KUSHTAKA: The Legend of the Bay of Death

This is the first five chapters and the prologue of the book that you can read for free and if you don’t like it then thanks for reading but if you do it’s a mere buck ninety nine to buy the whole digital download in proper format here

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KUSHTAKA
The Legend of the Bay of Death
by
Jay Border

..And so Raven, Creator, said to Land otter, his favorite,
“You will make your home on a point that gets plenty of breeze from both sides,

And when people capsize in their canoes, you will go out and save them,
and make them your friends.”

That is how
Land otter, Ku’cta,
Man, Qa,
Ku’cta’qa,
Land otter man,
Came to be.

Tlingit mythology
Prologue
The building is old and filled with millions of different farts. Inside we find a room that is insidiously small and the most alluring shade of gunmetal gray, accented by the occasional bloody loogie. A tiny WWII Air Force cot crowds itself oxidizing in the corner giving the barred porthole the illusion of a picture window. The air is stagnant, still. It seems to repel light. The darkness is nearly complete. Moonbeams descend delicately upon the room’s sole occupant. An ancient skeleton propped up comically in a wheelchair, in the center of the cell. Its blankets and pillows threatening to obscure it from view. So emaciated it seems that it must be dead. But as if in testament its light, wheezing breath, assures us it is alive and is the only sound in the room.
The metal door opens with a key lock click, creaking ever so B-movie menacingly. Our second rate cast continues with the stereo-typical burly nut-house orderly, wearing a crew cut and huge jaw, his eyes bright but set too close. Dressed in white of course, his muscles bulging beneath his jacket. He glances in and around before falling back allowing your average Joe, four-eyed freak in the rumpled tweed suit into the room.
The muscle-mussel eyes the skeleton a moment searching for any sign of threat . . . decides four-eyes is safe and closes the door, locking it. The geek removes his nerd glasses and shakes his dark hair out, smoothing his suit and taking on an entirely different air in himself. He looks far less mousy now; he seems much more . . . dynamic. He needs this story. There isn’t a news agency in town has been able to get this one. This nut has been here in the Alaska Psychiatric Institute for nearly six months, since summertime and hasn’t told his story yet. The doctors are worked too thin here anyway and isn’t that they’ve given up, they just have less time every day. Maybe he will talk to someone else, someone with different methods. He had to pull every card he owns to get here. This had better be good.
Totally in control now he removes a pocket tape recorder and a pack of cigarettes from his jacket pocket and slides the tiny stool they have allowed him over to the midget table on the room’s far wall. About ten feet from the door in which he entered. He sits and drops the recorder on the table opening the smokes quickly. He drops the trash on the table and pulls an ashtray from his jacket pocket and sets it in the table’s center while mouthing a cigarette from the deck. After a moment he snakes a foot out and turns the wheelchair towards him. The reporter extends the pack of smokes with one sticking out towards the skeleton,
“Join me?” he offers. The old guy breathes deep suddenly and blinks, his dry sockets back to liquid eyedom, taking on an entirely different air in itself, . . . . himself,
“Shore,” the ex-corpse whistles and snatches the cigarette deftly, “Gotta light?” he asks. The suit produces a lighter and lights them both then leans back as the old man puffs greedily, hot-boxing his smoke immediately.
“Easy ‘Timer, take a . . . cigarette break.” the suit laughs at his own dryness. The skeleton ashes his smoke on the table ignoring the ashtray as though it isn’t there. The suit looks at the ashtray a moment fretting then clears his throat noisily and snaps on the tape recorder,
“So . . . tell me about it.” He says emotionlessly.
“‘Bout what?” the ‘Timer asks as he hits his smoke again feigning indifference to the question. The suit grins and continues,
“About what brought you here . . . now.” The skeleton freezes, the smoke drifting slowly out of his mouth and nostrils. The suit removes a flask from his inside pocket and sets it on the table quietly and goes on,
“Just . . . start, at the beginning” the suit says,
“Hmmp, the beginning?” The skeleton sighs, looking down at the flask. Then seems to take on an entirely different life, much less air.
“Yes tell me what brought you here, exactly?” the reporter purrs and the old man chuffs once.

The southeast Alaskan night is beautiful and bright. The sun is still high in the sky and the weather is unusually dry. Jace watches the scrim of clouds along the horizon gathering quickly.
He sits curled up at the top of a rock slide about two mountains back from where he started on the beach. He curses at himself. This has got to be his least intelligent idea to date. That’s a nice way of saying stupid, least intelligent. More like retarded. He hasn’t seen a single sign of the half-moon lake, crescent shaped lake, or the S-like snake lake that is described in the book and he’s ready to call it a night and head home. His stomach grumbles in agreement.

“Fuck!” he says and pulling out the pistol. He aims it around himself randomly looking for anything to shoot so far nothing. Just like it’s been the whole hike. Nothing to shoot at a target poor environment. He grins and draws a bead on a stump and dumps half a dozen rounds into it in an excellent grouping. He turns and trims a couple of branches off of a tiny sapling thirty paces away. Another turn then finishes off the clip blindly into the small tree next to him. After a moment the tree falls over slowly. He ejects the spent clip right into his open backpack and pops in another one releasing the catch locking it loaded. He engages the safety and holsters it quickly. He grimaces his best Dirty Harry as he pulls out his last chunk of jerky. Jace shoves the jerky in his mouth and chews upon it vigorously. He pulls out his last water bottle and notices how empty it is and he re-packs it after taking one slight sip.
“Let’s . . . get the flock out of here.” He says in Callahan style and begins to hop step down the rock slide as though he is skiing and the descent goes swiftly. He doesn’t even notice the thick cloud cover closing in equally swift.
At the bottom of the scree he begins to squint for his old foot prints in the sand and finally looks skyward in frustration. Why me Lord? The clouds choose that moment to close fully and the rain starts. Not like stateside when you get all that drama lightning and thunder and ka-ploosh. Nope, southeast rain starts as just a soggy mist, then a sticky drizzle, then steady hose and hell, you’re fucked. This one hit those very stages in about as long as it takes to mention it.
“Just fucking perfect.” Jace says quietly to himself. Now all I need is to have the pigs waiting for me on the beach. He thinks inwardly, then,
“Things are looking up.” He says aloud, now that might actually scare him. His neck hairs prickle up ever so slightly, maybe. He begins to plod down the dry, and soon to be, not so dry stream-bed that he had came in on. Past the former tracks he left on the way in, which are now becoming obscured by the downpour.
“Yeah,” he goes on in a self reassured voice, “Things are really getting better now.” With that the song is loose in his head and he stumbles on through downpour, the rain robbing the heat from his body very quickly now. What is the song again, Lenny Kravits or, no, Collective Soul, he thinks, kinda jazzy little guitar number, got ta get out, things are gettin’ better now, he begins to hurry, instinctively trying to burn some calories and warm himself. He scurries down the trail like some rat abandoning a sinking ship.
*
Du waak x’aan, whose name means His eyes Red Fire, is orchestrating a concerto now, after cueing the rain he begins soothing his mark’s nerves. Even though he has taken physical form on this plane in the body of the Ku’cta, the Land otter and from there transformed himself into the Kusaxa Kwaan, the slighted cannibal form that he is now trapped in. The hated form of what he has now become. The new improved, type of Ku’cta’qa, the Kushtaka. He can not do what needs to be done, without its higher form of mind. His, higher form of mind.
He has projected his awareness out to his mark and located music familiar to the mark within his own subconscious, and has loosed it into his conscious mind, calming him. He has lead the mark in subliminally, directly past his source of power, and he means to lead him right back to it. There his agent waits, with his messenger. Du waak x’aan breathes embryonically. This part of his millennia long plan is crucial, and he focuses all of his being, on Jace.
*
“Hey Jace” He hears Breaker’s voice call out to him and Jace freezes. The rain spatters down in tens of thousands of millions of places,
He listens for his brother to call out to him again. They must have followed me up! Is his first inward thought. But, no . . . He knows he hasn’t heard his brother call his name through his ears. But in his mind alone.
Even still he turns back to the trail, but the pussy-voice in his mind screams ‘ It’s Breaker! Just whistle and he’ll know where you are!
Before he can stop himself he blasts out his and Breaker’s piercing ‘location’ whistle. Something they had used as children to locate each other if they had become separated in the woods, or the city, or wherever, just so they might know in what direction, the other was.
No sooner has he done it, that the rational voice in his head screams, RUN YOU FUCK! YOU’RE WHISTLING AT THE KUSHTAKA! GET THE FUCK OUT!
Jace bolts forward into the miasma of rainstorm fury.
But in his recognition whistle,
he has given, just so much, of his power, to them.
Jace is suddenly weakened. He has lost some of his vital energy. His feet begin to drag along slowly. The dirt path is now melting into a cold, clinging mud that saps the will to live. Falling to his knees, Jace claws his way on through the supernatural storm that unfolds before him.
He’s a lone person in the woods. Kushtaka’s, prime subject.
“But that’s a person in distress!” Jace cries out against the maelstrom. “And I’m gettin’ betta now!” With that the song is blazing in his head once again, and he likes it.
Jace shoves himself up and wipes the water and mud from his face. He hocks a loogie and ejects the snot from his nostrils in a single blast with what is obviously a practiced action. He wipes the remaining snot from his nose on his sleeve and bolts forward picking his footing now, in what seems is the beginning of an avalanche. Like Quai Chang Caine himself, he is beginning to like this even more.

Is this how hypothermia starts?

He runs forward and dives face first off of a small cliff, driving his head and shoulders into the ground executing a perfect tuck and roll and coming up to his feet expertly as a trained gymnast would. He begins to sing along with the song in his head,
“Things-sa getta betta dnow..” he mumbles his voice sounding like someone speaking with their nose plugged, and he plods on, “Gedda bedda dnow.” mumbly sings his greatest zits.
Until, no fucking shit, there is no doubt about it now. He can actually hear the song. He stops and strains to listen and recognize it like some idiot kid struggling with a new accent he’s never heard. His expression says, Have I heard this shit before?
Then he does hear it. No doubt about it, coming from just around the bend, he can even hear it over the rain and his shivering, as he is freezing his ass off.

So this is how hypothermia sets in.

“Gettin’ . . . better . . . now . . .” he whispers and continues on, “Getta Betta Dow!” He cries out and runs on towards the music, and on and on, until,
Around the next corner of the stream-bed, he can see an old wooden shack in the downpour. It becomes more in focus as he stumbles forward towards it. He can hear the tune distinctly now along with the vocal accompaniment, which stands out against the deluge and sounds as though there is both male and female voices!
He stops and looks up. He is so cold now that the shack is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen in all his life.
‘Howlin’ Wilderness’ reads the sign above the shanty. Looking so much similar to any one of the like that populated the upper Stikine river ‘roundabout the turn of the 1900’s. Jace peers into the only greasy window as the spatter drops of the rain seem to fall in tune with the music. He can see people crowded inside having all manner of good times. Drinking, gambling, whoring.
Hopefully, not necessarily in that order.
They are turn of the century types in their rough hewn clothing. Covered in shit, reeking of ass. Sucking down rot-gut and tapping their feet to the corn hat having, garter belt wearing, handle-bar mustachioed, rag-time ivory tickler. Complete with can-can cat house whore. She is resplendent in her lingerie and stockings, crooning alongside him, this.. Modern . . . Hit single?

So . . . this is hypothermia in full swing?

