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Soul Catcher

Frank Herbert

  Soul Catcher

  Frank Herbert

  WordFire Press

  Smashwords Edition

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  Digital edition © 2012 by Herbert Properties, LLC

  Originally published in 1972 by Frank Herbert (G.P. Putnam’s Sons).

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the express written permission of the copyright holder, except where permitted by law. This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or, if real, used fictitiously.

  This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  ISBN-13: 978-1-61475-043-7

  Cover design by Kevin J. Anderson

  WordFire Press

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  Soul Catcher

  Frank Herbert

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  For Ralph and Irene Slattery, without whose love and guidance this book would never have been.

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  Table of Contents

  Soul Catcher

  About the Author

  Look for These & Other Digital Works from WordFire Press

  by Frank Herbert

  by Brian Herbert

  by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

  by Bill Ransom

  by Kevin J. Anderson

  by Kevin J. Anderson & Doug Beason

  * * * * *

  Soul Catcher

  He was Katsuk, the core from which all perception radiates. And his victim was David Marshall, the 13 year old son of an Undersecretary of State, an innocent chosen from the white world for an ancient sacrifice of vengeance.

  When the boy’s father arrived at Six Rivers Camp, they showed him a number of things which they might not have revealed to a lesser person. But the father, as you know, was Howard Marshall and that meant State Department and VIP connections in Washington, D.C.; so they showed him the statement from the professor and the interviews with the camp counselors, that sort of thing. Of course, Marshall saw the so-called kidnap note and the newspaper clippings which some of the FBI men had brought up to the camp that morning.

  Marshall lived up to expectations. He spoke with the measured clarity of someone to whom crises and decisions were a way of life. In response to a question, he said:

  “I know this Northwest Coast country very well, you understand. My father was in lumber here. I spent many happy days in this region as a child and young man. My father hired Indians whenever he could find ones who would work. He paid them the same wages as anyone else. Our Indians were well treated. I really don’t see how this kidnapping could be aimed at me personally or at my family. The man who took David must be insane.”


  Statement of Dr. Tilman Barth, University of Washington Anthropology Department:

  I find this whole thing incredible. Charles Hobuhet cannot be the mad killer you make him out to be. It’s impossible. He could not have kidnapped that boy. You must not think of him as criminal, or as Indian. Charles is a unique intellect, one of the finest students I’ve ever had. He’s essentially gentle and with a profoundly subtle sense of humor. You know, that could just be our situation here. This could be a monstrous joke. Here, let me show you some of his work. I’ve saved copies of everything Charles has written for me. The world’s going to know about him someday….


  From a news story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

  The most intensive manhunt in Washington history centered today on the tangled rain forest and virtually untouched wilderness area of the Olympic National Park.

  Law enforcement officials said they still believe Charles Hobuhet, the Indian militant, is somewhere in that region with his kidnap victim, David Marshall, 13, son of the new United States Undersecretary of State.

  Searchers were not discounting, however, the reports that the two have been seen in other areas. Part of the investigation focused on Indian lands in the state’s far northwest corner. Indian trackers were being enlisted to assist in the search and bloodhounds were being brought from Walla Walla.

  The manhunt began yesterday with discovery at the exclusive Six Rivers boys’ camp that young Marshall was missing and that a so-called kidnap note had been left behind. The note reportedly was signed by Hobuhet with his pseudonym “Katsuk” and threatened to sacrifice the boy in an ancient Indian ceremony.


  The note left at Cedar Cabin, Six Rivers, by Charles Hobuhet-Katsuk:

  I take an innocent of your people to sacrifice for all of the innocents you have murdered. The Innocent will go with all of those other innocents into the spirit place. Thus will sky and earth balance.

  I am Katsuk who does this to you. Think of me only as Katsuk, not as Charles Hobuhet. I am something far more than a sensory system and its appetites. I am evolved far beyond you who are called hoquat. I look backward to see you. I see your lives based on cowardice. Your judgments arise from illusions. You tell me unlimited growth and consumption are good. Then your biologists tell me this is cancerous and lethal. To which hoquat should I listen? You do not listen. You think you are free to do anything that comes into your minds. Thinking this, you remain afraid to liberate your spirits from restraint.

  Katsuk will tell you why this is. You fear to create because your creations mirror your true selves. You believe your power resides in an ultimate knowledge which you forever seek as children seek parental wisdom. I learned this while watching you in your hoquat schools. But now I am Katsuk, a greater power. I will sacrifice your flesh. I will strike through to your spirit. I have the root of your tree in my power.


  On the day he was to leave for camp, David Marshall had awakened early. It was two weeks after his thirteenth birthday. David thought about being thirteen as he stretched out in the morning warmth of his bed. There was some internal difference that came with being thirteen. It was not the same as twelve, but he couldn’t pin down the precise difference.

