"Hunting by Stars" by Cherie Dimaline, Chapters 18–22

September 20, 2022
After a plague of dreamlessness spreads across North America, seventeen-year-old Frenchie is captured so the Canadian government can harvest his bone marrow as a cure. Frenchie must find a way to escape and reunite with his found family.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1–9, Chapters 10–17, Chapters 18–22, Chapters 23–29, Chapter 30–Epilogue/Prologue

Click here to explore our lists for The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline.
By the time they’d finished their glasses of bitter mash and listened to a few of the women trill a thin backup to his version of a welcome song, Rose knew that the Chief ran his house with an iron fist hidden in a sleazy silk glove.
When he got up to “ peruse the pantry,” the assembly moved with him.
Through a dozen inquiries, Rose was able to ascertain that back on the rez, the Chief had cooperated with the new government until his own safety was compromised, and by then he’d betrayed so many people, sending them out as “volunteers,” that there was no one left who would shield him.
The Wives were all the women he’d collected since they’d been on the lam, the ones who were too “ liberal” to take part in the marrow consumption but too ingrained in the system to find a different way to survive.
She had taken a quick and discreet stroll around the living room, looking for weapons and clocking the exits, just in case.
“It’s okay, Robin. One day you’ll be chosen,” the one known as Wren consoled her, but with an odd smirk on her pallid face.
They extended from her skeleton, poking through her flesh as innocuously as birthday candles on a cake—no blood, no pain.
When this happened, the thread dragged behind her, collecting dry leaves and hollow insect casings so that she sounded like a wedding car festooned with ribbons and cans when she walked.
It slowed her down, made her unbalanced so that she leaned into her walk, one side tense and pensive, the other slack and excited. It made her uneasy, changed the tone of her thoughts, made her stutter over words and steps.
She tiptoed past the sleeping Wives, curled into their blankets like doped-up cherubs, their fingers intertwined, their hair loose over arms they used as pillows.
She tripped across the threshold and stumbled into the hallway.
It was even creepier because it had recently become very clear that the Chief’s relationships with these women were not platonic.
“Grouse is the matron.” He pointed opposite him to the older woman sitting beside Rose.
He had started taking little jaunts around the room, but the infection made him tired and weak.
“Well, try to stay awake tonight, and let me know what happens. They don’t let me in here, so my hackles are up.”
Rose mulled this over, rubbing the sleep out of her eye.
Everyone was in a better mood, even Nam, who relaxed on the couch with an old comic about an awkward redheaded boy with two attractive girls inexplicably fawning all over him.
“There is nothing forced about this garden. It is exactly as the Creator wants it to be. Who am I to tell him how to grow his gifts?” the Chief cut her off to pontificate.
Rose hated this kind of man, this kind of overexplaining, condescending man.
She paused by the stone path, angry the Chief had goaded her into popping off, just like a firecracker, but continuing nonetheless.
Rose visited with Derrick when the Chief pulled out his drum in the living room and asked for volunteers to join in a song, which every Wife jumped at with their reedy voices and exaggerated gestures.
“No idea. Maybe they just want to touch my sweet abs while I’m under,” he tried to joke, but the reality was too creepy for real mirth.
I wasn’t supposed to know them, but some of those who still had voices had whispered them to me the first few days, missives pushed through the metal delivery slots where I slid in the plastic trays.
Maybe they weren’t written on paper or signed with a flourish.
They didn’t need my shallow platitudes.
It was like listening to the most boring story ever told, but like a TV show when you only have one channel, I got used to it and even started to look forward to the installments.
It was best to remain neutral, if not subservient, at all times when addressing the Watchmen, who were always looking for any excuse.
As a member of the Council, he tried to help Bullet with what was bound to be a barrage of concerns.
The Council meeting had been heated, and she wasn’t really in a congenial mood right now.
His voice wavered between resolute and broken. “We need to do that for other children, for all our relatives who may need us. We need to be strong; we are the stronghold in the north that people are looking for, and we need to move so it stays that way.”
Miig was finishing up Story, so they waited on the periphery for him to finish before intruding.
The wasp sting of capitalism was left to grow malignant without proper care. And wasps can keep on stinging once they begin.
Minutes during which she imagined what might be happening to French, to Derrick, to herself, scenarios that ended with them dried out like corn husk dolls, discarded in different desolate rooms on different stained mattresses.
It’s not gonna help you and your sick concubines.
Rose had asked them to start pilfering things, slow and easy, one at a time, things they would need when they made a break for it.
“Not to be blasphemous, but we barely scrape by now.”
The Chief dropped blood into Owl’s mouth, and she swooned in supplication, the back of her head lightly touching the floor before she pulled herself back up.
Each one slept in their white garb, so still they turned to shrouds.
Nam kept their eyes wide open and bore the revulsion of his touch by emptying everything of value from their mind, from their skin, leaving nothing for him to reach, not like before.
Some gurgling, a gasp or two, the cacophony of a blind stumble into chamber pots around midnight, but all in all, it was without the pomp of the usual household ceremony.

Create a new Word List