The Climb … segments 10-11-12

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George awoke stiff and cold from his unsettled night in the cave. Sunshine reflected off the shimmering snow outside, with the promise of warmth in its rays. George picked up his gun and made his way into the morning light. The sun on his face felt wonderful and took away some of the chill he felt. All around spread a world of white with only a whisper of a breeze in the trees above.

As he ate the last half of his granola bar, he was glad he kept the water bottle in his inside pocket. His body heat kept it from freezing solid. George knew his climb down to the valley below would help him warm up. Stomping his feet, numb with cold, he felt his joints talking to him telling him he was much too old for this kind of activity. His left arm was tingling again and he had a slight tightness in his chest, so George popped a glycerin pill and let it dissolve under his tongue. He always carried them with him for situations like this. His heart was not happy with all the strain, but the tightness and tingling soon subsided.

As George prepared himself for his climb down the mountain, he noticed some tracks in the snow outside the cave. On closer examination, he saw the imprints were cat tracks as big as his hand. The tracks left the cave entrance and trailed up the hollow. George looks further and noticed slight spots of red sprinkled very lightly in the snow next to the tracks.

He recalled what he thought was his bad nightmare from the night before. Did a mountain lion actually visit his cave last night? Did George actually take a shot at her grazing her just enough to bleed a trickle of blood in the snow?

George emptied the shells from his rifle. Only five shells in the gun instead of six! Still not believing what he saw, he climbed back into the cave. Sweeping the leaves aside, he found nothing. Then over in the back corner lay his expended shell. He could not believe what he was seeing. In the middle of the night, in his sleep, he had taken a shot at a mountain lion. Who would believe this tale? He knew Jim would love this story.

*****

Feeling extremely cold, George knew he needed a fire to warm himself before starting down the mountain. Dragging out a pile of dead leaves from the cave, he added some small dead limbs from the bottom of the white pines nearby. The leaves were dry from being in the cave and he soon had a blazing fire going. It was enough to take away some of the chill from his body.

By now the sun was shining through the tree tops and the pines covered with snow sparkled like a million diamonds. Overnight the snow accumulated to a foot and a half deep. It would take quite awhile to wade through it all and make it back to his truck.

When the fire had burned down to embers, George covered them with wet snow to put them out. He new it was time to start moving.

Deep snow made walking difficult for George, but he slowly made his way down the west side of the hollow so the morning sun could help warm him in the frigid morning air. After walking for an hour, he brushed the snow off a fallen log and sad down to rest. He really needed a drink so he scooped up some fresh snow and melted it in his mouth. The cold water trickling down his throat refreshed him.

As George was ready to trudge on, he heard a rustling in the pines across the way. In a moment two doe came into view followed by a third. George sat real still knowing they could not tell him from the trees, except by smell or movement. Suddenly they stopped and sniffed the air, ears perked up listening for any movement. Since the breeze was blowing up the hollow, it carried George’s scent away from them, so they continued moving slowly nibbling at the ends of young saplings sticking up above the snow.

What a beautiful sight to see thought George as he watched them moving further up the ridge. Another noise drew George’s attention back to the pines. George could not believe his eyes, as he watched the old buck come into view. He stood tall with a majestic rack that spread above his head like a king’s crown. Being cautious, he always seem to follow the doe who checked to see of there was any danger ahead. The old buck stopped and sniffed the air unaware that George was just across the hollow. It was as though he sensed something different in the morning air.

George’s heart was racing as he saw the buck come closer. This was the chance he had been waiting for and talking about for years. Now the opportunity was right in front of him, with a clear shot that few hunters could miss. George raised his rifle and looked through the scope. The cross-hairs focused right behind the old buck’s shoulder.

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

A continuation of an earlier prosery prompt from d’Verse Poets Pub….  Scroll down my site to see earlier segments.

The Climb… segments 8 & 9

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Back home in Windy Gap, the sun was setting and George had not returned home. Since his wife had died three years earlier, he had live alone with his old hound dog, Blue. Like George, Old Blue had also seen his better years. He thought it best to leave old Blue at home for this trip.

