• • •
As it turns out, the deerhead room is the only room on the log cabin’s second floor. Even calling it a second floor is gratuitous; the creaky stairway is attached to the wall, the deerhead room is on top of the creaky stairway. There is no wall separating the stairway from the rest of the house, just a railing that looks like it was built with sticks that fell off trees – not sticks that were cut off trees, but sticks that fell off trees, probably during a mild windstorm – and the only ceiling between the deerhead room and the rest of the log cabin is the floor of the deerhead room itself, and something of a little deck right outside the deerhead room’s door. It looks almost like a log cabin built within a log cabin. To the side of the deerhead room’s door, Jonathan Knox notices, is what appears to be a ladder.
“What is that, a crawlspace up there?”
“Hush now, Knoxxi Boi,” Cletus demands as he works his way down the stairs. He’s a big ‘man, Cletus, got a few years of plump good eatin’ under that belt with his father’s belt buckle. His knees just aren’t what they used to be. The steps sag more and more every time he climbs ‘em, too, they might break if he’s not easy with it. A ‘man needs to take his time nowadays. “Ain’t nuttin’ you got’a worry‘bout up th’r’.”
Eventually, and I do mean eventually, Jonathan Knox joins Cletus at the base of the stairway and takes a good look around. Directly beneath the deerhead room is another room, probably the bedroom Cletus shares with Missus Doe. Outside of that, the cabin is a single room, just a big ol’ cube of logs with a slanted roof. Between the bedroom(?) and the opposite wall is a counter with a conveyor belt flowing like a river out of a machine with a bubble screen and a keyboard sticking out beneath it. There’s a nice circular rug in the middle of the floor, similar to the one upstairs except much grander in every way – even has fringes around the edges, almost like stringy sunrays. A couch covers one edge of this rug, and in the rug’s center… now that he looks at it, there’s a hole cut into the rug’s center to accommodate the device. It’s… hard to describe, both because Jonathan Knox has never seen anything like it and also because it’s very simple. It’s just… it’s a silver metal cylinder, about a foot high, twice as wide, with a small black dome rising from its center. There’s nothing above it, it’s just there, and Jonathan Knox has no idea what it does, what it might even be.
What there’s not in this single-cabin cabin is a woman with braided brown hair, long, luscious eyelashes, a mole on her left shoulder blade, full lips between two chiseled cheekbones, and tits, no bullshit, the size of her head, which is the first thing that Cletus notices once he’s caught his breath after coming down the stairs. Jonathan Knox, however, can’t take his eyes off the device in the center of the room.
“What’s that? ” Jonathan Knox asks. “Good God, Cletus, what the hell is that thing?!”
“Calm it down, Knoxxi Boi,” Cletus warns with weight on his tongue.
“Boi I’ll bus’a third hole in y’r ass, I swear to fucking,” hard G, “Christ.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Jonathan Knox drools as he hobbles his droolin’ foot up to the device. “What does it do?”
“What’choo mean you ain’t never seen’t one’a these before?” Cletus approaches the device and stares at it with a level of awe perfectly reciprocal to Jonathan Knox’s.
“I mean what I said, Cletus.” He reaches a hand out, as if to touch the device, then pulls back with fear in his eye. “And, and the thing at the end of the conveyor belt, what the hell’s up with that thing? In the back of the house.”
Cletus Doe looks at the back wall of his own house, then to Knoxxi Boi. “You ain’t nev’a seen one’a those neither?”
“No, sir.” Jonathan Knox looks around for more things to see, but there’s nothing else in the cabin. Well, there’s probably a whole bunch of wacky shit in Cletus’s bedroom that he shares with his wife, plus whatever the hell they’ve got stashed up in that crawlspace, but Jonathan Knox ain’t try’n’a go spelunking anytime soon so he’ll have to live with the mystery. The framed photograph up in the deerhead room gave Jonathan Knox more than enough a glimpse into Cletus and his wife’s private affairs. “The technology is all new to me.”
“Why’d you pause like that?” Cletus asks.
“Between your sentences. You paused, f’r like, five seconds. Ih’was like y’r brain hit the shitter.”
“I was thinking, I suppose.”
Cletus cocks a bushy eyebrow. “You suppose?”
“Speaking of shitters,” observe as Jonathan Knox changes the subject as fluidly as possible, “where’s yours? I need to drop a few kids like an irresponsible father.”
“HAH!” Cletus roars, topping it off with a slap of the knee. “I was wonderin’ when you’ere gonna ask! She’s out back.”
“We got real shithouses in this neck’a’th’woods, boi,” Cletus says, suddenly very tense and serious. “If that there’s a problem ‘n you c’n shit in a bowl and start slurpin’, how’s’at?”
Jonathan Knox looks ‘round the room, finding an utter lack of cabinets which might hold said bowl. Regardless, “No sir, not a problem. Behind the house you said?”
“Yep,” Cletus nods. “Go outside, take a raight. Then a right. Then another raight, and you should see it. I’ll be waitin’ here when y’get back.”
Cletus lumbers ‘round Jonathan Knox and plops himself on the couch. The cushion collapses under his girth, but the frame of the couch holds firm. Must be a good frame. Probably got it at the same place they got the big rug.
Jonathan Knox hobbles out and takes a raight, then a right at the edge of the logs. His droolin’ foot drags through the shin-high grass between the cabin and the trees. Every moment of the hobble feels as though fingers with lengthy, uncut nails are trying to work their way through the legs of his slacks, and at one point he steps on a stick which he mistakes for a finger bone. At the back edge of the cabin (and shin-high grass, thank the Gods like Al Sharpton) Jonathan Knox takes another raight, bringing him out of the shadows and into the bright morning sunlight. They’ve got a hammock back here, and the shithouse. Beyond the lawn is a wall of trees and shrubberies.
[to be cont’d]
This has been the start of the seventh subchapter of the first chapter of the book Over the River: The Emancipation of Jonathan Knox. Here is everything you need to know about it:
Over the River
The Emancipation of Jonathan Knox
Over the River is the third book in a trilogy called The Fall of the Seven Earths. I’ve also released that trilogy as a single book called The Fall of the Seven Earths. Here’s everything you need to know about it:
The Fall of the Seven Earths
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