Takhoma And Beacon Hill is a short story I wrote in early 2015 for a Seattle Fake-Mythology project. Seems appropriate given all the discussion around the big earthquake, that I post this story in FULL for your reading pleasure. So here’s my mythological take on the big earthquake some millennia ago. With much reverence and apologies to natives of the PNW…
TAKHOMA AND BEACON HILL
[Full short story]
By Rich Helzerman
In eons past, back when the great Pacific North West was but a flat land, in the time before the horrors of Vanilla Coke, the gods toyed with man, bending them to their will. In their hatred of all things Montana, the gods decided that they should have their own set of mountains. They chose a few men and women, bestowing great strength upon them. Out of their efforts arose an army of mountain builders, the greatest of these being Takhoma.
The great Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges rose steadily, dwarfing all around it. Their grandeur was a source of pride among the mortal inhabitants of the area. Many would make toasts, raising their overly bitter craft beers and milk-infused espressos, at their own greatness over the other inferior humans of the world, especially the inhabitants of Spokane who seemed happy in their ignorance of living in such a crappy desert.
But all were not so happy. The god of the sea, Komokwa, who had formed great structures, invisible from the surface dwellers in the depths of his abyss, and who had carved out the Puget Sound, filling it with all sorts of hip creatures, not even caring to have it named after himself, was growing increasingly angry at the surface gods’ braggadocio. His ire could not be quenched by saltwater bathes or seaweed scrubs, no matter the purity of the organic plant.
The final straw came when, in their pomposity, the surface dwellers tricked Komokwa, into attempting to take a delicious dark roast brew neath the waves, claiming their screw-top cup to be perfectly water proof. The deception complete, the coffee was quickly ruined and he was out $3.50 plus a generous tip.
Komokwa decided right then and there, to destroy the legged mortals through a Tsunami.
The other gods, upon hearing this plan, thought it a good game. They would see who would be the stronger, their mountains or Komokwa’s super-soaker. But one goddess, the beautiful and saintly Loowit, took it very seriously, having been in a failed poly relationship with the watery god, back in her crazy experimental days with Klickitat and Wyeast. She warned the humans of the impending disaster, and they all turned with one voice to Takhoma to save them.
“Oh Takhoma,” they pleaded, “Please build us a hill large enough to survive the wicked waves, allowing us to sip our mochas in defiance of Komokwa.”
After much convincing, Takhoma, who was no fan of the bitter brew, not even the frappuccino kind, agreed to this plan to stop their whining, but mainly in exchange for a free parking pass.
“And make sure it’s environmentally friendly,” shouted a long-haired smelly person in the back. Takhoma grimaced, but acquiesced.
“I will build your hill, and it will be a ‘beacon’ of hope to all mankind, womankind, and transkind,” he said all too blustery, causing many to roll their eyes at the pandering man.
Work began right away, following a 3-month impact study, a year of necessary environmental research, and much herculean paperwork filing, which taxed the county clerk to her limits, given her child’s Iroquois immersion school schedule.
Takhoma worked, with back-breaking intensity, for twelve hours each day, followed by another twelve hours of deep slumber. Komokwa watched from the depths, with some concern, at the rate the hill was being built. His own plans at prepping the Tsunami were slowed by migrant worker issues, the humpbacks all working at their own pace. And though their singing was beautiful, their work was lackluster, with all sorts of holidays getting in the way. So he sent his son, Rainier, to work against Takhoma. Rainier washed ashore each night, eroding the base of the hill, before retreating with the tide come morning, falling asleep with his own exhaustion.
The people when they saw this, were all like, “are you kidding me?” as they lazily wandered by around noon, their twitter feeds alight with #TakhomaSux or the more popular #BeaconHole. Takhoma, knee deep in mud, ignored their complaints, his own social media presence nearly non-existent, with nary an outdated profile pic on display.
With hope dwindling, a cabal of baristas secretly gathered one moonless night, their e-cigs the only luminescence against the velvet darkness. After settling on a cool name, and applying for non-profit status, they came up with a plan.
Knowing Takhoma would never allow the caffeinated nectar to pass his lips, but knowing that he craved the most exotic of chocolates, they devised a pellet-sized chocolate treat, laced with espresso. After a couple of days and nights of confectionery efforts, the cabal presented a bag of these candies to Takhoma, raving about their lentil-vegan goodness. “A true gift of the gods,” they exclaimed through deceptive smiles.
Takhoma took the first bean. As it touched his lips, a rush of adrenaline poured over him. He felt his energy soar, and his pupils dilate. “Huzzah!” he exclaimed, washing down the treat with his usual carrot-beet smoothie. Then, tying the bag of beans to his belt, he bent to the task at hand, re-doubling his efforts of the previous days.
