Sideways through the Kitchen Door

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
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Submitted: January 23, 2012

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Submitted: January 23, 2012

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SIDEWAYS THROUGH THE KITCHEN DOOR

Rowsom Woods

I never honestly knew who she was nor could I have ever fully understood her reality, but through her, I eventually discovered some very disturbing truths about my own world. Truths I’ve always kept to myself, and truths from a certain perspective that may surprise those in my own small community. Sometimes in life we take, we forget the past and more often than not; we simply have no strong concept of those who came before us and the era in which they experienced. Eventually, we all awake every morning (well the majority of us anyway) and we commute to work, walk to work, or work at home, or work at not working at all; regardless we all do our own thing. Face it, our lives are all pretty easy, but for our ancestors it certainly wasn’t the case, as we know they had hard lives in comparison to ours, and the further back you look, the worse it gets. None of this in our era of immediate gratification, global communication and the complex societies in which we live, can ever fully understand this; unfortunately I do.

It was quite awhile ago and somewhere in between reality, and I mean literally in between of whatever concept of reality you may have, when all this took place. As I said I’ve never told this particular story to anyone as I still live in the area, and I don’t necessarily care to be looked upon as a complete lunatic. Sometimes it’s wise to remain silent, but occasionally an experience needs to be told and certain events, as terrible as they may be, need to be exposed. This particular tale is of one those events. I’ve always been an avid amateur photographer, and an outdoorsman of sorts, spending more than my share of time in the natural folds of Essex County. Our local governing powers have over many years taken the “Green Path”, meaning the designation of certain tracts and expanses of natural areas specifically protected in order to maintain a natural habitat. In other words, Conservation Areas and it’s in one of these areas, on a wet spring morning, where this all begins.

Rowsom Woods is not typical of the protected acreage in Essex County, and what makes it different is basically its lack of use by the general public. There are no manicured gravel paths or even a basic outhouse facility; the woods are left to their own end, keeping it a wonderful example the counties natural beauty. I drove up to the end of the unused concession, near the small town of Comber, that morning as I had on many others and turned into the dirt road that leads to the parking lot of the area. The dense bush is bordered to the east by a meandering stream called Big Creek and the creek eventually cuts a swath through the middle of the area the further in you travel, and it’s this back forty that drew me their that day. The woods have a nesting pair of Hawks, and though they are common in the area, getting close to a nest with a camera in hand is not that easy, as those elusive birds of prey are quite difficult to photograph.

Pulling into the parking lot shortly after sunrise the drizzle was warm, and as I recall, I was glad the sky had not completely opened, leading to the drenching of myself and a perfectly good Canon A1 camera. I can dry out: 35 mm cameras can’t as I once found out, but that’s a whole different story. As I said it was spring and the conservation authorities had already been busy in the protected areas, maintaining gravel pathways, clearing brush in the parking area, etc, but not here. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying the Essex Regional Conservative Authority, or ERCA as we call them, are not doing their jobs, to the contrary, they are doing their jobs by simply leaving Rowsom in as natural a state as possible. That’s what maintains the special quality about it. I sat for a moment in the cab of my truck, gathering my thoughts and figuring the best approach to the nesting pair. I knew from last fall that they were nesting in a dead stand of trees at one particular sharp bend in Big Creek, about a 20 minute walk from the lot. So I mounted a telephoto lens to my camera body, gathered up my Tims coffee, locked the truck and went for a walk. I entered into the woods through the short overgrown boardwalk that denotes the beginning of this quite interesting place. This was my first visit of the season, and the woods opened up as they always had when one leaves the boardwalk, and begins to follow its natural paths. Rowsom has a strange feel about it, there’s something odd about the flora and fauna, an almost sad feeling, and strangeness in its overall appearance. Its not something that jumps out at you as you entered it, it’s a subtle experience that continues on the deeper you venture in. I’ve always chalked it up to its simple lack of use, as it really is a lonely place, and it certainly does give you the feeling that you’re an interloper. You have an initial choice of paths to take to bring you into the heart of the area, one is simply straight ahead off the boardwalk, and the other is a sharp bend to the right. Being that it was still wet, I chose the straight route as I knew that that was higher path, and the other brought you into the lower area where you can be guaranteed it was flooded from the spring rains. The drizzle was clinging to the leaves and branches, dropping down in large drops as they would coagulate together, gain mass, and lose their natural cohesion. It created an odd effect that combined with the strange feelings that it naturally exhibited, gave the place an almost eerie quality about it. I was pretty much used it at this point as I continued to penetrate deeper into the woods, in search of the hawks that would eventually be nothing more that an insignificant afterthought at the end of day. Nothing at first seemed out of the ordinary, the same dead growth was lying over certain points in the path from the last season, and even the occasional piece of non biodegradable garbage was still in the same original vicinity. It was always the discarded beer can or Styrofoam coffee cup that amazed me, like I said, Rowsom was generally less frequented, but it seems when sometimes when someone does enjoy the place, they unfortunately tend to leave something behind.

