Page 2 of 7 FirstFirst 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 LastLast
Results 26 to 50 of 161

Thread: DIY Art

  1. #26
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    5,825
    Quote Originally Posted by carpathian View Post
    Does gallery deep refer to thickness of frame holding canvas or thickness of frame around finished canvas?

    I've only done one chalk piece. Not sure if it counts as 'reductive'

    Attachment 306274

    Sad Donkey in WW1
    Any thickness related inquiries should be forwarded along to Booner, the expert in all things thick.

  2. #27
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    West Coast of the East Coast
    Posts
    6,638
    Mind if I share?

    Been playing around with the airbrush lately. I do all the artwork for my girls' dance comp team props.
    This halloween I got ahold of some airbrush makeup.






  3. #28
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    Ha , Awesome!

  4. #29
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Summer Snow.jpg 
Views:	29 
Size:	821.3 KB 
ID:	306402

    Summer Snow

  5. #30
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    13,052
    "Beached Killer Whales".

  6. #31
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    Yeah this is the one that accidentally looked like whales, just finished it yesterday which puts me at just about a year of 'art making'...

    And at that I'm changing gears. Don't worry, more painting will come as they come. Now for the DIY 'art of story telling'...

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Book Cover.jpg 
Views:	32 
Size:	649.4 KB 
ID:	306440

    I am about 7 years in on getting this little novel put together. I printed these copies last month as a sort of 99% complete edit and gave them out to people to give feedback and look for typos.

    So now I'm going through chapter for chapter and doing final, final edit and posting them here. Then I will re-upload to Amazon and go from there.

    'Starlight Over David' is a supernatural thriller peppered with characters that have delusions of grandeur and mystical encounters. David and his companions embark on a misguided mission that inadvertently merges with the story of an ancient entity whose actions have wrecked havoc on humanity for millennia.

    Will David overcome all adversity and triumph in the face of Evil or will he be crushed by the weight of history and a predetermined fate?

    Enjoy!

  7. #32
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    There’s a shadow just behind me, shrouding every step I take.

    Making every promise empty, pointing every finger at me.

    Waiting like a stalking butler, who upon the finger rests.

    Murder now the path of must we, just because the Son has come.

    Jesus won’t you fucking whistler, something but the past and done?

    Jesus won’t you fucking whistler, something but the past and done?

    Why can’t we not be Sober? I just want to start things over.

    Why can’t we drink forever? I just want to start this over.

    MJK

  8. #33
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    Edward tried to concentrate on his feet as he walked. He felt at ease when he could focus on his homeward momentum. He had not carried a torch when he had set out in the late afternoon to find his families wayward goat. His mother had sent him with promises of dire consequences if he returned without the goat as the animal had pulled loose of its stake the night before.

    The previous morning the people in the nearby town of Little Wenham had been telling stories of seeing strange lights in the sky. Small flashing Suns moving across the tree tops and hedgerows. Though Edward had slept soundly the night through, the stories combined with the chill of a grey, early harvest made him feel ill-at-ease.

    He did find his goat at some distance from the town center. He was drawn to the far corner of the stone fence that ran border between the townships of Little Wenham and Wedgemore. He could hear the goat cries coming from a thicket that filled a creek draw at the bottom of an embankment on the far side of the fence.

    After some wrangling of the spooked animal the boy managed to untangle the goat leash which had become stuck around the exposed roots of a gnarled old tree. He was now walking briskly in the falling light of the early evening watching his feet pace along the flat topped surface of a stone wall. The goat trailed behind on the ground as prompted by the nervous tugs at the leash by the boy.

    He observed that everything was grey and heavy and he could see more stone fences trailing across the countryside. There were interspersed hedgerows that stood tall to the sky. He thought about how the people had said that the lights come across the tops of the hedgerows. He put his eyes back to his feet so he would not have to see such light if they should return.

    A stiff breeze picked up and brown dead leaves whorled in the corners where fences came together. The boy paused as he came through a hedgerow into a large field adjacent to the edge of town. To his left he could see the torches being lit and he was anxious to get home. To his right the field carried far and appeared to only be bordered by the oncoming night. He was just about to pick up his pace when a flash caught his eye. Along the far edge of the field there were bumps and waves of light reflecting out from the base of the trees.

    Maybe it was a sheppard who was smart enough to bring a torch and we can travel together? The boy pondered and was only hopeful for a second. The light went completely black. Then on the periphery of Light the boy saw a tall figure emerge from the shadows. It looked smokey and lean and dark. The boy felt paralyzed as he could see several other giant figures emerge at the edge of the field.

    They all carried what looked like long scythes as the farmers used to cut the grains in the field. An off-color mist appeared to rise around the creatures as they swayed in the lethargic breeze. The boy was finally urged into action by the goat now pulling him by the leash. He dropped the leash and took off at a full run across the field. At the far hedgerow he turned and dared a glance behind and he could see eight or ten of the figures moving abreast of each towards town.

    A light flashed across the tree tops and the boy turned and ran as fast as he could. He rounded the corner of the block that led to the first row of houses in the town. His house was the fourth on the left down the lane. He found himself yelling, “They are coming! They are coming!” though he had no idea who 'they' were. No one was on the street. Windows and doors were slammed shut as he went by. He came to his own house and it was all closed up. Locked up tight. In a panic now he banged on the door. The goat was long gone.

    No one answered. “Where is everyone?!” Edward thought through a swelling of tears that ran down his cheeks. He stepped back out and looked down the lane. He could see one of the tall creatures emerge from around the corner. It was moving slowly and swinging its scythe over the tops of the houses.

    “He is tall as a house!” the boy thought as he dashed back to his doorstep and laid down with his head positioned so he could peek down the lane.

    The creature made long slow strides as his body swayed from left to right. A mist followed first in the gutters of the lane and then it appeared to pour off the tops of the houses like a heavy, slow-motion rainfall. The creature came adjacent to where the boy was huddled on the door stoop. It leaned way low and turned its head and looked directly at the boy. It looked like a huge skeleton of a man whose flesh had been baked on black and thick. It had enormous hollow eye sockets that appeared to look right through the boy.

    It felt as if time stopped and he was being lifted, drawn into the void of the hollow eyes as the air was crushed out of his lungs. Then he heard the familiar click and clack of the front door opening and he was pulled into the house.

  9. #34
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    Chapter 1) David; Alaska 2030

    David found himself thinking of this recurring dream he had been having as he climbed up the side of the mountain. He woke up every time, right when he was pulled into the house.

    He was almost silent except for the squeak of his left binding and the aerated whoomp of powder snow under his skis. He was breaking trail and for the most part had to make his way in the dark. The clouds moved quickly across the face of the moon and when its three quarter light did show, he could see snowflakes moving across the sky. The snow did not seem to be coming from any particular cloud, in so much as it appeared to precipitate from out of thin air.

    It was cold enough for frost to form on his blonde beard and mustache, but not so cold that he could not generate enough body heat if he kept moving at a steady pace. He wore an old ratty pair of Gore-tex bibs over long johns on his lower body. On his upper body he wore a thin polypro shirt under a very thin black leather vest and a grey checkered wool shirt. He tried to climb at a rate that would equalize his perspiration with the surrounding air. In other words, he was trying not to sweat too much. He remembered his father's advice, “If you get too sweaty you will get cold when you stop.”

    He could look up the ridge to see and he could begin to feel the wind moving the snow. He decided to pick up the pace and see how long he could go in the face of rising wind chill and resist putting on another layer. He aimed for a steep spot up ahead on the ridge. On his head he had a worn out old ski cap and on his hands he had on a pair of thin gardening gloves. He leaned into his ski poles in rhythm to his sliding steps.

    He panted now as he chugged up the high alpine ridge. The wind at first felt refreshing as he began to dry off a bit but after about twenty minutes he could not keep a sufficient pace enough to keep warm. He stopped and swung his black back-pack around on to his skis still on his feet and pulled out a black wind breaker. He drank some water and then, while taking a piss he surveyed his up track as it started almost 2000 feet below in the sub-alpine glades. A cloud would cover the moonlight and David’s world would shrink back down to the beam in his headlamp.

    The moon glowed bright between racing clouds and he could see that he managed a pretty clean line. He felt like he did not need the light anyway because he knew the route by memory. He could see long diagonal switchbacks in the lower meadows followed by a few tight turns in the lower gully section before it ascended to the climber’s right and gained the broad shoulder that leads to his position now, perched in mid-air where the ridge becomes more knife-like.

    From this point on, he would have to carry his skis on his shoulder as he negotiates around rocky outcroppings without veering too far onto the steep faces below. With an almost bland detachment he would process each objective hazard as it arose and then move accordingly. He moved with a certain efficiency that was borne of repetition. He felt the dangerous environment brought about a feeling of peace and it made him feel happy and alive in the moment to moment effort to stay alive, juxtaposed by the frivolous inspiration of the descent. It presented a very Zen experience. Each mountain was a nut that needed to be cracked, a story that needed to be told.

    The language of this story would penned by the two skis on his feet and the blank page that leans from the ridge top. He makes the final rocky move and he can now stop to put his skis back on. When he climbs he adheres a synthetic strip of material to the bottom of his skis that are called ‘skins’. They stick to the skis with releasable glue and the underside is covered with tiny hairs that allow the ski to slide forward but not backward. His feet are in old plastic ski boots spray painted black that click into bindings that mount into the ski. The bindings can be used in climb mode where the heel can lift free while the toe swings on a pivot as the man pushed off the skins to climb.
    When he is ready to descend the heel can be locked down, thus adding more stability.

    The man is a skier, a breed nearly extinct in this region. He leans over to click into the second ski and starts moving again. The wind is whipping now and he is getting cold. He actually takes a few steps and decides to stop and add his warmest layer, an old dark green down vest. Then he decides to swap out his sweat drenched cotton gloves for a pair of dry insulated leather gloves buried in his pack. Now it is time to slow the pace a bit and really check out the palette he has to work with tonight.

    The ribbon of snow looks blue under the now steady gaze of the moon. It feathers and hourglasses in and then runs parallel, walled in for a bit then fans and spreads into a broad face with fine contours. From this vantage he could look at the top section and he planned a basic ski-cut maneuver.

    A ski-cut is when a skier cuts across a snow face and tries to make the snow move into an avalanche. The move is not just for ‘shits and giggles’ as his dad would say but is used to preemptively release the potential energy hanging in the snowpack. If he could get 500 pounds of snow sliding on its own, it might build weight and move over sweet spots in the topography that are prone to trigger release and sometimes propagate over a large area.

    It had been known to him in the past where he simply stepped on a suspect slope and it triggered thousands of tons of snow to avalanche down the mountain at a high rate of speed. It was much better to be standing atop the now clean ski run rather than be buried alive under ten feet of rock and debris with arms snapped and legs spun backward. This he knew as well, or at least knew of it.

    The moon made him nervous. It was too bright. He would have be quick and into the forest before anyone saw him. “Best to wait for the next cloud and then gun it for the trees” he thought. Just then he saw a speck moving down in the furthest glade. “Who the hell is that?!” He spoke out loud to himself. The man felt territorial, protective and then afraid. No one should be out here.

  10. #35
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    Chapter 2) Tamas; Hawaii 1779

    The sun was now past mid-day and it was hot. The men had to hurry to the altar before sunset in order to properly prepare for the ritual. One of the men went by the name of Tamas and he was part of the group of twelve who were now climbing the hillside. They were going to the mauka pali kapu o keoua or 'above the forbidden cliffs of Keaou'. Tamas was with five men from his Tribe of Kane along with six men from the Tribe of Ku.

    The ground was hard and dry under their bare feet. They were approaching the top of the cliff that sprang vertically from the clear waters of Kealakekua. It began to rain and one of the two female captives began to whimper again.

    “Quiet,” grunted the man who was carrying her. He had her wrapped up in a Haole blanket slung over his shoulder and he was too tired to slap her on the ass to emphasis his point. Each man from the two tribes took turns carrying their respective captives. This was a spontaneous mission as decided by the two chiefs of the two tribes.

    The Haoles had arrived seven days before on a very auspicious day. In the local religion it was believed that Lono was the God of the Crops. On this day once a year both the tribes of Kane and Ku, independent of each other, would present traditional sacrifices of grains and goats and pigs on the altars near the sea. The Ku had been known to sacrifice war slaves and political rivals and the Kane hated the practice. The Kane felt morally superior in their stance against human sacrifice and it, in part, created friction between the two tribes. Though there had been many skirmishes and raids over the years it is known that friends can be made out of a common enemy.

