The Hunting Wind - A Short Story
In the farthest reaches of the lower 48 lies an area named the Northwest Angle. A mistake that was corrected after the boundary between the United States and Canada was laid, creating this notch of land known by the few inhabitants as ''The Chimney'' - the most northern point in the lower 48.
The area is surrounded by a massive body of water named Lake of the Woods on three sides and Canada on the other side. It is home to a few hardy people. This is also the ancestral land of the Ojibwe, many of whom still live in this remote area. Being here is unlike anywhere else in the lower 48 - a land unto itself. The Angle is the master here, not the inhabitants - something that the Ojibwe learned hundreds of years ago.
Warm summer days and bitter winters dominate. The lake itself is seventy miles long and seventy miles wide, with over fourteen thousand islands. The waterways are dangerous, rock and snags (sunken trees) dominate the area.
Today, even with powerboats, GPS, and all safety items, the lake is waiting for the novice to make a mistake.
Its dominance, wildness and beauty, are a draw to many in the summer months. In the winter, no one visits, only the full-timers dare to survive here.
Among those are the Ojibwe. They have learned the way of the lake, they know all too well her power and danger.
The Ojibwe and Dakota fought wars over this pristine area. The Ojibwe finally drove the Dakota people to the south and west. Now it was Ojibwe territory, but they had no control of the lake, it was a spirit unto itself.
With the dangers that lurked here, hidden by the beauty and power of the lake, was another danger. This one was man made - the smugglers.
It had long been a smuggling route for cigarettes smugglers, their fast cigarette boats traveling the lake at night, bringing cigarettes from the US to Canada. Now, an even more dangerous cargo was being transported, drugs..
To reach ''The Angle'', one had to drive sixty miles through Canada on a narrow, dangerous road, or cross the lake from Warroad on the US side. Forty miles across a lake that was known to be as dangerous as one could be. In the winter, hardy souls drove across the ice, from Warroad to ''The Angle''. Some were never seen again.
The Elders of the tribe would tell of another danger, this one was not man, but nature. Like the lake, it was powerful, destructive and deadly. It only visited on rare occasions but when it did, it laid waste to the area it touched.
The white man called it, ''derecho'', a unique storm system that few had ever heard of, let alone seen.
The Ojibwe call it ''The Hunting Wind''.
The Hunting Wind, was a storm system, a bow-shaped formation of towering black clouds that generate straight-line winds of hurricane force. Its power ripping thousands of trees, many hundreds of years old, from their roots. Houses and boats turned to matchsticks. Nothing that stood in its way escaped unscathed. And the lake, it turned into a roiling mass of waves, high enough to sink any craft.
The Hunting Wind could be a hundred miles wide, and everything and every one in its path prayed that they would survive.
Old Henry LaPlante, an Elder and Mide of the Ojibwe, was said to be over a hundred years old. No one knew for sure, since Henry had no birth certificate - not uncommon among the older Ojibwe.
Henry was a wise and caring man, a Mide of the ''Grand Medicine Society'', a society among the Ojibwe that was over a thousand years old. They were the keepers of the ''Sacred Scrolls'' of the Ojibwe. It was the Mide's that wrote the history on birch bark scrolls. They are the keepers of Ojibwe history, they were power of the Ojibwe.
The evening sun was setting when two Ojibwe men, in their small aluminum Lund of 14 feet with it's 25 horsepower Mercury engine, were fishing on the lake. The fish they caught would help feed their families. Many Ojibwe and their white counterparts lived off the land. A trip to the store was a full day adventure in the summer, a much more difficult trip in the winter.
In the distance the men heard engines, powerful engines and knew right away that it was a cigarette boat (named this because of their shape) carrying smuggled cigarettes and drugs. The low slung high speed boats were used in racing both on and off shore. The cigarette boats could have over a thousand horse power. The ones used by the smugglers were 29 feet and had two three hundred horse power engines.
The smugglers were dangerous, well armed with high power weapons, they would kill, if need be, to get their cargo into Canada.
The noise of the engines got closer as the sun had dropped behind the horizon, turning the sky blood red. As it caught the waves you would think that the lake had streaks of blood running though it. Soon the men were able to make out a boat speeding towards them. Clark quickly started the small engine on their boat. They knew that they didn't want to be seen by the smugglers. Smugglers wanted no witnesses.