I knew I had my general bearings straight when I came across the low lying open space, only minutes from the twist in the creek where I was sure the birds would be, cautiously awaiting my intrusion into their territory. As I walked, or I should say pretty much violently slipped down and off the path into the open area, I was expecting to find an old 45 gallon drum, the one that had long since seen its time as a functioning fire barrel, rusting away in non use. The first time I came across it was over five years ago, and even than you could tell it hadn’t used in lot of years, and I always silently wondered who the revelers were from the God-only-knows era that used gather out here and have a whole lot of pure fun. The old barrel was gone, and I thought at first it was a positive thing as someone was actually removing garbage, and I recalled reading somewhere that their were a group of high school kids, or something like that, had made Rowsom a clean up project. I can also recall that when I read whatever article it was that I actually laughed at the idea, because as you know that would be a few bad apples taking advantage of the “system” in order to skip class and smoke a few joints out in the wilds of Essex county. I can’t point fingers, since back in the day; I would have done the exact same thing. But today was today and the old barrel was gone, and there was no one out their but myself, and me and myself instantly realized we had a problem.

I’ve spent many a day in this area, and many a season in the true wilderness of Northern Ontario where treks into the bush can kill you, and where land area is measured by thousands of square kilometers, not simple hectares. But be it as it may, I found myself in an area were I knew I was supposed to be, yet not a branch looked familiar. The trees were not in the place they were supposed be, and the dead growth that would eventually fall down and lodge into the trunk elbow of young healthy tree were not remotely in the same position as they were in the previous season. Nature has a way fooling us from year to year, some years may bring on the advent of a healthy blossoming of a certain ivy for example, which in turn can encroach upon a rock crevasse giving the illusion that it’s a different outcropping as the one you saw the last year. In reality it’s the same one, only viewed from a different perspective but that’s in the North, not outside Comber. I remained dead in my tracks for a moment and took a simple mental bearing, actually laughing at my self for taking even the most simplistic nature walk in simple stride and finding myself in unfamiliar territory. I turned around and walked back up to the path, this time slipping my way up the incline and fully expected to find the worn path that brought me here in the first place, to be exactly where it was a minute previous. No such luck, all I found at the top of the small ridge was at the most, a rudimentary animal path. I wasn’t really concerned about the fact that I actually had no idea where I was, after all let’s face it; 30 minutes in any direction brings you to either a road or a farmer’s field. It’s completely impossible to get hopelessly lost. Or so I thought. I stood in slight bewilderment on the path, and turned around in all directions in a vain attempt to gather some familiarity of the area. The previous summer was almost drought like, but this year we had exceptional April rains, and now being mid May, the foliage was actually full and lush and yes, it gave an illusion of completely different set of woods, but this was different. I began to set foot back along the now unfamiliar trail, heading in the direction I was positive was east and back towards the parking lot, but after an hour of wandering into nothingness but bush, I came to the conclusion that something was not quite right. I had a problem all right, an unexplainable, illogical and impossible problem, and as I said; 30 minutes in any direction. I figured it was around 8 am when I sat down on a fallen tree and opened my cell phone to check the time. With my cell if you’re out of the service range, you only get one message on the LCD screen: No Service. I’ve never had a problem with local service in Lakeshore, actually I’m good up to Toronto, but not on this day, the nasty little screen gave me that improbable message: No Service. No service means no time display, and that simple fact immediately translated into my head as actually being truly alone out here. I knew I wasn’t in any serious trouble, hell, I wasn’t going to die, I figured by pure misfortune I was on the longest possible route that there was out of Rowsom Woods and something had to eventually break. And break it certainly did. I was little tired and completely lost in confusion when I met her.

I was staring at my useless cell screen and the tell-tail red LED that redundantly reminds you the phone is basically at the moment garbage, when I heard a small charge through the bush. My camera was still dangling from its strap off my shoulder when I grabbed it and aimed towards the disturbance, thinking that at least after this stupid escapade I might at least get decent shot of a deer. I quickly manipulated the lenses in a way to back off the shot and bring the scene it into a fast focus, but instead of a creature of the wild in the eye of the lenses, I found a young girl or should I say: She found me. Stumbling through the lush scrub that overwhelmed her slight size, she broke through and fell down almost square at my feet. At first I was relieved and for two reasons, one, obviously I was near a farm house since little girls in this day and age don’t wander to far from home, and two, it wasn’t a deer charging through at such dangerously close proximity. In hind sight I would have preferred to have dealt with the latter. She was dressed in what appeared to be nothing but rags, all sown together to create a long gown, and her top was a dirty white high necked blouse with lacing that had long seen its day. My first thought was of the old black and white photos that one sees of the Great Depression, but she was wearing some odd form of sandals that appeared to be of hand woven leather, and I had never seen anything like that before. She rolled onto her back, and breathing heavily as she had obviously been running, she suddenly realized she wasn’t alone. Her eyes grew wide at the sight of me and she bolted straight into a sitting position and attempted to scramble backwards into the bush.

“Whoa! Hold on” I said to her as I moved forward.

“No stop!” she shrieked, so I did.

“Easy kid” I said as I held my palms up to her and took a step back.

Off her right shoulder a torn and soiled bonnet dangled down her tiny arm, and it immediately grabbed my attention as it was spattered with varying sizes of reddish brown spots. Something looked familiar about those spots and the pattern they created, as a former student of the investigation arts those boring seminars on forensics finally came to fruition; I quickly realized it was covered in blood.

My stomach immediately dropped and I could feel a wave of adrenaline flood my body, it’s similar to witnessing a horrific car accident because you know what your going to find when you run to the first vehicle. But in this case, I had no idea what was going on but I certainly knew one thing: Whatever it was, it wasn’t good. She instantly froze and stared up at me, she wasn’t a pretty child by any stretch maybe 11 or 12 with mud brown hair and eyes to match, all complimented by a pug nose sitting at an odd angle over a cleft lip. None of this mattered as I could see in those eyes, that this girl was alone and petrified.

