Tofino Timeless - Chapter Five
by Rana Nelson, Tofino
Danny Cubit is newly arrived in Tofino. When asked why he's here, he blurts out "to fulfill prophecy"--but he's scouting locations for a horror flick about Mer-people who breed with the townsfolk and steal their souls. He has met local girl, Shell Cohen, and she's taken him to Wettening Cove, the floathouse location of a mysterious blonde woman named Velella.
In the previous chapter, Velella arranged the necessary permissions for filming, Danny left his phone in the Common Loaf oven to dry (and Velella used it to call Danny's boss), and Shell suggested Eik Cedar as a location for the film' "final showdown." As Danny examined the tree, he found He is Come to Repossess written in the bark. "It's the prophecy," he croaked.
Danny jumped awake at seven the next morning, the nightmare still whirling through his brain: A merman grabbed Shell and slithered up the Eik Tree cables. "He is come!" Shell screamed as she was dragged ever higher, "He is come to repossess!" Danny clawed his way after her, but just as he reached to break the scaly grasp, the fish-man dropped her, and Shell fell, crashing from branch to branch. "Daaaaannnyyyyyy...."
Shell. Danny rolled over, thinking about yesterday. Shell had left the Eik Tree and Danny in a blur of anger, striding up through the bush to the road. "Shell! Shell, wait!" In his rush to follow her, Danny had dropped his flashlight and flailed about in the salal looking for it. How did Shell just walk through this stuff? By the time he had struggled up to Campbell Street, she had disappeared into the darkness.
Light was just beginning to brighten Danny's outlook when he pushed himself out of bed and walked to the window. The check-in clerk had said that his room had a great view of Cox Bay, but all he had seen the night before was his own reflection. Now, Danny gaped at the view. At least Evelyn hadn't been stingy on the room. Roller upon roller crashed onto a long sweep of glistening sand, empty except for two or three early-morning walkers and a few seagulls. And while it wasn't exactly sunny, it wasn't quite raining, either. At the high end of the beach, driftwood - no, drifttrees - stacked themselves against the bush, which sloped unbrokenly upwards.
Out on the beach, Danny walked quickly on the packed sand, trying to put some distance between himself and last night's events. Three surfers in the water distracted him. They straddled their boards like horses, rocking over the swells, waiting for a wave. Danny watched as a swell gained height, glowing green in the pale light seeping through the clouds. One of the surfers spun around onto his or her - it was impossible to tell from the beach, especially with the hooded wetsuits they wore - stomach and paddled strongly towards shore, glancing back over his shoulder once or twice. Suddenly, the surfer popped up into a squat, legs wide, back straight, arms out, but loose, for balance. Danny marveled at how relaxed the guy looked, his body guiding the surfboard along the wave as he rode it in.
About 20 metres from the beach, he jumped off into the shallows, picked up his board and turned to head back out into the water. Then he noticed Danny standing on the sand.
Danny started. He didn't know any surfers. The guy splashed through the surf, pulling his hood off with one hand. Close-cropped hair - brown? No, auburn. Not a guy.
"Shell." Danny breathed. Was she still mad? "That was some ride. You make it look so easy."
"Yeah, that's what growing up in Tofino does to you. Wanna try?" She held out the slim, short board.
"Aaah - no wetsuit," Danny said lamely.
Despite covering her from neck to toe, Shell's wetsuit certainly showed off her slim figure. Danny admired the view as he said awkwardly, "Shell...about last night...I'm sorry about the tree...."
"Look, Danny, don't worry about it. It's not your fault."
"I know, but I feel responsible. And then when you left...."
Shell didn't want to explain herself, but Danny didn't say anything else. "Danny, this just isn't right. The prophecy and the Eik tree and all, well, I don't think I can be a part of it anymore."
"Listen, Shell, you brought me to everything that's happened here. You can't back out now. The set guys are coming today, Velella said she arranged the boat, and I hoped you'd come out on the water with us."
Shell stared at Danny for a long moment. "Okay. But only to protect you from yourself."
Danny bounded forward and hugged her, surprising them both. "Hey, there, boss," Shell laughed, as she attempted to disentangle herself, "no fraternizing with the crew."
"Right, sorry. Meet you at 11:30 at the Fourth Street Dock!"
The rain started again as Danny waited to turn out of the Long Beach Lodge driveway. Each time he tried, a vehicle screamed around the corner. Finally, Danny leaped into a break in traffic, just ahead of a white Chevrolet pickup. As he passed Beaches, Danny saw the Chev loom into his rearview mirror. He checked his speedometer and frowned. At 65 k, he was already speeding, but he pressed on the gas to avoid ending up as road kill. Checking his mirror again, he could clearly see the Chevrolet symbol on the grill, and a hulking guy in the driver's seat. The faster Danny drove, the faster the truck followed. He looked for somewhere to pull over, but the road was narrow, hilly and winding. All he could do was stay out of the way.
