Blue Whale's Lament, First Three Chapters by cchansen

VIEWS: 52 PAGES: 24

More Info
									TURTLE ISLAND ADVENTURES BOOK ONE



 Blue Whale’s
   Lament

          By Clark Hansen
                                                                                     Contents
                     For Eleanor
                                                                               Part One
                                                                       Shadow of the Thunderbird
                                                            CHAPTER   1 ................................................................1
       Turtle Island Adventures Book One                    CHAPTER   2 ..............................................................12
                                                            CHAPTER   3 ..............................................................24
                Blue Whale’s Lament
                                                            CHAPTER   4 ..............................................................42
                                                            CHAPTER   5 ..............................................................59
                                                            CHAPTER   6 ..............................................................75

     Published by Muses in the Air Books
           281 East Pentagon Street                                                  Part Two
      Altadena, California 91001, U.S.A.                                            Golden Door
                                                            CHAPTER   7 ..............................................................95
                                                            CHAPTER   8 ............................................................107
                                                            CHAPTER   9 ............................................................117
       Copyright © Clark Hansen 2012
                                                            CHAPTER   10 ..........................................................137
                                                            CHAPTER   11 ..........................................................150
                 All rights reserved                        CHAPTER   12 ..........................................................165
                                                            CHAPTER   13 ..........................................................183
                                                            CHAPTER   14 ..........................................................195



                                                                                  Part Three
                                                                               Hidden Mountain
                                                            CHAPTER    15 ................................................... 223
                Cover Photo by Shulman
                                                            CHAPTER    16 ................................................... 234
“Image of a Blue Whale’s tail fluke with the Santa Barbara
                                                            CHAPTER    17 ................................................... 244
           Channel Islands in the background”
                                                            CHAPTER    18 ................................................... 277
                                                            CHAPTER    19 ................................................... 285
                                                            CHAPTER    20 ................................................... 297
                                                                             Part One

                                                                     Shadow of the Thunderbird

 “Creatures who have traveled with us through the ages are now

     apparently doomed, as their habitat – the old, old habitat of

   humans – falls before the slow-motion explosion of expanding

world economies. If the lad or lass is among us who knows where

the secret heart of this Growth-Monster is hidden, let them please

         tell us where to shoot the arrow that will slow it down.”

                                               — Gary Snyder
                                         The Practice of the Wild
                            CHAPTER 1

San Nicolas
    Suddenly something jolted Hawk into the present. He opened his
eyes and saw the man moving toward him. He exploded out the fire
exit, running as fast as his legs could carry him. Several men pursued
him. He propelled himself forward on instinct, avoiding ankle-twist-
ing rocks and crevices in his path, leaping across fissures, and side-
stepping the spiny plants and cacti that cropped up in front of him.

    His pursuers fell behind. After a few minutes, he heard helicopter
blades whop-whopping through the air above the clouds. The sound
was nearly indistinguishable from his own blood pulsing in his ears.
He tried to increase his lead over the men. If he could keep up this
pace for another three or four minutes, he’d reach an area of gullies
and canyons in the distance. There, he might be able to hide, catch
his breath, and figure out his next move. It was his only chance.

    One of the men behind him, gasping for breath, said, “Let him
run. Where can he go?” to which another man panted, “That’s right
– give him time to ... consider .... the consequences ... of his actions.”
As Hawk kept running, he heard the first man say, “We’ll get a team
together ... smoke him out ... deal with him later.”

    A steady rain began to fall. Hawk heard the chopper blades and
the high-pitched whine of the chopper’s engine for awhile, but then
they faded. His one thought now was to find shelter from the storm.
He kept heading towards a patch of cactus, taller grasses, and shrubs.
Beyond the cactus patches were darker notches in the land he hoped
would fall away into natural depressions and creek beds, and maybe
descend into deeper walled canyons.



Shalawa
    The storm has tossed a lot of debris up on the beach. In addi-
tion to the piles of seaweed and kelp, there are some nice pieces of
driftwood. A girl – almost a woman – collects the driftwood. Other
                        The Blue Whale’s Lament                                                                          Shadow of the Thunderbird 3

people, mostly female, dig in the sand, clamber over rocks, and wade          This moon, the New Leaf Moon, is a time of balance: day and
in the shallows. They’re harvesting clams and mussels and abalone.        night; rain and sun; warm and cool; wind and calm. Today it is calm.
                                                                          There are a few wispy white clouds in the sky, and you can see be-
     The young woman looks up for a moment and gazes at Limuw,            yond the islands. At the Blooming Flower festival, one whole night is
the big island across the channel. She’s been told that she was born      given over to the Dance of the Eligibles: the young men and women
there, near the big shell-making village of Swaxull. She has no memo-     who have completed their training and become People – full-fledged
ries of it. She was brought over to the mainland as a young child.        members of the community. Up in the village, the women are discuss-
Both her parents had died from a strange disease brought by the           ing who will be coming back and which young women would make
malaxshishinish from Coyinashup. The sickness was so unusual that         the best matches with which young men. They’re also talking about
none of the atishwenicks could cure it. Many people died. The young       who they will invite to the feast. Besides the People from the com-
woman has never returned to Limuw.                                        munities associated with Syuxtun, the big city up the coast, people
    As she looks across at the island, she tries to imagine what it       from the islands will come, and people from the south – Awha’i, Sa-
would be like out on the ocean hunting swordfish. Her imagining            aqtik’oy, Muwu and Humaliwo.
turns to worry as she thinks about the safety of her uncles and broth-
ers out there on the wide dark sea. The hunt is not without its dan-
gers. She decides to concentrate on finding big chunks of driftwood        San Nicolas
to bring to their hosts for their fire here in Shalawa. As she walks the
                                                                              His pace had slowed from an all-out gallop to a more measured
beach, she softly sings a song about feasting and dancing and attract-
                                                                          canter. He tried to conserve energy so he could reach the safety of the
ing the attention of a strong young man who will one day be captain
                                                                          canyon-lands before he collapsed. Perspiration was pouring from the
of his own canoe.
                                                                          top of his head and under his arms as steadily as the rain. He hoped
    Soon, she will be sent away to complete her training in the ways      that his worn canvas sneakers would hold together long enough to
of women. She is both afraid and excited. You are not really one of       get him to safety. The wind was blowing in great gusts that nearly
the People until you have received this instruction. The boys have to     knocked him off balance. His heart was pounding. His calves and
do it, too. They learn the ways of men. It is different.                  thighs had begun to ache and his mouth was dry. But he kept run-
                                                                          ning.
    Right now, the older women are back in the village trading gifts
and news and gossip. She and her people come from Kalawashaq,                 Then, out of the corner of his eye he saw a flash that shot a wave
which is back in the foothills, near the river that flows out past Olom-   of instant panic and adrenaline through his system, obliterating the
po. The people from the girl’s village are connected with the people      incipient pain. What was that!? he thought, instinctively veering in
of Shalawa. Many families are tied by marriage, and the men hunt          a direction that might bring the flash back into view again, yet leave
and fish together while the women collect, assemble, and prepare the       him enough distance to flee in another direction if he had to.
things they need for daily life. Their elders stand together at the big
                                                                              There it was again! It seemed to come up out of the earth, then
gatherings where decisions are made and important events celebrated.
                                                                          disappear back into it again. Hawk had never seen anything like it,
That’s one of the things that the women in Shalawa are doing right
                                                                          and because of his hyper-alert state, anything unknown was imme-
now: they’re planning the next full moon festival: the Moon of the
                                                                          diately perceived as a threat. He leapt about two feet in the air and
Blooming Flowers.
                                                                          screamed when he heard a loud noise coming from inside of him.
                        The Blue Whale’s Lament                                                                              Shadow of the Thunderbird 5

    After a second or two he realized it was his new Kitsune, the           apparel. As she rounds the bend in the beach where the creek meets
latest, most powerful hand-held data device. It was ringing with the        the ocean, she notices a large shape. Sometimes sea lions or whales are
sound he had programmed for his house. It must be his mother. He            tossed up on the beach by the Elyewun, the people who live under
started to slow down, preparing to answer it, when he saw the flash          the sea. If it hasn’t been there too long, and can still be used, it will be
again.                                                                      a welcome addition to her morning’s work of collecting driftwood.

    It was reddish, like a flame flaring up and dying down. He                     The closer she gets to the shape, the less recognizable it becomes.
couldn’t stop. He began sprinting toward the nearest stand of cactus.       It seems to be a bundle of something, all wrapped up. There’s no
The closer he could get to the cactus, the more room for maneuver-          strong odor coming from it. She gets as close as she dares and peers at
ing he had, and the closer he would be to shelter. He didn’t know           it. The wrap is animal skin, it looks like otter. She notices something
how much longer he could keep this up. He felt like he was reaching         sticking out of the bundle that chills her blood. She moves a little
the limit of his body’s endurance. He’d gone way past what he was in        closer. Is that a... “Oh my,” she blurts before she knows what she’s do-
condition to do, and was operating on pure adrenaline now.                  ing, “It’s a hand!”

    “Shhringg!”                                                                 Shaking, she cannot stop herself from taking a long stick of drift-
                                                                            wood out of her net to poke the bundle. She jumps back when she
    “Mom?”                                                                  hears a low moan and sees a slight movement. This is enough to send
    “Yes, dear. Are you okay? You sound out of breath.”                     her running down the beach to bring some of her sisters back with
                                                                            her to figure out what to do next.
    “Something’s happened,” Hawk panted.
                                                                                 Several young women and a few younger boys , six or seven years
    “What? I’m worried about you, m’hijo.”                                  old, crowd around the bundle. They are talking all at once: “What
                                                                            kind of skin is that?” “Is that bear skin?” “No, I think it’s otter.” “But
    Suddenly the Kitsune started vibrating with an alert. Someone           it could be a bear skin. You don’t think that a bear atishwi...” “You
was “pinging” it, trying to access its files or pinpoint its location. Why   said that it made a noise? What kind of noise?” “Poke it. Let’s see if it
hadn’t he thought of this? He hung up on his mother, removed the            makes the noise again.” “No, don’t! It could be dangerous.” “It could
data storage chip and shoved it into his pocket. Then he sprinted to        be in pain.” “Didn’t you say you saw a hand?” one of the boys asks.
the edge of a cliff and hurled the Kitsune as hard as he could, tak-        “Was it coming out of a mouth?” At this last question, half the girls
ing off in the opposite direction to put as much distance between           scream and the other half begin to run up the beach, but then stop
him and his treasonous device as possible. His muscles ached and he         themselves. The boys find some pebbles that they can throw at the
gasped for air.                                                             bundle, to see what happens.

                                                                                 Another scream goes up when the bundle turns over, unraveling,
                                                                            and a human figure is revealed. It is covered in a strange material, but
Shalawa
                                                                            has anchum, strings of shell money, around its neck and the remains
    The young woman gathers up her firewood in a large carrying              of a feathered kilt around its waist. It’s eyelids flicker and it’s right
net and heads toward the village, just up the creek. She smiles as she      leg twitches. Then it moans. Fear turns to concern on the part of the
imagines the women of the village joking and laughing while they            young onlookers.
pound acorns, weave baskets and add ornaments to their ceremonial
                         The Blue Whale’s Lament                                                                           Shadow of the Thunderbird 7

    “We’ve got to get help,” the young driftwood collector says. The             At last he turned a bend and saw that, up ahead, the canyon
two boys volunteer to run up to the village. Meanwhile, the remain-          opened into a meadow that sloped down to the sea. As he turned
ing shellfish and driftwood collectors discuss whether or not they            another bend, which obscured the view of the meadow and the ocean,
should do anything now. “That’s very pale skin. Surely this person           he came upon an opening in the cliff wall. He went through, and
must be close to death.” “I’ve heard of skin that pale, but that was         found himself in a large cave.
in the past, before....” “Is it a ghost?” “Maybe – they’re supposed to
be pale white, like that.” “But could you poke it? Mishtoyo said she             Hawk’s lungs heaved with the effort to replenish themselves and
poked it.” “I don’t think it’s a ghost,” says Mishtoyo, the driftwood        his muscles began to relax. With the relaxation came the full experi-
collector. “What if it’s a nunashish?” says another girl. “An evil spirit?   ence of pain, which became so intense that he collapsed. There were
Wouldn’t it be trying to catch us?” The girls all step back a bit.           no visions, no dreams, no imagined conversations with domestic pets.
                                                                             Just darkness. Nothingness. Complete and utter oblivion. It was as
    The boys return with two strong women, who have brought a                though he had ceased to exist. His body continued to take in air and
large net with them. Without hesitation they pick up the body, lay it        his heart continued pumping blood, but his consciousness was absent.
gently in the net, and, placing two carrying poles attached to the net
across their shoulders, lift the body off the ground and start the short
walk back to the village.                                                    Kalawashaq
                                                                                 “Who are you, my young friend, that has traveled all this way in
                                                                             space and time? You, who have broken the barrier of the strongest
San Nicolas
                                                                             enchantment our people have devised and landed among us, we who
    He continued to make his way down the canyon. Several tribu-             have been so dis-served by your kind. Why has this happened?”
tary streams poured into this main channel, and the creek began to
swell. He was tired. Everything throbbed with pain. The plants in the            The alchuklash unwraps the body that had been so well tended by
creek bed were vibrantly green and became more lush and varied the           the women in Shalawa. He inspects their work, notes where they have
deeper the canyon dropped toward the shore. The walls of the canyon          applied the herbs, and regards the state of the being in front of him,
were now several stories above his head. Another quick flash of move-         observing the regular breathing and the pulses in its neck and eyelids.
ment caused Hawk to stumble and lose his balance. Just a squadron                “Your body has arrived, but your mind has yet to arrive,” the
of pelicans flying low down the center of the creek. He caught himself        alchuklash notes. After thinking for a moment, he says, “Our people
before becoming completely submerged in the rushing water. He was            have always been generous to strangers – it is part of the bond we
shaken. Now he slowed to a walk, his ankles aching and his back and          have with Creator, our ancestors, and the Animal People who have
neck muscles stiffening with the cold and the exertion. He thought           given us the chance to look after this land we inhabit.”
he’d better get to higher ground in case the increasing rainfall caused
a flash flood. A path seemed to lead to a ledge about 15-20 feet above             The alchuklash begins to hum, exploring the tones to find the
the canyon floor, and he followed this ledge, sometimes ducking to            right frequency for the work he is about to begin. But then he stops.
avoid rock outcroppings overhead, sometimes scrambling over boul-            He hears something. Not far away, a hawk is keening. This is some-
ders or clinging to rock faces when the path disappeared.                    thing to pay attention to. The medicine man is alert and wary. He
                                                                             walks outside and searches for the keening hawk. He finds it, circling
                        The Blue Whale’s Lament                                                                           Shadow of the Thunderbird 9

above the ridge behind his house. Perhaps it is calling it’s young and    in a way that is different from the threat we were escaping. But it is
seeking sustenance at the same time, he thinks.                           best not to speak of that.”

    The old man is preoccupied now. He takes a few deep breaths, to           The botanical physician begins smearing the paste he had made
bring his awareness into balance. He faces each of the six directions     on all the body’s joints. It lets out a deep sigh, progressing into a more
– north, south, east, west, above, and below – chanting a gratitude       profound state of relaxation and healing. As he rubs the paste, the old
formula in a low voice, barely pronouncing the words. Then he             man finishes unburdening his mind:
stamps the ground in a rhythm to accompany his chant. After a few
moments he stops. He realizes he cannot proceed until he unburdens             “So, you see my young friend, a part of me does not want to
his concerns.                                                             properly welcome you as a stranger. A part of me wants to let you
                                                                          perish and avoid the violation that you represent. But another part of
     He returns to the house, finds a rabbit hide scraped clean of all     me, animated by the good and strong customs of our people, cannot
fur, and dips it in a water basket infused with a cleansing blend of      let you perish without making every effort to help you heal – ” Paus-
aromatic herbs and flowers. As he gently swabs the eyelids, nostrils,      ing for a moment, the man again hears the hawk announcing its chill-
ears, and face of the inert body before him, the alchuklash speaks:       ing presence, this time from a stationary place, most likely one of the
                                                                          tall scrubby pines growing in the ravine that runs down the hillside
    “Our altipatishwi sorcerers poison those we know, whose interests     behind his house.
have strayed too much away from the good of the people and wan-
dered too much in the direction of themselves. Our alseke execute              “I have a question for you,” says the holy man. “Are you a har-
known enemies – people who share our blood through marriage and           binger? Does your appearance signal a transformation for our people?
kinship ties – when they have violated our dignity and respect in one     An emergence from the Shell? Or the end of our world as we know
of the unquestionable ways.”                                              it? That is why I will bring your consciousness into this world to join
                                                                          your body. I want to know what you are doing here. I may regret it, I
    The alchuklash drops the rabbit hide in a basket of clean water       realize.”
and takes up a mortar, filling it with the same herbs and flowers that
had infused the water, and, dripping some of the infused water into           Seeking the sound he requires to connect with the body’s healing
the stone bowl, begins mashing the contents with a smooth grinding        capacity, the alchuklash begins to hum a penetrating, rich tone that
stone.                                                                    comes from the lower part of his being, as if up from the depths of
                                                                          the earth and through his feet. He gradually raises the tone until he
    “No, we would never harm a stranger, until we know whether his        finds a pitch that seems to emanate from the area between the top
presence among us is a benefit or a threat. When a stranger comes          of his abdomen and his heart. He sees that the boy’s body responds
bringing gifts, as you have with your strings of shells, we presume his   to this tone. As the boy’s breath deepens further, a rosy flush spreads
good will.” The alchuklash added several dried berries collected from     from his head down to his toes. Their healing energies now in sync,
bushes growing in the mountains beyond. “The one time that our            the older man begins singing the younger man into consciousness.
welcome of strangers was a mistake, we realized it too late – or almost
too late. That is why we are here in the Now Time, behind the spell           After half an hour, the healer notices that the boy’s eyes are begin-
that puts us in this between-place. We call this place the Shell. Our     ning to flicker. Over the next fifteen minutes or so the young man’s
shamans and doctors and holy men know the Now Time is dangerous           fingers and feet begin to twitch, signaling a connection between
                                                                          dreaming consciousness and body. Now the singer begins to modulate
                         The Blue Whale’s Lament                                                                           Shadow of the Thunderbird 11

