How a normal kid with an extraordinary talent became the world’s first, and perhaps last, evil mastermind.
I live in the mountains near Rico, Colorado. I found an elevated valley that hadn’t felt the foot of man since the early 1840s. I was close enough to pick up FM signals with a long wire antenna, so I could listen to the jazz programs on public radio from Gunnison. People don’t like me around because I won’t roll over and play dead. Just because I can find things that nobody else can is no reason to put a collar around my neck and make me their property.
I grew up near Savannah, Georgia. It seems like I’ve always been able to find things that people lost. Coins, glasses, rings--things like that. When I reached eight my folks turned me loose with a used Schwinn, and suddenly the world was my oyster. I rode around with an old army map case under my arm and a little garden trowel. I could see the history of things. It’s strange to sit down and let your eyes drift, then start seeing what happened in a place. Stone fences always seemed like good places to search. When Sherman roared through on his march to the sea everyone with half a mind buried a poke somewhere to keep it away from the Yankees. Lots of folks didn’t live long enough to dig it up afterwards and their secrets died with them. I carried some string and some old T-shirts in my bag because the years usually weren’t very gentle on leather pokes or even small chests. Some were tarred or greased and those held up, but most didn’t.
When I came home with handfuls of ten and twenty dollar gold pieces, the dirt still sticking to them, my folks like to have me taken to a priest to get the holy water treatment. Then we moved to a nicer place, a little brick house where I had my own bedroom.
When I came in for supper it was all, “What you find today, Alex?” All the money disappeared and I never saw it again. After a couple seasons I got tired of it. At dinner one night I put down my fork and said, “It’s been a long time since y’all asked how I was or such. Seems like I’m your step-child you send out to help the neighbors, without much home ‘o my own any more.”
It was dead quiet at the table while I excused myself and went to get ready for bed. I was sure sad when they didn’t come in to talk to me. I felt pretty lost.
From then on I built up a poke of my own. It was three for them and one for me. After a good summer’s finds I had a nice pile of $1, $2, $5, $10 and $20 gold pieces and a whole mess of gold rings, some with rubies and some with little diamonds. I heard some folk talk about old gold pieces just showin’ up out of nowhere. The way they talked made me nervous. I got length of canvas, needle and thread then taught myself to sew. Lord, but at first it was butt-ugly work. Soon I got better though. I stitched my initials in the canvas so that if someone made off with it I’d have something to say about it. I didn’t keep it at home, neither.
After a while there just wasn’t that much nearby left to find. I could only go so far on two wheels. Pa yelled a lot and, once he got drunk he beat me so bad that he busted my arm. The police took him away after that. Ma and I moved to Augusta where she got a job at the post office, sorting letters. I went back to school. I believe it was sixth grade.
I got a new Schwinn Varsity ten-speed! That was a nice bike. Once I learned the streets and trails outside of town I went back to my old tricks of bringing home the bacon. I woke up early every morning. If the weather was good I’d head off in a new direction or I went further along a path than I’d been before. I got chased out of some places by dogs but there was lots more territory to hunt. I kept everything I found that morning in a bread bag so that it wouldn’t smell or leave dirt, then wash up at school before class.
Momma smiled and hugged me every night after she got off of work. We’d spread a newspaper on the kitchen table and, using a bowl of water and a potato brush, we cleaned up my finds and patted them dry. She kept totals of what I’d found in a journal and put it all away in a bank box. I talked her into holding back some of it so as not to keep it all in one place. I didn’t trust like I used to. I guess that’s part of growing up.
I got sicker than the devil just after I started sprouting hair everywhere. I had a really high fever. Momma stayed home to sit with me and make sure I didn’t drown in an ice-cold tub of water. I must have been eleven pounds lighter and two inches taller when the fever broke. I also started being able to touch the things I could see at a distance.
It was 1965. Momma bought a five-year-old Chevy pickup truck, and gave a mechanic a lot of money to really give it hell. She put the jewelry aside, cleaned it up and sold it in dribs and drabs to every jeweler inside of fifty miles that had a care to dicker.
