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Category: Historical Fiction/Dark Fantasy
Description: The land of Waugansuksi in the late 1800s stretches along the furthest northeast coastline of Lake Michigan. It is a conglomeration of towns, small villages, and an incredible wilderness. The people, too, are a combination. These are the Odawas and the European Americans making inroads onto Native land. Monsters, human and otherwise, share the land with them. There is little enough American law in this remote area of Northern Michigan. What there is cannot cope with what they cannot see. The ancient Odawa, however, have their own way of dealing with the evil around them. The Bear Clan is responsible for the healing duties of the People. Their dual role is policing the tribe. Quaquay is an enigma even to her own People. She is born at a time that is doubly fortuitous. Donet's comet is visible in the sky while an eclipse is taking place. The ground of her birth, and her mother's death, is sacred to the People. The child, Maconse, is destined to be the greatest policewoman of her Clan. To do so, she must fight the specter of a great Manitou who enters her dream world and haunts her life. Each Clan uses its gifts to train the girl for the battle that must come between the woman and the spirit. The death of Maconse in this battle gives birth to Quaquay, the greatest of the Bear Clan's police force. It also brings a way for the culture of the People to survive the destructive American forces pressing against it. White on the outside, Red on the inside, the culture hides beneath the façade of `civilization'. Quaquay lives within the disguise of meek Mary Martha Small Bear, the care taker of the rectory and the Catholic Priest who lives there. Using both sides of this duality, the powerful young policewoman haunts and hunts the forest, bringing the monsters within the land to justice. Few people know that Quaquay exists. Fewer still know who she is. Her loving father and the sister-wife of her mother raised her and know her. Their choice in the battle to save their way of life is to flee to Manitoulin Island. Her beloved husband knows her and supports her, but he, too, has chosen a different path of survival. Her strong older brother follows her into exile within their own land to fight the American influences by becoming part of them. The story of "Hunt" begins with one of the fiercest and strangest track downs of Quaquay's life. Something is murdering the American setters. Fingers point to the Odawa hidden deep within the huge forest surrounding the small village. Minds turn to destroying this threat before it can grow. War runs through the hearts of the Americans in the land. Quaquay must find the killer and bring it to justice before a conflict begins that her People cannot win. Prior to finding out who or what the entity is, however, Quaquay she must first determine how many. The Earth and Water tell her there is more than one. Her own spirit counts four. One at a time the powerful policewoman tracks down and unmasks the monsters within her world. Her journey takes her from the shores of Wauganauksi, through the rough lumber towns, and as far away as Michigan's echo of the Emerald Isle, Beaver Island. Powerful allies assist her. Among these are her brother, her husband, an old Civil War veteran, an ex-slave, an ancient Medicine Woman, and a priest who is not always what he seems to be. In the end, as always, she must face the things alone. This time, though, she is stranded far out on the unforgiving ice of Lake Michigan. Her body is wracked with birth pangs, and her spirit is confronting the essence of the monsters who destroyed her mother. Long ago young Maconse gave her life to save her People. Will Quaquay make the same sacrifice for the daughter who is about to be born? The answer will come at the height of the Winter Solstice, on the sacred grounds that promise both life and death for Quaquay and her People.
eBook Publisher: Club Lighthouse Publishing USA LLC/Club Lighthouse Publishing, 2011 2011
eBookwise Release Date: September 2011
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [503 KB]
Reading time: 332-465 min.
Northern Michigan circa 1880
TERROR LURKED IN THE woods and around the lakes of Wauganauksee. At least it did for the man who discovered the body and the four neighbours who helped him get it back to the settlement. Harold Thomas was the only one among them who could find words for what they'd found:
"Looks like somebody picked up a punkin and slammed it to the ground."
The grotesque remains did, indeed, resemble what was left of a scarecrow once the crops were harvested. There was clothing and there was the semblance of a human spilling out from it. The faded plaid shirt and worn trousers told the burying party who the creature had once been. They said nothing about who or what had made such a gelatinous mess.
The smell lingering over the area did give a clue to that, one none of the men wanted to acknowledge. Every one of them hunted to supplement their family's larder. Each of them knew the ways of the predators in the area as well as the prey. There should have been scavenger signs around the body. The stinging scent of the contents of the body's bladder and bowels mingled in a sickening pungency with the decomposing flesh, this should have brought in vultures and ravens at the very least.
There was no sign any of them had been there. Nor was there evidence coyotes had been around. So far as any of the men could see, even the beetles had eschewed the hapless body.
The silence around the carcasses was an additional ominous factor. The forest was never completely silent in Wauganauksee, not even when predators stalked within it. The silence now verified what sight and scent had already suspected. The killer was not something any of them had ever dealt with before.
No one uttered the words "Injun conjure!" No one had to. They lived among the Odawa. Some of them worked in the mill or the lumber camp with them. They'd all heard their stories about the soul eating Windigo and of Meshepesu who drowned the disrespectful who dared cross its Lake without permission. They'd heard about shape shifters and Manitous, and all other manner of monsters as well. Cannibalism was a central theme in many of those stories. Supernatural interaction was understood to be the prime motivator in all.
No words passed among the men that would assign the death to something pulled out of a myth. They dealt, instead, with the ordinary and mundane necessities of the tasks at hand. In that, half of the men wanted to dig a hole, push the body into it with pitch forks and shovels, then cover it over as quickly as possible. The reasoning was logical and practical
"Aint no use in scarin' the wimmen and children with this. Bad enough we gotta deal with it."
The other half pleaded for compassion and an appearance of normalcy.
"He's needin' a Christian burial. His kin are gonna want that, and we got no decent way out of it."
Every man there cringed at the thought. None of them wanted to be in the proximity of the corpse any longer than they had to. Predators were known to return to a kill, and none of them were armed well enough to fight something capable of killing the way this thing had. Compassion won out, just barely, with one suggestion:
"Does the damn thing come back, let it have what's left of Leroy and we'll all run for it!"
This did not ease many fears, but it did allow for a compromise. Two more practical decisions followed immediately. James Almount suggested they use pitch forks to push the body onto a travois instead of into a hole.
"Then we cover it up, and kind of slide it into the coffin when we get it back to the settlement."
Thomas Gale added,
"And close that coffin tight onct that's done. Don't know about you boys, but I aint never wantin to see nothin like that again!"
The men followed the hastily drawn plan. Then, when the burying was done, they lied to the women, sheltered the children from any part of the truth, sweated with nightmares, and made clandestine plans to deal with the ungodly murder.