his pitch, adding a second, higher tone in rhythmic alternation with        making it easier for the raptor to streak out of the sky with the fatal
the mid-range he’d been using exclusively before. The higher tone           speed of a thunderbolt and snatch its supper, its talons as sharp as a
seems to come from the back of the singer’s throat, and now the boy’s       warrior’s most prized obsidian blade.
facial muscles begin to move. The healing singer continues in this way
for a long time, adding higher or lower tones, which are then accom-
panied by a corresponding physical response on the part of the body
before him.

    As the sun begins to drop low in the sky, and the alchuklash’s
extraordinary stamina wanes, the boy’s eyes flicker and open. He sees
the ancient healer and says, “Are you the ancient swordfish by the fire?
Where am I?”

    “I, the swordfish?” the older man answers, surprised and chuck-
ling at the unexpectedness of the question. “No, I am Kipomo.”
Without knowing how, the boy knows the man’s name means All-
powerful. “However, younger people do not use the names of older
people – perhaps it is the same in your village?”

    “Um, my village? I don’t think so.”

    “You should call me Nono.” The boy thinks Grandfather. “I am
from Kalawashaq, downstream. If I may, could you please tell me
who you are and where it is that you come from?”

    “I’m Alfred Atkins, but everyone calls me Hawk.” His voice was
faint. He was still very weak.

    “Ah, I see. Slo’w’s nephew.”

    “Huh?”

    “In our stories, Hawk is the nephew of Eagle.”

  “Oh. Well, I’m from.... I really don’t know where I’m from...”
Hawk trails off as he notices the older man’s eyes turn heavenward.

    For the third time today, Nono hears the hawk, now on the wing,
scanning the hillsides for quarry in the fading light, its insistent wail
echoing off canyon walls. It is a sound that stuns its prey with fear,
                                                                                                                        Shadow of the Thunderbird 13

                            CHAPTER 2                                         Not even the sound of Ralph stomping through the house could
                                                                          affect the sense of serenity that she felt.
Santa Clarita
    Maria sat at her kitchen table with a cup of coffee, staring out at
the hill behind her house. On the other side of the hill was another      Mishtoyo
housing development. And another. And another, as far as the eye              Ever since they brought the young man’s body back to Kala-
could see. After several days of the most intense anguish that Maria      washaq, Mishtoyo has wanted to find out about him. Did he die? Was
had ever experienced, she felt at peace this morning. She could hear      he going to get better? Where did he come from? What was going to
Ralph at the other end of the house on the phone, angry, cajoling,        happen to him? Two of Mishtoyo’s Sunset Lodge brothers – Tukem
defensive, and scared, though he’d never admit it.                        and Yuxnuc – had been selected to carry the body back into the
                                                                          foothills from the coast. They are the ones who told her the body was
    Ralph had been suspended from the project he’d been working           male.
on. As Maria understood it, their son, Alfred, had destroyed some
equipment related to the project. Alfred had then somehow escaped            Like Mishtoyo, Tukem and Yuxnuc are allowed to know where
the military authorities. No one knew where he’d gone, but he was         Nono’s medicine house is located. All three are Nono’s apprentices,
presumed dead. Ralph had been contacting everyone he knew, trying         and they are learning the secret ways, the part of the world that is
to get help in finding their son’s body. “Sharks have probably gotten      hidden, which most people cannot see or understand. This is what it
him by now,” most of them said. It was a matter of expense. Mount-        means to belong to the Sunset Lodge.
ing the kind of search that was required would cost a lot of money.
Maria figured that since the boy was considered a criminal, after what         Nono has given Yuxnuc and Tukem the task of being responsible
he’d done, no one wanted to spend the money to find his remains.           for Mishtoyo’s safety. Today she has arranged to be accompanied by
                                                                          the two young men to Nono’s medicine house, which is in the moun-
    Maria did not consider her son a criminal. He’d never before done     tains behind the village. She knows that the two young men won’t
anything like what her husband claimed he’d done. Maria had rarely        admit it, but they are curious, too, about the body Mishtoyo found.
seen Alfred angry. She’d never seen him hurt a fly. It didn’t make
sense. Maria asked Ralph what had made Alfred angry, but the ques-            “Why have you called us here, Itsis?” Yuxnuc demands, trying
tion made Ralph angry, and Maria never got an answer. Ralph only          to sound stern, but unsuccessfully hiding an impish grin. Tukem, in
sputtered something like, “Kids these days,” or “All those computer       contrast, stands by impassively, scanning the surroundings. He rarely
games put ideas in their heads.” This was very unsatisfactory. When       speaks to Mishtoyo.
she pressed Ralph to give her more details, he turned on her, accus-
                                                                              “I had a dream, Pepets, about the body that I found.” They call
ing her of raising a delinquent and a miscreant; this caused Maria to
                                                                          each other Itsis – Little Sister – or Pepets, Big Brother. Proper names
burst into tears, infuriated that Ralph heaped all the blame on her,
                                                                          are not used.
which was quickly followed by grief over never being able to see her
son again.                                                                    “What did the dream tell you, Itsis?” Yuxnuc thinks he hears his
                                                                          brother grunt disapprovingly.
    This morning was different.
                          The Blue Whale’s Lament                                                                         Shadow of the Thunderbird 15

    For Tukem, the thoughts of young women are like those tiny blue           “I don’t want to say Santa Clarita,” the boy offers, “even though
ayatulutul – butterflies that dart swiftly from flower to flower in a        that’s where my parents live now. Maybe Michigan.”
field, never landing for more than an eye blink, then finding another
of their kind, spiraling up into the sky together, and getting lost in       “Michigan, you say? The big lake in Ojibwe country? I know an
the clouds.                                                               Anishinabe man from that part of the world. I admire your birchbark
                                                                          canoes.”
       “Thunderbird was in my dreams,” says Mishtoyo.
                                                                                 “I’ve never been in a canoe until the other day. Wait – what day is
       “What else was in your dream, Itsis?”                              it?”

       “You know I can’t tell you. Nono is the one we tell our dreams         “Never been in a canoe? Then perhaps you are not Anishinabe.
to.”                                                                      You don’t dress like they do... What day? Seven suns until the Bloom-
                                                                          ing Flower Moon.”
    “Then we will take you to him, as our grandfather has asked us to
do,” Tukem says, addressing her for the first time. He hopes to bring         “I understand your words, but I don’t know what they mean. Do
an end to this pointless chatter.                                         you have some water?”

                                                                              “Here, my young nephew. Drink and rest. You have traveled a
                                                                          long way.”
Kalawashaq
       “Don’t know where you’re from?” asked Nono.

