Crystalline Aura – Chapter 3

Crystalline Aura
Oracle of Light
By Cil Gregoire
Alaska Sci-Fi Queen

Chapter 3
Fear and Adversity

Small, puny Franklin walked through the warm humid night alone. He turned into a dark alley unafraid. That had not always been the case. Usually he was plenty afraid, but now he could kick butt. A feral cat, one of many that roamed post-Katrina New Orleans, jumped out from the darker shadows, startling him out of his thoughts. Franklin, his eyes adjusting to the darkness, extended his arm, aimed at the cat with his finger, and pulled the trigger of an imaginary gun. The cat screeched, stiffened, and fell over dead. A satisfied smile glimmered across Franklin’s solemn face. Not so long ago, he would have salivated over the dead cat, but now he could feed his dark, scrawny body anything he desired.

Leaving the alley, he turned onto the sidewalk of a brightly lit street with the smell of fried oysters in the air and came upon a bistro that opened out onto the sidewalk. The server behind the counter placed a freshly constructed, paper-wrapped po’boy sandwich on the counter and turned to get the drink order while the customer continued to browse over the offerings. Franklin walked by, hands in pocket, and teleported the sandwich and the soft drink to his secret hiding place, then circled the block back to the dark alley.

When he was sure no one was looking, he slipped behind a dumpster and pushed against the masonry at ground level. A slab moved with a dull grating sound, revealing an opening barely large enough for even Franklin’s undernourished body to slither through. Once through, he sat up maneuvering his body carefully in the narrow space and conjured the stone slab back into place.

The aroma of the fried oyster po’boy permeated the long, narrow crevice between two windowless walls little more than a foot apart. The ends of this narrow space had been sealed off forming a continuous facade on the outside, concealing a long, thin rectangle of forgotten real estate. Above, two roofs sloped down coming within inches of each other, leaving only a thin line of sky above. It would not be the place to hole up during a rainstorm. In the center of the strip of slightly muddy ground, where a bit of straggly grass grew, was an old rusty drainage grate over a trough that led who knows where.

Franklin reached into his pocket and pulled out a smooth, round orb about the size of a large marble. A tiny red and orange flame flickered softly through smoky gray swirls within the orb.

“Light.” The orb brightened at his mental command. Placing the shining orb suspended in air, Franklin grabbed the sandwich, unwrapped it, and bit into it hungrily.

Franklin had found this place accidentally when running from the police. He had hidden behind the dumpster, squeezing into an impossibly small space between the dumpster and the wall when the wall gave a little from the pressure of his body against it. Franklin turned around to investigate, and with some effort, he managed to move a small slab of masonry revealing the empty space. By the time the cops had arrived, Franklin was securely hidden on the other side.

To pass the time, Franklin had traversed the whole length of the long, narrow space, inspecting it carefully, then he squeezed his way down to sit and wait out the threat. As he sat in boredom, his finger toyed with the smooth surface of what looked like a marble buried in the hard, dark, delta mud. He looked down at it without real interest at first, but to his surprise the marble appeared to be glowing under his caressing finger. With cracked, dirty fingernails, slowly, he chiseled the orb out of the hard- packed ground. Since then, things had changed.

Halfway through his sandwich, Franklin reached over, opened the soda, and guzzled a third of it down, after which he devoured the rest of the po’boy. Soon he would no longer fit in this tight space, especially eating like this. When he finished his dinner, he plucked the orb out of the air and sent it a mental command “Off.” The orb extinguished to its usual dark glow. Placing the orb back in his pocket, he moved the slab concealing the entrance and listened. All was quiet in the alleyway. Franklin teleported himself back out into the alley, then with a wave of his hand, set the masonry back in place.

A waning moon had risen high in the night sky, throwing some light into the alley. Then as luck would have it, just as Franklin was heading out, three punks he recognized and had had encounters with before, always ending in pain and misery for him, entered the alley.

“Well, look who we have here,” the hard-faced, heavyset youth he knew was called Jake taunted as the gang slowly approached. Franklin stood his ground, concentrated, and sent a powerful mental punch to Jake’s left jaw. Jake’s head swung sharply as though he had received a hard right in a boxing ring.

“Aw, shit!” Jake hollered grabbing his jaw, dancing in pain. “What kind of voodoo is that?” he cried. The other two paused with uncertainty at the sight and sound of Jake’s mishap. “Get him!” Jake rallied, recovering.

