A Most Inconvenient Truth
Albey comes to the firepit and pauses.
“Might as well, right?”
Apparently so; Albey hunkers down and fills the remaining space in the bucket with the firepit’s dusty ashes like he was drawing water from a full well, then continues along northbound towards the forest. He’ll dump the ashes in a ring around the border trees, he thinks, to further camouflage the area in the scent of ashes, and what a truly wretched stench it is, a stench which any denizen of the wood would naturally avoid, or at least associate with the presence o–
Albey drops the bucket with his stride. Few ashes are spilled. His eyes bulge slightly and cold sweat emerges across his back. There’s a footprint at the treeline.
“What in the name…” he says, hunkering down slowly. Were his hands not so ashy he would rub his eyes as to assure himself he sees true, but they are so he doesn’t; in truth he knows his eyes do not deceive him, it’s just a most inconvenient truth he’s stumbled upon. One he was not hoping to learn of in waking consciousness. “By the divine… I’m not alone in this wood.”
The print resembles that of ‘man, but Albey is a Mad Poet, not a fool. He knows it cannot belong to a ‘man, not even to the ‘man who lived in the burnwood cabin before he, for ‘mans can only grow so large. The foot which made this print is big, almost twice the size of Albey’s, and it did not have the sense to wear shoes, for all five of the toes are defined, as is the curve of the arch, as is the round heel. That means the creature standing atop this foot – for it surely must be a proper creature, as no denizen possesses the anatomy of ‘man aside from monkeys and apes, and the feet of monkeys and apes more resemble hands than they do human feet – is savage to some degree. Which means it’s dangerous, whatever it is, and likely smart. Were it a mere monkey or ape it would have continued into the clearing and explored the cabin from up close, it would have dipped into the firepit to smell the ashes and sneezed at them, it may even have tried to climb to the roof of the cabin to sample the mosses growing there; there would have been more than just this single track… but there is only the one print. Whatever made this footprint was wise enough to take one step into the clearing, examine the cabin from afar, and turn immediately back. Albey’s only relief at this big footprint is the fact that it is still here, the fact that the one who made it, ‘The bigfoot, I shall call it, for no other name seems appropriate,’ did not think to snap a branch off the tree and cover its track with dirt.
What he doesn’t consider, of course, is the fact that the footprint may have been left specifically to be found. No, he doesn’t consider that at all. Not in the slightest.
“Perhaps this is a good sign,” the Mad Poet rations. “The strange book postulated the cryptids are likely territorial, if they do exist at all; that they don’t often leave their land but to hunt and bathe, and even then they do not encroach deeply into there where they do not belong. Mayhap one of the creatures, one of the bigfoots…”
Albey shudders despite himself.
“Mayhap one was sent to scout for prey, and it decided on a whim to cross my Ouroboros River. It came here, it saw what was obviously the dwelling of ‘man, and it backstepped right into the wood without so much as turning around.”
From behind closed eyes Albey listens to the forest then, listens to the blowing wind, the running water, the chuttering and chirping and lightweight rusting of the denizens at work and play, and hears nothing out of the ordinary. Of course, if the bigfoot was still here now, stalking him silently from where it knows Albey could not see it, he likely wouldn’t hear a thing.
Cold and slow the sigh drifts from his lips. “It seems as though I do not have a choice. I’ll have to make another expedition. It’s clear to me now that yesterday’s findings were not the only findings to be found.”
Albey swipes his left foot across the footprint, dusting it. He then enters the forest, dumps his bucket of ashes in a messy mound, and promptly returns to the cabin to clean the rest of the fireplace out. Too clouded is his mind to explore any wilderness at the present moment, so for now he will do chores. Wash the food jars, refill the water jars, collect firewood. Anything to distract him long enough to come fully into the present. When he is there he will scale the crag and walk the path of the cabin’s previous tenant; until then he will do busywork, and he will be plenty busy about it.
This has been the third subchapter of the fifth chapter of The Face of Fear, a novel about bigfoot written by the writer in Untitled Bigfoot Project. Here is everything you need to know about it:
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
The Hillside Commons has a Facebook page. Here’s that.
If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~