The deity floated on a throne ringed by fire. His face, which was pinched into an angry frown, displayed large, keen eyes, puckered lips, a flared nose, and enormous ears that stuck out like butterfly wings. His robes and headdress were gaily decorated in a profusion of colors, flowers and beastly images. When Sigourney looked at his feet, she saw the legs and paws of a tiger. She asked the deity where she should go, but a great roaring sound filled her ears, and she couldn’t hear his reply. Billowing, white clouds surrounded the deity. She found she could step from one cloud to the next, but when she approached him, he floated away from her. The deity pointed towards a mountain range that had appeared in the distance. Then, he rose into the sky and disappeared.
Sigourney blinked her eyes and shook herself awake. The image of the deity was gone, but not the mountain range. It rose above the valley floor to her left, and she realized that was where they were going. Up there, into those mountains. She was astonished at this revelation and would have liked to ask the driver about it, but he spoke no English. Besides, he was too busy trying to avoid the Chinese authorities to be distracted right now.
It had been a harrowing ride. They had taken endless back streets to avoid the main boulevards where the police were watching. Eventually, they had popped out onto a paved road and they were now roaring along at a swift pace, passing a large monastery that sat like a medieval fortress against a rocky outcrop in the hills to her right. She suspected it was one the monasteries she was scheduled to visit with her group, but that was in another lifetime when she was only a tourist. Now, she was a fugitive, and the idea of exploring monasteries was as elusive as the deity in her dream.
The driver slammed his brakes, sending Sigourney thumping into the passenger’s seat in front of her. He pointed at two police cars stationed less than a mile up the road and said something in Tibetan. She didn’t need to understand him to know they were in trouble. He turned onto a dirt road and headed for three farm houses grouped nearby. Dust billowed about them when he stopped behind the nearest house. An elderly man emerged from the doorway and spoke to the driver. The situation wasn’t good. There was no sign of an alternative road that could circumvent the road block, and there was no place to hide for very long in the flat, open farmland surrounding them.
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