  For a time he played with the sensation that the ceiling above his bed actually fluttered as his eyelids resisted opening to the day. There was sunshine out in that day, a light broken by its passage through the big-leaf maple which shaded the window of his upstairs bedroom.

  Without opening his eyes, he could sense the world around his home—the long, sloping lawns, the carefully tended shrubs and flowers. It was a world full of slow calm. Thinking about it sometimes, he felt a soft drumbeat of exaltation.

  David opened his eyes. For a moment, he pretended the faint shadow marks in the ceiling’s white plaster were a horizon: range upon range of mountains dropping down to drift-piled beaches.

  Mountains ... beaches—he’d see such things tomorrow when he went to camp.

  David turned, focused on the camp gear piled across chair and floor where he and his father had arranged the things last night: sleeping bag, pack, clothing, boots ...

  There was the knife.

  The knife stimulated a feeling of excitement. That was a genuine Russell belt knife made in Canada. It had been a birthday gift from his father just two weeks ago.

  A bass hum of wilderness radiated into his imagination from the knife in its deer-brown scabbard. It was a man’s tool, a man’s weapon. It stood for blood and darkness and independence.

  His father’s words had put magic in the knife:

bsp; “That’s no toy, Dave. Learn how to use it safely. Treat it with respect.”

  His father’s voice had carried subdued tensions. The adult eyes had looked at him with calculated intensity and there had been a waiting silence after each phrase.

  Fingernails made a brief scratching signal on his bed-room door, breaking his reverie. The door opened. Mrs. Parma slid into the room. She wore a long blue and black sari with faint red lines in it. She moved with silent effacement, an effect as attention-demanding as a gong.

  David’s gaze followed her. She always made him feel uneasy.

  Mrs. Parma glided across to the window that framed the maple, closed the window firmly.

  David peered over the edge of the blankets at her as she turned from the window and nodded her awareness of him.

  “Good morning, young sir.”

  The clipped British accent never sounded right to him coming from a mouth with purple lips. And her eyes bothered him. They were too big, as though stretched by the way her glossy hair was pulled back into a bun. Her name wasn’t really Parma. It began with Parma, but it was much longer and ended with a strange clicking sound that David could not make.

  He pulled the blankets below his chin, said: “Did my father leave yet?”

  “Before dawn, young sir. It is a long way to the capital of your nation.”

  David frowned and waited for her to leave. Strange woman. His parents had brought her back from New Delhi, where his father had been political adviser to the embassy.

  In those years, David had stayed with Granny in San Francisco. He had been surrounded by old people with snowy hair, diffident servants, and low, cool voices. It had been a drifting time with diffused stimulations. “Your grandmother is napping. One would not want to disturb her, would one?” It had worn on him the way dripping water wears a rock. His memory of the period retained most strongly the whirlwind visits of his parents. They had descended upon the insulated quiet of the house, breathless, laughing, tanned, and romantic, arms loaded with exotic gifts.

  But the chest-shaking joy of being with such people had always ended, leaving him with a sense of frustration amidst the smells of dusty perfumes and tea and the black feeling that he had been abandoned.

  Mrs. Parma checked the clothing laid out for him on the dresser. Knowing he wanted her to leave, she delayed. Her body conveyed a stately swaying within the sari. Her fingernails were bright pink.

  She had shown him a map once with a town marked on it, the place where she had been born. She had a brown photograph: mud-walled houses and leafless trees, a man all in white standing beside a bicycle, a violin case under his arm. Her father.

  Mrs. Parma turned, looked at David with her startling eyes. She said: “Your father asked me to remind you when you awoke that the car will depart precisely on time. You have one hour .”

  She lowered her gaze, went to the door. The sari betrayed only a faint suggestion of moving legs. The red lines in the fabric danced like sparks from a fire.

  David wondered what she thought. Her slow, calm way revealed nothing he could decipher. Was she laughing at him? Did she think going to camp was a foolishness? Did she even have a geographical understanding of where he would go, the Olympic Mountains?

  He had a last glimpse of the bright fingernails as she went out, closed the door.

  David bounced from bed, began dressing. When he came to the belt, he slipped the sheathed knife onto it, cinched the buckle. The blade remained a heavy presence at his hip while he brushed his teeth and combed his blond hair straight back. When he leaned close to the mirror, he could see the knife’s dark handle with the initials burned into it: DMM, David Morgenstern Marshall.

  Presently, he went down to breakfast.


  Statement of Dr. Tilman Earth, University of Washington Anthropology Department:

  The word katsuk is very explicit in Hobuhet’s native tongue. It means “the center” or the core from which all perception radiates. It’s the center of the world or of the universe. It’s where an aware individual stands. There has never been any doubt in my mind that Charles is aware. I can understand his assuming this pseudonym.

