Sawing is For Two
-a DAVID BRATH novelette –
Dane Roberts and everyone else lay asleep in the back-ass mountain town when the wind screamed hard enough it twisted and tore a slit in the black fabric of night just north of the river.
Three days later a stranger pounded on Dane’s door hours before sunrise. Dane stirred in bed as the pounding pulled him from an ocean dream where a small boat yin and yawed in the large wake in such a manner that the full moon proved elusive from his sight and he sensed he would be tossed into the salty brine and the waves splashing turned to thudding turned to pounding. His weary eyes opened from the dream, staring at the dark ceiling gradually realizing that a person in the dark was standing on his small porch rapping on his door.
What? said Dane in a dry voice, standing at the door, his fists clenched.
The knocking ceased. “Dane Fleming Roberts? ” asked a woman.
Who are you?
Anna Illiych. I need your help.
Dane stared at the black door.
Please let me in.
Dane cracked the door.
The mysterious night wind covered my path with trees. You and I will clear them.
I don’t know you. Come back in the morning.
We need to go now.
The woman stood a head shorter than Dane. She peered up at the dark crack where the man’s voice was centered.
Dane opened the door and the slight woman slipped into his trailer.
He reached to the wall, turning on the light.
The woman squinted at him. An oversized red and white plaid wool coat hung on her frame. She wore old jeans and black muck boots. Her black hair was shoulder length, pulled back in a pony tail. Her red and white meshed baseball hat was well-worn and faded. She removed a small leather pack from her shoulders setting it on the wrinkled and torn linoleum floor. She crouched down, opening it.
I will pay you all the money you want. She held up a stack of hundred dollar bills. Please.
Dane saw the pack was filled with such stacks.
And a bag of rare things—priceless. She set the stack of money on the floor and fished around the other stacks of money in her pack. She pulled out a leather pouch. Worth, so, so much. Look inside.
You need to go.
Yes. We need to go right now, while it’s still dark.
Dane studied her. Her eyes were rich brown, like dark coffee grounds, her skin like milk chocolate.
Sorry. Dane held the door for her, motioning for her to go with his chin. He was barefoot wearing jeans and a white t-shirt. His sandy brown hair was tousled.
Come with me today. Now. See if you want to help me. Please. She stood, shouldering her pack, leaving the pouch and stack of money on the floor.
I’ve never heard of you.
I told you my name is Anna Illyich.
Dane shrugged his shoulders.
I live on the other side of the river. I have lived there for twelve years. I’m the one who has run away from the war.
Dane shook his head. Which war?
There is only one war. Please come with me. She reached out and slipped her small hand into his. Please.
Through the dawn light Dane studied the wind-thrown trees, meandering their way through the larch, doug-fir and spruce forest.
See? For four miles it is like this, covering the path the whole way.
Dane and Anna walked along side the river of wind-thrown trees, large root wads and snapped trees, marking the way.
The center of each down tree, regardless of its length or girth, lay over a one-foot wide dirt path. The trees were tipped from east to west, and from west to east, with most of the fallen trees full of green boughs.
They had been walking in darkness for two hours before the blackness began to fade. The September morning was cool. Dane followed Anna’s silhouette through the trees. The forest duff was soft and they moved quietly in the dark. They had spooked a few deer, hearing the dry snorts in the distant night.
They talked little.
Dane had put the money and pouch back in Anna’s pack before they left Dane’s trailer. He wore gloves, an old black Carhart jacket, and work boots. Inside his thick jacket was his .38.
Anna insisted on walking, refusing to get in Dane’s truck.
She claimed her house was at the base of the big mountain on private land grandfathered into the federally owned public land surrounding them. It was four sections she said, stacked like blocks, beginning at the river. They crossed the river on the old bridge, then proceeded up river along the bank for about a mile before turning North onto her private land. They turned North when they first ran into the blow down. The path was underneath the trees, explained Anna.
In the dark it was difficult to assess the blow down. In the soft morning light Dane was intrigued. Just as Anna had described, the trees were blown down either east to west or west to east, with each fallen tree centered over the path. Some of the trees were snapped off from the main bole, while others were tipped, from the root wad upwards. The path was not obliterated as many of the trees were twenty to thirty feet apart, but the path was dysfunctional.