     Hawk remembered something. His parents had been fighting a            San Nicolas
lot lately. He thought it might have something to do with the fact            He lay on the floor of the cave for many hours. Outside, the
that the family had recently moved from Michigan to a brand new           storm gathered strength, and the stream became a raging torrent,
subdivision in Southern California. This one had sprung up out of         slowly rising. At last, as the sun behind the clouds slipped into its
the desert and bore the name of a Spanish saint. Hawk’s father com-       own nightly oblivion, Hawk began to stir. His consciousness slowly
plained about the heat, but liked the way the tract had been laid out:    re-entered his body, recognizing at first only that he was alive, then
houses on terraced hillsides, national franchises at every major inter-   gradually becoming aware of his feet and fingers and shoulders and
section, all roads leading to the major highway. His mother said she      thighs and aching calf muscles and scratches and bruises covering his
felt at home in the arid landscape, but complained that everything        body. And hunger. A powerful hunger. And weakness. And a serious
was too much the same: “there’s just two of everything,” she protest-     chill, both in his body and in the air. His clothes were damp. He was
ed, “and it all comes from somewhere else.”                               shivering.

       “And that’s a problem because?” his father would sneer.               Then it came back to him: the island, the military, the experi-
                                                                          ment, the whale, the outrage, the destruction and his escape. The
       “We’ve moved around a lot,” Hawk explains to Nono.                 question that formed itself in every fiber of his being was: what do I
       “Perhaps you will remember later,” the older man soothes.          do now?
                        The Blue Whale’s Lament                                                                           Shadow of the Thunderbird 17

    He looked around. The cave was dark. He moved closer to the            he’d seen by the shore. He scrambled over boulders to avoid places
opening, where he could see his surroundings better. Though the            where the current was too swift or the path had washed out. It took
clouds were heavy, and the rain was falling in sheets, there was still     him longer than he’d anticipated to reach the canoe and, by the time
some fading gray daylight outside. There also seemed to be a break         he reached it, a new, darker, more ominous storm cell had moved in
in the clouds, a patch of blue headed toward the island from some-         and slowly at first, then with gathering force, unloaded a torrent of
where on the horizon. That was when he spotted a canoe down on             water onto this desolate rock in the middle of the ocean.
the beach, about a quarter of a mile away. As soon as the break in the
clouds came, and the rain stopped, he would head down and check                 As he walked out to the beach, Hawk felt vulnerable, afraid some-
it out. Maybe there were some fishermen around and they could give          one might see him. He sneezed and coughed, his body overcome with
him a lift off of the island. And if not? Well, then, maybe he could....   chills. When he got to the canoe, he crawled under a pile of animal
But that was crazy. What was he going to do? Where was he going to         skins. The sun had surely set by now. Hawk could no longer move or
go?                                                                        think. He was overcome with dizziness and fatigue. He just wanted to
                                                                           lie down and sleep.
     He got up. Slowly, gingerly, extending his arms and legs and
spine in a stretch, like a dog or a cat after a long nap. The stretch,
he found, did nothing. He was still aching, cold, and wet. What was        Mishtoyo
that bundle in the corner? Something covered in animal hide. Hawk
un-looped the leather cords that held the hide together and carefully          Nono greets them when they arrive. When he discovers why they
unfolded the bundle. Inside were stone carvings: one looked like a         have come, he offers Yuxnuc and Tukem some food and drink and
fish or shark; another was a pipe in the shape of a person lying on his     asks them to stand watch in front of the medicine house. Then he
back – his belly was the pipe’s bowl. The bundle held polished stones,     leads Mishtoyo down a path through oak trees and greens. They pull
six long feathers, three little baskets with colored powder in them –      a few leaves of miner’s lettuce and nibble on them as they walk.
white, black, and red – several strands of purple shells strung on some
                                                                               Soon they come to the river, which is running full at the end
kind of twine, and finally some lozenges made of what looked like
                                                                           of the rainy season. They take a seat on a large flat rock that sits 10
plant materials.
                                                                           feet above the water. This is where Nono hears dreams. He once told
    Without thinking, Hawk used his index finger to carefully smear         Mishtoyo that the sound of the water helps us to flow into the world
the powder from the baskets across his forehead, under his eyes, down      of the dream.
his nose and cheeks, across his chest and down his arms and legs. He
                                                                               “So, tsitsi, you have been visited by a dream.” Tsitsi is an affec-
looped the purple shell strands around his neck, put one of the herbal
                                                                           tionate way to say “my child.”
lozenges in his mouth, and tucked the feathers into the waist of his
soaked jeans. Then he draped the animal hide over his shoulders and            “Yes, Nono.”
jammed the stones and carvings into his pockets, where his Kitsune
chip and his great-grandmother’s obsidian “Apace tear” good luck               “How did it begin?”
charm already resided. He hoped the charm would do its work.
                                                                               “There was Thunder. It had the form of a giant bird, blackening
    By now the fading blue patch of sky had drifted overhead, and          the sky. It was loud, Nono.”
during the break in the weather, he made his way down to the boat
                                                                               “Were you afraid?”
                         The Blue Whale’s Lament                                                                         Shadow of the Thunderbird 19

    “Yes, I was.”                                                               Mishtoyo’s eyes open wide, and she tells Nono excitedly, “Xelex
                                                                             was in my dream!”
    “Go on.”
                                                                                 Nono gazes at her intently, as if trying to divine the hidden
   “It was carrying something in its talons. When I looked closer, I         corners of her thoughts. “Are you sure?” he asks very quietly, as if
saw it was a human figure.”                                                   speaking with any more volume would cause Mishtoyo to change her
    “Human?”                                                                 mind.

    “Yes, and when I looked closer, I could see it was the young man             “Yes, Nono! After the boy went into the sweat lodge the wrong
that I found on the beach in Shalawa.”                                       way he was told by the Old Elyewun to back out and come around
                                                                             the right way through the other entrance. When he came back in, he
    Nono’s eyebrows raised, but he said nothing.                             was Xelex, a Hawk Man.”

    Mishtoyo closed her eyes and went into the dream. “Thunderbird               Nono and Mishtoyo were silent. They watch the river flow past
was angry. He flew higher and higher. And when he reached the door            them, its waters speaking with the voices of a thousand beings –
to Alapay, where the Sky People live, he let go of the boy, intending        plants, creatures with beating hearts, ancestors, rocks, and powers
to smash him on a rock and eat his brains.” Mishtoyo shivered at the         unseen.
memory. “But instead, the boy landed in an eagle’s nest. Slo’w the
Eagle came by after a while and took the boy on his back. They flew              “Is there more?” Nono asks gently, after a time.
in circles, gently, floating back down to our world. But there was no             “Yes,” replies Mishtoyo, returning from a place deeper than the
place to land. Everything was covered by water. Slo’w searched and           dream. “First Xelex makes a fire for the Old One from an ember he
searched. He was getting tired of flying. Finally, Paxat the Whale sur-       has stolen from the Sky People – that’s why Thunder was so mad. But
faced and Slo’w asked if he could place the boy on Paxat’s back. Paxat       then the other Elyewun come back from their whale hunt and they
said he could. Slo’w gave the boy some feathers from his tail, then          capture Xelex and tie him up from the rafters. He calls Shnilemun in
set him down. But Paxat dove underwater as soon as the boy landed,           a special language.”
and kept going until he reached the land of the Swordfish People, the
Elyewun.                                                                        “And does he come?”

     “Paxat told the boy, ‘You must get off here, but many years from            “Yes. In the dream he had the form of a man, but his head be-
now you will find my bones on the beach. Bring them to your people            longed to Coyote.”
to use as doorways for your dead, so they can cross from this world
to the next.’ The boy slid off Paxat’s back and entered the Elyewun’s           “And then what happened?”
sweat lodge through the wrong door, because he didn’t know any bet-             “What always happens: Coyote fools the swordfish people, and
ter.”                                                                        suddenly he and Xelex are on the shore.”
    Both Nono and Mishtoyo hear the keening of a hawk. They look                “Is that the end, tsitsi?”
up to see it circling lazily over a meadow on the other side of the river.
The distant mountains are topped with snow after the recent rains,
and wisps of cloud stream up to the rising sun.
                        The Blue Whale’s Lament                                                                         Shadow of the Thunderbird 21

    “Almost. Xelex thanks Coyote and lifts off into the sky. The next      the pit outside, sometimes not. Mostly he dreams – sometimes vivid,
part is hard to explain. Do you know how sometimes you can gaze            terrifying dreams where he relives the trauma he has just experienced
into a pool of still water and see yourself?”                              but does not understand; other times tranquil dreams in which he
                                                                           seems to be visited by strange and unusual shapes, colors, and char-
    “Yes.”                                                                 acters. During the periods when he is awake, he and Nono converse,
     “In the dream, when Xelex flies up to the sky, he comes to a place     but their conversations make little sense to either of them. Nono
filled with pools of still water. They are all around him, closing in,      nourishes him with gruel and herbal infusions.
making a circle trying to trap him. He flies a little higher, and then in       “What is this?” Hawk asks one day, scooping another handful of
each of the pools you can see a hawk. They burst out of the pools and      gruel out of an attractive woven basket adorned with dark geometric
go after Xelex. As they fly higher and higher, chasing him, their feath-    designs.
ers lose their pattern and become black. They have become a flock of
ravens and they want to eat him.”                                             “Ixpanesh – acorn porridge.”