Down at the end of the gravel lane, his neighbors the Clancy’s lived with their ten year old son Jim. Patrick and Nora were wonderful friends who looked out for George since his wife died. Nora took George hot meals from time to time and often invited him down to visit.

Patrick heard the roar of the old Dodge truck as George headed down the lane in the hours before sunup. George mentioned earlier that he was headed out hunting on Moonshine Ridge, hoping to come across the old buck that had eluded him the last several seasons.

George told Jim hunting stories and how he dreamed of getting one last trophy buck. Those who had seen the deer said it looked like he might have a rack with as many as fourteen points and weigh at least 200 pounds.

When Jim came in for supper that evening, he announced that George’s truck was not at the house and Old Blue was barking up a storm inside the house. With snow beginning to fall Patrick decided to go up and check on Old Blue and see if there was any sign that George might have returned home and left again.

*****

Patrick climbed up the steps to the porch and peered in the window. Nothing seemed disturbed as Old Blue jumped up at the window with a deep mournful wail. Jim found the key under the old crock on the porch and let himself in. Old Blue greeted him happily, jumping up on him trying to lick his face. Patrick left Old Blue run out in the yard to relive himself. He saw there was no water in Blue’s bucket and no food in his bowl. Very unusual for George not to tell anyone to feed Old Blue.

He went to the cupboard and took out the bag of dog food, pouring some into the food bowl. Blue eagerly gobbled it down crunching the hard bits between his teeth. Patrick added a little more and filled up his bucket from the old pitcher pump. Seeing the snow falling faster he had an uneasy feeling about what might have happened George in this extreme weather.

When George did not come home by 9:00 PM, Patrick knew something was wrong. He called the Sheriff’s office in River Bend, ten miles away. After telling the Sheriff what he knew about the situation, Sheriff Taylor said with the storm closing in, and with six inches already on the ground, there was no way they could send a search party into the mountain to look for George before morning. It would take four-wheeled-drive vehicles to make it back to Windy Gap. He told Patrick to meet him at the Sheriff’s office at 7:00 AM. They hoped George found shelter from the storm; otherwise, his chances of survival were very slim.

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Earlier segments:  https://rothpoetry.wordpress.com/2021/08/18/the-climb-three-more-segments/

The Climb… segments 5-6-7

The Climb…. three more segments

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On Tuesday we did prosery at d’Verse Poets Pub. We had to write a 144 prose piece using the word Cloud along with a line from a poem. I wrote this short story. Several bloggers mentioned they wanted the story to continue, so I am attempting to carry on… This is the first segment followed by three new segments.

The Climb

Dwight L. Roth

The old hunter slowly made his way up the rocky mountain side. He used his 30-30 more as a cane than a gun. It was a beautiful winter day with a cool brisk wind blowing up the hollow. He wrapped his coat tightly around his shoulders as he stopped to rest.

George enjoyed hunting for the past forty years. As he unwrapped a Hershey bar, he thought about his younger days and the thrill of getting his first deer on opening day. Now the thrill was just being able to make it to the high top. The view there was spectacular.

At the top of the ridge, he found trees bent from the wind. The clouds were different today. George wasn’t sure, “But these clouds are clearly foreign, such an exotic clutter against the blue cloth of the sky” Distant snow clouds worried him.

The Story continues:

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***

He knew how fast the weather could change in early winter. George had hiked through the mountain laurel, almost to the high-top, the rise of rocks and scrub bushes that rose sharply before dropping down the backside of the mountain.

In the West he saw clouds were moving in more rapidly than he anticipated. He knew he must head back or he would be caught in a blizzard. In his younger days George could have easily stepped it off back toward the ravine in short order. But, his body would not cooperate like it once did. So, he slowly made his way through the laurel as best he could.

Reaching the head of the hollow, he looked out across the mountains and realized there was no way to make it down before the snow closed in on him. He had to find shelter and find it quickly!

*****

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It started as sleet and freezing rain, quickly turning into heavy snow. He remembered stories of hunters who got trapped in blizzards and did not make it home alive. George was determined that would not be his fate.

