Aphelion Issue 293, Volume 28
September 2023
 
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On the Trail

by Rick Grehan





It was a stupid mistake; a rookie mistake.

I was in the North Cascades, a few miles west of Ross Lake. I'd been tracking the sasquatch all morning. I'd picked up its trail just after sunrise and, remarkably, it had kept to the footpath the whole time. I had not yet caught sight of it, but I'd been close enough that I could smell it; smell that one-of-a-kind combination of wet fur and intense, human-like, B.O.

I couldn't believe my luck. It was rare for a 'squatch to keep to a trail so long, rarer still that it should leave such clear signs. I felt certain that it knew I was tracking it, yet it had not changed its pace, nor left the path to try and lose me on the slopes or in the woods. Those are the things I was thinking about when I should have been thinking about where to put my feet.

The trail ran along the inside of a gorge wall. One my left, about 80 feet down, a noisy stream tumbled over rocks, hidden mostly by brush and conifers. On my right, the slope rose through woods of mountain ash, aspen, and fir to a ridge summit, obscured by the trees.

The weather was cloudy and mist-filled. It had rained in this area for the two days prior, so I'd already encountered numerous washouts cutting across the path. Most were small enough to step through or hop over. Only one or two had been wide and deep enough to require actual fording; I worked my way through their rushing waters carefully.

Then, I came to a washout that was not so small that I could easily jump it, nor so large that I had to take my time. I studied it briefly, and decided that quick hop over the water to a heavy-looking, flat-topped piece of shale on the opposite bank, a short scramble up the slope to the path, and I might catch a glimpse of the 'squatch ahead.

I hopped.

When my right boot landed, the piece of shale shot off to the left like it had been a wet bar of soap. Both of my feet flew to the left as well. My walking stick twisted out of my hand, and I landed hard on the rocks in the shallow water. The momentum of my fall and the slope of the washout bed cast me off the path and down the hillside.

Lucky for me, the slope wasn't precipitous, so I didn't tumble down the 800 feet to the rocks below. In fact, I didn't fall far at all. I landed tailbone first on the crown of a boulder, bounced sideways, and landed hard on my right side on a ledge.

I'll be honest. I like to think of myself as an outdoorsman's outdoorsman, a Daniel Boone of the 21st century. I can wander the wilderness for weeks and be content; sleep on frozen ground under the stars; hike through desert, tundra, or woodland; dine on spit-roasted rabbit, raw crayfish, scorpions, or whatever nuts and berries I can scrounge up. But, when I'm in pain, from the least gash or stubbed toe, I lose it. I become a wailing baby. It's my greatest weakness, and I loathe myself for it... but there it is.

I lay sprawled on that ledge and wailed like a baby.

Thankfully, it never lasts long. Once I'm over the initial shock, I calm right down. This time, I shut up but quick. Because over the sounds of my bawling and the water splashing on the rocks around me, I heard--felt, really--heavy footfalls. A shadow fell across my face. I'd had my eyes closed since I cracked my tail on that boulder. Now I opened them.

The sasquatch was standing over me, leaning down. Its face filled the entire sky. A wide, round face, a mix of leathery, weatherworn wrinkles, and burnt-brown, grey-streaked hair. The nostrils of its broad, flat nose were tilted almost directly forward. And above that nose, the eyes. Eyes sunken in layers of folded skin, irises the color of pewter. And they were old... oh, so old.

The lipless, simian mouth opened.

"Is anything broken?" a voice asked. It was as deep a baritone as I'd ever heard. The voice was clear, but with a deep gurgling, as though the 'squatch spoke from within a vast, liquid cave.

I lay speechless. I had forgotten the cold water seeping through my clothes and the pain of my fall.

"I am assuming you speak English," it said. "If you do not respond, I will try other languages."

"No--no--," I whispered. "I speak English. And... and... and so do you!"

"Yes, I do," it said. "And now, my question: are you injured?"

I lifted my arms and moved them about, wiggled my fingers, then raised one leg and the other. I moved my back carefully from side to side, then slowly sat up, propping myself on my elbows.

"I... I think I'm all right."

The sasquatch's face lifted away, and it rose to its full height. I was sitting, and it was up the slope from me, so the creature seemed as big as the trees. I gaped.

"Can you stand? Or should I help you?" its voice rumbled. "I can carry you, if need be."

