Title: North Dark
Author: Lane Kareska
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian Thriller
Publisher: Sirens Call Publications
Release Date: June 27, 2013
Set in a lonesome and barbarous failed state, North Dark is the story of a lone man traveling by dogsled across a frozen wasteland in pursuit of the fugitive who destroyed his family.
Haunted by predators both physical and spectral, the musher’s journey takes him across a deadened tundra, tortured cities and the remains of civilizations long-lapsed into madness. All the while, his enemy slides in and out of striking distance, always one step ahead, always one act of violence away.
This book sure sounds like a beauty! Considering I haven’t had the chance to read much by the way of dystopia at the moment (and am desperately falling behind in my Dystopia Reading Challenge), this blurb is making my finger itch to pick it up!
You can purchase this book at all the usual outlets:
But wait, there’s more!
Check out this awesome excerpt from North Dark by Lane Kareska:
Next morning, his new injury wrapped with wads of dirty cotton and duct tape, Two Crows leaves his rented room and finds the innkeeper at his desk eating canned meat with his fingers. Two Crows hands the man the note he has written. The note says: looking for a man
The innkeeper eyes him and says, “Another bounty hunter?”
Two Crows lifts his eyes. Another?
“Man was in here yesterday. Asking about ferries.”
He writes: what did he look like
“Skinny. Short hair.”
where is he going
“Haven’t the slightest. But the only outgoing ports are in Dusk. That’s where I sent him.”
Did he stay here?
“He stayed here one night. In the same room as you actually. You want to know his name, see the ledger, I imagine. I’ll show it to you for ten bullets.”
Two Crows counts out the bullets and hands it to the innkeeper. The innkeeper checks the ledger and shows him the name the man wrote in his own hand. The ink has smudged and the name is illegible. It could be anyone.
“He said he was a bounty hunter. Said he was looking for someone.”
Looking for someone.
“Looking for someone.”
Two Crows returns to the rented room and searches it quickly for clues, anything Thrall may have left behind, some scrap, some indicator or evidence. He kneels at the pallet of sheets on the floor, balls them up in his hands and presses them to his face. He inhales the scent of multiple men. It is a hot, awful composite from many creatures, many lives, many hunters, many untreated injuries and diseases. It is impossible to separate and index the odors. Two Crows realizes that he and Thrall are now linked in a new way. Their story somehow now documented in this tatter.
He buys a handdrawn map and an inkpen from the innkeeper, young dogs and a few scant supplies from a trader stationed beneath a barbican outside of Rexroat. He readies his dogteam, cuts new reins, and rides off into the screaming open wild.
It will be a weeklong ride to reach Dusk. He is poorly prepared but that does not matter. He has to move quickly to find the man that killed his father.
He mushes on, whipping these young dogs and after a full twenty four hours of running they break. Exhausted. He has to stop for them. He frees the dogs, builds a fire, and sets about melting snow. It is noon and the dogs need to eat. He removes a cold block of fat from his pack. He unwraps the paper and slices the congealed matter off into strips which he handfeeds to each dog.
The dogs, busy eating, do not notice the wolf watching them from a high and distant ridge. Two Crows stares at it for a long time. The animal stares back. It is very interested in the goings on of his camp. When the dogs finish eating they go to sleep where they are. They are too tired to dig foxholes. Two Crows sleeps, knife and fire iron in hand, near the fire. He has killed wolves before.
He never really sleeps but still he must allow the dogs some time to rest. When four hours have passed, he stands and looks out for the wolf but sees it nowhere. The frozen sun is still well up. He ties the dogs up in their traces but the lead dog snaps at him. It still wants to sleep. Two Crows kills it with his fire iron. He makes sure that the other dogs see this happen. It takes a long time to kill the dog. A longer time than it has taken with men. The dogs watch this, cower, and then they all ride on together.
Two Crows does the math in his head while mushing. Thrall has a one day head start on him. If he rides for sixteen hours a day and camps for eight hours, then Two Crows will catch up by riding nineteen hours a day. That will be hard on the dogs, but it will be over—one way or another—soon enough. Two Crows exists for one purpose now. Find Thrall. Kill Thrall. Nothing to think about after that.
By morning, he catches sight of a long and ragged merchant wagon ahead. He drives alongside the carts drawn by a dumb and lumbering blue burdenbeast. The wagon pilot nods to him, pulls up his goggles, cups his hand to his mouth and calls, “In need?”
The wagon slows to a stop—something a winning merchant would never do for one man—and Two Crows stops his dogs as well. The merchant hops down and approaches smiling, one hand on his sheathed knife. The bodyguard, a red giant in robes and scarves, climbs down afterward. “Howdo, friend?” the merchant asks. “Hungry? I’ve salmon, trout, fresh milk and clean water. Do your dogs need? I’ve meat.”
The bodyguard stands just behind the merchant. He holds a rude iron flail in his hands.
I don’t have much money.
“What do you need? I can bargain.” The merchant brings him two long silver trout sleeved in greasy butcher paper.
Two Crows takes out his map and writes on the back: looking for a man did you see someone yesterday probably
“I saw many people yesterday.”
skinny man with short hair he calls himself thrall hes heading for dusk
The merchant reads it and tips his head up to look back at Two Crows. He gives no other answer.
did you sell him anything
just want to know
“I sold him food for his dogs. He was in a hurry.”
is that where he said he was going dusk
“He didn’t say where he was going. Why would I ask?”
Two Crows turns to leave.
“Don’t go. Buy something. Or trade. I like that wolf pelt on your back.”
Swaths of green electricity hover and burn in the night sky. Two Crows lies on his back, near the fire, watching the deranged zodiac hanging above him. The exhausted dogs sleep noisily beside him. He cannot sleep. He knows he is being watched. He sits upright very slowly. The fire iron is in his right hand and the knife is in his left. He turns his head very little but he scans the darkness of the woods ahead with his eyes, left to right, as if he were reading a page. He knows that whoever is watching him is directly in front of him. He does not know how he knows this. He combs multiple times and on the fifth pass, he sees the set of reflective yellow eyes blinking in the blackness.
The wolf is back. It knows it has been spotted. The wolf steps forward, making no sound at all as it pads into the light of the fire. Two Crows sees that it is skinless, only red muscles and small yellow eyes like coins. Its teeth glow snowbright against its bloody jaws. A ring of bloodslicked fur cuffs each leg.
This is the wolf he killed and skinned days ago. It walks into his camp and circles him, examining him, the dogs do not notice. They only sleep on. Slowly, the skinless wolf circles him, leaving a trail of delicate bloody pawprints in the snow. The wolf looks to Two Crows, communicating something, then turns, returning to the darkness of the woods.
Mushing on before dawn. The stars slide all over the sky. The wind cuts across his face like a rough blade. The wolf is back, running behind him. Not chasing exactly, just keeping up. It wears a rough coat of ashy fur now. The dogs do not notice the wolf. The wolf catches up and runs parallel with the dog sled but it never attacks. Two Crows watches the wolf very closely. He watches the way its new dark gray fur ripples like water on its body. The wolf runs casually. It can keep this pace without expending much effort at all.
About the Author
Lane Kareska was born in Houston, Texas. He studied writing at Columbia College Chicago and his MFA is from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where he was also awarded a Fellowship to live and write in Ireland. Lane traveled Europe and South America to research his graduate thesis. He teaches creative writing and works in technology and new media. His fiction has appeared in Berkeley Fiction Review, Sheepshead Review, Flashquake and elsewhere. Lane currently lives in Chicago and can be followed on Twitter @LaneKareska as well as reached at Lane.Kareska@Gmail.com.