The Sight of Time

The Sight of Time
The Brass Automaton Saga Part IV

This saga was started by Mark Gardner over at Article 94. He explains the origins of this Snow White / Terminator mashup as a preface to Part I, “The Brass Automaton.” I contributed Part III last week, “The Price of Beauty,” which picks up after the events in Part II, “Floating Smile.”

tl;dr – Part I | Part II | Part III

|| John stared at the Tenyks laying flat on his back. There were at least a dozen more forever trapped in the contorted positions in which they died. The Tenyks on the Barn’s floor though was different though, and John couldn’t take his eyes away from the agonized face struggling to move despite a broken back. It wasn’t just that it was the only one still alive, it was that John had sent it to it’s current pain. He’d managed to cast it down from the loft when it had surprised John, interrupting his flight for refuge.

“How many more? Where?” Reese was demanding of the thing. “Tell me and I will end your suffering quickly.” When her answer was naught but the silently moving of its lips like a fish gaping at its own reflection in a tank, Reese deftly slide the dagger across its throat. She shook her head and sighed before looking around the area.

The freezing of its face in a mask of impotent fury roused John to speech, “I don’t believe it!”

“I know. This is bad. Very bad.”

“You killed a helpless man!”

John steadied himself against the loft’s ledge to brace himself against the force of Reese’s glare.

“Look at them John. How much humanity is left? When you wound a stag to where it cannot walk do you wait for it to die slow? Or do you end its suffering?”

John used the excuse of coming down from the loft to avoid answering. He looked at the Tenyks faces again, but closer this time, looking through his horror and disgust. Even in death there is a mark of humanity that remains with people. Here there was none. Their faces bore only the marks of savagery and the grim castings of hatred.

“I’m sorry Reese, this is all so… So-”

“Yeah. I know.”

It was some hours, and more miles than John thought possible, before they spoke again. “Why is it so bad, Reese?” he finally asked.

Reese sighed again, and her eyes focused faraway before she answered. “Time is fickle even for Magick. The Evil Queen made a Time Portal to send the Brass Automaton back to get you. A rip in Time itself,” she added when she saw he didn’t understand. “I tried to stop it, but fell through Time with it instead, arriving years before it did. So, the Tenyks could only have come through if it was stabilized. Which would also mean, many, many more of them.”

“Oh.”

“Our only hope is that we found out about it, and stopped it, before any more could make it through.”

“How would we do that?” asked John after some quiet, confused thinking.

“Not you and me, ‘We,’ my Sisters, ‘We.’ Bugger Time and talking about it!” she added kicking a small rock.

“How many Sisters do you have?”

Reese released a hearty, full laugh, one that John couldn’t remember ever having seen from her before. “I have been trapped here so long I forget how little you know and how long its been. It has been a long time since I’ve truly thought of them.

“Hundreds, John, I have hundreds if not thousands of Sisters.”

“You have…”

“Thousands of Sisters yes. It’s what we call ourselves. Almost every man exposed to the Evil Queen’s spell was trapped. Forever. Nothing we could do, and believe me we tried everything, could break her spell. The women though, and most of the younger boys, were swayed but not controlled. When the message ended we broke free.

“There was only one woman on the Council of Nine, and she realized what was going on almost immediately. She made her escape through a secret passage and then organized the Resistance. She gathered the Sisters, the boys, and those few men who weren’t trapped, and brought them to the shelter of the Caves.

“The Eastern Mountains are our home now. The men toil over our flocks and the few crops we can grow. The Sisters ensure that the Evil Queen is reminded of her mortality and that no Tenryks who enter the foothills leave alive.”

She crouched suddenly, pulling John down after her. He strained to be quiet, even holding his breath tight enough to where he started hearing his own heartbeat in his ears. It sounded far too loud and fast.

“Breathe fool!” she hissed, “just do it quietly.”

He saw now what she had seen. It was a small village, thought he couldn’t remember ever having been visited it. He wondered it if it even had a name beyond, “The Village,” for the surrounding people. Something about it felt deeply wrong though. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it when Reese whispered, “The people are gone.”