As Clark swung the boat around and headed into a maze of islands, the smugglers caught sight of them and turned their powerful boat right at the small craft of the Ojibwe fisherman.
They had no chance. The cigarette boat cut their small craft in half. Both men badly injured, were taken by the lake.
The cigarette boat motored on, not caring that they had just killed two innocent men. There would be no witnesses to their crime.
It is against this back drop that the story begins.
Henry LaPlante sat in his cabin. Henry had built the cabin 60 years ago, long before most people living in ''The Angle'' were born. It was where Henry and his wife had shared over fifty years of marriage. His three children were born here. To Henry it was decades of love and trial.
If one visited Henry, they'd soon see that he had little use for the modern world. Heating was a fireplace. Cooking was done on a cast iron stove, almost as old as Henry. Lighting was kerosene lanterns. There was no phone, no internet, no tv.
Yet Henry was content. He and his old dog, ''Walkabout'', would sit on his small wooden dock and take in the sights and sounds of the real last remaining wilderness in the lower 48.
Henry's small home was located a couple of miles from the road. The road that led into the small village was really just a dirt track. The two miles to the road was nothing more than a snake trail. Henry knew every step, every tree, every animal. This was his home and these were his companions.
Henry did have one modern convenience, an alarm system. One that could hear, smell and see. It was named ''Walkabout'', his old faithful dog, that was a mix of breeds, most unknown to Henry.
That evening Henry was troubled, something wasn't right. Henry couldn't define it yet, but he knew that it was there.
Henry was a Mide, a member of the ''Grand Medicine Society'' of the Ojbiwe and the ''Three Fire Nations''.
That morning Henry was awakened by Walkabout doing his usual greeting to a friend. Barking, then flopping down and rolling on his back to get his stomach scratched.
But that morning, the friend, Angie Bisonette, was in a hurry. Rushing past Walkabout, she started calling to Henry. Walkabout knew something wasn't right and padded after her.
Henry came out onto the porch, where Angie told him that two of the Ojibwe men were missing. They had gone fishing the evening before and never returned home.
The drug smuggling had gotten worse over the past year. Many in the Ojibwe community and their white counterparts had begun to fear for their lives.
Henry said to Angie: "Angie, the men will not return, they are walking the ''path of souls''." Angie's fear was now real; Henry LaPlante was never wrong.
A few days later some of the fishermen's gear washed up on shore. The worst had been realized.
A hundred miles to the southwest, a group of men, hard men, men without concern for there fellow humans were meeting.
The group had five cigarettes boats, they were the main smuggling gang in the area. Millions were at stake with their deliveries. They were planning a huge movement of drugs. No cigarettes this time. All the space on the boats would be for drugs. B.C. Gold as they called it. A powerful strain of the leafy plant.
Each boat would hold 500 pounds of B.C. Gold. Twenty Five hundred pounds with a street value of over $5 million dollars U.S.
This trip would be different. Their usual method was one boat in a night. This time the buyer demanded all of the gold at one time.
They planned to form a caravan across the lake, running fast and with all five boats they had the firepower to protect their cargo from anyone.
Thus, a chain of events was set in motion that no one would have imagined.
The Ojibwe community was in mourning over the death of two of its own. In the small town of Anglers Inlet, the people there were concerned, and afraid that their once tranquil area was becoming something that they never thought that it would.
The Ojibwe and the small white communities had always had a good relationship, helping each other when they could. Now, with the killing of two of its own, anger flared, tensions were growing by the hour. The Ojibwe saw many of their young people held in the fist of drugs, their lives being destroyed. Now, the killing of two men, leaving behind wives and children was too much for many of them.
A seething anger lay below the surface, ready to explode at any moment. The people of Anglers Inlet felt it as well. Friendships between the whites and Ojibwe were fast deteriorating.
Henry LaPlante had seen what drugs were doing to his people and to the white community. Henry felt an evil in the air, surrounding him and his people.
In the town, Benson Rath, who was the only law enforcement in the area, was very worried. The smugglers were much too powerful for him to deal with. The nearest Sheriffs department was in Baudette MN. far to the south.