As Danny approached the Co-op gas station, his cell phone rang. He looked at the passenger seat in panic, unable to answer. Smash! Danny's Envoy skidded sideways off the road, just missing a phone booth, and ground to a stop two feet in front of a bank of windows. By the time his breathing had slowed enough to read the "Open Pizza" sign in front of him, the white truck was long gone.
The cell phone was still ringing. Danny stared at the passenger seat again. He didn't remember getting his phone back from the Common Loaf. Shakily, he dug it out from under his still-wet jacket. "Hello?"
"Danny, what's with this assistant you got yourself? She is nuts, man. She laid into me about the plot, going on about the Merpeople not allowed to be evil."
"Simon, my what?'
"Your assistant. She was really strongarming me. Unwilling to accept the storyline. What's going on out there, Danny? Aren't you meeting with Nash today?
"I don't know who you're talking about, Simon. I don't have an assistant. Yes, I'm meeting Nash, but some crazy truck just ran me off the road. And it won't stop raining. I'll have to call you later."
Danny flipped his cell phone closed and got out of the vehicle to check the damage. A mustached man came out of the restaurant.
"You okay, buddy?"
"Yeah, thanks. Just a little shaky." Three long scratches gleamed white along the Envoy's left side panel and the driver's-side taillight was smashed. Danny had been branded.
He decided to report the accident later and continued into town. He looked straight ahead as he passed the Eik tree, and parked on 2nd Street. Pulling open the wooden door of Co-op Family Fashions, Danny went straight to the counter. "I need raingear."
Danny walked to the dock to see if Nash had arrived. Two black f-350s squatted in the parking lot, with a bit too much chrome to fit in. In the light rain Nash and his flunkies hunched together, talking on their cell phones, and making quite a scene with the locals.
"You must be Nash," said Danny, extending his hand to a short, stocky man standing a little apart from the group.
"Yeah, hold on a sec." He barked into the phone for another minute, then hung up and looked at Danny. "Who're you?"
"Danny Cubit. Location scout."
"Oh, right. What the hell are you wearing?"
Danny glanced down at his bright yellow slicker and rain pants and chuckled. "Raingear. You'll need it here."
"What I need is some coffee. What's with this town? My crew is dying for some Starbucks."
"It's just that kind of place, Nash. Local stuff, no chain stores allowed. I can tell you where to go, though" said Danny, thinking that he'd really like to.
"Nah, forget it. We've got to see what we can do to make this place look decent. Looks like production might be moved up a bit."
"Your call." Danny scanned the dock and didn't see Shell. "Head out to the last finger there. Mussel's the skipper. You can't miss him. I'm just waiting for someone."
"Hey, I've got a schedule here, Cubit. I'm not waiting around."
Typical, Danny thought, shaking his head. You'll learn.
Nash's eyes flickered as something brushed Danny's left shoulder.
"Hey, there. Shell, this is Nash. Nash, Shell. She found us Wettening Cove."
Danny was happy to see that Mussel had procured a bigger boat, but Mussel wasn't happy to see Danny. He grunted at Danny's cautious hello, and directed him to sit up front and watch for rocks. As Mussel picked up speed out of the harbour the crew started complaining about the rain. Danny caught Shell's eye and grinned. He, for once, was warm and dry.
As they pulled into the cove, Mussel slowed the engine. Boldly, Danny stood up and gestured at the shore. "So, Nash! Is this great or what? The beach, the kelp, the trees! It's damn near perfect!"
"Danny. I'm the set guy. It's all right, but it needs work." Nash pointed to Velella's floathouse. "If we cut all those trees down by that shack there, get rid of the dock and replace that beach with a slime pit, it might be realistic enough."
Shell gaped at Nash. "Realistic enough? You can't get more realistic than this, pal. And don't think you'll be cutting down any trees. My parents didn't get arrested in the Clayoquot Sound blockades for nothing." She looked at Danny. "I'm done with this. Mussel, take me back to town, please."
Smirking, Mussel revved the motor and swung the boat around. Danny teetered as it changed direction. He grabbed for the edge, slipped on the steel deck, and plunged headfirst into the ocean.
"Danny!" Shell shouted.
Danny struggled to regain the surface. Stay calm. I gotta stay calm. He opened his eyes, trying to get his bearings. Long strands of white streamed in front of him, and a dark figure flicked its fin.
"Tofino Timeless" is a serial story written by the Clayoquot Writers Group.
Read Chapter Six in the June 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 5 by Rana Nelson