Wary of traps, it took them hours to verify the village was empty. On their final pass Reese grinned, “There!”

“People?” John asked, looking in all directions.

“Better. A blacksmith shop. Now we may just stand a chance against the Automaton. Then we can worry about the Time Portal.”

Any questions John had about the plan were soon lost as she directed their preparations. “Do you think this will work, Reese?” he asked while they ate dry bread with their back’s against the Blacksmith’s cold forge.

“I hope so. We don’t have many options left, but at least its a practical plan.”

“It’s nice just to not be running anymore,” John added some time later after they finished their meager rations in silence.

“It is. The more so when it’s harder in some ways too.”

“I’ve been thinking about the Sisters,” he added, nodding to her sagacity. “Don’t you worry that one of the men will catch a reflection somewhere and be turned while he’s with you in The Caves?”

“No, not anymore. We take strict measures to ensure they can never see a reflection.”

“Oh. But, how would you even manage that?”

Reese took a long swallow from a wineskin they’d found before answering. “We blind them.”

D. Paul Angel88x31
999 Words

My Proposal for Addressing Gun Violence

My Proposal for Addressing Gun Violence

|| The 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution reads in full, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Most often when I hear the 2nd Amendment referred to it is only the second clause that is quoted, “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Indeed the current law of the land from the Supreme Court is that the initial clause discussing does not limit individual ownership of firearms, nor does it require that gun owners be part of a “Militia.” Even so, I have no doubt the Founders chose their words carefully, so I think it is easily arguable that the first clause gives context to the second. I understand the legal arguments and believe my proposal below not only doesn’t contravene the 2nd Amendment, but is actually truer to its plain language.

I would propose that responsible gun ownership would start involving literal and not just figurative responsibility. Gun owners would be responsible for the use of their guns at all times, civilly and criminally. If you allow your three old to access your weapon and they hurt someone with it, you, as the gun owner, are responsible. It would not be a “tragic accident” so much as, by law, your fault. Firearms are inherently dangerous and to own them should come with that same inherent burden of responsibility.

Every firearm sold in the US has a unique serial number, so there is no reason why every firearms should not have an identified owner. Thefts must be reported, along with the corresponding serial number, and any and all sales must be reported and logged as well. The first step in responsibility, after all, is being willing to take ownership of your firearm. The registry would need to be National, but there is no reason why it needs to be public, nor that law enforcement without due process. It should be available for looking up firearms found in the commission of crimes, but looking up names of individuals should require a warrant. That way gun owners’ 4th Amendment rights to due process remain intact.

Responsibility also means training and regular testing for competency. It does say, after all, a “well regulated Militia.” If you cannot pass the test, then you are prohibited from owning firearm until you can pass the test. That also means any practicing you do is with a gun someone else owns and is ultimately responsible for, encouraging the owner to ensure the safety and responsibility of the shooter. In addition, military and/or law enforcement experience would not result in automatic passes of competency. Just because you have had the training, doesn’t mean you are capable of applying it.

People wanting to conceal carry or open carry would also be required to undergo additional training and need to demonstrate a much higher level of ability. Re-testing would have to take place on a regular basis and they would have to be evaluated not just on their firearms, but their decision making in crises situations as well. Their actions in a shooting incident would also be judged closer to that of law enforcement since they would have had extensive training and have to stay current with it in order to carry their firearm, whether openly or concealed.

There should also be a gradation in firearm training competency. The standards for a semi-automatic rifle with a large capacity magazine should require more stringent requirements than a single shot .22 rifle. There is a wide spectrum between long guns, shotguns, and hand guns, and the training should not just assume equality in weapons. It will not only aid in owners in being more responsibile, but will make owners more knowledgeable of the firearms they possess.

Finally, I think we need to recognize that as populations increase, the dangers of firearms increase as well. There need to be reasonable rules regarding gun use, carry, and training depending on whether an individual is in an urban, suburban, rural, or wilderness environment. Part of gun ownership would necessitate knowing the different rules governing firearms in the different areas.

