A Faraway Song (Part 14)

“What?  Are you sure?”

He nodded his head firmly in reply but I kept questioning him.

“I mean, I can see that this whole thing freaked you out, that’s obvious.  But are you sure you really heard a little girl calling out to you?  Isn’t it way more likely that you just heard some weird effect of the wind?  Or maybe your mind just made it up because it was so silent when you were standing there? You know, the whole idea that your imagination can come up with anything it wants to and convince you that it’s real?”

He just shook his head back and forth and I started in on the questions once again.  I had only uttered a single word though before he stood up and grabbed the front of my shirt.  His hands were cold and his breath smelled like alcohol of course, but also like raisins, which is the thing that stuck in my mind.   His blue eyes were bloodshot but focused as he spoke.

“I know what I heard in there, I know it and swear to it. That voice was clear as a bell, soft but a little worried, like she was just figuring out that she did not know the way back.  There was no wind and no mind tricks.  It was a little girl!”  He spat those last words at me and then sank back into his chair.  I was too shocked to immediately reply, wiping my face off with a handkerchief I pulled from the inside pocket of my denim jacket.  We both sat there, me lost in my thoughts about the reverend’s story, until he took a series of deep breaths and spoke again.

“And I know who it was too.”

I shook myself back into the immediate moment, unsure of what he had said.  “Excuse me?”

“I know whose voice is was, or at least I’m pretty sure I do.”

“You know who the little girl is?  How is that possible?”

“I think it was a girl that went missing from here a few years ago, before I got here obviously, but the previous reverend, well he mentioned it.”

I could hardly believe what I was hearing as it sounded almost too good to be true.  Some actual information was about to be disclosed.

“So, who is she?”

“I’m not sure of her name or anything like that.  He never told me, just mentioned it as an event in the community that I should be aware of.  He also cautioned me never to bring it up on my own, which I thought sounded a bit paranoid.  That was before I knew the people here of course, or the culture.  It makes perfect sense now.”

I sighed in disappointment.  “So, you really have not idea who she is?”

“Not specifically, no.”

“Wait a minute.  Someone tells you that a young girl has gone missing from a place but you don’t ask any questions about it?  You don’t get any other information?”

“I tried but he wouldn’t say anything else.  And once he had said it, I think he regretted it, mostly because I did ask so many questions.  In the end he just gave me that warning and said that he was leaving.”  He poured the last of the whiskey and stood up, waving the bottle at me.  “I suppose I should have asked if you wanted some, but then there would have been less for me.  Now leave me alone.”  He started walking back toward what I assumed was the entrance to the apartment he had mentioned.  I called after him.

“Can I still take a shower here?”

“I thought you never used that apartment?”

“Well, I’m using it today.  Leave.”  After that he stepped through a green door and closed it behind him.  I heard a deadbolt being thrown and was not sure if this was because he thought I really would follow him, or just because he did not want anyone else finding him passed out drunk later.  I left the church and started to walk back toward my truck, the new information I had obtained jumping around in my mind.  Despite the lack of specifics about the girl I really felt like I was getting somewhere.

What to do next though was unclear to me.  I thought about going to the local police and seeing if they had any information about this missing girl, but was not sure if they would be willing to help me.  I also worried about what they might think of why I was so interested.  Then the idea struck me that it must have been reported in the newspaper and a search at some library in the area might uncover some information.  It could some time but I had plenty of that to spare. There was of course also the option of trying to get more information out of the Clyde Forks locals.  I laughed a bit at myself as I considered that.  I had not proven to be very good at extracting information so far, at least not without voluntary binge drinking being involved.  The library seemed like the best option and I decided to try it out the next day, which was Saturday.  Hopefully they would be open.  I jumped into my truck and moved it so that I was parked on the side of Cemetery Road, right at the intersection with Clyde Forks Road, and resolved to sit there for the remainder of the evening and just observe the activity.  I was also hoping to hear a repeat of the child-like noises I had heard the evening before so I rolled my window down and settled in.

An hour rolled past without anything happening, then two hours, a general weariness creeping over me.  I also realized how very hungry I felt, and also that I had not eaten very well since my arrival in the area.  My limited trip food, which I had packed into two coolers, was either eaten or spoiled and I had not done anything about replacing it.  In addition, I smelled truly terrible and knew that the solution to all of these problems was to find a motel.  Grabbing a pamphlet of information I had picked up before my trip I located the nearest one that had a restaurant nearby.  Reluctantly, but also with a great sense of anticipation about being clean, full and rested, I put my truck in gear and headed out.

…to be continued

A Faraway Song (Part 13)

He stood up and retuned the flask to it’s hiding place within his jacket.  I remained sitting, looking up at him as he started to walk away.  He did not look back, content it seemed to leave it at that, so I challenged him with a question.

