Stories

This page features some fishing tales, true life adventures and also highlights some of the thriller fiction novels that I write including my latest thriller novel set in Southeast Alaska and perfect for days at sea.

GLACIER WORLD

© 2014 by Fredrick Cooper (Now available on Amazon Books)

The theme park was five years in development and touted worldwide as a golden destination for foreign tourists. It would offer everything a tourist desired to experience in Alaska—snow-capped mountain ranges, a gold rush town, whale watching, salmon fishing, an aquarium with dolphin and orca acts, an eagle sanctuary, and glacier viewing. Cruise ships would dock adjacent to a recreated gold mining town where tourists could enjoy all of the wonders of Alaska at one location. But the most compelling experiences for tourists would be the predators of Alaska—Glacier World’s massive, wildlife enclosures with five-star wildlife attractions, like the Alaskan brown bear, cougar, wolves, wolverines, caribou and musk ox—all in their natural habitats.

But Glacier World had a darker side. Local residents were miffed that over $500 million was being spent to develop an old cannery as a destination resort without hardly any local hires. In the fall of 2019, just before Glacier World was scheduled to open, people died under peculiar circumstances and government authorities were apprehensive about reports of missing cargo in the Gulf of Alaska.

A thousand miles to the south on the coast of Washington state, Earl Armstrong, the forester for an Indian tribe, was missing something too—one hundred thousand board feet of premium lumber, which his freight forwarder informed him—had vanished. It could cost him his job and destroy his career. When attempting to trace his lost shipment in an era of computerized, global transactions and ultimately in the ice and snowbound mountains surrounding Glacier World in SE Alaska, Earl and his friends are exposed to danger from more than one kind of predator, some desperate and some just hungry.

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BookCoverImage_largeDESTRUCTION ISLAND

© 2014 by Fredrick Cooper (Now available on Amazon Books)

Tribal Forester, Earl Armstrong, inadvertently learns about the mysterious and tragic history of an obscure island where his great-grandfather was the first lighthouse keeper in Fredrick Cooper’s thrilling new novel, Destruction Island. The author has released a sequel to his award-winning and debut novel, Riders of the Tides, that once again delivers fast-paced action, interesting characters, sharp dialogue, and vivid settings on the extraordinarily beautiful Washington coast. Earl has haunting, and all too real dreams, of his great-grandfather’s spirit asking him for help. His attempts to ignore these ghostly pleas are shattered after he discovers the murdered body of a Native American man and then an attempt on his own life and his wife’s. Realizing he cannot neglect the island’s troubling past and the possibility that it is connected with his own predicament, Earl enlists the help of the victim’s brother and an old Indian shaman to uncover his ancestor’s long kept secret. In doing so, he must outwit a vicious treasure hunter and his men who are seeking a rare and priceless Native American artifact, as well as a desperate woman who is attempting to escape death at the hands of the Japanese mafia by recovering of a small fortune adrift off the island’s coast. What she is searching for is part of a huge mass of tsunami debris that is threatening to result in an environmental disaster on the coast of Washington State and the ‘Isle of Sorrow’—Destruction Island.

“An exhilarating thriller that will have readers demanding another sequel.” Kirkus Reviews

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Off the Wall Silvers

Years ago I used to fish every year out of Clover Pass north of Ketchikan for silvers. My buddies and I would rent skiff from the Knudson Cove Marina and on calm days we would scoot across to Camano Point. But when the southerly winds were blowing we had to troll around Point Higgins or from Pup Island up to Tatoosh Rocks. These have always been popular spots and on weekends there can be 30-50 boats fishing this area of Clover Pass. One year I decided to take a skiff out by myself one more time before calling it quits for the season. Rigged with a diver and full herring, I trolled north along the west side of Betton Island and off the second point got a strike from a nice 12 pound silver. After netting the fish I decided to do a quick turn and come through the same spot again. I had another strike and another nice silver in the boat. Will it work again? I brought the skiff around and trolled through the same spot a third time and took another silver. In all, I made six passes and took my limit of six silvers and was back at the dock cleaning my catch within an hour. I’ve never forgotten that incredible morning.