This is by no means meant to be exhaustively described. It is very broad and there would be significant hurdles in both its implementation and the logistics associated with it. It would also mean that there was the necessary political will to make these changes, or any change for that matter, which I do not think is realistically going to happen for another generation, or more. In a small glimmer of hope, however, I thought the same thing about removing the Confederate Flag from State property.

I would love to hear your thoughts, and I have no doubt they are strong ones, so please share! I’m sure a lot of you have significant criticisms, and I am looking forward to hearing those too.

D. Paul Angel88x31

The Price of Beauty

The Price of Beauty
The Brass Automaton Saga Part III

This story started with Mark Gardner over at Article 94, and he explains its origins before diving into Part I, “The Brass Automaton.” Part III below picks up after the events in Part II, “Floating Smile.”

|| John laid in the hay feeling more exhausted than he ever had before. He wasn’t sure he could move again even if the Brass Man himself burst through the barn wall. He looked uneasily at the barn wall again, uncertain just how much of a probability it was. Reese seemed to read as mind as she said, “We should be safe here for the night. If nothing else we likely forced it to feed.”

John remembered something about it feeding on blood, and thought better of asking for any further details. He had only ever known Reese as his tutor, but she was, well, she was like a hero of old jumping off the page and into the flesh.

“How did you know there would be quicksand in the clearing?” John asked, finally. The weight of their second close escape kept running through his mind over and over again.

“I put it there,” she answered simply, before dashing up the ladder to recheck the barn’s loft.

“But, then why didn’t he follow us around the edge of the clearing?”

“Because he always follows in a straight line.”

“And what about the-”

“You ask a lot of questions John,” she said, firmly interrupting, “Maybe you should be resting.”

“And that’s another thing! How are you still so energetic? Especially since you’re a-” John stopped talking as abruptly as she had stopped moving, gulping at her stare.

“Only a woman?” she asked quietly.

“Well…” John answered, suddenly taking a keen interest in a particularly course strand of hay.

“Fine. After all, it’s you it wants to kill, you’ve at least earned the full story.”

John realized it had only been a matter of hours since he had demanded to know that story. Now the thought of it turned his stomach.

Reese snorted at his discomfort before starting, “Decades hence, the evil queen will not yet be a queen, but she will have given herself wholly to Evil. She came to the castle in the guise of a crone during a time of wary peace. We had been at war with our neighbors, the Rooskye, for generations. We didn’t so much have a truce with them, as that all their border incursions simply stopped.

“The main connector to our countries was The Bridge, spanning the deep, and cold, Allooashinn River. For three years no one from Rooskye had come over it, and no from Oossah who dared to cross had returned. Until she came across, appearing out of the fog on a sickly mare. It collapsed under her as soon as it reached Oossah soil, and she begged the Guards for aid. Soon enough she was telling her story in the Capitol to the Council of Nine.”

John thought he heard a faint rustling outside, but he brushed it off to one of the farm animals. The Brass Man was many things, but quiet was not one of them, and he was enraptured by Reese’s tale. “She had a silver hand mirror with her, which one of the Nine identified as belonging to the Rooskye Royal Family. She claimed to have been one of the Royal nannies, and, even more shocking the only surviving Rooskye left!”

“You mean of the Royal house, don’t you?” asked John incredulously.

“No, of all the Rooskye’s. She descibed in detail the Oossah’s Magical Mirror, and then showed them that the Silver hand mirror was of similar Magicks.”

“But the Magic Mirror was shattered centuries ago! Only seven fragments yet survive.”

“Magick obeys no law save its own. Not even time. The Mirror during this time is yet whole. Its not until it’s later shattered that the breaking spans through all of time.”

“But… That is…”

“Don’t. It just is. Whether it makes sense to any save Magick matters not.”