Is this reality? Can’t be? Or can it?
Jace shivers uncontrollably. He tightens his coat against the cold and his grip on the pistol. Looks warm in there, He thinks, maybe I’ll just peek inside.
“This is fucking crazy.” He says to himself and taking a few quick breaths,
he reaches for the large wooden door,
and everything changes for him,
He pulls back and it’s no longer raining that bad. The people are all around him now . . . like there is an entire town built around the “Howlin’ Wilderness”
People are nodding at him as they pass, smiling at him as though he’s the god dam mayor.
He notices that he is even dressed differently. In the simple clothing of the era. He smiles and turns back to the door wasting no time swinging it open. He steps into its dark interior and,
into,
an altogether pleasing environment,
not to mention, a different reality.
The den of Guigi.
The lodge of Nant’ina.
The house of Arulataq.
The home of the Kushtaka.
and he likes it,
It is warm,
It is loud,
And it is fuzzy,
And the first thing he wants to do, is pull off his wet coat and hang it over the hot fire. And then,
Wait! His rational voice screams, What the fuck are you thinking! Get the fuck out of this hallucination!
But it’s so warm, the pussy voice says,
And maybe,
You just need to play this a little better. He takes off his coat and hangs it over the stove.
He’s always been a pussy.
He nods to them all as they are staring at him something fierce. These people who populate the den, the house, the lodge, they are a simple people, a rough hewn people. They seem to be carved from the very wood and stone around them so coarse they appear. There is a slurry of them and every one of them seems, feral. They are adorned in all manner of furs and hides and skins of every creature that ever crept along the earth’s surface and Jace thinks to himself, This is the coolest thing I have ever seen!
He relaxes suddenly and stumbles to the bar falling to the floor as he loses control of his numbed feet. Even the music falters for the moment. Jace is instantly on all fours and he glances at the piano player who has fixed him with a nervous grin. Jace nods back and the musician’s eyes plead with him as if to say,
C’mon asshole play along . . . or they’ll kill ya just as soon as look at ay!
Jace jumps up to his feet and looks the barkeep in the eye. And that vast, chunk of a man looks right back at him. Through the cloud of hair and smoke that permeates from the fat stogie he rolls between his toothless gums. The bartender removes his cigar and grins at Jace,
“What’ll it be Stranger?” He says good humorlessly. Jace smiles,
“Beer?” He hears himself say and,
The music starts again,
The tension leaves the room as though it had never existed, and the man behind the bar sets a huge, frothy mason jar of mead or home-brew or whatever vile concoction this shit hole proudly serves in front of him.
But goddamn it looks really good. Like ambrosia, nectar of the gods and Jace decides one thing very quickly as he takes a huge gulp of the fluid,
This is really good shit.
As a matter of fact this is the absolute best drink he has ever had in his life!
He lowers his glass,
and starts to tap his foot,
and snap his fingers,
in time with the cat-house whore and piano player as the song goes on with renewed gusto. Talk about fucking cool.
“Things are getting better now!” He sings dancing at the bar. Immediately the entire house flows into sync with him. Laughter rings through the Howlin’ Wilderness once again. Wild, honest laughter.
Jace has come home.
He smiles and winks at the barkeep, who continues to refill his glass snapping up the mason jar every time Jace empties it. He finally takes it off of the bar and turns around. He looks through the crowd. They are all really fucking cool looking. Most of them are wearing pelts of some type or other. Many with hats, ALL with weapons. That stands out immediately. They are armed with every type of weapon imaginable, knives of all sizes, even swords here and there. Rifles and pistols, all hanging about them like jewelry.
That is the coolest thing about the whole scene Jace thinks to himself proudly displaying his own shoulder holster and pistol for all to see. He almost feels like whipping it out and spinning it on his finger like he has seen in countless movies, but decides against it. The people of the Lodge might start drawing their own weapons as well.
He laughs aloud and everyone in the place laughs with him. They are definitely his type of hallucination, his kinda glamore.
Jace fixes the cat-house whore with his most dazzling smile, the one he reserves for the hotties, because well, the bitch is looking pretty fuckin’ hot!
WAIT!
Out of the peripheral of his vision, he can see . . . rain?
He snaps his head around but the only thing he can see is a wall laden with all manner of prospecting paraphernalia.
Wait, there it is on the other side now just at the edge of his sight, rain . . . and trees he is sure of it.
He whips his head around the other way.
Wall and paintings, and a huge mirror that’s too dirty to reflect much.
He frowns and looks back at the piano man who looks suddenly nervous and his eyes had shown, red? Even if just for a moment,
WAIT!
Jace spirals around on his heels in a tight circle as the facade falls from his sight.
The very walls melt away before him even as he finishes spinning. Revealing the rain-spattered, now running creek bed he stood in just minutes? Seconds? Hours? Before?
He locks eyes with the piano-player who is no longer human,
but now a tiny misshapen hairy limbed, black-eyed, otter-toothed, split-lipped o-my-fucking-god-what-is-it!
But of course he already knows,
it is the reason why he came here,
It is a Kushtaka!
A Land otter man!
And it had tricked him slicker than shit!
And the little fucker is just standing there staring at him grinning like a cat eatin’ linen.
Jace draws the weapon and fires on pure instinct and the red lantern light of its black eyes winks out of existence,
along with the rest of it,
Like it just melted right into the fucking ground it stood on suddenly.
But Jace had heard the impact even over the rain’s deluge. He had hit it.
And before he can think any better of it he is running towards the spot it stood just scant seconds before. He crouches down and can see red blood in the muddy waters of the ground. In its tracks and what is that off to the side? Metal!
Shiny, gold metal. His hand scoops it up even before he thinks to do so and a crude leather string makes to slide down the back of his hand. But he snaps that up deftly as well and opens his palm to peer at it’s hidden treasure,
GOLD!
His maggoty mind screams aloud
GOLD GODDAMMIT GOLD the real fucking reason why you came here you stupid fuck! His emerging grin melts away before it can fully unfold,
Before he can rejoice, he notices two things.
A hole in the nugget (where the string went) and
It is a carving! A necklace he realizes suddenly.
The nugget rolls again in his hand as if on its own and immediately he can see it in its entirety.
An intricately carved idol of some type is his first guess showing a tiny, crouched human-like body and over-sized pointed, ape-like head with a hideous, grinning face made of flattened features and sharpened teeth that bite down eternally upon the hand within it’s mouth. It is a human hand and it’s not sticking in but sticking out of it’s mouth and the hand is clinging to it’s jaw as though it is the last part of a man that the thing has swallowed up whole. And that hand is the last thing left of him, and he’s hanging on to his devourer’s chin for dear life not wanting to be fully swallowed down.
“Heeg!” Jace cries out in panic and flings the horrible piece of gold as far from him as he can. Without warning his bile wells up and he pukes violently falling to his knees. Again he vomits, the acid bursting out his nostrils burning his senses. And again, until he is sure there can be no more fluid inside his entire body. He only freaks out when his vomit turns to blood fire-hosing from his mouth and nose.
Thankfully everything goes black.

When again his senses return to him he is already in the high dollar prick’s skiff and hard adrift in the middle of the bay with the tide slowly dragging him to its mouth. He must have blacked out for the run home. He is thankful for that.
His mouth tastes like a bear shit in it and he gags and coughs and spits shaking his head to clear the cobwebs and spiders and other assorted vermin from his head.
“What the fuck?” he says aloud and wishes he had a watch. He glances around the skiff absently and fires it up. He is about to kick her in gear and gun the throttle but he feels an uncomfortable lump in the side of his shoe. He sits down and kicks the boat in gear as he digs the rock out he has the sudden impulse to chuck it over the side without so much as a glance but in the end he stops and looks at it. It feels metallic. He rolls it in his hand and,
and it looks right back at him!
Dear Christ! The idol!
Howling laughter rings through his head in a multitude of voices and he flings the thing over the side and guns the outboard engine.
He has to get the fuck out of here.
That god dam thing is following him.

“What the fuck is that shit?” The suit says and snaps off the tape recorder. He crushes his cigarette out in the ashtray and frets clenching his jaw muscles, “I did not pay for acid . . . flashback bullshit! Just, tell me what happened to you, in the now!” The old man sits frozen for a moment not reacting. Then he stubs out his nearly dead cigarette upon the table quickly and goes for another.
The suit snatches up the skeleton’s hand and they look into each others eyes perhaps for the first time during the meeting, the seconds stretch on,
“Just . . . need . . . a light.” The crone whispers and the reporter releases his grip and the old Timer takes another smoke from the deck. The reporter clicks on the tape recorder and lights the cigarette for him. The old man takes the flask off of the table and unscrews the cap like he has done it a million times before. The reporter smiles ever so slightly.

Maybe he has something here after all.

