Chapter 56:     Driven

Transcribed from dictation, ADAM speaking--


Another night of quivering and shivering, my fear of the dark seemed 
to be getting worse and I was being worn down by lack of sleep.  It
 would have been better to have a nice comfortable bakhl to stay 
in, but I couldn't seem to find anything that felt right.  Which was 
odd, I've always been good at that.

I was also running out of places to go to, friends to visit.  By now 
I was beginning to expect that no matter where I went Daklakht would 
get there just ahead of me, ruining everything.  It seemed illogical 
that he could move around the wilderness so quickly and exactly to 
where I was going, but then he was a Sha-haka, a wizard with magical 
powers.  Maybe he flew. 

Not knowing where to go, I wondered if I should just hide and wait 
right where I was--for over a week--then make a break for the 
Kha-rat before he could cut me off.  I knew he'd do anything to 
stop me from arriving, that was the whole point of it for him.

Since my final Kha-rat had to be held at Mastinta's school, I would 
work around that, keeping within a day's walk. Decided to find a 
pleasant place to wait it out.  

After wandering a while I found myself not far from the bakhl of 
Dabronat and Malasna. I was reluctant to even try, but after sitting 
on a rock for a few hours I got so bored that I started going that 
direction anyway.

I had spent a lot of time alone in the woods when I was younger, but 
then I always had a goal in mind to keep it interesting: searching 
for my own Sasquatch people.  Now I'd found them, but they seemed to 
be lost to me just then, so there was no prize any more.  I wanted 
to go see Magga.  I needed to talk to Dagrolyt.  The loneliness was 
intolerable.  It got so bad I began to obsess that it was part of my 
Adversary's psychic curse.  I had never felt that depressive in my 
life before.

When I came to Dabronat's place I stopped out in the woods to check 
it out before making an appearance, just in case HE was there.  I 
saw no sign of him.  Encouraged, I stepped into the open and made 
the little bird-hoot one uses to politely announce yourself among 
the Nokhontli.  

Beautiful young Masnia stepped into view and my spirits elevated to 
the top.  It's almost impossible to sneak up on a squatch, even a 
young one. so Masnia had been aware that someone was nearby, but 
not that it was me.  

I called to her and she squealed "Da-adam-ee!" and came running like 
a very healthy young female animal in glorious puberty.  It had only 
been three months since I'd seen her last, but she had grown three 
inches and noticably bigger boobs.  I had forgotten all about being 
horny but was at once reminded.  She hopped onto me and tangled us up 
in arms and legs, snuggling madly.  I was overwhelmed by her passion.  

"You came back--to ME!  You were gone away to that nasty old Aket far 
too long!"

"Uh...I missed you too...uh...little Masnia," trying to keep my cool.  

"Ha, not so little anymore," she insisted and grabbed my already 
stiffening dakh to prove it, "and it seems that you agree."

"Such a precocious child," I said like it was a joke, still not 
sure how far to go along with this game, but definitely tempted to 
play a while. "Well, here we are, alone at last."

"Actually, yes, I've had company until just now.  My dadakh was here 
to visit me," she told me.

I went cold, suddenly realizing exactly WHO her father was--I mean, 
who else?  An important Sha-haka from far away, who just happened to 
be in the area looking up old friends?  But I asked anyway, just to 
make sure, "You don't mean Daklakht, the Alutna-Jii?"

"Ra!  Oh, you know him too?"  Forget any up-and-coming flirt: my 
Nokhso morality shifted automatically into Stop-You-Pervert mode.  
Masnia looked down at her handful of nothing, "What's wrong, 
Da-adam-ee?"

"Uh, Masnia, I think you might be my...sister."
  
"Huh?"

"I think Daklakht may be my father too."

"You had only one father, like me?"  

"Well, they tell me there were four, but Daklakht was one of them."

She looked at me with wonder and confusion, and then asked, "How 
would that make me your sister?  We have different mothers."  

I was aware that the Nokhontli have no patrilineal tradition, since 
they believe in multiple fathers anyway, but I still wasn't sure it 
was true.  Masnia was definitely unusual in having one identifiable 
father. 

"Well, you can be my brother if you want," she humored me.  Then 
she smiled as if with great joy and got very excited to tell me: 
"Oh but, Da-adam-ee, I think my first shy°ma will flow this coming 
Full Moon!  Then you can y°ramma me!  Oh, I can hardly wait!"

(One of the very few restrictions about sex among the Nokhontli is 
that girls must be of shy°ma-age before any mature males may 
y°ramma them.  Evidently, Masnia was almost ripe.)

"Uh...well, we CAN'T," I said, suddenly embarrassed, "brothers and 
sisters may not do that!"

"Huh?  Who says?"  