I started filling a second canvas money belt. I made one for Momma, too. She gave me a long look when I laid it in her hands, then just nodded. I was fourteen, almost fifteen. Come the week ends we’d go drivin’. The first time I had her stop near a stone wall at the roadside, she about threw a fit. She just watched me as I pulled the rocks away from a collapsed section of wall. I talked as I worked. “They had three wagons and were only a couple days ahead of the Union soldiers. A wheel hit a big rock and it broke free of the hub. It was done for. They moved what they could to the other two wagons and buried what they couldn’t fetch with ‘em between the roots of a big sycamore that stood right here.” I motioned where the big tree had stood. “They used the roots as an out-house to keep anyone from diggin’ there, then fled the advancing army.” I grunted as I pried the chest up from between the stones. “And here it’s laid, ever since that day in the fall of 1864.”
The iron hinges and latch had decayed to red flakes. I pried the lid off with the truck’s tire iron to reveal four long leather sacks, each the size of a child’s fore-arm. I gently rolled each one into an old T-shirt and tied it closed like a sausage, then looked up at Ma with a grin. Her eyes were as big as saucers. “It’s one thing to understand that you can do it, but to watch--that makes a big difference!” I said, “It’s like magic. Every time it happens I can’t help but think that it’s a blessing.”
Once we got it home out came the newspapers again. It was all coins, mostly silver with a few one, three and five dollar gold pieces added in. I said, “They were grain millers. Pretty rich for the time. They burned their mill before the Union got there so the soldiers and their animals would have less to eat.”
We agreed to tuck away the golds in our money belts while leaving the silver for the bank boxes.
We visited old plantation sites, just driving up the old overgrown lanes and exploring. Nobody ever complained. We kept a couple cameras and some rolls of film with us in case someone got too curious, like the police.
Over the next few years we worked our way north-west towards Atlanta, following Sherman’s march to the Sea, but backwards.
We worked out a story to tell folk--I was a dowser. It wasn’t unknown, but it was unusual. I found that I was able to seek out springs and figure where to dig for water.
Slowly--slowly but surely--I learned to push, pull and twist the things I could see at a distance. It was a fine day when I was able to pull a potato out of a field without turning it to mush. I grinned like a fool when I managed to spring open a master lock without touching it. I figured that I’d better keep my big mouth shut in case I learned how to open up a safe. I didn’t want anyone remembering the guy that could spring a lock by looking at it.
I was nineteen when we moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee. We hired an attorney to tell us how to sell the overload of what I’d found without us gettin’ taxed to death or gettin’ sued for dowsing’ for coins on abandoned property. By then we had three big heavy bank boxes full of gold and silver pieces. It was 1974 and the price of gold was going nuts while minted gold and silver coins brought in even more. We found an auction house that dealt in gold coins and such--Sotheby’s. When we poured a couple coffee cans full of gold and silver pieces on the table in front of the man in the pretty suit, he screamed like a little girl. Ma and I glanced at each other and grinned. Yep, we got his attention. Ma reached out and tapped his nose. “We have about eight to ten times this in bank boxes.” He just looked at her like she said they stopped making ice cream. Finally he came out of it, and reached out to look at a few coins. I stopped him. “Nothin’ doin’. Jacket off and roll up your sleeves first.” He blushed like a schoolboy, but did what I asked. After making a few stacks he sat back and said, “I’ve got to go find a partner. Please excuse me.”
He left behind a curtain and we heard a heavy door open, then close. I said, “We’ve got the holding corporation ready, like the lawyer said. I don’t want to sell everything at once. I think we’ll get more if we insist on a cut for the house--five or seven percent, no more.” Ma said, “We’ll start lower. It’s a huge potential for income. Raw gold traded at $832.00 an ounce this morning.” I warned, “The market is bouncing all over. It could take over a year to get the most from holding auctions all over. Sotheby’s deals in England and Europe too.”
I spoke the way I was taught in school. I figured that they were listening and didn’t want to come across as an easy target.
We screwed up. We trusted the government to obey the law.
