A cool evening wind rustles the trees and cuts through Albey’s thin hooded long-sleeve shirt, sending a refreshing tingle up his spine and out to the tips of his fingers. He stands there in the space between the open door and the rest of his car fighting a spell of the shivers. The fight does not last long. His bottom jaw begins to quiver up and down as his spine bounces back and forth like a strummed guitar string, but Albey doesn’t mind it. He looks up through a hole in the canopy at the not quite full moon and can’t help but smile at the way it makes the night glow. It feels good to be out and about when most everyone else is sleeping, it’s like he’s in the know on a special secret that only the whispering winds of night can share.
Lots of folk are afraid to venture out into the woods after dark, but not Albey. As anxious as he is to be back home, he missed the gnostic atmosphere which always follows the sun’s path after it sets over Logger’s Pond. There’s nothing else quite like it.
When his shivering generates enough blood flow for Albey to walk in a straight line, he does just that, closing his car door with the tip of his right shoe in the process. He parked behind Keaton’s old minivan, the same one he drove in high school, the same one Missus Quinn drove Keaton and his friends to school with until her son was old enough to drive them himself. He peeks in through the back-left window to see if the sticky stains from the innumerable slushies they spilled in the good ol’ days are still coloring the back seats but sees nothing, only darkness.
In front of Keaton’s van is a light gray pickup truck that looks simultaneously beat to shit and fresh off the lot of a dealership: it still boasts the temporary paper license plates, but they’re smeared with glumpy chunks of mud, some of which have dried to dirt. This must belong to Carl, ol’ boy got himself some wheels! Some big wheels, by the look of them. A fuckin’ lift kit, too, why not? Albey climbs up on the step and peers through the driver-side window to see no less than four tins of chewing tobacco stacked up in one of the cup holders.
“Yep, definitely Carl’s,” more chuckled than said. “At least he’s not smoking the shit anymore.”
Past Carl’s pickup is a regal cast iron mailbox stand with limbs which curl like grapevines to support a cheap white mailbox covered in gouges and dents. Half of the paint is chipped off, and the metal underneath – tin, maybe? It can’t be iron, it’s way too flimsy to be iron – is afflicted with a malady of rust which looks about one bite away from eating a hole into the thing’s pitiful hide. But it might not be that bad, Albey can’t see details perfectly well out here. His night vision is working full strength, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the whole world’s shining like a rhinestone; there’s just enough light for Albey to discern a couple different shades in the murky bluish blackness falling down from the infinity up above, and that’s all he needs to get him where he’s going.
Albey walks past the mailbox and the shattering of leaves fallen is traded for the soft thuds of rubber soles stepping without friction upon recently cooled asphalt. Were he to turn left and walk for about forty minutes Albey would find himself looking up at the towering megalithic mansion that is the Bogspekti residence, the only house (although house is a disgustingly poor word to use in describing it, emphasis on the poor ) in all of Bogspekti Park. However, he won’t be turning left; Albey decidedly turns right and ambles across the street, heading towards a not quite solid wall of trees and shrubberies. He can feel the bulbous darkness close in around him like walls as he walks through the hole in the treeline, it’s pressing against his face, trying to grab at his arms and snag his camera bag away… no, wait, those are just leafy branches. Harry said the trail wasn’t very well traveled (despite being walked weekly for the past twoish years), and he wasn’t kidding. It doesn’t matter though, Albey’s walked through the moonlit woods of Logger’s Pond many’a time, he can find his way. Doesn’t even need a flashlight.
Four steps later Albey locks lips with the bark of an ancient tree. The exchange is so passionate that Albey releases the camera case before stumbling backwards and rubbing his face with both hands.
“Fuck it, this is dumb.”
The dropped camera case (and the mystical entity held within) feels the vibrations of Albey’s footsteps as he ventures back towards the way he came. There is a girthy click, as if a car door was opened, then silence. A slam proves to be a harbinger when Albey’s footsteps return moments later and the camera case is lifted off the ground. Clouds of dirt dance in the white cone emanating from Albey’s phone as he slaps the bottom of the case clean. He then hunkers down, sits the case on his right thigh, unbuckles the two buckles, unzips the zipper, and inspects his cargo for damage.
“Well thank goodness,” as he zips the case closed and straightens his legs. Albey shines his flashlight ahead of him, lighting up what can only be described as a tunnel made of leaves – leaves which shine dully in the glow of his phone’s light like unpolished emeralds embedded in obsidian – and branches, not nearly enough of which are broken out of the way of the trail. “Should’ve grabbed my pocket-knife, too,” Albey mumbles as he takes his first few steps into the belly of the beast, bending the intrusive low-growing branches back all the while. “The tree that bends does not break. Until it’s cut down, that is.” He says this in a terrible accent that doesn’t naturally occur in any human mouth, and now he’s shaking his head because of how bad it sounded. “Yeesh. No wonder I’m back here.”
