Prologue

The sleeper slept, the dreamer dreamt, the thinker thought, the buyer bought, the widow wept.

"Fuck! Josie! Gimme another white. Josie! Get in your magic bag and gimmie another white. Josie? This is no fucking time to play games."

I would have pulled over ... if there was any place TO pull over. This road? This trail was one snake turn after another. I couldn't even look to see if Josie was awake.

Josie Henshaw, 16 years old, my co driver, navagator, loader, helper, nightmare ... nothing pretty about Josie ... just one step past a whinny. She was asleep on the seat ... I think ... she was supposed to be asleep.

Which is where I should have been seven hours ago ... but I wasn't. I was arguing with the log company push. The push is the yard foreman.

We had pulled into the yard to load our logs. There wasn't a great deal of work going on. This crew worked the logs out of the cut and down to the yard road with mules ... better conservation and less damage to the woods. The yard road was worked with oxen and the only machinery visible was the stacker. Decks of logs for different mills were stacked together.

The pusher was trying to fuck me. I could see ... directly in line of sight ... the deck of the logs labeled Johnson and Son in bright red fluorescent spray paint ... the logs we were supposed to pick up.

The logs he was trying to palm off had NO paint ... pure trash, beaver-bait, blow-downs and culls. The tornado that ripped through here three years ago left buckskins standing and those were in that cold deck too.

Tornado trees were twisted the length of the trunk ... if a sawmill blade so much as touched the butt-end of one of those twisters, the cut released the twisted fibers and the log turned into a gigantic grenade. They could be cut across the grain to fell them; a lengthwise cut was a catastrophe in the making.

The year after the tornado a deal between cruiser and scaler sent a few of the twisters to a rival mill. The first few logs through the six foot mill-blade cut just fine ... the first twister killed the sawyer, left the saw cradle and hydraulics a disaster and the saw blade was found a mile away stuck in the side of a Brinks armored truck.

Mr. Johnson wasn't having any of that crap.

We finally got what we paid for, Johnson and Son, the whole deck, loaded, chained and placarded, when the cook's flunky came running up and pulled on the pushers sleeve.

"Boss."

"WHAT?!?"

The flunk ducked and the hand passed through the air that was supposed to be flunky.

"Cookie says the main road is collapsed and the State crews are working to get 'er open again."

"Again?"

"Three times this year," I said. "Low bid," as if that explained it.

"Fuck!" He turned to us, Josie and me, and said, "You can bunk up or take the logging road. If it was me ... I'd bunk up. That road is hell."

"Dad needs those timbers if we want to stay in business. The log road?"

"Straight past the gut robber's crummy and left at the break-over."

Things would have been a little less worrying if we had had our load without argument. Five hours would have had Josie home and me in the shower ... after feeding the dogs.

Except...

Five hours would have had us in the right spot to take the blame for collapsing that State Highway. Not that we would have known about it.

Would 'a ... Could 'a ... Should 'a. Tremendous excuses but no reasons.

The log road would have been dangerous in a pickup ... in a logging truck? There were times when the outside front wheel was only half on the road. And then it commenced to rain.

A wide spot ahead looked inviting. I pulled over as close to the rock face as I could get, wiped my brow and turned to look at Josie. She wasn't there, neither was the right side door ... and I hadn't heard a thing.

The rain intensified ... and the lightning began.

Let me tell you a little about lightning. If you're on the flat highballing, the lightning is coming from up there ... it gets strung out and looks like fingers. If you're already up there and driving through the clouds the lightning can be 20 feet across ... it's interesting to be in the middle of one of those strikes. Generally, the rubber tires are flinging water and the rubber is an insulator. We were standing and the lightning passed through ... the entire cab was a capacitor and so was yours truly.

It was just after that that the rock face the truck was cuddling detached itself from the mountain.

Chapter 1 ยป

Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Ma/ft / Consensual / Reluctant / Science Fiction / Aliens / non-anthro /