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Forgotten by Time

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Time. Time doesn't stop. No matter what you do, you can't stop time from flowing. It won't stop. But what time does do, is forget. The bad events become bad memories, which become bad dreams, which fade into the smallest of dark stains on history. This is good. This is natural. This buries things that should be buried, that must be buried for the worlds sake. And the worst thing you can do is to go around digging those things up. Making time remember what should be forgotten for eternity. 

I live in New Mexico. Out in the country. I never get bored with the outdoors. There's so many weird rock formations to climb, so much odd geography to explore. But the one thing that interests me most about where I live is the archaeology. Hundreds and hundreds of years ago, this area was colonized by Native Americans, known as the Anasazi. The word is actually Navajo, meaning "ancient ones" or "ancient enemy."

They built cities out of stone, sometimes sprawling across the ground sometimes built into the sides of cliffs. I saw some of the biggest ones at Chaco canyon. That's what captured my interest to begin with. If you ever see them, you'll know what I mean. There's just something about those strange circular structures that fills you with a sense of awe. 

But now, those cities have been ground down by the wind. They're little more than ruins anymore. That's because they were abandoned long ago. No one knows what happened to the people who lived there. They just all- vanished. Leaving nothing but ruins and a few pottery shards. There have been theories of course, that it was drought or famine that drove them away. But I never liked that explanation. It just didn't seem right.

One week after my 16th birthday, I went out and got my drivers license. I was thrilled. Finally- total freedom. That weekend me and some friends decided to go out on a camping trip out in the hills. So Saturday morning I picked everyone up and we headed out. After a few hours of driving we found a place that was secluded enough without looking like it was protected by some national park. Stopping the car, we decided to stretch our legs a little before setting up camp. We were parked at the end of a small valley, with hills rising up on three sides. Deciding to explore a little, we climbed up the nearest one. Getting to the top, we were greeted with an amazing sight. 

It was a ring of large hills, with an enormous depression in the center. Rising out of that depression was the oddest mountain I had ever seen. The half on the far side from us was normal, rising up at a steep slope. Facing us however, the mountain came out into a huge overhang obscuring our vision of what lay beneath. We looked at each other, and then started sliding our way down towards it. 

Upon reaching the bottom, we were greeted by an even more impressive sight. It was a huge Anasazi city, spread out under the overhang. Better yet, it looked almost completely undamaged, located in such a place as to be perfectly sheltered by the wind. Looking at it, I knew that we were the first people to see it in hundreds of years. As excited as I was, something made me hesitate to explore. I don't know what it was, but after a few seconds it had passes and I was jogging forwards towards to ruins.

Seeing the city as it had been originally built was amazing. I thought of how useful it would be to studying their culture. The one thing that put me off though, were the skeletons. Human bones littered almost every floor. I didn't know enough to be able to determine what killed all of the people, but it looked like they all died at once.

I suddenly realized that I had gotten separated from my friends. Calling out, I got no answer. I started walking through the ruins looking for them- then jogging- then running. Coming around a corner I nearly ran smack into them. They were standing in the doorway to the largest room I had seen so far, staring in. Annoyed, I pushed past them to see what they were looking at. I found it.

The skeletons were intact in this room. I wish they weren't. That way my brain could make up excuses. Most of them were still definitely human. The other ones though... I don't know what they were. It was as if a human skeleton had been partially moulded into that of a coyote. The skulls were elongated, the spines stooped, the fingers clawed. In the center of the room was a jet black pedestal. On it lay another skeleton. None of us really wanted to go in, but we did anyways. Walking towards the bizarre skeletons, I almost tripped over a strange rod. Picking it up, I couldn't tell what it was- or what it was made out of.

I asked my friends to come look at it. One of them took it and, as a joke, jabbed it into the chest of my oldest friend, Pete. Not expecting the attack, Pete stumbled backwards and tripped, landing on the pedestal. He didn't move again. The guy who had jabbed him walked over to help him up, rod still in hand. As soon as that rod touched the pedestal, there was a flash of light and a rushing sound. Clearing my vision, I saw that Pete was moving now. He was writhing in pain, and once my hearing came back, I realized that he was screaming as well. The guy who had jabbed him moved to help, but jumped back as Pete rolled onto the floor scattering bones. As he thrashed, I saw that his body was starting to warp. Then without warning, he lay still. 

Looking at him in horror, I realized that his features matched the weird skeletons next to him. He had somehow been transformed. Pete stared up into the eyes of the guy who had, by accident, done that to him. What he did next, I don't like thinking about. I'd watched Texas chainsaw massacre, but that was nothing compared to what happened next. I didn't stop- I didn't even think. I just ran. 

Sprinting through the ruined buildings, I heard another person yelp as he went down- then another. Then it was just me and what used to be Pete. Bursting out into the sunlight, I sprinted to the base of the hill. Turning back, I saw Pete standing in a doorway watching me. Before my eyes, his body twisted and shrunk, until he just looked like an ordinary coyote. I took a step backwards. The coyote snarled, and ran towards me. Whimpering I turned and scrambled up the hill. The coyote was faster- much faster. By the time I had reached the top it was upon me. I could feel its body slam into my back, sending us both rolling down the other side of the hill. 

Twisting to face the thing, I pulled my arm back and slammed by fist into its muzzle. It yelped in pain. I tried to hit it again, but this time the thing was expecting my blow. Just before my fist made contact with its face the coyote opened its mouth and bit down on my fist. Yelling, I smashed my head into it making it let go. We hit the bottom and rolled apart. Struggling to my feet, I saw the coyote twisting and warping back into Pete's form. He was scratched up and his nose was broken. He was wearing nothing but a coyote pelt wrapped around him. 

"Jack... please... help me..." he moaned. I walked over and started to stoop down to help him up. Then I saw his eyes. They were coyote eyes. I started back, and with a snarl he lunged at me. Only now remembering the knife in my belt, I pulled it and stabbed it into his chest. His body shuddered then went still.  I stepped back as his skin began to crumble into dust. It blew away, leaving nothing but a skeleton of human crossed with a coyote. 

The rest of the story is uninteresting- me dealing with the police and the therapists mostly. I told them that a madman in the hills had killed my friends. I gave them the wrong location for where it happened. I think those ancient cities died for a reason. That humans aren't ready for the kind of magic that had been discovered in them. The magic that let people transform into those things- that I now know are called skinwalkers. I didn't use to believe in magic and monsters and the paranormal. Now I know the truth. My name is Jack Davis. And I intend to keep that truth from hurting anyone else.

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