The FBI didn’t know where the money came from, so it automatically had to be illegal. Thank God I stashed money belts in bus lockers, bonded storage facilities and across the Canadian border in Toronto. I even bought a rebuilt antique 1960 pickup truck and stashed it in a long term storage facility--with two money belts full of gold coins hidden under the bench seat. They froze our bank accounts and tried to make us paupers. Well, hell. I’d been poor before and no doubt I’d be poor again. It wasn’t so much to me. Momma though, she was gettin’ older and didn’t deal with the cold like she used to.
I got tired of all the crap and called the number in the phone book for the U. S. Federal Marshals. I got four deputy marshals willin’ to hear my case. I proved that I was a dowser. We drove around the back roads near Atlanta. I explained that I was looking for old abandoned foundations and fieldstone walls. I found a couple pokes, and a small chest that a family had left under their hearth stone. They took everything, supposedly to make sure I’d not salted the sites. After I found the chest I called it quits. “Y’all have your proof, and you even stole from me what I found. That’s enough of this shit, by God.”
I could tell that they knew I was telling the truth, but they didn’t want to let me go. Finally, they opened the door of their Atlanta office and let me walk. I went to the bank to see if I had funds. They’d released my accounts. I bought a Chevy and drove it home to Chattanooga to see how Ma was doing.
She wasn’t there. Her car was in the garage. The door was busted in. I was numb.
They’d taken my Ma. Where was she? I don’t know how, but I searched out until I found her. She was in a military hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. She had pneumonia and bed sores. She’d lost weight that she couldn’t afford to lose. She looked like hell. I watched as she stopped breathing. I screamed.
I felt out for everyone within a hundred yards from her. I reached out and gave a hard twist inside their hearts, tearing the valves. I moved my sight to the building where I’d been kept in Atlanta. Everyone died. The building next door was a federal court. They all died where they stood.
I went to the library to find maps of the District of Columbia and the built-up area around it. I found the FBI headquarters, the white house, the senate and the house of representatives. The senators were all nice and close together. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. I had to take out the ones closest to the doors to block the exits first. Then I tackled the FBI building, kiling everyone on the top floor first, then the lowest sub-basement and worked my way up.
I found a deep redoubt that started under the White House. I cleared ‘em all out like rats in a granary.
I doubted that I’d gotten all the animals responsible, but I’d sure taken out my fair share. I was empty inside, I went to bed, tired of weeping, tired of living.
I woke up the next morning, surprised that I hadn’t been killed in the night. I dressed, packed a suit case and took the moneybelts we’d hidden in the house. A taxi took me to the storage facility where I’d put aside the restored pickup truck.
I found an open diner and ordered a steak breakfast. While waiting for it to come up I put a couple quarters in the newspaper machine. The headlines screamed about the disaster that decimated the government office holders in DC. I snorted and said to myself, “I’d do it again in a heartbeat”
An old woman sitting at the counter heard me. “Child, did you have somethin’ to do with all this?” I looked her in the eyes and slowly nodded. “They broke in the door and hauled away my Momma while I was bein’ held in Atlanta. They must have kept her in a cold cell and not fed her. I found her as she died of pneumonia, blue and underweight. Her backside was covered in bedsores. They sowed the seeds of discord and reaped the whirlwind.”
She covered her mouth with a shaking hand, weeping. She looked into my eyes once again and fled, knocking over her chair and stumbling to the door. Poor woman. She didn’t deserve to share my pain. I quietly ate my breakfast amid the fearful gazes of the other patrons. I left a fifty to cover the old woman’s tab and to leave a good tip.
It was the early summer of 1977. I gassed up the truck and headed west. Up to Nashville, over to Memphis. I stopped for a few days looking out over the Mississippi to try and make sense of my life.
I was still young. I had most of my life before me. I needed to work with my ‘talents’ to make them stronger--more dependable. I didn’t want to be around a lot of people. It would be perfect if I could live on my own. There had to be a place where nobody else went, yet was within walking distance of a small town.
