Part Two: A Whale of Snow

By: Charles Mento



The old man was beneath the water. It would be quick he thought. Water already filled in his lungs. He couldn't react to the large white-black mass which sped toward him. This creature nudged his body and tried to lift it. Let me die, the old man urged. It was torturing him, he thought, making me die slower. It has that right. His mind numbed and he could think no more. The whale couldn't get the old man completely out of the water and the rain began to douse them both.

In the New Lab, Hsui Tai jumped from her bed and quickly put on her A-E Suit, which hung ever ready by her closet.

TIM called, "There is not much time, Hsui Tai! You must hurry! He is dying!"


Tomorrow People


Part Two of Three: A Whale of Snow

Hsui Tai jaunted, disappearing, while attaching her helmet. Mike had taken Hsui Tai and even Andrew on A-E training sessions---but these were mainly in space. Hsui Tai was now under the ocean in freezing water but felt no discomfort from it. Almost instinctively she grabbed the old man in front of her. If he was conscious he would have seen Hsui Tai's A-E suit as a scuba diving outfit. Acting quickly, she wrapped a matter transfer belt onto the man and sent him to the beach, then she jaunted away, only then having time to react to the giant whale which was only a few feet from her. Only she didn't feel as much fear as she did when she dreamt what was happening. Jaunting to the beach, she looked up at the man's home and then transported him to it.

When the old man awoke he found a large portable heater brought from the New Lab, heating his home, almost completely. A blurry image stood over him. He blinked and saw Hsui Tai, now wearing, to his eyes, standard winter clothing, "Who are you? Why did you save me?"

Hsui Tai had barely enough time to collect her thoughts. This was happening too fast. "Hsui Tai, sir. It is my name. You were out there in the sea----drowning." She offered him some tea, now sitting on a pillow near his bed. Of course, their conversation was in Japanese.

He gently pushed the tea back toward her and covered his face with his hands, "You should have let me die."

"Then it is true. You were trying to...suicide."

"No, no. You don't understand."

Gently Hsui Tai put a hand on the man's. "You want to die. Do you?"

"No, no. I do not want to die. It wants me to die. It wants to kill me!" The old man laid back down, "Oh, you do not understand. Leave me!"

"No. You mean the whale?"

"I said leave! What? You know about the killer?"

"I saw him---in the water with us," she sipped some tea, "It could have killed you. It didn't seem to want to hurt you. I am not knowledgeable in such things---I have not seen "killer" whales before---but I think it...he...was trying to help you out."

"Nonsense. It has followed me...followed me for least fifteen years. Fifteen years has... haunted me. Enticed me to it...lured me...young lady I thank you for helping me live awhile longer."

"Please. Something is not right with way you are thinking," Hsui Tai put the tea cup down, "Rest now. I will find out more about this whale. Where did it follow you from?"

"We were near the Aleutian Islands."

Hsui Tai wanted to show her knowledge, just newly gained, "That's near Alaska."

"Yes, a long time ago we were...we were..."

The man fell back onto the bed gently and fell asleep. Hsui Tai pulled the blankets over the man. She decided to let him sleep and left the house. She started down the long wooden steps. The rain has stopped and the sky began to clear but it was unusually chilly. Hsui Tai turned up the stat in her A-E Suit. As she walked along the shore, it began to snow---lightly at first, then much heavier. Hsui Tai looked up to see the luminous clouds moving away---against the backdrop of a clouded sky. As she did, she could hear the clicking sounds and vocalizations of the whale. Additionally the whale would launch itself out of the water and land against the surface broadside. This created a loud splash but it didn't cause any fear in Hsui Tai as she watched. She felt guilty about the fear she had in her first encounter with the graceful creature. "TIM," she telepathed, "Are you hearing that?"

"Yes, indeed. It is the clicking and vocalizations made by whales. They use this to echo locate. In other words, it is a sonar device which enables them to find direction and seek prey or locate obstacles...but the interesting thing is that they usually are only heard under the water."

"Well, I heard them here. Prey? What do they eat?"

"Almost anything living in the sea...."

"Even a man?"

"....but not man," TIM finished. "Oh, they have been called man killers, though there is no documented case of an orca ever killing a man. The same cannot be said for sperm whales who occasionally broke up the old whaling boats, though to be fair, they were fighting for their lives. Nor can the same be said for the man grabbing varieties of sharks, grizzly bears, elephants, hyenas, or even dogs. Man has men mauled to death by his "best friend" but never by the killer whale. Most of their food is fish and cephalopods but occasionally they will take on a wounded or weakened marine mammal. The whale are group living animals with a need for social organization and companionship. Every case of killer whales attacking humans arises from provocation on the part of the people involved. There was one case of whales attacking a man with two dogs on an ice floe but chances are they were after the dogs. Another well documented case concerns a surfer in black scuba gear who was severely bitten by a whale but was released. Speculation says it was because of a possible mistake by the whale----maybe in its sonar or it may have mistaken the man for a seal. This debate continues today. However one thing is clear. Killer whales have been hated and feared and shot by fishermen, sailors, and governments throughout the world's oceans. Japan was one of those governments and it was here the first ancient sightings of whales were, some time in the 9th century and later in 1708. And in Rome, Emperor Claudius led his Praetorian Guards to kill a whale which was trapped in its harbor, quite horribly I might add. It seems the whales' only enemy is man. Man has been known to kill whales more often than any killer whale, or whales in general, have killed man."