“Why did you agree to take me out here?  I mean, if you are so afraid of this place, so afraid of whatever it is you think you heard, why come out here with me?”

He stopped and turned around, standing there with his hair backlit by the sunlight.  Before replying he rubbed his face a few times, seeming to be considering what to say.  He was looking past me, back at the mine entrance, when he finally spoke.

“I think I was hoping that someone, you, could confirm it for me.  Or maybe not, I mean, not confirm it.  I think I just wanted someone else to come out here and see if they heard it too.  Then I would know if I was just crazy or if all of the stories about this place are actually true.  Checking on my own sanity I suppose.   And that’s all I can say.”  He turned back away from me, heading up the small incline.  I sat for a few more minutes before my brain had processed his last few comments.  Then I took off after him at a run, catching up and pulling at his arm.

“What stories are you talking about?  I thought you didn’t know anything about this place, or its history?  You told me that you knew nothing about this mine expect its location.  What did you mean back there?”

Pulling his arm away he stalked off, muttering, “Damn, I said too damn much,” to himself.  Those were the last words he spoke all the way back, although he did manage to drain the flask along the way.  I followed along, asking questions to his back for awhile before finally giving up and then spent the remainder of the time trying to puzzle out whatever lessons I had learned from the day’s adventure.  I also resolved to not let the reverend off easily.  We reached the driveway for the church and he turned in without offering a goodbye or even a glance back at me.  I suppose he thought I was going to keep on going down Clyde Forks Road toward my truck, but I turned into the driveway right behind him.  When he realized this he turned around.

“Don’t follow me in here.  I’m done for the day.”  His words were spoken with just a little bit of heaviness, the edges of the alcohol showing through.

“I want an answer to what I asked you.”

“We already talked about this.”

“No we didn’t.  You walked off and haven’t said a word since then.”

“I meant before that.  I told you what I knew before and that’s all I know.”

“I don’t think so.  I think you know more than that.  You were talking before about how secretive everyone here is, and it turns out you are too.  I just want to figure out what is going on in this place.”

He smiled at me, in a sad and condescending way.  “No you don’t.”

“I do.”

“You aren’t even from anywhere around here.  You’re just a kid on a temporary adventure.  This place will mean nothing to you when you leave.  So go now, and just forget about it.”  He turned and walked away again.  I followed him and a minute later we were standing in the small office area of the church, the reverend staring up at the ceiling in exasperation and me standing resolutely right inside the doorway.

“How about you just tell me what you heard in the mine?”

He waved me toward a chair.  “Fine.  I’ll be back in a minute.”

I was excited as I sat there waiting for him, hoping that this was where I actually started to learn something about the place.  Maybe this one story would lead to another, or to some actual fact that I could check, or maybe to a piece of information I could use in my investigation.  When he came back the reverend was carrying a bottle of whiskey.  He sat down with a long sigh, then opened the bottle and poured a rocks glass halfway full.  After taking a long drink he started talking.

“Ok, so here you go.  Take it for whatever you will and then leave  me alone.  It was the third time I hiked out there, the other two times I had just poked around the entrance a little bit, pulling back the branches, not going in.  Like I said, I’m not much of an adventurous type.  I prefer things normal and easy.  So, that third time I kind of dared myself to go deeper, to step into the mine itself.  I guess it was a self-improvement kind of thing, overcoming my fears.”

He took a small drink of his whiskey and then resumed talking.  “So I did it, I had those branches pulled back just like the other two times, but then I stepped in and let them drop behind me.  My heart was racing, I mean it too, it was beating like a hammer in my chest so hard that it almost hurt.  I just stood there, right up against the branches, sticking my fingers back through them toward the outside.  It made me feel just a little bit better you know, like I could escape easily if I had to.  It seemed so quiet in there and dark.  I mean, it was darker than outside of course, but I could see things scattered around on the ground, although I couldn’t remember any of the details later.”

He stopped talking again and finished off the remaining whiskey in one large gulp, pouring another half glass right away.  He traced his left index finger around the rim of the glass for a moment before continuing.  “After a couple of minutes my heart had calmed down and I was about to step out, figuring I had conquered it, that I had stood there and nothing bad had happened.”  He ran his right hand slowly though his hair, his voice dropping to a murmur.   “It was like a whisper, just a really faint whisper.”

He stopped talking then, for several long minutes, sipping slowly from the glass which he kept held up to his mouth.  Finally I prompted him.  “What whisper?”