The three of them started to close in on Franklin again. Franklin focused his mental concentration, and projected a powerful force that sent Jake crashing into a brick wall, breaking his neck and cracking his skull. Jake’s body landed limp and lifeless at the base of the wall. The other two went flying in the air, tumbling backward. As soon as they managed to get to their feet, they ran from the alleyway, leaving Jake behind.

Franklin felt no remorse or twinge of conscience over Jake, he didn’t spare him a glance. It is time to begin my new life, he thought, and walked out of the alley…never to return.


Maggie was coming up for the weekend! For the next couple of days, brimming with excitement over the prospect of Maggie’s visit, Rahlys made preparations; cooking, cleaning, and stocking up on wood and water so there would be little to do in the way of chores while Maggie was here. Outside, a cold drizzle herded the landscape into winter, but inside it was invitingly cozy and warm. She finished reading Vince’s novel, and finished the painting of the squirrel’s harvest.

But the crystal she kept stashed away, wary of its intent and purpose, for despite cheerful productive days, her nights had become troubled by tormenting dreams. The dreams were strangely surreal, even alien, and deep within them lurked the presence of great evil…seemingly searching for her…but miraculously, never finding her…as she struggled to repel detection, eventually waking in a sweat from the strain of the effort. Why is the evil seeking me out? Is it the source of the crystal’s power? Is the crystal truly evil? If it is, I must destroy it. Rahlys tried to imagine how she could destroy a crystal that glowed and was capable of flying around.

She restlessly paced around the room trying to think. Does using the crystal’s magic consequently commit me to something unknown? Could it irretrievably possess me…corrupting me? Has it done so already? Could I escape from the crystal’s power even if I wanted to?

Rahlys stopped wearing the crystal upon her person, and hid the pouch in a drawer upstairs. She wouldn’t be using magic during Maggie’s visit, and she was thinking it may be best to stop using magic altogether, for the unknown source of the crystal’s power was beginning to scare her. She thought about telling Maggie about the crystal, but if it was truly evil, she didn’t want her involved.

Finally, it was time to meet the northbound train coming from town. She grabbed her rifle and pack, and headed down to the railroad tracks. The air had turned decidedly colder forcing Rahlys to wear a warm hat, gloves, and a heavier jacket. All the trees, except for the evergreens, were bare, the brilliant autumn colors had turned to brown, and the cold drizzle of the days before had transformed the nearby mountains into snow-dusted, white peaks that gleamed cleanly, heralding the approach of winter.

Successive frosts had withered away the underbrush, giving her a clear view through the trees. The walking was easy, mostly downhill. It was comfortable on the trail, but once out of the woods, the wind along the tracks nibbled away at her warmth as she stood there waiting for Maggie’s arrival.

Born and raised in Seattle, Maggie had been Rahlys’ roommate when she first arrived at art school, a country bumpkin from the Alaska woods, and despite having very little in common, she and Maggie had bonded, becoming lifelong friends. Maggie had opted to live in the dorms because her parents could afford it, and she wanted out of the house. Delighted with Rahlys’ innocence, street-smart Maggie took the woods woman under her wing and showed her the ropes to city living. For Rahlys, Maggie added new excitement to her life that she had never experienced before.

Rahlys and Maggie were dorm mates for only a short time. Before the second semester rolled around, Maggie took off on a cross-country motorbike tour with a dashing ‘bad boy.’ The tour ended tragically several months later, when the young man and his motorcycle were crushed under a bus. Returning to Seattle, her heart broken, Maggie looked to Rahlys for solace. It was then that they decided to rent an old, but spacious apartment with character, located close to work, school, and the park.

To make ends meet, Maggie found a full-time job as a bartender, making it on tips, and Rahlys worked as a waitress part time at the local diner to supplement her art scholarship. For the next couple of years, they lived there contentedly, Maggie there sometimes, and sometimes not, depending on what relationship she was in. Regardless, Maggie always paid her half of the rent so she always had her own room to go to when she needed it.

When Rahlys finished school and landed an incredible job with a prosperous advertising firm, Maggie was already happily settled with a plumber from Arkansas. So they let the apartment go and Rahlys bought into a new condo. For the next eight years their lives took separate paths, but they stayed in contact, even after Maggie and Bob eventually moved down to Arkansas. Then Rahlys met Aaron, and soon he moved in with her. Unfortunately, Maggie’s life came crashing down again when Bob died suddenly of a heart attack at the young age of 37. Maggie, widowed and childless, returned to Seattle and moved in with her aging mother.

