Jubal is the last Carlyle, and lives in Seattle, far away from his Abenaki ancestors. A letter from a lawyer draws him and his best friend, Sal, to Vermont and the small town of Midway. Soon they are right in the middle of the old conflict that drove Jubal's parents away soon after his birth. His father had refused the task, but Jubal knows he can't. He must find a way to end it before the whole town suffers, but he has no knowledge, no training, just instinct - and Sal.
"Was wondering when you were going to wake up," said the voice. Since his head currently felt as if an axe was embedded in it and coherent thinking wasn't an option, Jubal managed a slurred, "Shut up," and tried to open his eyes. It didn't happen. His lids seemed to be glued shut. Not that it fully registered with him. The mere effort had been enough to send the pain soaring to a new level.
"You don't want to think about moving just yet." It was a deep timbred drawl, and whoever it was sounded wryly amused. Jubal decided he hated him. "You got a minute or so."
"Wha...?" he groaned, and at the same time he became aware of bruising pressure across his chest and legs A hard and jagged cage-like something enclosed his body. He could hear the pings of cooling metal and the steady drip-drip of leaking gasoline. Could smell it as well. Not good. Memory surged back in a nauseating rush.
He'd been heading home after his shift ended, looking forward to getting out of the rain that hadn't let up all day, and into a hot shower. Friday night with the rain lashing down, he'd had the back roads leading down from the Capitol State Forest to himself. Until a car had come out of nowhere, overtaking him in a flash of gleaming black and chrome in his headlamps, and cut in front of his SUV. He'd slammed on his brakes and--nothing at all after that.
"You don't want to hurl either," the man said. "Trust me."
"Help me, for fuck's sake!" Jubal snarled. He tried to raise his right arm so he could scrub at his eyes, but the pain struck again and he nearly passed out.
"Can't." The man didn't sound regretful, just matter-of-fact. "You gotta do it yourself. And if I was you, I'd start right about now."
"Mother-fuck--" A faint crackling sound started up and another smell assaulted his nostrils. Something was burning.
Panic exploded through Jubal in a scorching tide, and he tried to simultaneously shove off whatever was pinning him, roll over, get to his feet. He failed at all three. The agony was oddly distant, but the whoosh of flames and their heat was not. His fear became a savage beast that clawed at his brain, at any vestige of self-control that remained. There was only the all-consuming need to be somewhere else--
Something tore deep inside him and Jubal howled. He must have blacked out for a while, because the next thing he knew the biting weight had gone from his body and his arms were free. Rain pattered on his upturned face, sliding its chill fingers across his skin. He had just enough time to register the texture of the earth and grass beneath him before the gas tank exploded. A wave of heat scooped him up and dropped him into a muddy puddle.