweeping strokes that sent the oars reeling above their heads between each mighty push. The canoe leapt forward.
A series of whooping war cries rose up from the men. Napoleon, his fear left behind in their wake, found himself joining in. “Ah yi yi yi yi yi!” he cried as the water disappeared below. They soared through rushing air, their cries echoing through the canyon long after the canoe and its occupants had smashed to pieces on the jagged rocks beneath the falls.