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(6) Chapter Six

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that night..

The snow capped mountains were pinned against the darkness, just a smear of lightness resisting the blackness of the night… small pinpricks of light gave away the shoreline and the salt air was heavy with mist.

The great bull surged evenly just under the surface, feeling all of this without really knowing it.. thirty nine times he had passed this way… and all those moments.. and those of his forbearers filtered into and through his existence..

It wasn’t just his great bulk passing thru these waters.. there were twelve more just behind him.. mildly subdued, not hunting … just moving as all had before down the coast.. He felt curiosity.. they were near where the distant cries had come from.. what cousin was that that had cried so sadly, so mournfully. They had shared this feeling with the wavewalker last night as they had many times before with the older ones.. and although they shared the same deep sadness.. it made it but little easier to bear.

Part of him could just pass by where the sounds had come from.. yet a deeper part had to know what story had been told in the distant signal he’d heard earlier in the day.. the entire pod had heard and felt the distant sadness.. of a long lost cousin. He thought of his mother and what she would have done. This was his first season leading the pod.. no female seemed ready to replace her, perhaps they had no idea after her 54 years of calm, yet powerful rule.. so he had simply led the way after her abrupt departure and they all had followed him.

He surged further into the cove, sensing all that lingered in the dark waters.. but there seemed nothing to be known.. and to be told later at the gathering of the orca. Further into the narrow channel he nosed.. and quietly felt around the aquaculture pens for some sense of one who had been here.. or was here. Behind him members of the pod vented uneasily and loudly.. the mature females sensed his discomfort in these narrow waters..

Past an anchored trawler… then another with its ticking engine.. voices carried thru the water to him.. but he ventured further.. even up to the great wharf, casting for reasons or clues to what had happened here. Finally he surfaced quietly.. pinning the position of the stars.. the white mountain tops and the lights of human structures in his consciousness.  There was nothing here. There had been nothing here. Emptiness filled his thoughts. There was nothing here but sadness.. There had been no cousin here.. yet.. the cries had come from here. Distant memories surged thru him.. bad feelings only.

He turned.. chagrined and full of loathing.. this was not a place to have led his family. The sudden rattling of chains and cables and the roar of a diesel engine sparked anger within his body and he whistled harshly to the following pod then spyhopped immediately as he surged seaward.

“Drop them weights now… they’re in there.. its whalin time boys..!”

The trawler was surging across the narrow channel, suddenly lit with incandescent light and at the stern men were busy releasing a twin set of netting with buoys and heavy weights.. they quickly reached the other point and set about ensuring there were no slack edges to the nets they had strung across the narrow channel and immediately began running a lighter horizontal net between the two cables.

Inside the small bay thirteen killer whales confronted the sudden barrier to their freedom.. and during the first moments of confusion.. only four of them found room at the edges to escape.. two alert females and one attentive yearling calf that had closed quickly upon the bull’s alert exit. The rest, nine of them.. quickly found themselves pinned inside.. and churned the dark waters looking for a way out.. venting nervously as they examined the intimidating barriers that had suddenly appeared.. fear of entanglement and drowning froze their efforts to escape.. yet they looked above and below the surface for any opening.

From the trawler came an exuberant voice.. almost sing song but very accurately giving a play by play of the moment..

“Get them edges sealed there… we already lost some I think. Shit.. there they are… outside..  get them edges up tight to the rocks and the rest aint goin anywhere. Holy shit boys.. we got most of em in there… half a dozen anyways… get the skiff out there in front of the net till we finish stringin the top net and its going to be payday and then some… we got em boys!”

Outside the barriers the two females circled … nosing up to the netting and whistling loudly to those within. The calf  crashed about the surface .. unsure of what was unfolding.. but the great bull was already examining the breadth of the twin netting and understood immediately the gravity of the situation. His pod was split up and over half were trapped within the small bay..

Although he was unafraid of the bright lights of the trawler and the noisy skiff patrolling the surface, he knew the females with calves would be staying deep and avoiding confrontation.  This was not a time to panic.. but bad things were happening. He turned from the outer net and counted his family that had escaped the cove.

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Written by diamondwalker

November 26, 2008 at 1:25 am

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