A year ago, e-Veritas ran a four part series featuring the writing of 25366 Mike Shewfelt, whose fantasy novel “The Phaireoir Legacy” tells the story of College Cadet Jim Carmichael, and his journey on horseback from Kingston to Calgary and beyond. Now that Mike is back in Kingston, we’re picking up where we left off. Mike Shewfelt would like to thank Dr. Huw Osborne, RMC English Department, for his invaluable editorial assistance. A publisher for the novel is currently being sought.
Read the first five chapters of the novel here.
THE PHAIREOIR LEGACY: JIM CARMICHAEL’S STORY, VOLUME ONE
BOOK ONE: BEGINNINGS
Exhausted as he was, Jim slept late. The sun was high in the sky before he roused himself from his pine bough bed. He watered Rudy, let the horse graze, and then turned his attention to his acquisitions from the night before. The compass, it turned out, was a very simple one, similar to the models he’d used in the military, and the map, when opened up, covered all of Algonquin Park and some of the surrounding area. Risk or not, this thing is a Godsend… “Now to figure out just where exactly we are,” he said. Munching on a bar from the night before, which, to his delight, turned out to be fruit concentrate instead of granola, he set about triangulating his position. As he worked, he explained what he was up to to Rudy.
“First thing we do is orient the map to the north, for which we use the compass. Then we take the bearings of nearby landmarks, drawing a line on the map with the pencil that I don’t have. Where the lines cross is where we are. Simple, eh?” Rudy gave him a weird look and Jim chuckled. “There’s a fair bit of guesswork involved,” he said a few minutes later, “but if I had to wager on it, we’re somewhere on the northern shore of Hailstorm Lake. As for where exactly we were last night…I have no idea.”
As he studied the map, Jim gave thought to their situation. It even shows the major camping areas. That makes life a whole lot easier. The big question, though, is how long it’ll take those kind folks to notice their stuff is missing and then whether or not they’ll tell anybody about it… The fish they might overlook, blame it on a bear or something, but not the other stuff… He chuckled. Bears don’t go around leaving twenty dollar bills behind, either. If they do decide to tell the cops, or whoever’s around in this park, it’ll be at least a few days before they can get the word out. That’s assuming, of course, that they’re as deep in the wilderness as I think I am.
“Whether they tell anybody or not, best thing for us to do is keep moving. What do you say to fish for dinner tonight…?” An early morning search of the pack had turned up granola bars, dried Fruit to Go and little else, but Jim wasn’t complaining. There was a bottle of Gatorade, which he had downed all in one go, so grateful was he for something other than water, as well as two boxes of waterproof matches, a coil of rope, and a bright yellow soft shell jacket. Which I can’t wear anyways, not when it’s that colour…they must have unpacked the rest of it. Oh well. Beggars can’t be choosers.
When Jim made camp that night, for the first time in forever he knew more or less where he was. Near as he could calculate, he was somewhere on the eastern shore of Trout Lake. Knowing where the major camping areas were, he rode faster than he had before, still cautious but no longer as wary. His encounter with the canoeists marked the first time he had deliberately acted in such a way that someone could, in theory, track him, and he wanted to put as much distance as possible between himself and the site of that incident. His campsite that night was more than three miles from his previous one, a good distance, the way he figured it, for half a day’s work.
The next day Jim aimed to put ten miles behind them by dark. He knew Rudy was up to it, and he was anxious to get out of the park. Being in any sort of enclosed space, even a park, was getting on his nerves. He had no idea what, if anything, the people he’d run into had said to the authorities, and he was in no mood to find out. The squirrels are starting to spoil, too, he thought. I don’t dare light a fire to smoke them until I’m well outside the park boundaries, and I haven’t got any dry wood to boil them with. Twenty more miles…two days, if we’re lucky.
They got an early start, pushing hard to the southwest to detour around Trout Lake. To his great consternation, however, a mile after Jim and Rudy had rounded the lake and begun to make their way northwest again, they crossed a narrow hiking trail just as two young hikers crested a hill off to their left. Kicking Rudy hard, Jim got him into the bush before they were seen, but not without his heart hammering in his ears. “Sorry, buddy,” he said, patting Rudy’s neck gently, “we’re back to going slow.” They camped that night on the shores of Misty Lake, barely five miles from where they had started, and going to the northwest, still more than fifteen miles from the boundary of the park.
“Change of plans, buddy,” Jim said as he laid down to sleep. “We’ll go west tomorrow, south of Ralph Bice Lake. We’ll have to go north to make up some ground later, but we should be out of this damn park tomorrow or the day after. It’s four, maybe five miles.” Rudy grunted.
“Yeah, I know. We’ve said that before. It’s the quickest way outta this park, though, which is all that matters right now. Get out, get away to where we can get a fire going and smoke some meat.”
The next day dawned cold, wet and windy. Jim was grateful for the change. Nobody’ll be out in this mess. They pushed hard, riding into the teeth of the storm. Water dripped from Rudy’s flanks, and Jim was, once more, soaked to the skin. Camp that night was miserable, the dreary rain compounded by the fact that, despite his newfound map and compass, Jim once more had no idea where they were.
“Can’t site landmarks in this rain, buddy, so we are, yet again, lost. I know we’re still headed west, but that’s about it. I don’t even know how far we’ve come…might be out of the park already. Impossible to tell in this mess.”