I continued west. Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Trinidad. I saw the mountains. I continued across the south end of Colorado until I came to Rico, a little tourist town. The flavor of the place seemed about right. It was mostly populated by retirees or people waiting to retire.
I put my hands in the river and listened to where it came from. I heard rushing streams, still pools, riffles and waterfalls. I could taste them. I could see it. There was an elevated valley back there. I looked with my other sight. It wouldn’t be easy to get to. Just what I wanted. I found a place to keep the pickup, then put together a big canvas pack. I took rope, canvas, a few rat traps, an iron pot with a lid, a handful of BIC lighters, twenty pounds of flour, dried eggs, salt, red pepper flakes, a big jar of peanut butter and a half gallon of cooking oil. Early one morning I started following the river upstream.
I took it slow and easy. I didn’t want to get trapped in a canyon with a waterfall at the end and a slick wall, then have to retrace my steps. The second day I was hungry. I held still and watched. With all the greens around the stream there had to be something living there.
I finally found a porcupine waddling down the trail. It was dead in two shakes. I made a fire and burned off the quills, then started skinning and butchering it with my invisible hands as the water started heating in the pot. Using a folded piece of canvas as a table I mixed up some dumplings and added them to the pot when the meat was tender. Some of the flour cooked into a gravy. It was very good.
A couple days later I did find a canyon with a waterfall, but there was a rough trail up. I tied a rope to my belt and the other end to the pack, then started climbing. I took my time, using my talent to dig out hand and foot holds. It was a little over seventy feet up. The water was cold, and I stayed away from the flume. It hit like a hammer. At the top there wasn’t much but a broad rock ledge around a deep pool. Off to the left lay a cliff face with a noisy stream continuing up the valley, littered with big rocks. The other side was a long, grass-covered valley bottom. The cliff walls appeared to be made of granite. I’d found my home.
I crawled over the edge of the pool. The rock lip was about four feet thick. I hauled up my pack then crawled on hands and knees to the grassy verge where I could stand up without worrying about taking a header back down the ravine. Now that I was standing I could see growths of timber up the valley. Someone had been there before. The remains of a lean-to hut lay decaying at the bottom of a two-story tall undercut in the cliff face on the grassy side of the valley. It could have been a hundred and fifty years since a white man had been there. The cabin held a few things I might use, but not much. There was a coffee cup and a butcher knife that had lasted. In one corner I found a big blue speckle-ware coffee pot.
After cutting the old tree trunks into sections I pulled the remains of the cabin to one side, using my rope and talent. I’d take my firewood wherever I could get it. Then I started carving a cabin out of the side of the cliff, protected by the over hang. I experimented until I could produce four inch by eight inch by eight foot stone planks. I dragged them off to one side, then built a little shed to use as an outhouse. I had to make the tools to make my tools to move and stack the stone. I used planed-off timber to slide the stone beams around, then more timbers set on an angle to raise each beam to the next level. They were too heavy for me to pick up with my talent alone. All I could do was slide them around. However, I could pull them out of the rock faces once I’d cut them free.
Using TK to dig the hole for the outhouse beat the stuffings out of using a shovel!
Once I had the outhouse constructed I built a little lean-to on it with the beams and covered it with canvas. It gave me a place to sleep out of the weather. I set my rat traps fastened down with steel cable every night. Let the game catch itself. Every other day I worked from dawn until dusk at (digging? mining? constructing?) my cabin. I left the front wall pretty thick, about four feet. The entry way floor angled up a little, as did the ceiling angle towards the back. I made room for one large kitchen and sleeping room, and two blind store rooms at the end of long hallways for my larder. It was easy enough for me to drill up at an angle to make a chimney. I decided to use most of the spare stone beams to make a smoke house. The rest of my time was spent clearing out the rock that I’d broken away.
My talents grew stronger. I was able to cut larger stone planks and float them around by changing the way I visualized applying pressure, or lift. I continued by cutting six inch by twelve inch planks ten feet long.
