a moose has wandered into Marquette, meandering down from the Noquemanon trails to stand before the window of the Kennecot Eagle Mine office downtown. the moose is lowing and its cloven hooves – caked in something hard and sulfurous – leave smoking prints in the blacktop. the debt must be repaid. this time they must choose.
they told you that you might be able to see the northern lights tonight, if you got up at the right time. they did not tell you about the singing. they did not warn you to cover your ears. they did not tell you to stay inside and calmly staunch the bleeding.
young people gather for the annual music festival and for three days there is no peace, only music, only dancing, only campfires and smoke and unintelligable “songs”. their beautiful, sun-baked faces beckon you to join, but you have heard the stories of how it is they stay so young.
you go to pick blueberries just outside of town, bearing only a bucket and a warning not to pick a bush entirely clean or to turn when you hear the sand shift behind you. it is only the wolves, the woman at Crossroads says, and they haven’t taken anyone in a long time.
the locks fill and drain as the hours pass, always perfectly on schedule. ore boats passing in and passing out, communicating their identities to a control tower radio that emits only static. you ask who built them, how long they’ve been running, and the captain looks at you blankly and simply says: “Always.”
your tour guide encourages you to take a stone from the beach before you leave, “As a memento!” But, she says, avoid the ones that turn dark green when they are wet, they have a history of bringing awful misfortune on those who take them. the water washes up around your feet and the dark green stones you are standing on. Your pockets feel heavy. You begin to wade slowly into Lake Superior. all the stones were green. every last one.
Kharon was sat at the head on his boat, his ore resting between his legs and against his left shoulder. His attention was directed downwards, and he didn’t feel too keen on looking anywhere else just yet.