Over time, Aaron proved to be an unfaithful bum. When Rahlys eventually kicked Aaron out the door, she decided she needed a drastic life change to be happy and returned to Alaska. Maggie, being in a life slump of her own, was willing to follow her to the ends of the earth…well, at least to the end of the road. For when Rahlys announced she was buying a remote cabin and moving into the wilderness…Maggie came to a halt.

Finally, Rahlys spotted the train’s light coming up the long straight stretch of track from the south, its approach building anticipation. The engine passed her by pulling ahead, aligning the baggage car door with her trail. She didn’t expect Maggie to have much in the line of baggage. And there was Maggie, standing next to Vince, waving excitedly from the baggage car as the train came to a stop.

“Why hello, Ms. Rahlys!” the conductor greeted her heartily, “I’ve brought you some company.” Maggie’s face was all smiles as Vince and the conductor handed down two large cardboard boxes and a pack, then the conductor escorted Maggie around to the passenger door.

Vince called down to Rahlys over the hum of the diesel locomotive. “My four-wheeler is parked in the woods at the foot of my trail. I’ll take a load up to my cabin first and light a fire, then I’ll come back down and bring up your boxes with the four-wheeler.”

“Alright, thanks,” Rahlys said. Maggie was coming down the steps, so she hurried over to her.

“Hi,” Maggie gave Rahlys a quick hug as soon as her feet hit the gravel rail bed. Then they stepped back from the train as it pulled away. “Wow, this sure looks different from this summer!”

“What’s in the boxes?” Rahlys asked. They sure were heavy.

“Food. I don’t want you to go hungry out here in the woods. I figured you would be out of fresh stuff by now. And your mail is in here.” She held up the small cloth bag she was carrying.

“Maggie, you’re an angel.”

“Not yet, but I’m working on it.” Maggie’s auburn red hair, poking out of a purple knitted hat, added vivid color to the nearly colorless October landscape. Her flashing green eyes complimented her animated spirit.

Rahlys put the mailbag in her pack. “We can’t leave the boxes here. We need to at least move them away from the railroad tracks. Vince said he’ll bring them up with the bike.”


“Well, the four-wheeler.”

Maggie donned her pack, and they each grabbed a box and headed into the woods. “You have a very nice neighbor.”

“I see you’ve met.”

“He came over and introduced himself. The train was late, so we talked for quite a while. Vince said he was impressed by how well you were doing out here.”

Rahlys couldn’t help but smile. “He said that?” It felt great to have someone to chatter with again for a couple of days. She had enjoyed the solitude she had so craved, but now welcomed the distraction of companionship.

“Yes, and he complimented my blueberry jam.”

Leaving the boxes just inside the woods, they started up the trail. “Town has really quieted down now that most of the snowbirds and tourists are gone.” ‘Snowbird’ was the local term for someone who left during the winter for warmer climes. “How have things been going out here?”

“It’s been wonderful. I’ve been warm, and comfortable, and I’ve had time to paint.” Rahlys wanted to tell Maggie how her life had been impacted by a strange crystal, but still she decided against it. If the crystal proved to be dangerous, it was best not to place Maggie in harm’s way. The crystal was an element of uncertainty, and Rahlys did not like uncertainty.

They hiked for a while in silence through the empty fall woods, then stopped for a breather after a particularly steep part of the trail. “So, what do you think of Vince?” Maggie asked.

Maggie’s question caught Rahlys by surprise. “Oh…he seems nice enough. Sort of the strong, self-reliant type.”

“Are you interested in him?”

“What? No…I’m not interested in a relationship right now. I’ve made one gross mistake already.”

They spoke little during the rest of the walk, saving their energy for hiking, and reached the cabin before they heard Vince’s four-wheeler approaching. Maggie and Rahlys stood by the porch listening and waiting in the almost warm sun burning through thin clouds until Vince pulled up beside them with the boxes.

“Why, thank you, kind sir!” Maggie greeted him. “That was certainly quicker and easier than carrying them.”

Vince smiled warmly, but with a little shyness at Maggie’s boisterous nature. He unloaded the boxes onto the porch, but didn’t linger, refusing their offer to stay a while. “Well, you ladies have a good day. I need to get back and tend to my stove so my cabin will be warm tonight.” Then he turned toward Maggie. “Tomorrow, before you take the train back to town, I’ll bring you the book I was telling you about.”

