All of the research and driving between towns, the piecing together of old tattered papers, all of this has worn me out. Night after long night of it, cold coffee and shifting shadows resting in my peripherals. I did less research during my entire four years of college than I’ve done for this box in these past few months.
So, the other night I went for a drive to clear my head. You guys and gals already know this but, my being up around Bangor limits the directions one can go. There’s North, to Canada via I-95 or there’s South, to Augusta; and should you stay on it to the end, you’ll wind up in Miami. One road in, one road out. The rest all flow off of the highway as well, small routes run by the State not the federal government. Not too many options, as it were. I didn’t feel like rolling down well-worn tracks so, I goaded my rusty stead along Route 11, with its crumbling asphalt and pot-holes turned sink-holes. In the right car, it’s an enjoyable trip, hearing the suspension squeal with each bump and turn as the green keeps rolling on by.
The goal was to think so, the radio remained off as the white lines bled past. It didn’t take them long to come rushing in. Some of it about me and Laura, some about Anna and what she had been doing as a female Statey back in the fifties, mostly though, I thought about what I had done and saw down in Augusta.
It was fucked. Sure, I could have acted more appropriately but, everything had moved so fast. The door opened and I instantly fell into the rabbit hole. Slipping down that muddy split in the earth, tearing at slippery roots, vainly reaching for a handhold, crashing bruised and muddied at the bottom of the well. And in that murk, it came, a shadow amongst shadows, sentience made of shade. I could only feel its eyes on me, judging, scanning for weaknesses, points of entry. Fight or flight took over. I scrambled, kicked and screamed, biting the poor bastard pinning me down. I shucked him off and ran, tearing at the loose soil, blindly reaching for an escape. It moved, skulking below some furniture, in its tangential course toward me, tensing and releasing its body as it inched nearer.
But, you already know. I made it out of the “pit.”
A couple of hours into my drive—I’m not sure exactly where but, I had passed Milo on the way—and the Red Bull had settled itself deep into my bladder; I had already undone my belt to relieve some of the pressure. Given where I was, the hunt for a pit-stop would have been a fruitless one. Even so, I didn’t want to stop on that narrow and rutted road, some idiot might speed round the turn and plant himself into my trunk. Luckily, there are plenty of old hunting trails branching off of the real road. They’re easy to miss, even during the day but, fresh muddy tread marks laid onto the asphalt are as good an indication as one can get. I pulled into one of these trails and hastily found a tree to claim as my own.
Relieved, my eyes had time to adapt to the night. Then I saw it. I had been turning to head back to my car when the right angles caught my eye; the mark of Man standing erectly in defiance of Mother Nature.
I’m guessing it was an old hunting shack, a place to warm up between bouts of waiting in a tree for hours on end. Something inside me kicked into gear; I grabbed my flashlight from the trunk, along with my Leatherman and set to explore a bit.
Whatever right angles had initially caught my eye were the few that remained, the place had been through many a winter. The door had long since fallen off and been reclaimed by the forest floor. What wood remained standing had been bent by the years and gnarled by the weather.
There was little evidence of recent use, a couple of beer cans with the tear-away tabs–from I guess the sixties–littered one corner. The cracked and dilapidated walls surprisingly cut most of the wind that had started picking up. I would be a liar if I said the slapping and cracking of the branches around the shed wasn’t unnerving. In that cacophony, the orchestra of pines, could lay anything. And one’s mind is all too willing to fill the gaps, like hearing a phone ringing when near a hair dryer. But, it was just the wind.
The shack was tiny and exploring it took less than a couple of steps, the floor squealing and squishing with each one. I pawed at some initials carved into the posts, the soft wood giving way to the light pressure of my fingers.
My camera’s flash pierced into the shack a couple of times before I could allow myself to leave; always need some kind of memento. The howling winds stopped as I exited and so did I.
What happened, I am unsure of.
A heavy mist was washing its way through the forest, I could barely make out the shack which lay not more than ten feet from me. The sound of dripping was all around, big fat drops slipping off of one branch and spattering onto the ones below it, happening all around; moving silence.
The sun was nearly up and I lay there covered in leaves and frozen all of the way through; my teeth were chattering as I righted myself. It felt like I’d been drinking, I was stiff, slow and barely able to think outside of the simple command to get the fuck up and drive away.
There is no recollection regarding what brought me to the ground or why I stayed there all night. All I can remember is leaving the shack and then…nothing, darkness maybe but, nothing more.
The drive back and a hot shower helped to settle me. Laura was less than pleased with my disappearing act, only offering me a “hope you had fun.” by way of greeting.
I didn’t exactly get what I needed but, my little trip did break open my clogged brain. On to the next set of documents.