  You’ve seen those papers he wrote. That one where he compares the Raven myth of his people to the Genesis myth of Western civilization is very disturbing. He has perceived the link between dream and reality—how we seek to win a place in destiny through rebellion, the evil forces we build up only to destroy, the Great Conquests and Great Causes to which we cling long after they’ve been exposed as empty glitter. Here ... notice his simile for such lost perceptions:

  “ ... the fish eyes like gray skimmed milk that stare at you out of things which are alive when they shouldn’t be.”

  This is the observation of someone who is capable of great things, as great as any achievements in our Western mythology.


  It had begun when his name still was Charles Hobuhet, a good Indian name for a Good Indian.

  The bee had alighted, after all, on the back of Charles Hobulet’s left hand. There had been no one named Katsuk then. He had been reaching up to grasp a vine maple limb, climbing from a creek bottom in the stillness of midday.

  The bee was black and gold, a bee from the forest, a bumblebee of the family Apidae. It’s name fled buzzing through his mind, a memory from days in the white school.

  Somewhere above him, a ridge came down toward the Pacific out of the Olympic Mountains like the gnarled root of an ancient spruce clutching the earth for support.

  The sun would be warm up there, but winter’s chill in the creek bottom slid its icy way down the watercourse from the mountains to these spring-burgeoning foothills.

  Cold came with the bee, too. It was a special cold that put ice in the soul.

  Still Charles Hobuhet’s soul then.

  But he had performed the ancient ritual with twigs and string and bits of bone. The ice from the bee told him he must take a name. Unless he took a name immediately, he stood in peril of losing both souls, the soul in his body and the soul that went high or low with his true being.

  The stillness of the bee on his hand made this obvious. He sensed urgent ghosts: people, animals, birds, all with him in this bee.

  He whispered: “Alkuntam, help me.” The supreme god of his people made no reply. Shiny green of the vine maple trunk directly in front of him dominated his eyes. Ferns beneath it splayed out fronds. Condensation fell like rain on the damp earth. He forced himself to turn away, stared across the creek at a stand of alders bleached white against heavy green of cedar and fir on the stream’s far slope.

  A quaking aspen, its leaves adither among the alders, dazzled his awareness, pulled his mind. He felt abruptly that he had found another self which must be reasoned with, influenced, and understood. He lost clarity of mind and sensed both selves straining toward some pure essence. All sense of self slipped from his body, searched outward into the dazzling aspen.

  He thought: I am in the center of the universe! Bee spoke to him then: “I am Tamanawis speaking, to you ...” The words boomed in his awareness, telling him his name. He spoke it aloud: “Katsuk! I am Katsuk.”


  It was a seminal name, one with potency.

  Now, being Katsuk, he knew all its meanings. He was Ka-, the prefix for everything human. He was Ka-tsuk, the bird of myth. A human bird! He possessed roots in many meanings: bone, the color blue, a serving dish, smoke ... brother and soul.

  Once more, he said it: “I am Katsuk.”

  Both selves flowed home to the body.

  He stared at the miraculous bee on his hand. A bee had been the farthest thing from his expectations. He had been climbing, just climbing.

  If there were thoughts in his mind, they were thoughts of his ordeal. It was the ordeal he had set for himself out of grief, out of the intellectual delight in walking through ancient ideas, out of the fear that he had lost his way in the white world. His native soul had rotted while living in that white world. But a s
pirit had spoken to him.

  A true and ancient spirit.

  Deep within his innermost being he knew that intellect and education, even the white education, had been his first guides on this ordeal.

  He thought how, as Charles Hobuhet, he had begun this thing. He had waited for the full moon and cleansed his intestines by drinking seawater. He had found a land otter and cut out its tongue.

  Kuschtaliute—the symbol tongue!

  His grandfather had explained the way of it long ago, describing the ancient lore. Grandfather had said: “The shaman becomes the spirit-animal-man. God won’t let animals make the mistakes men make.”

  That was the way of it.

  He had carried Kuschtaliute in a deer scrotum pouch around his neck. He had come into these mountains. He had followed an old elk trail grown over with alder and fir and cotton wood. The setting sun had been at his back when he had buried Kuschtaliute beneath a rotten log. He had buried Kuschtaliute in a place he never again could find, there to become the symbol tongue.

  All of this in anguish of spirit.

  He thought: It began because of the rape and pointless death of my sister. The death of Janiktaht ... little Jan.

  He shook his head, confused by an onslaught of memories. Somewhere a gang of drunken loggers had found Janiktaht walking alone, her teenaged body full of spring happiness, and they had raped her and changed her and she had killed herself.

  And her brother had become a walker-in-the-mountains.

  The other self within him, the one which must be reasoned with and understood, sneered at him and said: “Rape and suicide are as old as mankind. Besides, that was Charles Hobuhet’s sister. You are Katsuk.”

  He thought then as Katsuk: Lucretius was a liar! Science doesn’t liberate man from the terror of the gods!