Alaska Shorts: “Sex on a Glacier,” by David Marusek

from the chapter “Trash Run”
CASEY WAS AT Mail Day when he overheard a couple of
locals talking about Orion Beehymer’s great grandnephew’s car accident.
Beehymer was the area’s eldest old-timer. He had come to McHardy in the 1960s,
well before the establishment of the park. His great grandnephew, who lived
down in Oregon, had been texting while driving and caused a serious traffic
Beehymer volunteered to cover the boy’s attorney
fees and needed to sell off a town lot or two in a hurry to pay them. He owned
more of the townsite than anyone else; he’d been buying up the McHardy Monopoly
board since 1971.
An impending land sale qualified as headline news in
McHardy. Small subdivision lots inside the national park were rare enough, but
McHardy townsite lots never came on the market. Casey knew what he had to do
with this intel — inform his boss, the park superintendent. Despite ANILCA, the
federal law governing public lands in Alaska, the park’s long-term bias was to
extinguish private inholdings whenever possible. So Casey called park
headquarters in Copper Center and dutifully reported what he’d heard.
Superintendent Rogers thanked him but said that because of budgetary
sequestration, the park would be unable to take advantage of the Beehymer
family’s bad luck in Oregon.
Casey wasn’t sure what sequestration was, but he
took it for a no.
Not that Beehymer would have sold land to the park
service in any case.
A couple of days later, Casey happened to run into
the elderly land baron in person on the narrow footbridge across the Caldecott
River. “Heard you’re selling town lots,” he said to him.
“Just one lot, ranger.”
“How much you asking?”
“How is that any of the park’s business?”
“I don’t suppose it is. I’m just curious, you know,
as a private citizen, not as a park employee.”
Beehymer looked him over. Apparently, all he’d seen
of Casey before they spoke was his uniform. “I never heard of a flat hat with a
pony tail. Just what kind of parkie are you anyway?”
“A backcountry ranger. We grow beards too. And
Beehymer studied him again, this time with a
calculating squint. “Forget it. I’d never sell to the likes of you — whatever
the likes of you are.”
“I don’t blame you, but I’m not in the market
anyway. I was just curious how much a lot goes for in McHardy these days.”
“It’s a lot with a house.”
“Really? It’s got a house on it?”
“That’s what I said. And two sheds and a functioning
well. The only functioning well on that whole block.”
“So, how much you asking?”
“Fifty-six thousand US dollars, with owner
Casey didn’t have a handle on real estate values,
but it seemed to him you couldn’t buy a house anywhere for that little money,
let alone a house inside the largest national park in the country. A mob of
possibilities crowded his mind.
Like most of the other male rangers at Caldecott,
Casey lived in the men’s bunkhouse. He shared sleeping quarters with five other
park and concessionaire employees. This total lack of privacy had put a major
crimp on his love life. A national park in Alaska in the summer was an
incredibly girl-rich environment. Besides the steady stream of exotic foreign
girls visiting from every corner of the globe, there were the seasonal workers,
including his female colleagues in grey and green. More than 200 seasonal
workers, at least half of them college girls, came up to McHardy and Caldecott
each summer to bus the tables, serve the ice cream, interpret the Nature, drive
the vans, row the white waters, and lead the glacier hikes. And on the mind of
every college girl embarking on her Alaska adventure was the possibility of a
summer romance with a tall, strapping, handsome, tree-hugging, 420-friendly,
educated, gentle but firm and studly park ranger in his faux-military-style NPS

At least that was Casey’s observation. The problem
was finding a little love nest under the Midnight Sun to call his own. A house,
his own house in the ghost town of McHardy, would solve that problem big time.

Author David Marusek writes science fiction full time in
his low-maintenance cabin near Fairbanks, Alaska. According to Publisher’s Weekly, “Marusek’s writing is
ferociously smart, simultaneously horrific and funny, as he forces readers to
stretch their imaginations and sympathies.” His work has appeared in Playboy, Nature, MIT Technology Review, Asimov’s,
and other periodicals and anthologies and has been translated into ten
languages. His two published novels and clutch of short stories have won the
Theodore Sturgeon and Endeavour awards and earned numerous nominations. 

Marusek is currently at
work on an epic science fiction trilogy about love, faith, and space alien
invasion in the Alaska bush. Upon This Rock: Book 1 — First Contact is set in
the southeast corner of central Alaska in the largest national park and
preserve in the U.S. The action is contemporary and involves a large,
troublesome family living in a remote compound within the park boundaries. The
following excerpts introduce us to one of the book’s young human protagonists
and his star-crossed house. McHardy is a ghost town located in the middle of
the park with public access only by footbridge. 
To read more of the excerpt, download a free copy of the Alaska Sampler 2015.

Would you like to see your work featured here? Check out our Alaska Shorts guidelines and submit today.
Scroll to Top