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Vallincourt
NOTHING BUT TIME
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-265-6
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Dark Fantasy
eBook Length: 218 Pages
Published: September 2015

From inside the flap

In 1835 Alexander Vallincourt hires on as a cabin boy on a schooner. The ship and crew embark on a voyage in the Arctic Circle late in the fall season. The ship becomes entrapped in an ice flow, forcing the crew to abandon ship. Vallincourt becomes lost, and nearly succumbs to the elements.

Rescued by an Inuit tribe Alexander is given water from a mystical pool. He is told that because of the water he will live forever. He meets a young woman named Liak. After they are found alone together in a semi-intimate setting, Alexander is banished from the tribe’s village. A hundred and seventy-five years later the US government is tipped off about Alexander’s immortal existence. A top secret agency first attempts to learn his secret of immortality, before eventually enlisting his help as a spy.

But not all of the agency’s members approve of the alliance with Vallincourt. A group of rogue agents go on the hunt for him, stopping at nothing, even murder, to learn his secret to immortality for themselves.

Vallincourt (Excerpt)


ONE

September, 1835

In the summer of eighteen-thirty-five Alexander Vallincourt turned sixteen. Most people who knew him just called him Alex. He was a rambunctious teen that lived alone. His mother died giving birth to him and his father, Ludwig Vallincourt was believed to have been killed by a polar bear just before Alex turned fifteen. Ludwig was the tallest, strongest man Alex had ever known up to that point in his life. Alex once witnessed his father lift a man, who easily weighed three hundred pounds, and toss him off their front porch like he was no more than a sack of flour. It seemed the man was drunk and looking to get back thirty dollars Ludwig won in a poker game. After hitting the ground the man ran off like a dog with its tail between its legs.

Ludwig had made sure that Alex had his own bank account with enough money that he would never have to work a day in his life, providing he stayed in Churchill and didn't move to a more expensive place. At the time Alex hadn't a clue just how long beyond the norm his life would be.

The day Alex first decided to head to the Churchill pier after his father's passing, the sky was cloudless, the air cool with a slight breeze that made things feel a bit chilly. It was not yet fall but the approaching season was making an early presence known nonetheless. The water of Hudson Bay was calm, smooth like a sheet of glass.

It was eight in the morning when Alex stood at the end of the pier. Size wise he was taking after his pa, standing almost six feet tall, and his weight must have been pushing a hundred sixty pounds give or take. He considered himself well-built thanks to a lot of winter wood cutting and carrying. He had thick black hair that at the moment needed a good clipping, and a lot of the time blocked the view of his bright blue eyes. He was wearing his favorite pair of pants with a couple of holes that Ludwig would have patched if he was still around. His shirt was made of wool, and atop his shaggy mane was a fur skin hat that his father had fashioned for him.

The town of Churchill, Manitoba sat quietly behind Alex. It had been over a year since he'd ventured to the pier from his small house at the far outskirts of the town. After Ludwig's passing, a greatly depressed Alex more or less shut down. He rarely ventured into town, doing so only when he needed supplies. He avoided his friends to the point of not answering the door when they, or anyone else, came knocking. His view of life had gotten so bad that at one point he had seriously contemplated suicide. He'd given up on life, basically given up on himself. The grief of losing his father had taken everything from him, leaving him pretty much an empty shell. He felt like he was dead, like he just hadn't stopped breathing was all.

One night, after he figured the town had basically gone to sleep, he sat on the porch thinking about his father. Then, as always, he fought against letting the memory of his father fade. It was close to midnight when a shadowy figure emerged from one side of the house. He wasn't spooked or scared, figuring if something bad happened to him, oh well.

A girl his age named Maggie came to the front of the two steps that led up to the porch. Before his father left Alex had his eyes on her. She was good looking, always cheerful, and very friendly. They used to talk a lot; some people would even have said they were seeing each other. That night, as he looked down at her, he began to wonder why in God's name he had abandoned his relationship with her. In that moment he considered himself to be a real jackass.