    Their new enemy was the Haoles, the ‘People of No Breath’. They had arrived on their glowing white ship and temporarily fulfilled the prophecies as told by generations of Shaman, within the Tribes of Kane and Ku alike.
    The two tribes occupied opposite ends of the west facing Kealekekua Bay which was located along the southwest coast of the island known as Hawaii. The Ku lived along the north shore and the Kane in the south. Along the eastern perimeter of the deep water bay rise the forbidden cliffs, that act as border between the tribes. Beyond the cliffs to the east the land climbed up and up to the Thrones of the Gods in the clouds. To the northwest, in the hazy distance, you could see the island by the name of Maui. It was told amongst the Kane that the Ku had come from Maui a long time ago. The Ku also told the same story of the Kane. Up until last week they had both wished the other would go back to from where they had come.

    It was agreed that each tribe would provide six men to escort a sacrifice to the ridge top ‘lifting point’. All the tribes of all the islands each believed in local lifting points, places where recently deceased souls would lift off the island and travel to the afterlife. If a soul were to somehow not make a clean lift off, so to speak, they would stay and live on the island in the form of a stone or a tree or maybe become captive to a Nightwalker the most active of spirit forms. The Nightwalkers were said to have lived in the clouds and mostly only travel at night, causing trouble and anxiety wherever they went.

    Tamas took his turn and slung the woman over his shoulder and took his position at the front of the line. They climbed and he carried her through the mist and as they passed through the flowering ohia trees the birds fell silent. He carried her longer then he should have. The man next in line kept pushing for his turn, to do his part, but Tamas kept going. He sweated and she was already damp with fear as they shared their last moments together.

    Two days before it was decided by the shamans and the chiefs that they would each choose the finest sacrifice from the others tribe. It created solidarity in commitment as the anti- sacrifice stance of the Kane people melted under the Light of necessity. The Haoles had arrived under the leadership of the man they called Cook. He appeared first as prophecy of good tidings but within days, hours, moments of 1st contact, it became known by the shamans that a Curse had arrived.

    Tamas was tiring. His lungs burned for oxygen but under his labored breathing he was able to whisper, “I love you.”
    She said nothing and then said, “I saw it get off the ship.” He took a half pause to breath and the next man made a grab for her. Tamas pushed him back with a grunt and kept climbing.

    “It is following us now. I keep seeing it behind us.” He stopped and turned with a jolt and almost dropped her as the next man snatched her away. He stood there as the line of men proceeded past as he looked back down the trail and saw nothing but sun dappled trees and silence.

    In the early morning before they started climbing there was a ritual cleansing of the sacrifices, and it made Tamas’ stomach turn in memory. The shamans stood side by side and each procured a small blunt-bladed knife made of seashell and in unison they made a quick motion and jammed it into the women’s right eye socket. In one scoop the eyes were removed and the shaman in turn popped them in their mouth and chewed and swallowed. The idea being that they as wise men wanted to gain some insight into the afterlife.

    At the tail end of the line he could see the woman’s blood on the back and haunches of the other men. He reached back and his leg and felt wetness. He looked at his fingers and saw blood. It all felt like a dream, here he was huffing up a mountain preparing to kill the girl that he loved. They had met by accident a month earlier while out on the dry hillside.

    He had been out hunting and she was out collecting firewood. Her name was Ke'ana and they both appeared to be way outside of their respective territories. They began to have secret meetings at this place and began to form a bond between their respective tribes and themselves. The bond quickly became physical and was followed by flooding emotions of love and hope. How ironic then, that the two tribes are now bonded in destroying the lives of two of their members.

    At sunrise the two captives were traded and it made Tamas' blood boil. He had tried to veto the vote but the other five men seemed to be in a trance Tamas thought. The words kept running in his head,
    “I saw it get off the ship.”

  11. #36
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    Chapter 3) Chirikov; Alaska 1741

    Vlad did not want to get in the boat. He only did because his father was the captain of the ship and when he tells you to do something, you do it. The oars dipped silently in the black water, save for the wiggle and clack in the oarlocks. The man pulling the oars was nervous.

    “Quit shaking, you!” Vlad scolded. As 1st Mate he had to take control of this boat and his men and venture to shore. The oars dipped and met their reflections in the glass surface of the water. Faint purple clouds awoke slowly to greet the sun coming up over the grey mountain tops in the east.

    They paddled along the shore as it curved into the small inlet. They were told by the captain to stay within view of the ship. The clear evening and early morning would be giving way to another weather front moving in. Even in the last few minutes fog could be seen moving low into the mouth of the bay.

    Two days before, a landing party had disembarked from the ship to explore on the shore. Vlad was mad that he had not been chosen to lead the landing party. The group of eleven men was to return in four hours and Vlad had spent most of the time sulking in the galley. After five hours word got around the boat that the crew was still not back. After ten hours it was beginning to get dark. It was a long night of quiet whispering and speculating. The next day it was decided to send a search party and Vlad was to lead this party.

    The bow of the small boat touched onto the gravel beach. It was within view of the large ship. Vlad could see his father, Captain Chirikov, watching through the telescope. The line man jumped ashore and ran the bowline up towards the trees at the head of the beach. The beach ran twenty strides deep to where it ended in tall evergreen trees that reached high into the grey sky. The man tied off the line onto a protruding root that was sticking out of the soil. The man hesitated as he ducked under the long low branches. He peered into the forest. It was dark and silent. He tied the line and then turned around towards the boat and could see tiny raindrops beginning to fall in the water. He thought that it looked beautiful with the boat and the men all looking silent and expectant against the tree lined profile of the adjacent ridge. The man's name was Ivan and he looked to his right and saw that the fog bank was advancing on the ship anchored out in the bay.

    “That goddamned ship!” Ivan thought. “I am so happy to be off that ship and now more than ever, all I want to do is get back on the ship,” he lamented in his head. It seemed unfair, the whole thing. “We walk across all of goddamned Russia, build a ship in Petropavlovsk, sail around in the goddamned frozen ocean, go back to Petropavlovsk and build two more ships and come back out onto this goddamned ocean. We became separated from Bering’s ship three weeks ago and have not seen it since. Ten years it has taken to get here and I am on land for 10 minutes! Then what?! Back on the ship! They will say!” The thoughts flooded his mind. He felt a surge of fear and pity and hopelessness as he recounted his previous decade.

    Ivan could hear Vlad hiss, “What are you doing?” How long had he been standing there, five seconds or five minutes? He remembered to give the ‘all clear, come ashore’ signal and waved for them to come. As he climbed out of the boat Vlad thought about how he needed to control his men better. Just then Ivan let out a yelp as he came running back down the beach. The other three men, Vlad included, instinctually yelped in unison and quickly scrambled back into the boat.

    Ivan shouted, “Cut the line, cut the line!” and the 2nd mate, a man by the name of Gregor, quickly cut the line and shoved the boat back out into the inlet. The tide was rising, calling them back to the water.

    A moment later Vlad got his wits back and clapped Ivan over the head as Ivan was trying to move back to the oars and mumbling “The ship, the ship…” He was starting to row and Vlad punched him in the face and the other two held Ivan down.

    “What are you doing? What happened?!” Vlad demanded. Ivan kept saying “The ship, the ship…” as the punch in the face seemed to calm him. He was already down sitting on his ass in the ankle deep water and he stayed there and kind of curled up and didn’t say anything else. Vlad and the other men looked Ivan and looked at each other. They then turned and looked at the ship just in time to see top of the mast disappear into the rolling fog bank, the hull and the rest of the ship already obscured. Then it started to rain hard now as the men sat silent in the small boat as it continued inland with the rising tide.

    As 1st mate, Vlad decided to go ashore in a different spot seeing as how they now could not see the ship anyway. In the last half hour Ivan regained some composure. He seemed thoughtful, if not lost in thought.

    “What happened?!” Gregor berated.

    “Ease off,” Vlad countered. They sat and watched the line man who now seemed melodramatic in his thoughtful pose.

    “What the hell are you doing?!” Gregor lunged at Ivan. They scuffled in the bilge water as it continued to collect the pouring rain.

    Pulling them apart, Vlad made the order to go ashore again. He pointed out a nice little tree that was growing out on the end of a little gravel spit that stuck out into the now dead end inlet. There was a murmur of consent but no one picked up the oars. They would let the tide take them if it was meant to be. The boat eased back onto the shore a minute later. This time Vlad sent Gregor ashore, he in turn made a show of bravery and leapt off the bow and tied the line to the little tree.

    “See! There, what is the big deal?” Gregor demanded.

    “It is in the trees,” Ivan said. Gregor dramatically turned and looked down the gravel spit to where it ended in the dark forest. It was nearly black. It was a tight fit tucked in the back of this inlet under the steep, tree covered mountains. There was little room left for Light.

    “Well then get off the goddamned boat! Whatever ‘it’ is, we will kill it!” Gregor stormed back down to the water’s edge and stomped into the thigh deep water along the side of the boat and reached in and grabbed Ivan by the scruff and heaved him into the water. “What is it?! What is it?!” Gregor was screaming now.

    “These men seem to be acting irrational,” Vlad thought as he jumped into the water and pulled the man off of the other as he turned and barked at the last man, “Get out of the boat!”

  12. #37
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    Chapter 4) Namas and Tiluk; Alaska 1741

    Namas and Tiluk had been paddling their small dug out canoe for three days. They had left their sheltered village which sits at the end of the water and at the foot of the mountains. Now they were in a world where the mountains became smaller and the ocean became bigger. They came to rest on a piece of land that was an island. Beyond the island Namas told Tiluk how the ocean became unbroken and the waves became as tall as the mountains.

    Tiluk thought about this as they paddled. He had never paddled more than two days journey from his home which is located at the end of a long finger of water that splintered deep into the Coast Range of present day Southeast Alaska.

    At sixteen Tiluk was ready to become a man and he was taking this journey with Namas, his grandfather. There was a girl in the neighboring village of the same clan who he wished to marry. In order to do that he had to search far and wide for a gift for the chief of the village, the father of the girl.

    Tiluk and Namas were of the Wolf Clan and Namas was the patriarch of his family. He knew all of the ways of the land and sea and he knew all of their stories.

    “Tell me again of the ‘Great Swimming Wolf’, Grandfather,” Tiluk asked again. It was his favorite story ever since he was a child. He could remember Namas’ own father telling the story to the family at night around the fire. When he died the story became the property of Namas and only he could tell it. Tiluk knew that one day the story would become his own and he would be telling it to his own grandchildren.

    Tiluk’s own father had disappeared a long time ago when he was still a boy. He had journeyed south with his brothers in search of sea bears and never came home. Tiluk’s father had known where a large rookery was but it was a four day paddle to the south and closer to being within the range of the mighty Haida.

    Years later Word had traveled north that the three brothers had been captured by the Haida and that they had been used as forced labor along with other captured people to paddle the huge war boat back to Haida Quaii, the Haida Fortress Island. The Word said that the two uncles had died along the way but Tiluk’s own father had survived and may still be alive. No living members of the Wolf Clan had seen the Haida up close except Namas.
    “When I had heard the Word that your father and his brothers had been captured I was not surprised. I had seen the Haida when I went to the Sea Bears long before you were alive. My grandfather had taken me when I was your age. We knew that the Sea Bears were large and aggressive compared to the seal and the otter. But I was seeking power.”

    Tiluk paddled as he had heard this story before, along with every other person back in the village.
    Namas continued, “We paddled with a wide turn deep into the bay so that we could pull our boats high into the forest and then attack the sea bears from behind, from the land. As we crept silently through the forest I could just begin to see the light of the sea through the trees. We could hear and smell the huge creatures as they sunned themselves on the rocks below. Just as we came into view of the rocky outcrop, the sea bears began to rise into a panic. I remember thinking, “There was no way the animals could have sensed us…,” Namas paused.
    Tiluk knew that was when he was to ask, “What did you see?”

    Namas acted like he did not hear the question and pointed to a not so far off point of land and said, “We pull in there.” He paddled for a few minutes in silence and then answered, “I saw men in a huge canoe, many times bigger than boats you have ever seen. The huge boat had just nosed to shore from the south, as we had approached from the north. The men all had paddles in hand as they launched on to the shore and started clubbing as many sea bears as they could. Most of the sea bears fled into the sea but many of the small ones were too slow and easy prey for the men. They had faces as black as night and thin eyes and large arms and legs. My grandfather and I watched in silence from the cover of the forest. Then after not long my grandfather said, ‘We must go.’ We turned and ran back into the dark woods and made our way back to our boats. Only then did Grandfather tell me, ‘The Sea Bears lie outside of our territory.’ We pulled an ever wider berth into the bay as we made our way back north undetected by the Haida.”

    Tiluk felt relieved knowing that they had been traveling due west instead of south though they were still venturing beyond the scope of their traditional territory. Namas cleared his throat. He sat in the rear of the canoe as his paddle dipped silently in the glassy water. Tiny raindrops dimpled the surface.

