Authors: Christine Conder
An American Sasquatch Tale
Copyright © 2012 – Christine Conder
Cover Art Copyright © 2011 – Carl Graves
All rights reserved.
Forsaken-An American Sasquatch Tale
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
L.A.W., this is for you.
and memory takes them to her caverns,
pure and deep.
Thomas Haynes Bayly,
Teach me to forget.
The Sasquatch served no purpose, but still they fought to survive. There were different rules in every settlement, but no matter where they lived, three were fundamental, considered commandments:
1. Stay focused.
2. Stick to the path.
3. Trust nothing.
Remembering the rules like they remembered their name was the cornerstone of survival.
From the moment they began to walk and talk, the commandments were drilled into their heads. If they followed them, they got to grow up. And then, after they survived childhood, they picked a mate, found some hole to climb into, and more or less stayed there until they rotted. There were certain milestones to break things up, of course, like having children of their own or moving to a new colony. But otherwise, the Sasquatch life was unremarkable.
If they followed the rules.
Liberty Brewster tended to stray off the path, but she blamed her rebel streak on her mother, Sarah Fleming. She’d overheard the awful things colonists whispered about her mother. Heretic. Birdbrained. Unstable. The last— used most often and with the most malice— was the worst to be labeled with. Unstables didn’t stick around too long.
Her mother talked a lot, spoke of the outside world, and claimed to be psychic, but it was harmless, imaginative babble. Liberty never believed she’d been in danger of an escort. Thank goodness her father governed the cavern, because it afforded Sarah some immunity.
Behavior that jeopardized the colony wasn’t tolerated. The guilty party got a warning, sometimes more than one if the offense hadn’t caused an incident, but any more and the guards took the person, the
person, aboveground. And they wouldn’t be seen again.
“Dream big, baby,” Sarah said one night, in barely a whisper.
“No one said you can’t have an idea.” She’d sat behind ten-year-old Liberty on the feather stuffed mattress and started to braid her hair. “They aren’t against the rules, you know.”
“Sure you do,” her mother’s voice sounded soft and calm, like a fuzzy caterpillar.
Liberty closed her eyes and relaxed. Her hair was long and tricolored, thick strands grew out in clusters of auburn, sable, and blond. She loved the way her mother braided it, pulling the colors into individual sections, each hue separate and snaking around the next in the plaits.
Whenever she tried it, the colors refused to stay apart, they’d mishmash together and she’d look like a calico mess.
Sarah continued in a more serious tone, “Like, I have an
that out near the stream there are hundreds of plump, red raspberries begging to be picked.” She gently tugged and pulled, fastened one finished braid with a blue ribbon. “And I’d like to go this very minute and eat some.”
Liberty’s eyes popped open and she turned around. “Really?”
Sarah nodded, a playful smile on her lips.
“Just you and me?”
Liberty searched her mother’s face, waited for her to say she was joking, but Sarah didn’t flinch. Patience, her three-year-old sister, demanded most of their mother’s energy. Ever since Patience had been born, Liberty had relinquished the majority of her one-on-one time. Except for this, their cherished bedtime ritual.
Sarah put a hand up to quiet her, and looked toward the open doorway of the bedchamber. “Can you keep it a secret?” she whispered.
“Yes.” Liberty bounced on the blanket, and crossed her heart. “I swear it.”
The children of Proem had been banished to the cavern since an elder Sasquatch had died in a mysterious way the children hadn’t been privy to. It seemed her mother had also been kept from the surface, though Liberty couldn’t be certain of it. The Council had determined it was for their own good, which of course they didn’t question, but the elder had died months ago. Liberty wanted to run free more than anything.
“Be patient, little ladybug.” Sarah patted Liberty’s head, turned her around, and started the second braid.
Sarah recounted the dream again, the one she’d had before Liberty was born.
Her mother said she came into the world bathed in white light and said she saw her walk through a wildflower field wearing a pretty yellow dress with a hem that fluttered in the breeze. Sarah then envisioned her strolling down a crowded street filled with activity and noise. Liberty held the hand of a human with a white aura, pointed in shop windows, and was beautifully human herself.
“Where was the street at?” Liberty interrupted.
This was their little game.
“Hmm…” Sarah leaned over Liberty’s shoulder, “I believe it was in Baltimore.”
Last night it had been Portland. Liberty giggled and listened to the rest. The dream always had a happy ending.
* * *
After everyone had fallen asleep, they crept down to the end of the cold corridor where a ladder waited to take them to the surface.
Sarah put a finger to her lips and carefully avoided the creaky rungs as she climbed. Liberty shut her eyes, waiting to hear the hatch close behind her mother when Sarah reached the surface.
Going from human below, to animal above, hadn’t grown on her yet. Some of the other kids snickered, called her a jennie. But she was only sensitive, not a half-grown turkey, so the taunts rolled off her.
Though it wasn’t, when she watched people get all twisted and rippled, it
painful. While the change was nonnegotiable, it didn’t mean she was required to watch it.
She listened for her mother to lift the hatch again, the signal it was clear, then she opened her eyes and ascended one rung, waited, then another rung, and another.
On egress, an intense seizure overtook her body, but the wave only lasted a few seconds. She emerged as Sasquatch and before she had any time to dwell on the experience, it was over.
