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 7)

I felt the pause that followed, and the silence that accompanied it.  It mirrored my own mind, which I think had actually blinked in shock when she said that.  This certainly seemed like an out-of-the-way place but for no one to have moved here in forty years seemed almost impossible.  Maybe she was just exaggerating for effect, or pulling my leg.  I mentioned both but she just shook her head slowly in reply.


“Yes indeed. Curious isn’t it?”

“You know I ran into a guy who lives down Cemetery Road, kind of a big guy.  He lives in a trailer over there.  He didn’t seem to be more than thirty or maybe thirty-five.”

“Was that you he was shooting at yesterday?”

“Well, yes.  But still, he seemed younger than forty for sure.”

Eyebrows got up and refilled both of our coffee cups, her hands trembling a little bit as she did.  It seemed to offend her that I noticed so I looked back out the window toward the side yard which was lined with Large-toothed Aspen’s that framed a magnificent Chestnut tree.  I heard the kettle click against the stove top as she set it down and turned my attention back to her.

“He was born here, right in that same trailer.  In fact his father died right on my kitchen floor here a long time ago.  He’s not a very friendly type is he?”

I shook my head and she continued.

“You know, I expect that you think maybe all the folks around here aren’t so friendly, and in that you might be right.  But I would caution you against judging the lot of us too harshly.  This is a strange place to live and it kind of turns you into a rascal after awhile, even if you set out to avoid it.  Do you believe that?”

“I hadn’t really thought about it other than what I told you about this being a spooky and weird place.  I don’t think I am judging you all as one.  I mean you seem nice enough.”  I gave her what I thought was a convincing smile to back that up but the old woman did not seem to buy it.  She stirred her coffee for several long moments after that and then spoke.

“So, you want to know about this place then?”

“I do.”

“Well, let’s go look at some pictures.”  With that she led me into the living room area and bent over to pull a large chest, covered in chipped yellow paint, out from underneath a table.  I made a move to help her but caught the look she gave me and backed off.  This was a woman who was both strong and also unwilling to deal with whatever frailties may have crept in on her over time.  She sat down with a small grunt on the yellow and green sofa and motioned me into a armchair.  As she opened the chest I expected to catch a hint of mothballs or old paper but instead smelled rosemary, which was quickly explained by the sachet the woman pulled out from the inside.  She waved her hand toward the chest.



“Go ahead, look around in there.  I keep all my pictures in this chest, every one I ever took since we moved here.  It might help you understand this place.”

Reaching down I picked up a few of them, mostly three-by-five inch black and white photos, many of them posed images of people.  I turned one toward her.

“Who’s this?”

The old woman's husband

The old woman’s husband

She smiled.  “My husband.  Doesn’t he look grand in that suit?  He only ever had two, the one he married me in, and that one.  He had just bought it about two weeks before the picture was taken.  That’s later of course, back here about ten years after we moved in.  He’s standing on a pile of railroad ties that we walked past one day when they were doing repairs.  Isn’t it silly how you can see my shadow in the picture too?  I wasn’t much of a photographer, was I?”

I had not even noticed that so I turned it back to look again.  “Oh, well, I wouldn’t feel too bad about it.  It’s nice picture.  What was he all dressed up for anyway?”

She sighed before replying.  “He always wore a suit on Sundays.  I buried him in it too of course.”  She was rubbing her hand along the arm of the sofa, another awkward silence building, so I returned to the pictures.  I went through the entire set of them, hundreds if not close to a thousand, and asked questions once she seemed to be paying attention again.  I got a lot of information but it was mostly just people’s names and sometimes  a reference to how they knew someone else, or were related to them.  I pressed several times for more details, asking about the few pictures that showed old buildings, or large groups of people, but Eyebrows usually deflected those questions with stories about her husband.  When I had finished I could tell that she was tired, her eyes closing slowly a few times before jumping back to focus on me.  I was about to shut the top of the chest when something struck me, a fact which had been skipping around at the edges of my mind while I poked around in her pictures.