The two were over a mile up the path when the veil of darkness began to peel back over the forest.
Dane watched his breath blow out from his mouth into the cool air, before dissipating into the morning. He looked around the old stand, noticing a few older blow downs, scattered about but nothing new, except the trees over the path.
They continued walking, now side by side, separated by a yard or so.
When did this happen?
Thursday night—Friday morning.
I don’t remember any wind. No other trees down anywhere else.
The wind woke me that night. It screamed at me. It did.
Where’s your driveway.
There’s only the path.
You can’t drive to your house.
She shook her head. There’s no need to—I don’t have a car.
Dane put his hands in his pocket and walked, staring at the downed trees. About three miles to go?
The random broken twig from their steps echoed against the morning.
The cabin was tight like a knot under water at the far end of a natural meadow. Crafted from hand-hewn logs, it stood a story and a half against the towering larch in the backdrop. Large windows highlighted the south-facing porch and easterly and westerly walls. Two dormers looking south over the porch broke up the rooflines. Wooden shakes wrapped the gable ends of the cabin. A flat rock chimney periscoped out of the center ridgeline.
The downed trees stopped where the meadow first retreated from the forest. The path continued from under the trees to the cabin porch, free from wind throw.
Anna sat on the porch steps, wool coat folded under her arms. She waved her arms toward the path. We can take a break then start sawing the trees.
Dane laughed. You need to hire that out. That’ll take months for a crew of sawyers to clear all that.
No. You and I will do it. She squinted into the sunlight, staring at him.
Dane ignored her. How long have you lived here?
She held up four fingers.
I’ve never seen you or heard about you. I thought a guy from the east coast owned this?
He did. I bought it from him after I escaped from the war. I keep to myself.
Do you live here year round.
She shook her head. I come and go.
How do you get here, if you don’t drive.
A taxi from the city.
That’s an hour one way.
Yes, it is.
Dane looked back at the meadow and the river of fallen trees through the woods. That doesn’t make any sense.
You have electricity?
Do the lines run under the path.
No. Anna pointed to the west. There are some lines coming through Forest Service land about a quarter mile that way. The line is buried from there.
Dane noticed the green junction box about one hundred yard west of the house. Okay.
Have you talked to anyone else about this?
Well, get some foresters out here. They’ll have something to say about all this.
I can’t get anyone else out here.
Because when I bought the land, the deed says only you and I are allowed on the land.
Dane Fleming Roberts.
The long dark wooden handles were worn and smooth. The five and a half foot blade was wrapped in a leather scabbard. That’s it, said Dane.
Yeah. It’s the only one in the woodshed. The cross-cut.
Hannah laid the saw across the downed tree and carefully removed the scabbard. The blade was mottled gray and black steel with long serrated teeth. It was forged so that the teeth were wider than the top of the saw, making it less likely to pinch in a log.
You ever use one of these?
No, said Dane. Never.
Hannah hopped over the log suspended three feet off the ground, grabbed one handle of the saw and balanced it on its teeth across the downed tree. Let’s go.
Dane stepped toward the log, gripping the other handle. He examined the tree – about two feet in diameter. This will really cut through this?
Hannah nodded. Yeah, just go easy. Hannah pulled the saw across the log. Dane yanked it hard back towards him, pulling it out of Hannah’s hand.
No, no! Easy. Let the saw do the work. A nice steady tempo. She grabbed the saw again. Okay?
Back-and-forth, back-and-forth, back-and-forth. The sawdust was red and granular from the Douglas fir. The saw moved like a quiet piston between the two. In minutes they were a third of the way through the log. Dane stared at the stream of sawdust.
Listen, said Hannah.
zzzzznnnng-zzzzzzzznnnng-zzzzznnnnng, sang softly with a metallic hum.
That’s good. She smiled looking at Dane. It means we saw well together.
Dane nodded, staring at the sawdust. The blade was almost halfway through.
The sun felt good on Dane’s back, warming him like a cool feet before a fire. The sawdust sprinkled onto the path.
Quicken it a little now—we should cut right through.
Dane and Hannah increased their cadence.
The saw fell through the log.
