Chapter 55:     Pariah

Transcribed from dictation, ADAM speaking--

I remember first entering Aket as being one of the most fantastic 
moments in my life, but man, it was just as fantastic to come 
OUT again-- it was Spring, I was Free!  Whee!  I bounced down the 
mountain, taking the steeper slopes in giant hops.  It was great 
to be a Bigfoot again!

Aket had felt too much like the modern world: closed in, lots of 
traffic, stressed.  Monroe would be the same, just different 
stresses.  In between was being on vacation! I was going to have 
some fun, going to go somewhere-- but which where?  No contest: 
I headed towards Magga as fast as I could go.

And you should have seen me go.  I was riding the thunder--that's 
what the Nokhontli call it when you're really cruising at some 
dangerously high speed, but effortlessly because the Power of God 
is thrusting you forward to a wonderful moment.  Sounds like sex, 
I know.  Or like driving my good old Camero V8 Squatchmobile back 
home, flying down the highway with all that wind and noise--just 
tip your toe for faster.  You know it can be dangerous, but speed 
up anyway because you're pretty sure that God's on your side.  
That's riding the thunder. 

You'd think that I'd have been out of shape after two months of 
being cooped-up and physically inactive--although there WERE lots 
of stairs in Aket.  But all that Haka-Training had really worked, 
your muscles get CHARGED when it's flowing, electric buzz.  So I 
was running at full speed, breathing easy, my haka sucking me 
forward, the world just a blur--really kinda fun.

I covered a lot of distance really fast.  Mastinta's girls nature 
school should have been a two day's walk, but I figured it would 
only take me one day if I cut across the Cascades as a short cut.  
Although a short cut over a mountain range--well, you know, up and 
down through brush, crossing lots of civilization's roads--it 
becomes a long cut.  So I zigzagged a lot, taking back roads, 
crossing major highways.  I didn't really care if anyone saw me--
would have LOVED to talk to someone in English.  But of course, I 
didn't run into anybody.  

Well, actually I did, but not someone I could talk English with.

It was in the middle of the night, I was pushing on, didn't feel 
sleepy at all.  But going slower, it was too dark to be dashing 
through dense forest at top speed.  

Suddenly I heard something big crashing down through the branches 
above me and landing beside me with a heavy thud, I was startled 
and hopped sideways.  I briefly registered that it was a sizeable 
boulder, just as another one was coming from another direction.
I jumped backwards to avoid it, right into the firm grab of 
someone--definitely a squatch--behind me.  

A large powerful male had me in a full nelson and immediately 
pinned me face down to the forest floor.  He knew what he was 
doing, I couldn't wiggle free and in a few seconds I just 
blacked all the way out.