Benson thought to himself, we have little to fall back on, it's going to be up to us to handle this. But how, that was the question. He had little police training, actually got the job when the only deputy in the area was killed in a boating accident. Because Benson was a veteran of the Military, he was given the job.
He did know that a division between the Ojibwe and white folks was not a good thing. Years of working together and working as equals was fast falling apart.
Benson had met Henry LaPlante a few times and the old Mide impressed him as someone that could be very valuable in the current situation.
Although Benson did not understand the ways of the old Mide, he did feel that Henry was someone that he needed to speak with.
Benson decided to visit Henry; he would be uninvited, and have to go through the Ojibwe village to get to Henry's place.
As Benson drove though the village of small hand built cabins, he could feel the tension. Ojibwe that had once waved to him and greeted him with the Ojibwe greeting of ''Boozhoo'' were sullen, their eyes boring holes in him as he passed. Many of the men carried weapons. And Benson knew that they were experts with them. The situation was now dire.
The smugglers and the drugs had upset the balance of the area and it's people.
As Benson neared Henry cabin, Walkabout's hair stood up, a low growl sounded from his throat. Henry patted Walkabout. Easy boy, no need to be angry.
"Henry", called out Benson. The door swung open and Henry came out onto the porch. "What do you want of me, deputy?, Henry asked.
Benson, still not used to the Ojibwe ways, went right into his concerns about the smugglers, the anger showing between the Ojibwe and whites. People that had been friends were now not trusting.
When Benson finished, he was out of breath. The concerns had rolled out of him like a rocks tumbling down a mountain side.
Benson waited as Henry looked out at the lake, saying nothing. Benson thought, did he not hear me? Is he ignoring me? not at all familiar with the Ojibwe way of taking time before saying anything. Long silence was not ignoring, but simply the Ojibwe way.
Finally Henry spoke to Benson. You have come to me, to tell me something that I already know, or are you asking for my thoughts. Benson was taken aback. He thought it was plain what he wanted. As he started to say something back to Henry, he saw the slight smile at the corner of the wrinkled old face. Was the old Mide making fun of him?
Just than Henry spoke again. Perhaps it would be best if you rested a moment, caught your breath and we sipped some tea together. Henry rarely offered his own personal coffee, known as ''Black Water Medicine". Benson, totally confused, could only nod his head.
Soon, Henry asked Benson to sit on the porch, and handed him a cup of strong tea. "I will tell you a small story", Henry said to Benson. Many years ago, the white man came to our land. A land so vast that riding for weeks would not get you to the end of it. "Once the white man came, he made many promises, he started wars with us and tried to push us from our land. This I remember", Henry said. Benson looked at the wrinkled old face, and thought to himself, he probably does remember all of this. Benson was beginning to believe that the stories of Henry"s age of over a hundred were true.
"Now with the killing of two of our people, the bad memories are coming back. It was the smugglers that killed them. The smugglers are not Ojibwe. So you see, there is mistrust among our people."
Benson was shocked that an old man could put him on the defensive with softly spoken words. Benson blurted out, ''I need your help old man'', biting his tongue at the ignorant statement.
Henry waited and let Benson squirm. Finally he said: "You need my help to calm the Ojibwe, or do you need my help to calm your people? Those are very different things."
Benson was tongue tied now. Henry went on. "There is another, could you be asking me to help bring together the town people and the Ojibwe to act as one?" Henry stopped talking and looked at Benson. The silence grew as Benson tried to form words that were appropriate. Finally he said: "I think that we must act as one, to stop the smugglers."
Henry sat back in his chair. Walkabout, lying there, keeping a watchful eye on Benson.
"I will think on this", Henry said. With that he got up and walked back into his cabin, leaving Benson sitting there with Walkabout. Soon Walkabout got up, and ambled into the cabin.
Benson sat there for a bit, before he realized that Henry was not coming back out.
Benson sat in his office, a few days after his meeting with Henry LaPlante. He though to himself, I guess that the old Indian isn't going to help out. Now I've got smugglers killing Indians. Indians taking up arms, friendships between the Indians and whites is heading south.
As he looked up from his desk in the small Sheriff's office, one that didn't even have a jail cell, he realized the most serious problem Benson has had in his few years as Deputy Sheriff, was some drunk raising hell in the one and only local tavern.
