Danny Cubit, location scout for a major motion picture, is checking out Clayoquot Sound.
The movie, based on
a novel called The Waiting Deep, is a horror flick about a cult leader in a seaside town who raises sub-marine demons, Mer-people, who breed with the townfolk and steal their souls.
In Chapter One, Danny met Seashell Cohen over coffee at the Common Loaf. “I’m here to fulfill prophecy,” he told Shell, when she asked what brought him to Tofino. Danny described the movie he’s scouting for, after which Shell grabbed him by the wrist and headed for the door: “I know just where you can start!”
Here is Chapter Two by Janice Lore.
As Danny and Shell left the Common Loaf,
he stopped to grab his jacket out of his suv. It was starting to rain, but Shell seemed oblivious to the fine mist beading on her red and yellow wool sweater. She marched him down Main Street to the Fourth Street Dock. The wet planks were slick and one foot skidded away on him as he stepped off the ramp.
"Care-ful!" Shell laughed, and threw an arm around his waist to steady him. She smelled of wet wool and something floral.
Out on the second finger, they approached a sandwich board sign which read: mermen dive charters. Guaranteed Sightings.
"Mussel," Shell said to the man who looked up from the jumble of gear in the bottom of the square nosed aluminum boat. "Meet Danny Cubit."
"Muscle?" Danny asked, not sure if he had heard right, although it certainly described the guy. He was positively rippling, in his long sleeved grey wool shirt and green bib rain pants. No rain jacket. Am I the only one here who knows it's raining? Danny wondered.
"Mussel," Shell said, "as in..."
"Oh," Danny said. "Pleased to meet you."
Mussel clambered out of the boat, onto the dock. Not only was he built like a boxer, he stood about six inches over Danny, and smelled positively fishy. He didn't glance at Danny, but Danny could read plainly the look he gave Shell. Exasperation. Unrequited love.
"Where you off to?" Shell asked Mussel. Mussel shrugged.
"He's doing a movie," Shell said. "About Mer-people."
At that, Mussel turned to Danny, his face suddenly curious, assessing.
"He is, is he?"
"How much?" she asked Mussel.
"Eighty bucks. Per hour."
Shell snorted. "One hundred. For the trip. And we want to see Velella."
"One hundred plus gas," Mussel countered. "He pays Velella."
"Just a minute!" Danny's entire sailing experience consisted of a weekend in a houseboat on Shuswap Lake. He was not at all sure he wanted to head out in the miserable little tin can floating at the dock.
"It's raining," he protested.
Both Shell and Mussel laughed. "He thinks it's raining," Mussel said to Shell.
"Look, Shell, I really
need to be scouting."
"Come on, Danny.
It'll be worth every dollar."
Shell laid a small warm hand on his wet cold one, her chocolate eyes looked deep into his, and she said, "Trust me."
Danny wasn't sure how he was going to explain this boat trip to Evelyn Pierce in accounting. Evelyn who scrutinized every cup of coffee. But Shell had said Trust me and for some reason, whether intuition or infatuation, Danny realized he did.
Mussel cast off from the dock, they headed out into the harbour, and began to wend their way among islands.
"So," Danny said as nonchalantly as he could, "Where are we going?"
"Up the inlet," Shell said. A mountain rose high on one side of the water, clouds wreathing the flanks and summit. Danny had never seen a landscape like this: it was wild, moody, untouched, untameable. No wonder they were considering shooting here. Danny took his cell phone out of his pocket, and began to take pictures.
About thirty minutes out of Tofino, they rounded a headland and pulled into a small cove. When Mussel cut the motor and they drifted up to the dock of a floathouse, the roar of wind and motor in Danny's ears died away, and he could hear the murmur of a stream somewhere close by, and then the grroooookkkk of a raven. At least, Shell said it was a raven.
Danny's first sweep of the cove told him it had possibilities. In its mouth was a small island, with a stand of trees, and rocky outcrops which were broad and flat. Behind the floathouse, between the headlands, was a pebble beach. They could rent the floathouse, charter some boats. It just might work...
Velella came out to greet them, catching the rope Mussel threw her. She was a graceful white-blonde creature, her wild hair half caught inside her yellow raincoat. Danny was amazed, when she turned to look at him full on, to see the deep crow's feet around her eyes. She was way older than he had thought at first glance. Fifty at least.
"See you later," Mussel called, starting the motor.
Velella sat them at a small pedestal table by one of the windows and filled the teapot from a kettle sitting on the wood stove. "What are you here for?" she asked as she set the teapot on the table. Danny hesitated. Shell looked at him expectantly. It was one thing to say "I'm here to fulfill prophecy" when it came out of its own volition. It was another thing to say it purposefully. He didn't think he could. But Velella nodded, as if he had spoken, and then she sat down. She set a deck of Tarot cards in front of her.
When Velella finished the reading, they all sat, transfixed by the cards laid out on the table. The cards stared back at Danny. Finally, he tore himself from their gaze and looked over at Shell. Her attention was turned inward, contemplating something so intently that she jumped when Velella rose from the table. The older woman paced back and forth a couple of times, then flung open the door and stepped outside.
"What now?" Danny asked Shell. He attempted to say it gamely, but it came out heavy with apprehension. From somewhere close by, they heard a small splash.
"What was that?"
"I don't know," Shell said. "Seal, maybe. Sounded like some sort of water creature." They peered out the window by the table. Danny got up, crossed the room to the opposite window, looked out again. At first he saw nothing, then he noticed a widening arc of ripples, emanating from the floathouse dock.
Shell opened the door. "Velella!" She called. "Velella!"
But when Mussel returned half an hour later to pick them up, there was still no sign of Velella.
"Tofino Timeless" is a serial story written by the Clayoquot Writers Group.
Read Chapter Three in the March issue of Tofino Time Magazine...
Previous chapters of Tofino Timeless are available online: