Species Imperative # 2
Having done her bit for the planet, Mac is home, more than happy to resume her life and the coming field season.
If only the rest of the universe was paying attention.
First Published in 2005 by DAW Books Inc.
Cover art by Luis Royo
Finalist for the 2006 Prix Aurora Award
Main Selection of the SFBC
By what measure
a moral choice.
(Recent corridor inscription, Progenitor’s Hold, Ship.)
Around a final string of islands, ranging from bare rocks with the requisite possessive gull on each, to a stunning tower crowned by gnarled white pine. An osprey watched them from the skeletal tip of the tallest tree. Then, another cove, so much like the others the operator gave Mac a doubtful look.
“That’s it,” she assured him, tying her boots to her bag and making sure that was secure on her back.
No dock here. The operator brought his boat in until the keel kissed the sandy bottom. “Thanks,” Mac told him. She hopped over the side, sucking air through her teeth at the bite of chill water on her warm feet and ankles, and waded to shore. She waved goodbye as the ferry headed home, not that the operator turned to look.
Mac dropped her bag on a flat stretch of rock and let out a sigh.
“Been a while,” she whispered.
Behind her, forested hills, deep lakes, and flat marshes marched north until the tundra began, an expanse of wilderness punctuated only by small quiet towns and isolated camps. To live here year-round was to accept seasons, value solitude, leave doors open for strangers and, above all, depend on oneself. Preparation and habits mattered here, helping you survive when civilization wasn’t around to help.
Cottagers -- those summer migrants -- who wanted only to play, party, and unwind didn’t come this far, and certainly not to lakes like Little Misty where you couldn’t zoom around on skims or have every modern convenience delivered to your door. To come here ... to stay here, Mac thought, perching comfortably on that piece of driftwood the size and shape of a dragon’s head, the one which had waited for her here as long as she could remember, you had to let yourself assume another shape.
She lay back along the wood, soaking in sun and silence, and let her tears flow.
Excerpt from Migration © 2005 Julie E. Czerneda and DAW Books Inc.
Used with Permission.