A sigh escaped his lips before he spoke.  “The voice, her voice, it was just the faintest whisper.  There was no wind outside, and the mine was still, but that voice came from inside there, from somewhere deep inside there.  I’m coming, that’s all it said, maybe four or five times just repeating itself, like she was calling to someone.  I’m coming.  I was so scared that I ran for the outside.  I didn’t even pull the branches back, I just ran through them, and I kept running until I couldn’t go anymore.  I must have covered a mile or more through that forest, face all scratched up from the branches I ran through, knee banged up when I tripped over some roots, I kept going though until I couldn’t hardly breathe.  Then I just collapsed in a small clearing and I was still shaking in fear as I recovered.”  He poured and drained another glass of whiskey and then just stared at me.  My skin was tingling from the story, the hair on my neck raised up and my mind racing.

“That voice you heard, who was it?  Could you tell?”

The reverend blinked a few times and then answered.  “It was a little girl.”

…to be continued

A Faraway Song (Part 10)

Maybe I should have been surprised, or insulted, or mad even at that point but I really was not that put off by this revelation.  Enough odd things had happened that I guess a lie about the mine’s location was not that remarkable.

“So, do you know exactly where it is?”

“I do.  I’m a bit of a hiker and stumbled across it on one of my early walks around here.  Don’t feel too badly about whatever resistance you are getting about collecting information.  I haven’t got a straight, or even a partial answer, about that place from anyone around here either.  I picked up a few details here and there I guess, but mostly all I know is that it is an old mine.”

“That’s about all I know too.  I did a little research on the area before I came up here but not enough to locate it myself.  Would you show me?”

“It’s a bit of a struggle to get back to,” the Reverend replied.  “Are you sure you’re up for it?”

“Yes.  Can we go now?”

He smiled back at me but shook his head, explaining that he had another appointment to keep in about thirty minutes.  He offered to go with me the next morning, an offer I eagerly accepted.  I had thanked him and was almost out the door when I turned back.

“Can I ask you something else?”

“Sure.  What is it?”

“That old woman told me that no one ever moves here.  That she was the last one.  Is that true?”

He paused before answering, looking past me to the trees that framed the property.  Then he replied.

“This is a bit of a static community.  Not much change, not many new faces.  They seem to like it that way.”

“And children?”  I explained to him about the pictures Eyebrows had let me look at and also that I so far had not seen any children in the area during my explorations.  He was turning away from me, walking back toward his office, as he replied.

“Yes, there certainly aren’t many children.”

That was obviously going to be the end of our conversation for the day, so I called out another thank you in his direction and returned to my truck.  It was later now, too late to do much of anything else, so I parked my truck in a pull-off near Cemetery Road and sat in the bed, eating granola bars and just absorbing the evening.

double crested cormorant

double crested cormorant

It was calm and cool, the sky kind of a dusty blue with a few clouds hanging near the western horizon.  Bird sounds were everywhere and I could pick out the calls of loons, cuckoos and woodpeckers.  A flock of cormorants flew by overhead looking in flight like a formation of futuristic aircraft.  The air was clean and fragrant, full of all kinds of outdoor scents; pine, rosemary, grass, and that musky smell that water gives off when it is jammed up with old wood and debris.  It was peaceful and relaxing to me even as my mind was racing through all of the new information I had collected during the day. It was right then that I heard it, the most unexpected sound.  I heard the shout of a young child.

I stood up in the bed of my truck upon hearing it, turning slightly to face the direction I thought it had come from.  I waited for several long moments and then I heard it again.  This time it was more than a shout, it was a series of sounds, just like you might imagine a child making as it played outside.  The sounds seemed happy, the usual youthful excitement of being outdoors and feeling free.  It stopped and I waited again, two minutes, then five but it seemed to be gone.  I did know though that it had come from somewhere down Cemetery Road and I jumped out of my truck to head in that direction.

I walked rapidly but stopped at every piece of property I passed; waiting for about a minute, listening, trying to peek around buildings, and watching for movement.  At the home of Mr. Shotgun I made sure that I was standing near a tree, just in case I needed it for cover, but even there I managed to get a fairly good inspection done.  At Brown Suit’s house I walked stealthily over to the rabbit enclosure, figuring that might be something a child would be excited about.  Ultimately I found nothing at all, no trace of a child and no more youthful sounds.  I did not even see a toy, a swing set or any other item that would indicate a child was in the area.  I was still very sure of what I had heard though, and I stood at the end of the road, right in front of Brown Suit’s driveway, wondering just what this new piece of strange information meant.

The sun was in my eyes, dropping quickly toward the horizon to set, so I turned and started pacing back and forth, waiting, hoping that I would hear the child again.  Eventually I knelt down at the south edge of the road, back to the sun, looking toward the trees that surrounded Brown Suit’s property.  I was preoccupied but my mind registered something out of place.  It was a flash of color, a faded red, something on the side of a very old building that was buried behind scrub trees and scrawny bushes.  It was difficult to make out any details, but it looked like a sign maybe, or a picture that had been painted on the building.  I was contemplating whether I should walk over to investigate when I heard a vehicle on the road.  Turning around, I saw the Colony Park Wagon coming toward me.