Last year, I had been fishing halibut near Kake and heard that there was a great silver run in the Ketchikan area. I was scheduled to be down there within the week and was curious whether my luck would repeat itself. My oldest son Andrew was with me and I showed him how we should fish it. We wanted to be just outside an underwater wall with the depth finder showing 135-140 feet. He put us in the right place and in minutes we had a double hit and landed two 15 pound silvers. Andrew circled around and came through the same location and we hit two more. We kept working the same spot and landed five more over the next hour. I definately had a sweet spot and did it produce!

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RIDERS OF THE TIDES

© 2013 by Fredrick Cooper

Riders of the Tides is a new novel released by Langdon Street Press in February 2013.

Riders of the Tides is one lively and exciting adventure after another set in two time periods – the 1850’s and present day.”

“A wonderful tale blending historical events of the Oregon Territory, compassion for the plight of Native Americans during the time of Manifest Destiny, and family saga.” Earl Armstrong, a young tribal forester, lives a quiet life along the Washington Coast, surveying timberlands and minding his own business. When a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway leads him to Unck, a local Indian storyteller with a suitcase of old treasures—a beaded tobacco pouch, a whalebone-handled knife, a piece of an old totem—Earl’s life, and his understanding of the past, are forever changed. First, a tingling in the fingers. Next, restless sleep. Someone is there. As pieces of the past slip through Earl’s dreams, the true nature of the treasures is revealed, guiding Earl to clues surrounding a murder that has plagued his family for generations. But in learning about the death of Ben Armstrong, a pioneer, adventurer, and successful lumberman in the Pacific Northwest, Earl places his own life at risk, linking past and present in a horrifying twist. Riders of the Tides, a family saga, is filled with adventure and mystery. Real life pioneer and lumberman Ben Armstrong was one of 44 men who petitioned the U.S. Congress to form the Washington Territory and he was murdered. Due to lack of evidence, the case was never solved. Riders of the Tides seamlessly weaves together past and present, nature and Native American spiritualism. Historical fiction lovers and mystery connoisseurs will relish every word of this captivating book. _______________________________________

The Ghost Bear is an exciting short story set in the wilderness of Princess Royal Island in northern British Columbia. It is reproduced here in its entirety.