"TIM, I am trying to finish this set."

"Then just block me out of your mind, Mike."

"It's too interesting. I'm almost done. I'll be in the Lab soon."

Hsui Tai walked into the tiny island and saw more homes. Ignoring Mike, she went on, "What more can you tell me on whales, TIM?"

"More you ask? Basically whales like the wolf, the shark, and the grizzly bear have been maligned and misunderstood. Like gorillas, the presentations in the cinema have perpetuated this."

"But about them----the whale themselves?"

"They are smaller than the Great Whales and are second in size to the sperm whale---the only larger toothed whale, which has been found in their diets. Orcas have also fed upon the blue whale---the largest known creature to have lived on this planet. They are the ocean's fastest creatures, they play, eat, sleep, and travel in family groups."

"Not this one. He is alone---without family."

"Yes. Whales possess all human senses except small. They have large complex brains one knows what they use them for..."

Hsui Tai was among large oddly twisted pine trees. "Maybe I...maybe we do."

"And one more thing, Hsui Tai. Those sounds you heard are also believed to be some form of communication---of speech possibly---and of thought." TIM paused, "Other than what I have told you not much more is known about these whales."

"TIM, it's possible I didn't hear his sounds with my ears."


"Yes, he's a he."

"You think the telepathic, don't you, Hsui Tai?" Mike put this in.

"Mike, are you finished yet?"

"Yeah and tired."

"Oh, I thought....never mind. Back to you later."

Mike had finished clearing his drum equipment from the disco. He then drove his friends back to their homes, unloaded their equipment, and parked his van back at his new home. Finally, Mike jaunted back to the New Lab to stretch out on his bed. He was almost asleep still in his playing clothes, when TIM's voice touched him. "She would like your help, Mike."

"I know. I sensed that."

"Why don't you eat something first."

"What do you mean---first?"

"You are planning to go to her, aren't you?"

Mike got up wearily, "Yes," he said, only half wanting to. After finishing something to eat in the main room, Mike asked, "TIM, can you give me a boost of extra energy?"

TIM sounded angry and afraid, "Mike, you know that is not normally done, not even to you Tomorrow People. It is highly experimental, John only having...." TIM went on as Mike rolled his eyes and stood.... "developed the idea. It could have side effects we are unaware..."

"TIM, I only asked if you could."

Mike submolecularized his A-E Suit on. TIM, quiet for a moment, said, "Stand on the pad as still as you can. Especially do not move your lower jaw."

"You mean don't talk."

"Sshhh," TIM ordered as a slight green beam circled itself around Mike, coming from TIM. For 20 seconds it remained. TIM cut it off, "That is as long as I dare energize. How do you feel?"

Mike had been filled with a pumping energy, had felt his blood circulate, his mind become more aware, and his adrenalin flow. "Like I've had a long rest." He was slightly hyper, "Thanks TIM." Mike jaunted.

TIM stood near the pad and waited. Mike returned. "Of course to get to Hsui Tai you will need to know the coordinates. Use your spectre shift to appear to be wearing winter clothing of a tourist."

"You didn't need to remind me of that," pouted Mike.

"She was Japan's Matsushima Islands in the Sendai area of the Tohoku region. They are the glory of the area---hundreds of pine clad islands to the north of the city. Tourists enjoy excellent boating, sailing, fishing, and in hot springs---bathing."

Mike stood waiting, feeling like an idiot in his A-E Suit. "TIM, I don't need a travel brochure---just send me to her!"

"For the moment she has left the islands. To go to her now you will need alittle more information about the area."

"I'm sorry I shouted TIM. I just want to cheer her up." Mike hung his head down.

"Perfect. Listen to what I have to tell you about Akita City and this date---January 15th--and I assume you will have the perfect opportunity to do just that."

Mike smiled, "Go on, TIM."