John shook his head a bit at that, wondering just how many animals the farm must have as he heard more shuffling outside as Reese continued, her eyes looking up in remembrance, “She showed an invading horde in the mirror. The Tenyks. Once men, twisted by Dark Magic into slavering, bloodthirsty savages, closer in mind to beast than man.

“The council panicked, of course, as they recognized the magnitude of the threat. They could see the Tenyks were mere days away from Oossah, and knew there was not enough time for them to marshal the countryside and ready defenders before the Evil horde arrived. So, when the crone offered them a solution, they leapt for it.

“They took her to the Magic Mirror where she used her Magick to connect to every reflection throughout the land. Whether it was a mirror, still water, or a shiny blade, her visage was seen. Just as she was about to call every male in Oossah to arms, her form changed before the Council’s eyes. She raised from her stoop, her warts and lesions gave way to smooth unblemished skin, and the years melted away from her face until it was beautiful beyond compare.

“Every man in the room fell into a dark swoon for her, as did every man in all of Oossah who saw her reflected. Their wills became lost in their darkened lust for her beauty, and she easily added them to her army.”

“She had an army, too?” asked John, feeling even more fright.

“Of course,” replied Reese, cocking her head, “Who else would the Tenyks be?”

Before John could answer the door and windows to the barn burst open, giving way to snarling, mindless men in mismatched black armor.

“Tenyks!” Reese shouted, “Quick John, to the loft!”

Continue on to Part IV, “The Sight of Time

D. Paul Angel88x31
931 Words

Satia

IMG_3130

SatiaDSC00843
Saying Goodbye to Our Happy, Little Puppy-Dog Satia Bug

I call Satia (say-shuh) “little” even though she weighed over 60lbs. I also call her a “puppy” dog, even though she’s over ten. But the biggest understatement of all is to call her simply, “happy.” She had a Spirit that was damn near indomitable, and she enjoyed the hell out of every day she had.

IMG_3256When anyone came to the door she would immediately tear off through the house looking for her “Proud.” A ball, bone, or other such toy she could proudly display as greeting yours or anyone else’s arrival. She would then dance around you, her “Proud” tightly clutched, madly wagging her tail as hard as she could. We knew because her whip like tail hurt! If she was next to something that resonated you’d even hear her before you made it through the door. WHAP! WHAP! WHAP! WHAP! WHAP! WHAP!

IMG_6072She never so much ran, as simply picked a direction and threw herself that way. Other dogs may trot, but she either sprinted, legs churning to keep up with her momentum, or she would slowly walk towards you, regardless of any hurry you happened to be in. She also loved the ancient art of “Rolly-Polly.” She would flop on her back, twisting and wiggling back and forth, happily grunting the whole while. She was so prodigious at it that she would come running into the bedroom at full speed, leap towards the bed, and begin her roll in midair! She would land on her back, already in mid flop, and the Rolly-Polly would commence. It is just one of the many puppy things that she never did quite get around to outgrowing.

IMG_3130We got her from the Humane Society where she was 1/11 of a sharpei/pitbull litter dropped off in the Spring of 2005. We already had Zack, a 2 year old lab/border collie, so he came with us to meet his prospective sibling. We introduced Tomika first, one of Satia’s sisters. She saw Zack and tried to hide from him behind our legs. So they brought Satia in. Her response to Zack was to jump on him and start playing. She became part of our life that day. Whenever she wasn’t playing with Zack she would follow you around the house, room to room, just to stay close. Thus earning her the endearingly appropriate nickname, “Bug.”

IMG_9833Naps for her were an especial favorite, and she slept with us from the get go. She was all of a foot and a half long, could be easily picked up with one hand, and could snore louder than a grizzly with a sinus infection. Or, more appropriately, if you imagine a grizzly with a sinus infection snoring, that would be her. It was ridiculously loud, and would usually start deep in the middle of the night, startling you awake. We soon learned you had to adjust her head just a bit to stop it, but we seriously wondered if we would ever get sleep again before learning the trick. She was a vigorous sleeper and she ran with as much abandon in her sleep as she did awake. She would also often bark in her sleep, which was an adorably, soft ruffruffruffruff. She epitomized joy and exuberance every day. Everything she did, she did at full throttle. Even when it came to laying down she wouldn’t slowly lower herself so much as just drop straight down, or flop on her side.