Twelve hours came and went, and Takhoma still worked. Heedless of exhaustion, he toiled onward. Rainier washed ashore and gasped, incredulous at the progress the mountain-man had made that day. He set about eroding the base, making little progress against the energized man until 4am, when Takhoma finally collapsed in-place. The townsfolk carefully swaddled him in blankets, singing sweet native lullabies as he slept a few short hours.
The next morning the baristas appeared with another satchel of tainted treats, and Takhoma set about on another twenty hour marathon. Each night Rainier washed ashore and gazed at the ever-growing hill, from beneath beaten brow. He too, doubled his efforts, attempting to match Takhoma, hour for hour, barely able to drag himself back to the cold waters for a few hours rest. Finally, at the end of a week’s effort, with nary an energy drink to sustain him, Rainier collapsed upon the muddy beach, and was consumed by rabid gooey ducks as he lay unconscious.
Komokwa was beside himself with grief at the loss of his son. The sea boiled with rage as he gnashed his teeth. “Enough! The tsunami begins at dawn. For realz…,” he posted on his social media site, followed by people posting gifs of kittens with flashing demon eyes.
Takhoma worked on, oblivious to the incendiary post until the people came running to him, possessions in hand, honey-infused ginger beer carelessly sloshing from their growlers, screaming for him to “hurry it up, and get out of the way”. Only then did Takhoma realize that the long-awaited peril was at-hand.
The water drew out of the sound, leaving the mud as smooth as the finest bikini wax that anyone could remember seeing. Whales slapped around like migrating salmon, desperate to avoid the boiling heat of the rising sun. The air was deathly still and a long while the people sat on the hill, waiting for the return of the water. The wave rose slowly on the horizon, reaching such a height that the people quaked in their merino wool socks. Some even ceased their endless Ingress game, we’re talking even those with all the level-ups. Even Takhoma was unsure if his efforts were enough to keep them dry. Bloggers took to the websphere, each fighting to give a lasting and stinging critique of Takhoma’s apparently shoddy work, before their demise.
The water rushed in, “falling down upon the buildings with fronds of death,” posted one overly metaphorical blogger. Those unlucky few, without proper WiFi, who had been unaware of the change of plans, emitted blubbery screams as they perished in the cold embrace of the Puget Sound. Each one lamenting their decision to go with a cheaper internet provider. “Survival of the fittest,” posted one asinine survivor from atop the hill, who quickly found herself unfriended or blocked by everyone.
The Tsunami rushed back across the ocean, destroying some small Japanese villages, who were incredibly loyal to the sea God.
“WTF dude!?!” posted the Asian inhabitants.
“Whoops… My bad,” replied Komokwa, and he introduced sushi to Japan in apology.
The waves rolled in and out for the remainder of the day. Until, its liquid wrath spent, the water subsided. The people all cheered, before complaining about the lack of foresight around good cell reception in this location.
Takhoma was a hero of Seattle, along with some has-been musician who wrote a popular song about the whole thing. And though he was upset at the treachery of the people, in making him a caffeine addict, Takhoma was angrier with himself at his own dependency on the java-liciousness. In anguish, he punished himself by punching large holes in each ear, placing weights in each. And he let his beard grow to dangerous levels of shagginess to help hide his stained teeth.
Everyone was very much disgusted at his new look, and they told him to move closer to Portland, where that sort of thing was more acceptable, thank-you very much. But the stench from his new hippie lifestyle forced him from everywhere, save for the new village of Tacoma. A town that, while revering him, somehow managed to completely misspell his name. The inhabitants, in that armpit of the sound, pleaded with Takhoma to live there. But, my friends, no one wants to live in Tacoma. Seriously.
So he wandered alone, deep into the wild where, later in life, Takhoma built an even bigger mountain, named after himself. Indeed, it was the biggest one anyone had ever seen. A mountain so huge, that people could see it from damn near everywhere in the Pacific North West. And he just wouldn’t shut-up about it. It was like, all he ever talked about. “Did you see my mountain this morning?” was an all too common phrase from his lips.
It reached such a point of annoyance that, in their anger, the people voted to rename the mountain to Rainier, just to piss off Takhoma. However, those in the know knew, that it also served to appease Komokwa, helping him to chillax a bit and, in return, the God shared sushi with the Seattle populace.
Not much is written after that. Takhoma disappeared late one October, in the august of his life. You can still see his last post, which reads, “Super stoked! #NiteHikeRulz”. Some say that his spirit still wanders on his mountain, unable to rest given his ever-caffeinated state, and leaving little espresso beans upon the snows, wherever he doth travel…
Pic from the Gutenberg eBook Project