Nice. Hannah pulled the saw back under the still suspended log. She placed the saw on the tree behind her. Next she pushed one end of the log they just cut toward Dane. Now we can cut again. She placed the saw on top of the log four feet behind their first cut closer to the bottom of the tree, so the diameter was slightly larger.
They started again. A handful of minutes later they were through. This time the piece dropped to the ground with a thud.
Dane looked down the river of trees stretching ahead of him. A few more trees to go. He shook his head.
One at a time.
Dane stared at Hannah. I’ll give you a few more hours not a few more years.
Hannah rolled the piece on the ground off the path.
Dane turned around to get the saw. Something caught his eyes. He bent down examining the butt end they just cut. He ran his hand over the face of the log they just created.
Huh? He knelt down looking at the log more closely. He pulled out his pen knife, extending a blade. He began picking at the log with the tip of the knife.
Hannah? He held out his hand. It was a gold ring.
Where’d you find that?
Dane pointed to the butt end of the log they just cut.
What the hell?!
The cut revealed forty or fifty rings embedded inside the tree.
How the hell is that possible?
It’s not, said Dane.
With Dane’s knife, Hannah carefully picked out the rings embedded in the tree. A gray penumbra of stain surrounded each ring. A few rings had small diamonds encased in the gold and silver bands. Dane took pictures and video with his phone. Hannah placed the rings in a bowl she had brought out from the cabin. After twenty minutes she had removed all of them. Forty-three rings.
Dane stared at the bowl, then at Hannah. “Is this some bullshit trick?”
Kneeling, examining a ring, she shook her head. “No—no trick on my part.”
I don’t get it.
Neither do I.
This tree is about 175 years old. I counted the growth rings but the rings were scattered throughout. You took out a few near the center.
Yeah, there was one almost in the middle
Somehow someone must have stuck them in from the outside. Maybe made slits in the bark and with some pneumatic tool drove them inside the tree.
I guess, maybe. I have no idea.
Well no one sure as hell has been doing it for 175 years.
No, I know—it’s so odd.
Dane studied the tree they had just sawn. And if we had sawn through half an inch either way, we never would have seen the damn rings.
Let’s do it again.
Yeah. I’m curious. Maybe the tree is filled with this stuff.
Hannah stood. Why not?
The sawdust sprayed out from their strokes. In a few minutes they were half way through the tree, and soon a four feet piece of wood dropped to the ground.
They both stared at the end of the log, then the end of the tree. Nothing, said Dane, examining the end of the log.
Hannah ran her hand over the freshly cut tree end. Yeah, nothing here.
Maybe we should buck this tree up and make firewood out of it? That way we can see if there’s more stuff.
Hannah looked at the two cut logs, then at the remaining tree. She then gazed at all the downed trees ahead of them. Maybe later. After we clear more of the path.
Dane walked to the bowl of rings. That works but you only have me for today. He looked at his watch. A few more hours. He picked up the bowl. You know anything about rings? Are these valuable?
Not a lot other than they seem like real gold and silver. I don’t know about the diamonds but they seem to be the real thing.
Are they old, new?
Some seem old, like a lot of the gold ones and the ones with diamonds. The silver ones seem newer but I’ll leave that up to a jeweler or someone who knows what they’re talking about.
A couple thousand dollars worth? Dane balanced the bowl in his hand.
Forty-three nice rings, nine with diamonds? At the very least a few thousand dollars I would guess.
Dane set the bowl on the ground and looked down at the path of wind thrown trees extending out in front of them. Shall we? He pointed to the next tree, a small lodge pole pine, about fourteen inches in diameter.
Hannah nodded. Sure.
Standing on both sides of the tree, with the long blade hover over the tree, Dane and Hannah gripped the cross-cut saw’s handles.
As they lowered the teeth onto the tree, the blade moved slightly away from the rootwad.
They started sawing.
You feel that? Dane stared across at Hannah.
She looked up. You mean you pushing the saw over a little?
Hannah smiled. Okay, must have been me.
They sawed quickly, making the old steel blade hum.
The sawdust from the lodge pole was white, the flecks big shooting away from the fast moving teeth.
Two thirds of the way through the tree, the saw stopped, caught on something. Dane and Hannah pushed and pulled again.
