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The Guide [ACF2016]

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posted on May, 16 2016 @ 10:56 PM
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The Guide



I stared into the flames, remembering, calling back to that night, my aged hands marking the span of time since I first went camping here in these woods - they were so much younger and firmer then, without the slight swelling in the knuckles or the raised brown spots. I rubbed these withering hands, setting my palms towards the flame, trying to get the chill out of my bones.

My new companions circled around, seated on stones or camp chairs, eyes glistening in firelight. A stillness and quiet laid over us like a quilt.

I cleared my throat, took a canteen swig of spring water and, in my weary voice, began the tale.


“They said we shouldn't go camping in these woods, that we might get lost. They said strange things could happen, and that if we ever got back, we might come back different. But seriously, what do they know? Right? We laughed. All of us thought it was a joke, no matter how serious they were. We were just going camping, after all.

We went in pretty deep, high up in this here lush meadow between two peaks, and we found this nice clearing close to a stream. We filled up our collapsable jugs with crystalline spring water from the high mountain glaciers - something those water bottling companies had obviously never tasted. John set up tents with Lisa and David, and I took over the job of collecting wood and getting a safe fire pit happening, binding up my long hair again in a simple bun so it wasn’t in my face.

There was plenty of wood. It had rained several days ago, but everything had dried out now, so fallen branches and kindling twigs were plentiful. Pine sap oozed out of the wood and I inhaled with near-reverence the scent that reminded me of my childhood in the Rockies. Camping trips, fishing, jumping rocks in rivers, hiking - just one whiff of that sharp bitter tang and my spirits lifted.

Mark and his son…Darren, I think, arrived a bit later, as Mark had to take more time on the trail. He was in his early sixties, but he apparently had some health problems. His son was real nice though, helping him, and they managed to pick some wild onions and sage on the way to add to dinner.

I dug the fire pit with my trencher, and searched out loose rocks, of which there were plenty along the edge of the meadow by the stream, to line the shallow scallop-shaped hole. I put some in the bottom to make a drier surface and more around the edges. I made a tee-pee out of the kindling and small sticks, with larger branches on the outside.

I’d brought my pack over and so I rooted around in it for fire-making supplies I kept in a neat little kit. When I found it, I took out my treasures and laid them down on a flat stone I’d drug up from the river for that purpose. I stuffed some old newsprint in the bottom of the tee-pee and took out my box of waterproof matches I kept in my pack. They struck up easy, and soon I had a small blaze licking up the insides of the structure, eagerly catching to the sticks and larger branches. I waited for a bit, then fed in a couple larger logs. Fire was magic. I felt as old as the First Woman sitting there, tending the fire, preparing it for all of us to use for our food, our songs and companionship. It was ritual. It was grace.

Around me, tents popped up like mushrooms, colorful in the late afternoon sun - the larger one had the tarp attached. Lisa and David were in that one.

My medium sized blue nylon tent was the second one up. I watched them figuring it out and putting in the stakes, a few head-scratches here and there and a burst of laughter and cursing as John let go too soon and the whole thing collapsed. I smiled. They would get it. It was tricky and I was grateful for the help.

Everyone was relieved to have found this idyllic spot. Lisa had let the others finish the last tent and she went to get started on food-prep, pulling out her camp cook supplies. I watched dancing fire-devas leap about, making sure the blaze was safe when sap popped and sparks flew, the embers traveling up to join the oncoming stars, the scent of burning sap like incense, and the very ground of the valley became sacred space…”


I coughed again, wetly, the smoke of this present fire blowing in my face for a moment, but my audience held their silence. I begged their pardon, grabbed my canteen, took a swig and continued, adjusting my old bones on the rock I’d occupied so many years ago, my companions wide eyed, enthralled with my tale.

The woman named Mesa whipped her head to the North. I watched her knowingly. “Did you guys hear that?” she asked with a shiver. We all shook our heads. She moved closer to her partner and I cleared my throat to continue…


“We roasted corn and potatoes in the coals and made a big pot of chili to share along with camp biscuits. We roasted marshmallows and made s’mores too, and sang camp songs as night came and the Milky Way splashed across the sky. I tell you I’ve never felt smaller than when staring up at that vast heavenly expanse…”

Then I leaned forward, letting everyone see my lined face in the red and yellow play of light.

