Where an old and knurled arbutus hung precariously low over the rocky beach
This is how a story starts.
It comes from an experience, something extraordinary that leaves your soul in awe of the mysterious ways of nature. It has energy. It seems supernatural. Spiritual. It makes you acutely aware of life. You can hear it in every living thing that shares the nearby space. You share your essence with the water, the trees, the animals, and the humans who tread upon the sands on which you now stand, in both the present and past. No energy is wasted. Some vestige of your footsteps always remains. You feel a reverence yet it spooks you just as it commands the heart and mind to respect life and be one with environment which you’ve been privileged to share. Violate its creed and all the life forces that made it be, will join together to avenge that which has been dishonoured.
Here’s my experience. Late in summer on the beach of Manson’s Landing a phenomenon occurs. To those who have never experienced bioluminescent, it delights, fascinates, and mesmerizes. As I frolicked and played with water and sand to excite the microorganisms to ignite into silent sparks of light, a memory was secretly filed in my subconscious to be used years later to tell a story of betrayal and mystery in the setting of a Canadian West Coast Island, Cortes.
What if on a summery moon lit night on Manson’s Lagoon, one of the infamous sea wolves of Cortes witnessed a crime involving a young Klahoose woman, a woman who islanders thought had run away to find a more exciting life in the city, a woman whose family and friend had no knowledge that she had lost her life to an evil killer that night. A tragic end to a young and promising life. How would she be avenged? This is the story of how a missing and murdered aboriginal girl gets justice. Here is an excerpt from “Night Beach”.
Scout laid low in the salal bushes at the tree line watching the waves as they whispered and swished upon the sands of the night beach. It was the time of phosphorescence and the water illuminated with light emitted from microscopic sea creatures as it caressed the shore.
A shirtless man with sloppy pants and long hair that hung in strands covering his face staggered onto the sand and dropped onto one knee where an old and knurled arbutus hung precariously low over the rocky beach. He touched one hand to the wet sand and with his other hand offered his flask to the heavens with a howl of pain that pierced the stillness. Scout released and involuntary low guttural growl as his ears flattened to his head and his lips retreated from his snout revealing his fanged teeth but remained out of sight. The man remained there stooped and whimpering for a time before standing and staggering back to the pier leaving behind foot impressions that sparked briefly with electrical sparks from the marine organisms embedded in the seashore. He walked like a wounded animal, tripping and falling and then disappeared into the darkness of the forest. But a spirit had been awakened.
The depression where the man had knelt continued to glow. Then twinkling light began to rise from the sand like a frenzied cluster of swirling fireflies and the translucent figure of an Indian woman morphed from within its center. She stepped out onto the sands near the water throwing outstretched arms away from her form. The spirit of a little boy manifested and started to run lively and playfully into the night, his childish laughter echoing in the darkness. Scouts animal spirit delighted in the reverence of the scene and immediately went to join the little one and danced and tumbled with his young soul while the spirits of the forest smiled at the joyful exchange. Then his mother spirit called to him in a rhythmic chant and he returned to her and was absorbed into her transparent image dispersing into twinkling fireflies that descended back into the earth from where they had come.
Scout knew that the animal beings of the earth that lived honourably to the code of survival witnessed such manifestations. He knew that the woman had sent a message and needed to be avenged. The man would have seen nothing of this for only those who were pure of heart shared the privilege of gifted sight. It was something that most humans did not possess. But there was one. Scout had talked to her in a dream vision. Her name was Grace and she would come to the island on the morning ferry from Campbell River. Scout arose from underbrush and ran to the ferry landing.