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
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
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
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
"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,
"Uh, Masnia, I think you might be my...sister."
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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...
"Your duty perhaps, but it is always unwise to disregard orders of
"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
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
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
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--
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
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.