Chapter One
Four lanes of cars lie awaiting under the all powerful red traffic light like obedient dogs. Third lane from the left a red dodge Viper trembles slightly in anticipation. Inside Jace Aaron Morgan adjusts his stereo volume and pushes back his shades. He’s fairly handsome with dark hair and whiskers, blue eyes and a straight cut nose with chiseled features. His lips are pulled tight across his equally straight teeth as he concentrates on the stoplight. His skin tone is light but sporting a tan and he wears a tight goatee ever in style as is his short hair. He grips the wheel with his delicate artist’s hands. It’s still a new car to him. Not only that but he’s got to make a left turn on the next corner so he must achieve the pole position here. He sits at the corner of Benson and old Seward Highway heading north to Northern lights Boulevard in beautiful Anchorage Alaska. His hometown no less. The early Anchorage evening is flawless; the sun still hangs high in the clear blue sky as it always does this soon after summer Solstice. The temperature is a balmy 78 and Jace feels stifled in the car. The light changes and the Viper jumps up and forward and cuts in front of an old Chevy van oxidization test in progress that is spewing smoke in the air at a rate that can’t be legal. Then he cuts off a little Honda rice rocket trying to rev it’s puny engine an “”Alaska Girls Kick Ass” bumper sticker adorning its somehow fat, saggy ass. Next is the puny bleat of its equally powered puny horn as Jace slows for his left turn,
“Yeah, yeah, sure, sure, Alaska girls kiss ass” He waves back smiling as the Honda driver flips him the bird. He nods knowingly to himself turning the CD player up. He thinks of his up coming dead-line and sighs. You see Jace draws funny pictures for a living. Jace has been writing and illustrating his own comic-strip for about two years now actually, it had started out as a children’s book but it ended up becoming a witty, cynical comic strip with an animated cartoon branch out and a fast becoming much more lucrative merchandising gig. Mad money not to mention fame,
Flash to last night’s Leno, Jace is one of the guests and Jay is saying,
“..With that you are fast becoming the most famous Alaskan, entertainer.”
“Wait,” Jace interrupts him,” Isn’t that Jewel?”
“Who-el?” Jay asks without missing a beat, Jace laughs out loud, and the audience guffaws along with him,
“That’s good.” He says and Jay nods,
“That’s why I get the big bucks.” Jay smiles and the audience laughs per cue this time, and he continues
”Not only that but I am not regurgitating another Palin joke so help me . . .” he looks skyward, Flash out
You get the picture.
Jace’s comic strip ideas come in and out with the tide. In, out. In, way out, as a matter of fact it is so far out it’s a minus, red tide. He has another day or so to fax in his next three weeks of strips and it is only partially done. He might have to dig in the vault for some “re-vamps” as he calls them. As in; unpublished strips from the early years that he can re-write to make them more current and bring them up to date. Cheating. He laughs out loud and turns down ‘A’ street nearly home now, just tune in to the evening news get the idea he needs scratch it out and all will be well. All too easy. Yeah right.
Jace pulls the Viper into the parking lot and parks in his underground garage. He walks to the security entrance of his upscale condo-type dwelling. He is wearing a black hoodie over his KWHL 106.5 Alaska’s best rock T-shirt and torn blue jeans with old school Chuck Taylor’s. Black of course and adorned with skull laden shoestrings. You could never guess it but Jace has just turned 39 years old and is busy fighting off the big four-oh with all guns blazing. He actually appears so youthful that most people guess him to be in his late twenties with the occasional thirty-something thrown in for good measure.
He cuts across the manicured lawn to the security entrance whistling the melody of the last tune on the radio. He keeps on humming all the way down the egg-shell painted hall-way admiring the flawlessly clean blue trim all the way to his apartment/condo type delay when he stops abruptly. His door is slightly ajar. Jace wonders, did I close the door all the way, or . . . what? He can’t remember, he approaches slowly and pushes the door open leaning to peer inside. He smells hamburger cooking,
“What the hell?” he whispers to himself, Lyselle would never cook hamburger he thinks and straightens up abruptly walking in and closing the door behind him. The room is cluttered with extremely in-style furnishings and plants and electronics strewn about all higgledy-piggledy. He loves his house and the lack of feng shui therein. He looks towards the kitchen and can even see someone in there rattling’ those pots and pans, through the open bar as he walks towards it. He can only see his torso, it’s definitely a guy and is that music he’s hearing, Nickleback? Who listens to that shit? He steps into the kitchen a sky blue affair with marble counter tops laden with all manner of galley paraphernalia and cookware dangling about the bar service and cluttered about the counter tops.
“Breaker!” Jace gives into a massive smile all thoughts of breaking and entering charges quickly dismissed, “What the hell are you doing’ here?”
“So happy to see you too, master” The guy says in his best disappointed Igor voice. They really did look something alike though not genetically related they are step-brothers of a sort. Breaker seems a bit taller, his thick hair cut short and spiked up stylishly, his expensive (and up to date) eyeglasses frame his deep brown eyes that most women refer to as pretty, but he refers to as plain. His Alaskan native skin is dark, tan and glossy and without blemish. His teeth are perfectly straight and polished white and his features are chiseled in stone. His lips are full, and lined by slight, beard stubble. He wears a red tank top with a tribal design and the Tahltan phrase: Tses ki ye embroidered on it. His black pants are of the type that skaters and snowboarders wear and his feet are bare. His arms aren’t too big, but they are cut, and his muscle cords dance as he moves them. His shoulders are broad-ish and his chest is as cut as his arms. His vein-work is incredible bulging constantly with fresh blood showing years of commercial fishing in progress.
Explanation break; Jace’s parents had died in a automobile accident when he was eleven, Jace being the sole survivor as they hadn’t heard from his older brother in years. He was presumed to be over seas, and out of touch from the west. Even though all efforts were made to contact him Jace was left standing alone, and without any other immediate family Breaker’s parents (or Brae’quaithe Skye Shekan as he was born) adopted young Jace (Breaker’s best friend) and they grew up together on Breaker’s Dad, Nick’s commercial fishing boats.
Say that three times real fast. After high school Breaker stayed fishing and Jace moved on to college, then a string of different “careers” and a decade or two before sketching his way into the comic strips. All of those times saying, “See you in the funny papers” had really paid off. I know that doesn’t explain a lot yet, but we’re getting to that.
He hasn’t seen Breaker in years. Until today and here the fucker is cooking a burger in his secure condo-type dwelling.
“How the hell you get in?” Jace asks. Breaker screws up his face,
“Ch-yeah, you really need to start using’ that dead-bolt man.” is his accusing reply.
“Lyselle doesn’t have a key so she just locks the handle when she leaves.” Jace defends.
“You still haven’t given her a key?” Breaker asks nonchalantly as he squeezes the fat out of the sizzling burger with the spatula. Jace snorts sarcastically,
“Dude, who the fuck am I talking to here? And what’d you do with my prick brother?”
“You see how you hurt me? Always lashing out in petty jealousy? And after all that love I wasted on you.” Breaker lowers the spatula and turns extending his arms for a hug, “I’m waiting hot-shot,” he says, “I got all night.” Jace laughs and steps forward to embrace his half-brother or step, or, what would you call it. Foster? Whatever brother, and they step back from each other smiling. Jace asks
“So what’s all this, ( he imitates Breaker) You haven’t given ‘Selle a key yet, (voice back) bullshit?
“Seeing’ things a bit differently my boy.” Breaker continues building his burger ignoring the sarcasm.
“What are you saying; you’re ready to tie the knot.”
“Bite your tongue.”
“So what are you getting at?”
“Giving her a key and proposing are two different things.” Breaker says as he puts the cheese on the burger, covering the pan to melt it.
“Yeah,” Jace replies lamely, ”I guess you’re right, I just . . . feel like I might be missing something. Shit, I’m rich and famous now.”
“I get it,” Breaker says, ”You just turn 39 and your seeing mortality for the first time maybe and you want to get out and whore it up. Trust me it’s not all that you hope it will be.”
“That’s ‘cause you’re what, fifty now?”
“I’m 40, you asshole.”
“We know it’s all over for you now, it’s so sad . . .” He places a placating hand upon Breaker’s shoulder, ” . . . but me . . . I am still young.” He slaps his other fist to his chest.
“Y’know, someday, something’s gonna wake your ass up too.” Breaker picks up his spatula.
“What? Did something happen to you out there last trip?” Jace asks. Breaker pauses momentarily and then returns to his burger. Jace continues on with his accusation, “Something did happen and help yourself to a beer by the way.”
“Thanks, you too.” Breaker says downing the last of his and finishing his cooking. Jace goes to the fridge to get himself one, and another one for Breaker, who slaps together his burger in silence. Jace opens his beer and takes a drink and waits for Breaker to speak. The seconds tick on, finally,
“So?” Jace asks exasperated,
“So, what?” Breaker replies with his own question.
“So what happened?”
“Dude, shit happens all the time out there! Every season! You know that!” Breaker looks away as he speaks.
“So you never answered me,” Jace asks. “What are you doing’ in town with such . . . no notice?” Breaker smiles and wipes one hand on a wadded paper towel on the counter and then slides a sheet of paper across it towards him. Jace sets his beer on the counter beside it and he looks down at the single sheet of paper. It’s a computer printed ‘For Sale’ advertisement for a boat, complete with picture. Looks no further friend! The text reads cheerily, This is the one you want! This baby’s loaded! Far too much to list! Sleeps four in style! Top of the line electronics package! Wave-less Jacuzzi for crying out loud!! Just to name a few!!!
“Wave less Jacuzzi?” Jace snorts, Breaker shrugs and swallows the last of his burger and washes it down with a swig of beer. Jace reads on, Moving forces sale or I wouldn’t be parting with this baby! It lists a phone number and a dock and stall. A serious inquiry only please, rounds it out. “Don’t tell me, let me guess. You bought this pitch and it’s a piece of shit and you’re trying to unload it on me.”
“Dead on as usual,” Breaker rolls his eyes and turns him around leading him towards the living room, “I’ll finish my pitch over dinner, Jack’s on the way.”
“No can do bro.” Jace states flatly,
“Dude you haven’t even heard it yet.” Breaker defends,
“What I mean is I’ve got a deadline and a block to finish!” Jace explains. To Jace a block is two weeks worth of comic strips including Sundays.
“I’m not trying to sell you this shit; I just need you to help me run it from Juneau to Pudsville (Petersburg) maybe over to Wrangell for the Fourth, like the old days.” Breaker smiles gently and punches Jace ever so lightly on the arm like only brothers do.
“I can’t take a trip . . .” Jace trails off
“What, too much too fast?” Breaker asks innocently.
“Sure. A trip . . .” Jace says absently. “Maybe I can go after all.”
“Now you’re talking’!” Breaker cries out, feeling it now.
“A long boat trip . . .” Jace goes on looking very thoughtful.
“Few days, week at most . . .” Breaker shrugs.
“This could do it.” Jace says and Breaker continues nodding slightly still looking a bit puzzled. Jace rambles on, “This could finish the block and even carry on to the next. Yes, a boat trip you say?” He points at Breaker.
“Aye,” Breaker holds the slip of paper in front of him, “Remember? Me, you, Wrangell, the Fourth?” He rattles the paper in front of Jace’s unseeing eyes. “Ringing’ any bells?” Jace snatches the ad away from him, and laughs,
“Wave less Jacuzzi?” He says in a wimpy voice,”Oh for crying out loud!”
“For crying out . . . what?” Breaker asks incredulously.
“A big trip, finish the block, the Human Race is Rigged you dumb ass!” Jace retorts and it all comes into focus. “The Human Race is Rigged” T.M. is Jace’s comic strip. Ohm and Rube are his dynamic duo, the main characters of his strip. A turtle and a rabbit respectively, y’know the tortoise and the hare, the age old rivalry, the ancient conflict, you get it. And he’s brainstorming up a deadline saver.
Breaker groans aloud, he knows when his brother gets started there will be no stopping him,
“But, what about us here in the real world?” Breaker asks innocently, almost to himself.
