I began my journey aboard an elegant, Norwegian bullet train, racing up the length of Long Island to catch a ferry to Fire Island to do mystical battle for the soul of Ms. Stevie Knick-knacks.
Unlike the fairly unchanged buildings of Manhattan, the skyline outside the train window was vastly altered in this world. Enormous Coniferous trees supported a complex network of swinging bridges and elevators. Each ancient tree was a masterwork of green living and minimalist design. Along the broad lower limbs sat businesses and public services while homes were situated in the upper branches for optimal use of solar energy. We were definitely no longer in Kansas, or New York for that matter. We were instead in New Norway, in the capital city of Bergen. New Norway was initially discovered by the son of Leif Erikson. The vikings hit things off with the indigenous Americans, and a unique race of tall, blond, dark skinned, muscled men and beautiful women was born.
Fast forward to the 1700's. At first the settlers of colonial America didn't know what to do with the stubborn natives. But when their blood proved just as red in defense of America against the British, the "redskins" earned their place at the Constitution signing table. New Norway was ratified as the eleventh state of our fledgling nation. Today New Norway, Georgia, Florida, Hawaii and Alaska remain predominately Native American and represent the nation's largest Native voting block in Congress.
But not all of New Norway is solely Native American. A large population of Spanish-Americans live along the coast. Ownership of the area was negotiated by the explorer (and sorcerer) Giovanni da Verrazzano. He sensed mystical opportunity on the narrow barrier island located off the coast of New Norway.
He named it Isla del Fuego.
An hour later I stepped off the train, surprisingly alone. Normally in August the Sayville train depot is bustling with chiseled circuit boys headed to The Pines for all-night, meth-fueled dance orgies and lesbian mommies with adorable children named Skye and Parker en route to the more family-friendly Cherry Grove, but not today. I found the ferry shuttle and startled a round, Hispanic woman napping behind the wheel. She was surprised to see me and yammered nonstop as we rode to the Sayville harbor. Apparently an "aggressive deer tick infestation" had ceased all travel to Fire Island for nearly a month. We pulled up to the deserted harbor. Yellow bio-hazard signs were stapled to every flat surface. I asked her if any people had returned from the island. She was strangely uncertain. Then:
"You know what? Now that I think about it, I don't think anyone's left the island in over a month!"
Deer ticks, my ass! I know the truth of what lurks across those waters.
The sun was setting to the west as I sat on the upper deck of the Fire Island Pines ferry. My exorcist's tools were in a carpetbag at my feet. The water was choppy and my stomach bounced, but my focus remained calm.
Fire Island Pines was now only a few hundred yards away. Rainbow pride flags whipped furiously from the dock of The Pines as a sudden gale pushed the ferry to the right. A wave of salty water splashed over our starboard bow. I opted to retreat inside the hull of the ship. As I descended, I noticed the captain in his bridge.
Originally the burly captain refused to transport me over. The rumors of deer ticks, some as big as kittens, had him spooked. But I promised to pay fare for every seat on the entire boat, half now and the other half when we returned to Sayville. Seeing how it's been a slow summer, he warily agreed. But his mood remained cautious during the trip.
He appeared anything but that now.
Through the windows of the bridge I could see the captain. He had taken his shirt off. He held it wrapped across his shoulders like a shawl before lifting it above his head. He then spun in a circle, dancing in place. And he appeared to be singing.
I started to move up the stairs to investigate, but the boat lurched jarringly. I lost my balance on the slippery stairs and cracked my head against the metal wall.
And was knocked unconscious. Fuck.