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!
Mark heard them yelling and wandered downstream to see what all the fuss was about. They were back-to-back, hands cupped around their mouths, hollering into the woods. It was comical, really, to see them standing there. They looked like idiots, the guy who married his sister and some lawyer friend of his. Mark had never met the lawyer before, but he seemed like a nice enough guy--quiet, courteous but not polite, and clearly excited to be in the middle of nowhere. You didn't have to know him very well to realize that this was a person who relished the opportunity to get away from urban life.
As for John...well...John was family, sort of. He was proof of the old saying that you can choose your friends, but not your relatives. And, in truth, he didn't know him that well. His sister hadn't exactly brought him around to meet the family, instead casually mentioning one day that she'd started living with this guy who until then had only existed in Facebook photos of her at a baseball game, her at the beach, her at the bar. He was in the background at first, sporadically in the same places as her. Then he was in almost all of them, usually right next to her, sometimes with his arm around her. Then her status changed from "single" to "in a relationship with...". Even when they skipped the engagement and got married one day, John still hadn't met her family.
Not that Mark was all that surprised. His sister was the poster child for rash decisions where reason was little more than an afterthought. She held the local high school record for pregnancy scares without a positive result and managed to do it without getting a reputation for being a slut. She was just...impulsive. A match made this quickly, this foolishly had disaster written all over it. Sure, a rushed marriage wasn't newsworthy, but it didn't say much for either of them. What sort of person gets married without meeting his wife's family?
His father had said it best: "Thank God there aren't any children". And he liked John more than most.
Mark could do without him entirely.
But he was sort of enjoying watching him and Paul standing there, yelling into the woods like their lives depended on it. They hadn't even noticed he was there, they were so busy shouting. Could they seriously not even remember Ryan's name?
"What the fuck are you doing?"
"Hey," Paul saw him first. "Have you seen the guide?"
"You mean Ryan?"
"He went towards you. Why?"
John and Paul looked at each other, both of them feeling too dumb to answer right away. "We can't find him," John finally said.
"What do you mean?"
"We don't know where he is."
"Well...maybe he went to take a shit."
Paul looked at John with a wry smile. "That's probably it. I bet he can't hear us." He looked back at Mark. "Did you catch any big ones?"
Mark held up a Ziploc bag full of brook trout. "I got my limit."
Paul smiled. "In my bag there's a flask with some 18 Year Glenlivet in it, should you want a celebratory shot."
Mark couldn't believe it. "You put that in a flask?"
"We're roughing it, aren't we?"
Mark laughed and turned to head back upstream to where they'd left the backpacks. It took him a minute to find the spot where the guide had pushed back the brush, but finally noticed something of a trampled path of grass where they had walked through. Once his eyes adjusted to the change in light, he found the matted grass where they had placed their bags. Only, there was something wrong. He walked back to the brook.
After a minute, they walked into view.
"Did you guys do anything with the bags?"
They both shook their heads. John yelled back, "No, why?"
"Because they're gone."
...to be continued when our Kickstarter campaign hits $2,000...