Greetings and Salutations esteemed readers of the blog,
Today we’ll wrap up our story but first, I’d like to extend a thank you to my writers group. Without whom my stories would be less than. The three ladies who make up The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, are Camille Douglass, DeAnna Browne, and Jami Gray. Click on their names for a link to their websites. I am most grateful for their relentless attention to detail, and willingness to help me hone my craft. Now, you only have a couple of minutes to visit the snack bar before our feature presentation begins. The popcorn is fresh and the drinks are icy cold.
The Deadly Trees of Cape Blanco cont.
Georgie’s face was pale. “Hurry Bobby, get it off.”
That’s when I noticed another one snaking around Bobbie’s ankle. I stomped on it. “Clarence, go get help. Tell them to bring a hatchet.” I returned my attention to the vine like thing reaching for Bobbie’s ankle. It moved slowly, but it moved. I became aware of my own arms and legs. When I looked up, Clarence stared at my feet. “Go,” I shouted. “Run.”
At that he bolted away. It was the last time I ever saw him. Light was fading. We screamed for help, but no one came. George wasn’t saying anything. I tapped Bobby on the shoulder and pointed. George’s face was translucent. His sunken eyes stared at nothing. I shook my head. “Let’s get out of here.”
Bobby shook his head. “I’m not leaving him here.”
“I’m not leaving him.”
I leaned in and tried to lift George. He was light. Too light. Even so, I could only get him so far because more branches were entwined around him now. “Bobby, we gotta go.”
Bobby grabbed George around the waist and lifted. The muscles in his stringy arms quivered with the effort. “Help me. unwrap those things from his legs.”
The branches writhed in my grip as I tugged and strained. Something started to curl over my calf. I jumped to my feet emitting a scream.
“Help me,” Bobby said again through gritted teeth.
“Do what? He’s dead.” I backed away a step. “Can’t you see that?” The trees grew more aggressive.
Bobby’s eyes pleaded with me to stay, but he didn’t speak again.
While we struggled to free George, the vines noiselessly had wrapped themselves around Bobby. They crept higher and higher tightening their grip when he struggled. Blindly I ran, lashing out at anything that touched me. Screams tore from my throat. I ran like only a thirteen-year-old boy can run. Tripping over roots, crashing into branches, falling headlong on my face. I ran. In the distance I heard screams. But they faded with every step I put between myself and those trees.
Seventy-eight years later I am still haunted by Bobbie’s eyes. I will die soon. Nightly I pray to a God I still do not know to take me so I may escape the terrors that visit me still. And when that day finally arrives, I’ll have to answer to my maker for leaving Bobby that day. I hope remembering his face, those eyes, all these years will be punishment enough. Some folks fear Hell. After reliving that night, every day for seventy-eight years, can Hell be any worse.
Fear is a powerful motivator. That night fear drove me until my legs betrayed me, They gave out quivering like jelly beneath me and I slammed into the ground. It was dark. No moon, no stars just the distant beacon of the light house passing over head. The unrelenting wind tore at my clothes. It screamed like forty voices. The wind howled its lament. I huddled there, waiting for death to come. With hands clamped against my ears, and my face pressed to the ground I cried myself to sleep.
I awoke in the gray of predawn lying in a pasture. Sheep grazed in the distance. The lighthouse beam cut through the early morning mist. Using it as a reference, I made my way to the road, and then followed it to where we parked the bus. From there I was able to find our camp. Not a living soul stirred. Lifting tent flaps as I went, I soon realized they’d all left. From what I could tell our stuff remained where I last saw it the night before.
Embers glowed in the fire pit. I pocketed a box of matches and slowly followed the same path my friends and I had taken the night before. At the grove of prehistoric trees, branches strewn with clothes confronted me, like a makeshift closet. It was disturbing, drawing closer I recognized Mr. Overby’s jacket, cap, and shriveled face. A moan escaped my lips and I retched. These weren’t just clothes. These were my friends hanging in the trees. Sucked dry. And now the currents of wind that dipped into the trees animated what was left of their exsanguinated bodies like so many scarecrows.
All day I labored, carrying dry tinder and grass to the edge of the deadly grove of trees. In spite of my attempts to do otherwise, I couldn’t keep my eyes off the macabre scene before me. Bodies draped in the trees in preparation for Trick-or-Treaters to come knocking on doors. I built large piles of fuel.
The sun had moved to the western horizon. My clothes were covered in dirt and patches of dried grass. Pine needles stuck to sweat, which, in turn, clung to my face. Muscles ached, but I can’t say I noticed at the time. The striker eluded the match several times as my hands shook and tears blurred my vision. Crouched on the ground, using my body to shield the flame from the wind, I struck a spark. The sulfur smoke stung my nose. Carefully, I nursed the small fire to health. I fed it dry tinder and grass. Coaxing the flame to catch. As the minutes passed it grew. The flames gained intensity in spite of the tears temporarily quenching the fuel. The wind became my friend, feeding huge gulps of oxygen to the hungry fire. It burned hot and the wind wailed over the snapping of larger pieces of wood now starting to ignite.
The heat became intense. Steam rose from my clothes. I backed away slowly. I watched the blaze gain momentum as it tore through the grove of trees where I left my friends to die. The wind shrieked, or was it the trees.
Well that wasn’t very uplifting was it. We’ll try to do better next time. Stay tuned for Friday with Digger. We now return you to your normal programming.
“There may be a great fire in our soul, yet no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a wisp of smoke.”
― Vincent van Gogh
Thanks for tuning in,