By Kathryn Ptacek

A spirit. A mask. A cult. A way of life and death.

Accompanying her anthropologist husband on a trip to study the Knochine, an isolated tribe in the territory of New Mexico in 1880, Elizabeth Stephenson’s life is changing into the substance of dreams. The dreams seem real — too real — more insistent with the passing of each night.

Sometimes the vision wears white; sometimes nothing at all. Sometimes her hands are red with blood. Elizabeth wakes, night after night, trying to call out, but cannot make a sound. After a while she drifts off to sleep…to dream again.

To see the kachina, breathing, and walking toward her. To see the kachina lift her half-mask, and to see the kachina’s face, painted with blood — not of beast — but of man.

Terrified, she awakes, and reassures herself. They’re only dreams.

Aren’t they?

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