Of course, Nokhon sexual mores being what they are, my explanation 
of Why We Couldn't seemed utterly absurd to her--squatches simply 
don't have rules about incest because unwanted pregnancies don't ever 
happen--but finally she understood that I just couldn't/wouldn't do 
it with her.  "Never?" she asked sadly.

"I think not.  Unless we find out that we aren't siblings.  If so--
well, never mind.  But we can love each other in another very special 
way: as family.  We belong to each other and will for the rest of our 
lives."

She smiled again, grudgingly. "Okay, that's not so bad."

"No, that's quite nice," then I changed the subject. "Did Daklakht 
mention me when he was here?"

"Not to me, but he was having a very serious talk with Dabronat and 
Mamama and I may have heard your name."

"Where are they now?"

"We're right here," I heard Dabronat say behind me.  He and Malasna 
had come out of the forest with the usual squatch silence. They were 
not smiling as usual, so I knew right away that Daklakht had made 
certain that I would not be welcome.

Dabronat spoke formally, slightly louder than squatches usually allow 
themselves to: "The Alutna-Jii has formally requested that we turn you 
away, so we shall.  Sorry Dadamet, you have to go."  It was clearly 
theater for Daklakht to overhear if he was monitoring us from out 
in the woods.  

But ever the outlaw, Dabronat moved in closer and spoke softly  
"Dagrolyt is looking for you.  Meet him at dawn by the Three Green 
Boulders.  Now go, Daklakht may return soon."

We all bobbed heads and I turned to leave, but Masnia ran to me and 
gave me a last passionate hug--I should say "sisterly hug" although 
it certainly wasn't--and then I was on my way again.  But with a much 
lighter heart: I did still have some friends, family even!  And I 
had learned that Dagrolyt was still on my side. 


