Sep 06 2009
A Note to the Reader The gang have survived a surf landing on James Bay, and Ed has Henry Hudson’s bronze seal in his pocket. Now he and Brenna just want to get home.
Our story continues…
They waited uneasily, the broad St. Lawrence River stretching before them. Low on the western horizon, dark factory chimneys towered against the backdrop of a deep-velvet sky, fitfully illuminated by yellow-orange flares of gas. Further off, beyond the smelter’s stacks, a hazy smear of light marked the location of Aluminum City. By contrast, the riverbank behind Jack Van Dorn was a pool of shadow. On the other shore, scattered points of light were all that could be seen of the Mohawk Nation of Handsome Lake.
Jack’s eyes never left the river. He stood on the very end of Ann Laughing Deer’s wooden dock. “Almost home,” he whispered to the moonless night. “At last. Jes’ two miles to go.”
The rhythmic thud of an unseen helicopter echoed over the river. Jack craned his neck, willing his vision to pierce the blackness, but he saw nothing. Drops of sweat ran down the gullies of his spine. The late August night was hot and humid. Impatience and anxiety added their measure to his growing discomfort. He rocked on the balls of his feet, hands shoved deep into the pockets of his grimy chinos. Between his right thumb and forefinger he clutched the black, egg-shaped pebble he’d carried all the way from Ship Sands Island. His thumb moved over the smooth surface again and again. “By God!” Jack whispered, still addressing the night. “When this fool’s errand’s over, I’m stayin’ home for good!”
Gone were all thoughts of the Albany country, far to the north. “One more river,” Jack hummed tonelessly. “One more river to cross.” The thud of the helicopter faded away. Jack wondered when the next one would come along. Ann Laughing Deer had dismissed the erratic border patrols with a shrug, and cracked jokes about America’s “phony war” against the elusive Lesserson Null. Jack didn’t think it was all that funny, though. He reckoned innocent bystanders could be killed just as dead in a phony war as a real one. It wasn’t a comforting thought.
Behind him, invisible in the deep shadow of the riverbank, Sergei and Pavel gripped their Kalashnikovs.… Read more…
Hooked? A new chapter in our serial adventure novel, Trip of a Lifetime, will appear every Sunday. If you’ve missed a chapter, or if you’re coming aboard for the first time and want to catch up, just use the hot-linked title to go to the archives.
A REMINDER This is a work of fiction. All the characters are figments of the imaginations. It’s NOT a paddling guide. If you’re planning a trip on the Albany River—or any other body of water, come to that—consult the most recent edition of a good guidebook and be sure you’re thoroughly familiar with all applicable regulations. While maps of Ontario show some of the waterways mentioned here, the places depicted in our story exist only in our minds—and in yours.