IMG_0052Unfortunately we noticed one day she had a growth on her abdomen around her umbilical area that didn’t look good. Our vet agreed and he promptly removed it, but our fears were realized, triplefold. She had cancer. It had metastasized. It had become systemic. Our beautiful spirit had only a matter of weeks, maybe a year left with Chemo. Maybe. We opted for the Chemo, and decided to make the most of that year.

Three years later, and she was still with us! Even as recently as this past Spring our vet would see her and marvel, “Does she know she’s not supposed to be around?”

“No,” we’d say, “she doesn’t even know she supposed to be sick.”

And she really didn’t. Several times in these past three years we’ve thought, “This is it. It’s her time,” only to have her prove us wrong. The last time, six weeks ago, she waited until hours before the scheduled appointment before making a happy recovery from her downturn; giving us more time with our happy little puppy dog.

DSC01842 squareToday though was finally her time, and we let her go this evening. Though her body was no longer able to support her Spirit, we know her Spirit is far from done. Godspeed my happy little, puppy-dog. You will be dearly missed but I look forward to seeing you again on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. I cannot wait to see what you bring me as your proud

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D. Paul Angel

The Writer’s Conversation

The Writer’s Conversation

A few years back I had the pleasure of meeting the ridiculously talented Tony Noland, when his work brought him Portland ways. I offered to show him around the city a bit, but we didn’t make much past Powell’s coffee shop, where we talked for quite awhile about writing. This was, perhaps, the most appropriate venue for such a discussion in all of Portland, if not the entire Pacific Northwest; tables overflowing with people, books, laptops, and coffee, all surrounded by 10 foot stacks of even more books.

Our conversation was but one in a long, long line dating back into time immemorial. It is a tradition dating back to Thag and Oola, when their respective groups met on some prehistoric plain, and they were introduced with some variation of, “Remember that thing, they tell story best!” Writers see the world differently, and our family and friends, and especially co-workers, don’t often understand that our perspective of life isn’t so much skewed, as bent. In a good way as far as we’re concerned, of course, but it can make for some decidedly awkward conversation around the lunch table at work.

Soon enough we learn discretion and save our insights for more receptive audiences. While once upon a time that likely would have been ye olde coffee shop, pub, or correspondence with like minded souls, in the new millennium it has taken the form of Social Media. Specifically for me it has been Twitter. Whether my it’s my own preferences or simply the way it is, I have found no greater wealth of talented writers than on twitter. They are easily found through such hashtags as, #buttinchair, #amwriting, and the one that brought me into the writer’s fold, the venerable #FridayFlash.

Insights, encouragement, and flashes of wisdom flit back and forth at all times, irrespective of day or night. Whether you are sharing or listening, there is an overwhelming amount of knowledge and support always right there. For me it has been everything from a gentle nudge from Mark Gardner to write more, to reading Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces with Sonia Lal and Katherine Hajer, to the sparking of long emails with Victoria Griffin, our Link Party host, detailing our successes and failures with National Novel Writing Month.

The way in which these conversation between us storytellers, us writers, may have changed, but what we talk about has not. Our own particular twist of hopes, dreams, insecurities, and successes may be the topic, but the vibrancy of the conversation flows from our uniquely grokked view of the World. The practice of writing may be inherently solitary, but it is the community to which we all belong that gives us not just inspiration, but the courage to pursue it.

D. Paul Angel88x31

– See more at: http://www.victoriagriffinfiction.com/blog/sunday-writers-link-party-1#sthash.1T4A1a14.dpuf

Death Prize

This week’s #FridayFlash was inspired by the following tweet from Far Manor‘s Larry Kollar:

@FARfetched58
Damn You Auto-Correct!