Next thing I knew there was feeble firelight, something like a candle. I was all spread out, still face down, solidly tied with grass ropes to tree roots. I could smell and hear at least three squatch males around me but couldn't see them. They seemed to be performing some kind of ceremony over me, although no words were spoken, only soft chanting. Sha-haka fire, small stones symmetrically placed upon my body, hands gently slapping me to rhythmic patterns. I suspected it was Daklakht, of course; my self-proclaimed Adversary. But I wasn't sure, I'd been moving fast ever since last seeing him inside Aket, there was almost no way he could have caught up with me; much less get ahead and set a trap. And how could he possibly know where I'd be anyway? Which got me to wondering if I was in the hands of three random psychopathic Sasquatch serial-killers out for a fun evening of sacrificing some passing stranger to the forest gods. All those creepy movies I'd seen about that stuff, always thinking no one could do that to me because I was a Superhuman Bigfoot. But I didn't really believe it, the Nokhontli just don't kill things. Nor did they kill me. Although my brain began to hurt, first like a headache, then like a knife stuck in and twisted. It got so bad that I'm sure I was screaming, then worse and worse, until I WISHED they WOULD kill me. I must have passed out because I woke up, still face down on the ground, but alone and unbound. There was no sign that I had ever been tied up, there were no footprints, no boulders lying around, as if it had all been nothing but a very scary hallucination.
I was confused and angry but seemingly unharmed and free to continue on my way, so I did. An overcast dawn was breaking as I headed Northwest once again. I went slower this time, more cautious about where I was and anything going on around me--not to say slightly spooked. Arrived at Mastinta's "schoolground" early afternoon. I knew that there were usually about eight to ten girls studying women's magic with Mastinta, although there was no one to be seen around the bakhl. But that's normal, squatches don't advertise their presence until they know who's coming into their area. So I let them know who I was and one of the girls, Masimabba, stepped into view. I asked where Magga was and she told me down by the pond. I was pretty excited about seeing Magga again and rushed down the hill to the little pond where we usually went to have some privacy for--well, you know--but my dreams of any sort of romantic interlude were shot down at once. Oh, she was there all right, but not alone. Magga was having sex on the grass with some big familiar-looking buck squatch. Even though it was not shyøma-time, which as far as I had known was my special trick. I was shocked, scandalized, wounded. But realized immediately that my reaction was sheer Nokhso morality, I couldn't expect a Nokhon girl to even comprehend the concept of being faithful to a guy who had been away for months, even if it was me. But then the big male screwing my girl friend rolled off her and looked up to send me a nasty, arrogantly smug smile so that I could clearly recognize him: it was Daklakht. I went hot with rage, understanding that this was a deliberate affront and suddenly certain that he HAD been the Sha-haka who ambushed me and performed that painful ceremony the night before. No matter that it was impossible for him to know where I'd be: here he was. Again. Magga looked up to see why her yøramma had been interrupted and saw me. "Oh, kha, Dadamet," she said without surprise. I would have expected a Nokhon girl to speak in perfect innocence, but could hear a quiver of guilt in her voice, see regret in her eyes. Something was wrong. Daklakht assumed a comfortable position to cuddle Magga better, possessing a boob in each hand and glared at me with an amused expression. "Why Young Dadamet, do I perceive...anger?" "Of course. And you know why: that was you last night!" "Was it? Perhaps you were dreaming, I have been occupied here with the lovely young Magga." "You lying bastard!" I said in anger and in English. Just what he wanted to hear. He turned to Magga, "You see? I told you so." "Yes. I know." I was surprised to see a tear run down her cheek. Daklakht came up from the ground in a ninja-move, impossibly fast and fluid, landing combat ready, obviously a master of some kind of Alutna Martial Art. "Well then, skyøma, do you want to fight me?" He looked very ready to whip my ass. "Fight the Alutna-Jii? And give you reason to arrest me?" "Oh, we can forget about that for the moment. Just two guys having it out?" "Not really. What good would it do?" "Ah? Perhaps you are afraid of me?" "Of course I am, you're a...(I had no Nokhon word for "psychopath") ...a dangerous guy. But I refuse to fight anyone for the sake of jealousy." "Jealous? Of what, Dadamet?" Magga asked and this time I could hear her innocence. She really didn't understand the silly human equation of Sex/Love=Ownership. "Daklakht knows that I want you to choose me, so is trying to provoke me into behaving like a Nokhso by possessing you in front of me." I had tried to explain in Nokhon terms but she still looked confused. Daklakht, however, understood perfectly. "Then you admit that the Nokhsos have influenced your way of thinking?" He looked quite eager for an answer he could use against me. But I only answered, "You think all Nokhsos culture is evil, but there are also some values..." I was not allowed to say more, Daklakht grabbed me hard by the throat, choking me with one hand, braying, "Sacrilege and blasphemy!" There was no way out of it, instinctively pulling up a charge of haka, I punched him in the chest as hard as I could. I was surprised to see him fly backwards onto his butt. He looked even more surprised than me, then smiled and said, "At least you are not a complete coward." But my victory was