“You know, I didn’t see one single picture in there of a child, at least not a young one.  I mean, all the younger people in those photos must have been at least sixteen I think.  What is that, some kind of other rule around here?  Don’t take the kid’s pictures because you steal their soul or something?”  I laughed but stopped when I glanced over at the old woman.  She looked angry and was standing up now, very straight, her angular features darkened by the shadows from the partially closed curtains.  I took two steps back toward the kitchen and stopped, caught in-between fear and incredulity.  We remained there, locked in a stare-down, for a full minute before she collapsed back onto the sofa, clearly exhausted.  She said something but in a voice too low for me to hear.  When I failed to respond she motioned me closer, which I declined to do, instead eyeballing the distance to the door.  I looked back at her and she looked so frail, so old and weak, that I obeyed her second summons, kneeling down next to her.

“Do you know where the red crow goes?”

A Faraway Song (Part 6)

I puzzled for awhile as I sat there on the side of the road, catching my breath and running through the events that had just occurred.  I found it hard to believe that this day had included me being shot at and also trapped, or at least thinking I was trapped, in a strange man’s house.  That was a far cry from poking around the Canadian wilderness for an abandoned mine.  Thirty miles was what Brown Suit had said when telling me how far off I was, and that seemed like a very long way away.  I hung there on the side of the road, long past when I had recovered my breath, wondering about this strange place.  It was more than the three weird inhabitants I had encountered so far.  There seemed to be a murky sense of secrecy about the place and a stillness that almost felt out of time.  I was repelled and intrigued all at the same time.  Finally, with evening setting in, I walked back to my truck and laid down to sleep once again in the back.

Morning, cool and bright, brought me the clarity I had been unable to find the night before.  I really wanted to try to figure this place out, to determine just what all the strangeness was about.  I decided to first investigate whether this small enclave made up the entirety of Clyde Forks, or if there were other pieces of it scattered around the densely wooded areas along the road.  I had come in from the east, passing over a river that I believe fed into a lake that was simply named after a man named Joe.  There had been very little in the way of structures back that way so I drove west on the road.  I soon realized that there was in fact another small group of houses and out-buildings just around the corner from Cemetery Road.  These stretched out about one-fifth of a mile.  After that there was again nothing, so I decided to call that the extent of the town.  I started at the green house which was furthest away down Clyde Forks Road, getting out of my truck and knocking on the battered wooden door.


the yellow bungalow

the yellow bungalow

There was no response there, even after several attempts at knocking and one at walking around the side.  The backyard was inaccessible due to a rusty chain-link fence.  Three more houses yielded the same result, and then I came to a two-story bungalow with faded yellow paint and brown shutters.  My knock there was responded to by a cheerful voice from around the south side of the house, and was followed soon after by the appearance of a woman who seemed to be about seventy years old.  She was tall, maybe six feet or a little more, although she leaned forward as she walked as though her back was hurting.  Her face was round and pale, with bright blue eyes and bushy, rather distracting, white eyebrows.  Another odd character but at least this one seemed friendly.

“Hi ma’am, how are you?  Sorry for coming on your property unannounced like this.”

“It’s alright sonny boy. I don’t get many visitors so this is a welcome change in the daily routine.  You must come from very far away, don’t ya?”

“Well, yes, but how, oh wait I get it.  My accent?”

She laughed at that and squinted at me.  “Well, that would’a done it I suppose but I was talking about those clothes.  Nobody around here dresses like that, do they?”

I looked down at myself.  Blue jeans, hiking boots, a black tank top. I had traded yesterday’s t-shirt for something lighter as it seemed like the weather was trending towards warmer.   I did not see the relevance of the woman’s comment, which was apparently obvious from the look I gave her back.

“We’re more decent around here then to be walking around with our shoulders exposed, aren’t we?”

“Well, I guess, I don’t know.  I guess so, huh?”  I could tell I was blushing as I answered although I hardly understood why.  Tank tops did not seem so risqué to me.

