In the far distance there was a mountain range that extended to the full angle of sight from far left to far right. "There it is!" hollered the boy to my left. We were both playing like we were in the army, reclined with our bellies on the slope holding imaginary weapons ready to shoot. I could not see anything. "Look, look can you see it now?!" For the life of me, all I could see in the distance were the mountaintops, a few melting clouds and the darkness coming along as the sun started to move away. "Okay, hold your fire until I give orders to attack." He was the sergeant and I was a lowly private so I was expected to listen to him although I didn't feel like it. What are you talking about? "The thunderbird is coming." I had heard a lot about the thunderbird. Indian legends had been told for centuries about this mighty creature who always flew by like a mysterious dark object. Was I a soldier or was I an Indian? Sweeping down from the sky just in front of the cold windy clouds before the storm. I could feel the storm coming, but no thunderbird in sight. Where is it? "Over there, now get ready to shoot." I couldn't believe my eyes, because in my memory I could see it perfectly well. It wasn't really there but it was there at the same time. So clearly and a sharpened vision in my head. Like the Indians had known for years. Thundergods and thunderbolts. Get down, duck low. I was nervous but did as the sergeant ordered. He was more experienced than I and knew what he was talking about.
Way off in the distance it came, first a tiny dark speck above the mountaintops, growing ever so slightly until it became an elongated grayish flapping of feathers. "Ready, aim..." I panicked, got up and turned my back despite the dangerousness of the situation. I could not see it but I knew it was there. I felt it inside of me and outside of me at the same time. Swooping down to reach the very spot at which I was standing in trepidation. The thunderbird was swooping. Then I ran, ran as fast as I could. A real coward, but at least I would survive. I opened the back door of our house and ran inside, cowering behind the couch. It was the very same couch behind which I cowered during every evening showing of the "Outer Limits" on our black-and-white television. I peeked just above the top of that couch and stared outside. The speck was now returning to the place of its birth, the origin of all thunderbirds of ancient Indian legend. The swooping went in backwards motion, fluttering of wings, motions of feathers, an elongated thread of gray, and then it was gone. Just behind the second highest peak of the mountain range. I never saw the sergeant again. At least I had survived.
This is a true story. It took place in Redding, California when I was about six years old. I remember it well. Back then I had quite an imagination and my perception of reality was much more accurate than it is now.