short- lived, he danced up and around me too fast to hinder and suddenly had my arm in a twist that I couldn't slip. Then he slapped me silly. He never really damaged me, but it hurt and was very humiliating to be spanked like a child. I tried to fight back but he was too strong and too skilled, calmly speaking all the while: "I believe that you are dangerous to the Nokhon way of life, but may not arrest you simply because you have not yet violated our laws. However, Dadamet, I can recommend that you go back to your decadent Nokhso friends--and stay there!" "I can't yet!" I managed to wail, "I have promised to be with the Nokhontli until..." "You shall NOT be here for the next Kha-rat," the Alutna-Jii proclaimed, "I will see to that! You shall instead be disgraced, deemed unacceptable as Negotiator--and thereafter be no threat to the Nokhon Nation." Then he just dumped me on the ground and walked away. No more badgering, no further beating, he'd won enough and was obviously done playing with me for the moment. Oh, except for one little thing, a parting shot as he walked away without looking back: "And fuck you too," he said--in perfect English! It took a while to get back on my feet, I was hurting. The slaps of a Sha-haka can be charged with extra pain. And once standing up I discovered that Magga had gone with Daklakht. That hurt too. So there I was: alone in an unwelcoming place, just beaten up by my enemy, rejected by my Nokhon girl friend and completely bummed out. I had no idea where to go or what to do with myself. I couldn't go HOME yet, not until after the next Kha-rat, about ten days away. I had to keep that promise Daklakht was striving to sabotage, no matter what. I felt quite lonely just then, could use a friend, so decided to go see Dagrolyt. If he wasn't home I could maybe pass by Dabronat and Malasna. And oh yes, cute little Masnia-- hmmm, just how old would she be by now anyway? I began to remember how horny I had been on my way to visiting Magga. Actually, I was offered a yøramma by Masimabba just as I was leaving. She's a nice enough girl, but I was more into feeling sad about Magga--that she'd go with HIM! that she'd abandoned me-- you know, stuff like that. So still celibate, I headed out without really caring where to.
I finally reached Dagrolyt's home valley the next morning after a very rough night. I was too tired and listless to travel all night so I had stopped to sleep. But found myself afraid of the dark: every sound startled me, every shadow was a monster. I wanted to run away, but didn't know which way. It was a waking nightmare all night long, like being haunted. Or like when I'd been shot and lay helpless waiting to die. Of course, I wondered about that weird ceremony in the woods the night before: had I been cursed? But when I got to Dagrolyt's bakhl I learned from Misma and Myrøla that he was away on his teaching rounds. I considered waiting for him to show up, not really having anywhere else to go, but the girls seemed uncomfortable in my presence. Finally Misma admitted that one of Dagolyt's oldest and best friends had come by--Daklakht, who else?--and that he had warned them that I was to be considered dangerous to the Nokhon way of life and therefore persona non grata. They were embarrassed and sorry about it, but said, "We don't know what to do--he is the Alutna-Jii, we cannot simply disregard his words! At least, not until we speak with Dagrolyt. So please go, dear Dadamet." I didn't want to cause them distress, so I left. But I did have to wonder how Daklakht was keeping ahead of me so fast! And his timing! If this was his "Ordeal of Adversity" I had to admit he was good at it.
I went west without really paying attention to where I was going, just kept moving to think and pass the time, no plan yet. Coming over a hilltop I was surprised by a view of Puget Sound and The Olympic Peninsula in the far distance. I could see Seattle, sun sparkling upon glass towers. Civilization, not so far away. Man, I wanted to go home just then. But no, I had to tough it out for another week, and then I could get back to my old life for a while. I stopped to find out which way I wanted to go now. I knew where I was, but was also lost. Finally I calculated that I was not so far from Old Dannat's bakhl, so I went that way. Not that I really wanted to visit Dour Dannat himself, but I did have a cozy friendship with Malla, my sexy aunt. I could use a sexy friend. Especially one who could answer some questions about Daklakht, back when he had been with my mother. But when I arrived I scouted the scene from the woods first--and yes, there HE was! Daklakht had come just ahead of me yet again. Dour old Dannat, who had almost never offered ME a smile, came out of his cave waving his arms and grinning, shouting, "Daklakht, Daklakht, my old friend!" He even ran to the Alutna-Jii and embraced him like a long lost brother or something. Daklakht was a big guy, but even-bigger Dannat almost swept him off his feet with enthusiasm I had never seen him display for anything or anyone else. Especially not me. They began talking over old times, laughing and chattering. I was considering finding Malla anyway, until I heard her shriek "Khara, Daklakht!" She came flying out of the cave and threw herself on Daklakht's neck in wild abandon. She obviously liked him. I backed away, did not stop for the night. The thing was: it seemed that all my own friends were Older & Better Friends with my Adversary, who was always just ahead of me and obviously smarter, closing down my life with the Nokhontli. Daklakht was driving me out of Squatchland.