There were no words exchanged as she stood still, taking in his good looks that she had never ceased admiring. In her mind she was struggling to find a way to snap him out of the confined existence he had isolated himself within. What do I have to do to change you, Alex? She sighed as only one thing came to mind. Please don't hate me.

Without a word she walked up the steps, stood in front of Alex, and slapped him harder than anyone had ever struck him. Then without a word she sat down next to him, leaned over and gave him his first kiss.

Needless to say his mind was running wild with just about every thought a person could have. What the hell was that? He didn't think he could have spoken if he wanted to. He wasn't sure what struck him the most; the first time anyone had slapped him that hard, or the first kiss anyone had ever given him. It didn't take any thinking to know which he liked more.

"Alex, you've got to come back to life," Maggie begged. "I miss you."

He found his tongue. "If you miss me, why have you taken so long to come to me?"

How dare you! She stood and slapped him again.

He pretty much figured that was the end of his thinking about adding anything else to his last comment.

"Damn you, Alex," Maggie fumed. "I haven't waited till now. I've knocked on your door every day since word reached town about your pa. Every night I waited in the shadows hoping to see you out here like tonight. Wake up, Alex. You've forgotten everyone who you ever cared about, whoever cared about you. You have to let it go."

She kissed him again and ran off, disappearing into the darkness. She had delivered a message, a wakeup call. As much as he wanted to dismiss her words and dig himself an even deeper hole, she managed to get through to him. The next day he went into town. In a way it was like doing so for the first time. He was quick to renew old friendships, and to his joy old friends carried on as though he hadn't been absent at all.

Now, months later, as he stood at the end of the pier he thought once again of his father and the last time they had come to the pier together. Ludwig had brought him there to spend, what they couldn't have imagined, would be their last moments together. Alex thought back to that day, remembering his father's rough voice brought on by a lingering illness. Things were to the point where Alex was getting concerned about his father's health. Ludwig insisted that he would be okay, and that some fresh sea air would help make him feel better. Alex's thoughts took him back to that spring day in eighteen thirty four...

"We'll be gone for only a few months, son," Ludwig said as he looked down the long pier. He had a full beard that he grew each time he went to sea. He wore a red plaid shirt and thick pants that were tucked into the tops of high-sided boots. He looked at Alex. "There will be plenty of hunting time for us when I get back. So I expect you to practice up on your shooting."

Alex couldn't help but beam a broad smile. "I'm almost as good a shot as you already, pa."

Indeed Alex was, and known to be such by just about everyone in the town. Any and all shooting competitions within fifty miles of Churchill were easily won by father and son. The last name Vallincourt had become synonymous with being a crack shot.

"You're almost as good, but not yet."

"Someday you'll agree with me."

"Yes, I most likely will someday, Alex." Secretly he already knew that, but if he agreed with him then the boy might not work as hard to improve his shooting abilities. He faced his son. "Now remember, if you need any money go to the bank. They know who you are. They'll give you as much as you want, no questions asked. If you need anything else... "

"I know, pa, go to Mister Gray," Alex interrupted. He felt sad. "I'll miss you, pa."

"I'll miss you too, son. But it isn't like this is the first time I've gone to sea."

"But each time seems longer," Alex moaned. For him time seemed to stand still while his father was gone. "I get lonely."

"Lonely? How's that possible with as many friends as you have?"

"They're only my friends because they know we have more money than any of them." Alex sighed. "If we have so much money why do you have to go?"

Ludwig ruffled his son's hair. The boy usually hated when he did that, but today Alex was willing to make an exception. Ludwig didn't want to tell his son he was leaving again because of the joy of sailing and the thrill of hunting. You wouldn't understand that some men need to do what they enjoy doing. "I'm leaving because I feel obliged to Mister Yuekert for bringing your mother and me to this place."

"Haven't you paid your debt to him many times over?"

"Some debts never end, Alex. When you get older you'll understand. There are things more important than money."

