Klickitat and other stories (K.A.O.S) features four thriller tales about ordinary mountaineers in the Pacific Northwest thrust into extraordinary circumstances. This debut collection from author Mark Jenkins folds modern day mountain climbing into the speculative wilderness of fantasy, sci-fi, and historical fiction.
Heavywater: Vulcanologist Archimedes Jackson falls while solo climbing in Alaska and is rendered unconscious. Waking, he finds himself in unfamiliar territory and encounters a secretive band of armed men. Archimedes must discover their true intention if he’s to survive and find his way home.
Klickitat: Gianna and her husband Esmond discover a strange circle of animal bones while climbing a remote route on Mount Adams. The higher they climb the more evidence they find that something deep in the dormant stratovolcano is wakening.
Protectors: Takeo Kita embarks on a solo mountaineering trip in the rugged Olympic Mountains of Washington State. At the site of a tragic plane crash from decades earlier, he discovers a strange artifact, which propels him on a mythic action and adventure journey that alters the trajectory of his life and thousands of others.
Signals: Neurologist Alfred Osler is trapped in the isolated town of Whittier, Alaska when the only land access into town is unexpectedly closed. He befriends a deaf college student, Kalliope; and as a winter storm bears down, they discover they are the only people not mysteriously incapacitated as armed men lurk into town.
Excerpt From Heavywater
A concussive wave blasted through Archimedes and jarred him awake. He was underwater. Desperately kicking upwards, lungs screaming for air, he burst through the surface, and heaved and choked in the dark.
The warm water pushed him gently downstream. Where the hell am I? What happened?
His brain replayed everything as he tried to understand why he was still alive. Or perhaps he wasn’t, and these were the last moments of an anoxic, dying brain, imagining a miraculous rescue in warm water, beaches, white sand, sun, and drinks with little umbrellas. Maybe my brain is supplying me with soothing images as my neurons die. Bye-bye.
Except there was no sun or sand, only darkness, as he floated along in the warm water.
He tried to concentrate on one thing. Just one thing. But his thoughts flitted and could not perch.
Nothing equated with any previous experience. The lukewarm water was soothing after the frigid cold but it didn’t make sense. Nothing made sense.
Archimedes retrieved his headlight from his jacket pocket and switched it on. The beam bounced off walls and ceiling, which looked like the surface of a golf ball, with scalloped and concave chunks in the white ice. It was a cathedral-sized ice cavern that looked like someone had been at it with a large melon-baller. The ice facets reflected the LED light in jumping, ephemeral patterns.
More water channels poured in from the ice ceiling above.
Why is the water warm? Geothermal?
His awakening brain continued to pepper him with questions that he couldn’t answer, and then settled on one: Am I alive?
That got his attention.
Well, if I’m not, then nothing matters. But if I am, then I need to stop pondering and focus on survival.
The trapped air in Archimedes’ watertight pack kept him from sinking as he floated downstream. The dimpled ceiling began to glow, then ahead of him a bright spot appeared intermittently. The ice ceiling brightened into a powder-blue luminescence. The light downstream grew into a wide mouth: the exit.
He floated beyond the threshold and emerged underneath an overcast sky. The current slowed and flattened out into a shallow, muddy delta with a small channel in the center. His butt scraped the bottom and he rolled over onto his knees. Standing, he staggered to shore, collapsed onto all fours, retched, and blacked out.