Tofino Timeless - Chapter Four
by Greg Blanchette, Tofino
Danny Cubit is
newly arrived in Tofino. When asked why he's here, he blurts out "to fulfill prophecy" -- but in fact he's scouting locations for a horror flick about Mer-people: submarine demons who breed with the townsfolk and steal their souls. He and local girl Shell Cohen take a boat ride to the floathome of an enigmatic woman named Velella. She does a Tarot reading for Danny and then mysteriously vanishes. Back in town, Danny calls his people. There's been a development: Nash, the celebrated special effects "artificial forest guy," is on his way.
Meanwhile, word is out in town about the movie, enviros are on the alert, town council wants its permits, and locals are angling for
bit parts. Danny sits down
in the bakery and closes
his eyes, thinking of Shell. When he opens them, it's Velella sitting in front of him.
Okay," Velella said, her big grey eyes unblinking. "It's all set up."
Danny took a second to refocus. "You!" he said. "Where'd you disappear to back there on the island? That splash off the dock...?"
"That must have been Marvin," Velella said, adding, at Danny's blank look, "my harbour seal. Didn't Shell tell you? I was probably halfway to Opitsaht by then. Anyway," she said, "you're shooting a movie, and it's going to be shot in Wettening Cove."
"Wettening Cove?" Danny echoed. "That's what it's actually called, that bay where you live?"
Velella shrugged. "One name's good as another. But you saw the cards -- the Priestess of Cups, Death in the outcome. The Tarot doesn't play around. So I set it up for you. Cleared it with the Tla-o-qui-aht chiefs, booked boat transport and accommodations for the crew. Eighteen should be enough, right? Now, how many extras will you need? I've got two dozen lined up so far."
Danny chuckled and shook his head. "What's that urban myth about things moving slowly in small towns?"
"Oh yes," Velella added. "And the Mer-people: They can't be evil."
That was it for Danny. "Okay listen, lady," he said. "I'm not here to play games. Things have changed, there are trucks on the way. I can't be messing around with small-town fantasies anymore. I've got some locations to find." Danny expertly flipped open his cell phone, half punched in a number, and cursed. "Dead! Bloody never-ending rain in this hole--" He broke off as Shell strode up to the table.
She gave Velella a look. "So he still thinks it's raining?" she said, but then winked at Danny to show she was kidding.
She saw the lifeless phone in Danny's palm and snatched it up. "Lulu," Shell called, "we got a soaker here. Can you bake it?" Before he knew it Danny's phone was whirling through the air. Behind the counter Lulu caught it, flipped it open, slipped off the battery, wrapped both parts in a dishtowel and slid them into the still warm bread oven.
"Usually works," Shell said, and grabbed Danny's cold hand with both her warm ones, a move that cut off his protest with his mouth hanging open. He did trust her, it seemed.
Shell pulled over a chair. "Okay, so you're the boss, boss," she said, and Danny was oddly thrilled to hear it from her. "We're just here to help. What's the next location?"
Danny cast a suspicious look at Velella but decided to plunge ahead anyway. "Okay, Simon wants a location for the final showdown between the townsfolk and the Mer-people. The evil Mer-people," he added, with a sidelong look at Velella. "Something dramatic -- a tower, burning torches ... freaky horror setting. The heroine is cornered by the townsmen, who have all become evil Mer-people and want to breed with her. She's trapped up the tallest thing in town, desperately fighting them off, when suddenly...." He trailed off.
Shell and Velella leaned forward in their seats. "When what?"
"Aha -- gotcha!" Danny said. "And you called it a cheesy horror flick."
"No, I think you called it that," Shell reminded him. "Anyway, I know the perfect spot. At least, I think it's worth you taking a look at, boss. The Eik Tree." Velella clapped her hands and chortled her approval.
Shell grabbed Danny's hand. "C'mon, Mister suv, suh. It's two minutes away." As they stood to leave, a bald-headed bakery girl stepped out from behind the counter and broke into a full-throated a capella chorus from The Sound of Music. It was awful. When it was done she winked at Danny, who stood frozen with his hand on the door handle. "I'm available," she said, "if you know what I mean."
"Movie fever," Danny muttered to Shell as the door shut behind them. "I've never seen a town get it so bad."
Hey!" Lulu called from behind the counter. "The movie star forgot his cell phone."
"He's not the star, he's the location scout," said Velella, who rose and swirled over to the counter." I'll be seeing him soon, I can give it to him." She took the warmed parts, reattached the battery, and when she flipped it open it turned on. An impish look crossed her face. She thought for a good ten seconds, then sorted swiftly through the phone's menus and pressed the send button. The call was answered at once. "Hello, Simon," she said in her most velvety voice. "This is Velella Velella, Mr. Cubit's personal assistant here in Tofino. He asked me to give you a call...."
* * *
It was the damndest thing Danny had ever seen through the rain-spotted window of his or any other SUV. It was like the apricot trees in California, when they get heavy with fruit and are braced up with wires to keep them from toppling. But this was orders of magnitude beyond that. This was, like, the size of a building, held up with cables as thick as three of his fingers.
Danny got out, gripped a wire and looked up, way up, at the Eik Tree. He turned to Shell. "You people are insane," he said.
Shell put on a practiced pout. "Rather, we have a sense of what's really important around here, boss," she said. "What matters in the big scheme. This tree was a sapling in the Middle Ages. It has seen most of Western civilization come and go, and they wanted to cut it down because they were afraid it might fall on their new condos some day. Personally, I don't mind if it does." She stepped to the tree and caressed its bark. "Come closer, touch the tree, bond with it. You can feel its presence."
Danny wasn't into any tree bonding, but he walked slowly around the base of the tree. With the addition of a ladder, he was thinking, and some kind of platform up above, and some appropriately ramshackle seaside-town building facades scattered around ... it just might do. The writer could work the bondage-tree aspect into the plot with some kind of inbred yokel angle. Yes, it might work. Nobody could ever dream up such a wacko set.
Around the back of the tree he barked out a laugh, a single guffaw laden with irony. "Your holy tree," he called to Shell, "even comes with its own graffiti."
"Not!" Shell shouted back, unamused. "I've been over every inch of this tree, Danny. A dozen people have. There's no graffiti." But Danny just pointed, a smirk on his face. Shell jumped around to where he stood and there it was, a hand-sized patch of bark scraped back, something carved into the wood. She sputtered with outrage. Who would dare carve anything into the Eik Tree? Some new kid in town with no respect, some redneck, some parvenu--
"It looks old," Danny said, and Shell, looking closer, had to agree -- the edges of the bark scar had healed long ago. How could nobody have noticed it before? The two of them leaned close, shoulder to shoulder, to inspect the heart shape scraped into the bark. In tiny letters, exquisitely inscribed into the sapwood beneath, were the words: He is Come to Repossess.
Danny's face went pale as a halibut's belly. "It's the prophecy," he croaked.
"Tofino Timeless" is a serial story written by the Clayoquot Writers Group.
Read Chapter Five in the May issue of Tofino Time Magazine...
Previous chapters of Tofino Timeless are available online:
"Tofino Timeless" is a serial story written by members of the Clayoquot Writers Group. Here is Chapter 4 by Greg Blanchette