THE GHOST BEAR

© 2008 Fred C. Cooper

Mack Hufford stepped over a snow-covered log and pushed his way through some low hanging branches following a small game trail.  There had been fresh fallen snow since he walked it two days ago to set a line of traps.  He slid down a bank of a shallow stream and splashed across.  The thin ice around the edges of the protruding rocks crushed beneath his insulated, leather boots with the sound of breaking glass.  He pulled himself up the far bank and adjusted his backpack full of traps and a rifle that was slung over his right shoulder.  Sadie, a mixed Blue Tick hound, had scampered across ahead of him and now waited excitedly at the top of the bank. “Good girl, Sadie!”  The man said to her as he paused to catch his breath.  “Now we’ll see if we had any luck with our trap line.” Sadie bounded ahead once more following the game trail leaving deep tracks in the fresh layer of snow.  The man and the dog had followed the small stream up the valley from the beach for nearly a half mile.  Mack Hufford enjoyed being out alone on his small boat tucked safely in a small cove away from the blustery winter storms of Northern British Columbia and in the woods.  He worked in Prince Rupert at whatever steady job he could find during the summer and the rest of the year earned a little income by trapping in places that were as wild as they were 100 years ago.  He trapped whatever he could – fox, marten, fisher, wolverine and black bear – anything where the hide had value.  He tanned the hides and sold them to a fellow who made trips to Prince Rupert each Spring and exported them to China and Russia where they were supposedly used for trimming winter coats.  He grumbled to his friends that he wasn’t getting any younger and that some day he would have to give it all up and move south to Vancouver.  But that time was still some years off.  He loved this remote country. His thoughts and the peacefulness of the new snowfall were suddenly disrupted by a noise in the brush just ahead of him.  It was the beating wings of a grouse taking flight through the snow-covered branches of a cedar tree after being flushed by Sadie. “Stay close dog!” He hollered knowing full well she would take off after the grouse.  Her bays got fainter as the dog gave chase up the trail which paralleled the stream just below a high rock cliff now shrouded in gray clouds along with the rest of the mountains of the island he was on.  Both he and the dog knew the area well from years of trapping its many valleys.  Up ahead were several well used animal trails leading down from caves in the cliff and across the stream.  It made for a good place to set traps. Mack was about to holler for Sadie again when he heard sounds that sent a chill down his back and caused him to rush forward with dread.  It was the high pitch wail of a bear cub calling for its mother along with the frenzied barking of Sadie.  Suddenly the dog gave a woeful howl that was unexpectedly cut off. “No, Sadie, No!”  Mack hollered running as fast as he could.  He dropped his pack on the trail and unslung his old Winchester 30.06 chambering a round as he ran.  Bursting into a clearing he faced a horrifying scene.  Blood was sprayed everywhere on the snow-covered grass.  Sadie lay in the middle of it her intestines pulled from her belly and her head nearly torn from her body.  Just behind her a yearling black bear cub thrashed wildly with one hind paw held firmly in one of his traps its muzzle dripping blood.  The man released the safety on the rifle and shot the cub in the head.  It collapsed in a heap as the blast reverberated off the cliff and then the woods became deathly silent. Mack placed his rifle against the log where the trap was anchored and walked slowly over to the remains of Sadie.  He knelt and patted her head as he spoke to her one last time. “Damm it Sadie.  I told you over and over don’t get too close to an animal in a trap.” Behind him there was a deep growl and a sound like a sudden gust of wind.  Mack knew instantly what it was and the mistake he had made.  But he had no chance to get to his feet and reach his rifle as the creature hit him square in the back.  He tried to roll and protect his belly but the massive animal pinned him down and grabbed his right shoulder with its teeth.  He heard bones crunch.  The pain shot across his chest and he exhaled with a loud scream.  The last things Mack Hufford remembered as the huge white bear clamped her jaws on his throat were the fury in its eyes and the coppery smell of his own blood.

***

Miles to the north in Prince Rupert Arnold Hufford stomped his feet loudly as he crossed the porch of his father’s house.  The house was dark.  He had waited at the BC Ferry landing for over an hour and finally started walking.  It was nearly midnight when he finally reached his father’s place lugging a suitcase and a large backpack.  He was upset.  His dad had begged him to spend winter break from college with him in Prince Rupert instead of going home to his Mom in Victoria.  Well, he was here and Dad hadn’t bothered to come and meet him. Arnold pounded on the door and called out.  There was no answer.  He tried the knob and the door opened.  Dad never locked it.  Calling out again from the living room he was finally satisfied there was no one home.  The place was as cold as the outside.  He found the spare bedroom and burrowed under some wool blankets to get warm.  Arnold was asleep in five minutes. Early the next morning he changed clothes and wandered through the house trying to figure out when his dad was last home.  Things were not picked up and the floor was filthy.  A pile of dirty dishes in the sink looked like they had been sitting there for days.  Not wanting to face cleaning the place up, he grabbed his jacket and hat and trudged down to the waterfront and found a café that opened early.  The name painted on the window read The Dockside Café.  Aside from three fishermen who were joshing with the waitress at the cash register there were only two other people in the place – a young man about his age sat a table near the kitchen entrance and an older guy at the counter sipping a cup of coffee.  He slid a chair out from a table by the window and waved at the waitress as the three fishermen walked out. “I’d like a cup of coffee with cream, mamm.”  Arnold asked politely. She brought over a half-full pot and turned over a heavy, white mug and poured him some.  “Cream and sugar on the table.  Wanna order somethin’, Hon?” The waitress peered at him over her half lens glasses as she jotted down his order of eggs and home fries.  She looked to be around the same age as his father.  The name embroidered on her blouse said Wanda.  He decided to ask her a question.  “Wanda, you wouldn’t by chance know Mack Hufford?  He’s my father and he doesn’t seem to be home.” The heads of the other two people in the café turned to look at him as Wanda replied.  “Sure.  Just about everyone in town knows Mack.  Can’t say that I’ve seen him in five or six days though.” As she walked unhurriedly over to the kitchen window to place his order, he heard the scrape of a chair and turned his head to see the young man walk towards him. “Hi, my name’s JD.  You Mack’s son?  Not waiting for Arnold to reply, JD sat down in a chair across the table.  “He left town to work some traps over a week ago.  Should be back by now.  You been to his house?” “Yeah, was there last night.  Place was cold and the sink full of dirty dishes.  I’m Arnie Hufford.  Been attending Simon Frazer.  It’s my first year.”  Arnold replied.  “Do you know where he goes?” JD sat for a moment twirling a coffee spoon before answering in a hesitant voice.  “I, I think he said he was going to Princess Royal.  I help Mack skin and stretch hides sometimes when he’s got a lot of them to do.  He’s got some special places that he doesn’t talk about much.  But last time I saw him he mentioned that he hadn’t been to Princess in a while.  Princess Royal Island is little over a half day run south down Grenville Channel depending how fast a boat you got.  It would take Mack a long day.  His boat is pretty slow.  But he likes to go there since not many people go that far to hunt and trap so he does pretty well.  Of course there are the tourists that want to go there to see a Kermode.” “A Kermode?  What’s that?”  Arnie asked. “It’s a bear, a white bear which is pretty rare.  Princess Royal Island has a big black bear population and they say maybe one in ten of the cubs are born pure white.  Not albino neither.  The First Nations people round here refer to the White Bear as a Spirit Bear.  Others call them a ghost bear ‘cause they’re hard to see.  But man, being a Spirit Bear that’s pretty far-fetched….” The other man in the café must have been listening to JD ramble on about bears and cleared his throat loud enough for Arnie to hear and for JD to stop talking.  The man had twisted on his seat and was staring at the two boys.  He looked Indian to Arnie.  He wore a blue baseball cap with a beaded Canadian flag on the front.  His hair was long and solid black except for starting to turn gray around his ears.  His hand that was still wrapped around a coffee mug was rough and dark-skinned.  He looked directly at Arnie and JD and spoke softly almost in a whisper yet they both heard him clearly.  “Princess Royal is not a place to go poking around for any reason.  It’s the Spirit Bear’s home.” JD made a half-smile and replied.  “Ah, its okay, Elton.  Nobody harms those white bears.  Besides, those tourists pay good money to be taken down there on the chance of seein’ one.  Most just get a scenic boat ride and maybe see a black bear and a few bald eagles.  The white ones seem to shy away from people.” “JD, you should know better”.  Elton said with a firm voice.  “Your Aunt Liz and me both know that the Spirit Bear has been there since before the first people came.  Over 10,000 years ago.  Some say before the ice age.  This whole Skeena River Valley was ice-free.  Glaciers didn’t cover it like most of BC and the Yukon.  The Spirit Bear was here then and still is.  It tells us how to live in this world and on the other side once we pass on.  Our legends say that it collects souls of the unforgiving and offers them to our grandfathers to deal with.  Take my word.  It’s a powerful animal in more ways than one.  People need to respect them and their home on Princess Royal.” Elton had finished his little lecture.  He got up; put a dollar on the counter and left the Dockside without so much as a goodbye or a nod. Wanda came out from behind the counter with plates balanced on her arm and the coffee pot in one hand.  “Here you go.  Brought you a side of hotcakes right off the griddle too, Hon.”  She set the plates in front of Arnie and started to walk away but hesitated and turned to face the two young men. “I heard what Elton Duke told you boys.  You best pay attention to what he says.  He’s one of the wisest Natives around.  He speaks the Tsimshian language and holds to their old traditions.  Even speaks to animals and birds like the bear and the raven.  But don’t take that trait as strange.  It’s the way he was raised.  In what’s called the old ways.” Arnie finished his breakfast hungrily.  While he ate he thought about his father and the dangers there must be in a place like Princess Royal.  It had been days, maybe a week since anyone had seen him.  Maybe Mack had a problem with his boat or even an accident.  He was becoming concerned and wondering what could be done.  Pushing aside his empty plate he looked at JD and told him what he was thinking. “JD, what if Mack went down there and ran into some trouble?  Maybe he had a problem with his boat or got injured in the woods.  We need do something about it.  Could you help me JD?  Have you got a boat that we can use to find him?” “I can probably use my dad’s boat.  It’s fast.  Got two Yamaha one thirties on the back.  Ah….you got any money to buy gas?  I’m broke.”