I was surprised at how smooth a surface I could get when working with wood and stone when I took my time. I cut free the root balls on standing dead trees and pulled them down. The wood was dry and seasoned. After splitting out boards I pegged together chairs, a bedstead, blanket chests, a chest of drawers and the base for a stone-topped kitchen table. The roots and scraps were saved for firewood.
Every other day I hunted for the pot. It was as if I had a built-in rifle. I travelled several miles up the valley, exploring during my hunts. I also retrieved firewood. All my cooking was done out-of-doors until I could haul a Franklin stove up the cliff. They seal up and force the smoke up the chimney.
Oh, I had one hell of a list to fetch. It was quite a load’s worth, so I planned on using a wheel barrow. Once I used my talent to smooth off a path, getting a load to the bottom of the cliff was shortened to a hard two-day job. The first load consisted of miscellaneous cooking ware and some plumbing supplies. I had to support the barrow with my talent to keep from flattening the tire. I wrapped the whole mess together in a rope net and, once I’d climbed up, hauled it straight up the rock face.
The mattress was a pain in the ass, no question about it. I expected the Franklin Stove and stove pipe to be a task, and it proved itself so. The cooler full of ice, bulk food and sheet metal I brought along to construct a vermin-free larder were necessaries, as was the two hundred pounds of salt. I’d need it to keep the game I caught sweet. Since I had a limited supply of firewood I hauled up a dozen 100 pound bags of coal for the stove. Likewise a kerosene lantern and fifty gallons of fuel in five gallon dispensers made the place a lot more liveable.
After living in the cabin for a couple weeks, I bought two things to make life more pleasant. The first was (or were) glass bricks along with tubes of construction adhesive. I carefully carved out a four foot by four foot square hole in the outer wall, then glued in two layers of glass bricks separated by two feet of dead air space. The outer layer was just short of flush with the outer rock wall. It gave me a two-foot wide inside shelf for plants and such. The daylight made the place feel more like a home than a crypt. Likewise the carpets on the floor helped out a lot. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to over-winter in the valley that year. I didn’t have enough food or firewood set aside, and my water would freeze as I hauled it in from the river. I spent the fall before the snow taking standing dead timber, including the root balls. I’d decided that I could get a lot more utility out of the root clusters by carving than by using them as firewood. I set them aside in an inside storeroom to stabilize.
I obscured my trail on my way back to the town for the last time that fall. I didn’t want any damned kids discovering my valley.
Back in Rico I bought a nice little house with a heated two-car garage. Damned near all the local timber was sugar pine or some evergreen variant, as the local elevation above sea level was over eight thousand feet. It left a bitter tar-like residue when burned and was horrible to smoke meat with. I had shipped in a couple full cords of oak and fruit wood. A full cord is four feet wide by four feet tall by eight feet long. A face cord is a poor cousin by comparison. I paid extra to have it all stacked in the garage.
I was sitting out back on a nice sunny day, just idling away the day making some fruit wood bread bowls, tumblers and eating bowls out of my firewood when the front door bell went off.
Nobody ever rang my door bell. I was surprised that the damned thing worked. I stood up, brushed the wood chips off my leather apron and went to answer it. A very nervous lady stood there wringing her hands. She whispered, “They told me not to come, but I’ve got nowhere else to turn.”
Now, that tickled my curiosity bone. I took her by the elbow and sat her down at the kitchen table while I made a pot of coffee. I think the people in Colorado live on the stuff. I slid a cup in front of her and slipped into a chair across from her, ready to listen. She took a sip, then stared at that cup like her life was written in the steam. “Her pa took her. Cindy’s all I got. He took her to some damned religious camp where they’re supposed to beat the devil out of the kids. She looked into my eyes. Her lips were quivering. They’re gonna beat her to death. I just know it. She’s more stubborn than me.”
I’d told myself that I wasn’t going to get into other people’s business any more, but this purely made me angry, and she could see it. She flinched back. I held out a hand. “Give me something she always had with her--a pocket knife, a necklace, even a pair of boots.”