    “We are going to the furthest place in our world, The Furthest Temple. As you know our people live deep in the valley at the foot of the mountain where the sea ends. It used to be just the mountains and the sea facing each other. Over the years our people became tired of the high winds and heavy seas constantly raking up and down the coast. Then one day they started digging in the shore by one scoop at a time and carrying it out into the ocean to drop it in. They did this for many generations. Scoop by scoop they dug their way back into the mountains like a Wolf digs her den. Soon the channel was very long and very deep. The scoops of dirt had grown into islands tall and distant and our people decided to build our village where it stands to this day. We are the Wolf people and we use the mountains and the beach and the ocean to live.”

    Namas paused and watched as a giant bald eagle sat atop a craggy tall dead tree as two ravens dove and swooped trying to drive it from its perch.

    “And it is told that when we build our den deep enough and secure enough that the Great Swimming Wolf will come from the high seas beyond the islands on a canoe that floats on the wings of a white raven. And in the canoe the Great Swimming Wolf will bring spirits who are who are strong and helpful to our people and we will rise as a great nation and one day be strong enough to defeat the Haida to the south. The Furthest Temple is the farthest place that our people carried dirt as we dug into the mountains. It is where our ancestors stopped and prayed that our land was secure enough for the Great Swimming Wolf to come into our dangerous world.
    Namas concluded, “Let’s pull in here.”

    The grey gravel beach ran 20 paces up into the dark understory of the fog shrouded forest. A little creek ran down a draw and the bottom of the draw was lined with alders. The creek was maybe five paces wide and calf-deep as it bubbled noisily over polished rocks. On the beach it spread out into a delta fan as it met the ocean. Several seagulls idly called as the two men carried their canoe up the gravel.

    Tiluk was feeling nervous all of the sudden. He put his hand on the handle of his dagger which was made out of elk horn. He had heard many tellings of Namas’ story, about how they dug the channel and built the islands. Each telling, Namas would add a little or change a little. He had heard of the Great Swimming Wolf arriving on the wings of a white raven but never the part where they would grow to defeat the mighty Haida to the south.

    They walked silently into the open understory of the tall hemlock and spruce forest. They followed along the top edge of the embankment where it drops into the draw created by the creek. Their feet were level with the tops of the tall alders which grew in thick clumps out of the gravel near the creek.

    They walked slowly and would periodically stop and listen. The creek noise filled the draw while three steps back from the embankment it was silent in the forest. After a short while a game trail came in from the forest on the left and cut diagonally down into the creek bed. There were fresh deer tracks and both men were feeling hungry.
    The purpose of this walk and this journey to the edge of the known world of the Wolf Clan was to invite a helpful spirit into the realm of the humans and then exist as a protector and helper to Tiluk. Tiluk had to move and think with open intentions. He could not choose which spirit would help him. The spirit had to choose him.

    They followed the little trail down into the draw. The deer tracks were fresh in the loamy black soil. It looked like two or three deer were moving upstream. The men walked patiently and silently. The noise from the stream covered their sound to some extent and a fresh breeze was picking up and blowing down valley, back towards the beach. Tiluk smiled because he knew these were perfect stalking conditions.

  13. #38
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    Chapter 5) David; Alaska 2030

    David took a swig of water, threw it in his backpack and then swung the pack back over his shoulder. He snapped the waist belt followed by the sternum strap. He stomped his feet a couple of times to kick the snow off of his ski tips. He slid them back and forth in the snow and noticed a slight hang-up along the edge of one ski. He half cursed under his breath and kicked the binding off, flipped the ski up, pulled a hard credit card shaped piece of plastic out of his pocket and ran it down the edges to chip any ice away.

    While he had been hiking on the ridge the ski became warm where it rested on his shoulder and when he put it back down in the snow any snow that came in contact would very briefly melt and then refreeze. He muttered again and forced himself to click the other ski off and clean it too. He was in a hurry but he knew it would pay off to have fast skis.

    In most cases a skier up on a ridge top will avoid skiing in on top of someone. The potential to accidentally ski cut off an avalanche and bury someone below is assumed to be too great of a risk. The man looked down the slope with steely eyes. The two figures were moving fast. “The rangers never move that fast,” he thought, “unless they are after someone.” He assumed they were after him and that risk, as he judged, outweighed the potential of burying the two. He would give them two minutes to cut back to the climbers right away from the run out zone under him.

    At 1:48am he dropped in and did a quick ski cut to skier’s right. After but a moment and a glance over his shoulder, he continued fall line. He anticipated a fair sized snow slough to start running with him and he had about 100 yards before he could duck to his right into a new fall line and out of the way as the slough rocketed by.

    “Hopefully for those guys it doesn’t pop out down low,” he thought with a glimmer of compassion. He skied fast, ducked to the right, saw the slough build and run but the deeper layers on the lower pitch remained solid. He could see the too figures now startled as the fast moving slough now bore down on them.

    It actually put a smile on his face as he was now even with them across the slope. The two people awkwardly tried to traverse out of the way but with their skins on the skis don’t glide all that well. The second the wall of snow hit them he heard his name called out by one of the skiers, “Davy!”

    “What did I hear?!” the man automatically slammed to a stop and considered his options. His name was David, he had always gone by the name David. The only people that ever called him ‘Davy’ was his mother, who never touched a pair of skis in her life, let alone climbed a mountain in the middle of the night. His father, the ex-ski mountaineer turned corporate CEO for the local mining company. His father was the very reason skiing was outlawed in Girdwood Valley. “Not likely he’d be out here unless he told security my name…”

    That leaves his estranged best friend Avery. Well, it is not so much that he is estranged but more that David wanted to punch him in the face. As right now he could see and hear Avery cartwheeling in the snow with the occasional ‘motherfucker’ rising above the hiss of the snow.

    “I thought he was out of state?!” was David's first thought as he was now compelled by some ancient script to rise above and rescue his friend. As far as the other guy went, he did not know.

    When a slough runs down the mountain it may build enough weight and propagate into slabs or it may pitter out and do nothing. David generally liked to see some positive result, showing that some energy has been released. This slough was a little in between, whereas it built speed and then spread out in a broad fan only a couple of feet deep. David zipped and traversed to his left and was skiing on the rubble as it was slowing to a stop. He could see both people on the surface. Just then the moon was obscured and they fell into comforting darkness. David hissed under his breath at Avery, “What the fuck are you doing here?” as he started to pull Avery up and out of the snow and to his feet.

    Avery responded with a measured yell-whisper, “What am I doing?! What are you doing cutting a slide down on us? You fucking dick!”

    “I thought you were Rangers…”
    “Rangers?! What are you trying to kill rangers now?”

    “I was just gonna scare them… forget it, who is your friend?”

    They were both on their knees now digging out the head attached to the flailing arm sticking out of the snow. In 20 seconds they cleared the snow from his face and Avery introduced, “Drey, this is David, David Drey. He just buried us but he is cool.” In another minute they were all on their feet with skis attached, no broken limbs, everyone is breathing.

    “WE gotta go!” David implored. “They are going to start with the 105’s in 10 minutes!” This was the only time to ski Girdwood Valley. If any mine official saw any tracks the next day they would initiate a house to house search for the offending trespasser. There were not a lot of houses at the end of Raven River Road so it was too risky to leave tracks. You had to time it with fresh snow that posed a risk to the mine property. They mitigate those risks with old military issue Howitzer 105 mm guns. It is a very effective mitigation tool and the mine owners are quite aggressive in protecting their interests. The night crew comes on at midnight and they usually make their way to the guns by 2:00am. Then all of the sudden, BOOM! Gun 16 just launched a shell. It is located ½ mile down the valley from the skier’s position but the noise was amplified up the canyon making David nearly shit his pants.

    They were straight lining down into the glades as David glanced back and saw the shell blast hit the broad upper face he just skied. A second later a long fracture line zinged across the top 1/3 of the whole slope like a ding in a car windshield. “GO! GO! GO” He shouted.

  14. #39
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    Chapter 6) Tamas; Hawaii 1779

    The Hawaiians finally made it to the jungle plateau. It was deceiving, with one wrong step off the edge in the undergrowth and you would end up 1000 feet down to the bottom of the cliffs. The trail is faint now as it hooks back to the right and pops out of the dark vegetation on to a high lookout facing the soon to be setting sun.

    The six men of the Kane tribe stood to the left with the Ku woman whose name was Le'oni. The six Ku men stood to the right with Ke'ana, the Kane woman. The two Shaman stood at the center and faced the women who stood their backs now to the obviously large cliff right behind them. Koa’a was from the Kane tribe and Parea was from the Ku tribe. Tamas briefly entertained the idea of just pushing the two old men off and being done with it.

    “There is no stupid curse, why are we doing this again?” he kept his thought to himself. Both the Shaman then pulled the blankets off of the women’s heads and face and revealed a pitiful sight. Each had their right eye gouged out two hours prior as they were then hogtied and then carried up the side of a tropical mountain by the bunch of dirty sweaty men. The offended eye socket was packed with dry leaves and then wrapped with long green leaves. Blood and dirt and tears streamed their faces. Koa’a turned around to the men and there were shutters of disgust and outrage.

    Brothers, sisters, cousins, lovers, fathers, sons… “Why are we doing this,” was on everyone’s mind. Then Ke'ana looked up to the faces of her captors and her lover.

    “They are so bound by tradition that they thought THIS was the answer!” she lamented. The Shaman held the women forward to the men and Koa’a spoke:
    “What do you do when the sky that you view becomes skewed and the earth gives birth to the thing that you dread in your head and the sound that goes round and round to the sound of the call of your voice? A choice must arise, though you despise the vote to go with a gun on a boat. And by rote you protest though the Will is manifest.”

    Silence, then Ke'ana said, “It is here.” The shaman looked startled and paused.
    Then the Ko’oa blurted, “By whose will?! By whose will is it?” He nearly shook her as he rose to a near panic in a split second.

    She turned and almost with a smirk said, “By your Will. The Nightwalker carries it out.”

    Tamas thought back to a week earlier as the glowing white ship pulled into the middle of Kealakekua Bay. It was early winter and the last of the summer swells had faded from the south and the dull roar was implanted in his head by the winds blasting through the tree tops at the end of the point to the south. Everyone was very excited as Lono had returned. It was the tradition for the king of the island to paddle out to the open channel and return to shore acting as the God Lono. The men on shore would attack with spears and the king would dodge them as evidence that he was indeed the God Lono.

    In this case the king had paddled out but then hurriedly returned with reports of a ‘grand canoe arriving over the horizon with sails as big as the sun.’ His charade was blown but he did not care for the true god Lono had arrived! An hour later the great canoe rounded the point and pulled into the bay. After some fanfare the ship dropped anchor and the chiefs paddled out together with their respective entourage. The Kane had seen the ship coming in earlier and raced along in their canoes to follow the ship to where it anchored in front of the Ku village in the north.

    Tamas remembered sitting in his canoe and looking at the ship. Upon closer inspection it appeared to be made of wood but was also embellished with some foreign materials, bright and shiny things. The men that had appeared at the railing of the ship looked sickly and pale.

    “Who could be on the ocean from over the horizon and still have no sun in their skin?” Tamas had thought to himself. All of the island people were drawn together by the ship. All disputes and dreams and aspirations were put on hold the moment they laid eyes on those giant sails and the treasures they carried.

    All the canoes had been filled with people and yams and potatoes and hogs. It was soon known that the people who sailed with Cook really wanted those things and in trade they offered iron and ropes and burlap bags.
    All of the sudden Ke'ana spoke up, drawing Tamas out of memory.

    “We were all on the boat at night. They let us stay on because they wanted to sleep with our women and they wanted to amaze the men with their magic. It was hard not to take something.”

    The twelve men stood transfixed by the woman speaking.

    “Do you remember when the small creature that Cook called a ‘cat’ fell off the ship and Tamas paddled after it and retrieved it? We were near Cook’s room when he went out on deck to show thanks for saving the cat. When he went out we ducked into the room and stood amazed at the things he had. We had to be quick. I looked around and saw an object in a leather bag on his desk. I felt drawn to it and I grabbed it. It felt hot in my hands. In the bag was a small wooden box. We hurried out just as Cook returned and we got in our canoe and went to shore. When we got to shore there was much activity. We hurried up the trail to the overlook just above the village. At the overlook, in view of the ship, we decided to open the little box and when we did I felt a wave of heat and Light and Darkness surge out and the ring of energy spread quickly in all directions. When the wave hit the ship I swear that I saw it shudder and all of the birds flew away. No one else seemed to notice.”

    Ke'ana continued, “I suddenly felt like I was being watched and my eyes looked and they were drawn to the highest point of the ship and there I saw a Nightwalker looking at me. It was larger than a man but had no color and no shape. It looked like a shadow and a blink of the Sun at the same time. I sat there dumbfounded as it moved like lightning down the mast and past all of the people who apparently did not see it. And it went in the water and appeared on the shore very quickly. I suddenly got very scared and found the strength to close the box. The Nightwalker then appeared to vanished so we buried the box right there in the burial site at the overlook.”

    At this the two Shaman turned and subtly nodded agreement in choosing the correct people to sacrifice. They then turned simultaneously and pushed the two women off the cliff. Their bodies would be destroyed and carried away by birds to the sea.