If he had to arrest them, he would put them in Arnie Sherman's root cellar, till they sobered up.
Here was the old Mide getting out of a small boat onto the community dock. Benson was surprised how quick and agile the old man was. His firm footfalls up the path to Benson's office surprised Benson. Alongside the old Mide was Angie Bisonette and Walkabout.
What a trio thought Benson.
Henry knocked on the door of Benson's office. Benson swung the door open, and stood there without saying a word.
Henry said, "Deputy, it would be proper to invite us in. An old man needs to sit down after such a strenuous journey." Benson waved them in.
Henry sat down and Angie sat beside him. Walkabout laid down at Henry's feet.
"Deputy," Henry said. "Do you think that you could offer an old man some hot tea, and perhaps Angie and Walkabout would like something as well?"
Dammit, the old Indian puts me on the defensive right away.
Benson explained that he didn't have any tea, but did have coffee and water.
"Oh, so the Sheriff's department can't afford tea. Well, I'll just have some water then. Angie, would you like some water as well, since the Sheriff's department can't afford tea?" Angie settled for water.
Benson brought them water and Henry asked, "What about Walkabout Deputy?" "I don't have a bowl for him to drink from", said Benson.
"Well, since Walkabout is thirsty what are you going to do about it Deputy?" Dammit, here we go again, the old Indian has me stammering and looking like a fool, thought Benson.
"Perhaps a man of your position could come up with a solution for Walkabout." Grudgingly, Benson poured some water into a coffee cup and set it down for Walkabout.
They all sat there in silence, except for Walkabout, who was busy slurping water from Benson's coffee cup.
Finally the old Mide spoke. "Deputy, you came to me and asked me some questions. I will ask you one in return. Are the villagers willing to join the Ojibwe in finding a solution to our joint problem with the smugglers?"
Benson knew he was trapped. If he said no, they the tension between the Ojibwe and whites would come to a boiling point. If he said yes, he would then have to get the villagers to agree. The old, ''rock and a hard place''.
Benson looked at Henry, than Angie. "I will do my best to make that happen Henry", said Benson.
"So, Deputy you must use your talking skills to do this. You have good talking skills don't you?"
Benson nodded, so far so good he thought.
"So deputy, here is what I am thinking about this situation. The smuggler boat will be traveling in the channel, running fast and without lights. Dangerous, but they seem to know where the channels are. We cannot do anything while they are in the channels."
"We must draw them from the channels into the islands. Their boats would have to go very slow and it would be difficult for them to maneuver in that water. Once we had them there, the advantage would be ours. Of course, the whites would have to join us."
Benson nodded. Angie never took her eyes off Benson, which made him nervous. Walkabout wanted the last drop of water in the cup, and tipped it over to get at it.
"My grandfather told me this tale long ago Deputy." Oh, for God's sake, now it's going to be tales from a century or more ago, thought Benson.
"The Dakota put together a very large war party, they wanted to surprise the Ojibwe and take all the land in one final battle. They used their canoes, dugout's, heavy logs hollowed out. Hundreds of them, and they headed north along the islands next to the channel that the smugglers now use. One huge island was named, ''Weendigo Island'', the creature of Ojibwe myth, a monster so horrible that the Ojibwe would not ever set foot on Weendigo Island, even today."
"The Ojibwe, used birch bark canoes. Sturdy, light, fast, and with the skills of the Ojibwe, they were deadly when used against the dugouts of the Dakota."
"Once the Dakota were abreast of the island, the Ojibwe lured them into the narrow channels with their rocks and snags. It was then that the Ojibwe dealt the Dakota a horrible defeat, the Dakota were driven out of the what is now Canada and the NW Angle. They headed south, and the Ojibwe drove them out of northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan."
"This might be an idea for you to think over, Deputy."
Benson finally spoke. "How do you intend to draw the smugglers into the islands?" he asked.
"Well Deputy, I thought that you would know this, but I will explain it to you." Benson's temper was very close to boiling over from the dig the old man had used.
Angie, had a slight smile at the corner of her mouth, and Walkabout's tail thumped on the floor.
It seemed to Benson, that they were all laughing at him. This was not the case.
"We will need you to be sure that the villagers join the Ojibwe deputy; we will need many boats and men to make this work."
