Read Dark Moon Walking Online

Authors: R. J. McMillen

Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General, #Police Procedural

Dark Moon Walking

BOOK: Dark Moon Walking
8.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

For Bud.


He didn't know what woke him, but it might not have been much. Sleep no longer came easily to Dan Connor. It was over a year since he had lost Susan and still he found himself waking in the night, listening for the quiet sound of her breathing. Sometimes it was just the weight of the silence that disturbed his nights, the overwhelming sense of
. But not this time. This had been something external: a sound, a movement too gentle to intrude upon his consciousness but enough to alert senses minutely attuned to wind and weather and ocean. Something.

The boat rocked gently as he pushed open the hatch and climbed onto the deck. A fine rain filled the air with mist and clung to the dark branches of the trees. Wind riffs chased across the water and above the shore, while cedars shivered against the night sky. Dan's eyes carefully scanned the shadows, measuring the angles and distance from shore, making sure that
had not dragged her anchor.

Dan was a big man, maybe two inches over six feet tall, with a solid frame and the deceptively lean body of a martial arts practi­tioner. Sun and sea had turned dark hair light and light skin dark. The job had added a narrow scar that slanted down across his cheek. Loss had added the lines around his eyes and mouth.

He moved forward along the deck, bare feet silent on the damp wood, and ran his fingers along the anchor rope as it curved over the drum of the winch and ran out to the bow roller. It was smooth and taut, and he could feel the faint vibration made by the anchor chain as it moved gently over the gravel bottom. Above him, the masthead light burned steadily. He leaned over the railing and looked astern to check on the dinghy. It floated quietly at the end of its line, bobbing a few feet off the stern.

A sudden gust of wind, this one stronger than the others, swung the boat toward the shore and Dan straightened, glancing up at the sky. It was September, still a little early for the violent winds that came raging down the mountains with the winter and gave Storm Bay its name, but perhaps it was time to think about moving. He wondered if that was what had wakened him. In his sixteen years on the police force, he had learned to listen to his intuitions. If he had been back in Victoria, over four hundred miles to the south, he would have gone on instant alert, checking and rechecking everything and everybody around him to identify what had attracted his attention. But here? Here, except for the ruins of the old Namu cannery, there were only trees and water.

He gave a slight nod, the movement dislodging the moisture that clung to his hair and sending a chill down his back. It was time to go. He would spend the remaining hours before dawn plotting a slow course back down south. He was ready for the familiar noise and bustle of the city, and the reality was that no matter how much he had gained in terms of self-acceptance and quietude of soul these last few months aboard the boat, winter would be more enjoyable with the comforts of the marina.

Truth be told, he was looking forward to being back in civilization. Just thinking about catching up with Mike and the guys from the squad brought a smile to his face. Amazing what four months alone on the ocean could do. He had barely spoken a word to them in the weeks and months before he left, and here he was, eager to see them all again. He could already imagine the yarns they would have to tell him, full of cynicism and the black humor that came with the job.

He slid the hatch back and felt a wave of warm, dry air rising out of the cabin. As he stepped over the sill onto the steep steps of the companionway, he froze, heart racing and adrenalin surging as a piercing scream reverberated through the night. Seconds later it was joined by another, and Dan cautiously exhaled. Mink. The damn things were everywhere, searching the rocky shoreline, fighting for food and for territory. That was one of the few things he wouldn't miss.

He leaned on the hatch, allowing his eyes to lazily follow the track of the moon on the water out toward the open ocean. Suddenly his gaze sharpened. Out beyond the rocky cliffs of the headland, the pattern of waves changed. The random movement of the water stirred up by the restless gusts had taken on a smooth herringbone shape that was unmistakable. It was a wake. Sometime in the last few minutes a boat had passed. It should have been clearly visible, its running lights demanding his attention, yet he had not seen it. Even more disturbing, he had not heard it. With a wake of that size, it had to be a large vessel traveling at a high rate of speed, yet he had been totally unaware of its presence.

Frowning, Dan slid quietly down the companionway and sat at the navigation station. Beside him the radio sat silent, a glowing red light confirming that it was set to receive. He reached out and turned the volume up, but he heard only static. He turned on the radar, knowing it was too late for it to show the passing vessel but wanting to confirm the familiar contours of the bay.

He wasn't sure why he felt so uneasy. Even at this time of the year, there were occasionally other boats. Perhaps it was a fishboat, although the season had ended long ago and they seldom moved at night. But why would anyone be running dark? And he was sure the vessel had been dark: he would have seen the lights otherwise. Even more puzzling was why he had heard no engine sound. A quirk of the wind? It seemed unlikely, as there were no whitecaps, no sign of any disturbance on the water except for that arrowing wake.

Another burst of static from the radio interrupted his thoughts and he strained to hear. Reception was poor in Storm Bay, the steep mountains and high cliffs blocking most of the signals, but the night often improved it. He could faintly hear a voice. It wasn't clear enough to make out the meaning, but one word was unmistakable. “


His name was Walker. It was not the name his mother had given him, but it was the only one he answered to now. Early on in his career on the streets, they had called him “Ghost.” It had suited his talent for slipping in and out of buildings unseen and unheard. Later, some wit had added “Walker” in a nod to his Native ancestry. It had amused him for a while. Ghost Walker. Like a character in a book one of his several stepfathers had liked to read. Finally, like him, the name had gotten pared down. Now it was just Walker, although it no longer suited him. Not since he had fallen from a roof after a robbery went wrong and broken both legs so badly that the doctors told him he might never walk again. Not since he had spent over three months on the physio ward, forcing protesting muscles to move, willing stiff joints to bend, and fighting the urge to scream. Not since he had spent three long years in jail. Now he spent most of his time on the water, paddling through the narrow channels that his ancestors had called home. Odd how priorities could change.

BOOK: Dark Moon Walking
8.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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