Having hunted the mountain many times, George remembered a large outcropping of rock on the other side of the hollow about half way down. If he could make it that far, a shallow cave at the base would provide shelter from the wind and snow.

Although going down was easier than coming up, one had to still be careful not to slip and fall, or step in between two rocks and sprain an ankle, or God forbid, break a leg. Carefully George made his way through the falling snow. In the distance he could see the large rocks, black against the white blanket of snow.

*****

As George reached the overhanging rocks, he could see his short breaths projecting like tiny steam clouds from a locomotive. He also felt an unusual tingling in his shoulder that radiated down his left arm. It concerned him, but he knew he had to find protection for the night so he pressed on.

He climbed up and peered into the shadows of the opening hoping not to find another animal taking shelter there. He breathed a sigh of relief when he realized it was empty except for a large pile of dead leaves that had blown in over time. The cave provided shelter against the wind and blowing snow.

With snow falling, covering everything, there was no way for George to build a fire or gather wood to keep it going. He knew it was going to be a long cold night. Would anyone miss him?

To be continued:

If you want more let me know…

Photos: Dwight L. Roth

This is where the story originated:

Today at d’Verse, Merril introduced our prosery prompt clouds. In prosery we are given a line from a poem of her choosing and it must be incorporated into the flash fiction story as given. The line she gave us was: “But these clouds are clearly foreign, such an exotic clutter against the blue cloth of the sky” from Clouds – by Constance Urdang

Dreamer – chapter 8

Chapter 8

The engine moaned loudly as the air brakes screeched on the coal cars, keeping the train at a safe speed.

“You know Henry, if you just use the air breaks, they will burn up before you reach the bottom.” Sometimes you must trust the power in your hands.”

Purrlin sat down in his seat to rest. Simmi jumped up onto his lap and began purring loudly. Henry smiled feeling the wind blowing against his face as he leaned out the window. It seemed the trees were more colorful than ever.

“You can let the engine run on the last half mile,” Purrlin said. “She will roll back to normal when you reach the Broad River… the river… the river…”

The trees were glowing red, orange, and florescent green. Purrlin and Simmi were gone!

“Henry, time get up! You will be late for school.

~The End~

Paintings: Dwight L. Roth

Spin-off story from Monday’s d’Verse prosery prompt.

https://dversepoets.com

I have compiled all the stories into a book of 12 pages with illustrations. If you would like a pdf: copy, give me your email address and I wills end you the file to print.

dwru27@aol.com

Dreamer – chapter 3



When Henry hesitated, the old man reached for a box of stick matches and struck one on the side of the box. It burst into flame and Purrlin used it to light a single candle sitting on a wooden stand by his chair. The candle burned with an eerie green glow of molten smoke rings rising around the red flame.

“Come, come, my boy, tell me what is on your mind.’


As Henry stared at the candle’s aura, it gave him a light headed hypnotic feeling.


“I want to be a railroad engineer,” he said. “I want to drive an engine that belches fire and smoke as it goes down the track!”


“I see,” said the old man, “You are not alone. Many young boys have that dream! Follow my instructions and your dream will come true. Stare deeply into the candle’s flickering flame!”

*****

This is a continuation of a flash fiction story I started as our prosery (144 words exactly) prompt at d’Verse Poets Pub.

Check it out at: https://dversepoets.com

Painting: Dwight L. Roth

Dreams – chapter 2

Henry only paused a few seconds. When he heard the voice saying, “If you are a dreamer, come in.” he could not resist. He always had a vivid imagination and loved the mystery of ‘what comes next?’ in the books he devoured.

As Henry stepped from the bright stoop into the dark hallway, it took a minute for his eyes to adjust. “Come in my child, it has been such a long time since I had visitors other than Simmi! As his eyes adjusted to the light, he saw a stooped old man holding Simmi on his lap. There was nothing fearful about him as Henry anticipated.

“My name is Purrlin. I can make dreams come true. Do sit down and tell me your dreams.”

Henry moved to the rickety old chair by the table. Should he tell the old man about his dream?