"We will set empty canoes and boats along the islands; each will have a light in it to so they will be seen by the smugglers. If they see the lights and canoes they will have to come toward the islands to rid themselves of this problem. You know that they will kill without hesitation, Deputy."
"Once they start toward the empty canoes and boats, we will draw them closer. We will have other canoes and boats mixed among the islands and will make noise, shooting rifles in the air to get them well inside the dangerous water. Their huge fast boats will be of little use in there. The advantage will be ours."
"You must bring brave men, Deputy, they must be warriors. Can you do that deputy?"
Benson thought to himself. There it is again, the old Indian poking me. This time Benson spoke. "Of course I can, the men are all brave, and will fight as warriors Henry. You don't have to worry about that."
Henry smiled to himself, yes it is working. Benson will fight as will the men he brings, they will not let an old Indian question their courage.
"I will leave now Deputy." With that, Henry, Angie and Walkabout left the office without saying another word.
Benson knew that he must now make sure that the villagers join the Ojibwe. Benson knew that the old Mide was sly and how he put Benson in a position that suited the old Mides way.
Benson met with the town people the next day. It took a lot of good talking, but he got a commitment from them that they would join the Ojibwe in the up-coming fight against the smugglers.
Benson was set, and now waited for Henry to contact him.
He didn't have to wait long. Within hours Henry sent word to Benson that they would meet at ''Crow Point'' in the island chain next to the clear water channel in two days. Henry made it clear that Benson and the villagers were to bring as many boats, lanterns, flashlights, and weapons as they could.
Why that day? How did Henry know that the smugglers would be running that night?
Henry was sure that they would make a run that particular night. It was to be a moonless night. The smugglers always ran their cargo on the darkest night possible.
Then Benson led a small convoy out to Crow Point on the day and time Henry had requested. Some of the boats were old wooden, a few canoes, none with high powered engines, the villagers had no use for nor could they afford them. The small fleet powered to Crow Point.
When they arrived, there was no one there. Dammit, thought Benson, I hope the old Indian and his people show up. If they don't I'll look like a fool and the villagers will never trust the Ojibwe again.
As Benson was thinking this to himself, he heard someone call out, ''Boozhoo'', the Ojibwe greeting. A few softly spoken, ''Boozhoo's'' answered back.
They came out of the darkness, some called a greeting from the water.
"Deputy", said Henry, "I see that you have brought men, boats and lights. But no hot tea for the old man." Benson was used to being poked by the old Mide. He didn't like it, but kept his mouth shut.
"I see that there are some women with your group, Deputy. What does that mean? Are they fighters like Ojibwe women?"
"Damn sure are, Henry, some of the best shots in the village, and we need good shots."
"That is true, Deputy, we have women with us as well. The women that lost their husbands to the smugglers are here with us. Good shots as well, but all Ojibwe women are good shots."
Angie and Walkabout stood beside the old Mide as he spoke to Benson. Each with a careful eye on the man.
"Here is what we will do, Deputy. Take as many boats as we can afford to leave empty. We will place them next on the outside of the islands. In each one put a lantern or flashlight so that the light can be seen from the clear channel by the smuggler boat."
"The Ojibwe and villagers will be in the remaining boats hidden among the islands. The smuggler boats will come and investigate the lights, we will draw them into the island channels, the power of their boats will be useless among the islands. There are many boulders just below the surface and snags (dead trees) as well. They must be very careful not to hit them. We will then have their boats surrounded and with our rifles take them over. We must be careful, even if they are stuck and surrounded they have much firepower."
Miles away the smugglers were making their final checks. All five boats would travel tonight, an impressive armada of firepower and speed. The smugglers would not hesitate to use on anyone that sees them.
Far to southwest another danger was forming, huge clouds were building, dark and threatening, building up hundreds of stories in the sky. Weather stations as far away as western North Dakota were sending out warning of an impending storm, a severe one, a deadly one. A ''derecho'' or as the Ojibwe knew it ''The Hunting Wind'' would soon start its path of destruction on a northeast path. The great lake lay in its path.
Henry spoke to Benson. "Deputy, in each of the boats that hide among the islands we must have a villager and an Ojibwe. We know the waters well. Every rock and snag, we have all walked on each island as well. All except Weendigo Island. No Ojibwe will go there. We know all the caves, and spots where we can put ashore if necessary. You must trust us on this, it is the only way."