…to be continued

A Faraway Song (Part 8)

With that she leaned back heavily into the cushions of the sofa, her eyes closed tight.  Over the course of the next thirty seconds her face relaxed completely, the wrinkles around her eyes and mouth smoothing out slightly, her mouth sagging open just a bit.  I wanted to ask her to repeat what she had said but instead stood up and walked out of the house, taking care to lock the door behind me.  It was still early in the day, the cool air from earlier still lingering around especially in the shadows of the trees in her yard.  I sat underneath one of them and thought about what to do next.

On top of all of the other weirdness about this  place I now had the cryptic question from Eyebrows to ponder, even though I thought it possible it had just been the ramblings of a tired old woman.  I needed to find someone in the area who would tell me about the actual history of Clyde Forks, not just when people were born or to whom they were related.  Most of the residents seemed to be poor conduits for this kind of information and I eventually decided that finding a local church might be a better option.  Surely a pastor or priest who had been in the area for awhile would have some good historical details to share.  I had no idea where to find one but it seemed to be the only plan I had so I started driving back east on Clyde Forks Road.


I had only gone a very short distance, and was just coming around the soft curve near Cemetery Road when I saw Brown Suit turn right off of that road in a Mercury Colony Park Wagon.  At least I was fairly certain it was him as the fedora and color of his clothing seemed unlikely to be repeated in this small place.  Tossing aside my other plan I made the decision to follow him.  I did not think he had seen me as he had completed the turn and was already looking east when I came around the corner.  There was very little traffic in this area, and long stretches of open road, so I believed that I could hang back a good distance and remain unobserved as I followed him toward wherever he was going.  And then we drove for a very long time.

I later knew that it had only been thirty-two miles or so as the crow flies, but that is not the route we traveled.  The roads meandered all over the wilderness out there, cutting back north and south as we picked our way east, passing through small villages and scattered towns.  We also passed through the much larger municipality of Mississippi Mills before turning right onto Upper Dwyer Hill Rd.  This was the only place where I almost lost him, as I stopped to let a young boy on a bike cross the road and ended up trapped at a stop light that Brown Suit had just passed through.  I did manage to catch up though, and finally, after one hour and ten minutes of driving, and a final turn onto a dusty dirt road, he came to a stop.

I had been hanging well back and being cautious yet I still almost went too far, stopping just as the rear bumper of his car came into view, the vehicle parked on the far side of a small group of cedar bushes.  Feeling I was too close, I put my truck in reverse and eased back up the road, going about five hundred feet and pulling into a break in the tree line.  Grabbing a jacket I had stuffed behind my seat, I set off carefully back toward where Brown Suit had parked.  When I got there, he had already exited his car, but I caught sight of his fedora fading into the shadows of another tree line about four hundred feet east of the road.  I did not think he knew I was there but I still wanted to be careful in following him now that we were on foot.  Waiting a few minutes, I then walked in the general direction I had seen him go, doing my best to stay in the shadows as I walked along.  The first few minutes were easy as the land was relatively clear, but then I had to plunge into woods, which were close in places and then would fade to scrub brush and collections of dead fall.  I could hear someone ahead of me making plenty of noise, and I assumed it was him as that was the only guide I had to go on.  My own steps were tentative and light and I felt that I was falling further behind.   Ten minutes later the sound ahead of me stopped just as I climbed over the trunk of a large, dead oak tree.  I froze, the rough edges of the decayed bark pressing against my palm, a mosquito buzzing around my ears.  Slowly I lowered myself to the ground and looked around.

Everything was screened by the trees and I could not make out anything other than the gentle swaying of their branches.  I tried standing up a little bit more but the results were no different.  I needed to be much closer to wherever Brown Suit was in order to figure out what he was doing.  Without the sound I had no idea which way to go, but I did at least know the general direction it had been coming from before it stopped. Starting off toward that location, I crept along in a crouched position, pushing branches aside carefully when I could not avoid them, stepping down gingerly on the twigs and leaves that littered the ground.  After four or five minutes of this I caught sight of him, leaning down to take something out of a large green sack on the ground.  My view of him was screened by the heavy, drooping branches of a white pine tree and at first I thought he had brought out a fur hat, which seemed like an odd thing to be carrying into the woods.  That was quickly corrected as he turned more in my direction and I could see that he was holding a rabbit.

…to be continued

A Faraway Song (Part 5)

A flicker passed across the man’s face, something more than sadness.  It was anguish I thought, or some deeply personal pain.  Then it was gone though and I was not sure if I had judged it correctly.   He did not reply at first but just stood up and walked a few steps away.  Then he turned and spoke.