“Oh good, thanks!”

Then without further ado, Vince started up the four-wheeler and headed back down the trail.

“So what book is that?” Rahlys asked curiously as they carried the boxes inside.

“It’s a book on living off the land in Alaska. He says it covers everything from picking berries and gardening, to smoking fish and canning salmon. It even shows how to dress a moose in the field.” Rahlys was taken by surprise. This was a new side of Maggie she had never seen before.

Upon entering, Maggie’s glance swept over the two matted watercolors prominently displayed on the counter. Rahlys had had the foresight to pack in two precut mats in anticipation of this moment. “Oh! Your paintings are beautiful!”

Rahlys put away the groceries while Maggie gazed at her work. Pulling a canning jar out of one of the boxes, she held it up. “What’s this? Canned salmon?”

“Yes, I had a chance to go salmon fishing with Spit Fire and Hound Dog. Spit is a bush pilot and Hound Dog a musher. They’re not much to look at, but they sure are loads of fun. I’ll introduce you to them when you come into town.”

“I can hardly wait.”

Maggie turned back to looking at the paintings. “They’re so full of life and movement,” she said, picking up the one of the raven with the crystal in his beak. She moved it about as though changing the reflection of the light off the crystal, “Does that raven still come around here looking for something to eat?”

“Yes, he was the model for the sketches.”

“Nice crystal! It almost looks magical! Wouldn’t it be great to have a raven bring you a magic stone,” Maggie said wishfully as she propped the painting back up on the counter.

Rahlys almost dropped the cup she was taking out the cupboard. Quickly she composed herself. “Nothing comes that easily.”

“You’re right about that!”

Rahlys longed to tell Maggie about the crystal, but couldn’t bring herself to do so. What if the crystal really is evil? She didn’t want to expose Maggie to any danger. She needed to find out more first, but how?

Soon they were settled at the table sipping tea. “Do you know Vince is a writer?” Rahlys reached over and handed Maggie the paperback she had ready on the table.

“What is this? Cold Fire and Hot Ice by Vince Bradley. Our Vince Bradley?”

“Yes, and it’s good, too.”

Maggie flipped through it, then read from the back page. “A retired marine decorated for bravery and a confirmed bachelor, Mr. Bradley lives alone in a remote cabin in Alaska’s northern Susitna Valley. Well, how about that! I can’t wait to read it.”

“You can take it with you; I finished it. It was so compelling, I could hardly put it down.”

The afternoon and evening passed quickly with much laughter and cheer. There were boisterous moments and of course quiet reflective ones. Rahlys was torn between wanting Maggie to stay longer and wanting to get back to her work…and of course there was the crystal hidden upstairs in a drawer. After a particularly long pause, Maggie brought Rahlys out of her musings.

“Do you think about Aaron a lot?”

“No.” In fact, Rahlys was shocked by the realization that she barely thought about Aaron at all. Her new home and setting, the crystal’s magic, even the dramatic changing of the seasons had so filled her thoughts and senses, an unfaithful ex-boyfriend had been the furthest thing from her mind.

“Mama said Aaron’s been by looking for you.”

Rahlys’ stomach tightened at the news. If she were still in Seattle, Maggie’s information would have been disquieting, but there was little concern that Aaron would find her here. “He need not waste his time.” Rahlys shuddered away her memories of Aaron. Thankfully, he was out of her life forever.

“Are you where you thought you would be twenty years ago?”

“I’m where I want to be.” Rahlys answered without hesitation. “It’s so peaceful out here in the woods…and so challenging…and beautiful… and real.” She tried to put how she felt in words. “It’s hard to explain, but you have a more intimate relationship with nature when you have to go outside to use the bathroom.”

“But winter is coming, fast! It’s going to get colder and darker.”

“It will be hard, I know, but still, this is where I want to be.”

“What about a man in your life?”

Over the years, Rahlys had dated intermittently, but mostly she had found dating to be a waste of time. Love, she was certain, would be happenstance, not the result of systematically trying on men like shoes in a shoe store. Instead, she had poured her heart and soul into her career, hence most of her time had been taken up with work. As a result, her career had taken the fast track to success. But eventually, she had become more and more disillusioned by the anonymous sale of her talent for the sake of commercialism, not to mention the stress and strain of an urban lifestyle.

