Excerpt of Village of the Ghost Bears by Stan Jones
(Page 6 of 7)
Printer Friendly Excerpt
He handed her the glasses and she scanned the slope. I
dontoh, yeah, I see it. What
Water bottle, maybe.
Umm-hmm. She handed the glasses back to him.
You wait here, he said. Ill go up and have a look.
Careful. You dont want to end up like him.
He grunted, handed her his rifle, and started up the slope.
The going was rough enough on the talus fan, and it became
impossible when he reached the cliff itself. He glassed the
object again, now much closer, determined that it really was
a water bottleactually, a plastic Coke bottleand started
He was halfway to the lake when he spotted the twoseventy
Winchester, wedged muzzle-down in a crevice
between two rocks. He pulled it out and studied it. The
scope was gone, the barrel was bent slightly, and deep
gouges scarred the weathered wooden stock. The sling, if
the rifle had ever had one, was also gone.
He picked his way back to where Grace was waiting
and showed her the gun. He must have been crossing the
slope on those caribou trails and lost his footing, Active
said. Looks like he bounced all the way into the water.
That would explain the broken neck.
Grace gazed at the slope, then down the lake to where
the brush concealed the hunters body. Poor guy. Can you
trace the gun and figure out who he is?
Not likely. Theres a million of these Winchesters
around, and most of them were bought before there was
any kind of gun registration. Well put the word out to the
villages and wait for somebody to realize they havent
heard from this guy in a while.
What now? she asked as they started back to camp.
He sighed. We set off the EPIRB and wait for somebody
to show up to see what the problem is.
She shivered. We have to stay on this lake with him?
Fraid so, he said.
A dead man for a neighbor, they discovered, didnt
affect their appetites. So, after Active found the EPIRB in
one of their bags and set it off, they reheated breakfast and
began wolfing it down on the lakeshore.
How long does that thing take to work? Grace waved
at the bright yellow EPIRB hanging from a spruce tree. It
looked like a walkie-talkie.
Im not sure, he said. Never had to set one off before.
A satellite picks up the signal, then it tells the Rescue
Coordination Center, then they have to decide if the
signal is for real and where you are . . . several hours,
probably. A day, maybe.
I thought it could tell the satellite exactly where you
Some do, he said. The newer ones.
But they cost more.
So you kept that one. And here we sit.
So cheap. She shook her head and took a swallow of
We probably should wrap him up, Active said.
You should, Grace said. While I clean up here. And
we should stop calling him him. He needs a name.
Its disrespectful if he doesnt have one. Also, it might
jinx him in the afterlife.
I didnt know we Inupiat believed in the afterlife.
When it suits us.
All right, he said. A name. How about Henry?
She grimaced and stirred her coffee with a spruce twig.
How about One-Way? In honor of the place of his
Why not? Whats wrong with One-Way?
No, I mean how about No-Way for the name?
Excerpted from Village of the Ghost Bears
by Stan Jones. Copyright © 2009 by Stan Jones.
Excerpted by permission of Soho Press. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.