Quiet Lost is a story of betrayal, murder, love and lost love. It will require several chapters to tell Neil’s story.
Monday night & Tuesday morning, September 14&15
Yellow lines flew by endlessly… He wondered where he was; he’d lost track several turns and rural highways back. The road had been steadily climbing, switchbacks becoming tighter as he rose in altitude.
He rubbed his heavy eyelids with a filthy hand. An obscure side road beckoned – no more lines, just two hard dirt ruts. The ruts disappeared in a meadow surrounded by inky blackness. Switching off the headlights, he eased the truck to a stop, pulled his boots off and allowed sleep to hide his thoughts.
Sunlight peeked over the dashboard of the old truck. He tried rolling away from the wakeful rudeness, desiring to sleep forever, and smacked his knee on the steering wheel. A sharp throb convinced him it’d be easier just to get up, besides he needed to pee.
He sat up on the passenger side of the bench seat and squinted into a windshield-wide glare of reflected sunlight. What the hell? If he’d driven just yards further, he would have been submerged in a mountain lake.
He opened the passenger door, pulled his boots on and stepped into dew covered grass. The air was chilly compared to the staleness of the pickup cab. He drew in a deep breath. The fresh perfume of pine and fir resin cleansed his lungs. He closed his eyes, drank in a deeper breath, tilted his head back. For a moment his mind rested.
Find a tree. There was really no need – no one around to see him. Just the same, there were plenty of trees.
Tall conifers surrounded the still mountain lake. Only the five to ten feet of rocky soil close to water’s edge was free of vegetation. He guessed the lake covered five or six acres and was deep judging by the steep slopes rising out of the water for the entire circumference except the meadow he was parked in.
Moving a few feet from the truck, he relieved himself.
Not a breath of wind stirred a blade of grass. No vehicles or aircraft to be heard. The only sounds were small bird tweets and calls. He couldn’t remember ever having experienced such natural quiet.
He walked down to the water’s edge to rinse his hands and splash his face; contemplated a sip of the clear water; imagined the refreshing cold of it on his rancid tongue. Just as he started to squat down, his attention was caught by movement on the side of the lake. A Red-tailed hawk left its perch and glided gracefully, silently along the shore, swooped down and back up with a prize in its talons. The cry of the captured rabbit broke the stillness – a shrill scream so similar to an infant’s wail that he shivered violently, closed his eyes, pressed his hands tight over his ears.
His gut wrenched and he doubled over. A clumsy fall scraped his hands and found him sitting with his boots in the cold lake. His mouth opened; terror filled his every cell as he heard his own scream echo back at him from across the lake, harmonizing with the lament of the small mammal acknowledging its execution.
Click on Quiet Lost: Chapter 2 to the right.