For years Rahlys had dreamed of returning to Alaska, to a life of her own in a cabin in the woods, and had saved a respectable portion of her respectable income toward that goal. As for having a man in her life, a year ago, Rahlys had succumbed to the pursuit of tall, dark, dashingly all-the-women-had-their-eyes-on-him handsome Aaron, and Aaron knew how to play the role of a knight in shining armor…at least until he got what he wanted. It didn’t take long for him to show his true colors, and after kicking Aaron to the curb, Rahlys decided to make the move she had been planning on for so long.

“I do not want a man in my life right now,” Rahlys said emphatically. “I just want to get to know myself. What about you? Are you where you want to be?”

“I wanted to be married with six kids.” Maggie and Rahlys broke into laughter. How little they had known about life when they first met! Twice Maggie had been in love and death had taken love from her, and not once had she been blessed with a child. “Life sure doesn’t turn out like you expect it to.”

The next morning a dusting of snow covered the landscape under heavily laden gray clouds reluctant to relinquish the rest of their load. “It certainly is beautiful and peaceful out here! But I wouldn’t want to do it alone,” Maggie said, as she stared out the window at the transformation. “So when are you coming into town?”

“Eventually. Thanks to you, I can hold out for a little longer.” Rahlys dreaded leaving the woods and making an excursion to the city. “When I have a few more watercolors needing framing, I will come out and we can go shopping, and I’ll do some matting and framing. Then I’ll take my paintings over to the local gallery and see if I can drum up some interest in them.”

They heard Vince’s four-wheeler approaching, and jumped up, stepping out to meet him. “Good day, ladies!” He looked up at the ominous sky, “It sure is passing up a good opportunity to dump on us.” Then Vince pulled a book out of his pack, and handed it to Maggie. “Here is the book I promised you.”

“Thanks! I’ll make sure to get it back to you.”

“There’s no hurry.”

“Well, come on in and stay a while. It’s not train time yet.” Vince followed the ladies into the toasty warm cabin.

“It’s warm in here!” He unzipped his coat, putting it on the back of a chair, and sat at the table across from Maggie. Rahlys took the tea kettle off its metal trivet and placed it directly on the hot stove. The water started sizzling almost immediately. Then she laid out some of the foods she had prepared for Maggie’s visit. Vince noticed the copy of his book on the table.

“Oh I need to take that, too.” Maggie jumped up and stuffed the empty mail bag, the book on Alaska survival, and Vince’s novel into her pack.

“I read your book,” Rahlys said as she poured hot water into tea cups.


“I’m impressed. I couldn’t put it down.”

“I see you matted the raven painting. Now, what are you going to do with it?”

“Hopefully I will sell it, why?”

“Let me know when you put a price on it. I’d like to own it. That raven has been around here a long time. He was Jack Bean’s most constant companion when Jack was living here.”

“So where is Jack Bean now?” Maggie asked.

“He’s living with his daughter down in Oregon. Jack is getting up in years; she’s taking care of him now.”

All too soon Maggie’s visit was coming to an end. “I could give you a ride down to the tracks,” Vince offered. Rahlys saw the opportunity for some time alone.

“Go ahead. I’ll catch up. I don’t mind walking.”

With much excitement, Maggie gathered her things together and jumped on the four-wheeler behind Vince. A few isolated snowflakes drifted down as they took off and Rahlys followed them down the trail. Finally, she was alone again. She wanted to think about the crystal, but fear clutched at her heart. A magpie with its black and white wing feathers splayed out like a paper fan, flew across the trail, its long iridescent tail steering his flight. “Cheee, cheee!” a chickadee chirped, in a nearby spruce tree. She thought of the raven and wondered what his reaction was to the snow.

By the time Rahlys caught up with Vince and Maggie, they heard the train whistle in the near distance. Soon it was right alongside them and Rahlys hugged Maggie good-by. All too quickly, Maggie was onboard and the train chugged on down the tracks.

Vince started up his four-wheeler, and waving so long, he took off up the trail that ran north through the woods paralleling the railroad tracks connecting his trail to hers. Rahlys was alone. Alone with her thoughts and fears. The heavy dark bluish-gray clouds sank even lower over the landscape, and it began to snow in earnest. Beautiful, big, fluffy white snowflakes drifted down silently through the sleeping trees.

It was nearly dark by the time she made it back to the cabin. She started up the generator to brighten things up, then sat at the table trying to decide what to do next. The crystal haunted her thoughts. Deep inside she felt she was capable of wondrous abilities, but she was fearful of confronting the crystal again, having become wary of its power. The strange dreams had not returned during Maggie’s visit. Perhaps she was being overly cautious.