Still gaping, I climbed slowly to my feet. I began to feel the sharp pains of forming bruises, and the cold of the water soaking my pants. One of my feet slid on the wet ledge, and my arms pin wheeled as I lost balance, but a hand shot down and clamped onto my arm. The hand was enormous, covering my entire upper arm from armpit to elbow. Its fingers were the same leathery texture as the sasquatch's face, it's back covered with shining brown-and-gray hair so smooth it might have been combed.

"Careful," it said, as it steadied me. "I think it best if you would permit me." It grabbed me around my torso, and lifted me from the ledge as a child might pick up a doll. The sasquatch climbed back to the path, and set me gently on my feet just past the washout. I was now standing--rather shakily--at its feet. Looking up, I found it hard to gauge its proportions. Ten feet tall? Twelve, perhaps? It seemed just as broad from shoulder to shoulder.

Then, for the first time, I became aware of its odor washing over me.

I coughed twice. Between coughs, I managed a weak, "Thank you."

It ignored my gratitude and asked, "Can you walk without your staff? We should not loiter here, this area is too exposed. If you can manage it, there is a secluded cleft just up ahead not far off the trail that provides shelter for building a fire. I suspect you will need to dry your clothes and boots."

"I, uh..." I took a couple of steps, shrugged my shoulders and flexed my back. "Yes, I think I can manage it."

"Very good," it said. Swinging around, it strode away, calling over its shoulder, "I will move slowly. Alert me if you cannot keep up."

I hurried after him.

The 'squelch's strides were long and easy; in a single step, he seemed to cover the distance I could in four. Though he claimed to be moving slowly on my behalf, I had to hustle.

I realized that I had switched thinking of the sasquatch as an "it," to thinking of the creature as a "him." I also realized that I was only guessing he was a male, based on his voice. As I walked, a series of questions raced through my mind. Did he have a name... and, was I right? Is he a "he"? How was he able to speak? Where were the others of his kind? What was he planning to do once we arrived at the shelter?

That last question was important, because it amounted to: what was he planning to do with me? Most likely, he wasn't going to kill me; he could have done that easily enough already. He could have pitched me into that gorge and gone on his way, and the odds are good that no one would have ever found my body. Instead, he had been... well... polite.

I shook my head. Too many questions. Best to just focus on keeping up, not slipping again, and hope that when we got to wherever he's leading me, that fire he mentioned really was for drying my clothes and not roasting me for dinner.

Abruptly, he stopped and held up his hand. I halted. He turned, and scanned the trees on the opposite slopes of the gorge. I didn't ask; I was too stunned by the realization that he had used the universally-recognized gesture for "stop."

Apparently satisfied, he moved on.

We'd gone about a half a kilometer when the creature turned off the path into a thick stand of fir trees. Though none of the trees were very large, they grew densely, so we had to pick our way carefully between the trunks. After several paces, it became apparent that we were entering a cleft in the side of the gorge wall. I looked up, and saw that the cleft narrowed as it rose out of sight in the mists above.

As we proceeded, the trees thinned, and we were soon standing in a shallow cave. The cave's mouth, at its peak, was high enough so that it was unblocked by the treetops, and admitted enough light to keep the interior from being completely dark. The cave's floor was dry, packed sand, littered here and there with stones and small boulders.

The sasquatch glided toward the back of the cave, stooping as he went, and stepping over a stone-ringed fire-pit. As I watched, he pulled dried branches and kindling from piles stacked at the cave's rear, and began arranging them in the pit.

He looked up.

"You may place your pack over there," he said, indicating a corner. "Then, I would recommend you return to the woods outside, and find a branch that you can prop with stones to hang your clothes on for drying." He returned to his work.

I unslung my backpack, placed it where he had suggested, and left the cave. I quickly found a suitably shaped fir branch on the forest floor. I stripped the branch of the few boughs still attached, and returned to the cave.

The kindling was already aflame. The sasquatch squatted beside the pit, prodding the fire with a stick. I silently cursed myself. I had wanted to watch him start the fire.

"How did you --?" I began, pointing to the flames.

"Start the fire?" he finished for me.

"Flint?" I guessed.

The sasquatch made a "Tsk!" sound. He reached behind himself. His hand reappeared, holding a small, silver rectangle. He flicked his thumb, there was a clink and a swish, and a tongue of flame appeared.

"Zippo," he said. "Never fails."

He flipped the lighter closed, and it disappeared behind his back.