Painting: Dwight L. Roth

D’Verse Prosery prompt: “If you are a dreamer, come in” from Shel Silverstein’s poem Invitation…

https://dversepoets.com

Dreamer

Henry followed the big yellow cat down the block, wishing to pick her up and hear her purr. He continued across the street to the next block. She showed up before on the door step of his old brownstone buildings.

His mother told him not to wander off, but the cat seemed to want him to follow. Henry’s mother’s words faded away. He would only go a block or two.

The cat paused in front of a long winding stair case, then scampered up and through a large open door at the top. Henry thought perhaps he could meet the cat’s owner, so he slowly climbed to the top. As he peered into the dark opening, Henry heard an old man’s voice, “If you are a dreamer, come in my child.He froze, uncertain whether to go in or run back down the steps.

Painting: Dwight L. Roth

Today at d’Verse, Lillian is challenging us with a prosery prompt. Prosery is a flash fiction piece, of exactly 144 words, that includes a line from a poem given by the host. The line is from Shel Silverstein’s poem, Invitation, as published in his wonderful book, Where the Sidewalk Ends. The line is, “If you are a dreamer, come in“.

Join us at: https://dversepoets.com

Fire In My Head

My parents always told me I was an unusual child! When I began seeing visions at the age of six, everyone passed it off as childish fantasy.

As I grew older the visions became more detailed and urgent! There were visions like the time my grandmother was sick with cancer, and I saw her complete and whole again. Within that year she made a complete recovery.

Other visions were not as measurable, such as the time I spoke to my grandfather who had died the year before. He assured me all was well and not to worry.

Yesterday, I went out to the hazel wood, because a fire was in my head. I had an unusual feeling of anxiety and fear. It was New Years Day, 2020. The sun was bright, the trees were bare; but, there was this ominous dread like never before.

Painting – Dwight L. Roth

Today at d’Verse we are writing prosery, which is a flash fiction piece of 144 words that includes a given line from a poem. Kim gave us this line: I went out to the hazel wood, because a fire was in my head –from The Song of Wandering Aengus, by William Butler Yeats.

Join us at: https://dversepoets.com

Life’s Old Bones

Charlie was a farmer all his life. It was a small farm; about a hundred acres. He milked cows every day until he was seventy years old. It was a good life, but much of that was gone now. His wife died a year ago in April. His only daughter married a man who worked in the technology field. The only alternative was to sell the farm.

On auction day, folks came from miles around. Tractors and implements sold quickly. The thirty milk cows did as well. The farm sold for more than a half a million dollars.

All that seemed insignificant now, as he stared at the shell of a dilapidated barn, out the window of the rest home. Charlie thought to himself, “Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy, One day I will collapse, just like that old barn.”

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Today at d’Verse, Linda asked us to write a flash fiction of exactly 144 words, using a line from a poem, Spring Azures from the book Wild Geese by Mary Oliver. The line is… ‘Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy.’

Join us at: https://dversepoets.com then click on Mr. Linkey to read more stories.

Hoof-beats

A Dunkard Brethren church once sat at the top of the ridge overlooking Willow Run. Now in crumbles of brick and mortar, flowering honeysuckle invite bees to commune at their cups of sweetness. Blacksnakes slither through the rubble looking for a toad or rat residing there.

It was in this church where itinerant preachers on horseback brought fiery brimstone, forgiveness, and grace to the faithful who gathered. Souls were saved and dunked all the way under in Willow Run.

On the hillside the full moon reflects off of a few protruding graveyard stones. Most have long since been overgrown and broken. The names on the stones kiss the ground, above the deceased as “In their dreams they sleep with the moon.”

Tales are told by the ancients, who still live nearby, that at midnight’s full moon rise, horses pounding hooves echo through the night!

Photos: Dwight L. Roth

Today at d’Verse, Merril introduce a prosery prompt. This is a short story of no more than 144 words that can be flash fiction, true, or far out imaginary. It must include a random line from a poem that she shared with us. Her line was from a Mary Oliver poem, (Death at Wind River),“In their dreams they sleep with the moon.” My story is flash fiction, based on a little church from my home town. My two brothers and I visited there two years ago, and I took a bunch of photos. These are a couple of photos from there. The story is made up.

Join us at: https://dversepoets.com