She fished out a Case Barlow pocket knife--quite a knife for a little girl. I drank a couple tumblers full of water, took a pee and sat down at the table with that knife between my hands. I let my eyes de-focus and brought out the history of the knife. I followed her forward from the last time she’d held the knife. She’d been taken, all right. Stolen out of her bed. She was chained to a bunk bed in a big Quonset hut, outside of Monticello Utah. She had a broken leg and busted ribs. The leg was untreated. The Quonset hut wasn’t heated. I could feel the anger roar like fire through my head. They fell like wheat. Every adult inside a quarter mile from that Quonset hut died of a ruptured heart. Then everyone in the church rectories in Monticello fell. Then the police. Then the sheriff and deputies died. They must have known. That many kids need supplies. Those sort of purchases couldn’t be hidden. There was no excuse for them to turn a blind eye unless they were paid off.
She wore a wedding ring. I reached for her hand and held it firmly, despite her panicked reflex to get away. Ahh. I found him. There was another camp where the parents and enforcers stayed. Moab. The banners on the walls extorted using the cane to beat out the devil, be it homosexuality, disrespect for their parents or any other old testament biblical law. It was another fenced complex that the preacher and his cronies worked from. It was easier to snip their brain stems up inside their skulls. I did something special for the preacher. I cut his head in two the hard way.
I released her hand. She convulsively clutched it to her chest, panting, obviously terrified. I handed her the pocket knife her daughter had been carrying. “Relax. It’s over. I’ll give you some money. Drive to Monticello Utah to claim your daughter. She’s got a broken leg and broken ribs. She’s chained naked to a bunk in a big metal building with no heat. Take clothing and blankets. Take water. I’ll call the cops.” I gave her four hundred bucks and ushered her out the door. “Remember this. You got one free shot. No more. You haven’t been here. Tell nobody. You visited friends in Durango, understand?” She nodded and fled.
Shit. Now I had to get the feebies involved. It crossed state lines. I called information for the Denver FBI office number. “If you’re not recording this you’re gonna be in deep shit. I’ll give you thirty seconds to start recording ... I just killed over two hundred religious nut jobs in Monticello and Moab Utah in fenced-in complexes where they were beating kids to death. The Monticello police and sheriff’s department had to know about it because the church was buying supplies. They’re all dead. There’s kids handcuffed to bunks in at least one unheated quonset hut in the compound south of Monticello. All the adults are dead, just like when I killed all the senators. The preacher, his lackeys, his goons and the parents that signed their kids up for this shit are all dead in another fenced-in complex outside of Moab. Bring corpse-sniffing dogs. They’ve been at this a while.” I breathed a moment, thinking about how to say what I wanted to. “I’m putting you on notice. There will be no jurisdictional conflicts. There will be no finger pointing. If one more kid dies in that complex from lack of attention I’m fucking cleaning house, just like I did in the Atlanta office. You fuck up and I’ll take out the entire Denver government complex and everyone in it. Don’t even try to hide.” <click>
Boy, did I ever kick over the ant hill. With any luck at all they’d kick the governor out of bed in Salt Lake City and get him to call out the national guard. I wondered how many anonymous graves they’d find in the desert.
I remembered how that knife felt in my hands--the smell of it--the taste of it. I let it draw me back to the compound. I found the girl, shivering on her cot. I went down the line snapping chains like threads. There were no heaters in the buildings. I destroyed the locks and latches on the doors but left them close to keep in what little warmth there was. I changed my viewpoint to look over the whole complex. There were six big huts holding kids. I broke the chains on all the cuffs and tore out the door locks. There were two gates in the razor wire fence. I sliced them to trash and cleared the driveways. By Jesus, I was angry. I wished that I had more power so that I could put two or three kids on a cot to help keep ‘em warm, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t lift at that distance with any sort of delicacy. There was one thing I could do though. I moved my viewpoint into the main house where the overseers had lived. I knocked a phone handset off its receiver. When I heard a dial tone I poked 9-1-1 When a voice came on line I started punching S-O-S over and over again. It was all I could do.
I was tired. I’d exercised things that hadn’t been used like that before--not that hard and fast. I took a long hot bath and went to bed.