I pointed to his re-emerging hand. "Where--?"

"Did I put it? You cannot see it for my fur, but I wear what you might call a utility belt."

"Did you make--" I started, but he held up his hand, palm outward.

"I understand the you have many questions, but I hear a distinct quaver in your voice, which suggests that your wet clothes are affecting you. The fire is built. You should get out of those clothes and hang them by the fire. I trust your backpack is waterproof and you have a blanket in it?"

I nodded. He returned to tending the growing blaze.

I sat down, took off my hiking boots, and set them just outside the ring of the fire-pit. I propped the branch with rocks and stones from the cave floor, then pulled off my shirt and pants and draped them over my makeshift drying rack. Shivering, I went to my backpack, unzipped it, and withdrew a blanket. I returned to the fire with the blanket pulled around myself, and sat cross-legged in front of the fire. I pulled off my socks and draped them over a rock close by the flames.

As he carefully added more branches to the fire, I withdrew the waterproof pouch from beneath the folds of my blanket, unzipped it, and pulled out my camera. The sasquatch saw this, rose, stepped around the fire, and held down an open hand.

"If you please," he said.

No way was I going to refuse a hand that big. I placed my camera in it.

"I was hoping to record... ah... that is, if you wouldn't mind..." I stammered.

His enormous fingers had somehow popped open the camera's door and extracted its memory card. He dropped the card into the fire.

"Hey!" I jumped up.

He twisted, hurled the camera up and out of the cave, over the treetops. I could tell from the power of his pitch that my camera would soon be on its way to the gorge's bottom, or perhaps the opposite wall. Meanwhile, the memory card has already turned into a dark, bubbling lump among the flames.

The sasquatch returned to his side of the fire, and seated himself on a low, flat boulder. I remained standing, looking alternately between the fire, and the grey sky above the treetops. He picked up another branch, poked at the fire.

"I apologize for that," he said calmly. "I do not want any recording of our conversation to be made."

"But, why not?! Do you realize what an amazing, what a wonderful thing that would be? How it would so completely change everything that the world has believed about your kind! It's hard enough getting pictures, can you imagine what video footage of you talking would mean?"

"Consider this," he responded. "It is difficult enough already for me to avoid the relatively small number of --" he paused "-- your kind who constantly hunt me. Should a clear audio-video recording of my talking be shown to the world, the numbers of your kind would grow significantly. I think you can imagine what that would mean for me.

"And please do not take anything else out of your pack. You probably have an audio recording device, or a--what is it called?--'smart phone', I believe. I don't want to throw everything you own into the canyon."

I sat down, pulling the blanket around myself. I took a slow, deep breath. I had gone from the discovery that the sasquatch was intelligent to the realization that he was smart. And--aside from tossing my camera--he had so far acted as nothing less than a good Samaritan. Nevertheless, it certainly was possible that might change. I didn't want to risk the smallest chance of antagonizing him.

"All right," I said, trying to speak as evenly as he had, "clearly, if you want to throw my whole backpack--with me attached--into the canyon, you could. In fact, you could have done that when you first found me. But, you didn't. So, you want something, and I'll bet that it's more than offering me a spot by the fire to dry off."

"Yes," he said. He laid down his branch and sat upright. "To talk. I have not talked with anyone in a long, long time."

I shook my head in amazement. "I swear, you are one surprise after another. All right, let's talk. And let's start with you telling me how you learned to talk in the first place."

He looked steadily at me. I shifted uneasily. "That is, uh, if... if you don't mind," I said quickly.

"I taught myself. Oh, in my travels, I encountered men--much as I encountered you--who helped me improve and broaden my understanding and use of languages. But, in the beginning, after I had eaten the fruit, I learned mainly by listening and watching."

"Eaten the fruit?"

"Yes," he said, and miniature flames were reflected in his eyes. "The fruit that cursed me and your kind. After I ate the fruit, I began to understand, to comprehend, to know."

"The fruit that cursed you? What fruit?"

"The fruit from the forbidden tree in the garden you call, I believe, Eden." He returned his gaze to the fire.

For a long time, the only sound in the cave was the fire's hissing crackle. I stared, unbelieving, at his down-turned face. You would think that, having conversed with an intelligent sasquatch, I would be prepared for anything. I was not.

"Eden?" I echoed softly. "The garden of Eden?"