Henry told Benson that the two of them, along with Walkabout, would be in one boat. But Henry carried no rifle. Only an recurve bow. Five feet eight inches long with a quiver of arrows. Benson didn't say a thing, but he thought to himself: I will have to protect the old man - a bow against high powered weapons; the old man has no chance.
The Ojibwe and villagers positioned the empty boats close to the clear channel and right next to the islands; lights were left on and the small flotilla moved to hide among the islands.
Angie was with a woman from the village named Rebecca. Rebecca said to Angie, "I'm so very sorry about the two men that were killed by the smugglers. If I can, I will help the widows." Angie looked at her for a long time before speaking. Finally she said, "Thank you Rebecca, they can use all the help they can get." Angie felt this woman was speaking from the heart. Angie said to her, "Rebecca, if we survive I will tell you the story of, ''Goes Across The Sky Woman'', the Ojibwe woman warrior of legend. We will strive to be like her." Rebecca nodded, hoping that she would live to hear the story.
The smugglers were headed toward the islands. No lights on, powerful engines tearing up the water. With the firepower they had among them, five boats and fifteen men, they were enough to destroy most anything that got in their way.
Running in total darkness, the smugglers spotted the lights as soon as they reached the string of islands. Henry and the others had heard them coming for a long time. Noise in the quiet of the Angle and the water carry sounds a long distance.
The old Mide had not expected so many boats. It was thought that there would be only one or two. Benson looked at Henry and said, "Henry there are a hell of a lot of smuggler boats there. This is not going to go well." Henry said, "We must go deeper into the channels, hide among the islands. We cannot face this much firepower."
All of the canoes and boats started moving further into the maze of islands. As they did they could hear the smuggler boats getting very close. Loud bursts of heavy weapon fire broke the air. The smugglers were chewing up the decoy boats with gunfire, they were flying into pieces. Soon it was silent, except for the sound of the idling engines of the smuggler boats. Powerful lights soon began searching the water, looking for more boats.
They were soon spotted by the smugglers, bullets chewing up the water, hitting the small boats and canoes of the villagers and Ojibwe. Screaming and panic set in. But they didn't collapse, they began firing back. Darting among the island, shooting and moving. This was the Ojibwe way. The villagers and Ojibwe were fighting for their lives, against overwhelming odds. Villagers and Ojibwe were cut down, but they kept firing back. The smugglers' boats were getting the best of it.
Benson looked over at Henry, and saw the old man lighting something attached to one of his arrows. The flames danced from the arrow and Henry pulled back on the bowstring, the arrow arched through the air and landed in one of the smuggler boats. There was panic on the boat, fire dancing just feet from a hundred gallons of fuel - a nightmare come true for the smugglers. Quickly the fire was put out, but another flaming arrow and another were already on their way.
They smugglers powered the boat up and tried to make a run for open water, but hit a submerged rock. Stuck with a badly damaged boat they still had the fire power, as Henry let loose with another arrow that struck home.
Angie and Rebecca's small boat was hidden under an outcropping across from Weendigo Island. As the smuggler boat was broadside to them they started firing at it. Each of the women hoping that they would survive. Other boats started firing at the smuggler boat, as it tried to get out of the line of fire, turning quickly with far too much speed its propeller caught a snag and send the boat sideways into a rocky crevice on Weendigo island.
Henry called out to Benson over the din of gunfire, screaming and engines. "Deputy, we must get to that boat and get their weapons, it is the only chance we'll have against all of the smugglers." Benson knew that their chances of surviving a direct assault on the smuggler boat was small. They headed their small boat toward the smugglers. Benson firing at them as fast as he could.
The Hunting Wind was moving a breakneck speed across North Dakota, crossing into Canada as it closed in on the lake that lay in its path.
Henry and Benson's small boat crashed into the side of the smuggler boat, as Benson was spun sideways, a bullet wounded him in his arm. Henry was thrown to the floor of the boat, stunned. Benson kept firing, but was an open target for the men in the smugger boat.
Benson, heard a deep growl, "Walkabout, dammit Walkabout, stay down."