 ***

By mid morning, JD and Arnie had gassed up and were leaving the boat basin.  Arnie liked the thirty foot Broadwater aluminum boat belonging to JD’s father who was away for a few more days helping a friend haul shrimp pots up from Vancouver.  He frequently left JD to fend for himself, Arnie learned.  He looked out the window of its small cabin at the channel where JD had pointed the boat.  Gray sky hung low over gray water.  The low clouds obscured the tops of hills but at least they didn’t have the dark look that brings more snow.  As JD drove the boat they were quickly away from civilization and passed numerous uninhabited islands that lay between their course and the Pacific Ocean.  Arnie realized that he sorely needed JD to help find his dad.  He would never have been able to do this alone.

It took them a little over four hours to reach Princess Royal Island.  JD pointed it out up ahead.  The clouds had lifted some and Arnie could see that the island was large and its topography varied greatly.  Several snow-covered peaks that must be a thousand feet high gave the island a remote and foreboding appearance.  He could make out sheer rock cliffs and a couple of water falls cascading hundreds of feet down their face into timber filled valleys partially hidden in a pale mist. “It’s a big island.  This looks like an impossible place to find someone.  Where do we even start?  ” Arnie declared with his voice showing signs of in trepidation. “Not hard at all.”  JD hollered back over the noise of the two outboard motors.  “First we find Mack’s boat.  There’s not many places he can anchor.  If he’s not on the boat we look for where he beached his skiff.  Mack always tows a fourteen foot Lund.  It’s an aluminum boat with dark red sides.” JD pointed to a break in the rocky shoreline.  “See that point over there to the right?  There’s a small inlet just behind it called Home Bay.  At the far end there’s a stream that comes out of a lake about two miles up a valley.  The only place you can anchor is just off the stream at the end.  So we check it out first.  If Mack’s not there we move on to the next possible anchorage.” They slowed the twin outboard motors slightly and slid around the point with their wake lapping against the kelp covered rocks.  Another turn and they could see the end of the cove and JD slowed the boat further so that they were moving slowly through the narrow entrance of the cove.  Luck was with them.  A small boat was anchored there in the pale gray mist of the cove.  JD brought his dad’s boat alongside the larger boat.  They immediately saw that the back deck of the other boat was covered with snow and there were no tracks indicating any recent activity. “Should have known that no one was on board.  Sadie didn’t raise the alarm as we entered the narrow channel.  Sadie is Mack’s dog.”  JD declared as the boat drifted in the quietness of the cove.  He turned slowly scanning the shore around them then pointed off to his left.  “There, just to the right of those rocks where the stream comes out.  That’s Mack’s skiff pulled up high above the tide line on the beach.  I’m going to take us in there.  You jump out and untie the skiff then drag if back into the water.  We’ll tow it out to Mack’s boat and raft this boat up to it.  Then we can use the skiff to get back to shore.  Dad would kill me if I beached this boat.” “Ok.  But I don’t like the looks of this.  I worried about Mack.  He’s been away from his boat too long.” A movement on shore to the right of the stream in the periphery of Arnie’s vision drew his attention.  Something had moved behind a stand of stark white alders.  He stared at the spot hoping to see it again but whatever it was had disappeared into the dense forest and didn’t show itself. “Did you see that JD?  Over there to the far right.  I thought I saw something move.  Wasn’t a dog or a man.  It was a lot bigger.  Kind of pale colored I think.  Only caught a glimpse of it.” “Nope.  Didn’t see it.  Could have been a deer.  Everything looks different on shore from a boat.” Fifteen minutes later, they had retrieved the skiff and were tied to other boat.  In the extreme stillness around them Arnie could hear the faint riffling sound of the stream where it spilled out of the dark forest with its coat of white snow a stark contrast to the inky colored water of the cove.  