She laughed again.  “But it’s okay for sure, after all you aren’t from around here obviously.  Come along into the house.  Coffee for ya?”

“Yes, that would be fine.”  I rubbed my shoulders as I entered, unable to get the image out of my mind of how this woman viewed me, as some kind of partially-clothed weirdo.  We sat down at her table, surrounded by doilies and lace curtains, and I told her how I happened to have come up to the area.  I also related my experiences the day before down on Cemetery Road.  Eyebrows sat silent the whole time, stirring her coffee with a spoon when she was not drinking it.  When I stopped talking she sighed.

“So, you want to know where that mine is then?”

“I thought so, or I guess maybe I still do.  But the real reason I started back at poking around here today is that I just want to know what this place it all about.  It seems strange, or weird, or spooky.  I don’t really know how to explain it and I suppose you don’t feel it because you live here, but it’s an odd place.”

She cocked her head at me, her face serious but her blue eyes twinkling as she spoke.

“I feel it plenty sonny.  I have felt it every minute of every day since I moved here with my husband forty years ago.  I’m not from around her either, ya know?”  She giggled a little at that and then continued.  “Or maybe I am, now I am I suppose, but I wasn’t back then.  We moved up here after the wedding, he was from Flower Station, born and raised as they say. “

She stopped talking and ran her hand back and forth along the lace tablecloth, continuing to do so long enough that the silence became awkward.  I looked around and could tell that no man lived here anymore, the rooms I could see filled completely with items a woman would favor.  She seemed to realize what I was thinking.

“He’s dead of course, almost twelve years now, went peaceful as can be in his sleep one November night.  And I stayed right here in our home, secure enough from our savings to pass my remaining years away in the garden.  But to get back to your point sonny boy, I can still feel the strangeness after all of these years.  If you aren’t from here it is as obvious as pants on cats, isn’t it?”

I had to laugh at her reference before answering.  “Yes.  Why did you stay then?  Why not just take that money you had saved up and move somewhere you felt more comfortable, maybe back where you came from?”

“That is a good question but you wouldn’t ask it if you knew more about this place.  There are things, well let’s just call them unwritten rules, about living in Clyde Forks.  It kind of makes you stick around once you move here.”

“You mean you’re not allowed to move?”

She squinted at me again but her eyes were sad this time.  Her voice was soft but clear when she spoke.

“It’s something like that I suppose, but it’s not like anyone here is physically stopping me from leaving.  It is just this place.  You don’t leave and for the most part no one ever moves here.”

“I could see that.  It’s a small place, far away and all that.  Probably not many people are looking to live this far from civilization.”

“You don’t realize, do you?”

I answered her with a look of confusion so she continued.

“Me and my husband were the last people to ever move here.”


…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 4)

“Do you like history?”  The man asked me this while refilling his glass at the sink.  He had gestured toward mine also but I had waved him off.

“I guess so.  It usually interests me anyway, if it’s useful.  Not boring stuff, but a good story about something or some interesting details, yeah, I like those.”

“Ok.  So, this will be a little history lesson for you about that mine.”

“For the purpose of keeping me out of it, I suppose?”

Brown Suit just raised his eyebrows in reply, then drank half of his water.

“That mine goes back a ways, basically to around 1918.  There was a family up here at the time, the Caldwell’s, kind of prominent in business and politics.  They made some decent money by investing in the Wilbur mine and the son, Boyd, he came over this way and put in stakes for what became the Clyde Forks mine.  He didn’t stick around for long though, just enough time to dig a few holes and put in his claim.  Probably didn’t even pull one ton of barite out of that ground.  That family wasn’t really the type to spend a lot of time in the field, if you know what I mean.  He basically went back to Lanark and got comfortable, bought some more businesses, mostly mills and the like, got elected to Parliament and we never heard from him again.”

“We, meaning you were here?  In 1918?”  I was skeptical of that claim but thought it might just be possible given how old this man looked.

