13 June 2010

novella: Chapter 1

I've decided that in the process of raising $$ and working on Up Country (or whatever we end up calling it), to release the story in serialized novella form. Every $500 we raise, I'll put out another chapter. I'll be writing it (and revising it) as we go, so if we raise money faster than I can write, so be it. The end won't come until after we hit our goal. Enjoy!

Chapter 1

The tuck pulled to a stop at the edge of the woods. They had driven a mile or so through a field, past a weathered red barn with a Dukakis '88 sign facing the road. John had asked if people up here were that far behind the times. The joke had not gone over well with the truck's driver.

As far as John could tell, there was nothing to indicate that the truck should stop here. No parking area, no path into the woods, nothing but a solid wall of bushes and trees. It was, simply, the end of the field. He looked over his shoulder, but the red barn was gone from view.

Six months ago, his bother-in-law Mark had told him about this fishing trip his cousin had taken in the northern Maine woods--camping in a tent and living off the fish you caught for a couple of days, a real back-to-nature vacation. It sounded compelling enough. But when Mark had scoffed that, no, it wasn't Steven King country, it was much more remote than that, he was sold.

It took even less to convince his lawyer Paul, a tax attorney who worn Armani suits during the week and a ratty old hat with fishing lures stuck through it during the weekends. Paul had copies of Field & Stream magazine in his office, framed prints of lakes and rivers along all the walls, and some sort of large fish mounted over his desk. He had described to John once--in great detail--the process of catching it, the lure he used, the body of water he had been fishing, the thrill of victory. John had nodded politely, but never could remember what type of fish it was. He was too polite to tell Paul he'd forgotten, and didn't care enough to ask to hear the story again. He only knew it was impressive. Or, at least, he assumed it must be. Why else would he go to the trouble of mounting it?

The driver of the truck, the one who wasn't impressed with John's joke, was their guide. Brian or Ryan or Ian or something. He had said maybe twenty words since picking them up at the Portland airport four hours ago, and what little he had was so deeply buried underneath a accent that none of them had understood more than a fraction. John knew Pakistani cab drivers in New York that were easier to understand. Brian or whoever shut the truck off and muttered something like "this is it". He took a sun-bleached Red Sox hat off the dash and jammed it on his head.

They all piled out of the truck, walking around to stretch their legs. The guide walked fifteen feet down the edge of the woods and without giving it a second thought, unzipped his pants and relieved himself. Then, he grabbed some gear from the back of the truck, walked to a spot in the tree line, and pushed aside a bush to reveal a well-worn, clearly marked trail.

Let's go.

John, Mark, and Paul scrambled to get their gear out of the back of the truck and follow him before he disappeared into the woods. By the time John got his backpack on, he could barely remember which bush to move and the guide was already thirty feet away. He ran to catch up.

to be continued when this widget says $500

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