“No, this is too big!” Jace grins fiercely and hands him back his ad and pinches his cheek swiftly, “This is on fire man, and I gotta strike while the iron is hot! Let me get this done . . . then we’ll go out.” He explains and nods.
“All you had to say.” Breaker smiles and lets Jace wander back to his in-house studio to get to work, “You know . . .” Breaker continues to Jace’s back,” I knew this was going to happen, because I’m the muse”. Yep, inspiration is what they call me. He thinks to himself. There is a slight knock at the door. “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.” Breaker strides to the door and swings it open,
“Breaker!” Lyselle squeals and jumps into his arms. Lyselle Amber Robbins (Jace’s current girl) is a real stunner; she’s a mature 28 year old that looks underage. She is tall, lean and beautiful with long, blonde hair that has streaks of red and ice blue eyes that start darker around the iris lightening to a glacier blue in at the pupil. Her eyebrows are artworks upon her aquiline supermodel features and the body that supermodels dream of having. Her skin is flawless porcelain and her lips are full and red and heavily glossed and when she smiles her entire energy sphere glows. Her waist is thin and her breasts are 36C perfect, her legs are a mile long and come right up to her tight perky ass as Breaker lifts her from the floor. They hold each other close for a moment, maybe too close he sets her down quickly and they break away from one another coyly, a bit of unspoken chemistry obvious between them,
“L.A. woman such a pleasure, how you doin’?” Breaker asks,
“No how you doin’?” She fires right back and kisses him quickly, but softly on the lips. Breaker’s heart skips a beat and she pulls back fast. That is the first time he’s ever tasted her lips and he’s a bit overwhelmed by it. Fuck this is his brother’s girl dammit!
“So . . .” She breaks the tension, “What brings you to town?” They step inside and he looks her up and down, she is in jeans for a change and her cardigan sweater is tied loosely. Her jewelry is as modest as her make-up and her shoes are expensive but almost sensible. This girl is changing Breaker thinks. He comes to and answers her,
“Rough trip, need to party a little.” Breaker heads for the refrigerator, “Beer?” She nods and he goes towards the galley,
“What happened?” She asks as he disappears from sight.
“Little fish danced on my head a bit, no big deal.” Breaker calls out to her his head in the fridge.
“So where is . . . ?” Lyselle asks as he returns swiftly and hands her a beer opening it as she takes it from him and he sits beside her on the couch casually flicking the cap towards the fakey fireplace,
“Little Jacey?” Breaker asks rhetorically changing his voice with each new sentence,” Back in the lair, big on fire . . . you know the drill.”
“Don’t I ever.” She sips her beer and they look at each other in silence. She raises her eyebrows, “Well, I suppose I should at least try to say hi.”
“Yeah,” Breaker says, “that’s a good idea.” They continue to look into each other’s eyes until she crinkles her nose smiling and turns to walk to the back room. Breaker stands and watches her close, smelling her lingering perfume,
“Whoo!” he breathes out shaking his head and her impression from it. He turns to the couch and forgets, then remembers he was going to sit down. He sits quietly and sighs then picks up his beer and forgets if he remembered to take a drink. So he takes another one real quick just to be sure.
Then comes another soft knock at the door.
“Jack-o-lantern.” Breaker says and jumps up to open the door and Walter Allen Jackson comes in whooping, he’s got the look of an all American white boy nearly shaved head, barely revealing the color of his light blonde dishwater hair his beard stubble is about the same length like he hasn’t shaved in days. His features are plain but the one outstanding, is definitely his eyes. They are hazel green with gold flecks about the iris near the pupil under thick, thoughtful eyebrows. You can’t tell but his great grandma is black. Jack handles it well, it has its perks, like rhythm on the dance floor, I mean. He’s lean, a bit thinner than Breaker and he is dressed in his routine jeans and plain white Tee. His shoes are in style and immaculate though, and his hoodie is a custom airbrush job of Che Guevara smoking a cigar. He wears a single gold rope around his neck and a nugget encrusted watch too loosely on the band so it rattles around on his wrist.
“Breaker,” Jack cries out, “my brother, from another mother!” They go through their hand shake ritual.
“How you been blood?” Jack asks and they hold each other at arms length, Jack just slightly shorter than Breaker and a bit lighter on the scale.
“Big bangin’ baby.” Breaker returns and they hug again. Walter and Breaker met in prison where they were cell mates for nearly a year, Jack doing time for cocaine possession, Breaker in for assault. That’s why they are ten years apart in age, but still so close. We’ll get more into that later.
“My dog.” Jack smiles and they break free from their embrace, “Where’s lil Jacey?” He notices Breaker’s eye roll toward the lair, ”Damn . . . Big on fire? Oh now that sucks balls.” Jack also knows how it goes when Jace has a good idea.
“You know it,” Breaker slams his beer, “So, we, are, out-tie.” He virtually sings the last word.
“Asta la pasta, Jace.” Jack calls to the back room
“La Mex first, then ‘Koot’s” Breaker says,
“No can do bro,” Jack counters quickly, ”I’m 86’d for life . . . a-gain.”
“You shit, you fuck.” Breaker laughs
“Nope.” Jack says undaunted
“Need I ask?” Breaker asks.
“You could, and I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”
“Right, but really though?”
“Well, at least I’d have to sue you.” Jack says seriously. A moment passes.
“Say no more,” Breaker says without missing another beat, “it’s Gallo’s and then we are off to big Al’s to dance the night away.”
“That sounds mad bangin’! Let’s get it!” Lyselle says from behind them, missing the point and giggling, and then she and Breaker are out the door. Jack sighs and follows after them closing the door,
“Why didn’t you tell me Lyselle was here?” Jack asks their backs, his attitude seems different now. “And I didn’t get time to say hi to Jace.” he whines quietly to himself.
*
Jace is working feverishly now; he is totally in the zone. Like his old Mom used to say to him,
“You gotta strike while the iron is hot Jacey boy.” By his old Mom he means his biological Mother, not his real Mom his foster Mother Breaker’s Mom, the one that loved him. How he had hated being called Jacey-boy, and how had hated his first Mother as well.
We don’t know how Jace used to have a weak bladder as a child and how he used to wet the bed nearly every night and how his first Mother used to whip him with his hot wheels tracks every time he pissed himself. She would show up at his bedroom door every morning,
“Okay you little bastard,” She would say, “Let’s see what you did.” And she would rush forward and rip the covers off of him. It becomes a daily ritual with them, if he was wet she would yank him out of the bed and shove his face down to the soggy mattress and yank down his soiled underwear. If he struggled she would threaten,
“Keep it up, you’ll only get it worse!” She would double over the hot wheel track and unload on him with all her fury. SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! And now we hear Jace screaming albeit muffled through his piss-soaked mattress, the overwhelming sound of pain within his tiny shrieks are enough to make us sad, tearful. The smells are overwhelming to Jace, stale and fresh urine. Poor little Jace is a victim of his physical deficiency. He doesn’t wet the bed out of rebellion or laziness or stupidity. As a matter of fact he looks at it as a curse. A curse he wishes he could be set free from. His Mother used to drink too much sometimes at night and in the morning she would get carried away in her hangover fury and beat poor Jace senseless. How many nights did he wake . . . only to discover he had wet the bed. He would lie awake next to the puddle in fear trembling, knowing that morning would come and mother would come as well. Mother. He’d lie there shivering as the piss went cold, having to wear it and smell it all night long. It is at these times that he wishes his Father didn’t work on North Slope, as he is gone all the time. He might have been able to distract his Mother, and keep her from beating him. Maybe he would’ve helped him . . . ah but poor little Jace knows much better than that, for his Father is worse than his Mother. He hates the little pisser as much as her. They are always trying to pawn little Jace off onto his relatives so they could go off on vacation leaving the little piss-boy behind . . . and he can actually hear his relatives saying,
“God no not Jace, he’ll piss all over everything! You should send him off to military school for crying out loud they will flat, beat the piss right out of him.” But Jace doesn’t need military school for that does he? Nope, Mother is doing a great job on her own. And they blame him for everything, never being able to go anywhere or do anything, and worst of all they blame him for his older brother leaving them for good. He remembers the last time he saw his older brother Terran. Right before he was ready to ship off to the Marines, he came home from school for a surprise visit, and caught Mother beating on Jace in frenzy, so caught up in her whipping that she hadn’t even heard him come in. Jace’s screaming may have helped to facilitate that and she probably blamed little Jacey for that too.
“What the fuck!” Terran cried out in shock. Mother turns to see him standing in the doorway. She seems to remember herself for just a moment, and then she drops her hot wheel track and bolts from the room brushing Terran aside. Jace backs himself up in the corner rubbing his burning ass and crying to sweet blazes. He can remember this distinctly now one of the clearest memories of all his life is his much older brother Terran, who Jace has never seen again to this day. He remembers the look in his eyes the tears welling in them, the disbelief written large across his face. Terran had made an effort to calm himself and then he asked Jace,
“Are you okay?” Jace, can only nod positive lying quietly through his tears, he couldn’t possibly say no Mother will beat him more. Then Terran says, “Let me see.” And Jace nods negative quickly. There is no way in hell he is going to let him see. “Let me see, now!” Terran says commandingly and Jace is too scared to do otherwise and he stands up ever so slowly and turns around and shows him his ass. And the thing Jace remembers the most is the look of horror on Terran’s face, the absolute shock! Jace had seen Terran handle a million and one emergencies without as much as a blink of an eye! But when he had looked at Jace’s beaten ass just the way his face went white, like he had seen something so far out of this world that he couldn’t take it anymore. Terran goes through a range of expressions. The first is absolute sorrow, the tears literally shoot out from his eyes. Next is a look of bewilderment . . . he looks like he is lost, in this very room. Then is a look of realization and a grim resolve. Finally comes the look of rage and Terran storms out of little Jacey’s room that day and downstairs to give their Mother a piece of his mind . . . and the back of his hand . . . and so exits the favorite son, from the rest of their lives. But little Jacey isn’t thinking of any of this at the time . . . he is thinking about the look on Terran’s face. What had he seen that had made him go limp, and then bug fucking crazy enough to slap his own mother across the pole-smoker! Out of a little more than just curiosity, Jace goes to the bathroom and very slowly and very deliberately turns the mirror, then himself, and for the first time he looks at his own ass. And after the initial shock, the thing that surprises him most is the amount of colors that are present. A multitude of different layers of hot wheel track whippings tattooed across his tiny child’s ass, some of them make colors that he has never seen before. Some are fresh, bright, red, and elevated over all the rest. The newest ones to join the ranks. Others are a faint pus-like yellow, fading slowly. Last weeks tracks. And there are the others over them, deep purple, tentacle light green, vomit-ish orange and so on and so forth and all the colors of the spectrum. The whip-trum, and each and every one of them testify to the pain he has endured for this curse he was born with. All of them showing the perverse beauty of the beating rainbow etched in vivid Technicolor for the entire world to see across his tiny little ass. Jace turns away from his shame, his eyes now dry. He takes a shower quickly like an automaton. He goes back into his room, numb. He goes to his tiny desk and reaching for his paper and pencils and he begins to draw before he goes to school. He draws pictures of other worlds that he imagines. Worlds where he is somebody.
This is the story of Jace’s life until his parents died. His first parents.
Now we know our little Jacey just a bit better, don’t we?
Chapter Two
.

