Jeff looked out at the vast, crater-like gorge. To his surprise, he noticed a movement off to his left. There! A figure moving among the boulders. He realized it was a girl—at least, he thought so, judging by the long, flowing black hair. Her back was to him as she crept toward the path that led to the top of the gorge.
“Hey! You!” he called out.
For a second, she paused but did not turn around. Then she started moving again.
“Wait up, all right? I want to talk to you!”
This time she stopped. Slowly, she turned and gazed at him.
Wow, he thought. She must be a Native American. She had copper-colored skin, high cheekbones, and wide, very dark eyes. She wore blue jeans and a gray, long-sleeved T-shirt. From here, she looked pretty tall. He made his way along the rocky floor of the gorge toward her. She watched him with suspicious eyes. He raised a hand and smiled, hoping she would understand his intentions were friendly.
“Hi,” he said as he came up to her. She was taller than he—by a couple of inches—and she looked strong and muscular. Probably strong enough to pop him a good one if the mood took her. “I’m Jeff. I was just exploring back there.”
She raised one eyebrow but said nothing.
He pointed to the roaring cascade. “Exploring. Cave. Behind waterfall.”
“I heard you the first time,” she said. Suspicion still gleamed in her dark eyes. “You’re not a Yooper, are you.” It wasn’t a question.
“No, I’m from Midland. I’m on vacation here with my parents. So I guess you are a Yooper.”
“Have you been to this waterfall before?”
“Yah, a good many times.”
”I didn't even know it existed till now.”
“Then what are you doing here?”
“I rode out on my bike this morning, headed down Miner's Castle Road, and I just sort of ended up here.”
“Odd place to just ‘end up.’”
“Speaking of odd—there’s something very weird about that cave. When you go only a little ways inside, it gets quiet—like you’re suddenly far, far away.” Trying to explain seemed awkward. He motioned to her. “It’s easier if I show you. Come with me, how about?”
She hesitated, once again eyeing him with suspicion.
“Hey, it’s not like I’m a serial killer or anything.”
She finally offered him a faint smile. “I know you aren’t. How do you know I’m not?”
Her question took him by surprise. For a second, he could find no words.
She must have found his expression amusing because she laughed. “Now I know you’re not dangerous,” she said. “A little goofy, maybe.”
“Well, thanks a lot,” he said, embarrassed. “What’s your name, anyway?”
“Singing Bird of the Forest.”
She gave him a mocking smile. “It’s Anna. Anna Hendricks.”
She seemed to enjoy poking fun at him. He sighed. “I’m Jeff.”
“So you’ve told me.”
“I mean, I’m Jeff Grigg.”
He must sound completely stupid. Why had he become so nervous?
“So, you want to go to the cave and see what I mean?”
“Actually, I do.”
“Okay, then.” He started walking back toward the waterfall. A little of his confidence returned when she fell in behind him. “What about you? How come you’re out here all by yourself?”
“It was something—” She cut herself off. After a moment, she said, “I spend a lot of time by myself. Today, I just decided to come here.”
Jeff stopped and looked back at her. Her gaze shifted away from his.
She was not telling the truth.
First excerpt from Michigan: The Dragon of Lake Superior
Third excerpt from Michigan: The Dragon of Lake Superior