In Walkabouts head, he heard, 'the pack, must protect my pack, the pack is everything.' His old body was pumping fresh blood into him, young blood, he felt the power coming back to him, as when he was young. His mind raced, 'protect my pack', he had no other thought but to protect, his duty, his pack must not be harmed. 'Attack, protect, attack, protect my pack.' His huge body hurtling thought the air was met with a bullet. Pain stunned Walkabout he fell on top of Henry. His brain not understanding what had happened to him. He couldn't move, laying on top of Henry, his brain kept telling him to protect, attack, protect his pack, but he couldn't move.
Benson was fading in and out, his brain fighting to stay awake, to fight back.
Walkabout felt a heavy foot step into the boat, it walked past him. He saw the man aim his gun at Benson. Walkabout's brain was screaming, protect, attack, protect the pack.
He raised his head, his front legs wouldn't move, but he must protect, attack. With the last of his ebbing strength he lunged forward, his jaws closing on the leg of the smuggler, all his power was in his jaws as they crushed the muscle. The man fell backward, now, now attack, protect my pack. Walkabout crawled forward towards the mans head, his front legs useless. His powerful hind quarter, pushing him forward. Attack, protect, the pack is everything. With his last bit of strength, his jaws closed on the smugglers neck.
Walkabout's mission was complete, the pack is protected.
Henry pulled himself to his feet, weak and dizzy he made his way back to Benson and Walkabout.
"Benson, I'll help you", said Henry. Pulling Benson to an upright position, Henry worked to stanch the flow of blood. Then he turned to Walkabout, cradling the dog in his arms, he softly spoke to Walkabout "The pack is safe, my old friend. You have saved your pack." Walkabout whimpered, blood flowing freely from his wound.
Walkabout was mortally wounded. Henry began chanting a death song for Walkabout.
Benson holding his rifle in his good hand, stared at the unlikely duo. In his heart, he felt that the old Mide and Walkabout where one, brothers.
The gunfire was all around them. Ojibwe and villagers fighting for their lives. Smugglers seeking to destroy them. They wanted no witnesses to their smuggling.
Henry looked up at Benson, and the Ojibwe in the other boats turned to their fighting partners. It was as if each Ojibwe knew that something bad, even worse than the battle they were in, was coming to visit.
We must head to land, onto the island and take shelter in the caves. It is coming, an evil that we cannot fight.
Just to the west of them, The Hunting Wind was moving in a straight line towards them, winding howling, trees being uprooted. Nothing stood in the path of the derecho.
As the Indians and the villagers sought shelter among the island. Seeking out the caves that they were well known to them. The villagers trusting them, since did not understand what was happening.
The smugglers thought that the Indians and villagers were giving up the fight, and fleeing from them. Little did they know that soon, very soon, a greater evil than they would strike.
Then the smugglers heard it. The noise of a hundred locomotives bearing down on them. Trees snapping, their roots giving way to the derecho.
It was too late for the smugglers, it was here, the Hunting wind, was hunting them.
The storm had hundred mile an hour winds, sweeping through the forest, then hitting the lake. Waves reaching six to seven feet slammed into the smugglers boats. Trees flying through the air crushed anything in their way.
The three smuggler boats that were still operational, were picked up like toys and slammed against the island. The two boats that had been disabled by the villagers and Ojibwe, were in turn pounded until they started to fall apart like broken glass.
As suddenly as the derecho had appeared, it was gone.
The night turned calm, no breeze, no movement.
As the storm was approaching them, Henry and Benson, with the mortally wounded Walkabout lying on the floor of the boat, beached their small boat. Benson, weak from the loss of blood, and Walkabout could no longer move. Old Henry gathered the last of his strength, picked up Walkabout. Benson, swaying about to topple over, when Henry put his arm around him and Benson leaned against the old Mide to keep from falling over.
Steady, niijii (my friend), I'll get you to the cave, you will be safe, along with Walkabout.
The old man, barely able to carry Walkabout, now had the weight of Benson to support. With all of his will he got them to the cave. Exhausted, he lay close to Walkabout and Benson, hoping to survive the Hunting Wind.
As soon as the wind stopped, the Ojibwe and villagers came out from their shelters. All had survived, thanks to Henry and the Ojibwe.
