A Final Extended Excerpt
This is the second half of Chapter 2 and all of Chapter 3. Since I didn’t have a chance to post any excerpts last week while I was out of the country, I wanted this to be a special Memorial Day post. This will be the final excerpt of The Last Navigator before it is released.
Chapter Two Continued…
Mother could see that I was clearly upset so she swam next to me and nuzzled me. I didn’t want to look into her eyes because I knew that she would immediately know what was wrong. She had a way, like that. She just knew things. Mother was a beautiful whale, by all standards, with deep, mysterious eyes. Her eyes seemed to hold the whole world inside of them. She was the color of deep ocean water or the night sky at twilight; a gray and blue mixture that was unlike any other. Mother always stood out among the other whales she was around. When she was young she was the prettiest whale to ever visit the islands. The boys of her day were dazzled by her stunning grace as she glided through the waters. She broke many hearts when she chose my father as her mate. He was a strong male, my father was, and he was one of the pod leaders. Mother has told me stories of his courage and love for our pod, and for me. I never knew him because he was killed by a whaler (a human who hunts whales) when I was just a few days old.
I couldn’t hide my eyes from her for long. Somehow she managed to make eye contact and she asked, “What are you so angry about, Lani? It wasn’t an argument between you and Prissy, was it. It was something else.” Mother always knew how to get to my heart, even when I tried my very hardest to keep her and everyone else out. I swam up under her fin and let out a long sigh.
“I just don’t understand why I can’t know more about the Navigators,” I lamented. “I mean, what did Kai mean when he told me, ‘It is not your place’?”
Mother was quiet for what seemed like an uncomfortably long time. I wasn’t sure if she was angry with me, disappointed, or if she didn’t hear me.
I was about to repeat myself when she finally said, “He said that to you because it is not your place, Lani. As females, our purpose is to bring new life, to nurture and support our young and to instill in them our values and traditions. There were no female Navigators. We can’t sing quite like the males can. But don’t let that discourage you, honey. Without us, there would have never been any Navigators at all.”
Still, I wasn’t satisfied, and Mother could see the determination in my eyes.
Not wanting to let this issue go, I said, “So, it isn’t that it’s not my place to know more about them. It’s that traditionally, females have done one thing and males have done another. If I could learn the secrets of the Navigators, I could be one, too.”
“Lani, you are so precious to me. Your desire to learn and grow and explore the world is wonderful. I don’t want you to be discouraged from your dreams just because the elders disapprove. If I knew about the Navigators, I would teach you myself. As females, we are not allowed to become Navigators, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn more about them. Just be careful, Lani,” she said in a warm, caring tone.
It made me feel better to know that I wasn’t breaking the rules by being curious. It also felt good to hear Mother give her support. Even if I couldn’t become a Navigator, I could at least learn more about them. I wanted to fulfill my purpose as a female in my pod but I also wanted to know more, do more, and become more than just another female.
The days seemed to drag on and on as I watched Prissy and some of the other young females flirting with the boys, swimming ‘round and ‘round, giggling with each other. I felt like an outsider. I wasn’t interested in the boys or the giggles. I had resigned myself to the fact that there was no possible way for me to find out more about the Navigators without drawing too much attention to myself and Mother. I was ready for the warm season to come so I could have some time alone with my thoughts while we traveled to the feeding waters.
I was so entrenched in my own thoughts that I didn’t even notice Prissy swimming towards me. When she spoke, it startled me.
“Lani! You have to come over here and hear this! It’s about your Navigators, or whatever you call them,” she said, with utter excitement.
I wasn’t sure if she was just making fun of me or if she was serious but she nudged me in the direction of the group so hard I had no choice but to swim towards them. When I got close enough to hear, one of the boys named Colby was telling the others about a new whale that had recently arrived at the islands. Colby was bigger than most of the males in the group of young whales that visited the islands and he was a distinguished dark gray color, like the black sand that comes from volcano rock. He was also a year older than the rest of us which made him a natural choice for group leader most of the time. He decided what games we would play, how we would play them, who did what, and just about everything else. We never questioned him because he was older than us and he seemed to be smarter as well. When Colby told a story, everybody was enraptured.
Colby described the whale as big, old, slow, and very mysterious. He went into detail about how he lurked around silently all of the time and stayed mostly in the shallow cove on the western side of the island. He continued on, saying that he had overheard his mother and some of the other members of his pod talking about the newcomer and saying that he was supposedly descended from the Navigators. Curious, I swam up to the group and listened to Colby describe his eavesdropping experience.