Albey quiets down as his solitary walk through the dark wood of Logger’s Pond stretches on and on. A hair short of two minutes later, his eye catches a brilliant speck in the distance, a glowing green shape, perhaps an orb. Its glow is similar to that of the flashlit leaves but brighter, almost warmer. As the old deaded leaves of seasons past continue to crunch beneath his skater shoes, Albey picks out more and more of the glowing orbs, some of which appear to be floating, and decides to kill his flashlight. If he’s about to be abducted by aliens, he’d like to be caught at least a little off guard when it happens.
The tunnel opens up to a small clearing. The glowing orbs – there have to be at least ten of them, maybe even a dozen – aren’t orbs at all, Albey sees, but lighted verdant beer bottles. They’re arranged like backwoods Christmas decorations, some hanging from trees, some stood up on logs, all of them bathing the clearing in an eerie green glow that does not beg for but demands a shroud of fog to properly set the mood for whatever ethereal shindig Albey just wandered into.
“Ayyy, there he is!”
Upholding the dumbstruck look on his mug, Albey looks towards the source of the voice. His gaping mouth withers, allowing a smile to bloom from the soil.
“Boys, it’s been far too long.”
The boys – first Keaton, then Carl, and then once the group hug has started, Harry – leap up from their logs and smother Albey in a mighty group hug that tightens up to a nearly painful degree for a second right at the end. As they disengage one by one, Albey’s eyes bounce back and forth like a pinball caught between three bumpers.
“I, yo, guys, this is, I don’t.” He takes a breath. The boys look at one another, all smiles. “I don’t even, I’m just like, I uh, like, I.” Harry’s right eyebrow abandons its post over his eye and makes for his hairline. “I don’t even know how to act right now.”
“You don’t say,” says Harry, who proudly folded his arms at some point. “Good to see you, Albey. I take it you like The Waiting Room?”
“The Waiting Room, you say?” Albey asks, looking to Keaton and Carl. They just keep servin’ up smiles. “I thought you guys said you named it The–”
“I don’t know why you’d listen to them, homeboy,” Harry cuts in, taking a step forward. “This is my woods, after all, and my spot. Not that we’re even there yet.”
“What do you mean?” Albey says, making a show of twisting his torso to look all around him. “How is this not the spot? This is sick dude, we don’t even need to have a campfire.”
Carl rolls his eyes, but nobody else sees it happen. He rolls them again to the same effect.
Meanwhile, Harry explained how, “The campfire is the best part, guy,” and now he’s returning to where he sat while they were waiting for Albey to bumble his way through the woods. Albey watches him bend over and grab at something, then the green lights all disappear. “Christmas lights. There’s a little solar energy garden up by the house, I had my dad run a line out here. I called this spot The Waiting Room for a reason; this is literally where we sit and wait for everyone to show up.”
“Oh, word up,” one half of Albey’s brain says into the darkness as the other uses his free hand to plunder his pocket for his cell phone. “Who’s everyone, though? I thought we were all here.”
Someone mumbles to someone else; while it’s difficult to make out, Albey swears he hears Harry’s voice ask, “Did he not just see me unplug the shit?”
“Huh? Nothin’,” confirms Harry. “Yeah, no, we’re all here. We were just waiting for you, bucc.” An incessantly bright beam of a flashlight burns Albey’s eyes; he drops his phone and shields his face with the camera case. “Yo, why’d you bring a camera? Little bit hard to take pictures in the dark, no?”
A searing yellow blob surrounded by an increasingly thick and perpetually fuzzy purple outline dominates the interior of Albey’s eyelids. The harder he stares at it the more purple it becomes; after a few seconds it fades into an electric light blue, then morphs back into darkness.
“Albey?” asks Keaton’s voice in a wonderfully gentle manner.
“Yeah, sorry,” as Albey lowers the camera case from his face. He sees that there are now three lights shining on him. The one in the middle is obnoxiously brighter than the other two, like, by far. “It’s a surprise, you’ll see when we get to the camping spot. We’re still going to the camping spot, right?”
The brightest of the three bleached will-o’-the-wisps blinks into darkness, turning to illuminate the mouth of another trail which was previously hidden behind Harry. “Yeah, of course we are, dude. We’d be there already if it wasn’t for somebody.”
“Yeah’yeah’yeah,” Keaton’s voice says. The sound of hard plastic sliding against more hard plastic follows. “Look, you guys can start hooking up when we get there. I won’t speak for myself, but I know Karl wants to get drinkin’. Shall we proceed, boys?”
“Yes we shall,” escapes from both Harry’s and Albey’s mouths at the same time. No jinx is declared, which is fine – according to Harry there are plenty enough beers to go around in the cooler, which Albey assumes Carl picked up judging from the grunting and the tinking of glass rattling against glass.
“Good shit,” Harry says as his light swims down the gullet of the tamed wilderness that is Bogspekti Park. “All right then, boys. After me.”
Hello Commons, this has been the second subchapter of the first chapter of Untitled Bigfoot Project, a novel about a writer who writes a novel about bigfoot.
Untitled Bigfoot Project is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
Untitled Bigfoot Project is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
If you like Untitled Bigfoot Project and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here.
Be well Commons~