As Rudy grazed, munching on the wet grass after Jim had watered him, Jim sat down to consider. For the last weeks, he had run on instinct, but now, for the first time, he gave serious thought to what lay ahead of him. His map was a good one, a topographical map of the park and the surrounding area, and from it he tried to figure out his next move. Sudbury is to the northwest, he thought, right between us and where we want to go. Could go around it to the east, save getting caught between the city and the water…pretty built up regardless…can’t risk it. Too much is at stake, and besides, I’ve been in one confined area for too long already. We’ll go around to the east, then head northwest again. Still have Lake Superior to avoid, which’ll mean a pretty good detour to the north. We’ll get there, though, he grimaced, eventually.
“We’re gonna need more food, buddy,” Jim said, “or hell, at least I will. That’ll mean a fire, maybe even a deer…” He thought for a minute. “I’d rather try for one of those before we hit Sudbury. Once we pass the city we’ll try to disappear completely.” Rudy grunted in agreement, and Jim smiled. Just don’t let your mind get too far ahead…too many problems right here.
Click for much more.
“Cout, have you seen this…? Came in last night.”
Cout took the printout from Detective Green and grimaced. In the last three weeks, since the decision had been made to wait, the pace of events had slowed down considerably. Most of the deployed personnel from all three agencies had been recalled, and the Kingston Police Department had been officially pulled out of the search. There was little more they could have done anyways, thought Cout, and we’re a long way from Kingston now. Search headquarters had been moved north to the town of North Bay, an hour east of Sudbury. It was far enough from the politicians of Ottawa to suit Cout’s tastes, but he was beginning to feel useless. Nobody thinks to send us things like this until long after it happens, he swore, although for Jim’s sake that might not be a bad thing.
“Where’d this come from…?” he asked, raising his eyes from the paper.
“Algonquin Park Wardens service. Seems somebody raided a campsite a week ago. Took a compass, a map, and some food.”
“Wasn’t a bear…? All this says,” he gestured to the paper, “was that there was a complaint.”
“Bears don’t carry twenty dollar bills. Whoever took the items paid for them.” Green chuckled. “And get this. One of the campers went to relieve himself next morning and ran across some horse tracks leading off to the north.”
“Doesn’t necessarily prove anything. We know from the wardens that there were two groups on horseback in the park at that time.”
“Neither one was anywhere near the site of the incident.”
“Huh…still nothing conclusive,” Cout said, picking up another record. “Says here one group made camp the next day five kilometres to the north.”
“But why would they steal the supplies…?”
“I don’t know…could be Carmichael…” he thought for a moment. “Alright, alert the Sudbury police. I’ll pass this up the chain of command.”
“An alert…? That’s all we’re gonna do…?” Green was incredulous. “We’re only an hour from Sudbury ourselves.”
“For the moment, an alert is all we can do. Without a confirmed sighting, our authority doesn’t give us much leeway. If the Sudbury police find anything, then we’ll move in and get things rolling. For now, we wait.”
“Right.” And I’ll take the credit in the report when we do catch him, if all you want to do is wait.
Damn, that stinks, thought Jim. He was halfway through skinning and preparing the deer, and up to his elbows in blood and guts. “Those rabbits were never this bad, buddy.” Rudy raised his head for a moment, glanced at Jim and then went back to munching on the grass. “But we need the meat and it’s better now than later. Right.”
The rain had finally stopped three days before, and, drawing well clear of the park boundaries, Jim had finally been able to stop and properly prepare what was left of his rabbits. The deer had been an unexpected bonus, scared up at dusk the day before as he was scouting the surrounding area.
“Better make yourself comfortable, my friend. All this meat means we’re gonna be staying put for a while. On the plus side, we won’t have to hit a grocery store anytime soon.” Rudy grunted. “And on the down side, my sense of humour hasn’t improved any.” Jim chuckled to himself and went back to his work.
The sun was nearing the western horizon when Jim sat back to take stock. That had better be all the meat on this thing. Rudy will have a hard time carrying all this as is. He held up the deer hide. Better hold on to this, too, he thought. Might come in handy later. Rinsing the blood from his hands in a nearby stream, he staked out the meat around his fire to let it smoke. Then he took the deer hide, and, stretching it out along the ground, began to scrape the fat and tissue from it. One new thing worked OK today, he thought. Why not another…? “I read about this plenty of times, Rudy. Never done it, but what the hell, right…?” He laughed.
Jim’s spirits were high in spite of himself. With the sudden windfall of meat and his carefully rationed fruit and fish, he had sufficient supplies for at least a couple of weeks. And just as important, we won’t have to stop again like this until well into that big empty land on the other side of Sudbury. Only downside is that we’re liable to be here at least a week smoking all this meat, and we still have to pass that city.
“Damn, I hate being in this place.” Cout swore, then handed the dispatch to Detective Green. “This just got to us this morning.”
Smith read it, his face suddenly intense. “Three days after the last incident, the one that we heard about day before yesterday…two hikers got a glimpse of a man on horseback in Algonquin Park. Whoever it was jumped into the bush off the trail before they could get a good look at ‘em…this was northwest of the last possible sighting…?”
“It has to be Carmichael. Too many coincidences. Did these hikers get a look at the horse…? This doesn’t say.”
“I called the Wardens right after that came in,” said Cout. “Dark colouring was all they could say. The rider must have blundered into them and left in a hurry.” He thought for a moment. “You’re right. Too many unanswered questions if it isn’t him.”
“So now we go after him…? We know he’s out there somewhere.”
“No,” said Cout. “That’s a hell of a lot of bush out there, and he’s vanished before. Besides, our orders from the Justice Department say we can’t launch another large search without a confirmed sighting, and this is too old to be of any use. All it gives us is a direction of travel. No,” thought Cout, “he has to get by Sudbury, and that’s where we’ll get him. Get this out to the Sudbury police right away,” he said, giving the dispatch to Green. And God help you, Jim, when you try to slip through.