They lifted the saw out of the half-inch kerf. Dane peered down the slice in the tree. I can’t see anything.
Hannah bet down, eye level with the bottom of the cut. Me neither. She pulled the saw to her, then passed it to Dane under the suspended tree, about two feet off the ground. We’ll do an undercut.
We’ll cut up into the bottom of the tree. She flipped the saw around so the teeth pointed up, lining it up with the cut above.
They started cutting up into the gray bark, both kneeling, going slowly. Once they establishing a cut, they increased their speed. In minutes they had sawn almost up to the bottom of their first cut.
They lowered the saw to the ground. Something is in there, said Dane, kneeling, looking under the tree.
C’mon. We’ll make another cut, further up the tree.
Five minutes later they had cut through the tree about two feet above their first cut.
That’s better. Hannah laid the saw across the tree two feet below their first cut.
Dammit, said Dane.
They sawed yet again, this time two feet below their last cut.
In short time a six foot log dropped to the ground.
Dane placed his foot on the log, easily rolling it with his foot. There’s something in there, he said again. How do we get it out?
Hannah stood and hurried off to the tool shed.
Dane stared down at the log, rolling it in place with his foot.
Hannah returned with a maul at the end of a three-foot wooden handle and three old metal wedges, each about eight inches long.
You’re going to split the log into a rail, like Abe Lincoln?
No. Hannah dropped the wedges. We are.
Dane steadied the log, by sitting on one end as Hannah pounded the first wedge in at the opposite end. She swung the mall with precision and power.
You’ve done this before.
She kept swinging. I’ve done real work before.
The log cracked with the wedge pounded two-thirds of the way into the log.
Hannah placed the second wedge at the end of the crack, tapping into place.
She handed the mall to Dane. Keep driving it until it cracks. I’m gonna go get more wedges. Sweat beaded across Hannah’s forehead. She walked back to the tool shed.
Dane watched her disappear then looked down at the rectangular metal top of the wedge. He straddled the log, weighing the mall in his hands. Raising it over his head, he swung down, missing the wedge and scuffing off some bark. He swung again making a dent in the log. He nailed the wedge on his third swing. He kept swinging, missing the wedge about every third or fourth swing.
When Hannah returned with four more wedges, he had just finished with the third wedge.
Hannah looked at the crack, running halfwy down the length of the log.
Dane’s faced was wet with sweat.
Looks good. Hannah grabbed the mall and set the fourth wedge. She was pounding the fifth wedge when the crack shot down the final section of log and split in half.
Hannah and Dane stared at the half closest to them.
In the log was embedded a rifle, about four feet long. Their first cut had stopped at the rifle’s barrel.
Jesus, said Dane, bending down.
That’s a machine gun?
Dane ran his fingers down the barrel. Not really but close. Looks like an M16—an M16A1 to be precise. He knocked the gun’s steel stock. In the middle of a goddamn lodge pole pine. He shook his head.
Hannah walked away back toward the tool shed.
Getting a crow bar.
Dane remained kneeling, examining the rifle.
With a few heaves from the crow bar placed under the gun’s stock, Hannah dislodged the rifle from the tree.
Dane picked it up, brushing off slivers of wood. This isn’t in bad shape. He clicked something. The safety was off. The magaize removed easily. Shit, he said. He looked down the loading chamber. There’s a goddamn round in the chamber. He looked in the magazine. And about fifteen in this. He Held up the long metal magaizen. The goddamn thing was loaded.
You think it actually works?
Dane shook his head. I’m not going to find out but it won’t take long to clean this thing up. I can’t believe the shape it’s in.
You know about guns.
By default. My dad’s a gun nut—has about five hundred in his collection. Some dads took their kids to baseball games. Mine took me to gun shows like a real American.
You said it’s an M16.
It is. An M16A1. Used in Vietnam back in the day. Dad has a few of these.
Dane stood, holding the rifle up to his shoulder, sighting it away from the cabin. This shit is getting stranger by the second. He looked over his shoulder at Hannah.
She was kneeling again, hunched over the log where the rifle had been extracted, looking at something small in her hand.
What’s that? Dane swung around, lowering the rifle.
She looked up at him, holding something. A slipper.
