In her sleep, the dreams had been of the whale. She was seven years old, and the family had gone to the shore for holiday. As she had come over the dunes, there it lay, bloated and decaying. The seagulls swarmed over the feast in a living shroud. As she continued to dream, the carcass became smaller and smaller, the gulls larger, until their cries came in an unending howl. She tried to run, but the sand seemed to hold her feet. Louder and louder, until she woke.
In those first scant seconds of comprehension, she realized she was not at the shore, but in a cave. Tirseng sat solidly awake by the firecan. Curioso? The screaming of the gulls came thought the cavern door. Annette crawled to where Tirseng sat.
"What the hell is going on? Where is Curioso?" The solemn sherpa told her of Curioso's flight into the dark. The anger rose in her again, as if she were seven, madly running the beach to chase the gulls away from the fallen one.
She knelt, taking Tirseng's rifle and the few cartridges he carried in his pack. All the while, trying to remain calm in the face of this dear little man. She told him her plans, and left him repeating his oath to break Yamada into tiny pieces, should the opportunity arise. She stood and ran out of the cavern. The moon was hidden among the dancing lights in the sky, but she could faintly make the trail of scuff marks on the icy ground. He was running...the cuts were deep and far apart...she slung the rifle over her shoulder and followed them.
The cold wind, and her tired muscles, made her want to cry out in agony, but she would not cry. Her beloved, her love. Love? The way the English spoke it, Luff. Just as the sailors claimed, a spot where the wind refused to fill your sails. Is this the wonderment of which they spoke with such reverence?? These thoughts fueling her legs, she ran.