The only other sound was the repetitive squawk of a raven from somewhere deep in the woods.  JD got Mack’s outboard motor going and while it was warming up went back into the cabin of his dad’s boat and dug through a locker under one of the cushions.  He took out a 12 gauge shotgun with a shortened barrel and a sling.  He removed a couple of slugs from a box of shells and stuffed them in his jacket pocket.  Then he grabbed a can of bear spray and tossed it to Arnie. “Put this on your belt.  I’ll carry the shotgun.  My dad calls it his bear gun.  Takes it along when we fish streams where there are bears.  You never know when you are going be in a bad situation with a fish hungry bear.  Meeting one in the brush just a few feet away can scare the crap out of you.” After beaching the skiff in the same location JD searched around for Mack’s trail into the woods.  He found it just off the stream.  Arnie followed as JD led them into the woods.  Minutes later he discovered tracks of a dog and a set of boot imprints in a patch of bare ground where the trail passed under some large cedar trees.  JD pointed at the tracks and then towards the stream full of fallen trees up ahead. “Looks like he went this way alright.  Only one set though that leads in and none out.” JD kept up a nervous chatter.  “Hope you don’t mind me making small talk.  The sound of our voices helps to alert any bears around so they have a chance to go another way.  Do you know how to use that bear spray by the way?  Just flip off the safety loop and push down on the trigger with your thumb after pointing it directly at the face of the bear.  It will shoot out 20-25 feet.  Presuming you got time to do it and don’t spray yourself in the process.  Ha Ha!” As he spoke, they both heard the faint crack of a branch breaking somewhere on the other side of the stream. “That’s probably the deer you saw.”  JD commented. Arnie wasn’t sure.  He thought it sounded bigger than a deer.  They crossed the stream at the same place Mack had used and in a few minutes later the trail opened up into a clearing.  Two ravens were pecking at a dark form in the snow and took flight as they stepped out of the brush. “Something’s not right here.”  JD said as he stared at the mound on the far side of the clearing.  “We better check this out.  Looks like the carcass of small bear.” Arnie hesitated at the edge of the clearing and was unsure whether to follow JD.  He watched as the boy glanced nervously at the brush around them, then crossed the clearing to examine the carcass.  Half way across he stumbled on something in the snow and fell forward onto his hands and knees. “What the heck?”  He exclaimed scrambling to his feet and examining his hands.  They were covered in blood.  So were the knees of his trousers. “Holy shit!  There’s blood everywhere.” Arnie walked over to the snow-covered object that had caused JD to stumble.  He kicked it and could see some exposed leather.  He reached down and picked it up.  It was an insulated boot only it was heavy and the top was torn.  What he saw inside caused his stomach to turn and he retched as he tossed it away. “Eeh!”  Arnie yelled wiping his hand on the side of the sleeve of his jacket.  “There’s a man’s foot still inside.  What the hell happened here, JD?” “I dunno.  This looks really bad.  I think we better get back to the boat.  We gotta tell the RCMP.  Let them deal with it.” JD and Arnie turned to go and froze where they were in the center of the clearing.  Standing motionless in the center of their trail was a monstrous white bear.  Its pale form was barely visible in the snow-covered trees and a wispy mist that hung in the clearing.  But nevertheless there it was.  Just watching them with blazing eyes. “What do we do?”  Arnie whispered. “Jesus! That’s a huge bear.  One of them ghost bears but it’s as big as a grizzly.  Whatever you do, don’t run.  A grizzly will bite you a couple of times and walk away.  This bear will kill and eat you.  If it doesn’t turn and leave I may have to shoot it.” Arnie moved back slowly a couple of steps as JD, keeping his eyes fixed on the bear, slipped the shotgun slowly off his shoulder.  The bear lowered its head and took a slow step towards him.  JD lifted the gun to his shoulder and pulled the trigger.  Instead of a blast there was a quiet click.  JD looked terrified.  