Head still down-turned, he spoke. "It was beautiful. Orchards and flowerbeds covered the rolling hills so that, no matter where you stood, the sight of overflowing life stretched limitlessly away from you in all directions. The berries, the nuts, the fruits... " he shook his head as if he could not believe his own words "... forever in abundance, no matter how much we ate. Never hungry, nor ever over-full."

"Eden?" I whispered again. "It was real?"

He nodded slowly, then continued, "I and others of my kind lived along the banks of a river, where grew a berry bush whose fruits were as big and sweet as the finest grapes. We dined upon them at our leisure. What we ate one day was replenished the next. During the day, when the sun shone hot, we refreshed ourselves in the sandy shallows of the river. At night, if it became too cool, we gathered together in the tall grasses, and slept in that sheltering warmth. No hunger, no thirst, no pain..."

He added another branch to the fire. Sparks streamed upward.

"Then, one day, the man and woman came. They were walking along the riverbank. I was with a group of my kind among the berry bushes. The two had little fear of us, as we had little of them. The woman approached the bush, picked several berries, and ate one. She carried the others back to the man. The two ate and talked, though I did not know it to be talking then.

"She returned, carrying something, and approached me. She extended her hand. It held what I now know to be a kind of tangerine. I took it--as I say, there was little fear; what I felt was more like shyness. I peeled the fruit open, ate its pulp, and drank its juice. I had never tasted anything like it before. All the while, she watched and smiled. Then, she and the man left.

"I followed. She had given me something delicious, and--even though my mind was then still feeble--I thought she might lead me to more. I kept at a distance, watching. What they ate, I ate--nuts, berries, plants dug from the ground and washed clean in the streams. In that place, all foods were nourishing.

"Some days, they would separate, each exploring the garden alone. I always followed her. One day, she walked a long distance, toward the garden's center, along a wide and smooth path bordered by wildflowers and grasses growing so thickly that I was able to hide among them and observe her progress without being seen. She was constantly looking back the way she had come, as though she feared being discovered.

"The path led up a hill, and at the hill's top the flowers gave way to a cleared, grassy knoll, in the center of which grew a short tree, barely bigger than a bush. Its leaves were deep green, almost black. Fruit the color of blood hung from each branch, and from my hiding place, I watched her pick one and eat it. I could not see her face--though now, I wish I had. It might have warned me. A moment later, she turned and fled back down the path. Knowing no better, I approached the tree, picked a fruit, and ate it. Where she had taken but one bite, I consumed it all."

He fell silent. He was still looking down at the fire, which had reduced itself to coals.

"It needs more wood," he announced, then stood, and strode to the back of the cave.

I inhaled. I think perhaps I had been holding my breath for some time. I watched him stoop to gather branches.

"You ate the fruit," I said simply. "And then--?"

He returned, sat, and began stacking the branches he had brought onto the coals. In a moment, flames were dancing and snapping. His enormous frame settled back.

"I cannot say how it was for the woman and the man," he continued. "For myself, not long after I had eaten the fruit and left that hill, I became drowsy. It was midday, so I found a copse of trees, crawled into their shade, and fell asleep.

"It was the first time, I think, that I had dreams. And those dreams were nightmares. I suddenly knew that there was such a thing as wrong--though I could not express it--and that what I had done was wrong. With the feeling of wrongness, came fear... real fear... and with fear came unhappiness, and with unhappiness came pain. Most importantly, it was my fear, my unhappiness, and my pain. Until that night, I had never thought of myself as a self-separate from others. As the knowledge divided good from evil, it also divided me from everyone and everything else.

"The understanding of good and evil brought more than simply a recognition of right and wrong. Such understanding requires so much more. Ideas, concepts, relations, connections--limitless baggage is attached. When I awoke it was night. The garden had changed. Before, night had been starlight and moon-glow from above; now, night had become darkness and shadow seeping up from below. I believe the casting out had already begun, but--as for myself--it was not that the garden or its creator drove me away. I fled.

"I will not, I cannot, adequately describe the years and years I spent wandering; a time brim full of fear, loneliness, pain, thirst, hunger, confusion. I was entirely unprepared for it. Nor can I relate in any sensible fashion my slow climb up from mental darkness. For a long time, I lived as a beast, alone. I encountered no humans. Then, I stumbled onto a tribe--somewhere in Africa, I think--as brutal and dimwitted as I, foraging as I foraged. I fled them before I was seen. Later, I found another tribe, and later, another. These, I watched, and learned what they learned. I saw them tame fire, saw them fashion tools and build shelters. They learned to farm and to herd. Soon after, they forged weapons and learned to make war. And then, one day, I heard what I had heard in the garden: language.