He finished his water and continued on.  “So it just sat there, with not much happening to it, and eventually his claim ran out and then someone else picked it up, and then that all repeated itself for decades.  Claims, a little fuss, no action.  Then a few locals up here decided to take a crack at it in the late 1950’s. That’s when the first person disappeared.”

I raised an eyebrow at that.  I kind of felt like this story was going to end up being about some reason not to go to the mine, but I had not quite expected it to go this way.  I guess I was expecting tales of people dying in the mine, not disappearing.  Me and the old man stared at each other for a few moments and then he continued.

“They spent three years on it, surveying and taking samples and drilling, all for nothing much.  They were closing up shop, getting the equipment out, when one day a guy just isn’t there.  Five men had gone out to clear the site and the four guys that were left were just as confused by the whole thing as everyone else was.  They said they woke up one morning and he was gone, and they figured he had given up and gone into town on his own.  They got back to Flower Station  and couldn’t find him and that’s when everyone realized he was missing.  Not one trace of him was ever found either, except for his hat, which they found hanging from the lower branches of a tree about five hundred feet from the mine.”

“Yeah, that seems a little strange.  There couldn’t have been many places he could really go I suppose, not around here.  I mean, these are all pretty small towns.  Someone would have probably noticed if he turned up nearby.”

“Yes, they would have, and he never did.”

I stretched a little and looked around the kitchen.  I had not noticed before but there was a cat with thick black and white fur sitting on the inside ledge of a window by the stove.  It yawned when it looked at me and then turned its attention back outside.

“So, that’s one missing guy.  Who else?”

“Six other people.  Two working men associated with mining operations, a local who drifted between towns, an old woman, and a young boy.  All of them were in that area right near the mine for various reasons and all of them disappeared completely.”

“How much searching was really done for these people?  I mean, this is a whole lot of water and trees around here and I expect it’s pretty easy to get lost.  Really lost.  And dying out here, well you probably wouldn’t be found unless someone stumbled right over your body.”

“That’s a good question but I can assure you that all of these people were searched for extensively.  By us, by police, by dogs, over and over again, sometimes for months.  Nothing was ever found except a few personal items.”

He stopped talking and was looking at me expectantly.  Or maybe it was just hopefully, figuring I would give in now.  I was going over his story in my head as something did not seem right, some detail was wrong or missing.  I finally thought I had it.

“So, I might see how most of these people, well how the last location of most of these people might be known.  You said they had all been in the exact area around the mine, right?”

“Yes, they were.”

“Well, I guess I buy that except for your drifter.  How would anyone know where a person like that had been before they went missing?  You said he just drifted around between the towns up here.”

“She did.”


“The drifter was a woman.”

“Oh.”  That gave me a moment of pause to reconsider my assumptions about a few things.  Then I continued.  “Still, woman or man, how would anyone know?  Maybe that person just died under some big tree and rotted away.  It might not be part of your great missing person conspiracy about the mine.”

Brown Suit rubbed his wrinkled face and blinked back at me several times, his bright, deep-set eyes seeming to turn on and off in the shadows of his brow.

“Her campsite was found right at the old entrance of the mine.  The cooking fire was out and there was a full cup of cold coffee sitting on a nearby rock.  She took off her shirt before she disappeared.”


“Her shirt was found on the ground by the coffee cup.  It was tangled up in a branch but I think that was probably from the wind blowing it around a little.”

“So she left a shirt behind?  Big deal.  I don’t think that says anything about her taking it off before she left.  Maybe it was just a random shirt from her backpack, or whatever she carried her stuff around in.”

“She only had one shirt.”

“Really?  How do you know that?”

“I gave it to her because she didn’t have one.  She only ever had one set of clothing and her shirt had fallen apart when I saw her sitting on a tree stump just up the road from here.”

“Maybe it was already off when she went missing?”


“Hmm, well maybe.  That’s a strange detail if true.  So, these six people,” and that is when it struck me.  The thing that was really off about the old man’s story.”

“You know, you said that six people went missing. But then you only mentioned five specific people?”

…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 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