Hannah nodded. Yeah. She stood holding a small black slipper.
It was dirty black canvas, like dried mud, with a hole in the heel, six inches long and narrow. Hannah handed it to Dane.
Hardly weighs a thing.
I know. It was wedged in that crack. She pointed to a fissure in the split log, above where the rifle was encased.
Would this fit you?
No, way too small. Maybe a for a big kid or small adult. Smell it.
Dane held it up to his nose. Hhhhmm. Weird. Smells like someone just took it off.
I know. Sweaty almost.
Anything else in this damn thing? Dane looked at the split log.
Hannah got to her knees, examining the fissure more closely. You check out the other half and take your time.
Dane set the slipper and rifle down and walked over to the split log.
Ten minutes later Dane and Hannah had nothing new from their search and were back looking at the rifle and slipper.
We should call the police. Dane held his phone.
And tell them we found a rifle, a black old slipper and a bunch of rings in the middle of trees
Yeah. The rifle and rings are worth reporting.
Maybe but I told you about the deed.
You can’t be serious. No way is that legally binding especially if some crime is involved.
I have no idea but stolen rings maybe. A damned rifle and some one’s slipper.
Well, no matter. I’m not calling the police.
Okay, but maybe I will.
Please don’t. At least not now. Let’s get a handle on this.
A handle on this? You’re crazy. Rings, a rifle, and a slipper in the middle of fallen trees. This is insane and too much weird shit is going on and you’re worried about a damned deed that says you and I are the only ones allowed on your property?
Yes. I am worried about the deed.
Why—who exactly did you buy this from?
Hannah rubbed her face, staring at the rifle and slipper. His name is Brackus Beddum.
You said he’s from the East Coast.
Who is he?
An old retired government guy.
What’d he do for the government?
I don’t know but he liked to hunt. That’s why he bought this place in the 70’s.
How did you end up buying it?
Hannah rubbed the back of her neck. I never bought it. I inherited it.
You’re related to Backus Beddum?
No. He was our nearest neighbor in Virginia. We sold him fresh eggs and homemade bread. I knew him as a friendly neighbor. I know he lived in DC but would come up to his place on weekends. A nice little cabin on about thirty acres. She looked at the cabin. It’s funny. His cabin in Virginia was a lot like this.
So he died and your family inherited this?
No, not my family. Just me—he deeded it to me.
When did he die?
Hannah shrugged. I don’t know. A lawyer from DC came to my apartment last fall and provided me the paper work.
Well, I sure as hell don’t know the guy. How did I ever fall into his radar?
You mean how did your name get on the deed?
Yeah, that allows only me and you on the property.
Beddum didn’t put your name on the deed.
No my father did.
Yeah, my dad—Hoarace Beddum.
Jesus, so Brackus is your grandfather.
Hannah shook her head. My uncle. Horace’s brother.
Do you have satellite here for the internet?
Yeah, I’m connected but I guess through a buried landline.
I’m sure Brackus needed it for work. Yeah, it works fine.
Dane headed toward the cabin.
Where you going?
I want to find out a bit more about your buddy, Brackus.
Dane sat in front of Hannah’s laptop and logged in as a guest.
Yes, you can use my laptop.
There’s enough weird shit going on that I didn’t think I needed to ask. Dane stared at the screen. Spell his name.
B-R-A-A-K-U-S B-E-D-N-U-M-N. Brackus Bednumn.
That’s a hell of a name. You said he worked for the US Department of Transportation.
I guess so. That’s what my dad always said.
Hannah watched Dane at the computer. Coffee, tea? It’s all I have.
So what do you do, Dane?
Yeah, for work.
I’m a software developer—mostly backend stuff for a few small companies around the world.
Do you like it?
Yeah, I like it. Allows me to travel a bit, I can keep to myself and make decent money. How about you?
I’m an English professor at a small community college in Virginia.
And you like it?
Mostly, yes. It has its moments but I’m fortunate to like to what I do.
How about your husband—I noticed your ring.
She looked at her hand. Yeah, Seth is a lawyer—a lot of municipal law, not real exciting stuff.
She turned around from the cupboard, looking at Dane. Two girls—nine and fourteen. Did you see a ring for that too?