“We sat around the fire, just as we are now. And that is when it began. First Lisa thought she heard something. She said it sounded like a whisper almost, or a buzzing, but it felt like words. We all looked at her like she was nuts. I couldn’t hear anything. She tried to ignore it, you could tell, but it bothered her something fierce. I watched a nervousness come over her until finally, she said she needed to walk a bit, answer nature’s call, as it were. We watched her go, and her husband joked ‘Don’t get lost!’

‘Ha, ha, very funny…’ she answered, trailing off into the dark.

We carried on, swapping fish stories about life, you know, “the one that got away,” that sort of thing. I took my turn with the others.

‘Hey, what’s that?’ John asked.

‘What’s what?,’ I retorted.

‘There’s a light in the trees over there.’

‘That’s probably Lisa,” David replied. “She had a flashlight with her. She was jumpy. I’m sure she just needed to be alone for awhile. Lisa always likes to take some time in the woods for herself,’ Since he wasn’t concerned, we weren’t either.”

I paused for a moment, noticing Mesa getting up and slipping quickly away from the fire.


“Mark had been quiet. The old man listening and occasionally dozing off for a moment. The tales we had been weaving grew silent for a few breaths, and I saw him lean forward, his son shifting next to him to see if he needed to get up. A negating gesture from his hand let Darren know his dad was just sitting up.

(continued)
edit on 16-5-2016 by AboveBoard because: (no reason given)




posted on May, 16 2016 @ 10:56 PM
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(continued)

‘I died once,’ Mark said to the void around our fire, his eyes staring into something none of us could see. I felt a shiver go down my back and sit at the base of my spine like a cold hand. ’There was a light, you see, and a voice…’ he trailed off for a moment, his eyes gleaming wetly, a tear rolling unashamedly down his face. ‘It was so beautiful,’ he said, his voice tight, ‘but they made me come back. So I did. And Darren here was the result. See, it was at the end of the Vietnam war and I’d been injured. I thought I wouldn’t make it. But they sent me back. And now,’ he said sorrowfully, ‘I’m here with my son…I never thought it would end like this…’

‘Dad,’ said Darren, ‘it’s okay. Really. We’re together here in this beautiful place…’

‘But it’s not the right place!’ Mark said with anguish, and Darren, looking embarrassed tried to soothe the old man whose tears kept coming in a steady, quiet stream.

I remember shifting uncomfortably in my seat, trying to shake off that cold, and feeling John, who was sitting next to me, suddenly stand up. ‘I’m gonna turn in,’ he said in his deep voice, but he turned North towards the woods instead.

‘Huh,’ said David, stretching. “Do you hear that? I thought I heard Lisa calling me…’ I hadn’t heard anything, but I wasn’t surprised when David got up to go look for her, heading with his flashlight on to the North, and into the woods, the light making a bouncing beam. I watched until it seemed to turn into a small golden orb. My eyes caught a flash then, like lightening almost, but it was so fast, I thought I imagined it.”

Mesa’s partner, Terry got up from the fire, heading off to look for her.

“By then, just like now, the fire was getting low, turning to red and coals, like some kind of sleeping beast, it seemed to pulse with the slight touch of breeze. I remember staring into it, flashes coming into my mind of something that had happened, something terrible that my mind didn’t want to see.

As my companions all left me sitting there, staggering off into the dark to those same woods over there, just like Mesa and Terry just did, I remembered dying. It was a multi-car accident on the highway. We’d all been killed by a tanker truck that jack-knifed along a rainy road. Somehow we’d been kept together and between us, the illusion of a camping trip built up in our collective minds, and this mountain and everything we need just…happened. I remember there were these beings of light who told us not to go into those woods, that if we did, we might never come back out to where we belonged, or that the woods might change us too much, we might forget. My companions, though, they found their way to the light, I think, there in the woods, in the North of endings and sorrow. I never did.”

“Woah, dude,” the young man named Jack slurred from his campfire seat, “that was trippy.”

“Yeah, totally freaked me out, dude,” said the young girl, Janice, I think her name was? ‘Awesome ghost story!’ They laughed. I watched the change come over them, though, and they stumbled off soon enough. The last man there, to my surprise, didn’t leave.