“So now you know the story.  You need to stay away from that mine.”

“What about the sixth person?  Who was that? Someone you knew?”

Again there was just silence although I could not see the man’s face this time.  He had turned to look out the window where the cat was sitting.  I pressed on.

“I hear what you told me but it doesn’t change my mind.  Sure those people disappeared but I mean, how many people do you suppose have been at that mine in the past fifty-plus years?  How may people worked there?  How many have just been near there?  I mean,  even I heard about someone who went there and came back.  It isn’t like everyone disappears.  Those people all probably got lost, or attacked by some wild animal, or injured,  or something, whatever else that might happen to a person out here.  They just died in the wilderness and no one ever found their bodies.  I wouldn’t call that exactly a mystery.  I figure my chances are pretty good and I’m not going to take any crazy risks.  I’ll be careful, I promise.”  As I said that I did not even know why I was taking the time to make promises to this old man.  It was not like I owed him anything in particular.  But he did seem very intent on keeping me safe, or away from the mine anyway.  Maybe I just wanted to try to make him feel better.

Brown Suit turned back toward me slowly and removed his fedora.  Even though he had a fair amount of hair left for his apparent age, I could still see a long scar that ran across the left side of his head, crossing over his temple and then bending behind his ear.  It looked faded and worn, but must have hurt like hell when it happened.

“It’s not that I care about you in particular young man, but I don’t want to see anyone else taken away by the presence that haunts that place.  It is an evil thing.  Evil and hungry.  It doesn’t matter how careful you are, it will get you if it finds you there when it is hunting.”

I could feel that B-grade horror thing edging back into my conscious mind.  This guy seemed to have a talent for giving me the creeps.  His story still bothered me enough that I needed to take another shot at getting an answer from him.

“So, the sixth person, the one that you obviously don’t want to talk about.  Is there something else I need to know about what happened to that person?  Something that might convince me to stay away from the mine?  Because with what you told me so far, I’m not convinced.”

I finished with a partial wave of my hand toward Brown Suit, almost an offer to have him tell me whatever it was that was going to make me change my mind.  I was not sure why, right in that moment, I felt like maybe I needed to be convinced to stay away from it, but I did feel that way.  He just stared at me though, and my stubbornness returned.

“Fine then, I’m going now.  Someone will tell me where that place is.  Thanks for the water though, and for trying to warn me.”

As I turned a savage growl erupted in my ear and I jumped to the side, wildly flailing out with one arm at the unseen thing behind me.  Crashing into a chair, I caught myself on a small, blue table and looked over at the man.  He stood exactly where he had been, a good fifteen feet away from me.  He had dropped his hat; however, and now his hands were extended before him, fingers arched out like he was trying to strangle me from a distance.  His face seemed clearer, less full of crags and crevasses, and he was staring right at me.  I heard his voice, angry now and harsh, clearly in my ear.

“You, boy, do not know the power of that place.  You do not  understand it’s ability to reach out and take away from you what you care about, to take away life.  It is dark and evil.  And it is very, very hungry, all of the time.  Hungry for spirits that it needs to quench its desires.  It cannot be kept always at bay.  Eventually it strikes out and takes someone.  Stay away!”

I ran at that moment, overcome by the horror vibe, and even managed to get the door open with only a few shakes of the handle.  In my haste to get away, I turned the wrong way out the door and had made it to the back edge of the house where I stopped short before running into a tall chicken-wire fence.  It was not actually the wire that stopped me, as I was running too fast to really register its presence in my head.  It was the rabbits that did it.  The wire enclosed a space that was about one hundred feet square, basically taking up the entirety of what would have been a sizable backyard.  Within it, there were hundreds of rabbits of all colors and sizes.  There heads were in profile, ears up and alert, seeking out the danger that was only me.  It was an eerie feeling as my hand reached up to catch the edge of the fence before I ran into it and I noticed all of those small, dark eyes staring at me, one each from the side of every rabbit’s head.   I stood there for a moment, until the old man came busting out of his back door, yelling at me to stay away, not from the mine this time, but from the rabbits.  Taking in a few deep gasps of air I jogged back onto the road and kept running until I was back up at the Clyde Forks Road intersection.   Turning to look back down Cemetery Road, it seemed much more eerie than it had just a few hours ago.


…to be continued

A Faraway Song (Part 3)

Feeling a little unnerved, I walked slowly toward the man who now stood with his hands clasped behind his back.  As I approached, a few more details about him became evident.  He was old. Very, very old, or at least looked that way.  His face was deeply wrinkled, in a way that made it difficult to distinguish his exact facial features.  It just looked like a huge mass of deep valleys and ridges, with stark black lines marking the boundaries.  His nose was strangely unwrinkled and looked odd jutting out from the crags of his face.  Blue eyes, almost midnight blue it seemed and wiry grey hair poking out from underneath a fedora were the last things I noted before I stopped about ten feet away from where the man stood.