Wandering aimlessly, my eye on the sinking sun, already dreading the coming night, lonely and sleepless and frightening. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. Looking for a best place to sleep, coming down a steep forested slope, I caught the scent of a Nokhon male somewhere near me. I also smelled smoke, thus assumed he was Sha-haka. I was afraid it might be you-know-who, so I tried to sneak away without getting noticed. But a moment later a big squatch was charging at me from behind a tree. I recognized him a split second before he caught me and threw me down. It was the guy called Dazlask, the exile who had tried to come to Mastinta's Kha-rat several moons ago. I'd heard that he'd almost ended his previous term of exile when he was exiled yet again, for another two moons. He stood over me menacingly, bigger than me and I remembered that Dagrolyt had once warned me about how this guy was a bad one to wrestle. Something about a cruel streak. "Are you Alutna?" he asked and there was a grim expression on his face. He thought I was a cop. "What? Skog, I'm just Dadamet, an initiate." "How do I know that?" "What does it matter who I am? I'm just passing through." "Rask, and you'll just tell the Elders..." "Look, I can't tell any elders anything right now, I'm sort of in exile too." "Ra? What for?" "They're calling it an Ordeal of Adversity, a Sha-haka test..." "Pø! Sha-haka are privileged snakes, think they know everything. Listen punk, I can't let you go, you'll tell." "Tell what? About fire? You think I care about that? I make fire myself..." Then I smelled the heady aroma of meat cooking. That's what the fire was for. He saw me sniffing the air. "Ra, I eat meat!" He said it defiantly, but then looked away in shame briefly, then back at me defiant again. "Meat makes me strong!" There was a threat implied there. Dazlask was a scary guy, not very likeable, kind of a nut-case, but at the same time I couldn't help but sympathize with someone who was so screwed up over living pretty much the way I always had. Of course, he was also an ethical bombshell for me to get involved with. But for the moment I thought it smartest to do whatever it took to avoid a fight. He'd already attacked me physically, no telling just how violent he was willing to get. I'd like to say, "Hey, I ain't 'fraida YOU"...but actually, I was. He was bigger, older and had a reputation for winning fights by hurting his opponents. It was discretion time. "Ra? What kind of meat are you cooking?" I tried to sound non- judgmental, interested--hell, I WAS interested, my mouth was watering. I'd been nothing but hungry since I'd come among the Nokhontli. "Sakili," he said challengingly, which means Deer, watching for my up-and-coming expression of disgust. "Mmm--can I have some?" It was absolutely the right thing to say. It threw him off guard, I suppose, but mainly it hit him right in the middle of his loneliness. This was his chance to have some company. "You eat...meat?" Maybe it was him who looked disgusted, just for a second. "I'm the guy who was raised by NokhSos, I've eaten meat all my life. Used skesk. Made fires." "What? Get up, come with me!" I brushed myself off and followed him to his bakhl, a hand-made cave dug into the hillside, well hidden with brush except for a few wisps of smoke coming out of it. Inside there was a fire-pit burned down to glowing ashes and a deer carcass that had been more burned than cooked, about half of it remaining. There were also stone tools, including some stone-tipped spears. This guy was a real outlaw by Nokhon standards--but by cave man standards he would have fit right into the Neocene Stone Age, a splendid example of Homo Giganticus. Suddenly I had a lot of respect for what Dazlask had made with his hands and his brain. Dazlask took a sharp-edged stone to cut off a generous chunk of meat from a leg and handed it to me. Then watched me suspiciously to see if I would really eat it or not. I had no problem with that; it was my turn to attack. It was overcooked, dry, stringy and absolutely delicious. I think I grunted like a pig, gobbling greedily and ate the entire piece as he watched me. Actually, I wasn't going to take a chance that he'd snatch it back. When I looked at him I saw a relieved man, who had at last found someone even more perverse than himself. "You know," I told him, when I caught my breath again, "if you'd just put a little salt on it, you'd have it perfect." "Salt, eh? That does sound good." "That's how the NokhSoli eat meat. They use a lot of spices, but there aren't any words in Nokhontli to name them, probably because we can't find them here." "Yes, the Nokhsos have everything we may not have...can you get me some spices from them?" "Oh, sure--although I may not go back to them just yet, but later I could try to bring you some." "And a noisekiller-stick! I've seen them work--KRAK! and a sakili falls down far away, Kha-ra! Can you get me one?" "Uh...well, I don't have any noisekillers myself. And it would certainly cause some trouble with the Alutnat if I did, not a good idea." "The Alutna would stay away if I had a noisekiller-stick." Definitely not a good idea. "Well, I can't bring you a noisekiller," I said flat out. "Where were you going?" he asked me. "To... actually, I don't know. Just going." "Look, stay here and we'll talk about the NokhSo world. You can eat more!--I can never eat a whole Sokili alone before the meat goes bad." My first reaction was Hell Yes, but immediately realized that I might end up in a moral dilemma. "Well, that's very generous of you, but I should warn you that the reason I'm wandering is that I've got the Alutna-Jii after me and..." "The Alutna-Jii!" Dazlask's eyes went wide in genuine terror and he backed away from me fast as he could. "Then you can't stay! Go, go! Get out of here, before he finds you! Here, take some more meat--but go!" I was on my way again. He was a pathetically lonely pariah, but my company was unacceptable. He made me realize that if Daklakht had his way, if I could not keep my Orator's Promise, this might be the very kind of life I could expect among the Nokhontli.

Chapter 56

Adam out of Eden