It was hard not to run with it…

Death Prize

Detective Morgan walked across the Hotel Excelsior’s red, lavishly piled carpet. It was a nice enough hotel that she had only ever visited it in a professional capacity, hating its opulence all the more. “You the Maitre D’?” she asked the hotel’s flustered staffer stalking next to her.

“The concierge,” he answered with haughty coldness.

“Yeah. Sure. Whatever French word you prefer. What you got?” she asked, not even waiting to finish her question before adding another stick of nicotine gum to her mouth.

“It’s the Grand Ballroom. End of the Hall. The 50th high School reunion hasn’t left yet and they’ve latched the door from the inside.”

“Seems odd retirees would choose a Sunday night for partying. Who was in there with them last ?”

“They booked it Saturday night. Out of respect for their years we didn’t just rush them out.”

“Meaning you didn’t need the room until now, so you could charge them an extra premium.”

“I cannot discuss-”

“Yeah. Whatever,” she said interrupting him with her final steps to the door. She held up a hand when he started to protest, and leaned her ear against the wall to listen. She’d been a Detective long enough to know the difference between mere silence, and dangerous silence. “Murphy. Jones. Master key time,” she said as she pulled out her Glock.

“I had no idea police really had a master key-” He stopped and turned white as he saw two burly uniformed cops pull out a squat, black battering ram. “No! Nononononononono-” was as far as he got before Morgan’s nod started them swinging the Master Key, shattering the doors open with their first blow.

~~~

Fannie walked through the room beaming, keenly aware of the comments that followed in her wake.

“I didn’t know Fannie had a granddaughter? That has to be her granddaughter, right?”

“That can’t be Fannie, can it?”

“Why, she looks better than she did 50 years ago!”

“Fannie? Fatty Fannie? It can’t be.”

“Can they really do plastic surgery like, well, like that?

There were more of them, of course; far more. A good deal were highly complimentary, and though there were some snide, hateful remarks, they were said with enough combined jealousy to sustain volumes of Fairy Tale villains. Most of the comments though were simply stunned amazement. She did, after all, look like she was 18 again. Only this time an athletic, toned 18, who could, and did!, fit into a silky sliver of an evening gown. Fatty Fannie was dead forever, only Fabulous Fannie would ever rule again.

“Welcome Class of 1965!” she said, having finally reached the stage and taking over the microphone from the crooning Oldies cover band. Her pronouncement was met with raucous applause, some awe, and more than a few catcalls. “Oh, you’ll make a poor girl blush,” she said, lapping it up after so many years of hate and ridicule. She let it continue a bit before continuing on into her practiced speech, “As we begin tonight’s festivities, I have some good news. And some great news.

“The good news is, I don’t just look 18, I am 18!” This led to whole new round of shouts, boos, cheers, and shock. “I know. I know you don’t believe me, but the great news is- you can be 18 too! And you’ll believe it once you are!”

She shushed the crowd with her arms and spoke again. “Everybody find your seat, and you’ll see a present with your name. That is your prize for making it so many years already, and its the gift of many, many more!”

She hopped down from the stage and began mingling again as the band launched into Earth Angel. It was only a few minutes before the first shout came, followed quickly by a handful more. Tommy, Lizzie, Bobbie, Joey, Susie, and Milton were soon running around the room as perfected versions of their 18 year old selfs. Fannie grinnedinto the near pandemonium as everyone scattered to find their prize. The band, neither paid enough nor inebriated enough for the evening’s unexpected Twighlight Zoning, made a hasty escape just before the “kids” locked the doors tight. With their clothes already many sizes too big, they were readily shed as the night quickly descended into Bacchanalian debauchery.

Fannie danced through the revelry, basking in its wanton excess with a wicked, half- crooked grin.

~~~

Detective Morgan hands were shaking so much she needed both of them to safely re-holster her Glock. Detectives, Unifroms, and hotel staff all stood in equally stunned silence. There were bodies everywhere, frozen in time as though they had been been turned to stone. Most were still intimately coupled, if not tripled, quadrupled, or more, and those who weren’t seemed to have been otherwise animated when they, died? she thought.