“Take it easy” I gently said to her “I’m not going to hurt you”

She continued to stare up as she slightly turned her head and spoke

“Who are ya” she quietly said with suspicion, but it actually came out as “whooowharya”.

“Never mind me, where are you hurt?” I asked as I lowered my self to the ground and leaned towards her. She slightly recoiled at my closer presence and I could tell she was more afraid than injured.

“As I said, I’m not going to hurt you” I reiterated as I again held my palms out.

“I’m not hurt, but me mum and dad are” she said as she finally realized I was not going to harm her. She paused for a moment and then her eyes grew bright.

“Are ya from the French fort?” she asked with an excited whisper.

“No I’m from Belle River” I answered. Her continence momentarily shifted to slight confusion and I could tell immediately she had never heard of it.

“Is that a French hold?” she asked. I allowed myself a slight grin as I thought to myself “I guess you never been there huh”

“No it’s a town” I said dismissively “Never mind that, where’s your parents”

“At the homestead, but your alone and there’s stones of them” she said pronouncing “stones” as “stoones”

“Who are they?” I calmly asked, and what the hell is a “stoone” I asked myself.

“Savages” was all she said.

Savages? I thought. The only savages around here are at the King George Hotel at close.

“What do you mean by Savages?” I cautiously queried.

“Savages! Ya know savages!” she exclaimed. She rose up on her tiny feet and began to look around the ground around us, searching in vain for something.

“Where’s yer musket” she asked in an almost disbelieving tone

I just looked at her and shrugged my shoulders; I honestly didn’t have an answer for that question

“You don’t have a musket?” she said answering herself in complete astonishment.

It was then a wash of reality flooded over me. She wasn’t some lost child in danger and I wasn’t in bad episode of the twilight zone. I was sucked in by one of those historical re-creation society’s outings and someone was going to catch hell for freaking out some innocent guy who took a, misguided as it may be, simple walk.

“For Christ sakes girl!” I began to rant “Where are your friends? Take a look at the way I’m dressed, I’m not a part of your little game!” I finished as I looked down at my own clothing in an attempt to point out the obvious. At this point I was getting really pissed, but you can’t blame the child. She stopped dead in her fake search and stared directly at me

“Mister” she began in a quite low tone “Me only friend was a Freeman named James, and he’s as dead as the day is long, I don’t know if you’re the devil hisself dressed in strange cloth and speaking in a way that me ears have never heard, but you wa’nt take the Lords name in vain” she finished as she pointed a tiny finger at me. I couldn’t believe it! The kid was scolding me! This was precious, she was going to play this right to the end but I had to give her credit; she was good.

“Listen, just point me back to the parking lot, or should I say the stables, as my trusty tan steed, Dodge Dakota, awaits my return” I said with half a laugh. She continued to stare at me with a serious look on her place and said nothing.

“All right” I said “I’ll play for a minute, tell me then what year is this supposed to be?”

“The only year it is, the year of our Lord whose name you take in light heart, 1726”

1726, I thought to myself, these people really take their history serious. I’ve heard of famous battle re-creations and the groups that meticulously mimic the eras they seem to want to aspire back to, but out here? Nothing ever happened of any significance in or around Rowsom, or so I thought. She dropped her stare and raised her left arm and began to run her hand through her stringy hair, in a vain attempt to remove her disheveled look, and it was then I was taken aback. The serious thought that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore began to once again surface in my mind, because on the inside of her forearm was a torn and battered bright red scare that was at least an inch and half wide stretching from her wrist to her elbow. I stared at it in sheer amazement, in this day and age even the poorest in our society would have received proper medical care for the severe damage that was inflicted on that arm, and simple surgical procedures can at least minimize scarring. She remounted her torn bonnet on her head as best she could, and straightened out her long skirt, not that it did much good.

“What happened to your arm” I asked. She looked back up at me and I could see a hint of pain in her eyes, it wasn’t physical pain; they betrayed emotional trauma.

“This is from our first crossing of their path”

I reached out and gently took her hand, turning her arm over, exposing the scar for closer inspection. It was worse than I first thought, something had violently torn her tiny forearm wide open in the recent past, and the tendon damage was obvious as I noticed her two outer fingers were permanently curled up into the palm of her hand. I’m certainly not a doctor but I had similar tendon damage to my right wrist and those two exact fingers ended up in that position, but through surgery and months of therapy they eventually straightened out. She never saw a doctor for her injury or let alone went for therapy, but someone must have tended the wound and hoped for the best. Something was really wrong here, that much any half intelligent person could figure out, my stomach began to drop again as my historical re-creation society theory blew away in dust of the metaphorical tornado that pulled me out of Kansas.