When I woke up I used the bathroom, then took a peek at the Monticello complex. The Quonset huts were empty. The grounds were covered in body bags. The Moab complex looked the same. I was almost afraid what the newspapers would say.
I went back to carving. I changed up to kitchen spoons and pot scrapers, then did some flower vases. I called up the guy that had shipped me the firewood to see if he could get me some seasoned hardwood and fruit wood root balls. I had to go to town to fill the freezer. I stopped off at the hardware store to order forty gallons of mineral oil and pick up what they had in stock, as well as a five gallon soup pot and a few jelly roll pans. I had to simmer the finished carvings in mineral oil for a day, then leave them at a couple hundred degrees in the oven over the pans to catch the expressed oil.
I had too many of the damned things cluttering up the house. I sold ‘em to a knick-knack store to peddle to the summer-folk. I just kept what I wanted--the ones with the nicest patterns.
I started working with stone again. There was a town park that was cut by Sulphured Creek. I spent several early mornings down there, dressed for the cold. I knew how to make little ones out of big ones, slice them into pieces, even drill holes. I’d never learned to do the reverse and make a larger stone out of smaller ones. I wondered if it was possible. I had a few accidents, including a few, um, “explosive deflagrations” that sent powder and stone chips flying. I learned to wear goggles after a flying chip took a chunk out of my cheekbone! That doctor was some kind of guy. All he said was, “Wear a mask next time.” I took him at his word. I wore a sleeved leather blacksmith’s apron and leather gauntlets, too.
Finally I did it. I learned the touch--the level at which I had to work at to “smear” two stones into one. It only worked with granite, though. I tried it with chert and damned near took my head off. Whoo! Grenade at a distance!
That chert bothered me. Why did it blow like that? It finally behaved when I heated the Bejesus out of it before smearing the pieces together. I figured out that the crystals had to inter-penetrate. It had to cool slowly, too. Limestone though, was easy. It didn’t have much structure to begin with. If I pre-heated it too much it turned to quicklime.
It was mid-June and the mountain trails were almost clear. Most of my first load was made up of potato sets. I used my talent to slit trenches in the good black soil next to the cliff, where the reflected sunlight would do them the best. Then I started carrying in loads of foodstuffs and firewood. While waiting for my body to recover from the hike I proceeded to dig another room into the cliff face with one deep doorway facing out just like the cabin and another door connecting to the cabin’s kitchen area. I intended it to be dry storage for my firewood. It would be damned hard to find me from overhead if my firewood stack was under cover. It was too late for the out house and the smoke house, and no doubt the different colored vegetation would show up over time when the potato vines grew out. However, it wouldn’t show many long term changes once I paved the out house run with stone piers cut from opening up the firewood bunker. I also cleared out a pool in the river and lined the edge with stone piers.
I retired my wheel barrow. I bored slots in the top edges of a stone slab some eight feet long and four feet wide. I dropped sides into the holes along with some adhesive. All I had to do was fasten a rope to the front, load it up and lift it into the air. It made for a wonderful sledge. It didn’t want to stop for crap, though. I almost mashed myself a couple times before I caught on. I could either ground it out and let sliding friction stop it or use my talent to push against it until it stopped, hovering in the air. I picked up on lowering it down the cliff face, loading it and bringing it back up like a telekinetic elevator.
By the end of July the firewood bunker was full. I had to water the potatoes twice a week. I tried a little fishing but didn’t catch much. I wondered if there was a bear or two in the valley that had beaten me to it. Eagles would do it, too.
I’d figured out that with some dedicated work I could have a nice little cold-water spring come up in my kitchen. I dug the back wall a couple yards deeper to accommodate a nice big sink and counter, then ran the overflow down and out to the waterfall. It guaranteed to make life during the winter a lot easier.
I’d done the smear thing to build up a deep bench with a dish-shaped back near the front door, where I could sit and carve, or just sit.