Alex couldn't imagine that being true. How can there be something more important than money? Maybe gold, but I've only seen a small amount of it once, so I'm not sure. But he remembered how men in the town had been fixated by the mineral, and damn near came to fighting because of it. It was as if the precious material had the ability to cast a spell over the men, making them unable to think clearly, or at all.

Father and son embraced in a loving hug with Alex not wanting to release his father...

As Alex's thoughts drifted back to the present, he looked out over the bay. At three hundred yards from shore a thick veil of fog ran the length of the shoreline for as far as he could see. The fog looked like the impenetrable walls of a fortress, daring anyone to approach.

"Get out of the way," a man's gruff voice sounded from behind Alex.

Alex turned while stepping to the side, making way for a rapidly approaching man pushing a cart. Moving at a full head of steam the man was huffing deeply as he passed. The two wheeled cart was piled high with kegs, so much so it was a wonder the man could see over the top of it. But a true, straight line he followed along the length of the pier, coming to a stop at the foot of a gangplank leading down from a ship named Benjamin Gray. Almost at once a group of men, twelve in all, descended the walkway, grabbed the cart's contents, and then ascended the plank to the main deck where they disappeared through doorways on the ship. Within minutes the cart was emptied. The same man grabbed the cart's handles, turned it about, then hurried back across the pier past Alex, before turning between a group of merchant stores.

Half a dozen ships were moored to either side of the old wooden pier. All but one of the ships were without gangplanks that would normally lead from the ships to the wooden walkway. The other ships had gangplanks lying on the pier next to them. From his vantage point Alex could see a great deal of activity on or near the ship with the gangplank.

The sea weathered, three mast schooner Benjamin Gray, was moored to the end of the old, pier. In its day the ship had parted waters on many bodies of water. Its aging wood creaked as men moved about it. A crew was busy loading provisions into the ship's hold. A rough looking lot, the men were experienced sailors. They knew well every inch of the vessel they had sailed upon so many times past. Each of them, to the man, had at some point questioned why they were about to set sail so late in the season. They wondered where the owner's reasoning had slipped away to. But, admittedly, each of them didn't think much past the offer of a bigger-than-normal payday upon their return. The thought of extra money in their pockets outweighed any risks as they saw things.

Standing on the pier at the end of the gangplank, the ship's owner, William Gray along with three of his associates were indulging in conversation. Mister Gray was getting up there in age, looking every bit of his seventy-five years. The hair on his head and his friendly mutton chop beard had long turned snow white. His eyesight was only as good as a thick pair of glasses allowed. It had become impossible for him to walk without the use of a cane. The walking stick being used on any given day was part of a vast collection of canes, purchased as souvenirs while visiting other ports around the world. He owned as many as thirty of them, all unique by one characteristic or another. Despite his frailties and health issues, he always made mention how he was doing better than those who had passed on before him. He claimed there was nothing healthier than a swig of whiskey both morning and evening.

One of Gray's friends, Rodney Nesbitt, had served as William's accountant for as many years as anyone could recall. He was the man William most confided in, despite most always arguing with him. Yet Rodney remained the most trusted man William had ever known. Seemingly always present with William, Rodney was a thin, ill looking man. His head was skeletal looking with eyes sunk deep in their sockets. He sported a mutton chop style beard that was mostly gray in color. At sixty years old, he looked much older. He hated the cold. Even on that day he was dressed in layers of clothing.

Another of the men, Oliver Hager, was a retired ship captain, serving now more as an advisor than anything else. It wasn't even sure if he could be considered William's friend, since they seldom saw eye to eye. He was comfortable being at odds with Gray almost always. He actually secretly relished the thought of William breathing his last. He honestly believed he would be in William's will, believing that the Benjamin Gray would someday be his.

The last man, Joseph Wilcott was nothing more than a friend to William. A beer drinker known to be drunk more times than not, he was also quite wealthy. Wealth was the tying bond between their friendships. They argued over money constantly, while drinking beer in their favorite pub.