I sat back on the fallen tree, attempting to calm myself as best I could. If there was ever a time in my part-time alcoholic existence that I needed a beer; this was it. I tried to clear to my head, and entertain the last rational explanation I could come up with, that being an unknown, unseen and undiscovered eccentric family living was living in Rowsom. But I was grasping at straws and I knew it. It’s simply not possible in this area in 2002 and besides, I wasn’t even sure I was still in Rowsom. Another explanation was that I was suddenly overcome, and with no history of mental illness, a full blown severely delusional schizophrenic episode. Possible. Not probable, but certainly possible. I closed my eyes and let this concept flood my mind, I figured if one knows he having a full blown severely delusional schizophrenic episode, than the mind knows that its very unfunny little practical joke has been exposed. The game is over; period. I was quite sure when I re-opened my eyes I would be sitting in the familiar surroundings of Rowsom, discarded beer can and all, thinking of future plans of finding, and paying for, one hell of a good psychiatrist. Well, for better or worse, it depends on your perspective I guess, I opened them up she was still standing in front of me, only now with a curious look on her face that begged the question: Are you okay? Lovely, this is all just lovely! If I’m losing my mind I’m losing it completely alone, miles away from any help. If I’m not and the impossible became somehow possible, I’m still alone, but almost 300 years in the past and no longer in Essex Country. To the contrary, I’m in unsettled territory in the year 1726, and that makes me definitively screwed.

I continued to sit for a moment and tried to remember some basic history in an attempt to at least bring some sense of logic into a completely illogical situation. At this moment I really did wish that my high school History classes didn’t consist of a first period joint, as I could have actually used some of that knowledge at this point. However, somehow some of it did permeate my severely permeated brain, as I recalled the original story of Cadillac and the French settlement of Detroit. That was 1701, and the other fact I could recall was that the English conquest was not until 1760 and this brought an influx of English speaking immigrants, which brings me to an observation I’ve failed to mention; her accent was Scottish. Not only was I not supposed to be here, but according to written history, neither was she.

“You don’t look well” she flatly stated in a tone that dismissed myself in a way that immediately said; your of no use to me. She turned around and began to exit our little scene when I half snapped out of my own self imposed reality exile, and addressed her but now in more of a sudden desperation thing than any thing else.

“Hold up for a second!” I said, and she stopped and turned back to me.

“I don’t even know your name”

“My name is Sarah”

And so it began.

I had no clue as to how to precede, hell I had no clue about anything at this point, but she needed help and I needed her. We were thrust together in the most bizarre set of unknown circumstances that one could imagine an impossible situation that somehow became possible, and it was quickly giving me a terrible headache.

“So what’s next Sarah” I said in a resigning tone, slowly accepting that what ever was going on around was real.

“Well first” she said as she folded her tiny arms over her chest “Your name?”

“Chris” was all I said.

“And what are you doing here with no musket?”

“I don’t have one, it’s as simple as that” I said with a hard curtness that showed my annoyance at the musket questions. She immediately caught my tone of voice and looked down at the ground, as if I had scolded her.

“I’m sorry Sarah” I said as I reached forward and clasped her tiny hands into mine. She looked up at me and a tiny tear formed in her left eye. I had to remember that I was still after all, dealing with a child, and a child who was certainly traumatized by some unknown event.

“Listen” I began in a gentle voice “Let’s figure out what to do together Okay?”

She quietly nodded her head in agreement.

“You said your parents are hurt right?” and she nodded again in agreement.

“Okay, so where are they” I asked.

“They’re at the homestead” she answered holding back on any further tears.

“Tell me what happened” I gently asked.

“They came at first light” She began “James and Father tried to fight them off but there were too many, me mum grabbed me out of sleep and we tried to run but they caught us straight away. They threw Father on his stomach and tied his hands to his feet and than they beat Mum and pulled her into the forest”

I could tell she was beginning to come unglued, but I had to know her story if there any hope that I could somehow help her.

“Its all right” I tried to assure her “your safe at the moment, keep going” Though I had no idea if either of us were truly safe, I had to tell her something.

“They circled James at first but they didn’t do anything to him, I don’t think they ever saw a Negro before, and I don’t think they knew what he was. They poked at him with a spear but he took it from one and stuck one in the throat” She looked down again at the ground again and finished in a quite tone “and than they all jumped on him and beat him to death, and after they cut off his head with fathers axe”

Jesus Christ! I thought to myself in pure disbelief. This is our history! My own stress level was at it apex when the other thought crossed my mind: What a shitty way to start your day. As crass as that sounds, dark humor (no pun intended) like that always comes out in me high anxiety situations, and it couldn’t get any higher than it did on that day.

“How did you get away?” I asked in amazement. She looked back up at me and shrugged her shoulders.

“I guess they weren’t paying much attention to me, cause I ran behind the cabin when they kilt James and went into the bush”

And here we are, I thought to myself.

“Sarah, why would they do this?”

She looked at me now in complete disbelief as if I was insane, and I kind of agreed with her.

“Where are ya from Chris?” she asked “because you don’t know this land at all do you?”

“I know this land quite well” I answered “Just not right at this moment”

That only served to confuse her even further, but I had to somehow explain something to her that I couldn’t explain to myself, let alone barely believe.

“I’m from here” I said “only not from this time, sit down for a minute”

She moved forward and suspiciously sat down beside me, not close, but close enough to listen.

“You told me it was the year of our Lord 1726, right” I reiterated.

“Yes it is” she said in a way that said; what does this have to do with anything?

“Where I’m from, it’s the year of our lord 2002”

She looked at me again as if I was a complete lunatic, and again, I still wasn’t sure if her judgment was flawed.

“Have you ever seen anyone dressed like I am” I asked.

“No” she said “but I wasn’t going to be rude and ask”

I smiled at her and laughed slightly.