    “Go on, tsitsi.”                                                          “I’ve never had it before.”

    “When he flies high enough, Xelex can see the whole world: the              “Sometimes it is good to eat new things. I remember eating the
turtle’s shell, the entwined serpents that hold it up, and everything      most delicious manomin, as my Anishinabe friend called it – dark
that lives on it.”                                                         wild grain – cooked in deer broth with a hint of maple sugar. Such a
                                                                           rich, dark taste – like the heavily forested waterways where it grows.
    “Remarkable, tsitsi.”                                                  My friend told us how you harvest manomin in your birchbark ca-
    “The ravens chasing Xelex think themselves so clever: they begin       noes...”
defecating. They cover the whole world with their feces, so Xelex flies        “Not me,” Hawk says matter-of-factly.
below them and tries to catch their droppings on his wings before
they reach the ground.”                                                        “Are your people horse riders, then?” Nono asks, puzzled about
                                                                           Hawk’s identity. He questions the boy in a calm and relaxed manner,
    “Why does he do that, Mishtoyo?” asks Nono, using her name for         but he is anxious to learn more about him. His apprehension grows
the first time.                                                             with each passing hour as the mystery of the boy’s appearance in the
    “Because if he doesn’t, the world will disappear. It will be covered   Shell grows deeper.
in dung. That is how the dream ended, Nono. I don’t know if Xelex             “Nope.”
was successful.”
                                                                              “Where were you before you came here?”

                                                                              “St. Nick Island,” Hawk replies.
Kalawashaq
    Nono spends the next few days by Hawk’s side, nursing him back            “Perhaps we have a different name for the island. Do you know
to health. The boy suffers fevers and sweats. He’s nauseated and de-       where it is?”
hydrated. He vomits and empties his bowels, sometimes making it to
                          The Blue Whale’s Lament                                                                           Shadow of the Thunderbird 23

     “I don’t even know where I am now. I can tell you that Captain            some time. But that is just a feeling, and Nono doesn’t know whether
Brown said it was due south, if that’s any help. The most remote               to trust it. He is resistant.
island in the Channel, he said.”
                                                                                   The boy’s words are stirring recollections, he’s getting close to
     “I see. Perhaps this is the one we call Xalashat. Is that name famil-     piecing elements of the dynamic together, as when you twine grasses
iar to you?”                                                                   dyed different colors together to make a patterned basket, or when
                                                                               you attach an arrowhead to a feathered shaft. Much as he would like
    “No, but it’s where I found – hey, where are my pukka shell neck-          to continue their unusual conversation, Nono senses that if he lets the
laces and feathers and stuff? And my Converse!”                                boy go on, he risks losing him to fever and exhaustion.
    “I have the feathers and shells, and I do not know what – con-                  For his part, Hawk feels a wave of fear wash over him. He has
verse, did you say? Did you mean conversation? Or did you mean                 remembered St. Nick Island and Captain Brown. There’s something
‘opposite’ or ‘other side?’”                                                   he’s not remembering, lurking in the back of his consciousness, like a
    “No! They were on my feet. It’s a kind of shoe. You’re not wearing         monster behind a black iron door. He cannot see it or touch it, but he
any.”                                                                          knows it is terrifying and serious. The blood begins to drain from his
                                                                               face and extremities and he begins to shake.
    “Oh, like a moccasin.”
                                                                                   Nono begins a soothing chant, using the secret words of the
    “Sort of, but....”                                                         alchuklash, and when the energy in his hands is sufficiently charged
                                                                               through the chanting and the stomping of the earth, he begins to
    “The shell necklaces you brought were a very generous gift. I ac-          sweep them over Hawk’s body, letting the energy from the earth
cepted them in exchange for bringing you back from Shimilaqsha – ”             rhythm and singing come up through his legs and out his hands,
                                                                               calming the boy’s agitated aura. Hawk’s eyes close, his muscles relax
    “So it was you that brought me here?”
                                                                               and he begins to breathe heavily.
   Nono smiles. “Only in a manner of speaking. Shimilaqsha is
                                                                                    After a few more minutes, Nono feels exhaustion welling up from
where the souls of the dead live.”
                                                                               the deep places in his own body, and he ceases chanting, stomping,
    After giving the basket of ixpanesh back to Nono, and taking a             and sweeping. After making sure that everything is in its place, he
final sip of the cool herb tea, Hawk says, “This is fun. Somehow we’re          lies down on a woven grass pallet opposite from where Hawk lies,
speaking the same language, but there are words that don’t make any            at the eastern end of the medicine house, where the sun’s rays will
sense.”                                                                        strike first, come morning. Soon the two men, old and young, are fast
                                                                               asleep.
    “Yes, I noticed that, too.” There are many other things that the
wise healer has noticed. There is an energy coming from the boy –
how to describe it? The connection between the older man and the
younger man is easy, dynamic, and luminous. There is a feeling of
familiarity and inevitability, as if ... as if – the alchuklash cannot fully
form the thought. It is as if the two are linked – have been linked for
                                                                                                                         Shadow of the Thunderbird 25

                           CHAPTER 3                                          “Nono?”

                                                                              “Yes, tsitsi?”
Pacific Ocean
     Hawk was flying to a remote island in the Pacific. The shadow              “Have you talked to the boy?”
of the plane skimmed across the whitecaps, but far below, beneath             “Yes.”
the waves, a blue whale was singing the world into existence. Or at
least that’s what he had dreamed. Had he also dreamed that his dying          “What is he like?”
cat, Lancelot, had spoken to him? Last night, the cat had clawed his
way clumsily onto the bed and said, with great effort, “Goodbye, old          “What is he like? That seems an odd question, tsitsi.”
friend. I will breathe my last while you are gone. I hope that we shall
                                                                              “Is it wrong to ask?” Mishtoyo does not want to offend. She finds
meet again. Somehow, I know that we will.”
                                                                          that often her curiosity is not well-received by her elders.
   What was real and what was a dream?
                                                                              Suddenly a hummingbird darts in front of her, hovering abso-
    Lancelot had wandered into his family’s life the way that cats of-    lutely motionless for a split second, tilting its head and looking into
ten do: soon after Hawk was born, this stray kitten – gray with black     Mishtoyo’s eyes. She is startled at first, then feels like laughing.
dots, intense green eyes, and blackened paws and tail-tip – began
                                                                              Nono is not amused. Trying to keep his temper, he growls, “This
showing up in the backyard, yowling mournfully at the back door.
                                                                          is not the time or place for you, Talawiyashwit. You cannot do what I
Hawk’s mom fed scraps to the kitten, gave him the name Ocelot, and
                                                                          asked you to do if you are here. Off with you!”
soon was inviting him in. It didn’t take long before she found the
kitten curled up in Hawk’s crib. He had slept at the foot of Hawk’s           Mishtoyo laughs that Nono has called a hummingbird by her
bed ever since. Hawk’s dad changed his name to Lancelot, “because it      brother Yuxnuc’s secret personal name. It means one who can be in
sounds better.”                                                           two places at once. But then she sees that Nono is not making a joke.
                                                                          The hummingbird darts off in an instant, and Mishtoyo watches
     For Hawk, this modification, as his father had called it, was typi-
                                                                          Nono’s face change as rapidly as when a storm comes off the ocean
cal. His mother’s name for the cat described his looks: ocelote meant
                                                                          – the emotions roll and change like clouds pressed forward by Thun-
small jaguar in an old language, she had explained. Lancelot was a
                                                                          derbird.
character out of a medieval romance, and had nothing to do with the
cat or his personality.