Walter Jackson stares at his friend over a shimmering sea of booze. Dinner is long over and Lyselle was off at home to get dolled up and meet them at Al’s. They are on their third or fourth Grande and Breaker is hella buzzed and it shows in the way he is telling his story, not all slurry but with great enthusiasm and much gesticulation. You know fishermen, they talk fishing as only those who have done it, can. It goes something like this,
“So’s, it’s like one or two in the a.m. and it’s about as dark as it’s gonna get, pretty calm really, just a big lump (ocean swell) rolling westerly, but it’s pushin’ me right on down set so’s I’m not complaining.. And we been up a couple days now so’s everyone is in the automaton mode, deck-bots I call them including me!” Breaker hits his drink and gestures with his free hand, “Now I’ve been shakin’ shit fish all night long so’s I’m damn happy to see a couple empty hooks coming so’s I hit the controls a sec and kick ‘er outta gear, but I was thinkin’.. Did I just see something? So’s I glance back down to the water and holy fuck oh dear I see this barn door breakin’ the surface and I about shit!” Barn door is fishermen jargon for giant halibut. I also would’ve accepted soaker or slab.
“No shit?” Jack asks suddenly wanting to become involved in the conversation.
“No dumass big shit, I just said that.” Breaker says annoyed.
“No shit.” Jack says grinning and being an asshole.
“Dude could you shut the fuck up!” Breaker looks to the bar and raises his arm, “Yo! Manuel! Get a couple more over here!” He motions at their glasses, “And dos Patron por favor.” The bartender nods and Breaker turns back to Jack continuing, “Any way I almost shit, because this bitch had only the lippiest of holds!” He pulls his lower lip out, “The hook snapped out of its mouth and smacks me in the head as I was divin’ for my gaff-hook BLAM!” Breaker slaps the table for effect, “And it smacks me right above the eye here as you can see,” He points to the tiny cut on his forehead, “It don’t look like much right now, but it bled like hell, so’s I’m looking through the spray of blood down into the water and this pig of a ‘but-fish makes to kick once then twice and before it can sink out of range I swings on that hog and I sinks my gaff-hook home, right in it’s freakin’ eye no-less, then I locks myself to the rail and glances over my shoulder and what do you think I see?”
“What?” Jack asks quickly.
“Three dumb motherfuckers lookin’ at me!” Jack laughs aloud and Breaker nods continuing, “So’s I fix Kelly with my ‘What the fuck is wrong with you?’ Look . . .”
“I’ve seen it.” Jack agrees.
“Yes you have,” Breaker smiles and churns the icy contents of his virtually empty glass unconsciously, “And they all snaps to finally and they run the fuck’s over and sinks their gaff-hooks in next to mine and we all heaves to . . .” Breaker literally acts out the story as he goes along.” But this fuckin’ fish weighed 396 pounds after it was headed and gutted, so’s it’s about 550 in the water, I looked it up,” he sips at his empty grande again, “And it’s not comin’ aboard that easy and I’m thinkin’ what the fuck because we got more’n enough muscle . . . Then, I see’s it.”
“Seize . . . what?” Jack gulps down the last of his drink on cue with Breaker and he looks toward the bar as well knowing Breaker is gonna get pissed soon.
“I see’s, were out of alcohol just where the fu . . . . huh-huh,” Breaker changes his tone as the waiter is right there with their drinks amazingly! “Manuel, just the man I wanted to see . . .” He says as if in script.
“I am Juan,” The waiter says as he puts down their drinks, “Manuel is behind the bar.” Breaker glances over Juan’s shoulder then back at him,
“So Juan it is,” Breaker drops a fifty on his tray,” That’s for you an’ yer boys and could we have the check please . . . whenever you’re ready?”
“Gracias, senor.” Juan smiles revealing yellow teeth with one missing,
“Yes,” Breaker agrees, “Grassy-ass all around.” He says and raises his shot glass looking at Jack, “In the eye bra, Look me right in the fuckin’ eye.” They shoot their shots down without ever breaking eye contact. Piggy-backing it’s called, your too busy looking the other in the eye so you don’t even feel the tequila burn, you just enjoy the solid flavor. “Good shit Maynard.” Breaker says.
“So what did you see?” Jack asks and takes a sip of his fresh Grande.
“Hmm?” Breaker asks momentarily lost, and then he remembers where he is in the story, “Oh yeah, I look down and see’s its fuckin’ cheek hung on the pipe rail, or I should say her cheek coz all ‘but-fish that big are female.” Halibut change gender after 100 pounds in weight is the current theory,
“Cheek on the . . . pipe-rail..?” Jack says uncertainly.
“Yeah you know, the cheek is all tightened up into a rock hard ball, up against the half pipe on the rail and we’re all pulling to ward’s us so’s that bitch won’t come across that slight pipe-rail bump, it’s held fast.” Breaker illustrates the point by drawing his two clenched fists towards each other along the wrist. Jack sits back in realization and Breaker drinks again continuing,” So’s I jump up on the rail and squat down and put my shoulder to the gaff-hook handle and I heave’s up with alls I got and next thing you know, I’m flying flat out on the deck on my back BLAM!” He slams the table as he says it. Jack sits back quickly and glances around smiling good-naturedly at the other people looking over to see what’s going on. He waves at them and looks back to Breaker.
“Yeah, BLAM!” Breaker slaps on the table again and then he points his finger at him for emphasis, “You fuck are you payin’ attention? ‘Coz I got no intention of going through this again!”
“Oh god no” Jack says.
“That’s right motherfucker, so’s as soon as I hits the deck what the fuck you think happens, smart ass?”
“Ummm . . .” Jack trails off.
“Right, why the fuck you think I’m on my back any way’s? The fish came aboard so quickly after I lifted its cheek off the rail that it mows me the fuck over and lands right the fuck on top of me, BLAM!” Breaker slams the table again.
“No shit?!” Jack exclaims.
“No plenty shit! That fuckin’ pig knocked me . . . the bloody fuck right out!”
“Holy shit!” Jack says and Breaker nods continuing,
“..and I swears to Christ, that they all thought I was dead on the spot, when they pulls that cunt off me I shoulda been dead, if it woulda kept it’s head down it woulda crushed me!” Breaker drives his fingertips into his other open palm in emphasis, “She woulda crushed my fucking rib-cage,” He continues his hand gestures as he speaks telling the story with them as well, “But as she came aboard she flexes ‘er head back thank creation, so’s it just knocks me the fuck out in a pile a blood.”
“Holey shit!” Jack is really getting in to it now.
“Holey shit is right, so’s I’m laid out on the deck and the gear, well she ain’t gonna pull ‘erself, then Kelly finally comes to and heads over to the roller and starts haulin’ and Roon-dog finally drags me into the house..”
“You took Roon-dog.” Jack cries out.
“Fuckin’ A, good hand that boy,” Breaker stabs an accusing finger at him, Jack crapped out on the boat and he hits his drink with his free hand and not missing a beat, “And like, as soon as he get’s me in the house I come to and I takes this huge gasping breath, so’s he says and he’s looking right at me like he’s about to shit himself . . .” Breaker changes his tone to imitate Roon-dog’s whisper, “Mother of God . . .” He lets the point hang only a moment then, “That’s, when I knew they thought I was dead and I jumps up to my feet and BLAM!” On the table again of course,
“BLAM!” Jack joins in enthusiastically slapping the table as he speaks,
“The deck came right up at me, BLAM!”
“BLAM!” Jack slaps the table after him.
“Now yer gettin’ it, I went right the fuck back down and I splits the inside of my lip on the deck,” Breaker folds his lower lip over, revealing a hideous gash. Jack recoils silently, and Breaker let’s go of his lip and continues on, “So’s Roon-dog picks me back up, but this time I hit the bench and I says, I says, ‘I’m okay now and he scurries out so’s I clean myself up and comes back out on deck and I grabs my lead club and I heads over to that pig . . . it’s payback time, and BLAM!” Breaker slams the table,
“BLAM!” Jack helps again.
“BLAM-BLAM-BLAM-BLAM!” Breaker goes on pounding the table; Jack glances about at the lookers-on smiling placatingly and Breaker continues on oblivious, “And then I looks at it and says, ‘Welcome aboard you hog’!” Breaker winks and smiles at him and sips at his new drink. Jack snaps his mouth closed and sucks in a quick breath,
“No . . .” Jack says, “No, no, no, no, you can’t end like that! You need a better punch line . . .”
“Punch line?” Breaker’s eyes threaten to pop out of his skull, “What the fuck do you think this is? A joke? This is my fucking life! That fucking fish nearly killed me!” Breaker stabs a finger at him, and Jack relaxes back into his seat,
“I’m just saying . . . you could end it much better . . .” he smiles lamely. Breaker continues to burn holes in him with his eyes,
“And you could lick my nuts much better” Is his ice cold reply, “Get us a fuckin’ cab, bitch!” Breaker stands and heads for the can. Jack sighs to himself mouthing a cigarette. He smiles to the wait staff as if to say, ‘don’t worry I’m not lighting it,’ and he pulls out his cell phone.
*
Breaker stands in the shitter stall pissing in the toilet-bowl because the urinals are full of other assholes pissing and looking into his own piss-stream’s frothy foam. He thinks back,
Back to his childhood,
He is the youngest of four siblings by scant few years; his two older sisters and brother aren’t interested in fishing in the least. They are only into the fact of having a rich fisherman as a father. But Breaker had looked at the boat as his own big video game, but this one is for real. He is smaller and more immature than his sibs but he is the smartest one, so two of them beat him relentlessly because of it. But one loves him. Breaker goes on to become skipper of the family vessel for the first time at fifteen years old and his older brother hates him secretly for that. But alas we skip ahead,
Breaker remembers junior high and the first time his Father ever frisked him down. You see Breaker’s Dad used to be a cop before any of the kids were ever born, before he became a kick-ass Fisherman. And one night before Breaker left home he says,
“Hey Break, where ya goin’?” Smiling at his son and gesturing him over to him. Breaker smiles back reluctantly knowing his Father has been drinking a bit but heads over confident that he won’t find his cigarettes,
“I’m just heading up to the dance, Dad. I’m hoping to meet Heidi there.” He mentions the name of the girl his Dad likes best so maybe he’ll just wave him on, where the hell is Mom?
“Well then, gimmie a hug.” His Pops says smiling toothily and holding his arms out for embracing. Breaker smiles and walks forward into a silent interrogation, no sooner is he in his Father’s grasp that the elder begins a meticulous police frisk-down of his person! He feels down his pockets first, spinning him around efficiently and finding nothing, he becomes desperate and begins to sniff at Breaker’s hands,
“Smells like cigarettes, are you smoking Brae’quaithe?”
“No!” Breaker exclaims.
“No what!?” His Dad screams.
“No Dad!” Breaker follows quickly. You can’t address Father without the requisite, DAD, following your request or statement.
“I don’t fucking believe you!” His Dad shrieks and throws him against the wall continuing his illegal search rifling up and down his arms and legs until he comes to Breaker’s smokes, hidden in his left sock. He rips them from their hiding place and spins Breaker around to face him. He jams the smokes in his face,
“And what the fuck are these?” He asks Breaker knowing full well what they are, his pack of Lucky Strikes. Not quite so lucky now, are they? Breaker recoils as his Father slaps him in the face with the pack and they fall to the ground. A moment of pure silence.
“I thought you said you weren’t smoking Break?” His Dad asks rhetorically as he grips him, “So! Now, not only are you smoking . . . but you’re a liar too . . . and you know, what we think about liars in my house, don’t you Brae’quaithe . . . well you know what that says to me? Hunh? Do you know?” He shakes Breaker for emphasis,
“No,” Breaker says miserably, hanging limp in his Father’s unmerciful iron grasp,
“That you’re saying . . . ‘Fuck you Dad’ . . . is that what you’re saying Break? Fuck you Dad!”
“NO!” Breaker exclaims aloud.
“The fuck you’re not!” His Dad screams slapping him upside the head, “Well, you know what I got to say to you Brae’quaithe, hunh?” He hisses barely audible now, taking a single handed grip upon Breaker’s shirtfront, “Fuck you Breaker, Fuck you!” He proves his point by slamming his flip-off finger into Breaker’s young face until his nose bleeds, “Fuck you Breaker,” He goes on, and on, and on, until he finally releases his son who runs away to cry in shame, all thoughts of any dance, or Heidi, lost in his tears and blood and swelling face. He runs out of the house and down to the boat to lick his wounds, while his Father only drinks more to justify what he has done.
Now we know a bit more about our little Brae’quaithe, don’t we?
We will skip the rest of the party and resume the story.
*
Jace watches Lyselle fall asleep with adoration on his face. She always falls asleep after love-making, he never can. She hates the way he slides out of bed away from her afterwards and she always tells him so, just the way he is sliding out of the bed now, he can’t help it he has to pee. With one last glance at her he pads quietly down the hall to the bathroom. He looks at his reflection in the mirror as he relieves himself. He’s a lucky boy, still looking thirty-something when he’s more like nearly 40 and gaining. He sighs and looks at the toilet-bowl, why does morning piss always foam more then night piss this shit is flat! He chuckles, he’d have to get a team on that one right away. Jace shakes the last drops of piss out of his dick and wonders why is he so fucking weird?
“Hate to be normal.” he mutters to himself and heads back to cuddle up with Lyselle when he steps on something on the floor. He stops and stoops to pick it up. Even in the gloom he can already see what it is, the small pamphlet sized book ‘The Strangest Story Ever Told’ by Harry D.Colp. How fitting that this be lying here on the verge of his return to Devil’s Country as the book called it. Jace’s neck-hairs begin to prickle up. Then his analytical mind kicks in quickly and he smiles. Obviously Breaker had been fooling with it and didn’t put it away properly. Jace tucks it into the bookshelf in its proper spot. He makes a mental note to ask him about it in the morning. He thinks about Breaker and Walter and wonders where they might be right now . . . Who gives a fuck! He thinks he’s got a hot body in his bed waiting and with that he’s off and running. He hit’s the pillow next to Lyselle and spoons up to her and she just presses herself against him by instinct and he goes out like a light.
Soon he begins to dream . . . about, you guessed it.
Thomas bay.
The Legendary Bay of Death. Called that by the local Natives because a huge land slide took out over five hundred people there back before European contact, even before the Spaniards passed through laden with treasure. But this land holds a treasure of its own, a legendary gold vein. The mother lode. And strange things have happened to the people who have come to try and claim it ever since. Most of them never come out alive and those who do, are usually quite mad by then with stories of tiny, half-men. Little Devils neither man nor beast; but something in between.
But people have stopped coming haven’t they. Yes a long time ago.
Except for one who comes, only in his dreams.
Jace.
In his dream-scape the bay is an eerie, mist filled land straight out of a Bela Lugosi film (Jace’s favorite) with huge boulders for a beach and impossibly gargantuan, dark, green spruce trees with long, scythe like needles that look razor sharp. The moonlight glinting off them menacingly. The place literally reeks of skunk cabbage and rotten devil’s club, with a spawned-out salmon chaser! Jace gags.
Great set for such a low budget.
He is near the edge of the bay and a wave splashes up at his feet and he scrambles up the boulders towards a creek that appears to be flowing up hill. He begins to follow it. The creek is slow moving, a series of deep, little inter-connected ponds towards the tree line. He crosses over the rocks between them and catches a glimpse of himself in a reflection.
He looks ancient!
He suddenly feels ancient and leans down further to peer at his un-self marveling at how old he is. He never expected to make it past thirty; much less what looks like . . . ninety? Suddenly he spots something in his peripheral vision upstream, he looks toward it quickly but whatever it is it’s already moving behind a boulder out of view. Jace follows after it quickly.
He moves toward it coming up surreptitiously around it. He can see it now, something hunched over in the dark, shallow water and its tiny form is hideous. Like a compressed version of a man with thick, scraggly hair covering its entire trembling body. He can literally feel the heat emanating from it. Giant lice and crabs run in trails about its body. It appears to be eating something. Then the smell hits him and he stifles a gag, the odor is a cross between rotting and living flesh.
Sensing him the beast whips its head around, gibbering and frothing. Jace can see its face in great detail, it is man-like and vaguely familiar its features again compressed and smashed . . . flat? And he notices two distinct differences. The creature’s upper lip is split, under the nose animal like . . . and then the eyes, dear God the eyes, so dark, and in-humanly black. Not just black in color but black in space and time and, deep, as though they could contain the cosmos entire . . .
The travesty snarls at him just then and Jace jerks back for moment and feels himself falling ever so slowly backwards, as if in slow motion into the pool of water behind him. Before the icy shock of it wakes him back to reality Jace snatches a glimpse of what the thing was eating,
It is its own gangrenous stump of an arm!
He awakes gasping for air as though he is drowning and then he is still, a moment of disorientation until the room is bathed in the sudden dull flash of distant lightning. Reflecting off of Jace’s fluorescent painting collection as Anchorage prepares for an evening storm.
Lyselle stirs but does not wake and Jace slides out of bed once again, this time to draw the curtains. He peers out the window momentarily hoping to catch another flash.
The thunder from the previous bolt arrives and Jace smiles slightly,
“Thomas bay hunh?” He whispers and laughs secretly enjoying the fear adrenaline.
Whys he got to be so psycho?
Chapter Three
Breaker bursts into Jace’s room,
“Wake the fuck up! Drop yer cock and grab yer socks!” He exclaims loudly,
“Dude!” Jace screams back at him sitting bolt-upright in his bed, “This is not your fucking boat and I am not one of your crew!” They stare at each other a moment, “Besides, what if ‘Selle was still here?” He asks,
“My bad, I know she leaves early and locks the handle.” Breaker shoots back,
“How fucking early?” Jace demands. Breaker realizes he’s asking him what time it is,
“Six, thirty-ish.” Breaker smiles uncertainly, “If we hurry we can still make it.”
“Make what?”
“Early flight, I found first-class up-grades on-line so we don’t have to wait. You know what it’s like trying to get a drink in coach . . .”
“Wait a minute there uncle rummo I never said . . .” Jace starts,
“The fuck you didn’t last night in front of God and everyone . . .”
“I haven’t even sent the block yet.” Jace lies lamely. Breaker bites,
“Then wrap it up I’ll pack you some shit.”
“I can pack my own shit you rotten prick!” Jace retorts yanking the covers off himself this is a no-win situation if he ever saw it, “Just, get the fuck out aw-right!”
“You sure? I can help, I’m all ready . . .” Breaker offers.
“Where the fuck do you get your energy? When did you wake up?” Jace asks.
“Helps if you don’t sleep, brew ski?” Breaker asks as he extends a carefully hidden beer from inside his jacket, “It’s a micro-brew Feel Better Beer it’s called, try it.”
Jace laughs and takes the beer nodding negative.
*
Du waak x’aan sits in his sweat lodge in a trance-like, meditative state deep within his holographic, three dimensional mind-scape watching his targets with great interest. They are tiny blue dots amidst a sea of green, yellow, orange and red. His name . . . is new to him having just been given to him by the inhabitants of this land, the Tlingit. And loosely translated means du waak, his eyes, and x’aan, a color, meaning red like fire . . . combined, His Eyes . . . Like Red Fire is what the first inhabitant of this northern rain forest to encounter him, described. His eyes, red fire. He had been tall in his former life so he visualizes himself that way, while here on the point.
But even still that isn’t entirely accurate now is it?
Du waak x’aan has actually gone by many different names. A multitude if you will. Names that our modern tongue can not pronounce. Names that even the trees and stones can scarce remember. Names of power, names of a multitude, names of Legion. Names that all come down to one. One . . . who is many. If ever there existed an entity upon the face of this earth that epitomizes evil incarnate, which can be called the Devil . . . it is he. Even now he sits in his otherworldly version of a sweat lodge . . . his wormy thoughts giving way to oiled, coiling, hideous dreams. He smiles vaguely within his cocoon. Soon, so very soon now all plans of escape from the realm of limbo are coming to fruition. He controls his excitement with iron will.
No need for that just yet. He drops back into his trance immediately as only a master of mental skills can. One who is many is easily the foremost master of inner awareness and the levels of inner-consciousness on the face of the earth. His remote viewing skills are unparalleled. He has been taught techniques by the Gods themselves.
But all of this we shall see, in due time.
*
The terminal in Juneau is a breeze considering they both only have their carry-on baggage and they sway right through the crowds and make the curb in record time. Breaker signals to the first cabbie and it pulls up quickly. He looks up at the southern sky,
“Few clouds, partly sunny, gonna be a good trip.” He remarks to Jace who follows his gaze and nods. Breaker swings open the Alaska cab mini-van door and jumps in telling the cabbie which harbor and throws his bag in the back climbing in and Jace follows suit.
“Any luck at all we’ll be pulling into Penis-burg by early evening tomorrow,” Breaker tells him as he begins to roll a smoke, “I left the rig turn-key and ready to rock, you gotta see the Noble Tech plotter on this bitch, same as the ‘Sauce’.” (Nickname for Breaker’s fishing boat the, ‘Isosceles’).
“What the fucks the name of the tub were driving anyway?” Jace asks. Breaker looks at him and he sniffs lightly obviously stalling for time. Jace raises his eyebrows insistently elbowing him.
“Saltheart.” Breaker says quietly.
“You gotta be shittin’ me.” Jace laughs, “No?” Breaker turns away and shrugs,
“Dude I bought it from was a big Thomas Covenant fan, he read them all (meaning the Stephen R Donaldson books) a couple times I guess.”
“I read ‘em too.”Jace says.
“So did I.” Breaker shrugs.
“Gonna change it?” Jace asks.
“I don’t know it’s starting to grow on me, Saltheart!” He says in his best Ten Commandments voice.
“Saltheart!” Jace chimes in with his. They look at each other and smile,
“Saltheart it is.” Breaker says looking at him, “Good to see ya bro.”
“Likewise.” Jace agrees and they embrace each other. The cabbie glances in the rearview, then looks away grimacing and he turns on the radio. Fuckin’ homos, he thinks to himself, every god dam where you look.