With brave determination and some trepidation, Rahlys went up to her bedroom. She removed the pouch from the drawer, and stalling for time, took it back downstairs. Trembling with apprehension, she emptied the crystal out onto the table. The crystal floated up glowing softly. Rahlys stared at it with renewed wonderment. What are you? Reaching for it, she gently took it in her hand. The crystal brightened to her touch.


Inebriated and exhausted, Aaron staggered drunkenly down the hallway of a rundown apartment building in Seattle. He could hear a television and a crying baby through the thin walls to his left and a couple fighting down the hall to his right. At the end of the hall a boom box echoed the latest rap beat. Aaron was having a hard time focusing enough to find his door, all the behind-wall sounds were confusing his polluted brain. Finally he stumbled to a door with peeling gray paint he thought might be his and tried the key he managed to retrieve from his pocket after considerable fishing and swaying in place. With surprising ease, considering his state, Aaron turned the key and the door opened. He nearly fell into the room, wobbled himself back into balance, and shut the door.

The room smelled of cigarettes and stale beer. Rahlys hadn’t allowed him to smoke in the upscale home they had shared. Of course, it was her condo, but he had been gracious enough to move in; they had lived there together for seven months. Wasn’t that sharing? Then just like that, the bitch ditched him.

Sure, he had made a few mistakes, but why did she have to be so cold and unforgiving. He made it to the sagging sofa and crashed into it. Without another thought, Aaron fell into a deep sleep.

The sun was streaming in through tattered holes in the shade as Aaron opened his dark, brooding eyes, which under better conditions, softened beautifully when he smiled. Now they were heavy and slightly out of focus as he lifted his cloudy head off the sofa. His usually immaculate medium-short black hair stuck out in twisted tufts and the dark shadow of a beard masked the hard lines of his face. Grabbing his throbbing head, he lowered his feet to the chipped tile floor, heaved his long, thin body into a standing position, and staggered to the bathroom. A few moments later he was back on the sofa.

With his head pounding and his stomach churning, Aaron brooded about his life as he laid miserably awake on the sofa. A few months ago he had been on top of the world with a decent job, a fine place to live, and a financially successful girlfriend. His job as a receptionist at the advertising firm had been the best job he ever had, and a great opportunity to meet beautiful women. Some even went out with him.

But in his heart, none compared to Rahlys. He could not believe his luck when she finally agreed to have dinner with him. Over the next few months, he charmed her off her feet, and soon he moved out of his shabby apartment and into the lap of luxury.

Life with Rahlys opened up new opportunities…both good and bad. Being a man of opportunity, Aaron took the opportunity to help Rahlys spend some of her money and ran up a gambling debt. There was no reason for her to be so upset. He was going to pay her back. Then he started sampling the irresistibly beautiful women who frequented the parties Rahlys was sometimes obliged to attend. When Rahlys came home unexpectedly early one evening and discovered him in bed with a cocktail hostess from the last party, she kicked him out the door, literally, with his pants in his hands.

Rahlys was so powerfully mad, Aaron decided to give her a cooling off period before putting on the charm to win her back. Meanwhile, with nowhere to go, he met up with some old buddies, stayed with them for a time, and went on a drinking binge that cost him his job. But what irked him the most was when he went to see Rahlys to humble himself, Rahlys had already quit her job, leased out her condo, and moved back to Alaska!

Figuring that Maggie would be in the know, Aaron looked for her at her mother’s, only to find out that Maggie had taken off too. Now all he had left was a hangover.

Aaron sat up and his stomach growled angrily. Searching the kitchenette for food, he found a beer in the refrigerator and saltine crackers in the cupboard. He brought his finds back to the sofa. Unable to endure the quiet, Aaron turned on the television for company, but his thoughts returned to Rahlys. Maybe I should go to Alaska! Some have struck it rich there in gold, and oil, and fish. What is Rahlys doing back in Alaska anyway? Maybe it’s time I found out. Alaska may be just the place for a smart fellow like myself.

I was born in New Orleans, grew up in the Louisiana swamp, and then settled in Alaska as a young woman. After decades of living the Alaska dream, teaching school in the bush, commercial fishing in Bristol Bay and Norton Sound, and building a log cabin in the woods, life had provided me with plenty to write about. The years of immersion in the mystique and wonder, and challenges and struggles, of living in remote Alaska molded my heart and soul. It is that deep connection I share with my readers.