Hsui Tai walked past crowds of Japanese on lookers in a very busy and well lit street of Akita City. This street was away from the refineries and factories. It was also nowhere near the large seaport area. It actually was on the outskirts of the city, heading toward the small agricultural town Yokote. Still, many large buildings could be seen. Hsui Tai was not interested in all the fun and games going on---she just thought the jaunt would help her think. She found herself in a dazed way--not really able to concentrate on the situation. She had the spectre shift on; it showed her in a white leather jacket with black trousers and black linking on the jacket. No one noticed that she wasn't enjoying the Kamakura Naked Festival here in the dead of winter, with light snow coming down and actually sticking. The figured, incorrectly so, that Hsui Tai being Japanese, had seen many such festivals while growing up here. Such festivals occur throughout Japan in the winter on many dates, not just this one. This was, in fact, Hsui Tai's first festival. Villagers watched a crowd of Japanese boys of all ages, clad only in white loin cloths as the boys emerged from a smaller building. The boys all stood quietly in rows. Many kept emerging from the yellowish pastel colored building. Before the boys, stood ten priests with the head priest in the center wearing an outlandish high hat which reminded Hsui Tai of the hat that Mike wore when she first met him at the Shanshu Temple. Just as her thoughts turned to Mike she eyed the last boy to emerge from the one level building. To see more clearly, Hsui Tai turned and walked up the snowy white and green hill behind the on lookers. It was just as she suspected, so she laughed. Pausing for a moment to wave up to her was Mike, bare except for a white loin cloth. Hsui Tai was embarrassed and turned red. She telepathed, "Mike, what are you doing? Are you crazy?"

"Relax. No ones said anything. I guess the Brits are welcome I the games. Rather nice of 'em."

Hsui Tai laughed telepathically, "You'll catch a cold. They've trained for this for months and may have been in this before."

Mike took his place in the last row, "Don't worry. My great physical stamina can hold up against this below zero weather."

"Oh, you mean you are going to remove your A-E Suit now?" Hsui Tai couldn't hold in another laugh.

"You're taking my fun away," frowned Mike.

"You are doing what John would call cheating."

"He's not here, on Earth---so he can't."

The head priest had finally finished describing the night's activities much to Mike's enjoyment. He had almost fallen asleep in the warmth of his A-E Suit. TIM has detailed Mike on this--the Kamakura Naked Festival of Akita City. This was similar to many other festivals occurring throughout Japan in the dead of winter. In most cases, crowds of men and boys clad only in loincloths participate in parades and games in the snow to demonstrate their piety and fortitude. The climax to this was the tossing into the crowd of a sacred talisman. Mike recalled how TIM had described the benefits rewarded the villager who returned it--one year's good luck--and a more "tangible" reward such as an electric refrigerator or an airplane ticket to Tokyo. They should have installation heating as such a gift. Anyhow, here it was January 15th and the night of the festival.

Mike became fully alert when the two end priests clanged gongs hanging from ornamental posts. Suddenly, a huge Japanese boy piled into him and knocked him into the snow. The first "test" was one of wrestling. Mike had snow all over his head and then was tossed onto his face. When his opponent tossed him again to stop his squirming, Mike spat out snow. In his panic, Mike caught only a glimpse of Hsui Tai. Laughing. Well at least this idea of TIM's worked---it cheered her up. Now if only he could come of it in one piece. He managed to sit on his opponent's arms and held down his shoulders.

After suffering several indignities, such as rolling down a hill of snow, Mike had jaunted (in the middle of such a roll) to Hsui Tai. They jaunted south of Akita City to Yokote, a trip which takes two hours via express train. Within seconds the were in the quiet, agricultural town in the middle of a rice growing area. Mike still had has the A-E Suit on but it looked like a large leather jacket with metal studs, hanging fringe, and a fur lined collar. His A-E Boots were imagined to be black snow boots, with heels. These clothes (or rather the image of them) looked more suitable to winter traveling British tourists. Walking through the snow toward the elementary school, several of the townspeople smiled, waved, stopped and talked to them. Some presented small but beautiful gifts: vases, flower arrangements, food. Mike was carried all of it. He then had TIM matter transfer all of it back to the Lab while Hsui Tai kept a nice, cordial family busy in talk. Hsui Tai enjoyed Mike's predicament at having to carry everything and then having to hide around trees when sending it all off to TIM, back to the New Lab. The family took no notice of Mike's absence. After both groups moved on I different directions, Mike sighed, "What did you tell them while I was gone?"

"Nothing," Hsui Tai suppressed a giggle, "They assumed you were going to bathroom."

"Some room. Still I guess they...hey," he stopped, oblivious to the continuing Hsui Tai, "Now that we're talking about it, I do have to...hey, wait here...."

Hsui Tai seemed to have forgotten her problem as well as why the old man was going to kill himself.

At the school, they saw huge designs of snow sculptures made by students. These massive projects included muscular athletes, mythological gods, good luck symbols of various odd shapes, animals, impossible hybrid creatures (one was a rooster-snake--a thing called a basilisk, something which the Tomorrow People would face in the near future), workmen such as construction workers and firefighters and unfortunately, to Mike and for Hsui Tai---a gigantic snowy killer whale. They had taken their time marveling over the craftsmanship of the snow giants, being dwarfed b the mere existence of such work. Now Mike tried to hurry Hsui Tai past the whale sculpture, fearing it would revive her solemn mood. Hsui Tai walked slowly, noting the snow whale had a snow whale baby next to it.

Mike urged, "Let's visit those hot springs, heh?"

Hsui Tai heard a voice, more audible but familiar, just like the warning before. "You should never have left him! He will try again! He will kill himself! Come back!"


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