At the harbor it’s just as Breaker had said turn-key and ready to rock. They do the ultra quick tour as the engine warms.
“So where’s the wave less Jacuzzi?” Jace is forced to ask.
“Same thing I asked the asshole who sold it to me.”
“What he say?”
“Non-existent he says, it was a ploy to get your attention who ever heard of a wave less Jacuzzi? Not me I says but it got your attention right? He says,” Jace laughs aloud, “Same thing I did.” Breaker laughs with him.
They stow their shit and cast off and they are on the way. Breaker runs the ‘Saltheart’ out of the harbor from the flying bridge and Jace pulls in the lines and bumper buoys in and stows them on deck, a million and one distant memories rising within him. The sounds the smells. Seaweed and seagulls, he’s taken back to childhood on a dozen different levels and all of the sudden there it is, the tears welling and emotion rising.
“No, fuckin’ way.” Jace swallows down the tears and smiles and then steps up the ladder to join Breaker, who calls back to him,
“Yo, pop that cooler lid and grab me a naddy.” Breaker says, his code word for Natural Ice beer.
“You did not bring naddy ice on this boat!” Jace exclaims his smile back as quickly as it left. He grabs the cooler lid.
“The fuck I didn’t!” Breaker replies as Jace lifts the lid,
“The fuck you didn’t, this shits Keystone!” He says.
“Oh, right . . . nothing wrong with the ‘stone, killer alcohol content . . . 5.8 %, the crack of beer.”
“No, that’s 211 Steele reserve, 8.2.”
“Thank you fellow member of Alcoholics Unanimous, now grab me a ‘stone and that bottle of Zygo too, I need some energy infusants.” Breaker orders.
“By your command.” Jace does in his best Cylon centurion. Not that new crap, the old classic series.
“Yeah,” Breaker says,” Then get yer metal ass down to the galley and rattle them pots and pans and rustle us up some brecky.”
“What ‘breakfast beer-ito’ won’t do?” Jace asks as he carries the beers and bottle over to the bridge.
“Had me plenty of those, now I need some substance.” Breaker answers as he takes the beer and bottle, “Or I could cook if you want to run us out?”
“No I got it, my special French toast cool?”
“Yer fuckin’ a it is.” Breaker smiles wide,
“I’m on it.” Jace says.
“Yo, try a shot of this shit first.”
“Zygo?” Jace looks at it,” What is it?”
“Peach infused vodka made from red potatoes with like, taurine and like, ginseng and ying-yang and all that happy horseshit. It’ll snap you to.” Breaker replies and Jace takes the bottle and smells it, shrugs then hits it. He recoils slightly breathing in quickly,
“Whoo! Nice.” Jace says,
“Kind of got a sweet tequila kinda thing goin’ don’t it?” Breaker asks. Jace agrees,
“That it does . . . its cool.” He swigs again and hands the bottle back, “Yeah, okay brecky-breck chop-chop.”
“Sweet.” Breaker says and takes a pull off the bottle as well, “You can’t get this shit in State you know, I had to bring it up from Seattle.”
“Fascinating.” Jace says and exits below to cook his special French toast breakfast for them both. It sounds special but it takes like seconds to prepare, fortunately there are eggs and bread and brown sugar and cinnamon onboard, coincidence, I think not. Jace finishes cooking in record time and brings them both a plate to the upper deck. No sooner did they finish eating and the gentle breeze kicks up to a nice 15 to 20 knot south-easter and the boat begins to pound into the chop. That’s the hell of Alaskan weather, you like it wait five minutes, it’ll change. Jace looks over to Breaker his face going suddenly pale.
“You gonna blow chow?” Breaker asks him.
“I hope not,” Jace replies through clenched teeth, “I forget it takes me a while to get used to this shit.” Jace traditionally gets sick the first trip of every season when they were growing up on the boat, looks like this one is no exception.
“Yeh-t,” Breaker agrees,” Let’s go below I’ll run her from inside for a bit. You can take the amidships stateroom. Get yourself some shut-eye and take next watch.” Jace nods and heads for the ladder. Breaker scoops up his Zygo and his natty-ice and follows after him. Still a little pussy I see. He thinks to himself smiling.
*
One who is many is watching them from his high place feeling out the magnetic wavelengths that reveal their moods. He gauges their energy levels by their electro-magnetic spheres. He becomes more acquainted with them through their slumbering minds as they walk through their lives in a state Du waak x’aan refers to, as waking sleep. They are so consumed with their current state of identity, you know the constant I have to do this, I gotta do that, they can’t feel his gentle mind probe in the slightest. He will stick with them like this for the rest of their trip.
And they will never know it.
*
Jace awakes from a dreamless slumber disoriented only for a moment with the gentle rocking of the boat, then it all comes back to him. He’s somewhere between Juneau and Petersburg on Breaker’s new boat and it must of gotten a lot calmer, the last thing he remembers was clinging to the edge of the bunk on the verge of vomiting. Things are so much better now. He sits up abruptly and realizes he’s still fully dressed, with the exception of his shoes. They lay on the deck at his feet. Jace rolls his cramped neck in circles for a few times then crawls his cramped limbs out of bed and scooping up his shoes he sits on the steps to put them on. He stands and makes his way out of the dimly lit stateroom and realizes the entire vessel is illuminated with an eerie, orange red glow. He quickly remembers how they had kept two sets of lights on the wheelhouse deck of his stepfather’s boat. Lights used at anchor and filtered lights, usually red for running at night. He looks around the lower pilot house. It is empty and the semi-moonlit night sweeps by outside the windows steadily with the light rocking of the boat. Jace remembers seeing a small fridge in the entryway and goes for it. The blaring white light inside of it scalds his night adjusted eyes and he squints inside just keeping the door open long enough to grab out two bottles of water. After chugging one down in a single take he lowers his head to breathe looking out the pilothouse window ahead, and he freezes up. All at once he knows he is looking right at it. Sure as shit, all three mountain lines with Castle mountain illuminated in the background.
The entrance to Devil’s country. The entrance to Thomas bay. It is finally there in front of him and he isn’t dreaming! He looks away. A surge of electric adrenaline shoots through Jace’s system. So close. So soon. He will be there. And he will know the secret . . . of Thomas bay. Yeah, right! He thinks.
His own laughter startles him and he comes back to himself. He has to piss and Breaker is sure to flip him shit about his long nap, How the fuck had he stayed up this long? Jace thinks to himself again. Right, He runs a commercial fishing boat. Sometimes you can only trust yourself when everyone becomes so fatigued. Jace opens the back deck door and the pleasant night makes him smile immediately. So much of his life was spent here in southeast Alaska. His throat tightens and for Christ’s sakes is he watering up again? Not now Breaker could pop up at any second, he swallows hard and goes to the rail and relieves himself leaning against the side of the house. Always keep your mind and body aboard the boat! His foster Dad had said to him so many times as a youth. His Dad would drill them in ocean survival all the time and if you’re the only one aboard for God sakes kick the boat out of gear before you do something that might land you in the drink, the boat will run off without you. He laughs away his melancholy and turns to the bridge. As he climbs the ladder he can see his brother’s form slumped at the wheel bundled up in his coat, is he nodded out?
“Breaker!” He yells at him stepping forward to grab him and rustle him awake, motherfucker is passed out at the helm bigger than shit! He begins to shake him, “Breaker god damn it wake the fuck up! Breaker! Breaker!”
“Where we at boy?” Breaker cries out suddenly and grabs the wheel to turn them hard over, the small craft rolls quickly to one side and Jace is tossed over onto the port seat, Breaker looks at him wide-eyed. Then he begins to laugh uproariously, “Hook, line and sinker you stupid fuck!” Breaker rights their course back online. “Like I was passed the fuck out? I saw you come out on deck to piss boy.” He mocks and grabs his beer. Jace goes white, his jaw clenching in anger with the memory of that hated nick-name.
“Oh fuck, why do I even try?” Jace asks aloud. Breaker, so fucked up he’s oblivious to the insult, goes on,
“Because it is in your nature dear boy.” He answers him in his best 007, you know the one. Then raises an eyebrow, “You can’t tell me you don’t recognize where we are?” Jace tries to play it off by merely shrugging and trying to take a seat, “Ah-ah,” Breaker slaps his empty beer across Jace’s chest. Jace sighs and takes it from him, heading back to the cooler. “Oh! And you can bull-shit yourself all you want . . . but you can’t bull-shit me.” Breaker goes on as Jace returns with two beers and hands him one, Breaker grabs his fingers with the beer holding on to him, and they look each other directly in the eye, “You know why you’re here, I knew you’d be up about now,” He whispers, “I heard ‘em calling you . . . . real softly, like I couldn’t hear ‘em.” Jace stares into Breaker’s eyes until he catches the slightest mischievous glint,
“Fuck you.” He says pulling his hand free and sitting abruptly.
“Fuck me? You’re the dumbs still obsessed with that shit-hole.”
“Am not”
“Are too Dee too.” Breaker steals a line from their youth and they both laugh. Jace opens his beer and drinks, then,
“I’ll make it there someday . . . somehow, I just know it.” He says finally. Breaker looks ahead and adjusts their course slightly to avoid a kelp island.
“Tell you what,” he says with a grin, “We’ll go there after the Fourth, you and I, check this shit out together . . . once and for all.” Jace grins right back,
“Now you’re talking.” He replies, raising his beer and they cheers on it no less. They both sit back in silent reflection. Unless I get there first. Jace thinks to himself. He smiles and hits his beer again.
“So, tell me about Hawaii.” Breaker says referring to Jace’s recent trip to promote his strip and look into Real Estate.
“What about it, its paradise. Full of hotties, rich people and the homeless. Fuckers are everywhere with their goddam cup o’ noodles.”
“Rich people eat cup o’ noodles?”
“No, the homeless I mean. They are everywhere over there! And to think I was almost one of them! Can you imagine that? Me, goddam cup of fuckin’ noodles!” Implying that he was nearly homeless.
“What do you got against cup o’ noodles?” Breaker asks exasperated.
“Nothing, I got one going downstairs.” Jace explains seeing he missed this one.
“What, you made cup o’ noodles and didn’t make me one?”
“I didn’t know you wanted one!”
“Course I want cup o’ noodles god dam!”
“You can have mine, I’ll make another.” Jace cries. Breaker pauses,
“Your lucky you homeless fuck.” He looks ahead again. Jace sighs and goes down the ladder. The rest of the trip passes uneventfully. To them.
*
Du waak x’aan is hovering just within his sub-conscious mind in a feat that any modern practitioner of medicine will tell you is impossible. He is tapping that vast, powerful area of the subconscious, to project his awareness, out. Out to his targets. To the marked ones, who are now well within the sphere of his control. He studies their thought patterns, their ‘wavelengths’. They are very similar, but Du waak x’aan is nearly certain, that he can tell . . .
..which of the two will be his enemy. And which will be his escape.
His escape from this wretched body and realm that he has been imprisoned in for centuries. It would be a simple thing to bring up the storms that would topple their tiny craft and then assimilate them into the tribe now, right now. But that wouldn’t facilitate his escape at all. No, everything must be perfect for this to work. He must entice the ally in, and leave him with a messenger. Only then can he map his mind, and ready it for the transference. And it will take time. But merely a blink of the eye compared to the millennia he has waited thus far. Just, a bit longer, he pores over the minds of the two incessantly, from his high place on the point.
And they have no idea, of his presence.
*
Breaker has his own private dock in Wrangell narrows just south of Petersburg right below his house. His family has lived in this part of Alaska for generations. When they arrive they tie opposite his fifty-eight foot limit seiner the ‘Isosceles’, which is moored at the same dock. After a quick shut down they head right up to the house where Breaker begins to check his messages, but re-thinking quickly he speed dials a cab instead.
“T’s expecting me in anyway, (he means Terza) she knows where I’ll head.” Jace smiles blankly as Breaker orders the taxi, thinking about his brother’s increased drinking since the deaths of their parents and, Breaker’s own wife and son. And what else could he be into? He wonders to himself, but can’t put any conviction in to it, considering the bender he had just been on himself, but Jace still thinks Break had seemed a bit speedy the other night, and the man still hasn’t slept yet. Oh well, fuckin’ fisherman are used to that shit he tries to convince himself, let it go.
“Giddy-yup.” Breaker says after hanging up the landline. Can’t be blow, Jace thinks, he would have offered me one. They step out on the porch to smoke and wait for the cab. Breaker hands him off a hand rolled cigarette and lights them both.
“So,” Jace starts,” T, Terza, tell me about her.” Breaker smiles openly, honestly.
“After everyone croaked,” Breaker starts, Jace cringing at his brother’s lack of tact, but Breaker continues oblivious, “I thought I’d never want to, you know, hook back up.” He puffs on his cigarette, “Then it hit me, if I didn’t,” He exhales smoke, blowing an entire cadre of smoke rings until Jace is beginning to become agitated, finally he stops and continues as though he had never stopped talking, “I would be just as dead too.” he slows to a whisper, “And that would be just what they wanted.”
“They would not!” Jace retorts almost violently not even sure who they are, but he has a pretty good idea and Breaker freezes. Just then the taxi honks and they both jerk their heads around at it. Jace looks back quickly asking,
“Who? Who are you talking about?” He repeats his brother, who sits up off the rail hitting his cigarette.