“Were you talking to me?  Was that actually you?  Because it sounded like you were standing right next to me.”

The man did not answer, but just cocked his head a little bit to the side.

“Can you hear me?  I asked if that was you talking to me?”

“Where did you come from?”  That was his reply, delivered in a soft voice that still sounded like it was being spoken right into my left ear.  It actually made me turn my head, looking for someone else standing next to me, even though I could see his lips move with the words.

Finding no one there I replied, “How do you do that?  It’s really freaking me out.”

“Where did you come from,” he repeated, this time turning to face me completely.

I rubbed my ear in reply, some weird reaction that I suppose was my attempt to get his voice to seem farther away.  It did not work.

“Are you afraid to tell me where you came from?”

“No.  This place is just weird.  Really weird so far.  And your voice in my ear isn’t helping.”

He just kept staring at me, so I told him the whole story about coming to find the mine, getting lost, and my adventures up the road with the two people I had now nicknamed Window Man and Mr. Shotgun.  It was at that point I realized that people must have real names around here.

“What’s your name sir?”

No reply, just the stare.  Finally he turned and said, “Follow me.”

He walked toward the side of the house and I followed.  It was apparent that the front door of this place was not in use as it had a large dead tree branch blocking access to it.  From the fact that the branch was very decayed, and that the tree which is apparently had belonged to was now just a withered trunk, I figured that entry had not been used in a long time.  As the man opened the door and stepped into the house, he waved his hands in front of him quickly.  I thought I heard a chair push back inside, but when I also stepped through the door the room was empty and all was quiet.  We had entered into the kitchen, and it’s neat and clean appearance was a surprise given what I had observed outside the house.  The appliances were old but well-kept, and the small table was set with placemats and silverware for four.  The man opened a blue and green Westinghouse refrigerator and pulled out two empty glasses from the top shelf.  Filling them from the faucet on the cast iron sink, he put one down on the table and pointed at it.




“Drink some, it’s plenty warm out there.”

I raised an eyebrow at that, as I actually thought  it was a little cool out, but I was thirsty anyway and complied.  Placing the glass back on the table half-empty I tried moving my head around to see into some of the other rooms.  Had someone else been in the kitchen before I entered?  And if so, why had the brown-suited man shooed them away.  Brown Suit.  That was apparently going to be my nickname for him, as it appeared he was not going to give me his actual name.

“So, can you help me find the mine?  Is it nearby or was I way off?”

“The mine is closed and dangerous.  You need to stay away from it.”

“I know that.  It’s the whole point of why I want to go there.  You know, cool old mine, explore the darkness, you get it right?”

“It’s closed.  And dangerous.  You need to stay away from it.”

I sighed.  “So, I guess that means you aren’t going to tell me how to get there?”

Brown Suit started repeating himself again but I cut him off.

“Fine, I get it.  I’ll go ask someone else.”   I stepped toward the door but suddenly the man reached out and grabbed me, his long fingers wrapping around my forearm in a tight, vice-like grip.  As he did so, a shiver shot through my body, like when you touch a live electric wire, and I almost lost control of my bladder.  I yanked my arm but the man’s grip held.  His voice, still soft but hissing now, was loud in my ear and each word was accentuated very clearly. As he spoke he stood up, his wrinkled face coming very close to mine.  His eyes seemed to be sparking as he spoke.

“You must stay away from there.  It is dangerous.”  His grip got even tighter on my arm and I started yanking again, pushing back at the man’s narrow chest.

“Let me go!  Let go!”

Finally he did and I staggered toward the door, my balance upset by his sudden release.  I turned the knob but the door would not open.  The voice was in my ear again.

“Have a seat.”


…to be continued

A Faraway Song (Part 2)


Out on the road again I assessed my situation.  Although I had been a little spooked by the man in the window,  I also was determined to not let that be my sole attempt at getting some directions.  How bad could this place really be?

I did a quick check of the surroundings as I rubbed my arms against a slight chill I was feeling.  As far as I could tell, the entire area that comprised Clyde Forks stretched out before me down the short distance of Cemetery Road.  That thought matched up with the rather old map I had brought with me for the trip, which basically had two roads on it and nothing else for quite a distance.  Just a lot of trees and water.  There were some more houses further down the road though and I started to slowly walk that way, taking in the place as I went.