No, you just seemed like a mom. That’s a good thing.
Oh, okay. And how about you? Married?
Not really. I mean, I was once, but my wife was killed in a car wreck. Three years ago. I guess, I’m still dealing with it.
Oh, I’m sorry.
No worries. It’s good for me to talk about it. I don’t clam up anymore when people ask me about her. Her name was Alice—a graphic artist. She was pretty damn cool.
How long were you married?
Almost two years.
No, but we would have.
Hannah poured two cups of coffee. Cream? Sugar?
Hannah walked to the computer with two cups of coffee, setting one down next to Dane.
Dane stopped typing, took a sip of his coffee, and leaned back. “That’s good. It’s been a long morning.”
Hannah shook her head. “I can’t believe it. Two days ago I left Virginia for a long four-day weekend, to check out my ‘inheritance’ from Bednamn. Seth and I are going to sell this place but we figured I should see what we’re going to sell. Hannah looked out the cabin window. Staring at the cut up trees. “What the hell do you really think is happening here?”
“I have no idea. I can’t imagine how someone could do all this shit, not to mention having us discovering it with a goddamn cross-cut saw. I’m confused.”
“Confused? I haven’t been scared like this since I was a kid. I just wanna get outta here.”
“Yeah, I’m freaked out too.” Dane sipped more coffee. “But this helps.” He set down his coffee and started working the keyboard again.
Hannah walked over to the window, looking at the rifle and slipper in the distance. “Anything on Brackus yet?”
“Born August 6, 1945. I think in Ashville, North Carolina. Looks like he was a prodigy of sorts. Graduated from University of North Carolina when he was only 19 with a degree in mathematics then did an about face at Harvard with a Masters in Government Public Policy. In ’66 after Harvard he enlisted in the army. Was sent to Vietnam in ’67 at the ripe old age of twenty-two as a sargent. I don’t know when he returned but looks like he worked for the State Depeartment from ’70 to ’73, then moved over to the Pentagon as part of a planning team.”
“Hhhm. Seth and I searched for a while on Brackus but never got much, except a stupid White Page thing. You got that information quick.”
“Yeah, I’m probably looking in different places.”
Hannah turned around from the window. “You mean hacking?”
Not really, hacking, just a more robust way to prowl the internet. Dane paused from typing for more coffee. What’s interesting is there’s not much on Brackus from ’83 to 2011. That’s quite a dry spell.”
What’s he doing in 2011?
Still trying to figure that out. I have to prowl a bit more.
Well, while you prowl online—I’m going to poke around here some more.
Dane nodded, looking around the cabin. It’s pretty Spartan.
There was a nice queen bed against the middle of the west wall with attractive blue, green and white bedding, next to a built in bookcase, still filled with books. An oversized oak rocking chair near the south window. A large jotul green enameled woodstove, in the middle of the cabin, feeding into a large stone chimney. A small sofa near the woodstove, a large wooden dinning table with four chairs a, a small full bath framed off of the north wall and a simple kitchen with gray granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances and white stained cupboards, and a small desk between the dinning table and the rocking chair.
Yeah, pretty simple but everything is nice. Hannah stood at the book case scanning the book bindings.
You spent last night here?
Hannah looked over her shoulder at Dane. Yeah—not a great night sleep.
I was restless for one thing which isn’t strange for me in a new place but I kept hearing some strange noises out front.
Dane stopped typing. Like what?
Well, like kids playing in the yard—I actually got up twice and looked out the window last night. It seemed so real and so close.
Yeah, this place isn’t right and I’m always the cynic when I hear stories like this. Dane stopped typing and stared at the computer screen. Looks like Brackus still had his hand in government working as a lobbyist from 2011 until I don’t know when. He represented a few firms in the defense industry. What was he like when you saw him as a kid.
Hannah pulled a book from the bookshelf. Uhh, he was a nice guy, I guess. Kinda unremarkable, really. Never said much. He would just show up for eggs, whenever he came to his farm for the weekend, and then ask about bread for the next day. I sensed he didn’t get out much and coming to our farm made him feel good, like part of something. Our farm was about two-hundred acres and he owned ten next to it. I know he kept coming after I left home for years. I think almost ten years ago he sold his little cabin and that was the last my parents saw of him. We never knew he had a place out here, let alone 640 acres. And why he deeded it to me, I guess I’ll never know.