The Three Green Boulders was a place I knew from following Dagrolyt on his rounds teaching Atli. Not that it was a scenic wonder, but it did offer a good place to sleep under one of those three big mossy rocks. To get there by dawn I had to travel at night, which was fine since I couldn't sleep anyway, being too afraid of the dark. Actually, I was now spooked by the woods day or night, certain that awful things were lurking out there. I felt constantly on the edge of panic and kept breaking into a wild run to escape whatever might be chasing me. So I ended up at the boulders long before dawn. It felt safer under the rock shelf so I squeezed myself in and managed to get some sleep after all, but was awake when Dagrolyt arrived just after sunrise. "You look miserable," was the first thing he said and patted my shoulder. I was startled by how eager I was for that little bit of human contact and almost started weeping, but managed to macho it out and play tough guy. "Yeah hey, nice to see you too, buddy." Dagrolyt pulled back and looked me seriously in the eyes, as if searching for something there and then saw it. He resolutely slapped my face, pretty hard too. Well, that was it: I started sobbing like a baby, uncontrollably. Then he held me close until it was over. "Sorry about the slap, but you had to unload all that negative haka fast. You'll be better now," he said, like a real shaman. "Daklakht..." I tried to say, "...he's..." "I know what's going on, so just listen: Daklakht is absolutely resolved to obstruct the Negotiator Project, but he does not especially wish to harm you and would prefer to simply scare you off. He feels that if you fail to participate in the next Kha-rat he will have won and would probably not bother you anymore. But if you DO try to attend the Kha-rat, he will become deadly. "So I must warn you: Daklakht is very expert at physical combat, as special agent he has enacted executions and assassinations and has killed nine times. But although his martial skill is prodigious, his psychic wallop is far greater. The Alutna-Jii is currently considered the ultimate master of the darkest psychic arts known to Sha-haka wizardry. You have a very dangerous Adversary, Dadamet." "Yeah, I guessed that. I was attacked the other night, there was a ceremony...I think he's cursed me somehow." "Did your brain hurt?" "Like fire! I thought I'd die, but just passed out instead." "Khask, he's infected you with a Syssk!" Ah yes, here comes The Syssk into the story. You know how those quaint and superstitious primitive folk always seem to have some kind of black magic cosmic weapon: voodoo, jambo-jambo, bad spirits, evil demons, schizophrenia. Well, the Syssk is the Nokhon version. Definition: Negative haka. Art would probably call it "The Dark Side of the Force". Melly might compare it to a computer virus. Freud might say "induced psychosis". Bottom Line: the juju man had put his mojo on me. From what Dagrolyt told me a Syssk distorts reality, the victim becomes confused, afraid, destructive and dangerous to himself and others. Especially at night, curse of the Wolf Man stuff, staying away from other people recommended. "You may see and hear things that are not there, hallucinations seem real. You can't always be sure of what you are experiencing. For example, some of the things you saw yesterday may have been Syssk fantasies--you said that Daklakht seemed to always be arriving just ahead of you, saw him received as old Dannat's best ranoke--but those things may have been unreal." "Well crap-- am I talking to you now?" "Good point," he said, putting his hand solidly on my shoulder and squeezing. "Touch is real, confirm by feel." "So yesterday: Daklakht actually did slap me around, Masnia really did hug me?" "Those things you can be sure of. But not much else, especially not emotions." I considered all the potential loopholes in that system-- too many to deal with, so I had to just accept my friend and mentor's words at face value. "All right then, what should I do? Just give up?" I asked, "This is my entire future among the Nokhontli at risk here." "Yes, it is. But are you ready to surrender?" "No! Well, not yet." "Now listen close, what I'm telling you is forbidden knowledge until you've mastered some very advanced forms of magic, but you have been unfairly set up by some far-away Elders with a ruthless political agenda, so screw their rules: to protect yourself against a Ssysk you must have a personal magic weapon. And although you haven't even begun that level of Sha-haka training, I believe that you already do have one." "My magic weapon..?" "Your my°sik," he told me. It hit me that he was right. I already considered my music a form of magic and a powerful one, although I'd never really thought of it in terms of weaponry. "Do not misunderstand me," he went on, "you cannot defeat the Ssysk with one of your little songs. The true magic has yet eluded you. For although your skills and knowledge of my°sik seem miraculous to me, you have never merged it with any clear conceptualization of your own magical capabilities. "You have the magic, but must focus it somehow. Perhaps with words of power or a symbolic melody, I don't know what your trick might be. But every Sha-haka has some kind of system for formalizing..." "A mantra," I realized, in English of course. Art, remember when you and Doug were reading me all those old hippy books on magic and shamanism? Carlos Castenada, Colin Wislon, Joseph Campbell? I flashed back on them and was amazed by just how much I already knew about Mantras and Words of Power and stung by one fact: I didn't have anything like that. "All right, I'll work on that. But just what kind of trick do I need to focus upon? How does Daklakht's Syssk work-- is he inside my head, reading my mind?" "Not quite, but he senses your fear and can always find you. If you can control that fear he has nothing to lead him to you. Except that he is also a master tracker on the physical plane, of course, it's not all cerebral." "Okay, control my fear; work on my my°sik, check. I can do it, I'll show that guy..." "You have one other potential advantage, although I am reluctant to mention it," Dagrolyt hinted and looked at me without any mentioning, waiting for me to fill in the blank. He looked at me so long I finally caught on. Okay, sure, I'd thought about it: I had a killer after me who hated my Nokhso culture--a culture of technology and heavy-duty firepower into which I could dip at any time and select my weapon of choice. You bet, I'd fantasized about a final showdown--me wielding a nice heavy-caliber pistol in my hand: Come on you bastard, show me whatcha got! It's what any human guy would do. "I think it would be a mistake to use skesk" I said, "since this is all about my future among the Nokhontli." "Ra, Dadamet, good boy."