“Well if any thing, you are polite” I chuckled “and you ever seen anything like this?” I then reached down and unhooked my cell from its holder, which was hidden under the tail of my shirt. I opened the flip and handed it to her. She held it her hands and looked in amazement at the LCD screen, it was than she must have saw the red LED because she immediately dropped it and jumped up from her seat.

“There's fire in it!” she exclaimed in amazement as she stood and stared down at it.

“There’s no fire in it, it’s a tool we use in my world” I said as I reached down and retrieved the phone.

“See,” I said as I held it again “It’s not hot”

“You’re the work of the devil aren’t ya” she accused as she stood firm in her place.

“No” I said “I’m just a guy who’s simply really, really, lost”

I didn’t surprise me that the devil concept came forward in her; it had to, as it still does in our day in age when closed minds can’t comprehend events. In her case however, you can’t blame her for that assumption, in that day and age: God was all mighty. She just stared at me with no emotion and said nothing.

“You have to believe me, or at the very least understand that I’m not the devil” I said almost half begging.

“Yer a witch aren’t ya” she again accused.

“No, I’m not a witch” I coolly answered.

“Then what are ya?”

“Like I said; a really lost guy”

She stood silently and I could tell she was debating me over in her mind. I let her mull it over for a few moments before I attempted to point out a simple common sense concept.

“Sarah, if I was the devil or a witch, why would I be here at this particular moment? What would that serve?”

“To help the savages” she simply answered

“Then why haven’t I killed you all ready?”

She had no answer for that question, and I could tell it made to logical sense to her. She began to look at me in a way that said: You better not be lying to me. She relaxed a bit and took seat back on our fallen tree.

“All I know is you’re not from this land, that much I’m sure of” she said “and your not from the French Fort, that’s for certain. So again; where are ya from?”

“Apparently, the future” was all I could answer.

“Well I don’t know if you’re the work of the devil or not” She said with a still slightly suspicious tone “But if yer not, than how did ya get here?”

“I have no idea” I honestly answered. “It makes no sense and trust me on this; I don’t want to be here but I am and so are you. We have to help each other, because I’m lost and your in danger, which puts us both in trouble”

She began to understand the obvious truth that we were together regardless of how and why. Small tears began to emerge again from the corners of her brown eyes and she just looked at me in helplessness and began to sob. This horrible morning had finally taken its emotional toll on her, her body began to uncontrollably shake and she dropped her head into her soiled and slightly blood splattered lap and broke down. I slid across the tree and embraced her, holding her for a while and allowing her the time to let it all out. This was a unique child, and I began to realize the simple dual nature of her personality. One part of her a strong young women and the other a simple child, one part of her could care less if I starved to death in the bush, the other needed me to hold her. I can tell you from experience; they don’t make kids like this anymore. It was also at this point that I could clearly state: I’m not crazy; I’m lost in time. After what seemed a like an eternity her sobs began to subside, and as she regained some composure, I let her go and she looked forward towards the thick brush.

“You said you had a steed?” she said still sniffling as she turned back to towards me.

I looked down at the forest floor and recalled my earlier wise crack about Dodge Dakota.

“No” I said with some embarrassment “I don’t have a horse”

She again looked disappointed and I can’t say I blamed her. We had no weapons and no real way out, except by foot of course, and according to her we were in dangerously close proximity to a vicious band of natives. Why, it’s also a good morning for me!

“Have you ever been to the French fort?” I asked as I looked back at her.

“We passed through last season” she answered “but I don’t think I could find it again”

I can, I thought to myself, finding Detroit from highway 37 and the 7th concession area was a piece of cake. I don’t care what year it was, head north to Lake St Clair and follow the shoreline due west, it will bring you straight into Windsor.

“I can find it Sarah, but we’ll have to walk for a couple of days” I told her.

“You have no steed, no musket, and no shelter and year telling me you can find the French fort through this wilderness?”

“Yeah, easily actually, where I’m from there’s no wilderness here, only farmers fields and roads that can be traveled on. Here and now? it’s simple direction, I’ve been back and forth dozens of times” I answered.

She again looked at me suspiciously, but she had no choice but to believe me.

“So you have been there” she cautiously queried.

“Yeah, but it’s the size of London now” I used London, England as the only reference I thought she may relate to.

“I don’t understand” she said

“I told you I’m from almost 300 hundreds years ahead. Your what we call settlers I guess, you’re the first ones in the area and in a few hundred years all of this is claimed by others who’ll also live here”

“What about the savages!” she now asked with a deep curiosity.

“That’s what I don’t get” I began, but here continence shifted to one of not comprehending what I just said, but I caught it immediately.

“Sorry, I should say that’s what I don’t understand,” I began again as she now understood “What you call savages we call Natives and Sarah I swear these people in these parts anyway, were for the most part peaceful”

“Well, I don’t know if this is the same part your from, but I can tell you here and now they’re not” she said in a cross tone.

“I’m not doubting your claim” I said as her physical condition gave me all the proof necessary, but I still believed something was just not right.

“What happens to them?” She asked again as she stared back in to bush.

“I guess you could say there was or will be, whatever, a war of sorts and simply put; we win” I answered.