   Hawk’s parents had never gotten along particularly well.               San Nicolas
                                                                              The skies continued to squeeze their swollen rain pouches onto
                                                                          the earth below. There was nothing but darkness, the sound of rain,
Mishtoyo                                                                  and the crashing of waves on the shore. The tide rose, creeping closer
    Nono and Mishtoyo fall quiet again. Brightly colored birds dart       and closer to the canoe. The boy inside was oblivious to the water’s
across open spaces, catching the sunlight on their backs as beams         stealthy advance. His chills had intensified, but he felt snug under the
break through the rapidly thinning fog.                                   skins. Soon the sea was lapping at the base of the canoe, and after a
                         The Blue Whale’s Lament                                                                          Shadow of the Thunderbird 27

time it gently and tenderly lifted the vessel off its place on the sand,       And then lightning and thunder began to strike continuously,
floating it on the tide, out to sea, farther and farther from shore.        like the finale at a giant fireworks show. Flash after flash followed by
                                                                           boom after boom. Something was coming toward him. It came from
    Once the craft got beyond the relative safety of the little inlet      the sky. It was a looming, immense presence, darker than shadows.
where it had been beached, the tempest toyed with it, lifting it high      It descended swiftly, grasping his body with a strong and ferocious
on a wave and letting it slide into a trough. The cresting and falling     clench, lifting him out of the water and ascending so rapidly that his
game became more violent as the boat was drawn further and further         pounding blood could not keep up. The dark shadow overwhelmed
out to sea.                                                                him with its blackness, and the darkness swallowed him into a place
    Now Hawk’s chills turned to fever, and he was burning up. He           where no consciousness could penetrate.
tossed off the blankets, and was immediately splashed by an ominous
wave reaching over the bow of the canoe, letting him know that the
stakes in the game had changed. He dove back under the blankets,           Kalawashaq
but in his addled state he threw off the covers again and rubbed his           Nono is troubled. Forces are moving that he has not seen be-
eyes. Where was he? What was going on? And then it hit him, as             fore. It isn’t just the appearance of the hummingbird, which actually
hard as the next wave crashing over the bow: he’d destroyed govern-        pleases as much as it annoys him. And it isn’t just the appearance of
ment property, angered his father beyond any limit he’d ever crossed,      this stranger on their shores – before the retreat into the Shell, the ap-
he’d fled, he’d gotten sick, he’d crawled into a canoe, and now he was      pearance of strangers had been a normal part of life.
being tossed by a storm in the middle of the ocean in the middle of
nowhere. Then a jagged arc of electricity snaked out of a cloud with           No. Mishtoyo has a gift. She is a prophetic dreamer. On several
a crackling hiss and speared the waters with a deafening boom. And         occasions, her dreams have foretold flood and earthquake and even
then it happened again. And again. Lightning struck violently all          the arrival of jealous and hostile visitors from inland.
around him. And the seas were becoming more furious, too. The boat
began rocking savagely up and down, from side to side, and with the            In Mishtoyo’s dream, Slo’w offers feathers and Paxat offers his
next thunderclap, a wave broadsided the canoe with such a wallop           bones. And Shnilemun? This is not just the fickle Coyote of bedtime
that Hawk was tossed several feet in the air before landing back in the    stories. Shnilemun is a counselor of deep wisdom and transformation.
protective bosom of the vessel, only to have it “turtle” or turn upside-   But he cannot help Xelex at the end.
down on him. He tried to cling to it, but a wave running counter to
                                                                               “What is he like?” repeats Nono. “You may ask any question of
the one that had just overturned the boat wrenched him away from
                                                                           me you wish, tsitsi. I said the question was odd because it seemed as if
it with such force that he completely lost his hold on it. And in the
                                                                           there was more to your question than idle curiosity.”
dark, with no moon and no city lights to illuminate the scene, Hawk
and the boat drifted rapidly, terrifyingly apart.                              “Why did you get angry at the hummingbird, Nono?” Mishtoyo
                                                                           asks, quickly changing the subject.
     Lightning flashed again, followed by a horrendous thunderclap.
Hawk saw the boat, about 20 feet away. He clawed at the waves with             “No longer interested in the boy?” asks Nono, the trace of a smile
all his might in the direction he’d just seen the boat. Lightning flashed   flickering at the edges of his mouth. Mishtoyo stares at him, expec-
again, this time closer. He felt a jolt throughout his body. He did not    tantly. He is silent for a moment, deliberating. Finally he speaks:
see the canoe.
                        The Blue Whale’s Lament                                                                         Shadow of the Thunderbird 29

“Yuxnuc and Tukem are learning to cast their consciousness into the          Mishtoyo draws in her breath in amazement and stares at Nono
bodies of their skaluksh.”                                               for several seconds. “Like in the dream?” she asks in a very small
                                                                         voice.
    “Of course! Those are their animal spirit names.” exclaims Mish-
toyo. “Hummingbird – ”                                                       “Like in the dream,” Nono replies.

    “And Mountain Lion. That’s right, my child. This is actually the
first time that either one of them has been successful.”
                                                                         Pacific Ocean
   “But why were you angry?”
                                                                            “So, what do you think about this old plane, son?” The pilot was
    “Because I had asked Yuxnuc and Tukem to stand guard over the        shouting at him above the roar of the engines. “Kinda loud, isn’t it?
boy. When Yuxnuc inhabited the hummingbird, he could not protect         That would be the Pratt-Shi – I mean, the Pratt-Whitneys.”
the boy.”
                                                                             Hawk’s father was sitting in the co-pilot’s seat, his nose buried in
   “Why not?”                                                            some kind of technical manual. Ralph gave Hawk a tense smile and
                                                                         said to the pilot, “What’s going on, Brown?”
    “Because when a person shoots the arrow of his mind into anoth-
er being, his own body becomes that of a sleepwalker – he does not           “Just familiarizing your boy here with the aircraft. By the way, we
have much control.”                                                      haven’t been properly introduced: I’m Captain Charles N. Brown, US
                                                                         Navy.” The pilot stuck his right hand out in the direction of the jump
   “So Tukem has not cast his mind into a mountain lion yet?”            seat behind him, where Hawk was sitting.

    “No, but we knew it would be like that. Hummingbirds are                 “His name’s Alfred,” Ralph said with an edge to his voice.
everywhere. It’s easy for Yuxnuc to practice. It’s harder with a moun-
tain lion. And more dangerous. Let’s return to the medicine house.           “But everybody calls me Hawk,” said the boy defiantly, shaking
We can have something to eat. Perhaps the boy is awake. You seem         the pilot’s hand.
interested in talking to him.”
                                                                              “Not everybody,” his father grumbled. “I wish you wouldn’t use
    “It wouldn’t tire him, would it?” asks Mishtoyo, trying to conceal   that name.” This script was followed every time Hawk was intro-
her excitement at finally meeting the stranger she discovered on the      duced. Due to a clerical error one year at Hawk’s elementary school in
beach.                                                                   Ann Arbor, Hawk’s last name had been listed as “Hawkins” instead of
                                                                         Atkins. His friends had taken to calling him “Hawkins” at recess, and
    “I don’t think it will harm him. But be prepared,” warns Nono, as    inevitably it was shortened to Hawk, which Hawk preferred to his
they make their way up the path. “He says some unusual things.”          real name.

   “Like what?”                                                              “Well, pleased to meet you, Hawk,” the pilot said, winking at the
                                                                         boy. “This is a Convair CV-440, son. A real workhorse. Not the most
   “He says his name is Hawk, for one.”                                  exciting plane I’ve ever flown, but certainly one of the most reliable.
                                                                         Sounds like thunder when they’re rigged for transport, like this one.
                        The Blue Whale’s Lament                                                                           Shadow of the Thunderbird 31

But I’m told it was one of the quietest passenger planes in the Fifties,        “Wait here a moment, tsitsi,” Nono says to Mishtoyo. “I roasted
back when these puppies were the cat’s meow...”                             some cacomites this morning, and there is some fresh water from the
                                                                            spring up the hill.”
    Ralph went back to his manual with a grunt.
                                                                                 Mishtoyo found the outdoor fire pit next to an area that had been
    Hawk wondered why the Navy was still using such old planes,             cleared and flattened. Woven mats were spread next to the pit, and
and what was the most exciting plane Capt. Brown had flown, but              a basket half-filled with roasted iris bulbs and wild onions was on
he’d learned in his short time on this earth that his father considered     one of the mats. It was a beautiful morning, and it was going to be a
the asking of questions a sign of ignorance, if not weakness, so he         beautiful day. Looking in the direction of the sun, Mishtoyo thought
kept quiet. He looked out the window and held the good luck charm           she could hear the calls of a thousand different birds in the surround-
his mother had given him – an obsidian “Apache tear” amulet that            ing oaks and hillsides. There was the insistent alarm of the flicker, the
had once belonged to his great grandmother. As he settled back into         trill of the song sparrow, the spinning whistle of the towhee, the chat-
the engine’s drone, he was reminded of the intensity of Lancelot’s          tering of kinglets and – was that the wail of a hawk? “He doesn’t stray
purring as he’d gotten progressively weaker. He felt a great sadness        far from his ward,” Mishtoyo thinks.
wash over him. Tears sprang to his eyes, and he turned away so that
neither his father nor Capt. Brown could see him crying.                        Meanwhile, Nono has gone inside the hut and asked Yuxnuc to
                                                                            step outside with him. They join Tukem on the lookout rock behind
    Though the skies were clear, a dark wall of fog loomed on the           the house.
horizon. They had passed a bunch of islands right after they took off,
and now Hawk could see a few more off to the left.                            “How did you know it was me?” asks Yuxnuc, trying to deflect
                                                                            Nono’s anger.
     “That’s Catalina,” Capt. Brown pointed out, “looking like a cat
on its haunches. And that’s the Peninsula,” he said, indicating an             “That does not matter,” Nono replies. “There is a time for casting
island-like mountain connected to the wide sweep of a bay off to their      your mind and there is a time to do what your grandfather has asked
far left. “And that’s San Nicolas,” he said, pointing with his head at a    you to do.”
speck on the horizon. “Due southwest, dead-ahead.”
                                                                                “But, Nono, that is how I was doing what you asked me to do.”