“Let’s check pulses, people!” she shouted, getting the rest of the team moving. They stepped over piles of too large, out of style clothes, random messes of food, drink, and what they hoped were merely combinations of food and drink as they worked their way through the room. Every last person, all of whom looked like they were either late teens or early twenties, was dead. Cold dead.

“They’re smiling,” the Concierge said, gingerly lifting one of the gift boxes. Morgan looked again and realized they were all smiling in distorted agonies of pleasure. All save one. A woman in a clinging, silk dress sat alone on the stage wearing a smile of immutable satisfaction.

D. Paul Angel88x31
919 Words

Squatching

Squatching

ZennmasterZ's EXterra with Mt. Hood in the background
ZennmasterZ’s EXterra with Mt. Hood in the background

I went Squatching last week with the inestimable ZennmasterZ, with whom I have been friends for nigh on two decades now. While I have only a passing familiarity with Bigfoot and its accompanying lore, courtesy of In Search Of and its sister shows, Michael is a fount of knowledge which enabled many a great conversation about the Myth and/or possible reality of Squatches. I gave up any attempt at absurdist humor in regards to Bigfoot theories rather quickly since everything I have ever come up with has not only already been posited, but vigorously argued for. It also meant that instead of picking a campsite and plopping down for a few days in the forest, we had an actual destination steeped in Squatchiness to explore and photograph: the Glen Thomas Site.

Thomas was a bulldozer spotter working in the Mt. Hood National Forest. One day in early Winter of 1967, when the bulldozer was not yet ready for road cutting, Thomas walked ahead of it and the rest of the crew. He soon came across a pile of granite stones and boulders strewn across a ridge smack dab in the middle of nowhere.

And a family of Sasquatches.

It was the proverbial Nuclear family of Mom, Dad, and child. Dad was lifting the rocks and sniffing the bottom, neatly piling them as he went. Then he seemed to find what he was looking for and began clearing a hole in the pile. He pulled hibernating ground-squirrels from the bottom of the rock hole and the Squatch family feast began. At least for the Parents. According to Thomas, while Dad and Mom ate the most, Junior struggled to get what little he did, mostly leftovers. Soon enough the Squatch Family realized they were being watched and quickly disappeared from view. Thomas gave his account in an interview to John Green, and remained anonymous for many years after. He finally allowed his name to be used almost a decade later, well after his account had been published in Green’s book, On the Track of Sasquatch.

While I cannot verify Mr. Thomas’ account, I can attest to a) there being a large pile of granite rocks and slabs out in the middle of nowhere, b) there being stacks of stones in and around the pile, and c) there is a largish hole that has been cleared out of the pile. I am 6′ tall, and only my head was visible when I stood in the hole. I could also spread my arms across the top of the hole without my fingers touching the edges.

It is, regardless of its place in Bigfoot Lore, a bizarre thing to have out in the middle the woods. It is over an hour drive to the site from the nearest campground along roads that require 4×4 drive, and even then it still requires a hike in from where the road definitively ends. Whatever story you can come up with to explain the hole and stacks of rocks near it, there is no denying that there is a story, even if only involving the glacial placement of anentropic rocks.

Since Oregon decided to its best Arizona impersonation last week with temperatures hovering near triple digits, we did less hiking and more 4×4’ing in Michael’s XTerra than originally planned. We explored various spurs, logging roads, and Powerline Access double tracks crisscrossing the vast forest. This also allowed us to witness a black bear run across our path, which was recorded on Michael’s dashboard cam! As mentioned earlier, we committed a good deal of photography, the results of which can by found on my flickr site, as well as his. The inescapable truths it documents, of course, is that not only is Oregon a beautiful state, but that we are fortunate to have so many miles of National Forests and Parks so close.

It is also when I stand atop a ridge line and look out to miles and miles of dense, sparsely populated forest that my skepticism wavers to allowing a definitive, “Maybe.” Or, in Michael’s words, “Hopeful.”

D. Paul Angel88x31