The first thing I noticed was that the properties in the area basically fit into two categories.  Neat and tidy was the least prevalent, although there were some very well-kept yards.  The one I was nearest to was the best example of this, looking like it belonged in a photo shoot for some kind of lifestyle magazine for senior citizens.  It was a split-level brick home with accented corners, a wrap-around white porch complete with rocking chairs, neat planters full of petunias and perfectly manicured grass.  It even had this magnificent maple tree that shaded the porch and one perfectly bent limb that arched over the sidewalk, tendrils of maple leaves slightly obscuring a clear view of the home’s front door.  After my previous experience, you might think I would have run up to such an inviting place; however, it had a strange aura about it also.  It was set back quite a way from the road, and although the yard looked nice, it also had several rows of off-set cedar bushes that wrapped it in a protective embrace.  While I was contemplating that contradiction, I assessed the other, far more prevalent category of property in the area.

Still to this day I call these kinds of yards a small-town special.  I’m not sure if it is the lack of local ordinances on blight, a natural inclination of locals in these areas to collect things, or just a lethargy that infects people in these places.  Whatever it is, it always results in the same scene: scattered rusty cars, old pieces of farm equipment, broken pottery, overgrown yards and out-buildings bursting at the seams with clutter and junk.  There were several of these in Clyde Forks, and somehow, almost impossibly, they seemed more inviting than the nice brick house with the pretty porch.  I decided to walk on down the road toward one of these less attractive places and see what I could find.


old cars

old cars

I passed on the first one, which also had an open garage full of automotive parts, because there were no vehicles in the driveway.  The property almost directly across the street though had two pick-up trucks parked right in front of the door to a double-wide trailer.   The north edge of the driveway had two moss-covered old cars standing guard.   Everything seemed quiet as I walked up, a slight breeze making the seed pods at the top of the foot-high grass dance back and forth.  As I neared the trailer I could hear the television playing inside.  With a deep breath I knocked on the door. And waited.  The sound from the television went away and then a true silence settled on the place.  I could hear someone inside grunt and the low squeak of protesting sofa springs.  A few shuffled footsteps and then a click, but not of the door, it was something else inside the trailer.  About thirty seconds later the door did open and I was greeted by a very large man with a double-barreled shotgun.  He was both tall and overweight, dirty blue t-shirt hanging out sloppily at the sides of his overalls.  He was unshaven, with small dark eyes and long dirty-blonde hair, and his breathing was raspy and loud.  I raised my hand in greeting, which he returned by reaching into his pocket and pulling out a shotgun shell.  I took a step back, after which he flipped the lever that broke open the breach on the gun.  That was enough for me, and I took off running for the road, which I managed to reach without a shot being fired.  I looked back at the trailer then and saw that the man still stood there at his door, the gun now raised up and pointed not in my exact direction but definitely out toward the road.  My mind thought “He wouldn’t,” just as he fired, causing me to instinctively duck down.  The shots were well wide of me, rustling up some bushes across the road and kicking up gravel.  Then he calmly walked back into his trailer and I got up, shaking with fear and adrenaline.

Dusting myself off, I kept my eye on the door to the trailer as I also considered what to do next.  This was obviously not the friendliest place in the world.  I think that if I had been older I would have taken the hint, but twenty-something is not an age known for that kind of good judgement.  Instead, I looked around and was a bit startled to see a man, tall and dressed in a faded brown suit, standing at the end of his driveway.  The house behind him was old and tattered, the sides covered with what appeared to be roofing shingles, and the yard overgrown but otherwise clean.  His house was the last one I could see, and the road seemed to end by meeting up with his driveway.  It was maybe two hundred feet away and the man was beckoning me with a small wave of his hand.  I glanced back over at the trailer door and then heard a voice, which I took to be the brown-suited man, although it sounded like it was a person talking right into my ear.

“He’s done with you.  Get on down here before you get hurt.”


…to be continued

A Faraway Song (Part 1)


k and p trail looking north at clyde fork road

The first part of this story happened awhile ago, back when there was still time in my days for aimless wandering and random missions seeking adventure.  Reading my notes from that time I almost feel like scolding myself, reaching out to slap my own face, some version of, “How could you just stop looking into what happened up there?” flashing through my mind.  It makes sense that way now, but I have to give back a little credit and kindness to my younger self.  Life got busier, my free time vanished and the mysteries of Clyde Forks became vague nighttime memories, haunting ones for sure, but just memories.  They were almost always beaten into submission by my own tiredness, and they would be gone in the morning.  I can honestly say that I would likely have left it that way except for two things.  One was a podcast I happened upon randomly in my search for audio accompaniment in quiet times.  I won’t name it here but you can find it without looking very hard.  The second was the re-reading of my tattered journal from back in the time when I first ventured up to the Clyde Forks mine.  That podcast had spooked me and my notes only made it worse.  Was there some part of what I knew, some piece of the odd and unsettling time I had spent in that area, that related to this mystery of a missing boy?