The hunting in the valley was quite poor, except for the porcupines. They’re rodents and will show up anywhere there’s food, even where raccoons won’t make it. I’d brought in four halved and skinned pigs of about a hundred and sixty pounds a side. After breaking down the carcasses to primal cuts they were hung and smoked. I bypassed the salting phase by having the butcher skin them, peel away most of the fat and hold them in a 35 degree cooler to air dry for over a month, where they lost a good percentage of their water weight. I did the same with a weaned, corn-fed beef calf. I suppose that it looked kind of funny to have a Weber kettle sitting out there under that rock overhang, but that’s how I liked my ribs. I got some good bacon out of the porkers too.
It was getting on towards fall. The bench’s curved back still let me sit outside in a pair of shorts and carve. I noticed the regular sound of a couple horses coming down the valley. I stood up to see. How in hell did he find a trail into the valley? It was a forest ranger. Someone must have overflown the valley and noticed the changes, then low man on the totem pole got to ride out and play the heavy.
George was tired and long on saddle-time. He was getting short on supplies and had hoped to make short work of investigating the valley. No such luck.
“You’re trespassing on federal property.”
“How do I put this. The government killed my Ma. She died of abuse in a military hospital in Bethesda. I killed everyone in the hospital complex, the Atlanta FBI building and the federal court building next door. Then it was open season on the senate and everyone in the president’s hidey-hole. Don’t start a fight you can’t win.”
I could see the poor guy slouch in his saddle. I gave him a smoked pork ham to eat off of on his way back.
Four days later a noisy twin-engine plane repeatedly buzzed my camp. I sliced off the top four inches of his tail stabilizer. That only made them mad.
A couple days later I was overflown by a jet at over mach 1. I used my other-sight to watch where he landed. Once he shut down I bored holes in everything that looked expensive in his jet. Then I did the same thing to all the others on the flight line. It was a strange air base--everything was underground. I started poking holes in every damned thing I could find. It took me two days of steady work, but they evacuated the base. I must have holed a reactor coolant vessel because the buzzers and flashers just wouldn’t stop. Still, I kept looking for stuff to drill holes in.
This wasn’t like just poking a 1/4” hole in things with a virtual aircraft drill. I cored out four inch holes some six feet long. If something was electrified, I poked a hole in it. When I shorted out the big transformers they sparked and caught fire. The lights went out. I sought out the big water supply pipes and tore ‘em apart. The lower levels of the base started to flood. They quickly stopped over-flying the valley.
I had an idea about providing for a “natural” freezer--an ice cave. It was 1981 and some interesting research had been done on the subject. It seemed that the trick was to have a deep cave with a narrow top and a big belly-shaped bottom, like an antique onion bottle. The entrance had to be well within the freeze belt so that heavy, cold air could sink into the chilled lower cave where it could settle, driving the temperature further and further down, year after year until it came close to the winter ambient temperature after the rock walls had cooled.
I spent some time seeing what the library had to teach me. I hit on a newspaper archive highlighting the big stories of the previous year. I saw the big story on Cheyenne Mountain being evacuated because of radiation leaks. Whoops ... My bad.
I got some good ideas, though. I decided that I really wanted to have an encyclopedia for the cabin, along with a typewriter and a dictionary. I began by writing a journal but it evolved into my autobiography.
I also decided that I could afford to have a few tons of supplies air-dropped by helicopter to the valley. It was pure luxury, but I bought into a radio, a charger, a couple 12-volt wet cells and a big solar cell array that I could mount to the southern cliff-side. A long-wire antenna set me up with decent reception. I had the encyclopedia delivered in a big glass-fronted book case.
When the ground started to freeze I dug potatoes. I left the runts behind so that I wouldn’t have to seed them the next year. I found a company that would sell me bales of peat moss and bales of straw to bed the potato runs. Using my talent I cut planks out of my firewood to make shelves for the larder. I stored the potatoes and the smoked cuts of meat in the cold locker. I’d bought carrots, cabbage, celery root, garlic and onions. In the dry larder I stored sugar, salt, flour, corn meal, dried eggs and gallons of corn oil. I was well stocked and ready for winter.