                                                                                “And how is that?”
Kalawashaq
                                                                                “As a hummingbird, I could fly very rapidly over a very wide
    When they return to the medicine house, Tukem is outside,               space, even into the crevices and ravines that Tukem couldn’t see –
crouched on a ledge above the house where he can see all of the pos-        places that might have concealed scouts and spies.”
sible approaches to it. He has seen Nono and Mishtoyo walking up
from the river for a while, noting that the girl, as usual, spends energy       “That is true,” says Nono, trying to hide his pleasure at this expla-
on talking and not being aware of her surroundings. When the pair           nation.
arrive at the house, Nono acknowledges Tukem with a nod and a
question in his eyes. Tukem indicates with his head that Yuxnuc is             “And my body was still there, in front of the house. So if anyone
inside.                                                                     was observing, they would have thought that Tukem was not alone.”
                        The Blue Whale’s Lament                                                                       Shadow of the Thunderbird 33

   “But if he had been taken by surprise?”                               San Nicolas

    “But he couldn’t be, because I was able to see everywhere. To the        Hawk watched the island come into view, the arrow of the run-
eyes of a hummingbird, the entire world is slowed almost to stillness.   way growing until, before they knew it, they were touching down.
And do you know what else?”                                              The wheels squealed as they hit the tarmac. The engines roared and
                                                                         the brakes groaned and they taxied toward a small structure where
   “What, my son?”                                                       a couple of bored-looking sailors waited to roll the steps up to the
                                                                         plane.
   “I saw two mountain lions. I will be able to help Tukem locate
them so that he has a chance to practice, too.”                              A Jeep was waiting for them after they landed. The driver, an
                                                                         overly-enthusiastic young man with short, curly, blond hair, intro-
   Tukem grunts to show his disapproval. He is jealous that his          duced himself. “Lieutenant Atkins? I’m Petty Officer MC3 Cooper.
younger brother has had the first success at shooting the arrow of his    And this must be your son − ”
mind into its quarry.
                                                                            “Hawk − Alfred,” both Hawk and Ralph said at the same time.
   “How difficult was it to withdraw from the hummingbird’s
mind?” asks Nono.                                                           “My son’s name is Alfred.” Ralph gave Hawk a cold glare.

   “Not difficult. In fact, it was instantaneous. After I saw you             Hawk noticed the petty officer’s dark shoulder patch: a perched
and our little sister, I came back to where I could see my body and      bald eagle, something that looked like the diagram of an atom, and a
thought, ‘It’s time to return.’ And so I did.”                           red chevron.

     “That is good,” says Nono, marveling at the ease with which Yux-        “I’m here to take you to your quarters and get you settled, Lieu-
nuc has made this transformation. It was yet another sign that chang-    tenant.”
es in their world were budding and would soon flower. In the past,
people had had to practice for years. And even then, only a handful          Hawk’s father had been in the Marines, but he was no longer in
of old men and women had ever been successful. “Your little sister is    active service. Hawk had noticed that other military men always used
interested in talking to the boy – ”                                     his rank when addressing him.

   “You’re not going to allow that, are you?” interrupts Tukem.             “How about security clearance?”

    “I have my reasons, ihiy,” Nono says, using a term of affection         “Right here, sir.” Cooper produced a pair of photo identification
that compliments Tukem’s strength and maturity. “I will share them       badges to be worn on lanyards around the neck.
with you when I know more. In the meantime, see if you can cast             “Very good. Shall we?”
into the hummingbird mind again,” he says, addressing Yuxnuc, “and
lead your brother to the mountain lion. Come back when the sun is            MC3 Cooper took Ralph and Hawk’s duffel bags off their shoul-
high to accompany your little sister back to the village.”               ders and tossed them into the back of the Jeep. Hawk climbed into
                                                                         the back seat and Ralph took the front passenger seat. They drove on
                                                                         a narrow paved road away from the landing strip, turning inland. The
                                                                         terrain rolled a bit, but was comparatively flat and treeless. In places
                          The Blue Whale’s Lament                                                                     Shadow of the Thunderbird 35

no vegetation grew, and it was just stubble and rocky outcrops; in      a kind of pink beige. The windows, which were adjacent to each bed
other places there were stands of cactus and mats of grass and yellow   and above the kitchenette sink, were covered with white roll-down
wildflowers tucked in the folds of a gulch.                              shades and a translucent, nylon material in the same pink beige color.
                                                                        Ralph looked in a mirror above the dresser on the wall to the right of
    “We’re headed for Nicktown,” MC3 Cooper yelled over his shoul-      the front door. He took a comb out of his pocket, ran it through his
der to Hawk. The wind was blowing hard.                                 dark hair and, with a quick nod to Hawk, went back outside. Hawk
    “Nicktown?” Hawk yelled back.                                       followed.

    “Cute, isn’t it?” the corporal replied. “Kind of like New York,        MC3 Cooper drove them down the same road they’d come into
New York – Nicktown, St. Nick Island. Only with fewer skyscrapers,”     Nicktown on, but instead of turning back toward the airport, turned
he laughed. “You know, this island is about the same size as Manhat-    west. After a while they came to a complex of buildings which was
tan. We’re 9 miles long and 3.6 miles wide, or about 22.25 square       apparently where Ralph was going to do his work.
miles. Manhattan is about 23 square miles. Gives you something to           “You two go on and have your tour. Bring the boy back at seven-
think about, doesn’t it?”                                               teen hundred hours, Cooper. Got that?”
   Ralph looked up from a manual he’d been reading and stared               “Aye-aye, sir. Will do.”
pointedly at Cooper. “Where are you from, sailor?” he asked, rather
more gruffly than he intended.                                               “And Alfred, you behave yourself. Listen to what MC3 Cooper
                                                                        says. He’s in charge. Comprende?”
    “Maplewood, New Jersey, sir!”
                                                                            “Yes, dad,” Hawk answered, mingling boredom and embarrass-
    “Yes. That explains it,” muttered Ralph, attempting to soften his   ment in the reply. To his combined relief and disappointment, it was
delivery. “You were going to give the boy a tour, is that right?”       as he had suspected: his “spending time with dad” was not to be spent
    “Yes it is, sir.”                                                   with dad, but alone, far from his familiar haunts and activities.

   “I’m wondering if you can save the spiel for Alfred. Do I make
myself clear?”                                                          Kalawashaq
    “Yes, sir. As you wish, sir.”                                           Yuxnuc and Tukem make their way deep into the hills behind
                                                                        the medicine house and disappear from sight. Nono finds Mishtoyo
    MC3 Cooper pulled up in front of a bungalow in a semi-circle        licking her fingers after finishing the last of the cacomites. She takes a
of structures and after they got their bags out of the Jeep, Cooper     long drink from a small stone bowl dipped into a large asphalt-lined
opened the front door and stepped aside so Hawk and his father          basket of spring water. “The cacomites were so tasty!” says the girl,
could enter.                                                            “the bitter and sweet perfectly balanced. Where did you get them,
    Hawk and Ralph each threw their gear on the double beds in          Nono?”
the medium-sized room, which was sparsely furnished. There was            “Near the spring where that water comes from, further up the
a bathroom, which each took turns using, and a small kitchenette,       mountain,” he tells her. “Are you ready to meet Hawk?”
with a sink, stove, refrigerator, cabinets and drawers. The color was
                        The Blue Whale’s Lament                                                                          Shadow of the Thunderbird 37