"I became skilled at approaching closely while remaining hidden. I listened, I observed, and by my observations, I educated myself. Villages appeared, then cities. I stayed away from places with large populations, keeping to the wild, wandering the world, watching as mankind spread. Most of the time, I lived on the other continents--what you call Africa, Europe, and Asia. Now and then, I would encounter someone living alone in the wilderness. I would reveal myself, and though most fled me in terror, some--like you--did not. Such men helped me master many languages.

"Time passed. Man became ever more numerous, and his weapons more potent. As legends about me spread, men hunted me. I could no longer reveal myself to anyone; the danger was too great. I sought the places that man would not, or could not, go.

"Via the northern ice cap, I was able to cross from one continent to the other. For a long time, there were few men on this continent, it was safer for me here. That, of course, is no longer true.

"Even has man's numbers grew, his destruction of himself grew. I have lost count of the number of blasted fortresses, gutted villages, ruined towns, and burned cities I have explored after war has passed through them. I have seen the rubble, the ashes and cinders, the bodies.

"I can only count it as a blessing--the few allowed me--that I was on this continent when the two great wars of the last century were fought. I only heard of them from bits and snatches of conversations I was able to eavesdrop on; the hearing was frightful enough.

"I am weary of it all. The hiding; mankind's spread of destruction. I had hoped that man would grow wise over time. I have now come to believe that he never will. The farther the garden recedes into the past, the more perilous this world becomes. Man is thick on the earth, and his creations permit him to peer into every forest, every canyon, and every ditch, even beneath every rock. There are few places left that can truly be called 'remote'; and therefore there are few places I can hide safely.

"I get little enough rest as it is." He sighed deeply, the sigh of a giant. "A curse indeed. I do not wish to be alone, and yet I must be alone."

He fell quiet. He sat cross-legged, arms on his knees, a strange sight. Human, and yet not.

Finally, I spoke: "It's hard enough for me to believe that you talk. But I see it, so I must believe it. And I must believe that everything you've told me is true. But, that means you've walked this earth for thousands and thousands of years. Though I have never heard of a species being as long-lived as yours, if you are alive, wouldn't others like you be as well? In all that time, haven't you met any?"

He shook his head slowly. "I have seen none since the garden. And only I among all the animals ate the fruit that the woman and man ate. Had any of my kind made it out of the garden, they would have been as beasts to me.

"And my species is not long-lived. Nor am I long-lived. To be precise, I am..."

He let the unfinished sentence hang in the air. I leaned forward. "You are...?"

"I left something out of my telling of the time in Eden. When I followed the man and woman deeper into the garden, I did some exploring on my own. You might recall, there was not one forbidden tree... there were two."

Again, he let his words hang in the air. I was still leaning forward. I thought back through what I'd heard or read of the Garden of Eden. Two forbidden trees? Then I remembered.

"The tree of life!" I whispered.

His eyes looked up from the fire. I saw again how old, how very old, they were.

"I am sure you have heard stories told of men who were given the gift of everlasting life. The stories invariably teach that the gift is, in reality, a curse."

"Yes," I said softly.

"Yes," he echoed. "Injuries, illnesses, falls, cold enough to crack iron, heat enough to soften it... I should have died a hundred times over." He spread his arms wide. "As you see, I am doubly cursed."

I realized that I was still leaning forward, so I sat back. We both remained silent for a long time, the only sounds the noise of the fire. I reached over and discovered that my clothes had dried. I stood up, folded and stowed the blanket, and began to dress. He had picked up another branch, and poked the fire aimlessly.

When I was done, I returned to my place beside the fire and said, "If you cannot die, and there is no place for you to live in safety... what will you do?"

"Far to the north," he answered, "high in the mountains, I once found an ice-cave. No one, no thing, man or beast, goes there. It is atop a treacherous climb, lifeless, forever frozen by arctic winds. I am going to make my bed in that cave. I will cover myself with snow and ice, and I will sleep. It is the only freedom I can think of.

"I hope that when I awake--if I awake--it will be to a world that has rediscovered that garden. That, or I will awaken to the sound of the Creator calling all things to their final obliteration. Either way, I will finally find peace."