“So, how come you are still here?” he asked. I couldn’t remember his name. He seemed kind though, with a smile around his eyes. He almost looked familiar.

“Well, I figured these woods were heaven enough, once I knew the truth. I don’t have ‘loved ones’ waiting on the other side, per say, always been a loner. I figured it would be best to just remain here as a sort of guide for other lost souls on their way Home.

“What if I wanted to stay?” I sized him up. He was in his fifties but he looked young to me, with a long salt and pepper beard and big brown eyes. And he looked sincere.

“It gets lonely.”

“I love the woods,” he said simply.

“Okay then,” I said, “but there can only be one Guide at a time. At least that’s what I gathered…somehow. I don’t know how I know, but my bones know, so’s I best be on my way. I’m getting too old for this anyway.”

I heaved myself up from the fire and the man…what was his name? I kept forgetting things all of a sudden, like my mind was suddenly filled with shadows. He helped me stand. I took my walking stick and turned away from the dimming fire. The wind through the trees said ‘Lau-ra, Lau-raaaa…” and they began to turn the most beautiful sparkling green gold color I had ever seen, like suddenly they were painted with galaxies. A circle drew my attention. A circle of light. I drifted towards it, as the woods unraveled around me and I became one with the wind and the golden light and then…well, that’s a tale for another time.



The End



posted on May, 16 2016 @ 11:16 PM
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a reply to: AboveBoard

Awesome! S/F



posted on May, 17 2016 @ 01:36 AM
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a reply to: AboveBoard


as the woods unraveled around me and I became one with the wind and the golden light and then…well, that’s a tale for another time.


Loved it AB!!!

I was entranced by your words.




posted on May, 17 2016 @ 07:44 AM
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beautiful



posted on May, 17 2016 @ 09:07 AM
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a reply to: Quantum12

Thanks Q!



posted on May, 17 2016 @ 09:09 AM
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originally posted by: TNMockingbird
a reply to: AboveBoard


as the woods unraveled around me and I became one with the wind and the golden light and then…well, that’s a tale for another time.


Loved it AB!!!

I was entranced by your words.



Thank you - that means a lot! The ending took a few tries - I'm so happy this one worked.



- AB



posted on May, 17 2016 @ 05:10 PM
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a reply to: AboveBoard

Geez...seriously?
Can you even write anything crappy? Maybe just for my own self-esteem? lol


That was fabulous! I really love your style of writing.

S&F
jacy



posted on May, 17 2016 @ 08:05 PM
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a reply to: jacygirl

Aw, thanks, Jacy!!

You are very kind. I am so glad you stopped by to read!!!


- AB



posted on May, 18 2016 @ 08:29 AM
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a reply to: AboveBoard

Oh, my.

I'm glad I read this and more glad that you wrote it.

It reminds me of something that happened long ago. Something like this in some ways, but very different in others.

Thank you.



posted on May, 18 2016 @ 07:12 PM
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a reply to: JustMike

That means a lot to me, personally, to hear. Thank YOU!

I really appreciate you taking the time to read it.


(Makes it worthwhile, no matter how I do in the contest part...)

- AB



posted on May, 19 2016 @ 10:21 AM
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a reply to: AboveBoard

AB's hunny!

You have Done It Again!

I LOVE IT!!

Well Done you.
Gxx



posted on May, 19 2016 @ 04:36 PM
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a reply to: Gordi The Drummer

Thanks, Gordi!

I see you got a story on the board, too. Can't wait to read it with a Scottish accent...

- AB



posted on May, 19 2016 @ 05:16 PM
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originally posted by: AboveBoard
a reply to: Gordi The Drummer

Thanks, Gordi!

I see you got a story on the board, too. Can't wait to read it with a Scottish accent...

- AB


I can do better than that.... You Will HEAR it in a Scottish accent! LOL
Gx
edit on 19-5-2016 by Gordi The Drummer because: to add more info



posted on May, 23 2016 @ 10:00 PM
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a reply to: Gordi The Drummer

Yes, indeed!


And now I don't have to worry if I've got it right!

Great idea to record it.

= AB



posted on Sep, 11 2017 @ 12:51 PM
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a reply to: AboveBoard

They just keep getting better!



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