   “Yes, I am!”                                                               Before Mishtoyo can speak, Nono answers: “Yes, she does. But
                                                                          among our people, only certain among us can know all a person’s
    Nono pulls aside the mat woven with red flicker feathers that          names. I don’t know whether you will have a chance to learn my spiri-
covers the doorway, and Mishtoyo steps through. It is dark and            tual granddaughter’s other names.”
peaceful inside the medicine house. The boy is lying on a mat at the
western end of the house, under a rabbitskin blanket. He starts to get        “Why not?” Hawk asks.
up when he sees her, realizes he is naked and shoots back under the
blanket.                                                                     “When a child is born, she is given a personal name by an al-
                                                                          chuklash – ”
    Nono realizes his mistake – he has noticed that the boy prefers to
wear the tight second-skin clothing he was found in. The items have           “Astronomer or astrologer?”
been rinsed, dried, and sewn back together with finely worked deer             “Yes, one who knows the movement of the stars, and what their
sinew. “Forgive me, son,” Nono says, “I did not warn you that I was       patterns mean. For us, the personal name indicates a child’s destiny,
bringing company. We will step into the other room and give you a         and her connection with the stars. It is a name we almost never use.”
moment to prepare yourself to meet a visitor.”
                                                                              “Why is that?”
    Nono and Mishtoyo go to the other end of the hut, and look
at some reddish-orange cinnabar that Nono has collected to use for           “It has power. In the wrong hands, that power can be used to
dyes and from which he will separate quicksilver for ritual purposes.     harm.” It would be a long time before Hawk learned that one of
Hawk, meanwhile quickly slips his pants and shirt on.                     Mishtoyo’s personal names was Luhui, island woman, which had the
                                                                          additional meanings: Siren, Vixen and Sea Goddess.
    When Hawk is ready, Nono leads Mishtoyo back to the other
side of the space, and says, “Young nephew, I would like you to meet          “What about other names?”
my apprentice and spiritual granddaughter, Mishtoyo. It is she who
found you washed up on the beach. Tsitsi, this is – what did you say         “We are doing too much talking. Mishtoyo wants to ask you
your full name was, son?”                                                 some questions.”

   “Alfred Hernandez Atkins, actually.”                                       “Okay, but first: how did you get the name Rainbow?”

    “I hear those names, but as you say them, I know their meanings           “You really don’t know?” Mishtoyo replies.
too: ally of the first people, bold voyager, son of red earth,” Nono
                                                                              “His people do not have the same customs, tsitsi,” explains Nono.
observes.
                                                                              Looking first at Nono to see if it is okay for her to respond to
    “I’ve never known those things before you just said them, and yet
                                                                          Hawk’s question, Mishtoyo says, “When we start to change from
I know what you say is true. And I understood that Mishtoyo means
                                                                          being children to adults, we are given special training. It includes a
rainbow,” Hawk replies, looking at Mishtoyo and feeling something
                                                                          journey – ”
that he can’t name. In fact, he can’t take his eyes off of her. “Do you
have other names?” he says, addressing Mishtoyo directly.                      “A journey?” Hawk asks, his eyes fixed on this coppery-skinned
                                                                          girl with long dark hair and straight-cut bangs.
                         The Blue Whale’s Lament                                                                         Shadow of the Thunderbird 39

     “We give it many names,” Mishtoyo begins, again looking at                “What is Momoy?”
Nono for approval to speak, which is given. “It’s hard to describe. It
is a journey inside here,” she touched her forehead, “but it’s also a          “A guide.”
journey outside of what you know and what you can see. It is even              “Like a person?”
sometimes thought of as a journey to the stars. Do you dream?”
                                                                               “Yes and no.”
    “Yes, all the time,” Hawk replies, surprised by the question.
                                                                               “What do you mean?”
    “Well, that is how we travel.”
                                                                               After a glance at Nono, and his nod of assent, Mishtoyo says,
    “In dreams?” asks Hawk.                                                “She is an old woman, a widow. She can see into the past and the
    With a glance at Nono, who nods, Mishtoyo explains, “The same          future, and she knows all things.”
person who names us when we are born – ”                                      “Long ago,” Nono adds, “She transformed into a plant. She al-
    “The alchuklash?”                                                      lows us to use one of her roots if we follow certain rules in harvesting
                                                                           them.”
    “Yes. I like the way you said that.”
                                                                               “A root?” asks Hawk, puzzled.
    “I didn’t know I could.”
                                                                               “I think of her as my grandmother,” says Nono.
    “The alchuklash prepares you for this journey. He explains what
may happen, what it might feel like, and what you should concen-               “So,” says Hawk, turning to Mishtoyo and ignoring his incom-
trate on while it is happening. He prepares special food, and takes        prehension, “after you drink the tea, what happens?”
you on walks all around your territory, asking you to concentrate on           “The first thing is that you get dizzy and you start to shake.”
certain rocks, certain streams, certain trees, and certain birds. Then
there is a special feast, where you say farewell to your family and your       “Like when you get a fever?” asks Hawk.
friends, and the alchuklash takes you to his medicine
house – ”                                                                      “Exactly,” Mishtoyo answers. “Then you start to forget this world,
                                                                           but before you are completely gone, the alchuklash tells you to pay
    “Like this one?”                                                       attention to what you see.”
    “In fact, this is the one that I came to, and Nono was my al-              “How long are you – gone?”
chuklash.” Both Hawk and Mishtoyo look over at Nono, who bows
slightly. “So, after the feast, the alchuklash gives you a special drink     “I did not waken until the sun was high in the sky the next day.
before you go to bed.”                                                     Nono sang to me until I had fully returned.”

    “You mean, like a special tea.”                                            “Fully returned?”

    “Yes. This drink contains the essence of Momoy.”
                         The Blue Whale’s Lament                                                                             Shadow of the Thunderbird 41

   “When you open your eyes and see this world, you are still dizzy           where my parents are living now. So I walked across that bridge and
and Momoy is still showing you things from the other world. It takes          visited them.”
a while before those things fade.”
                                                                                  Suddenly there is a strange noise outside the medicine house, like
    “What did you see?”                                                       the warbling of an unearthly bird.

    “Many things,” replies Mishtoyo. “I told them all to Nono.”                   “Forgive me,” says Nono, looking alarmed. “I will be right back.”
Mishtoyo regards this boy, who does not know the rules, but who
intrigues her nonetheless. His hair is tinged with fire, his eyes like a           Hawk looks at Mishtoyo. “So that’s how you got your name. Your
pair of placid mountain lakes. The openness of his expression is ....         sadness is a rainbow that took you to your parents – but I thought
appealing somehow, and as scents and flavors begin to suggest them-            Nono said – ”
selves, she cuts off the flow of her thoughts. “You asked how I got my            “I am not sad,” says Mishtoyo. “Momoy took the sadness away.
name,” she says. “On one part of the journey, I spoke with Thunder            My name makes me happy. Nono says that the rainbow is my power,
and got very upset – ”                                                        and one day I will learn to use it.”
    “Why?” asks Hawk.                                                              Hawk has heard people say they are not sad when they really
    “He told me I would never see my parents again.”                          are. He decides not to keep asking about it. The mention of parents,
                                                                              though, and the fact that Mishtoyo’s parents are gone, makes Hawk
    “Were your parents gone in the dream?”                                    start thinking about his own parents. He has not seen either of them
                                                                              for a while and realizes he misses them. This surprises him, because
    “In the dream and in life,” Mishtoyo says with a tinge of sadness.        he’s pretty sure he doesn’t like his father, and while he likes his moth-
    Nono steps in. “They died from a disease brought by the malax-            er, he realizes he takes her for granted, and doesn’t really know a lot
shishinish.”                                                                  about her – what she sees in his father, for example. Hawk is struck
                                                                              with an urge to call her.
    “Hairy, festering demons?” Hawk asks, not understanding the
reference as clearly as he had understood other unfamiliar words that             Meanwhile, Mishtoyo is standing, and she stretches out a hand to
Nono used.                                                                    help Hawk off the mat. He takes her hand and instantly feels a wave
                                                                              of electricity jolt his body. He looks at her quickly and sees in her eyes
    “Yes,” Nono answers. “We will speak more about that later. Con-           that she, too, has been startled by the connection. “The world has
tinue with your story, tsitsi.”                                               changed – yet again,” he thinks as he stands up.

     “After Thunder told me I would never see my parents, he left,
laughing – Thunder’s laughter is as terrifying as his flashes of anger. I
began to cry. I cried and cried. I cried so much that my tears became
a river, and the river became so full that it started to separate into sev-
en separate streams. Each stream was a different color – red, orange,
yellow, green, blue, purple, and ultraviolet. And then I saw in the
distance that the streams all met and created a bridge to Shimilaqsha,

								
To top