Dagrolyt was still on his rounds, so we walked together as we talked. We agreed that I should not be with him at the sessions so we had to split up eventually, but the next was half a day's walk away. It was really nice to have some company for a while. I needed a place to hang out for the next week until the Full Moon, where I could practice magical my°sik and the controlling of fear, so we were on the lookout for a comfortable but well-hidden spot. It was about noon, a nice sunny day, so we stopped to nibble some nettles along the way. I had almost forgotten my troubles, busy in a bush when I felt a presence. I turned to see Daklakht approaching Dagrolyt from behind. I tried to call a warning but my throat clenched up and then I was knocked down by a psychic slap inside my head, probably from Daklakht although he was a hundred feet away. When I finally stood up out of the bushes I saw that the Alutna-Jii had Dagrolyt in an expert hold that not even my wrestling-guru buddy could break. I ran to help, but Daklakht released Dagrolyt with a shove that sent him rolling in the dirt and turned to face me, relaxed and ready to take me on. There was the tiniest scuffle and I too was in the dirt, Daklakht totally unruffled. He was speaking to Dagrolyt, but glaring at me: "Sorry to rough you up, old friend, but I did warn you not to interfere with my mission, so you were asking for it." Dagrolyt was also on his feet again, facing Daklakht up close, hardly intimidated. "I am Dadamet's mentor and friend, he has a dangerous Adversary after him, it is my duty to advise him and you know that... djo ranoke." "Your duty perhaps, but it is always unwise to disregard orders of the Alutna." "We both know that your authority as Alutna-Jii is not valid while you perform the function of Adversary. Legally you are on a private quest, effectively a civilian." "But I can still do what I am trained to, so watch it, Dagrolyt, I don't want to have to hurt you too. Now if you excuse me, I believe I shall beat the boy for a while." "Not while I'm here," Dagrolyt stepped even closer, almost growling, "Dadamet, you take off, I'll keep him here for a while." "Sky°ma, you really believe you can?" Jeez, they were two macho squatches squaring off for gargantuan combat, all that hair just bristling with haka. "Run, Dadamet. Now!" Dagrolyt commanded. I was reluctant, but knew I couldn't help, all I could do was get Dagrolyt hurt. I felt like a coward, but turned and ran. Daklakht couldn't follow me, Dagrolyt was still in his way last I saw them.
I ran and ran, thinking "Control Your Fear, Control Your Fear, then he can't find me!" All the while tearing a trail through the forest that anyone could follow. Not thinking straight. Until I came to a road. A real road; asphalt, two-lane, going to and/or from somewhere in the civilized world. I was about to run across it, hoping not to get spotted by any of those small hairless Nokhons, but halfway across, I stopped. Because I felt safe. Or at least, no longer irrationally terrified. I looked down at my big Bigfoot feet firmly planted on that road. Basically, I was standing on skesk, an artificial product of civilization. Daklakht's organic magic didn't work here, or was shorted out, I don't know, but I did know that he couldn't find me right then. It didn't really make sense, so I experimented by pulling up some haka to see how it felt. It tasted different: not Nokhon magic but Nokhso science; I seemed to sense the rumble of far-away cars driving somewhere on that road, expanding out to other roads and further out to highways and freeways spreading like spaghetti all across America, up to Alaska, south to Tierra del Fuego. I felt the tingling buzz of electricity and the shake rattle and roll of man's technology working like crazy. All that wicked, evil Nokhso skesk, but it just felt so damn good. Charged with the clout of Western Civilization I was ready to turn around and go give that Daklakht guy a good thrashing, but when I stepped off the road I was back in Squatchland, afraid and helpless. I realized that what I had perceived was euphoria, a hallucination, probably generated by the Syssk. Fooling me into thinking I was safe in the bosom of Civilization, tempting me to go home and just stay there for the rest of my life. Clever. I crossed the road and continued on down the mountain, once again with no particular destination in mind. Until I realized that I was almost upon a major highway, because I could hear traffic, motors. I had walked out of the mountains and was now in the Cascade Foothills, about to exit Squatchland and come back to the good old USA. It took a moment to orient myself to Nokhso cartography and recognize that I was near Stevens Pass, from where hitching a ride on Highway 2 could deliver me home to Monroe in half an hour. The temptations just kept coming. But I didn't want to do that. Not yet, not until after that sixth month's Kha-rat, when I would actually be free to return. So I tried to change course, backtracked a ways and headed into the mountains again. I soon found myself facing a narrow rift that continued to lead me towards Monroe, as if there were no other options. Every step I took to avoid that direction ended up taking me closer and closer. Every possible path became a detour, constantly forcing me to continue in the same direction or go back. I knew it was preposterous: all I had to do was change direction from west to north or south, but every way seemed blocked by weird obstacles, or were impassable. When I looked back in the direction I had come from...it was just as bad, I couldn't go that way either. Yes, something was definitely screwing up my perceptions. I decided to go north, away from Monroe, even though there was no trail, directly down the mountainside, probably through dangerous and difficult terrain. Had to push my way down the hill, straight through the thickest brush, breaking my own trail, not easy going, but I was resolved to take control. I was going to steer clear of human civilization, no matter what. The going got harder, the brush thicker, vine maples and tangled roots weaved jungle walls I had to tear through with all my strength, until I had almost none left. Then the sun went down and it got dark-- very dark. I couldn't see or go forward any more, the brush was so tangled and tough that I had to stop. Never had I experienced that before--I'm a Bigfoot! I was stuck there in the dark...unless I went to the left towards civilization, that would be easy. I had to sleep there and wait to find a way through the brush when I could see in the morning. I was on the brink of panic but so worn out that I hoped I could sleep anyway, trying to tell myself how I'd slept in worse places. But I never could lie. I was so hung up in vine maples that I couldn't even lay down, it felt like being caught a very solid spider-web. The Ssysk wasn't supposed to make me FEEL things, so what was this? And of course I was hearing things moving through the woods, twigs snapping, some big animal growling. And a bad smell of mildew. And my Magical Mantra? Words of power? My°sik? I had no words, and no song in my heart just then. I tried to sing "Release Me" for awhile, but it didn't work, nor could I convince myself that those words were especially magical. I'm not sure if I fell asleep from nervous exhaustion or just plain fainted, but awoke in total darkness to hear something LARGE making noise in the brush not far away from me. Something slowly, sneakily, moving towards me. I was certain I wasn't imagining it--couldn't be, it was too loud, trees were creaking and cracking, rocks were crunching. I went crazy trying to rip myself loose from all that vine maple, making a lot of noise myself, shredding branches with the power of panic, but there were always more branches. Guess I passed out again, thankfully. Nothing ever attacked me, but what a rough night! Even in daylight it was hard to get through that bramble, but I finally managed to work my way down the hill to where the forest opened up and I could walk freely again--as long as it was toward Monroe, Washington.

Chapter 57

Adam out of Eden