  15. #40
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    Chapter 7) Chirikov; Alaska 1741

    The four cold and wet Russians had been sitting in the rain at the end of the little spit for almost half an hour. The tide was rapidly rising and Vlad would have to make a decision soon. Captain Chirikov expected them back at the ship after four hours and now it had just been oven an hour. The tide was clearly going to rise to a point where the tree at the end of the spit would remain above water but the spit itself would be under three or four feet.

    “Time to move,” Vlad announced.

    He felt like the men were being watched. He also felt like they had no real option other then find out what had happened to the first boat. They stepped in to the low light of the forest and cautiously began walking parallel to the shoreline of the little cove. They would walk and then Vlad would signal for them to stop and listen. Ivan had a rifle on his shoulder, though the powder was most likely wet. They walked again briefly and then suddenly Vlad signaled for them all to duck low and let out a startled yelp as they all saw a great sweeping shadow roll silently down the hillside from the other side of the cove.

    At first Vlad thought it was a brown bear or a great elk like those back in Russia. It would be good to collect some game meat he thought as they all watched. But before he could think another thought the shadow swept across their path seemingly oblivious to the men who were crouching low. They could smell a distinct odor of animal but could not tell what animal it was through the thick understory of vegetation. The creature moved directly to the base of a large tree and there Vlad could see he was looking at an enormous wolf like creature. It was easily three times the size of a normal wolf found back in Russia. The men watched stupefied as the wolf appeared to shape shift to the form of a man as he glanced over his shoulder and looked directly at the cowering Russians.

    At that he took a small bundle from inside the ornate animal skin vest he was wearing and stashed it into the hole at the base of the large tree. Then the Russians heard a shrill whistle as a second man made his presence known. At that the first man shifted back to the shape of the enormous wolf and with one look over his shoulder, bounded up the hill towards the second man and in an instant they were gone into the mist.

    “Heaven and Hell are adjacent and identical,” Vlad thought to himself. An impenetrable silence fell over the forest. The sound of rain falling through the upper canopy stirred the senses back to the present. Ivan who had previously lost his cool, now felt vindicated in having his comrades witness what he had only felt. “I told you so,” he whispered and it almost brought a smile to his face.

    Silence, the men laid there for another hour and did not move a muscle. Their minds were spinning and confused. They knew that they were in a new land and there might be creatures encountered that had been previously unknown in the old world but shape-shifting humans were not to be expected. Vlad felt like he had hatched a decent plan in his head while they sat. He instructed the three men to go back to the boat and untie it and prepare to launch as soon as possible. “I am going to get that thing and get it to Russia,” he said referring to the bundle under the tree.

    “Why would you do that?” Ivan asked, “You saw the devil himself put it there. I think he is trying to trick us.”

    “It is powerful and we are here to seek land and power for Russia and I am going to get it.” Images of his father back on the ship shaking his head in disappointment. “We could try telling this story but who would believe us?”

    “I never want to think of this day, we have seen the Devil and he was here walking his dog! Let’s get out of here!” Gregor said.

    “As 1st Mate and I am in charge of this party and you will do as I order. If you do not do as I say you will be punished as committing mutiny. What say you?”

    The three sailors were baffled by Vlad’s tone of authority and surprised by his audacious plan to retrieve that cursed object. They nodded an agreement as the 1st mate and set off down the spit towards the boat. They were told to wait for him to come running, but instead they fell into conspiracy. As Vlad built his courage to make the move of a lifetime, the three sailors silently untied the line and started rowing out the inlet into the fog on the now falling tide.

    Vlad thought he had only paused for a moment. He wanted the men to have enough time to untie the boat and have it ready to launch.

    “Our men from the first crew??!” was his first thought as he came running out of the forest and into the light of the gravel spit. The spit was now crowded with people and Vlad instantly recognized faces from the previously lost crew. They all seemed to be flailing around and trying to get the attention of Vlad’s own three men as they were just pulling away from shore. There must have been ten men waist deep in the water pulling and shaking on the boat but to Vlad’s astonishment his three men did not seem to notice the horde of cursing and yelling sailors!

    He felt confused as he only wanted his men to see him in this bold act of reconnaissance and then report back to his Father, the Captain, how valiant he had acted.

    Then the horde of sailors turned to Vlad and one of the disheveled looking officers said, “How nice of you to join us!”

    The spit was now mostly under knee deep water as he tried to run while aiming for the security of the dark forest. He found no time to yell at his crew in the face of this now apparent mutiny. He never saw the rock get thrown with a long perfect trajectory from the rear of the horde as it smashed into the back of his head.

    Captain Chirikov was tired of waiting. He had sent his son out nearly four hours ago or about 3 and one half hours too long, if his nerves had any say. Right as Vlad and his crew had pulled away from the ship in the small boat the fog rolled in thick and obscured any further support from the ship. After a few minutes the fog cleared up from around the ship, but to where the men had gone out looking for the other boat, it remained behind a sheer wall of clouds that seemed to reach to the top of the sky. It was completely calm, they could not sail if they wanted to. Then as if in a dream, Chirikov could hear the distinct creek of the oars and the slip of the blade in the glassy water. He could hear a pause as the rower took a breath and the drops of the water ran up the blade edge before dropping into the water.

    The Captain reached for his telescope and took head count just as bow emerged from the fog. 1, 2, 3… he counted, only the three of the four. His son’s cap, he did not see it! “There has to be a mistake,” he spoke out loud to one of his officers. He took a second glance to confirm his worst nightmare and turned towards his cabin, “Send them to see me.” The row strokes turned cautious now as Gregor saw the captain turn away.

    They had only a few moments to get their story straight. While still in the fog they had decided to say that ‘the natives had come out of nowhere and they fought and Vlad was killed.’ But there were no gunshots and they did not have any wounds.

    “He drown.”

    “Where is the body?”


    “How did he drown?”

    “He fell. Hit his head. Tide took him.”

    “Natives took him.”

    “We don’t want to start a war.”

    “We are getting close to the ship I think.”

    “We say he fell in a ravine.”

    “He will want to see the body.”

    “Should we mention the, the Beast?”

    Silence.

    “I don’t think he would believe us.”

    “Dammit, there is the ship! Keep going steady.”

    Through clenched teeth, “Just say the natives. We won’t go to war. We have to find Bering’s ship.” They had been separated from their sister ship Captained by Bering almost three weeks earlier while crossing the mighty north Pacific.

    They pulled up right alongside the ship, tied off and then climbed aboard. Chirikov was quickly descending into a state of depression thinking of his son. He did not need to hear the details. He had been reluctant to bring him along on such a long journey when he was leaving such a pretty young wife and their two year old girl. He did not want to send his son on the 1st recon boat and did not want to send him out on the 2nd boat, which sent to find the first. But there was no one left of rank. And his son insisted. The first boat of 11 was missing for 2 days before he very reluctantly sent the second boat.

    Someone knocked at the door. He called the men in. They were dripping wet and seemed somewhat bewildered. It looked like one of them had been crying.

    “Well?” Chirikov was curious now as he struggled to remain professional. Emotions of rage and despair bubbled just beneath the surface.

    “The natives—they came out—out of nowhere and they had some spears and we had to run. We ran and Vlad fought and they got him and we had to run. We didn’t see the other boat. The woods are bad. I could not tie the line…”

    They all blurted at once. Chirikov cut them off with words of a resounding clarity that exercised all the authority his Command could afford, “Where is my son?!”

    “Gone in the woods.”

    “The natives killed and took him? But you got away?”

    “Yes,” they all said in perfect harmony.

    The Captain had them at that. He knew they were lying. “They practiced. Probably while rowing out of the fog,” He thought to himself.

    “Go downstairs and eat, you must be starving,” he instructed, “I need to rest.”

  16. #41
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    The three crewmen side stepped out of the room, sparing the sideways glance, into the tight corridor. They knew that they were not off the hook. Chirikov leaned back in his chair and rubbed his fingers deep into his temples and then massaged the bridge of his nose. He felt incredibly drowsy like he needed to sleep away the day and maybe his troubles would all go away.

    “What am I supposed to do?” he lamented to himself, feeling stuck without a clear plan of action. Almost an hour had passed when he heard a shout and running in the hallway and banging at his door, “Captain! Captain the natives are coming!”

    “The natives! The murderous tribe of savages who killed my son!” he thought with sincerity. He burst up on to the deck and could see one lone canoe with two men with paddles in their hands. He could see their silhouettes and the way they wore low, conical shaped hats with a broad brim that pulled all the way around their head. He thought about the natives back on the long island chain near Russia and the way their hats were long brimmed in the front. Why the difference? His mind wandered...

    Chirikov watched as the two men paddled silently and with practiced precision. As they pulled out of the inlet he could see the miles of experience in their technique through his spotting scope. The fog had pushed back a bit, exposing the first sand point before the shore turns and dips inland. The boat veered and pulled up to the shore as the two men got out and began wrestling with a body as they hoisted it up and carried it to the high-water line and laid it down with clear respect.

    They placed the body and then one man turned and walked to the water while the other made some hand gestures that looked like a prayer as he turned in four directions. He then turned to the ship and spoke one word that resounded across the surface of the water. It was perceived as if in conversation tone in each ear of each crewman as if the speaker was standing on the deck just a breath’s distance behind their heads.

    “Wendigo,” and then he climbed in the boat. They turned and pulled hard on their paddles and disappeared into the fog. Chirikov felt strangely at peace though he suspected that his troubles were just about to begin.

  17. #42
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    Chapter 8) Namas and Tiluk; Alaska 1741

    The trail meandered back and forth across the flat bottom of the draw. They could see where the creek used to run in an old course where the under-laying large grey rocks were exposed and gouged out. The deer tracks moved consistently up valley. After some time Tiluk could see the tall trees giving way to the grey sky. A few moments later they emerged from the alders at the edge of a small lake. It was rimmed by tall evergreens on one side and in the back corner opposite from where they stood they could see a marsh land area that worked further up valley beyond the lake. This is where the stream flowed into the lake and this is where they could see three brown deer grazing contently in the marsh grasses.

    Tiluk and Namas watched the deer for a couple of minutes from the cover of the tall grass. They hatched a plan. They would both move back downstream a couple hundred paces to a choke in the draw. Namas would set up behind a down log right along the trail while Tiluk circled up into the forest and made his way upstream and upwind of the deer. The deer should pick up his scent and then move back down valley to where Namas lays in ambush with his spear and dagger. The deer will have to hop over the log where Namas is waiting.

    They turned and started walking downstream quickly. The silent lake water spilled over the remnants of a beaver dam and resumed its babbling inquiries. Tiluk walked about ten paces when he noticed a little sandpiper bird on the opposite side of the stream walking downstream at the same pace. Tiluk stopped in his tracks. The bird stopped at the same time. Tiluk kept walking and the bird also resumed walking. Tiluk stopped again and the bird stopped again.

    Namas nearly ran into Tiluk, “Why you stop?”

    Tiluk nodded and said, “That bird,” and resumed walking. The little bird kept walking quick agitated steps. It let out a CHEEP! CHEEP!

    Namas smiled and said, “Maybe we call you Little Sand Piper?” Tiluk smiled but he had more respectable spirit names on his mind. Tiluk stopped; the bird stopped. Tiluk took one step and the bird took two. It was looking right at them.

    Namas said, “The birds are the communicators and are to be respected.”
    Tiluk let the question into his mind, “What are you telling us Little Sand piper?”

    At that the bird let off another CHEEP! CHEEP! and then took flight downstream and disappeared.

    “It is nothing,” Tiluk said as he resumed walking again. Three steps later he stopped in his tracks. In the time it took for them to walk from the ocean up to the lake they encountered exactly one muddy section of trail. It was only ten paces long and Tiluk remembered it. He could see Namas’ and his own tracks in the mud. There, overlaying the tiny human footprints were three or four very large brown bear tracks. They were so fresh that the squished out water had yet to reflow back into the depressions left by the weight of the beast. One print was as wide as two human hands spread out.

    Namas saw what Tiluk was looking at. “He was warning us,” he said referring to the sand piper.
    Tiluk’s blood ran cold. Now here was a respectable spirit presenting itself and now he was not so sure he liked the idea. The tracks were facing upstream. The bear was somewhere very near, in the little draw. Tiluk felt claustrophobic now as the tall alders blocked sight and the loud water blocked sound.

    “We need to change plan,” Namas spoke, “unless you want to lay in the mud here and wait for deer?” He was smiling at his joke and the obvious discomfort that Tiluk was in. They both knew that they were at a severe disadvantage.

    “He is upwind of us now,” Namas put his nose to the breeze. Tiluk copied the motion and could smell the strong distinct smell of rotting salmon. “We must get out of this draw before Old Fish’s Breath shows his ugly face.”