In his panic he had forgotten that the slugs were still in his jacket pocket.  The bear sensed JD’s terror and charged across the clearing knocking him to the ground.  Its teeth tore through a sleeve of his jacket.  JD screamed and tried to crawl away but the bear bit again this time grabbing hold of one of his legs below the knee.  Arnie heard a bone break.  He started to holler at the bear and waved his arms to distract it from JD.  Then he remembered he had the can of bear spray.  Maybe it would work to scare the bear away. The bear let go of JD who now lay motionless in the trampled snow moaning and sobbing.  It stood on its hind legs and looked at Arnie.  Then it dropped back down and then ambled slowly towards him.  Arnie flipped off the safety on the can then losing his nerve stepped back and stumbled over the carcass of the bear cub.  He scrambled to his feet somehow still holding the can just as the bear charged.  He pressed the trigger and the stream of concentrated pepper spray hit the bear square in the face.  It roared and slid over on one side then jumped up and crashed blindly into the brush. “JD!  Are you okay?  The bear’s gone.  We gotta get back to the boat before it comes back.” JD moved then screamed in pain as he tried to get up.  “My leg!  It’s broken.  Help me, Arnie.  I…I don’t want to die here.  I don’t want to lose my soul to that ghost bear.  Please get me out of here!” “Stop raving, JD!  We’ll make it.  Grab my arm and stand up on your good foot then put one arm over my shoulder.  We can do this.” Arnie struggled to support JD and somehow they got across the stream and worked their way down the trail.  They stumbled and fell several times.  Each time JD screamed but the urgency to get back to the beach and the safety of the boat kept them moving.  They reached the skiff and JD tumbled in while Arnie pushed the boat into the water.  He climbed in and started pulling on the starter cord.  All of a sudden JD was hollering at him. “It’s here!  Get the motor started.  It’s here!” Arnie glanced up to see the bear charge out of brush and into the water.  Its claws raked the side of the skiff and the weight of the bear nearly capsized them.  Arnie pulled out the choke, yanked the cord again and the motor started.  He jammed it in reverse just as the bear lunged for them again.  The boat surged away from the bear with the motor screaming and its prop churning up the water.  He threw the motor into forward and pushed the tiller all the way over.  As they sped toward the boats in the center of the cove, the white bear climbed back on shore and shook the water from itself.  They could hear its roars over the whining of the outboard.  And then as suddenly as it had appeared it was gone. An hour later the two boys were speeding back up Grenville Channel toward town.  They sat silently not speaking to each other about their close encounter with death.  An old fishing boat appeared going in the opposite direction.  As it passed Arnie gave a little wave.  The man at the helm did not even look at them.  Arnie noticed he was wearing a blue baseball cap.  Elton Duke!  Where’s he going?  He thought to himself. After a while JD dug out a handheld marine radio.  He called the Coast Guard in Prince Rupert and in a painful voice described what had happened.  When Arnie and JD arrived they were met at the dock by the police along with an ambulance and two medics who transported the injured JD to the hospital.  The RCMP sergeant in charge informed Arnie that he needed to accompany him and several deputies back to the island in the morning.  He accepted in hopes that the remains of Mack Hufford might be found although he doubted it.

***

When Arnie arrived at the cove the next day with the RCMP he was surprised to see another boat already there.  It was Elton Duke’s fishing boat and the Indian stood on the deck waiting for them.  The sergeant asked Elton what he was doing there. “The matter of the white man who violated the home of the Spirit Bear is settled.  I’ve spoken to the bear, Sergeant.”  Elton said simply.  “There is no need for guns or to hunt for her since you will never find her.  There will be no more killing.  She has agreed to go far into the mountains and has taken the soul of a man with her to offer to our Grandfathers.”

The End

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