“It’s all inna distant past now my brother.” Breaker says abruptly,” And all we have . . . is the now.” he says with dramatic finality. “So let’s go, now.” and he leads Jace to the cab. The now. Jace thinks. He couldn’t be more right. Now is the time.
*
At Kito’s Kave, Breaker exits the Taxi in a hail of tip money and throws the slackers at the door a casual nod and they jump out of the way unceremoniously. Everyone knows Breaker here and he gets top of the line service, even the stragglers know not to fuck with him. You gotta love these small towns.
Inside the door Jace notices her immediately, tall, gorgeous, impossibly Italian, and surrounded by laggers and hangers-on of all sorts. Terza Marie Cantrell, easily the most beautiful woman in this shit-hole, much less this town-hole, and maybe even this State. Hole. She and Lyselle are tied for first, he thinks as he looks her over. Terza’s hair is long, and shiny, and bumpily, as one child had put it, and dark, like her eyes. Her skin is olive, and glossy, flawless. Her eyebrows are as strong as her jaw line and cheekbones, but give way to her sensuous mouth, full lips, that might seem a bit large at first glance, until she smiles, it reaches her eyes, her face, and every fiber of her being. Her flawless body is a testament to what a daily tae-bo regimen can do for a woman and her casual dress is wrapped around it like a glove, camouflage pants with a dark brown t-shirt adorned with Hunter Thompson surrounded by golden skulls that match her military type hat and Van’s. Her jewelry is virtually non-existent, just a cheap turtle necklace like you can buy in any place on the beach in Hawaii, and a single ivory ring. Its made from extinct mastodon, re-enforced with raw Alaskan gold (a gift from Breaker made by him back in his native artist days). She laughs and everyone in the world laughs with her, it’s literally like the angels come down from heaven to accompany her.
Are you getting the picture? Breaker spots her next,
“And there she is my boy,” He nods, ”Come on, I’ll introduce you to one of God’s finest works.” He says angling through the crowd. Jace smiles peculiarly, and about faces towards the door quickly. All the while telling himself he was on a mission from Gold.
Er . . . God, or . . .
Bullshit yerself all you want. Breaker had told him. You know why you’re here.
Outside he walks towards the dock, quickly, but quietly.
Inside the bar Terza steps forward to embrace Breaker and they kiss quickly, yet very delicately, not wanting to be too showy. The crowd groans. The ones that thought they had a shot anyway. The two of them pull back and smile at each other like school children, open and honest. These two are definitely sprung on each other.
“Here,” Breaker turns slightly, “I want you . . . to meet . . .” He trails off looking about the bar, this way and that, his jaw tightening.
“The guy you walked in with?” Terza offers at last.
“Yeah.” Breaker says,” Where’d he go?”
“Right back out the door as soon as you brushed past him,” Terza has great peripherals.
“That prick!” Breaker cries.
“Who was he?” Terza asks
“Just some prick!” Breaker says disgustedly. Terza tugs at him, her way of asking again, when she realizes,
“Was that Jace?” She asks. Breaker nods. “Do you know where he went?”
“I gotta pretty good i—fuckin’—dea!” She pushes him slightly,
“Then let’s go get him.” She says.
“Fuck that!” She pushes him again, harder this time,
“Language, please.” She says
“It’s a bar, baby . . .” he justifies and she presses him,
“Why can’t we go with him?”
“‘Cause he’s fu . . . huh . . . ( he somehow stops himself from cursing) . . . huh—huh—heh . . . crazy baby.” Breaker pulls her in tight, “And, I’m afraid we’re just gonna have to let him ride this one out, solo.” She starts to protest again and he silences her with a kiss. A real good one and she starts to forget all about Breaker’s half baked brother wherever he might have gone.
Breaker intones a silent prayer for his relative, though not blood related, he feels, he’s closest to.
This is something he has to do . . . by himself.
Chapter Four
Jace strolls down the dock trying to act nonchalant. He grins and nods to a fairly scruffy looking individual that he passes by him. The type that his father would have called dope-headed, tree-huggin’, snot in beard, whale-blowing, communist lovin’ son-of-a-bitch. Not his foster father, Breaker’s Dad, but his real father. Jace laughs aloud at the tact shared between Father and son when he is suddenly hit with a wash of emotion, the second set of parents he has lost. He struggles to swallow the lump in his throat as a young couple walks by. Just kids really, probably making’ out at the end of the dock. Like he and Breaker used to do with all the little local girls growing up on the boat. He continues to feign interest in the FOR SALE sign in the window of some piss-pot as his thoughts torture on. Piss-pot is fisherman lingo for little piece of shit boat. He was just beginning to get over (If anyone ever truly gets over) the loss of his own parents, (there were good times to remember as well) when his foster parents went down on the plane, with Marla and little Nicky. And now just being here has awakened all the old memories, the tastes, the feels, and the smells. He thinks about Breaker’s additional losses, his wife Marla, and his son Nikola Randolph. Nicky was Jace’s Godson for crying out fuck! Godsons do not die before God-fathers!
Except, maybe in the movies.
“Fuck!” Jace cries out.
“Heeg!” Comes a startled hiccup, of a voice from behind him. Jace looks around sharply. The same scruffy looking fuck from a moment ago, the hippie.
“Sorry?” Jace says lamely.
“‘S’matter buddy?” the guy stops short, “‘S’my rig. You wanna look inside?” The scruff says indicating the boat Jace is looking at. He must think Jace is interested in buying it. Jace smiles thinking Right, nothing to lose, the time is now.
“No thanks, mate.” Jace says smoothly in his best australian accent, “My bad, good day to you.” He smiles at the guy and strolls off down the dock. He had seen just what he was looking for earlier. Some asshole left their high dollar fast scow tied loosely at the dock thinking taking the fuel hose would be enough to stop looters, joy-riders, thieves for shit’s sakes.
Jace has a fuel hose in the bag that exclaims quiana arigato mahalo danke gracias and many other ways to express thank you cheerily. And his damp eyes are drying quickly. Thank God for rich assholes. Thank God?
God. He thinks to himself, I got your gold. You fuck. He smiles like a cat eating shit.
*
Lyselle sits in her house on hillside, looking out, over Anchorage, stroking her Siamese cat and speed-dialing Jace again, she listens to the pre-recorded female voice of ‘message AKG 43, Your party has traveled out of the cellular range or has turned the unit off’ before snapping her own phone off.
“Oh shut up you cunt.” She says to the recording and her cat starts and jumps away from her, “Not you baby.” She calls after it, but the beast keeps on going, “Fuck.” She whispers and drops the phone on the table, thinking about Jace again, he isn’t acting like he’s supposed to. That prick was supposed to call her when he got there. She actually didn’t even believe he would go, until poof, he was gone. Now why can’t she get over this feeling of impending doom?
Come on, aren’t bitches supposed to worry?
*
Jace pulls the high dollar scow away from Breaker’s private float with a few extra items, fuel for one. The prick left half his tanks dry, the rat bastard. The other items being Breaker’s .45 automatic and a couple extra clips. The forty-five is tucked under his Mustang suit in its shoulder holster and he’s high balling it out of town with the evening sun shining in just the very direction he needs it to. All the way to Thomas bay. Jace has never grinned so honestly in all his life.
How can smart people be so dumb?
*
And he’s fucking lucky too, because if he’d have been at Breaker’s dock a fraction of a second longer, Breaker might have seen his ass, because he and Terza had just arrived to do some long awaited banging. And here’s Breaker looking over his dock because can’t do anything without giving the livestock the once over lightly. He remembers they were supposed to call Lyselle and flinches slightly.
“What?” Terza asks him.
“Saw a Kushtaka.” Breaker replies jokingly thinking I hope you remembered to call her Jace you dick!
“Oh ha-ha.” Terza says not even knowing what a Kushtaka is. All she knows is, it isn’t what she wants. She pulls him away from the window and back towards his bedroom.
*
“Fuck! I forgot to call Lyselle.” Jace says aloud over the whine of the outboard. The three of them are unaware, that they are remembering each other at all the same moment. Jace looks back toward town, then back towards Thomas bay, “I’ll call her when I get back,” he continues on aloud as if to convince, only himself, “if, I . . . ever get back!” he counters dramatically in another one of what should be, inward, voices. He sits back in the high dollar prick’s scow, “Fuckin’ nut-job.” And he goes silent.
*
Walter jerks back from his computer screen suddenly. His apartment is hot and muggy and smells of crack and tobacco and weed and sex, but there is no one else there now. He was all alone and had been nodded out, but something had woken him up. One glance at the screen and all we see is a set of incredible tits. Fully oiled and frozen in what appears to be mid-bounce. You gotta love daily motion. He pulls his hand away from his cock and reaches for his crack pipe. He lights it deftly hitting it slowly, and practicedly, not heating it too much, and taking about ten seconds to do so. He sets the pipe in its ashtray and re-starts the video as the rush begins. He watches the oiled tits bounce forgetting what might have woken him up in the first place.
*
Jace kicks the high dollar prick’s scow out from the beach with his feet and watches it glide back out into the glassy bay complacently. As soon as it’s far enough out from the beach, he gives a tug on the line he holds in his hand, and a large rock, perched on the bow of the scow, falls into the water. It’s tied to the cleat on the front, with a decent amount of slack, and it sinks to the bottom and effectively anchors the high dollar prick’s scow out, with the line leading back to his hand. Just a little trick he learned as a kid. Jace runs the end of the line up to the nearest tree and fastens it quickly. He stretches his legs while looking at the bay. To the west, it couldn’t be a more normal scene, one boat anchored out, one tied to a dock, a house above it with smoke burning, The sun is starting to peek at the whole scene through the partly overcast sky. To the north it’s cool and calm, and the sun is shining towards the east. Where he is going, it looks peaceful.
Where’s the spooky, choking, mid-day mist, all Bela Lugosi and shit? Another reference to the Lugosi films Jace had grown up on, he shakes his head and snorts his disproval. I’m risking grand larceny for this shit?
“Well this sucks.” He says donning a small back-pack and turns towards the hills. Oh well, might as well have some fun. He reaches inside his jacket and pulls out the pistol. He jacks one in the chamber and strikes a bond like pose. “And were off, for a little, look see.” he actually sounds a lot like Sean Connery. He turns and strolls up the beach engaging the safety on the pistol and re-holstering his weapon as he goes. He is definitely planning on blasting a few caps all right. This is a target rich environment.
*
Breaker lies dreaming/waking fitfully. In his mind, we can see his whole family, as he has imagined them a million times before in their fateful voyage. In his Father’s float-plane as the family flies out to see him for a surprise visit in Pelican after their Black Cod trip. Just as the must have appeared the last time anyone ever saw them. He watches as they fly along the southeast passage. He is helpless as his Father clutches at his chest, in slow pain motion, and his mother screaming soundlessly. Marla and Nicky are wide-eyed, but cool, they are belted in securely. The old man is trying to bring the plane down to the surface of a churning lake, he coughs violently, blood issuing from his mouth and nose, and he slumps forward, unconscious. His Mother yanks the old man off of the stick and pulls it back quickly, his Father’s plane slams hard into the white-capping water. Impossibly it seems to skim the surface gently, as though it might land safely. Then it catches a sharp wave and it cartwheels, disintegrating before his very eyes. The main fuselage comes to rest and actually floats momentarily, and he can see Marla and Nicky swim clear.
All too clear.
Then a canoe is there suddenly, inexplicably. And familiar looking hand reaches out to help them, to pull them in,
Breaker snaps awake in Terza’s arms,
“What baby?” she asks. Breaker can only nod negative. Soon he is sleeping again his exhaustion finally catching up to him.
Terza watches him with adoration allowing him to sleep. Before she wakes him in a bit. The night is still early.
*
Du waak x’aan watches his mark with all of his being now. He is close, but the one he refers to as the Marked one, won’t be here long. Just enough time to chart his thoughts, and to place the messenger with him. Du waak x’aan’s agent is already in place, near the den, in what we call, the physical realm. It will be up to the agent to pass the messenger to the mark. But it is up to Du waak x’aan, to first ensnare his mark’s mind. For this he is amply prepared. Du waak x’aan knows this one. He knows what he likes, and what he dislikes. So much like . . . . himself? Like he may have been . . . millennia ago?
Perhaps.
But more like, he will be . . . soon.
*
One who is many listens to the marked one’s heartbeat with great interest. He thinks he might detect a slight flaw, a mild irregularity within it. That does not please him. For everything else about this one is perfect.
His agent had delivered the messenger flawlessly and even now, Du waak x’aan works his glamore over the marked one, studying every iota of his being. Soon he will unleash the Legion upon him. They will drive him mad enough to distract him and he will be able to map his mind for the transfer, and as the horde drives him insane he will become suicidal. Then he will be desperate enough, willing enough, to sacrifice all.
Then and only then, will he be ready. Du waak x’aan, the tall man, or more accurately, the spirit of the One who is many, the physical body, allows a minute smile, to pass silently, across his disfigured, corpulent features.