Back to the beginning…

I went there initially for a simple, if slightly dangerous, reason.  Having run out of other interesting ways to tempt death, I was planning on crawling around inside the abandoned Clyde Forks mine.  This was just another one of those places that you hear about among your adventuring buddies, some strange place way off in the Canadian brush-land.  So I went, driving well past what seemed to be the middle of nowhere, into a never-ending patchwork of water and forest.  Tired of traveling by the time I had located Clyde Forks itself, I pulled over on the side of the gravel road for the night and slept in the back of my truck, wrapped up in a light sleeping bag.  Two days later, frustrated by the apparently poor information I had on the location of this mine, I wandered back into Clyde Forks.  I guess it would be more accurate to say that I wandered  into what remained of it.

The town of Clyde Forks had been robust enough at one time, at least for a place that was located in the lumber and mining country of eastern Ontario.  Back then the Kingston and Pembroke railway ran past the town and the area was alive with all the usual activity of an active operation.  Boarding houses for the teams that pulled lumber out of the nearby forests surrounded Clyde Forks and the town itself had a decent sized population and quite a few stores and other buildings.  There was also a mine in the area of course, one which contained barite and small amounts of other useful minerals such as gold and silver.  The remains of those glory days still stood for the most part when I got there that day, covered in moss and overgrown bushes, grey buildings peeking out from behind foliage.  It was not a ghost town but it was definitely headed that way, with just the occasional modern house scattered around a small area along the Clyde Forks Road.  I had gone back with the intention of asking someone for assistance in finding the mine; however, once I arrived I found such a stillness and silence that I just stood there looking around.  It did not just seem quiet. It seemed vaguely hostile in a way I could not put my finger on.  Like walking into a local bar on a day when all the regulars are present and there are not many open places to sit.  You would be tolerated, but just barely.  Finally I shook my head and walked toward the nearest house which was down Cemetery Road, a label that did not improve the general feel of the place.  The house was made of red brick, various additions having been made over the years, all of them also in brick, but in colors that did not quite match the original.  Although it had a crumbling chimney and rotten wood window frames, the roof appeared to be brand new and the porch had been recently painted.  An odd feature that I noticed as I approached was that the ground floor windows were almost level with the scrubby grass that surrounded the home. They were also tall enough that an average-sized man could have stepped straight through the opening if the glass had not been in the way.  They made it seem as though the house had been slowly sinking into the ground over the many years it had been there, one day to be swallowed up with only its uppermost chimney stack sticking out to mark its location.

As I approached, it was obvious that someone was inside, as I could hear a radio playing and saw a few shadows behind the opaque window glass on the front door.  I knocked and the first strange encounter in Clyde Forks happened.

As soon as my first rap echoed through the house the shadows stopped moving.  The radio still played, a soft blues melody carrying through the humid air, but other than that there was nothing.  I stepped back and attempted to look into one of the windows; however, they were covered by thick, dirty white drapes.  I knocked again and this time the radio stopped playing and the silence of the area sprang back at me.  It was indeed an eerie kind of quiet.  I waited several minutes, wondering why no one was coming to the door.  I suppose you could attribute it to the remote nature of the place.  People in those kind of areas probably do not get many visitors, and when they do I expect they know they are coming before they arrive.  They probably like to just be left alone.  But if someone knocks on your door, and you know how obvious it is that you are home, well, you just answer it.  It is the polite thing to do.  Figuring that I needed to explain why I had intruded upon their seclusion, I knocked once again and called out.

“Sorry to bother you, but I just need some quick directions and I’ll be on my way.”

Again nothing happened.  Stepping back again to look toward the windows I almost jumped right out of my shoes.

Standing inside the window farthest away from me was a tall, angular man, grey-skinned and with a pinched face that had a long scar going over the right eyebrow.  He was dressed in a poorly tailored black suit and wore a battered grey derby with a red feather in the band.  The drapes, which still hung behind him shielding any view of the interior, made his dark clothing seem all the more stark. One of his hands rested on the window frame and the other was tucked inside his suit coat.  After I recovered my wits I gave him a half-hearted wave but was met with a stony look from his green eyes and nothing else.  As I stood there, with my heart still beating faster than usual in my chest, I felt that something other than the man himself was odd about this moment.  I soon figured out that this was little more than the window situation again, as I could see almost the entirety of the man in the window, all the way down his long legs to a point right above his feet.  Apparently those windows really did go all the way to the floor.  I glanced back at the man again and he remained as he had been, blinking only occasionally, expressionless and still.  His look reminded me of the way I imagine people stare at headstones of long departed love ones; somber and grieving but distant from their emotions, like it does not matter so much anymore.  I raised my hand to knock again but then thought better of it and walked off the porch, back toward the road.  As I did the radio clicked on in the house again, and that same blues melody followed me off the property.


…to be continued