“I was supposed to be asleep, but I sneaked and hid behind one of the rocks in our cove, close enough to hear them all talking,” said Colby. “The Chief was talking to Maku and said that the old one was a loner, that he did not have a pod, and that he was only going to be near the islands for a short time.”
The whole group listened with a look of wonder in their eyes.
“Maku asked if the old one was once a member of any of the pods that gathered at the islands, or if he had been cast out of an unknown pod and was in search of a new pod to join,” continued Colby. “The Chief told her that he was not the kind of whale that would be a part of a pod. He said he was different, as all Navigators are.”
At this, my excitement bubbled over and I yipped out loud. The others turned and looked at me with quizzical expressions. I tried, quite unsuccessfully, to pretend that nothing had happened. Once I realized that not a single one of them would pretend along with me, I began to speak.
“I, uh, would like to hear more about this stranger, I mean, is he dangerous?” I asked, attempting to turn the attention back to Colby and the new-comer whale. Prissy seemed to agree with my less than genuine concern and chimed in, “Yeah, he sounds dark and scary, and since we don’t know anything about the Navigators, he could be mean.”
The others in the group began to agree and discuss this possibility among themselves with nervous chatter.
The anxiety was escalating uncomfortably when Colby interrupted and said, “I don’t think he is dangerous or scary or mean at all. I have seen him. He seems more sad than anything else. All he does is swim slowly around, silently, and sometimes he sings a deep, long note that sounds like sorrow.”
“Maybe he is just lonely and needs a friend!” suggested Marra.
Marra was a member of the same pod as Colby. She was a smaller female and was petite in every way. Her outward appearance wasn’t particularly beautiful. She was light gray in color with some darker spots here and there. She was a shy whale—usually quiet and reserved.
Sometimes she would speak her mind, but she mostly just followed the ebb and flow of the crowd. It was her meek and gentle spirit that made her stand out in our group. Although Marra wasn’t the most verbal whale, she seemed to live in a state of perpetual optimism, always trying to find the good in every situation.
After Marra’s suggestion, the conversation lightened and soon dissipated as we all went our separate ways back to our pods. I waited for the rest of the group to clear the area and looked around for Colby. He was swimming away alone so I swam quickly and caught up with him.
“Hey, what else did your Chief say about the old one?” I asked, hoping he would tell me more.
He stopped swimming and turned towards me. “Why are you so interested in this, Lani? He is just an old, lonely whale with no friends and no pod. He’s kind of boring if you ask me” he said.
“It doesn’t matter why I am interested. Please just tell me what else the Chief said about him and I promise I will leave you alone about it,” I whined.
Colby rolled his eyes and mumbled something about this being stupid and pointless but, at last, he told me the rest of the story.
“The Chief said he was a Navigator,” Colby began. “He said that the old whale was the last of the Navigators and that the legacy would die with him. Someone asked the Chief if he was going to take an apprentice and the Chief said he had taken one long ago but it didn’t work out. He explained that the old whale was bitter from what happened with his apprentice and he refuses to take another. He sounds like a grumpy old whale to me, Lani. I don’t see what’s so interesting about him.”
“I wonder what happened to his apprentice…” I thought out loud.
“I don’t know,” said Colby. “The Chief didn’t say what happened. He only said that since the last Navigator isn’t taking on an apprentice, the legacy of the Navigators will end with him. I’d be grumpy, too, if I had the weight of an entire legacy on my back.”
“Yeah…” I trailed off into my own thoughts.
My imagination was swirling with thoughts of the Navigator new-comer, or rather “old-comer”, as he became known around the pods at the islands. He was the “talk of the town”, so to speak, and everyone was telling stories of him—some true, most fictional. Some said they heard he was once a part of a pod but had committed some horrible crime and was exiled. Others said he was born without a voice, which is why he was so silent. The rumors were so numerous, eventually, nobody could be sure of the truth about this mysterious whale.
After a few weeks of confusing story-telling and outrageous rumors, the limelight seemed to fade on the “old-comer”. The pods went about their usual business and forgot all about the sorrowful visitor.
The Last Navigator is almost ready and will hopefully be available for purchase by the first of June at the latest. This debut novel has certainly been an adventure for me to write and get ready for publication and I appreciate all of you who have joined me on this journey. It’s an exciting feeling to accomplish something of this magnitude and I can’t believe I’ve finally made it to this point. If you haven’t read the other excerpts, you can find them here: Excerpt #1, Excerpt #2, and Excerpt #3.
As always, I hope you enjoy this extended and final excerpt. Please comment and share with your friends and family and have a wonderful Memorial Day.
Until next time…
J. G. McNease