A Chorus of WHOOPs and Hollers
Dagger in hand Albey creeps lightly across the bridge submerged by the waters of the splash pool. He was followed by many denizens on his way out from the clearing, but none dare follow him now. Like the husky ‘man this ashy ‘man seems ready to summit the crag and meet what waits beyond the source of the falls; the denizens wish him well, especially the squirrel who stole the drying cloth he left dangling from the branch.
His back to the crag the Mad Poet shimmies along the narrow shelf behind the waterfall and steps up onto dry land. Moccasins soaked he follows alongside the crag until he finds the thoroughfare cave, then enters into the darkness. Cold wind blows through this cavern, but chills do not creep along the Mad Poet’s spine; he has a plan of action not even a fool could screw up. Sitting upon the damp ground, Albey lays his stone dagger in his lap and closes his eyes in meditation.
Then, he listens.
The sun begins to sink through the sky. The forest is very alive, but Albey does not hear what he seeks.
Still Albey listens.
Finally he opens his eyes and rises steadily to his feet. A chorus of WHOOPs and hollers, of shrieks and laughter and splashes echoes through the cave like ripples across the surface of a puddle. Albey steps up into the fading daylight and the noise only grows louder; the creatures are in the spring, and his chance has finally come.
Sprinting with no mind paid to the noise he makes – no ruckus he causes down here could be louder than the mirthful frolicking of the bigfoots in the spring above – Albey keeps along the crag until the noises are soft and distant behind him. Hands a’tremble and heart punching against his ribcage, he finally slows to a stop and takes to his knees, utterly exhausted and already having doubts about what he means to do, but it’s too late for doubts. It’s far too late, he’s come too far out and he only has this one chance. Today is Thursday, a day of Peace, and tomorrow shall be a day of War. Albey is Mad but he is not a fool, he tends to avoid entertaining superstition in every way he can, but the astral runes of Existence are not mere childish rumors. The bigfoots know where he is and that he, in fact, is, and after seeing the maimed wolf… Albey cannot take any chances.
Taking the hilt of the dagger between his teeth, Albey stands and grasps an especially thick vine dangling over the edge of the crag. Closer to the falls the greenery was sparse, but back here it is thick indeed. Hand after foot Albey climbs and climbs and finally reaches the top. Burnwood trees as far as the eye can see; they grow densely together here, it will be difficult to maneuver through them swiftly.
‘I cannot be caught then,’ Albey says to himself in thought, not daring to open his mouth and risk his words traveling on the wind and landing unto the wrong ears. ‘If ka wills it, I shall live to see the night.’
And so Albey the Mad Poet ventures into the dense burnwood forest sprawling atop the waterfall crag, far back from the WHOOPs and yelps of the many bigfoots at play in the spring. One trek later he freezes, eyes peeled to the canopy, and looks wildly around himself, then returns his gaze to the top of the tree before him. There’s a bear cub laying lazily in the crook of a high branch, eyes wide and alert, and it seems to be staring directly at him. Watching him restlessly, without blinking.
‘Your mother must be near,’ Albey thinks, gripping his dagger tightly as though such a small shiv could defend him against the rage of a black bear who believes her cub is being threatened. ‘I shall not wait around to find out.’
And so Albey continues on, unaware that the bear cub’s eyes do not follow him as he goes.
Two treks later the Mad Poet freezes again, dropping the dagger from his hand. It lands point-down in the soil and he does not pick it up, for his heart stops mid-beat and his muscles stiffen like rigor mortis. The hairs on his neck stand straight like wooden stakes. The sweat pours in torrents, thick and rank like cooled blood. His eyes do not close, for they cannot look away from what fresh hell has found them.
Albey the Mad Poet has found true horror deep in this burnwood forest; the nesting grounds of the ape’mans, territory of the bigfoots, looms like an exhumed graveyard before him.
This has been the fifth 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~