Nineteen treks later The Dirtbiker crosses the Ouroboros River. A few more and he comes to the horror which awaits him at the clearing.
“Impossible,” he exhales. “It’s not… one ‘man?! ”
The amount of blood on the ground is disturbing. The dirt is black mud, scattered with chewed bones and the massive clawed prints of lunar hounds. There are ragged corpses, splotches of crimson dotting the ground here and there, and off to the back there is a mound of cinders which might once have been a cabin. But mostly, the clearing is black. Thick, muddy black blood spilled unto dust and left to dry overnight.
He doesn’t want to pay the due. The Dirtbiker should not be in this clearing, something is terribly wrong, some horrific evil smited this land, some… something… there’s something inside of him, crawling beneath his skin, in his organs, burning, devouring…
Very well, he must do it then. The Dirtbiker looks to his multi-cart an–… oh. Well, there it is. The multi-cart had transformed, tripled in size, even. It’s now a long box, like a coffin but shiny and violet, and there is a great opaque glass dome capped over the length of it.
“A single drop of blood,” he says to himself as he picks a clump of the muddy dirt off the soiled ground of the clearing. “We shall see, you queer man in black. We shall see.”
The Dirtbiker opens the reanimation device and drops the clump in without ceremony. The lid closes and the machine hums, and The Dirtbiker chooses to look away. A few moments later he hears a ding, then the hiss of the glass opening slowly. From within the chamber climbs Albey the Mad Poet, who doesn’t seem able to stand steadily.
“Albey!” The Dirtbiker shouts, embracing his old friend in a hug. “By the divine, it’s you! How is this possible?”
“Albey?” asks the Mad Poet, pushing himself weakly away from The Dirtbiker. “How did you… my name is Sidney, I… I thought…”
What did he think? And who is Sidney, why did that name leave his lips? A dizzy spell takes him then, wobbles him on his heels, gives him a kind of yawing sensation which makes the entire world seem ephemeral, as if it could be looked through… then it passes. All the events of the past strate – waking up in the firepit, entering the cabin, the expedition, the nesting grounds, the ambush and War against the ape’mans – all come back to him. But no, that’s not quite right; the memories do not come back to Albey, for they had never gone away. They were simply clouded, obscured by a haze of gray smoke, a mist which now seems to be thinning, to be lifting away entirely.
“Dirtbiker,” Albey says with more than mere recognition. They embrace again, hugging like old friends should when meeting in a clearing at the end of a path. At the end of a trail. The Dirtbiker’s Trail. “How did you… how can this be?”
“It’s all very confusing,” The Dirtbiker assures him, looking back at his metallic steed. The cart had changed again, just like th–
“I met a man in the endless wood,” says The Dirtbiker, “but not a mere human. He was…”
The Dirtbiker trails off into bewildered silence.
“What was he?”
“He called himself a man in black,and would say no more.” The Dirtbiker shakes his head gravely. “He fled so swiftly I could not see in what direction he went.”
“Was this man in black wicked?” the Mad Poet prods with sanity. “Could he have been in ranks with Gobon the In’Flu-Enz’a, do you think? The wretched ‘man in white?”
“I doubt it,” The Dirtbiker says seriously. “He told me how to find you, told me to help you build a cabin, to give you all you ask for so you may go on living in that cabin.”
“Help me… build a cabin?” Albey asks unbelievingly. “Give me all I ask for? You say true?” Albey ponders this for a moment, stroking his beard. “But… but how will you do it?”
The Dirtbiker gestures to his cart, now a simple wheeled box with a large mouth spouting from the top. Within that mouth is noThing, the brilliant noThing from which Nothing, Everything, and Anything may rise. “I do not know, but I have a feeling; ask for it, and it shall be yours.”
“I ask for the cabin, then,” Albey says without hesitation. “Sturdy and unfallable. And unburnable, with a fireplace on one wall.”
The cart spits out great beams of opaque white crystal which float across the clearing – the clearing which had returned to tan dust at some point, the remains of last night’s War devoured by the hemibots – and stack up into the form of a cabin in the exact spot where the burnwood house once stood. Three glass windows come into form from the beams, one on each side of the house, and from the front emerges a door without a lock. At the foot of the door is a straw mat which bears no words, especially not the word Welcome.
“I want food and drink, enough to last me a lifetime.”
A lifetime’s supply of food and drink, perishables which Albey knows in his heart shall never rot, fly across the clearing and stack themselves upon the crystalline shelves inside the crystal cabin.
“I want books, all of them empty, and pencils so I may fill them with symbols.”
The cart creates many a’blank book and pencils sharp enough to write with, filling the shelves across from those holding the food and drink.
“A bed, a table, a wardrobe full of clothes, a pair steamer trunks… oh, an oven to bake bread, do it please ya; everything I shall need to make this house a home, plus a jar for herbs, a mortar and pestle to grind them, and a pipe to smoke the grindings.”
The Dirtbiker’s multi-cart delivers it all, even a jar of cannastralis satidica, though Albey did not specify his want for The Flower to fill the jar for herbs. It is almost as though the multi-cart operates on its own, without any need for verbal direction; lastly it coughs out two devices decorated with buttons, meshes, and antennas.
“What are these?” the Mad Poet wonders.
“Walkie-talkies,” The Dirtbiker says without telling his mouth to move. “They’ll allow us to keep in touch; if you ever need me, Albey, for whatever reason you may have, do not hesitate to call.”
“I shall not, my old friend,” Albey says, clipping the walkie to his tunic. “Shall you stay for a moment, join m–”
“I shall not,” The Dirtbiker declines, entirely of his own accord… at least as far as he can tell. “I must ride now, great Poet, forever into the endless wood, for I fear I bartered off my freedom.”
The Dirtbiker mounts his metallic steed and takes off into the forest despite Albey’s confused protests. It’s just as well; the carnage is cleaned up, the crystal cabin is built, and there is but one thing left for the Mad Poet to do.
Albey ventures through the wood, a great many denizens on his tail, and reaches the splash pool of the twin waterfalls. He crosses the shallow bridge, climbs up the crag, and sits in meditation upon the crown rock. The wind sweeps across the landscape and blows the hair from his face, and Albey breathes it in deeply. A lot has happened during this last strate, and a lot has yet to happen, he is sure. But yet the Mad Poet sits peacefully, for everything–… nay, for Existence is exactly as She should be, just as She always has been, just as She always will be.
The ‘man in white and a man in black both fled into the endless wood, but Albey does not follow. When Existence decides, they shall come to him, and the Maddest Poet will be ready.
This has been the last subchapter of the Envoi 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.
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If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~