The lawyer didn’t say why?
The lawyer was as much in the dark as I was. At least I knew Brackus. The lawyer had never met him, only corresponded through mail and email.
Yeah, Seth couldn’t believe it. He had never heard of such a thing. Hannah, flipped through the pages of the Shakespeare Reader she had pulled out of the bookshelf. Hhhhhm. She kept flipping pages, then stopping. Shit.
Hannah held the thick reader, holding up a page. I don’t like this.
I’m not tracking.
See the little cut-outs? She walked closer to Dane.
Those two little holes?
Yeah, it’s like this throughout the book.
What’s cut out?
Well, I know most of my Shakespeare and all the words like KILL, DEATH, DYING, DEAD are cut out.
Hannah set the reader down and pulled out another book. Old Man and The Sea. She flipped through the pages. Huh, same thing I think. That is what _____the eyes. Eat it so the point of the hook, goes into your heart and ____ you, he thought. She put Hemingway down and pulled out Little Women next. It didn’t take her long. I always wanted to do the ______ part. Not being a genius, like Keats, it won’t ____ me, she said stoutly. Hannah closed the book, shoving it back in the bookcase, looking at all the books. She looked over at Dane. This is complete bullshit. She turned back toward the book case, reaching for Tolstoy.
Dane’s hands were folded in front of his face, gazing at Hannah’s back, then the computer screen. Yeah, it is. Complete, fucked up bullshit. It also seems our friend Brackus—
A shadow flashed in the corner of his eyes. Dane spun his head toward the porch window. Peering in the lower corner was a man in a black shirt, collar buttoned, a white shock of hair, his mouth opened, screaming with yellow teeth, black eyes squinting at Dane, his face and two hands pressed against the window.
What?! Hannah’s head snapped around at Dane, then at the window. She couldn’t see anything.
What’s the matter?!
There’s a fucking guy out there!
Hannah and Dane both bolted for the door. Hannah reached it first, ripping it open. She lunged out onto the porch, with Dane right behind her.
They paused a moment before Dane leapt off the porch, searching around the corner of the house. Hannah ran towards the logs, searching the forest.
Dane ran around the entire cabin, before racing to the tool shed.
Hey! Yelled Hannah. It’s gone!
Dane ran over to the logs.
No rifle—no anything! Hannah threw her arms in the air.
Dane looked around the ground, at the logs, the cross cut, the empty bowl, up at the cabin. Any idea who that freak was checking us out through the window?
Well, I’m outta here. This is bullshit. I’m not gonna get killed by some physcho ass putting stuff is live trees. Dane stared at Hannah. Let’s go. You don’t need this crap either.
Hang on! Lemme get my computer and stuff.
Dane and Hannah hurried into the cabin. Dane packed her lap top, while Hannah got her small bag packed. In five minutes they were walking back toward the car.
You can call the police or something when we get back.
Yeah, I agree—I’m sorry I dragged you into this. Hannah looked over her shoulder.
You see something?
Dane quickened the pace up the trail, scanning through the trees for the man in black.
You got a picture of everything, right?
Yup. And a video. Dane looked ahead for the car. Where the hell is the car?
It’s right at the wooden fence. Just up here.
Hannah and Dane started to jog.
Up over the rise were more trees, no wooden fence.
We took the wrong damn path. The car was only a one minute walk from the cabin.
There’s only one path. It’s just up there. Hannah waved her hand forward.
The path dropped down, slightly into a wet area where the path was muddy for ten yards. After the mud, the path rose slightly. As they crested the small rise, Dane stopped cold.
Shit—shit. We got turned around.
Twenty yards in front of them was the cabin. Right where they had left.
Hannah shook her head, staring at the cabin. I don’t get it.
C’mon! Dane turned around on the path, racing away from the cabin again. We must have missed the fence and road. Let’s get the hell outta here.
Hannah didn’t hesitate. She spun around chasing after Dane, racing away from the cabin. She ran down the small path, winding its way through the forest
have a large tree with something inside of it
Mixed bones of good and bad
A strange animal
She has to go back to the war