“Good!” she spat out “I pray to our lord you kill them all in his name” she finished as she looked up through the canopy in a vain attempt to speak to her God. Christ! I thought to myself; no wonder the Natives hate us. It was a strong statement from a little girl but that was the women coming out in her, and I began to recall both sides of history, but I have to admit while sitting in her presence and aware of the earlier events; I can’t say I blame her hateful tone. It also occurred to me it probably wasn’t wise to ever inform her of the Mohawk blood that runs through my own veins, call me crazy, but I’m sure that would have been the deal breaker. She broke from her gaze to the heavens and calmed herself down.

“Even if you know how to get to the fort, what do you call it?” She asked.

“Detroit”

“Detroit, we’ll never make it alive with no steed, they’re everywhere”

“Savages?”

“Savages” she reiterated, as she gave me a cold stare.

Well, she knew better and wasn’t about to challenge her assumption. All I knew was that if we could leave safely, I was sure I could get us their.

“So what do we do then?” I asked.

“We go home” she said in a matter of fact manner that sent a shiver up my spine.

I guess there was no real choice, we couldn’t just sit there in the middle of the bush, but I was determined to err on the side caution, and I mean real caution. Pissed off murderous Indians was not my cup of tea, but neither was dying of starvation and exposure in the year 1726. Shitty choice, but Vegas would probably give odds on the fact that the natives would do there thing and move on, leaving behind a deadly message for the next traveler to come across. But at least there could still be some shelter and the basic tools that they had for survival, and let’s not forget the bonus package! A beheaded black man! And if you call within the next 10 minutes you get a second bonus! 2 possibly dead parents! I knew I should have brought a few beers with me that morning; my nerves were almost at the breaking point because we were going to the homestead. There was just no choice.

“All right, let’s go” I pulled my camera back over my shoulder and noticed her give it a quizzical glance, but she didn’t ask and I didn’t offer any explanation. The sky had yet to open up on us yet as we left our little scene and hiked together into the wet bush.

Something immediately began to feel strange, strange in a completely unfamiliar way, and it only re-affirmed by belief in the whole situation. The trees were not sad, nor happy, they were just there, that’s the best way to explain it I guess. Simple nothingness. Trees. I wasn’t much enjoying the lack of sensing nothing from the bush; it gave me the creeps and in the exact same way that my irrational fear of clowns does. When people wear make-up that disguises their face, the mind can’t pick up on the subtle expressions that form a subconscious opinion about them; you have no idea who that person is behind the layer of crap that’s pasted to their skin. It’s disconcerting and it gives me a really uneasy feeling. Clowns suck, period. They drive me nuts, and that was the last thing I needed as I discovered the bush was suddenly in full makeup and my mind began to wander in that direction. I fucking hate clowns! And now I’m in the center ring. We were quietly walking when I noticed she was looking more at me than at our path.

“Are you okay? Your talking to yourself” she said with a smile that I saw for the first time.

“I hate clowns” was the only response I had, and again she didn’t ask and I didn’t offer. It was after a while of walking down the path that brought me to her, that we stopped for moment so she could look around and gather her bearings.

“How far is it?” I asked

“I ran for a while, and I’m not quite sure where we are” she answered “but no loss, I always find my way home” and I believed her.

“Well, we have to be careful when we get close” I reminded her and she looked at me like I was a complete moron and the look on her face said: Duh, no shit Sherlock!

“It’s this way” she said as she ignored my ass-in-nine statement. Over the hill and down the road all the way to Grand Mothers house! Christ I needed a beer. We started to walk through a long narrow semi clearing that lies in the center of Rowsom, it’s part of the low area of the land that I didn’t take in the beginning of this trek due to the natural flooding. However we were lucky, in this year anyway, as it was relatively dry.

“How long?” I asked her.

“I figure and hour or so” she said as she had obviously ran for a lot longer than she had originally thought. We walked on for a few more minutes and if it wasn’t for the insanity I was embroiled in; it would have been a nice quite stroll.

“Where’s your family from?” I asked her.

“Kyle of Lochalsh from the coast of the Highland, We’re from the Lochalsh clan, that’s me last name” she answered. Sarah Lochalsh, I thought to myself, it had a nice ring.

“And you?” she asked.

I thought for a moment on how to explain this, but than it occurred to me that she might actually understand.

“Originally, from the North, a city called Montreal”

“A city? Ya mean Montreal” pronouncing it Mont Royal.

“Yeah that’s it” I said.

“That’s where we first made land” she stated as she looked over to me. I think it was comforting to her to have something in common with me, and it was certainly comforting for myself to have something in common with her.

“Why did you come down here” I asked.

“Fur” she said as simple as that “But the Jesuits told us the Savages here were neutral in the Indian wars and willing to trade, but they’re nothing but animals” she finished as her eyes grew dark. Something about her statement rang a familiar bell as I thought the natives of this area, in this era, were peaceful traders. I also recalled that Essex County as a whole was one of the last areas to be settled, and that something to do with so much of the land covered in swampland, which rang another bell. I can completely put to rest the concept of walking to “Windsor”.

“What brought you here?” she innocently asked.

“Originally, I came out here to take pictures” I answered with a slight laugh.

“What’s that mean?”

I proceeded to remove my Canon A-1, which was still dangling from my shoulder, and showed her the camera.

“What is it?” she now queried.

“It’s called a camera” I began “You aim at something and push this little button here, and you get an image, it’s like if I point it at you I get an instant painting of you”

She looked at it but I could tell she had no intention of touching it.