    Namas turned and cut straight through the brush and was quickly scaling the steep gravel embankment aiming for the silence of the dark forest above. Tiluk felt relieved as he felt his advantage return by gaining elevation out of the dense and noisy creek bed.

    They bee lined up through the mossy green forest now aiming for the higher ridge line. Tiluk was more than happy to pick up the pace. In short time they crested the high point. On the ridge, large trees had been blown over by the consistent high winds that rake over the hillside off the open ocean. Tiluk's stomach grumbled as he climbed up on an upended tree and could see down to another small lake. When he followed his eye to the left however, he could see that the body of water was in fact tide influenced as it appeared to be connected by a small channel to a larger bay. Then Tiluk’s heart completely stopped.

    There at the end of the bay was a canoe that was bigger than he had ever seen or imagined. It looked like it floated on the wings of a white raven, he thought. When Namas peeked over the ridge he briefly lost his composure and let out a little snort sound.

    Tiluk looked at him and asked in a whisper, “Is that the Haida?”
    Namas stammered, “Th – th- the Great Swimming Wolf has arrived.” Tiluk was surprised to see a small tear on the cheek of Namas as he had never really seen him show too much emotion or weakness.

    “Spirit Helpers,” Namas whispered.
    They continued watching in rapt attention as the figures worked along the edge of the great canoe as they lowered a smaller canoe down to the water line. From a distance Tiluk could see that some figures were getting into the smaller canoe and he could see by the scale that even the smaller canoe was as large as the feared war boats of the Haida.

    “These spirits surely could defeat the Haida,” Tiluk let slip past his lips. Namas shushed him as the little boat was pushed away from the big boat and the figures took to very long paddles. It looked like a giant water bug you would find in the fresh water lakes and marshes. The figures in the middle sat backwards and pulled on the long handles as the boat quickly picked up speed and started pulling inland through the narrow channel to the back of the cove with the little gravel spit with the lone tree growing at the end of it.

    Tiluk and Namas crept slowly down the hillside and repositioned behind a stack of trees that had been blown over by the wind. They could lay on their bellies and peer perfectly undetected through a slot between two huge trees. When the canoe came near Tiluk could see the faces of the figures for the first time. They looked like white ghosts. White like the wings of the White Raven. They must be spirit helpers, he thought. Tiluk felt like they were coming to help him specifically.

    The boat pulled up to the lone tree at the end of the spit. Tiluk could not help but think how they looked like ordinary men. Tiluk started counting the strange men on his fingers and went just beyond two hands. They looked tired as some got off of the boat and stood on the gravel while others seemed to refuse to get off. He could hear them talking in a strange language. He could even hear laughter. One of the men raised his voice and gestured to the rest, than they let out a cheer. They watched as one man slipped silently to the end of the spit where the gravel met the dark forest. Tiluk and Namas looked at each other and silently agreed to move in order to keep an eye on him.

    They had to move one hundred feet down the length of the log before they could see the lone man standing before a group of large trees. He had a leather satchel over his shoulder. He looked around nervously. He bobbed and weaved around the bases of some of the trees like he was looking for something.

    Namas whispered to Tiluk, “He is not alone.” They watched as the white man bent over and removed the satchel from his shoulder. He pulled out a small wooden box and then stashed it in a hole at the base of a great tree. At that the white man looked relieved as he quickly made his way back to the beach. Namas and Tiluk repositioned back down the log to where they could see the beach again.

    All of the men were laughing and carrying on. Tiluk asked in a whisper, “Who goes with the men? I could not see. Was it the Great Swimming Wolf?”

    Namas was deep in thought. “That man at the tree was not a man.” He paused to let the words sink in.

    “No?” Tiluk asked.

    “He was a slave Wendigo and he was being commanded by an evil spirit to plant its seed on our territory.”

    “A Wendigo?” Tiluk whispered to himself. He had heard stories told by the elders about these half men half spirit creatures that are neither alive nor dead.

    “How can you tell that he was a Wendigo?” Tiluk asked. Namas did not answer as they could see the man sitting on a log with several other rough looking white men.

    “It is raining but he is not wet. If the sun were to come out he would cast no shadow. We must go. They are all losing what little color they had as we sit here.” It was true, they all seemed to become colorless or maybe it was the falling light. “But Namas, maybe they are losing color because it is getting dark soon.”

    They turned their attention back to the other men on the beach. They kept passing around an object and drinking from it as they became noticeably louder and more happy appearing. Tiluk watched and then realized that the man who had gone to the tree was staring straight at He and Namas as if he could see them.

    Then Namas said, “We are here as guardians on the perimeter of our territory.”

  18. #43
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    Chapter 9) David; Alaska 2030

    The three skiers dove into the pitch black of the forest just as the avalanche dust cloud blew into the tree tops. They had luckily been just outside of the reach of the deep snow pile up. They started cruising down from glade to glade and gradually slowed when they hit the valley bottom. The headwaters of Raven River cut a canyon 30-50 feet deep in this part of the valley. The skiers knew the one spot to cross the canyon. They cruised along to where the flow pauses before plunging over a 75 foot drop and then sending spray high up into the tree tops before refreezing and forming huge frost formations on the cliffs and in the trees.

    There was an old cable that stretched across the deep water. David knew the cable well and had his harness rigged up in a few seconds.

    Right before he pushed off he asked Avery “You have gear for him?” referring to Drey. Avery just said “Yep,” and at that David was flying through the dark, over the void. Avery pulled out his setup and then second setup for Drey. By the time they got across, David already had his skis on and was long gone. Once on the other side they continued moving downstream, cleanly exiting the scene of the crime.

    For the last 6 years the Girdwood Mine Company had been enforcing their strict no trespassing policy with backcountry travelers. There is a lot of snow fall in the valley, sometimes with up 1000” up high in the alpine. The town is situated at sea level with 6-7000 foot mountains jutting up to the sky on all sides. With close proximity to the mighty North Pacific, the annual temperatures were moderated by the warm ocean air.

    About 7 years ago the Girdwood Mine Company built two hydro dams to generate electricity. That was after it took about 10 years of legal wrangling leading up to the permits going through. There were aggressive protests with people chaining themselves to bulldozers and bomb threats and committing serious vandalism. But in the end, Big Money persevered.

    The 1st and smaller of the dams was built in the Winner Creek Gorge, a small tributary to the much larger Raven River. The dam was designed to power most of the mine operations with spillover tying into the four mile wide Raven River Dam resevoir. This dam was a doozy. It was over a mile wide as it spanned most of the width of Girdwood Valley and created a rather large lake that now fills the back end of the valley. Where the skiers crossed was about a mile upstream of the man-made lake edge, deep in the back of the valley where the residents of the Old Raven River colony call home.

    Made up mostly of small and modest homes tucked in the trees, this little subdivision was here before the dam, as it had been the base for mining operations in the late 1890’s. Many of the Raven River residents work at the modern day Girdwood Mine. They commute to work along the lakes edge on the upper half of the original Raven River road while the lower half had been flooded out and rebuilt higher on the hillside.

    The mine management implemented the strict no trespassing policy after three people died when they were skiing a steep mountain at the back of the valley, after they approached by skiing across the frozen lake. Two of the skiers had skied down the mountain a ways when the third skier decided to drop in after them and she cut off a fair sized avalanche which took out the other two out. The whirling mass sent all three to their watery grave’s when the avalanche punched out a hole in the ice the size of a football field. The ice was six feet thick and the resulting tsunami washed forward to the front of the lake and sent millions of gallons of water and ice chunks into downtown Girdwood.

    The town had been located here since 1964 when they were forced to move from down near the ocean after the terrible destruction unleashed in the famous 1964 earthquake. The south central epicenter quake rated 9.7 and sent tsunamis through Homer, Seward, Hawaii, California and beyond.

    Now the town lives under a 100 foot tall concrete wall that is holding back a lot of water. From 1959 to 2020 Girdwood was a bustling little ski town. It served locals from Anchorage and world traveled clientele alike. That all changed when it was discovered that the ski hill was sitting on top the world’s largest gold mine of all time.

    After the resulting lawsuits from the deaths of the skiers in the lake, it was decided that they would aggressively mitigate the huge avalanches by using the 105mm Howitzers, like they were doing right now. And skiing would be permanently outlawed in the valley.

    David, Avery and Drey could all hear the helicopter cruising around checking the results of the gun mission. David was feeling better now, they seemed to have pulled off another narrow escape, he and Avery that is. They had been best friends from age 15 to 25 when they spent most of their time climbing and skiing “all these mountains,” David would sweep his arm over the panoramic vista in his mind’s eye.

    David was 22 when the lifts stop turning. He was 23 when they build the first dam and he was 24 when they built the second dam. He was 25 when he decided that ‘it was time to stop acting like a baby’ and to accept the fact that ‘mindlessly skiing all day was a waste of time’, in the words of his father. He figured the best case was to get a job with the mine company, put in some time, move up the ladder and make a good living supporting a family. He was 30 now and the wife and family had not quite materialized like David had hoped.

    “Car! Duck!” Avery whispered as the three neared the only road crossing. The road came in along the lake now and they had to get on the other side, preferably undetected. Avery went first and slid on his butt off the edge of the 6 foot snow bank and then zipped across and kicked three quick steps up the far side and then signaled the other two across. Drey and David followed.

    They did not know each other at all and the circumstances were not best for making small talk. Drey seemed quiet anyway, but proficient enough at moving around in the forest with his skis on. 20 minutes later they came out of the forest and past a street light. There were a few fat snowflakes suspended in the light as if weightless. Three blocks down they were at Avery’s little trailer tucked in the back of Girdwood’s only trailer park.

    David figured it would be a good time as any to catch up with Avery and see what he has been up to. See how he has been coping with mountains of guilt. He had his truck parked a few blocks down. They kicked the boots off and cracked some beers and spirits were high. After about an hour of chit-chatting and 5 or 6 more beers, the stories were flowing.

    Drey seemed cool enough. His moniker was short for Dravidovich as in Mikel Dravidovich. He was a Russian foreign exchange student here seeking his master’s degree in America. More specifically he was here to study the remnants of the Russian cultural legacy left behind by the early fur traders of the 1790’s. He was interested in the language and the orthodox religion of the people that he can call ancestors.

    “He seems like a pretty smart guy,” David thought. Drey and Avery had met because Avery had just enrolled back at school chasing a history degree of all things while he and Drey shared an Alaskan history class. Drey knew how to drink like a real Russian and he let loose with some funny stories of his own. He was going on trying to describe how his car back home was like in the cartoon “How do you say ‘Rock Stones’?” Drey asked waiting for the punch line as David answered “’The Flintstones’?” and Drey and he howled with laughter.

    Avery then chipped in out of the blue and asked David, ”How much money did they give you?” Even though it was completely off topic and his tone was now out of context. David knew exactly what the question meant and it made his blood boil.

  19. #44
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    Chapter 10) Tamas; Hawaii, 1779

    Tamas let his body flow back down the mountain. Ke'ana had said that the box was buried at the temple. And everyone else had heard that too. He bolted ahead of everyone and the shouts of the shamans. His feet bled and legs ached by the time he fell into the burial area like an animal. He was compelled to find the bundle that she spoke of then what? Would he return it to the ship and be a hero or listen to the song of the Nightwalker and feel its power for himself?

    His finger nails were falling off. He dug in a frenzied pace and people started to watch and then protest and then resist as he began to throw them off in huge sweeping blows. Five minutes later a couple of the other men from the sacrifice ritual showed up and only watched. They had heard the woman’s story and wanted no part of it. Just then Tamas stopped as if to gain his bearings. He looked to the ship, looked to where he sat. He snarled at a man who came too near. He stopped, bent over and lifted a flat stone at the edge of the terrace. There it was!

    He grabbed it and was just about to look in the bag when Koa’a came from nowhere and knocked him in the head with a club. He was knocked out instantly and the bag retrieved and stole away by the shaman. Tamas was dragged away and left in the sun.

    Three days later Tamas awoke in the middle of the night. His eyes and tongue were swollen and his hands and feet were crusted thick in blood and oozing scabs. And he had shit himself. He staggered to his feet and could feel his skin dry and tight. He did not know how long he had been out. He dragged himself out of the bushes and made his way to the burial temple by the light of the half moon. There was no one to be seen. He was starting to recollect the events, the girl and the box and the Nightwalker. He remembered lying in the night as if paralyzed but he could hear the Nightwalker moving around him. He was terrified but stuck in a dream-like state.

    The Nightwalker lingered as if assessing his mortal body. It came back three nights in a row seeking an invitation to possess Tamas’ body, “I will heal you” it promised in his ear. Though paralyzed physically, Tamas remained strong willed and resisted the Nightwalker’s advances.

    Tamas climbed to the overlook and could see the great ship in the harbor with thousands of his own people calling out and trading in their dugout canoes. “Why are they doing that? Don’t they know what the ship brought here?” he thought in his swollen brain.