All except Henry, Benson and Walkabout were out looking at the destruction that surrounded them.
Rebecca said to Angie, "Let's go get the weapons off the smugglers boat." Angie grabbed her, "No, do not go near the island."
The other Ojibwe stopped the villagers from heading over to the island.
The wrecked smuggler boats were on the shoreline of Weendigo Island.
It would become very real to the villagers why the Ojibwe would not let them try to get the weapons off the smugglers' boats.
The surviving smugglers, there were nine of them out of the fifteen that had started their evil journey. Four had been killed by the Ojibwe and villagers and two by the storm.
The Ojibwe and villagers heard the screams, and looked at their Ojibwe friends, not understanding what was causing the screams.
The slight breeze turned into a bitter cold wind, mist covered the area, from behind this the Weendigo came, hunting for human prey, the skin of its face drawn tight across the bones, hollow eyes sunk deep into it skull, ragged bloody lips pulled tight over broken teeth, its skin covered in sores, letching a poison from them.
The remaining smugglers fired their weapons point blank at the Weendigo. It was no use, the Weendigo grabbed its human prey and ripped them apart, feasting on their flesh.
The stunned villagers could not believe their eyes. This was the mythical monster of the Ojibwe - it existed, and was there, right before them, satisfying itself on human flesh.
Soon, it was over, the Weendigo had disappeared back in the remaining trees on Weendigo Island.
Angie shouted out for Henry. No answer. "Benson can you hear me?" called Angie, but still no answer.
Angie and Rebecca and the remaining villagers and Ojbiwe, started looking through the wreckage of the storm for the two men and Walkabout.
Angie and Rebecca, coming around an outcropping in their boat, were the first to see them, then calling out to all other boats to come and help.
They watched as Benson, carrying Henry and Walkabout in his arms, stumbled towards the shoreline. The other survivors rushed to help Benson, but he would not allow it. He, and only he would carry the bodies of his friends to the boat.
The stress of the battle, and carrying Walkabout and Benson had been too much for Henry's heart.
Two days later, a funeral for the two villagers that were killed in the battle took place. All the Ojibwe were there, bringing food, comfort and honor to the men. Later that day, the Ojibwe buried one of their own. All the villagers attended to honor this warrior.
The next day, a traditional burial for Henry LaPlante, along with Walkabout took place.
All villagers attended, as did all Ojibwe. Henry and Walkabout were laid to rest in a mound burial, traditional for the Ojibwe. Henry's bow, quiver and remaining arrows were laid with him. His ''medicine pouch'' at his side.
Benson, and the villagers knew that Henry LaPlante was a man of wisdom, honor and courage.
Benson knew that he would not meet the likes of Henry again.
The following week, Ojibwe and villagers led by Angie, walked to Henry's cabin. They were there to make sure that it was taken care of. Henry always liked things tidy. They would keep Henry's cabin for their children and their children's children to see.
As they approached it, Angie walking with Benson and Rebecca, there, down by the dock was Henry and Walkabout.
The crowd stunned at seeing what they thought was a vision. For a few moments no one could say anything. Then, it seemed like a spontaneous explosion. "Boozhoo Henry, Hello Henry", words shouted from the crowd. "Hi Walkabout", others shouted.
Benson started running toward Henry and Walkabout shouting his joy at seeing them.
As the crowd surged forward to touch Henry and Walkabout they were shocked to see a transformation take place.
Where once stood an old Mide and his dog, they saw a young Ojibwe Warrior, tall, over six feet, long braided hair, painted face and chest, A bear claw necklace hung around his neck, bow in his hand with a quiver strapped to his back.
Next to him, no longer an old dog, but a young powerful animal, black in color with a huge head, crowned by a mane of long black hair.
The crowd stopped, unable to comprehend what their eyes were seeing.
Benson stunned, could no longer speak.
The Warrior called to them..."Gakina Awiiya niijii" (we are all related my friends). The dog sat back on his haunches and tilted his head to the sky. From his throat came the long and chilling cry of the wolf.
Angie took Benson's arm, and turned to face the still stunned crowd.
"Come with me, and I'll tell you the story of Stone Hand and the Ghost Wolves." She turned to Rebecca, "And perhaps I'll tell you the story of 'Goes Across The Sky Woman'".
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