“Well, don’t you be thinking of pointing it at me” she warned. It was the first time the thought had actually occurred to me, talk about Pulitzer Prize material; Pictures in the Past. The idea left me as fast as it came, because as I was holding it my hands I pushed the shutter release and nothing happened. I attempted to advance the film and again nothing happened. The A-1 was hopelessly seized up, and to this day it still is, and that’s something that’s pretty much improbable for a manual camera and for no particular reason.

“It doesn’t matter, it’s not working” I said as I fiddled with the useless thing, as she began to grin to herself.

“What?” I asked.

“Do you have anything that’s of any use?” she laughed out.

“Apparently not” I shot back.

We continued to walk in silence for a few more minutes when she began.

“I know now your not the work of the devil” she flatly stated.

“Well, thanks I guess”

“But how did you come here?” she asked.

“Sarah, I have no clue as to how, but I think I know why” I answered.

“Why?”

“For you” I said as she looked over to me.

“I think your right” she said. “And think our Lord sent you but I don’t yet see why”

“Neither do I kid, neither do I” I said with a chuckle.

“So yer from here but in the future” she said.

“Yeah”

“What’s it like?” she asked

“The land or the future?”

“Both”

“This has all been cleared of trees, and most of the wetlands drained out to make farm land” I answered.

“Just like Lockalsh” she said in matter of fact. “That makes sense because it was our clan that cleared out most the land hundreds of years ago”

“Yeah” I said “I guess someone had to do it”

“What about your world?” she continued. I didn’t know where to start on that one.

“It’s different, incredibly different, than this” I began “We have things that I can’t even begin to explain to you. Like this cell phone for example” I again reached down and removed it from its holder. “Lets say your home, in Lochalsh, and I want to talk you”

“That’s impossible” she interrupted.

“It’s impossible here and now, but not in my world. All I would have to do is open this flap, and you see these little numbers?” I pointed out as she became curious. “I can push on them in a certain order and you would be in Lochalsh, with the same type of machine, and we could instantly speak to one another”

“Oh get off it!” she exclaimed.

“Sarah, I can explain how it works, but it doesn’t matter think of it this way; did you always have pen and ink?” I asked

“No, they used to use burned coal” she answered.

“Exactly, they figured out something better than coal, that’s all this is, something better than smoke signals, or whatever you use for long distance communicating”

“Flags” she corrected.

“Do you see my point?” I asked “We just have better ways of doing things”

“I’d love to talk to me family back home” she said with certain sadness in her voice. I put the phone back in its holder and realized I should have used something different as an analogy.

“Is Lochalsh still there?” she asked.

“Oh yeah, I’m sure it is, I was actually in Scotland once” I said.

“You’ve been to the Highland!” she excitedly said.

“Yeah and that’s another thing, we have machines that can take us to the other side of the world in a days travel” I said as her face lit up.

“I think I would like your world, Chris” she said in a pondering tone.

“I don’t think you would, it’s not always a nice place”

“And this is?” she said and she certainly had a point there.

“How did you end up with a slave” I asked.

“He wasn’t our slave; he escaped the south and made it to the upper territories. My father met him in York and agreed to bring him on with us. We needed another pair of strong hands.” She answered.

“You said he was your friend?”

“Yes, he was”

“Well I’m sorry he’s dead” I said, lamely giving her my condolences.

“You really are far from home” she said in a tone that suggested that violent death in this world was as natural as child birth. We continued on for a while, eventually reaching what I believed was the area where I arrived.

“I think this is where I began” I said looking around the small gully and up to the trees for a hint of familiar foliage. We stopped walking for a moment and Sarah also began to sense a feeling of familiarity.

“We’re close now” she said as she turned to me “You think this is where you came from?”

“Yeah it seems familiar” I answered as I continued to look around.

“Well yer lucky you went east and not north, because you just might be dead right now”

I looked at her in momentary confusion, when she clarified her statement.

“The homestead is a few minutes that way” she said as she pointed north. Christ! I thought I almost walked into the whole thing!

“I’m glad you walked the other way” she said with a slight tone of relief, but I wasn’t sure how I felt. What if anything could I have possibly done, if I had walked up that scene, the question answered it self: Get killed. The reality was that this wasn’t my world, and I had no experience in it.

“Well Sarah what's next?” I asked as we stood for a moment. Her continence shifted to one of apprehension and fear, and I’m sure mine went to shear terror.

“Come one” she said in a half whisper “lets just go very quietly”

Together we slowly walked in silence through the low lying area and up to the slope that marked its edge, and it was hear that we began to discern certain voices in the wilderness. My stomach began to tighten and I broke out in a cold sweat: They were still here. Sarah stood frozen at the first sound of them and her tiny hands began to tremble.

“Do you want to wait here?” I quietly asked her.

“No, lets get closer it sounds as if there’s only a few left”

“How do you know?”

She just looked at me again with that look that made me feel like a moron.

“I think I know what they sound like, Chris” she coolly answered “They’re not shouting or dancing, which means most of them are gone. Bloody Godless animals they are”

“Remind me not to invite you as a guest speaker for the First Nations conference” I said more to myself than to her. She gave me a strange glance at the off hand comment, but this was not the time for any further explanation.

“Never mind” I said dismissively “let’s go”

We slowly made our way up the muddy slope and into, what was for all intents and purposes, her front yard. We stayed on our hands and knees as we broke the top of the incline and the roof of the small cabin became visible a few hundred yards in front of us.

“Well, what do you think” I asked as we stopped.