    In the general population of the island there were rumors as to the exact nature of the ship and its Captain Cook. These rumors mingled with the rumors of the details of the sacrifice which had happened three days prior. The ship was pulling out, the Shamans were happy. Tamas began to plot his revenge. He was going to kill Koa’a and then he was going to punish the people for their stupid tradition that he was forced to go through with. It did not matter that the ship of Haoles was planning on leaving. Everything that he had cared about was dead. He knew that if the Shaman was killed it would throw the society in turmoil and they would see how they had sacrificed the wrong girl. And he would become the Shaman and Chief of the Island!

    He thought of the cat the girl had mentioned that he had saved while she had time to steal the box. He had been paddling up to the stern of the ship marveling at the size and scale and everything when he glanced straight up and saw this black object come launching out of the window and land in the water. It very quickly got caught up in the long shore current. Someone on deck yelled and pointed and motioned for action and Tamas acted. He paddled hard and still had a hard time catching up to it. He could see it splashing on the surface, than it would be still and then splashing again further off than before. “It seems to be swimming underwater,” Tamas thought though short on understanding the ramifications of that concept.

    Finally after a few minutes of exerted paddling he caught up to the flailing creature. He took a quick glance back and saw all of the Haoles and his friends and family watching him in the distance as he played hero.

    The animal in the water suddenly turned and glared with two burning red eyes and it hiss-growled and showed huge fangs for teeth. Its face transformed into a grotesque mask and he could see its large black mass of a body under the surface of the water. This was all shielded from view from the ship by Tamas’ canoe and it only happened for a split second. So quick Tamas was not sure of what he had seen. And before he even had a chance to yelp or jump back the creature shifted back to being a small black cat. It nimbly scurried out of the water and into the canoe and walked to Tamas’ leg and rubbed and started purring loudly.

    Tamas was now stunned as the crowd cheered and he looked back and could now see Cook himself along with some of his officers on the high back deck, waving him on. He turned and started paddling and the cat sat right in front of him staring him in the eye if he looked at it.

    He went on quick as he could until he was about ten feet from the ship when the cat, with a flick of its tail jumped the span and gripped onto the rigging hanging down the side of the boat with incredible agility. It then launched up over the side of the boat in three long bounds and then zipped straight up the mast to the crow nest. Tamas made eye contact with Cook and he remembered thinking how Cook did not seem so happy that he had retrieved the cat, though everyone around him was cheering and laughing at the spectacle.

  20. #45
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    Chapter 11) Namas and Tiluk, Alaska 1741

    Someone on the beach made a call and all of the men called back with loud guffaws and much back slapping. They slowly staggered to their feet and loaded into their boat and paddled back down the channel while singing and laughing in their strange language. Tiluk and Namas waited until they were sure the loud white men had gone back down the channel. For a while they could hear their laughter echoing through the forest then at once it fell silent except for the patter of rain on the vegetation.

    In the low light they got up from the wet moss and walked briskly to where the giant tree stood. They paused and looked at each other. Tiluk was not sure how but he knew this was the path for him to secure a respectable spirit name and the hand of his bride back in his village. He summoned his courage and bent over and reached in elbow deep into the dark hole until his hand fell on the hard edges of the strange cube shaped object.

    He gripped it and it instantly felt warm. He pulled it out and together he and Namas stared at it in wonder. Swirls of colors danced and moved on the surface like the way the stars dance in the sky in the cold of winter.
    Namas said “We have to destroy it.” Tiluk’s heart sank as he turned obediently and followed Namas up the dark hillside.

    Tiluk stared into the flames. They had descended back down to the embankment above the creek and started a fire. Namas was now certain that the object from under the tree was cursed and needed to be destroyed. They were sure that the flames of their fire would not be seen by the men in the canoe that had the wings of the White Raven. It was dark now, in the middle of the night and the smoke from their fire would mix with the low clouds.
    Namas had prepared the fire and chanted for a long time while they watched the heavy hard wood of the box fall into ashes. Satisfied and exhausted, Namas fell into a deep sleep with his head perched on a moss covered log. Tiluk could not sleep. He felt more awake and alive than ever before. He could hear Namas gently snoring as the flames pulsed and flared. Tiluk felt himself being pulled into the fire as the rhythmic breathing of Namas seemed to synchronize with the inhales and exhales of the flames.

    Tiluk longed for the Box. It reminded him of the very rare and very valuable ornamental boxes that are made of obsidian. They come from far south, beyond the land of the Haida and he had only heard stories of their existence. He felt sure if he could trade the box to the chief he would gain the hand of his daughter. No amount of convincing could sway Namas from his determination to destroy the box and as he skillfully coaxed the flames to life, Tiluk pleaded his case. Namas acted as if he could hear nothing. Tiluk felt a surge of anger as his fists clenched and the feelings soared in his chest. It scared him but the more he felt the Fear the more he felt alive.

    He was in the fire now, protected by the ebbs and flows of Namas’ breathing. He heard a voice materialize in his ear out of the heat. “You are your own man.” Tiluk felt himself nodding in agreement. “You are here by your own strength and power. You are very powerful.”

    The voice surged deep into his head as Tiluk looked down and saw his feet walking in the red hot coals. He looked up and saw huge logs towering overhead, ablaze. He could look up into the hazy distance and see Namas sleeping contently. It felt like the most normal thing in the world to be shrunken down into the fire and hearing voices. Medicine Dream, he thought.

    “Build me from the ashes.” Tiluk obeyed and started reaching into the red hot coals, seeking the broken down parts of his beloved box. He moved by blind intuition alone as he stacked and assembled the thousands and thousands of parts. It started to take shape and he moved with increasing speed and dexterity. Soon the box stood as tall as his waist and it felt complete. The fire felt hotter now. He dripped sweat and took off his coat. He laughed to himself.

    He ran his hands along the top edge and admired the fine lines like he would admire a well-built canoe. He realized that there was a seam around the entire perimeter. It was a lid. He wedged his fingernails into the seam and lifted. It came up easily and a breath of cool air rushed out around him. He looked up and saw Namas turn in his sleep. He lifted the lid and leaned it to the side. Inside the box it felt like it was shaded from the heat and he leaned into look. He could see something inside but could not reach it. He leaned at his waist but still could not reach. He lifted his leg over the edge and climbed in.

    He could feel the air surge around his legs. The object was on the floor and he bent over to pick it. He held up a very nice leather vest. It appeared to be made of deerskin. It had heavy embroidery made of small sea shells. He whispered to himself, “Great Swimming Wolf,” as he squatted to a sitting position. The air felt nice he thought as he could feel the sweat begin to evaporate from his skin. He held the vest out admiring it for a moment before he decided to try it on. As soon as he eased the cool deerskin around his shoulders the lid slammed down from nowhere and Tiluk was shut into darkness.

    Tiluk sat in the dark but felt no panic. He looked up and on the lid over his head he saw of the stars laid out as if across the sky. He leaned and rolled onto his back to gaze and at that he felt like he was blasting forward through all of the stars. They streaked by in strips of white and red and yellow and at the center, before his face he saw a black center. It felt like all of an eternity but it also only lasted a moment.

    A moment later Tiluk was sitting by the dying embers of the fire. Tiny swirls of smoke lingered and amid the smoldering ashes, the box remained intact. Namas was sitting across the fire pit looking at Tiluk as he opened his eyes.
    Tiluk asked, “Is it day?”

    Namas answered, “It has been two days.”

    Tiluk sat silent trying to recollect the recent events. His brain felt scattered, spread out. Namas could see the bewilderment on the face of Tiluk. “You said many things,” he said, trying to reassure.

    Tiluk could remember the heat of the flames and then the cool air on the inside of the box. Then he remembered reconstructing the heavy wood of the box, particle by particle. It seemed like it had taken a lifetime, toiling in the flames before being rewarded by the cool air inside.

    “The vest!?” He blurted out as he began to move forward. Namas held his hand out motioning him to be still. He pointed at Tiluk and gestured. Tiluk looked down and saw that under his coat was the fine deerskin vest.

    “You are now ‘Great Swimming Wolf’. You said that we must return this box back to the tree from where we got it and the white spirits will return and take it with them.”

    At the same time that Tiluk and Namas went to return the box a different, smaller group of strange white people had returned to the cove. Tiluk made sure that the men saw where the box was hidden and then he and Namas disappeared up the hillside to wait and watch. They saw the one man who stayed to get the box while the others returned to the boat to prepare to leave.

    Tiluk and Namas could also see the previous group of white men. They were pale and shrieking and berating the three men who sat and waited in the small boat. It became apparent that the second group of white men could not see the first group but they could sense the unease in the air. They pushed the boat from shore and left right as the other man came running down the beach with the box. He could see his men leaving him and then he could also see the first group of men turn in his direction.

    Tiluk and Namas watched as the man was pulled to the ground and ripped open by the Wendigos.
    Namas said, “We must get our boat.”

  21. #46
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    Chapter 12) Chirikov; Alaska 1741

    Chirikov ordered a boat into the water. He wasn’t going to take any chances now. He just wanted to get his son back. None of the three men who had been out with the 1st mate sprang into action. They were still loitering down the deck when the natives appeared. They were at once dumbstruck and terrified.

    “What happened to Vlad?”

    “Did he get the thing from the tree?”

    “Where did the natives come from?”

    “Is the creature following them?”

    “You there!!” Chirikov shrieked, “Get in the boat!” He enunciated with a booming voice. He was a tall and broad man with a weather worn face and piercing light blue eyes. In the last day the grey hairs on his head doubled in count and as he hollered he could feel a wavering inside though his voice did not betray him. They jumped to attention and got back in the boat that they had just got out of only and hour earlier. Viktor started pulling on the oars as Gregor and Boris sat nervously as they approached the motionless body.

    “It looked smaller than Vlad,” one of them said aloud.

    They touched down on the fine sand of the beach. The body was 20 paces up the beach where the sand and gravel turns into larger rocks, 2-4 inches in diameter. Gregor could not believe what was happening. If he felt uncomfortable getting out of the boat on this spot 3 hours before, he felt stupefied now.

    “Just have to go and make it quick,” Gregor said. The two jumped out and ran up the beach like men on a mission. They ducked as if dodging arrows or bullets. One grabbed the shoulders and one grabbed the ankles and they picked him up very easily, it felt light and bony.

    They ran and got the body hoisted it into the boat. Gregor started paddling fast, he wanted out of the boat but was terrified of the result. About 10 paces from the main ship Viktor glanced down and saw that the face had become uncovered and he saw one of the eyes was bulged and glowing demonic red and staring at him and then blinked shut. At that Viktor actually flinched and jumped backward so aggressively that he launched himself into the water and started drowning because he could not swim.

    “It’s him! It’s him!” he screamed and coughed as he flailed until a crew man from the ship threw a rope. Viktor then pulled to the ship and climbed the railing and was down the length of the deck in a blink of an eye. He then ran to the port bow, opposite from where the pulled along the starboard stern. The two others didn’t know why their friend just lost control. Of course they knew in general, but not specific. They pulled to the ship and also scrambled up the side.

    Chirikov was standing at the railing watching all of this. The body was still in the bottom of the boat as it rocked gently against the side of the ship. Chirikov was momentarily paused for action. He climbed down the rigging to the small boat and knelt over his son.

    “It’s him,” he thought, “my son is dead and that man is wrought with distress,” he reassured himself, tried to maintain grasp on cause and event. He now felt confident and flipped the heavy leather material back and there was his son’s face, staring back at him with eyes wide open. Chirikov’s heart stuttered as he could see that his son was alive. His pupils were large and black and the rims were dipped in red.

    He smiled a maniacal grim and a tooth fell out as he said “Hello father, they saved me.” He sat up and gestured to the natives. Another tooth fell out and he spit it out. “Well are we going home now or what?” He asked nonchalantly. He stood and climbed up to the rear deck of the ship. At the top of the rail the whole crew had gathered and they all stepped way back to give him room. Gregor and Boris had retreated to the periphery but could see that Vlad was carrying the object from the tree. Viktor could be heard at the other end of the ship shouting repeated curses and profanities into the sky. Like a crazy person.

    Chirikov ordered the remaining crew to arrest the three rescuers for mutiny. They we quickly put in chains and carried down deep into the bowels of the ship. Chirikov ordered to prepare to make way, “We have seen enough of this land.”

    “Come to my office, son.”

    Vlad shuffled in. It looked like he had aged 30 years in the last 18 hours. He had sores all over his body and his hair was falling out.

    “My god what is wrong with you?” Chirikov implored, “What happened? Have you rested? Can you tell your story?” Vlad sat down and held his hands out and offered the little box as a gift. He bowed his head dramatically. Chirikov hesitated and reached out, “What is this?” It felt warm and heavy.