I sat down. "So you came back for me to tell me all this... and you did that because... "

"I wanted to talk to at least one more being before I slept. It is important to talk, but it is far more important to know that someone has listened to you." He stood, dropping the branch he held into the flames. "And now, I would ask one last favor of you."

* * * *

I was sitting alone at a corner table, drinking a beer and reading a map, when the door to Doug's Bar and Grill banged open and two men entered. It was early in the evening. The bar had been otherwise empty except for myself and Doug, who was busy behind the counter. I looked up, and recognized them the same instant they recognized me.

"Well, if it ain't Ben Jasper, the 'squatch-hunter!" the taller of the two called, pointing. His name was Jake, his companion was Abe. I didn't know their last names, I only knew they worked at the auto-repair shop up the road, where my Subaru had gone more than once.

They were regulars, so Doug had a pair of bottles out and opened for them by the time they reached the bar. The two men grabbed their brews and sauntered into my corner. I began folding up the map as they settled themselves into chairs.

"Boys," I said, nodding.

"Heard you was hot on the trail of a 'squatch last week, Ben," Jake said noisily. "We wanted to come over and get the word from you. How'd it go?"

"Yeah, anything?" Abe added. "Tracks? Fuzzy pictures?" The two men chuckled.

I pushed a smile onto my face. "Nope. Couldn't have gotten fuzzy pictures even if I'd wanted. Would you believe it? Slipped crossing a washout and lost my camera." I took a swig from my beer.

"Damn! Too bad," Jake said with obviously fake sincerity. "So, you've come back into town to get a new camera and go back after it, huh?"

I shook my head, gulped down the last of my beer. "Nah. Nothing to go after. Don't know what I thought I was tracking, but it wasn't a 'squatch. I don't think there are any in these parts. In fact, I'm starting to think there aren't any 'squatches anywhere in North America at all."

Their eyes grew big. They looked at each other, then back at me.

"Damnation!" Jake boomed. "I don't believe what I'm hearin'. D'you Abe?"

Abe shook his head. "You could knock me over."

"Sorry to disappoint you, boys," I said, "but I've been at this for more years than I can remember, and I've come to the rock-hard conclusion that I'm chasing a big ol' nothing. My sasquatch hunting days are over. And if you fellows run into anyone else that says they're hot on the trail of a 'squatch, you can tell 'em from me that they're wasting their time just like I wasted mine."

"You can't mean it--" Abe began, but I cut him off by whipping an envelope out of my vest pocket and waving it in the air.

"Now look here," I said, indicating the envelope. "I got me a letter from an old back-packing buddy of mine down in Arizona. Ace tracker, this man, half Navajo. He's found a pack of chupacabra and tracked them long enough that he's pretty sure he know where they're nesting."

"Chupa-what?" Jake asked, leaving his mouth hanging open.

I stuffed the envelope back inside my vest, slapped my hand over my pocket, and grinned. "Chupacabra. They live off animal blood. Now that's a sure thing! I'm heading south to join up with him and try my hand at desert tacking. So, boys, I'd stay and have another beer with you, but I've got a long drive ahead of me tonight."

Jake leaned back in his chair and exhaled noisily. "Well, I never would have believed it. Sasquatch Ben givin' up the hunt."

I finished folding the map, stuffed it in my back pocket. "Aw, Jake... nobody's called me 'Sasquatch Ben' except you two. Besides, I'm not giving up the hunt, I'm just hunting something different. Something real."

I pushed my chair back from the table and stood up. Nodding at them both, I said, "Look me up if you boys are ever down Arizona way."

I waved a goodbye to Doug on my way through the door. Just outside, I pulled the empty envelope from my pocket, crumpled it into a wad, and tossed it into the garbage can beside the door. I crossed the gravel lot to my Subaru, parked beneath the lot's single streetlight. The sun had set, and the streetlight was flickering to life.

I opened the door, but before climbing in, I looked north to the still visible line of mountains. The sky was clear and moonless, so I easily located Polaris.

I turned my back to the north, slid into the driver seat, started the motor, and headed south.


THE END


2015 Rick Grehan

Bio: Mr. Grehan is a software engineer at Dell/EqualLogic in Nashua, NH. He is also a contributing editor for InfoWorld Magazine. He has written for computer magazines for many years, having started as a technical editor for BYTE Magazine back in the 80's. His last Aphelion appearance was Constructor in our March, 2014 issue.

E-mail: Rick Grehan

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