Shaman Pass

Shaman Pass by Stan Jones

Book: Shaman Pass by Stan Jones Read Free Book Online
Authors: Stan Jones
won’t be much doubt about the trail. Generally speaking, at any given spot, there’s only one way to go. Sometimes not even that.” He grinned. “Sure your Ladies’ Model is up to this, naluaqmiiyaaq ? I could send one of my guys along as a guide.”
    Active shook his head and showed no flicker of response at being needled again about the purple Yamaha. “I’ll be fine.”
    “Ah-hah.” Silver paused, as if expecting more from Active. Finally he shook his head. “At least if we have to launch a Search and Rescue on you, the Ladies’ Model will be easy to spot.”
    “So what happens when I get out to the ice edge?”
    Silver shrugged. “Good question. When you get close, various trails will start to veer off to the different camps. Just pick one, and when you get to the camp, ask them how to find Whyborn Sivula’s camp.”
    “Jesus,” Active said. “There must be a better way.”
    Silver shrugged again. “Sure. Charter a helicopter, come booming into camp, scare off the whales, blow the tents around, piss everybody off. Yeah, that’ll work. Cheap, too.”
    Active lifted his eyebrows in assent. “You know Whyborn much?”
    “A little,” Silver said. “Why?”
    “I was thinking I might take the harpoon shaft and the amulet along, see how he reacts.”
    Silver’s eyes opened wide. “Take your evidence out on the ice? You kidding?”
    Active shrugged. “I’m going to send them to the state lab in Anchorage, but Carnaby already went over them for fingerprints and found nada, and I’ve got a ton of pictures.”
    “Carnaby struck out?”
    Active nodded.
    “Not surprising, I guess,” Silver said. “Your guy probably would have been wearing gloves the whole time. From the cold, even if he wasn’t thinking about fingerprints.”
    Active nodded again.
    Silver looked at the map again. “One more thing you ought to know before you go, there’s certain protocols on the ice.”
    “Protocols?”
    “For one thing, don’t take your snowmachine into camp. Too noisy, might scare the whales. You see a bunch of snowmachines parked back behind a pressure ridge, that’s where you leave yours.”
    Active nodded.
    “For another thing, if you got a red parka, don’t wear it. A whale sees it, he’ll think it’s the blood of one of his own and bolt for Siberia.”
    “That it?”
    “Well, yeah, except for the polar bears,” Silver said. “They like to come in and hang around the whaling camps, see what they can scavenge. But just stay away from them and they won’t bother you, usually. They’re kind of an off-white yellowish color, so they’re pretty hard to see against the snow and ice, but normally their eyes and nose show up pretty good if they get close. Two little black dots over a bigger one, you can’t miss it.”
    Active nodded again, not sure if he was being ribbed. “Anything else? Do I need a visa to get out there?”
    Silver smiled. “I know, I know. But, fact is, it’s just not safe out there on the ice. Get a little too much wind from the west, or maybe a kink in the current, and the next thing you know the lead’s closing and the pack’s moving in and your camp’s about to become a pressure ridge. Or you get a wind from the northeast, and all of a sudden the shorefast ice isn’t fast anymore. Your whaling camp is on a floe headed for Siberia and liable to break up any minute.”
    He stopped and scratched his scalp. “My wife’s father and kid brother got caught like that a few years ago. The kid, he got wet when the ice broke up under their camp during the night. You know how parents are. The old man took off his parka and put it over the boy. By the time it got light enough the next morning to come after them in the umiaq , he was already dead of hypothermia.”
    “The kid survived?”
    “Barely,” Silver said. “Anyway, watch yourself out there and don’t be a smart-ass. It’s serious business.”
    Active nodded and pulled his parka off Silver’s office sofa, where he’d

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