    “A gift father, from the local people. When I went to shore with the men we came under attack and they had to flee and leave me, there was nothing they could do. I awoke from a dark haze and was lying sideways on the beach. I must have been hit in the head. I could see this box out on the sand where it had fallen from my hand. I tried to move but could not. I reached with my eyes and could see slivers of shadows moving in to me from the shaded corners of the lagoon. I was picked up and moved to my back and laid with my arms wide out. I watched as the man with the black face held an object over my exposed chest. He made a motion and I felt nothing. He then pulled the skin back and I could see him pick up a rock and start breaking my ribs in on the left side. He then shoved his hand deep into my chest and pulled out my beating heart. He then took a bite out of my heart and then passed it to the other man with a black face and he too, took a bite out of my heart. He then placed the remains in that box and put it in my chest cavity and crossed my arms and rolled me into the leather blanket and delivered me to the beach where you picked me up. Now if you will excuse me, I will go release the prisoners and thank them for their efforts.”

  22. #47
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    Chapter 13) David; Alaska, 2030

    “The Money?” David exploded. “The Money?! I never got any money and I never wanted any money! Did you get any money? You should be paying me! The lawyers drug me into it but I didn’t want to. I figured you living the rest of your life with a guilty conscious and no more flying was enough for me,” David ranted.

    Avery listened and took a deep, melodramatic swig and finished his beer then in one motion grabbed another can and proceeded to punch a hole in the side so he could shot gun it. And with that and some foam spittle he slammed the can on the table and crushed it and then said, ”Who is guilty?!”

    David caught himself smiling as he retorted, “You are! You are the one that crashed the helicopter, you dumb shit!”

    Drey cut in with a “Whoa, whoa, whoa! What money? What helicopter? You guys crashed in a helicopter?” David seemed worn out by the question and the fact that it was nearly 4 am. He had no one at home waiting for him with home being the back of his old truck, parked a few blocks down.

    He grabbed a beer and held it out and paused as if to invite the others to grab one too. They obliged and then all proceeded to hold in the horizontal position while using a knife to carefully make a hole at the base. Avery actually used a car key but that is beside the point. They each used their finger to pry the aluminum back and make the hole nice and then on a count of three tipped the beer back with the new hole at their lips and cracked the top at the same time. With no back pressure the beer literally flies down the gullet. Shotgun!

    Drey knew he was the new guy and he was entertained to hear this colorful history between two long lost friends unfold.

    David started: “We all got jobs at the mine the year after the second dam went in, the big one. Since the mine turned out to be such a bonanza they figured there could be more deposits in nearby drainages so we were working out of helicopters to do line cutting and survey work. This dipshit here,” he gestures to Avery, “just got out of helicopter school, number one in his class, no less! He was the pilot and it was the tenth day of his first job. I had been on the contract for 4 weeks already and was stoked to be flying around the back of the valley. It was cool to see all the mountains that just keep going…”

    Avery seemed patient as if he was waiting his cue. David continued, “We were flying about 8:30 in the morning, cruising about 800 feet over that big new lake they had just made and what do I hear over the headsets?” He pauses and looks to Avery with the cue, “What was that hmmm, what did you see?” Avery had had enough prodding and said “A caribou, I saw a caribou swimming.”

    “A caribou, that’s right,” David continued, “and at that instant you decided to turn the helicopter dead sideways as if to really show your passengers that there was in fact a caribou in the water. There it was. I saw it. Even though caribou don’t live anywhere around here, I saw a caribou. And in the next second our pilot here is turning and dive bombing to the lake in a huge arc tipped about 30 degrees off vertical.” David tilted his hands and arms as if to display the trajectory.

    “I recall going straight down and looking at the tree tops along the shoreline and then as we pulled back over the water I remember looking out my side window and thinking ‘that water sure looks close’ then BAM! We hit the water doing about 180mph. We were about a foot too low in in the bottom of the arc and the skids caught and that tipped the cab forward and we impacted like a bomb.”

    David paused, “Avery, that sound about right?” Avery offered a sheepish “Yeah” he knew where this was going but Drey didn’t. “And who else was in the bird with us?”

    Avery sighed “Pete was on board and he could not swim and he had on these tall lace-up hunting boots and that heavy jacket…”

    “It doesn’t matter,” David continued, “you crashed the helicopter and Pete was my work partner and he could not swim, but you crashed the helicopter.”

    “I did say I was sorry about that,” Avery offered.

    “Sorry? Go say sorry to Pete’s wife or one of his four kids like I did. Sorry that I could not keep swimming and save him. Did you ever do that?!” David asked pointedly.

    “Yeah, I did. It was brutal.”

    David paused and then said, “Yeah, I know.”

    “What about the vest? That was weird.” Avery asked.

    “Oh yeah, the vest. So Pete was this native guy from South East Alaska. A few years back the whole tribe got together and did this 1000 mile traditional canoe paddle from Ketchikan to Juneau to protest a potential new pipeline going in their traditional hunting area or something. Since Pete completed the journey he received his ‘Spirit Name’ and this nice red and black leather vest with a design on it. His name was ‘Great Swimming Wolf.’ It was a name passed on through the generations in his clan and it came to rest on him.”

    Pause as the group now noticed the horrible music coming over the radio. It sounded like some weird Russian techno David thought. Drey spoke up and offered the obvious “That is crazy, so he died?”

    “Yeah, he died,” David continued, “So when I go to talk to his wife where she lived in the trailer park and explain what happened she is all crying and chain smoking cigarettes and the 2 year old was crying and the four year old was going nuts with crayons on the wall and the 8 year old was playing video games and the 12 year old girl was sullen, staring. In the end she gives me his vest and says that his spirit name of Great Swimming Wolf was passed on to me because I was the last one there and I tried so hard to save him or something like that.”

    David continued and took a breath, “And do you remember when the autopsy report came back like 3 months later and it said that he only had a broken rib? And his wife somehow took that to mean that I was lying because I had said in the police report that I thought he might have a head or spine injury because he was not talking or anything? She wrote a letter to the paper blaming me for not saving him…” he trailed off and habitually rolled the edge of the vest between his fingers. It was old and frayed but he felt like it did give him some power over the situation.

    Avery said, “We came out without a scratch, Pete is dead and we are sitting there on the edge of the lake and I saw the loons in the water. It wasn’t a caribou, it was a pair of loons and they started laughing at us.”

    David cut in, “I nearly drown trying to save Pete, I mean I am palming his bald head under the water like a basketball as I am treading water with the other hand and water is going in my mouth like I watched happen to Pete. That shit sticks with you. And then his wife calls me up right after the autopsy and says that I have to give back the vest because I was lying about what happened…?” David sounded less pointed.

    Avery was cracking another beer, “So what is your dad gonna do?”

    “My dad can fuck off. He knows I don’t want the money but he is taking it all personal and they are tying it up in court, just dragging it out. You are lucky to not be in jail and we are both lucky to be alive.”

    Avery turned to Drey, “You know who his dad is?”
    Drey said “No, who.”

    Avery answered, “His dad is the guy who single handedly killed Girdwood Valley and put us where we are today. He was the guy who was building bike trails for the ski resort and realized that in some of the silt traps they were finding gold by accident. So what did he do? He started mining gold on the clock and making a killing all while under the guise of trail building.”

    David could tell that Avery was glad to change the subject to this, his most favorite subject of all. David played along. “The mountain was big and they could hide their dredge in the gorge and move it around. I think he was making like $20 grand a month! His boss is hiking around one day, sees the dredge, calls him out on it. Then he goes and tells the big, big boss who is the dick head billionaire owner who does what?” He paused to cue David who said, “He sold it to the mine people and Girdwood has been fucked ever since.”

    “No it is not so bad if you don’t mind working in the mines and living under the fucking dam down in the valley and all the howitzers going off all the time. And you sure make good money driving a dump truck or going three miles underground. No thanks.” Avery clarified.

    “Three miles underground?” Drey seemed interested.

    “Yeah it is the new deepest mine in the world or some shit. They just say that it is pure gold in there.” David explained.

    “Why don’t they at least pave the streets with pavement, let alone pave them with fucking gold?” Avery lamented. He got up and staggered to the couch and passed out signifying the end of the night.

  23. #48
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    Chapter 14) Tamas; Hawaii, 1779

    Tamas felt strong. He felt possessed by strength and foresight to complete a task, despite his horrible looks. He had been soundly ostracized from the community after they saw him destroying the gravesite.

    ‘They don’t know what they are up against.’ He had seen the cat turn into a creature! And he had heard the girl, the love of his life, tell of the creature getting off of the boat and following them up the hill, to her death. He had to destroy the box, wherever it was. Where was it? ‘Koa’a has it.’

    Tamas tore off through the dry crunchy ground. Crunch. He heard the sound of his steps in the dry grasses. ‘That’s it. FIRE!’ He knew the ship was still in the harbor, but not for how long. He had been wandering aimlessly along the shoreline to the north of the village for most of a day now. He could see the afternoon wind picking up with whitecaps out in the channel.

    He sprinted through the back trails that led uphill in a circuitous route to behind the village. He then diverted and made a beeline dash shoreward to the heart of the village cooking area to get a ‘hotstick’ to make a fire. A few people were in the area but no one noticed and most were down near the water getting ready to bid farewell to Cook and the Haoles. He then circled long to the northeast to get upwind of the village but to also get upwind of Koa’a’s, which was tucked up in a little draw inland a few hundred paces. He was drenched in sweat and his head was pounding. He started touching the little torch down to the very dry bushes and trees.

    One fire, two fire, three, four, five! He had a wall of flame going now and it was growing fast. He lit a few more fires and turned around back towards the village. He would use the now sharp and hardened torch stick to kill Koa’a.
    Koa’as house was up a little spur trail in the bottom of the draw. Tamas set up and hid perfectly behind a boulder. He could smell the smoke already. The wind was still picking up and Tamas smiled at his luck in timing these bold moves. He knew Koa’a was up there in his shack, he always was.

    Koa’a was confident that he had sent the huge boat and its shimmering sails on its way by performing the sacrifice. He knew by the words of the dead girl and Tamas’ frenzied searching and possession of the source of Cook’s power. This little box. He did not dare open it after hearing the story of the girl. He just placed it on a bench made of an over turned log with incense burning along with his ritual fire. He chanted and muttered in the smoke and waited for Cook to leave.

    Tamas sat. The smoke was getting quite thick. His throat started to burn. How could Koa’a still be up there? The smoke was pouring out of the valley dense and grey. Tamas thought that he might not actually be up there and decided to run up the trail. He could barely see as he groped along. Suddenly the smoke started to clear and he could see Koa’as house now. He had walked into a bubble shaped sanctuary as the now black smoke billowed by and the wind moaned deep in the stiff dead branches of the wili wili trees whose bark and trunk writhed in anticipation of the flames to come.

    He eased up to the door. His steps were washed by the wind. The palm fronds click-clacketed and it reminded him of the sound the Nightwalkers were said to have made. He had heard the sound a thousand times in the middle of the night when he had gone out to urinate. This was the first time he thought he might actually see a Nightwalker. Right here in broad daylight!

    Koa’a stepped through the door. He held out his arm and said, “Stop you have come far enough!” Tamas stopped and thought about that for a moment. Koa’s spoke, “We did three rituals on Cook and that ship. The first was to welcome him. The second was to test him and the third was to send him on his way. You were part of the third ritual and I am sorry for that.”

    “But why did you have to kill her?” Tamas pleaded.

    “We had to catalyze action out of a warrior and that warrior is you. She had to die so that ship would leave. Our women were sleeping with them! They stole, broke or destroyed everything they touched. The elders knew it after a few hours, a few moments of interaction and we knew. But most of the people were enthralled by the stuff they bring. Stuff we don’t need. And now you are here to kill me as it should be, Tamas.

    “I have practiced the understanding for most of my adult life in order to know death and know how life springs out of death. We all make sacrifices, even me. I have personally killed over 15 people in the last 20 years. They always tell you something right at the end and it is always the truth. I need you to help move me to the next level now.

    “You need to know that the original Nightwalkers came here from the stars a long time ago. They are the Old Men who wanted to take over our world but they lost their power the longer they were in our dimension. They tried to eradicate the humans many times but it did not work. The humans are too strong. Most of them left when our land was still new but some did not get to their lifting points at the right time and they were left behind and are stuck here in our space. I want to help them go home...”

    “Take that stick you used to start the fires and break it over your knee into two and take my eyes out. Without the distraction of sight I am ready to move with the Nightwalker and see how he works. I am ready for immortality.”

    Tamas had never heard this version of the origins of the Nightwalkers. He found himself slipping into thought...

    “You must be quick!” Koa’a stepped forward and took off his head dress made of a few scraggly feathers and some sea shells woven into a grass band. Tamas, filled with rage and sadness and loyalty, broke the stick on his knee in one quick motion and punched them into both eye sockets at the same time, rendering Koa’a blind instantly.

    Tamas stepped back horrified at the lack of convincing he needed to do that. He would be the hero.
    The clear bubble of air they were in began to shrink. Koa’a crawled on the ground and searched for dry leaves he had prepared earlier to pack into his bleeding sockets. The bubble of clean air grew smaller and the wind grew fierce. Tamas could feel the hot breath of evil singing the hairs at the top of his nose.