Guided by a fat moon that hung low in the sky, they ran away from the cavern. Liberty wanted to thank Sarah, tell her how free she felt, but the Sasquatch couldn’t speak. Not in words anyway. The tongue and throat didn’t coordinate aboveground and the best she got were high-pitched grunts and grumbles. But she didn’t need to say the words out
Sarah would understand how she felt. Liberty’s energy danced in the air around her, a bright orange aura with flecks of yellow, perfectly mirroring her mother’s.
They reached the stream, kneeling on the dewy grass near the edge. Surrounded by the sweet aroma of raspberries, they cupped their hands into makeshift bowls, gathering the tiny fruit a dozen at a time, before eating them all in one bite. Crickets chirped, fireflies danced above the surface of the water, and a pair of owls called out to one another high in the trees. Liberty tipped her head back and took it all in. She’d missed the fresh air.
Turning to Sarah, Liberty stared into a pair of brilliant green eyes. The one part of her which stayed the same, whether she was above or below ground, reflected tiny silver orbs in the center. Liberty nudged her, merged their auras for a moment, and smiled, happier than she’d been in a long time.
As they reached out for more handfuls, Sarah froze. Liberty saw her mother’s aura beat crimson and she whipped her head around to look in the shadows behind them. Sucking in a breath, Liberty tuned in to the surroundings, but before she could pick up anything, her mother grabbed her hand and pulled her to her feet.
In a flash, they were running. Sarah dragged Liberty along and Liberty followed in a blind panic. She kept up the best she could, tried not to stumble. What had she missed? The red in Sarah’s aura showed she was bustling—sending wavelengths to confuse predators—giving them a chance to escape. Ahead, to the right of them, a beam of light splashed against a tree trunk. Another sliced through the darkness and flashed to the left. Liberty suddenly understood.
Sarah hadn’t signaled her beforehand, but Liberty knew they were headed to the dugout. Located in the opposite direction, Proem needed to stay protected at any cost. On instinct Sarah was drawing the humans away from it. Liberty imagined when her father discovered, and had gotten over his anger of, their misadventure, he’d be proud. They zigzagged for nearly half a mile, managing to confuse and, for a time, elude the humans.
Her mother slowed, gazing upward. This part of the woods consisted mainly of fir trees, but hardwoods dotted the landscape here and there. Sarah spotted their marker—the thing called a pitch—in a tall hemlock. The pitch didn’t stand out, but looking closely near the very top of the tree, three of its limbs were stripped bare.
They made their way off the path and toward a fallen oak lying adjacent to the hemlock. Dirt and moss clung to the unearthed, massive root ball of the dead tree. Sarah pulled her around the roots,
shoved her under the trunk into the hole.
Going from Sasquatch to human felt different than from human to Sasquatch. It felt like losing your footing the last several steps down a steep hillside and trying to stay upright. She transformed as she fell—a double whammy—and her stomach objected, threatened to give back the half-chewed berries she’d eaten. Her mother, out of breath and shaking, landed next to her in a heap.
* * *
Liberty and Sarah huddled in the dugout, waiting for the hunters to pass over. Twigs cracked overhead and heavy footfalls scuffed through the woody debris that littered the forest floor. Every hard snap of kindling amplified in the pit, jolted Liberty’s insides. Her mother jerked as someone or something kicked an acorn, it rolling into their hiding place and landing on her bare foot. Liberty shook. She felt like a rabbit cornered in a dead end thicket as the hunters closed in above them.
Sarah tightened her arms around Liberty. Liberty imagined her mother thought the gesture would soothe, but between the adrenaline surges, the small pit, and the commotion above, the embrace felt like a restraint.
Liberty closed her eyes and tried to steady her pounding heart. Breathing in the musty air she could almost believe she was back at Proem.
The men trailed off, circled back, called out to one another in excited, hushed whispers. Goosebumps formed over Liberty’s body as she resisted the urge to scream, hanging on to her sanity one second at a time.
“You sure it came this way?” a voice asked.
“Yeah, I think so.”
“You think, you don’t know?”
“Yes,” the voice sounded agitated, “I’m positive. And there were two of them.”
“Shut up and look.”
It. Them. Liberty knew what they meant. She focused on her surroundings. The dugout, a temporary safe place, existed for emergencies. Quite fitting with them hunkered down in the cramped space, naked bodies pressed together for warmth as they listened to men discuss them like they were animals. She peered into the darkness. Why hadn’t whoever created the space thought of arming it so they could defend themselves?
Liberty pondered the idiocy of it for a few moments, then started to feel around. She located the acorn, picked it up and placed it in her mother’s hand. She pulled Sarah close and whispered into her ear, “Can’t you throw this back the other way? They’ll chase after the noise.”
Diversion. A tactic they used to stay alive in situations like the one they were in. It worked most of the time, or so she’d been told.
Sarah shook her head. “It’s too little.”
Sarah handed it back and Liberty dropped it, feeling around for a stick, a rock, an object with substance. All she found was packed dirt and pebbles. Aboveground, they could read auras, bustle, use strength to defend themselves. But as humans, they only had each other.
As the sound of the hunters grew close again, her mother whispered, “Be brave.”
Sarah covered Liberty’s mouth before Liberty had a chance to respond, so she nodded. She might not be great at making her way around the woods on her own, but she happened to be okay in bravery. Earlier in the year, before the sanctions, she’d successfully stood against her first opponent, a black bear. Her father had patted her on the head, seemed proud of her for bustling and not backing down. Didn’t matter the bear had been a yearling and quite easy to control with her thoughts.