In the salal bushes forming a line at the shore, Scout laid low as he watched the waves heave, heard their whisper and swish over the sands of the night beach. It was the time of phosphorescence and the water was lit from below by millions of microscopic sea creatures. A lone man, shirtless and in loose-fitting pants, strands of his hair hanging over his face, staggered out from a dune and onto the moonlit sand. He went nearly to the water’s edge where the branches of a gnarled arbutus hung low. Beneath its branches, he dropped onto one knee, reached down with one hand to touch the wet sand and with the other offered his flask to the heavens. He howled as if in pain, and the sound carried high and bright over the still sand and to Scout’s ears, flattening them to his head. A low guttural growl rumbled in Scout’s belly, and he pulled his lips back and up toward his snout revealing his fanged teeth.
He held there, not moving. This was not the time to strike out. He watched the man, who lingered there stooped and whimpering, before rising and making his slow way back to the pier. Each of his remaining footprints glimmered with bioluminescent sparks, as if thousands of tiny shards of crushed marine organisms were giving one last light from their bed in the sand before flickering out. He walked like a wounded animal, tripping and falling before clumsily negotiating the wooden pier steps that bridged to higher ground above and disappearing into the darkness.
Off beneath the tree, at the spot where the man had knelt, a faint surge of light energy remained in the depression. It held, faintly, until it began to sputter and flash, becoming faster in speed and intensity, until twinkling light erupted and rose from the sand, twisting like a frenzied swirl of fireflies. It spun higher and higher, until at last, at its center the shape of a human, an Indian woman, appeared. The translucent figure broke from the light and stepped out onto the sand. So lightly as if she were fog, she walked near the water with her arms outstretched. From this gesture formed the spirit of a little boy who began to run playfully beside her, his childish laughter echoing in the darkness.
Scout’s heart softened at the music of his laugh. His animal spirit ached to be released from his earthly form so he could dance and tumble alongside the young soul. The mother softly crooned an Indian lullaby whose melody swept up and over the gentle winds blowing in off the ocean. The spirits of the forest beyond joined in her chorus and smiled at the joyful exchange as the two spirits revelled in their play.
Soon, the mother spirit paused her song to call to her son. The child spirit returned to her, and together, they absorbed into each other, becoming a single transparent image that dispersed into twinkling fireflies. Together, they descended back into the earth and were gone.
Scout knew that the animal beings of the earth who lived honourably by nature’s creed had been bestowed with the power to witness such manifestations . The woman was sending a message: she needed to be avenged. But the man, if he had remained on the beach, would have seen nothing. Most humans did not possess the gift of sight but for the very few of pure heart. Scout knew of only one, a woman he had talked to in a dream vision. Grace. Tomorrow, she was to arrive to the island on the morning ferry from Campbell River.
On the night beach, while the island people slept unaware, a sacred promise had been made. Scout arose from the underbrush. He knew what he had been called on to do. Guided by the animal spirits, he began to run. He ran throughout the night, through the long distance of the old growth forest, to the ferry landing where he would wait and reveal himself to her. He needed her humanness to bring the man to justice. Her empathic powers were strong, and Scout trusted her. He had already made the initial connection; the spell of retribution had been cast.