    “And Tamas, at night when you hear the sound of the palm fronds in the wind and you were told that is the sound of the Nightwalker? You misunderstood, because he IS the wind.”

    Koa'a gestured to the small box sitting on the ground nearby, “This is the ship of the Nightwalker and it is my lifting point.”

    The bubble got too small for Tamas as he began choking on the smoke and watching the smoke compress in and around Koa’as head. It shrank to just a little larger than his head and paused before slammed shut as his mortal coil fell to the dirt. Tamas grabbed the box and ran to the shore.

  24. #49
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    Chapter 15) Captain Cook, 1779

    Cook finally slept the night through for the first time in nearly three months. His head felt clear and he felt a returning sense of ambition. The warm tropical air moved clean in his lungs. They had been voyaging for well over 2 years having left Plymouth with two ships, HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery. They sailed south to Cape Town then over to New Zealand and then to where he is now, just off the coast of the Hawaiian Islands, the true heart of the Pacific. They had left the islands in peace about a year earlier in search of the fabled Northwest Passage, a theoretical unexplored sea route north of North America.

    As he stared at his charts and traced his finger he recalled how they followed the Oregon coast all the way up to the northern edge of the Pacific Ocean and then tucked into Prince William Sound and into one of his many his namesake Cook Inlet, a 200 mile long, glacial silt choked body of water with large tide swings and huge seas rolling in from the open ocean.

    They continued west and south a bit through the Aleutian Chain and then turned north into the frigid Bering Sea, as named by the Russian explorers Bering and Chirikov 50 years earlier. They cruised north with the North American continent to the right and Russian pinched in from the west as they entered the Bering Strait. From here Cook turned south and followed the Russian coast until they came to the western end of the Aleutians. Here they turned east and followed the island chain back to the North America mainland. This is where they would do final preparations before sailing due south, back to the tropical islands for the winter.

    He knew how beautiful the islands were and his men were excited to get there. But there were many things to do in Alaska before sailing south.

    Cook remembered when he had called Ledyard into his quarters. He instructed him to strike off solo through the desolate country in search of a village or supplies. Cook had been given explicit instructions from the Queen not to interact with any other Europeans or otherwise competing countries looking to stake new territory. He had heard that the Russians had a camp set up somewhere in this area but was not sure of where exactly. His crew was tired and their supplies were short, so he decided to be prudent and send out one of his trusted men along with an Aleut guide to see what he could see.

    Ledyard trekked off over the green hillside and out of sight. The guide spoke no English and Ledyard spoke no Aleut. They used gestures. (Pointing at the ship) question (point to hills, ocean) question. The Aleut (slide his hand down his face) like a modern day mime might as to change his face. Ledyard picked up the man’s face turning pale and the (pointing) that way.

    They came to a village after 3 days. They could see the Russian ship tucked neatly in the back corner of the bay. The Aleut procured a kayak from behind a log on the beach. It was only designed for one person so Ledyard had to squeeze in the storage area at the man’s feet as he sat. “The man paddled for over two hours,” Ledyard later explained. “It was quite cramped in there. We finally touched shore and I could feel six or eight men pick the whole boat out of the surf and carry it up the beach. I was promptly unpacked and given dry clothes and a heavy coat and hat. It had rained the entire time.”

    Ledyard was describing how he had found the Russians as he was now introducing them to Captain Cook. The Russians were returning Ledyard and offered a gift of rye cake with smoked salmon baked in the middle. They also left with a promise to return with their big boss, Ismailov.

    A day later Ismailov arrived with an entourage of 30 canoes. They unpacked on the beach quickly and efficiently. Captain Cook and Captain Ismailov made quick friends as they shared charts and techniques and tales of the sea. This was all done through very broken English on Ismailov’s part and sign language and gestures and a lot of alcohol either way.

    As it turned out the Russians were still using the one of the two ships that Vitus Bering himself had used to explore these waters 50 years earlier. There was a pause in reverence for the great explorer, now deceased. “He never made it back home to Russia.” Ismailov explained. Cook felt a connection with this man, Bering. He had navigated with very rudimentary techniques and boat construction. The British liked to think they led the world in navigation.
    “These Russians were easily 100 years behind the times,” Cook thought. They were friendly though and bred to drink and tell stories. Ismailov, now drunk, lamented Bering's last struggles. “He and his sister ship captained by Alexi Chirikov had been separated while at sea and never reunited. Chirikov had landed and lost some men on shore, including his son. He then sailed back to Kamchatcha. Bering in the meanwhile had landed about 100 miles north of Chirikov, each unbeknownst to the other.”

    “How did he lose his men?” Cook asked.
    “No one is really sure, he stopped here to bury his son and when he got home he had gone crazy. They could not get a straight answer out of him.” Ismailov was feeling eloquent. “Bering also struck for home after nearly ten years on expedition. We know his ship stopped here because it was recorded that they found Chirikov’s son’s grave up on the hill behind camp. Bering’s men were all getting scurvy and they were worn out. They ended up getting ship wrecked on an island in the middle of winter about three days sail off of Russia mainland. Bering died on the island a broken man. 30 of the 70 men survived the winter and in the spring they rebuilt a small sailing ship out of the wreckage and made their way back to western Russia as heroes. We are sailing Chirikov’s ship now. We go back to Russia one time a year to sell furs. We leave in two weeks.”

    After a week of camaraderie, Cook was feeling melancholy for leaving kindred spirits but was also keen to get back to the Hawaiian Islands for the winter. His men were tired and they deserved a good break in the tropics before aiming for Kamchatcha again in May. The Russian came to bid final farewell as the tents were packed and they were heading back to their village. They offered telescopes and watches and fancy writing pens. As Cook made long strides up the beach after having seen Ismailov to his boat with a few hearty back slaps. The same Aleut man who had guided Ledyard came up and offered him another gift and as he did he gestured towards Ismailov and back to Cook. Cook smiled pleasantly and accepted the small leather bag with what appeared to be a small music box. He went to his cabin and packed it on the shelf.

  25. #50
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    GRRD
    Posts
    1,858
    Chapter 16) David; Alaska, 2030

    David climbed into his sleeping bag in the back of his truck. He had a little canopy on an old 2000 F250 and the truck was a classic. His dad had given it to him back on his 18th birthday as he had originally bought it new and it ran like a top. It was a challenge to keep his life simple. He was lulled to sleep by the drone of the front end loader moving snow at the end of the parking lot. It had stopped snowing with only a trace of accumulation. “Maybe drop to zero tonight,” was David’s last thought.

    That night he had a vivid dream that he was shape shifting through exactly 1500 lives and it was as if he was looking at himself in the mirror as all the faces flew by in a blur so fast it was like watching an image generate as projected on a screen on the wall. The face turned and morphed into a grotesque, sightless black face with even deeper black holes for cheeks that were not bore in flesh but slipped out through a vortex of space and time. He began to fall into the approaching void but sprung awake in the back of his truck. He laid there glad to be awake but still remembering the dream vividly.

    He calmed down and was warm and sleepy. He maintained a hypnotic vision of waves rolling on a beach. A steady, rhythmic shore break that carried waves of energy and peace around the globe through the aqua blue medium known as water. It was an old trick he had taught himself back in high school to ward off the usual adolescent anxieties and resulting insomnia. It was a warm tropical beach.

    Just then he heard boot steps in the far end of the parking lot. “I wonder who is walking through the parking lot? It is like 4am. The bars closed 2 hours ago. I can hear heavy boot steps crunching in the frozen gravel and cold squeaky snow. It sounds louder now, maybe he is walking to his car? His condo? Who could be walking towards me in the middle of the night?!” David could feel an odd panic rising in his chest. He felt silly but the panic increased.

    He had a thought “Did I dream of that face to warn myself to wake up or did I dream that and inadvertently manifest the creature?! I did! I just invited the Beast to stroll on over and get me!” He lay there on his back in his sleeping bag as awake as awake could be. He heard and knew that the boots were coming for him. Maybe they were not boots, maybe they hooves or scaly feet...

    It was a long parking lot, over 100 yards long lined on both sides by 4 story condo buildings. It was an acoustic canyon, a funnel draining right into his brain. His bat sensory kicked in and he could see the hulking shape in his mind’s eye, moving as manifested. The more he envisioned the scene the more he became convinced it was happening to him. He felt like he had flashed into the recurring dream of the tall dark creatures moving slowly down the lane in some ancient time.

    “An acausal circle of events??! Am I clairvoyant or creator? Potter or the clay?” The ideas percolated like clothes that have been in the dryer for too long. Hot and static charged.

    “Hell no!” another voice sprang into action in David’s head, “I will not go with you Devil!” this voice was defiant and solid. The last whisper of ego was crushed under the urgency of this new voice. “I will not go, not by my will!” The voice screamed in his head. The boots were literally walking within three strides of the tailgate of the truck with David laying bolt straight on his back repeating “Thank you God! Thank you God!” over and over. Just then as the Beast passed the side of the truck David could hear the distinct deep voice of a male say, “God Damn it!” with controlled but genuine rage. David’s blood ran cold. The steps kept walking and eventually left the far end of the parking lot. An hour later, David finally fell back asleep.

    The next morning he was groggy but the day dawned clear and cold. He got up and looked for suspicious tracks and could see none. He stiffly got into the drivers seat and started the truck and let it warm up for 10 minutes while he sat and watched the frost begin to melt on the windshield. The frost was thick. He let the slow action of the heater clear his vision. He grabbed the stick and put it in gear and started crawling through the deeply shaded streets hunched and peering through the windshield.

    He pulled out onto the main road and three miles later popped out into the sun at the end of the valley, near the ocean. The sun peaked over the mountain tops across Turnagain Arm, a 50 mile off shoot of the mighty Cook Inlet. The sun felt good on his face. He craved sun now like a heroin junky. He had the sudden thought of how silly it was to live in the cold like this.

    “I should move to Hawaii,” he daydreamed as he pulled into the Alpine Diner, the greasy spoon usually full of tourist taking a donut break. He went and sat down and just as he took a melodramatic first sip of coffee, he looked over the brim of the cup and saw to his surprise Avery and Drey walking in the door. It was 10:30am and He figured he was up way earlier then they would be. Avery saw him and slide into the booth all conspiratorial like, David thought. He asked “Where did you guys come from? Last I saw, you were passed out with your head hanging in the toilet,” he said half-jokingly, half-mockingly.

    “Heh yeah, we feel like shit. How you doing?”

    “Ah you know, hot coffee, the sky is the limit,” David feigned enthusiasm.

    “Well, we were going to go walk out to the end of Bird Point, do the tourist thing, show Drey around. We are going to walk to the end of the rocks as the tide keeps dropping and see how far out we can get. You wanna go?” Avery asked.

    David thought a moment and decided that that actually sounded like a pretty cool thing to do. “Well I suffered you two jackass’s all last night what is another day gonna hurt?” Drey laughed and Avery seemed like his feeling got hurt. At least Drey has a sense of humor David thought.

    30 minutes later after a hearty breakfast of eggs on toast they were in Avery’s beat up old Subaru driving the ten minutes down the highway towards Anchorage. They pulled over and got out at the gate blocking the parking lot. It was not maintained during the winter months and snow drifts piled high around stone statues of beluga whales. David had driven past this parking lot thousands of times but had never taken the time to read the displays. He would usually leave that sort of thing for the tourists. One display showed an old drawing of what Captain Cook’s ship must have looked like sitting off this point when he made his historic push up this dead end silt trap 240 years ago.

    They picked their way around the corner of the fenced in area and made their way to cross the rail road tracks. Although the ambient air temp was hovering in the 20’s the sun felt warm and there was no wind to speak of. They crunched through the shade frozen needles and gravel of the little trail that snaked through the strip of trees. David thought of the boot steps he had heard the night before. They emerged back into the dazzling sun.

    Turnagain Arm is known for having enormous tide cycles upwards of 40 feet. Right now it was on the way out with another three hours until low water. “I don’t understand how those old ships could navigate around the world into places like this without motors or GPS?” Avery wondered aloud.

    “Yeah I don’t know, that is crazy,” David responded. It was actually warm enough to take off their hats and gloves. They tucked in along the rocks and could feel the heat radiating. David’s core felt cold. He craved sun. They picked along the shoreline slowly, taking time and taking in the view. David was recounting stories of climbing and skiing all of the mountains that they could see for Drey’s sake. Avery already knew all the stories.

    “And so-and-so got in an avalanche over there. And we climbed that ridge in the dark once and we did a helicopter drop on that peak… god like 10 years ago. That was back when people still skied around here.” They turned and faced northeast toward Girdwood Valley and could see the huge pit mine that used to be the beloved ski resort. “Thanks a lot pop’s,” David muttered to himself.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •