Deerton had never exactly been a hotbed of crime. The city police mostly did traffic stops in town and busted the occasional minor in possession (or major in possession). Since the town had both the Tecumseh County Sheriff Department and Michigan State Police Post #381, there was an embarrassment of officers, and the City Police were redundant due to jurisdiction issues half the time.

So when it came time to retire, Officer John Daniels was looking forward to doing some real police work on his own time. The other officers sometimes called him “Jack” as a dig at how straitlaced he was, the exact opposite of the wild image a man nicknamed after a potent whiskey evoked. Tired of playing supporting second fiddle to the other police agencies and the Deerton Volunteer Fire Department.

But John’s amateur detective aspirations soon ran into a roadblock: even without the jurisdictional straitjacket, there was very little crime in Deerton. There was quite simply nothing to detect. John found a novel way around this: he contacted local institutions like the public library and the high school with an offer to hunt down people whose property had turned up in their lost and found. Using his police training and notes cribbed from cable TV, John was soon in the business of reuniting people with their lost effects.

And that’s how he came to be at the old farm off US 313 carrying a ratty old umbrella.

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The River Iceman was blamed for the overturned logging rafts, as he was blamed for most misfortunes on the river (and much of the mischief at the Boy Scout camp on the lake). The river pilots took to leaving little offerings at the cairns along the way–whatever they thought would placate such a spirit.

Raw meat was the most popular choice.

The attacks (or accidents) continued, often associated with the proper observances failing to be made. Then, two things happened which led to a complete reappraisal of the situation.

The first was the overturning and death by drowning of Sal Waldow, a noted superstitious pilot who never failed to leave a little cairn jerky for the River Iceman.

The second was the interview that the River Iceman herself granted to the Cascadia Falls Intelligencer-Courier-Tribune.

“You don’t understand me,” Brown cried. “This city’s about to fall! She’ll be killed if she stays! I’m just trying to do my job!”

The bartender sighed. “Listen to me, Marine. Perhaps you are right; perhaps when the rebels come they will kill Ms. Anne. But perhaps not. Perhaps the rebel at the very front of the column was a schoolmate of hers. Perhaps the soldiers that burst in here know her from playing in the streets. She grew up here, and cannot believe the land would allow any harm to come.”

“But…”

“I have survived several coups, Marine. I will survive this one as well. The men are always thirsty. They are thirsty for other things as well, and if Ms. Anne wishes to wait, to see her old school friends’ faces when the men come for her, who are you to deny her? Go. Ms. Anne does not want to leave, and I will shoot you if you try and take her.”