The Orange runner
The Orange runnerThe Orange runner

Crossing the Land, Sea, and Sky

He reflected-- a dangerous thing to do on a quest, when all energies should be spent on "forward." Even more dangerous on a spiritual quest, which-- having fought a spirit bear in the sky-- he assumed he was on. Things only make narrative sense on a spirit quest, and if you look at them too hard they fall apart. Still, he reflected.


He had chased a bear to his own exhaustion, then fled from a wolf beyond exhaustion, beyond death, beyond even his own body and the laws of physics. He now ran along the Northern Lights surrounded by stars which were stars but also bears. He had then fought a bear, made of stars, and traded the wolf's teeth for the bear's feet, which were really just boots belonging to an angakkuit from a bar, who was a celestial bear but also a man in a bear's coat. He frowned, struggling to keep the conflicting realities in his head.

He crossed the Sky. He ran down Orion's Belt, which was really millions of miles away but also the stairway to and from the Spirit World.


He crossed the land. He came to the coast, with dark, dangerous waves lapping the shore, ready to swallow the unsuspecting wanderer.


He crossed the sea. The polar bear boots splashed across the surface, hopping from ice flow to ice flow. Soon-- or not soon, as time passed strangely without the sun-- the ice and sea blended together, and before him lay an endless, frozen tundra, broken only by the shimmering stars.

It occurred to him that the Inuit probably had so many stories about stars because there wasn't much else to look at.

He shivered, and realized it had been a long time since he had shivered-- first because he had been running too fast, then because he had been running for his life, then because he didn't have a body to shiver with. Now, apparently, he did.

Charging behind that realization came the hunger. Regardless of which reality he chose to focus on, he had run a long way and gone a long time without food.