She brushed her blood stained bonnet aside, as it had fallen into her face from the short climb.

“Slow and silent” she warned “And we’ll stop short of the clearing”

“Real short please” I said.

She ignored me and preceded forward, still her on hands and knees. I mimicked her movement and followed behind her. The voices steadily grew more comprehensive as we crawled forward, which in turn brought forward a language that was incomprehensible. We began to hear three distinct voices, all speaking at once at various tone levels, when I began to question the wisdom of trying to sneak up on Indians in the middle of the bush. Isn’t this how cowboys die? I thought. I was sure even Clint would think better of trying it. We crawled for maybe fifty yards when she stopped cold, as we at the far edge of the clearing and about ten feet from the demarcation point that discerned bush from open space. I crawled up beside her and we both froze at the sight through the light foliage.

The large body of the former slave was lying off to one side of a fire pit in front of the cabin, appearing more discarded than murdered as the prize was clearly the head, now prominently mounted atop a large ornamental walking stick. A stick that was proudly held by a small native no larger than myself. I glanced over at Sarah as her face turned to stone and the raw hate in her soul rose forward, and quelled any child like emotion she had. It was understandable, as off to the side of the “savage” with his trophy were the other two natives, and now I’ll use that term lightly, holding her father over the hot coals of the small fire. His hands and feet were bound together in the back; as she had earlier told me, leaving him fetal, and yet they held him erect slowly edging him face forward into the heat. They would move him in excruciatingly close to the coals, and as his pale and burned face grimaced in pain, they would ease him back and laugh in delight.

Her mother was no where in sight and that was probably for the best, as I actually hoped she was already dead.

The smell of singed hair began to permeate the clearing as they again lowered him to the fire, but this time they shoved his face directly in the fire and promptly pulled him back. His face was now pure white from the ash, and as the red hot coals clung to him eating away at his flesh, he began to scream in agony. The voice pierced the relative quietness of the wilderness and I froze in pure terror.

The savage with his prize-on-a-stick tossed his toy aside, causing the grimaced faced head to roll off into non relevance.

He then reached down to a club that was accented by a large sharp stone at its end, and held by some lost form of native binding. They were finished playing with their prey. The small savage began to take a few steps towards her father, still held firm by the other two, when Sarah finally snapped.

“No!” she screamed at top of her lungs and she bolted from our hiding place and into the horrific scene.

Her scream and the swiftness of her action brought me out my trance, and I dove forward after her.

“Sarah stop!” I yelled, but she rose to her feet and raced towards her father. I burst through the edge of the clearing myself but to no avail; they froze and I froze, but it was too late. They instantly shifted their attention to the small harmless child running towards them, paying no attention to me. The small one with the weapon smiled to himself and casually stepped forward towards her impending path, her bonnet was flapping as she ran towards the cabin, and I stood in shock and turned my head away. It was at that moment it all changed. With in a split second of trying to avoid witnessing what was about to come, I was seized by my long hair and the back of my neck and my head was violently forced towards the scene. Everything immediately went into slow motion and not metaphorically either, I mean push slo mo on the DVD remote.

“Your gonna watch this boy” A deep gruff voice with a strange accent calmly and quietly said in my ear. At this point I didn’t know what the hell was going on, but two powerful hands had me pretty much immobile, and forcing me to look forward.

“And don’t you close them eyes either” it said as I watched in horror.

Sarah was closing in on her father and the natives, and I could suddenly feel her hate, her blind rage and the scared child that was now buried deep in her. The small one with the club thing, as it was really part club and part axe, simply lined her up as she approached, almost as though he were addressing a golf ball. He actually took a small line up swing as she rapidly came towards him, fine tuning his perfect timing.

She came into range and he swung.

The club caught her up across the left of her chin shattering her face and severing her neck, lifting her instantly limp body off the ground in mid stride. Her body cart wheeled off to the side as he continued to smile and bore it down once again now, this time on her fathers head. They stood for a moment over her father’s body, now face first in the fire and laughed to one another. It was over in a second but to me it was an hour, and it permanently burned a hole in my consciousness.

That was the idea.

The two hands that had me in vice like grip, promptly spun me around like a rag doll and I found myself facing a familiar face; it was the face on the stick, it was James.

“We all waited a long time for this” he said with a wide smile as he looked up to foliage of the trees. His eyes were bright and clear and he was dressed in the same garb as his dead body was. I was in pure shock and even if had something to say, I don’t think I could have. He released his death grip on me and I fell to the ground and immediately turned to the cabin thinking we were next. It was gone, all of it, the cabin, the savages, Sarah, and James’s head, all that was there was the rusted old fire barrel that I was originally expecting to find only hours previous. I thought what ever happened was over, but when I turned back, James was still there; it wasn’t over yet.

“The first time you came here you felt the sadness didn’t you” He began “We knew, and we also knew someone had to know the story of this place. No one ever found them. No one knew!” he spat out and he then lowered his head in reverence “Until now”

I remained transfixed on him while still lying on my back on the ground.

“What the hell are you” I desperately asked “and where the fuck am I!”

“Your home, you never left,” he said with a grin “and me? I’m a part of this place now and the woods had a story to tell”

“Where’s Sarah?” I asked, immediately realizing it was a stupid question.

“Gone, they all are” he responded.

I sat back on the ground, trying once again to take it all in. All of this happened a very long time


© Copyright 2019 chris r adam. All rights reserved.

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