And this is where we came in with Jace in the lodge of the Ku’cta’qa, so let us continue from where we left off.

*
Jace walks the street like a man in mild distress. He had called Lyselle and it had gone well, all things considered, she is a real controlling cunt, actually what Jace needs. And although she had called him fuck-face, prick-licker, dick-nose, cock-snacker and poop-head (her mildest form of name calling) accentuated with several ‘ I hate you’s ‘ none of which hold any real vehemence. it is just her way of venting, and after their good-byes and one I love you, she sits in her snob-hillside Anchorage home, feeling much better, while Jace is still pretty fucked-up. But of course he is carrying the messenger now.
He had had more time to study the nugget. Oh yeah, it had shown back up, Again!
Big surprise.
It had been on the high dollar prick scow ride home, after he had finally put his mustang suit back on and the scow had been pounding into the steady chop monotonously and his body temperature came back, he remembers it perfectly.
Jace gets the overpowering impulse to vomit. He snaps his head up and to the right choosing the path of his gorge as the skiff slams into the largest wave of that cycle. The result is a thick wall of saltwater dousing his face and body quite efficiently. The icy water drives his bile down and he giggles to himself, and he remembers the nugget now hidden in his jacket pocket. He had found it in the bilge of the skiff when he had stopped to piss just a while ago. When he spotted it he just kept on pissing, ignoring it. He had the strong urge to vomit. Just the memory of the memory, and it beckons to him. Jace decides, why fight it? Remember, he’s a pussy? Now he digs it out of his pocket with ferocious speed slowing the high-dollar prick’s rig down as he did, he really couldn’t use another dousing. He kicks it out of gear and looks down at his closed hand for nearly a minute feeling as though he is holding a small but deadly scorpion (or something worse. much worse) that will jump out at him the moment he relaxes his grip upon it.
Finally, he opens his hand.
Just a typical looking nugget, its soft metal smoothed out in several places as though worn by many hands. Jace screws up his face and draws the idol much closer to it feeling like an idiot kid struggling with a small type-face in beginning reading. Nothing out of the ordinary, save the crude hole bored into the narrow end. He rolls it in his palm to get a better look. He rolls it over and over in his hand not seeing an articulate feature . . . . until,
It flops over in his hand and looks right back at him.
With eyes of its own!
Jace recoils as though he had been delivered a terrific upper-cut to the chin! For one sickening moment the idol’s tiny eyes had been real blood-bearing flesh and tissue!
They are laughing eyes, mocking eyes.
And they are laughing at him right inside his head. He can hear them.
“Yeah, right!” He snorts out a short blast of laughter in an effort to blot them out; his hand has once again tightened in a white knuckle grip around the thing.
Slowly, he relaxes his grip.
This time it is just your everyday run of the mill, garden variety, bargain basement, gold nugget idol carving of some forgotten deity!
This one obviously of the evil cannibal type, judging from the hand in its mouth, couldn’t be a more obvious way to signify that. Whoever carved this thing also enjoyed carving up people and eating them. It is true that there was once an undeniable cannibal presence in southeast Alaska that is a historical fact. The Kusaxa kwaan is what the Tlingit called them. But it stopped for some reason or other, Jace remembers as well. He rolls the huge nugget back and forth in his hand studying it intently, the laughter in his head having died out for the moment.
The idol of the Kushtaka, the messenger, but he has no idea what it truly is.
Jace jerks his eyes away from the horror and feels more than hears, its mocking laughter, like the sound of many voices. Many more, than just one, Legion, as a matter of fact. Repulsed Jace sits bolt up-right and hurls the thing overboard resisting the urge to shove it in his pocket. He guns the throttle of the high-dollar prick’s rig and it is a full five minutes before he realizes he is heading the wrong way.
But that was hours ago.
And now he walks slowly back to the bar that he had left Breaker and Terza at hours before, hoping to God that they aren’t there and if they are, trying desperately to come up with a cover story.
Chapter Five
Terza finally convinces Breaker to sit one out and excuses herself to the ladies room. It’s like four a.m. and there is daylight outside, (like always, this close to solstice) and the bars are still going full swing. You gotta love rural Alaska. As she walks she realizes that this is the first time that she has felt good about a man since she had been left at the Alter, by her high school sweetheart no less. After suffering what most women consider the ultimate humiliation, she hated men and moved from Seattle to Juneau at the urging of her older brother. He worked for Alaska airlines and helped her to land a job there also, and she lived in Juneau for a couple years. She had since been promoted and relocated to Petersburg. It had been three years here and her own independence had softened the bitterness within her. She is in all ways heterosexual, but sex had been rare between the Alter and here, with Breaker. And they had only recently started having sex, and it is good, very good. Good only like sex between two attention starved people can be, and even though he is over ten years older than her, she can’t help entertaining thoughts of, this could be the one.
“Or, the next one.” Her cynical side always voices when she thinks that shit. She smiles to herself on the way to the can as she brushes past a pale, disheveled, wrung-out and hung up to dry looking asshole hanging up the pay phone. “‘S’cuse me” She chimes as she goes past the wretch, into the ladies’ room, and even though she has seen several pictures of him and actually glimpsed him scant hours before, she never would have guessed in a million years, that the scrub-fuck is Breaker’s foster-brother Jace.
*
Breaker watches Terza walk to the ladies room with attention equal, if not greater than, that he had paid to Lyselle’s receding form just scant nights before. Remembering this brings a stab of guilt and he mentally shrugs it off. I didn’t break any laws. He thinks and steps back to his place at the bar. He’s lived here long enough to have his own corner of the bar far beyond the single stool days, hell; he’s a millionaire multi. Heh, well they all are, largest number of millionaires per capita and all that bullshit, on paper anyway, the gross equity of a boat and permit, and their quotas, made most of the vessel owners in this shit hole millionaires once or twice even perhaps thrice over or better if they owned their own home as well, and Breaker had inherited one with it’s own dock and surrounding acreage.
“So tell me . . .” A drunken Lars Kvernvic asks him as he turns to look for the bartender, this will be the third time tonight the drunk old man has asked him, “..What, do you really know, about fishin’?” Breaker makes the mistake of inhaling as he sits down and receives an intoxicating dose of the old square heads’ perpetually, inebriating fumes, and he chokes momentarily. When Lars isn’t hassling him personally he’s hassling some other hapless drinker about what a good fisherman Breaker’s Dad, God rest his soul, has made out of Breaker. He looks past Lars to the narc over his shoulder. It’s not really a narc, it’s Kelly Poplar, Breaker’s top deck-hand and former Navy seal. He’s got an interesting white boy mustached look, with his reddish brown hair and bluish type eyes. He wears the scars of the acne tribe, but his teeth are good when he smiles, and he has the memory of dimples, that help to carry the smile to the rest of his features. He’s 36 years old and has studied martial arts around the world. He is tall, tan and muscular, but he dresses like he’s still in the eighties, hence the Walker, Texas ranger narc look. Kelly’s been on board the Isosceles for nearly ten years now. He is Brae’quaithe’s right hand man. And now the skipper needs him. Breaker’s eyes scream,
Help Me, Kelly immediately steps up and approaches Breaker’s free shoulder, his muscle shirt emblazoned with the Japanese Rising Sun he’s so eighties I’m not even joking,
“Breaker, you old bastard!” He exclaims, “I haven’t seen you in a coon’s age!” Breaker smiles, albeit a bit quizzically, “Tell me,” Kelly continues, remembering how his Captain had left him with the boat after their last trip to gut and clean it on his own, and run off to Juneau then Anchorage, He smiles acidly, “What.. Do you . . . know about fishin’?” Lars Kvernvic hears this and sits up and grins ear to ear, trying to focus at least one of his eyes upon him, and Breaker turns away from him and sits back and looks at his own blank expression in the mirror behind the bar.
Suddenly, a greasy, scraggly, river-rat looking crack head that seems vaguely familiar appears next to him. Jace? You’ve got to be fucking me! Breaker thinks.
“Excuse me officer,” Jace says flatly grabbing Breaker by the arm,” ‘Kye borrow my brother a second?” He pulls Breaker off his chair and Break whirls on him,
“Dude!” He cries out breaking free from Jace’s grasp, the bar goes quiet a moment, and Breaker’s expression changes when he gets a closer look at Jace, “What the fuck happened to you?” He asks him. People look away and begin to move around again and the bar goes back to searching for blood. Kelly and Lars even go back to their beers.
Jace can only shrink back. Breaker stands silently with a look of deep concern on his face. Jace draws his brother off to the side quickly,
“Tell me about it.” Break says stone like. Jace looks away,
“Outside.” is all he can manage to say and he pulls himself loose moving to the exit. Breaker follows. Jace makes his way through the crowd easily, as they all step aside, and he bursts through the double doors right into a pair of middle aged couples. They look over Jace’s wet rat appearance in obvious disapproval. Jace glances at his soaked jeans and looks up,
“I . . . get a little excited sometimes . . .” he whispers leering at the ladies. Breaker’s turn to pull him aside,
“Heh, heh, down boy,” Breaker says in their general direction, “I just scratch him behind the ears and he’s fine.” And he paws at Jace’s head. The men shake their heads and pull their women closer, and draw them inside. Jace pushes Breaker away and Breaker looks at him contemptuously. Jace laughs at him nervously,
“What’s gotten into you Jay?” Breaker asks. Slow realization dawns on Jace’s face and his mocking grin fades away. His eyes become suddenly haunted and ready to scream . . .
“You’ve been there haven’t you?” Breaker spat out, “That’s what this is all about isn’t it? No, you couldn’t wait, could you? You had to run on off over there half cocked and come back looking like death taking a shit!” As Breaker rants Jace pulls the nugget from his pocket and holds it out to him open-palmed, “And how you got there, I know I don’t want to know . . .” Breaker glances down to the huge lump.” . . . you . . . holy shit!” Breaker plucks the nugget out of Jace’s hand with the speed of grasshopper’s time to go, “It’s . . . gotta be, eight . . . ten, ounces,” he continues without a break for station identification, “Hey soose punk-rock, you get this fucking thing over there?” Breaker is now holding it up to the light between thumb and forefinger turning it back and forth over and over. From Jace’s perspective the idol is shaking it’s head negatively at him, grinning fiercely as it does, as if to say ah-ah-ah, no-no-no, and it dawns on Jace powerfully,
Breaker can’t see it! Jace realizes perfectly, No one can see it but me! He snatches the grinning idol from Breaker’s grasp suddenly, and wants now, more than ever, to hurl the thing as far from them as his strength will allow. He stuffs the thing in his pocket instead.
“Yeah,” Breaker says, “Best keep it down. Don’t want some greedy prick to see, try stepping’ up.” He seems to have lost sight of every other thing in his life when his eyes caught the sight of gold. The Sun’s own sweat as the Incas called it. Breaker rubs his hands together briskly, “When do want to go back?” He asks grinning. Jace recoils as though he’s been slapped. His mouth works open and closed a few times before he can answer,
“No-no-no-no . . .”Jace repeats over and over,
“No what?” Breaker counters,
“You got it all wrong . . .”
“What wrong?”
“We, we can’t go back . . .” Jace stammers.
“We can’t . . . why?” Breaker’s head bobs slightly.
“Because,” Jace pauses dramatically. “I . . . just, happened upon this one . . . I doubt there’s anymore, I . . .”
“I’m not buying’ any of this shit!” Breaker grabs him, “No . . . Not coming from the kid who used to keep me up all night with his stories of how there is so much gold up there. The same kid who would try to convince me if we would only go there that he could show me so much gold that we would never have to work again!”
“That was just kid talk!” Jace shouts.
“And what’s that in your pocket, kid talk? What, you want it for yourself?”
“That’s just like you to think that! That I’m trying to hold out on you somehow!” Jace spits back venomously,” That’s what it always boils down to with you . . . money.”
“I never said anything about . . .”
“You didn’t have to!” Jace turns away,” You don’t care about what happens to me.”
“What?” Breaker asks,” Did something happen to you?”
“Maybe,” Jace whirls around, “Why? Would you care?” The seconds stretch on. Breaker smiles,
“Yeah, now spook stories to scare me off . . . Scoob! Where are you boy?”
“Fuck you dick-head!”
“Yaggy? Yat, you?” Breaker accuses.
“Oh you greedy fuckin’ dick-head!” Jace says. Breaker simply stares at him impassively. “You know, you wanna go there, fine, go! Fuck you!” Jace says and digs in his pocket for his idol. He feels it and calms, and again with the seconds stretching out and shit.
“Fuck you too bro.” Breaker says after a time and walks briskly into the bar. His woman waits. Jace leans back against the wall outside the bar and laughs quietly for a time. Soon he walks away. He wanders to the next bar and orders shot after shot of tequila until his taxi arrives, seven in all and when the cab leaves him at Breaker’s house he stumbles down the dock and argues with his puke-muscle for a bit before he feels confident enough to step on board the Saltheart, after a long satisfying piss of course. That being done, he feels down-right peachy. He makes his way laboriously down to his bunk, the same one he had slept in earlier. Coincidentally he felt the same way as well, on unsteady legs and on the verge of hurling. He laughs at himself and rolls into the rack burping at his displeasure, or his lack thereof, or . . . whatever. Soon his breathing becomes regular . . . and he slips into R.E.M. stage, dreaming.
*
Du waak x’aan, or more accurately, One who is many quiets the Tribe, mentally. They are beginning to wake from hibernation, and from his own increased mental activity. Their energy rips through him even as he coos to them in succor, and they slumber, even still. But they will wake fully, soon enough, so One who is many is being very subtle, his game is beginning to go to many different levels now, and he must orchestrate them perfectly. This is the culmination of all his being.
Let the symphony begin.
*
In his dreamscape Jace is just waking up. I know, pretty stupid, any hoo, he recognizes his surroundings immediately. He’s lying on a cot in the solarium of an Alaskan state ferry. By first glance he’d guess this is the M/V Malaspina, the one he usually rode on when he was growing up. He feels good, so he smiles to his surroundings. They don’t smile back. He glances down to find a beer in his hand, go figure, and he sips from it freely. He glances about the deck and the other passengers become less populous every time he turns his head, from crowded at one turn, to normal at the next, to sparse at the next turn, then virtually non-existent at the last one. He tries not to look back around knowing what will probably happen, but is helpless to stop himself (you know how dreams are) and he looks around finally and the decks are deserted. He looks back around suddenly and now the ferry seems older, ancient even. He sits back scanning around, until he notices someone, a scraggly, hideous, lice-infested, freak of nature type, bum staring longingly at him from the ship’s rail. How do these people get on, there should be a decency law of some type. Jace thinks to himself, drinking his beer and glancing about for any others aboard. Seeing no one his eyes settle back upon the hippie, who seems closer now. The geek smiles at him toothlessly and Jace realizes he must be simple. He smiles and takes another drink.
“Smoke yer pole?” The freak asks.
“What the fuck?” Jace chokes on his beer, spitting and glaring at the asshole, who is dressed very similar to the people he had encountered in the ‘Howlin’ Wilderness’.
“Smoke a bowl?” The bum-thing re-iterates extending a small pipe towards him. The pipe is swarming with the same parasitic life that infests this vagrant from hell.
“Oh . . .” Jace stammers, “Uh, no thanks man, I’m good.” Thank God it was just the pipe he wanted to smoke! Where the fuck is everybody? Jace glances down and notices a brown plastic shopping bag next to him containing a one short six-pack, then back to the bum. He’s closer now and Jace can see the sores on his face now in repulsive detail. Countless vermin crawl the lengths of his matted, clumped, dread-locked hair. They hop merrily to his face to sip from the pus that oozes freely from the infected wounds that make up his countenance. Which presently grins at him with its maggot-filled sockets that once contained the memory of teeth? Jace is too shocked to puke, the bile stops short, just enough to cut off his breath. His glance finally makes it to the things eyes, ohmigod the eyes . . . huge, black, deep and dark as the depths of space itself. They remind him of the eyes he saw in his first nightmare, the eyes on the Kushtaka, and gleam of red sparkles through them, even as he makes the connection. The thing comes closer to him leering. Jace wants to bolt, but he is frozen in horror. The hideous bum-creature beckons towards Jace’s five-pack.
“Trade-ja.” The thing says as though in a dream, I guess he is in a dream. Jace coughs suddenly breaking his paralysis; he swallows his bile and reaches down quickly grabbing a bottle of beer from his bag, and tosses it at the bum-thing, not wanting it to get any closer. As if of it’s own accord, the thing’s hand shoots up to catch the bottle effortlessly and it in close to it’s chest, it’s eyes never once, leaving his own, and it continues to extend, it’s pipe . . . like . . . thing.
“No, you knock yourself out!” Jace refuses again swallowing hard on his recurring gorge, just thinking of the prospect, of a hit off that bowl was enough to turn his stomach and he really wishes he would puke, maybe that will wake him up and out of this nightmare! How did he know he is dreaming?
“No! You must!” The bum shrieks out commandingly and advances, “Smoke with me!”
“Now you stay the fuck back!” Jace shouts at it, wanting badly to wake up now.
The bum continues to lean forward, Jace shrinks back like a withering mushroom under dawn’s harsh light. Just then a glittering golden nugget titters forward into the light, from a chain ‘round the bum’s soiled collar. He is wearing a necklace that looks very familiar.
It’s the idol. Jace sits bolt up-right. The bum jumps back with amazing agility, a look of terror written large upon his corpulent features, as though his weakness may have been exposed.
“That’s mine you rip-off prick!” Jace hisses at him through clenched teeth. By now he’s up and rushing the back-pedaling bum-thing, and he catches it grabbing it by the rags. He pulls the hideous creature towards him and throws a terrific hay-maker designed to knock the asshole’s head off of his shoulders,
and awakens punching the bunk above him,
“HEEG!” He cries out in pain and surprise, pulling his fist back and rubbing it, breathing quickly, the blood pumping furiously in his veins, thudding at his temples, “Fuck.” he mutters much more quietly. He rolls over and passes out as swiftly as he did the first time. Thankfully, this time, he does not dream.
*
There was once a man who was lost to the Ku’cta’qa, and returned. It was his wife, who wanted to get rid of him, because she desired another man. She took a bit of land otter tail sinew and wove it into his ear piercing, while he was sleeping. So the next morning he went fishing and soon was lost in the fog, with the fog, he lost his memory as well. Then the weather came up and his canoe was capsized. And the land otters came to save him and they brought him to their home, a place called transparent village. There he met a woman who said to him “I am in the same fix as you, we are both saved by the land otter people.” That is how he came to know what happened to him.” I am your auntie,” she said,” I have two land otter husbands who will take you home . . . your wife has put a land otter sinew messenger in your ear, that is how you became a land otter.”
They took him down to what looked like a canoe, but was a skate, the Kushtaka canoe is really a skate. They put him in the canoe and set out and placed a large woven mat over his head and told him not to look up. But he did look up after a time, and found himself under the surface tangled in the kelp stems. These land otters were becoming his spirits.
On the journey from the point, they crossed a large bay back to the island the man lived on. It took so long that the night was nearly over and the otter men became nervous that the Raven would call and kill them. You see, if a supernatural being was still out on the water when day breaks and the Raven calls, they will die. They made it to shore just before sunrise and the otter men ran into the woods and left the man to drag the canoe up the shore by himself. Which is very hard and he scrapes all of the skin from his forearm doing so, that is how he knows that it is just a skate.
Some people traveling in a canoe saw his shadow there and knew it must be the missing man, and they did not want to lose him to the Kushtaka so they called out, “Hey, hey man, you have already turned into a ground hog.” But the lost man could not see them. They went back to the village and told everyone what they saw and the man’s friend went out to the spot they had told him about and fasted for two days, until the lost man could see him. And the friend said “Come with me, away from the otter people” and he took him back to the village, where they discovered the land otter sinew in his ear. They knew what had happened because his wife had taken to the other man.
They took her down to the beach at low tide and tied her to a rock and let the tide come in and drown her, and they made the entire village watch. Such was the price for infidelity back in those days. Not to mention the witchcraft.
Soon the man recovered, and the otter spirits stayed with him, and he became a great shaman.

Okay to go on click here and thanks for reading!

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