Incident On Panther Mountain part 4

Hello friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Among The Boughs” and is available for purchase by the instructions at the bottom of the article.

If you haven’t read the beginning of this story please use the links below.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

As I backed away from the tree and stared at the mouth shaped wound on the trunk I realized that what looks like drool was actually just resin seeping out of a wound that had never fully closed. The damage to bark was probably caused by another tree being blown over in storm. As the bark healed over it formed the lips of the mouth. That had to be it. No other explanations were logical. As I continued to ponder on the strange looking tree and it’s drooling mouth. My concentration was broken by another round of giggles that seemed to echo from all over and then there was a shushing sound that came from above my head. I spun around and looked up through the branches. But saw nothing. “Maybe I’ve accidentally inhaled hallucinogenic mushroom spores.” I mumbled to myself while searching for the source of noise. I glanced back to the truck and noticed that the fog was pooling in the road so thick that I could no longer see the truck.

Image Titled “Fog In The Forest 101919d”

The top of the hill was still fairly clear and I decided that if I used the fob I could just follow the beeping horn to find it again. I cautiously moved around the hillside looking for a sign of the invisible giggler. I noticed something laying in leaves. The light color of oiled wood standing out amid the rusty brown leaves. The smooth texture told me that the wood had been worked. I walked over and used my stick to rake back the leaves to find a doll. The head was made of a polished wood bead and had a simple face of faded paint. The body was fashioned from burlap sewn up with hemp twine and stuffed with scraps of rags. The doll’s dress was also made from scraps of cloth and sewn in a quilting pattern. The doll was made with simple materials but someone had put a lot of love and effort into it creation. I reached down to pick it up for a better look when a small voice screamed a blood curdling NO! The small voice struck me like a stone and I dropped the doll imeadiatly as frightened birds burst out of their branches. A small girl came rushing out of a hollow tree where she had been curled up in a little ball.

Image Titled “The Hiding Spot”.

She had to be no older than 5 years and small for her age. Her quilted dress matched the doll’s dress. She embraced the doll tightly and I heard her whisper “I almost lost you.” I was stunned by her sudden appearance. After a few moments of watching her hug the doll and whisper into its ear I asked for her name. She just tightened her grip on the doll and refused to speak. Knowing that there wasn’t any houses close by I asked her “Where’s your mommy?” “Don’t talk to strangers.” She said in low voice. I wondered what I could do. I wasn’t really keen on the idea of leaving her there by herself but she seemed to be stressed that I was there. Finally I asked “Are you lost?” I saw a tear drop roll down her cheek as she slowly shook her head yes and mumbled that she was playing hide and seek and they left without finding her. I knelt down to her level and said. ” I have an idea. Maybe it’s just their turn to hide and we need to go find them. I have a friend in the police department who can help us.” I stood up and took a few steps back towards my truck. The small footsteps in the leaves behind me let me know that she was following me. To my relief we made it back to the truck without any issues. I opened the door and sat her in the passenger side with the doll strapped in between us. As soon as I got enough bars I called the police department and told them that was bringing her to them. As we drove she didn’t speak. She only looked out of window and pointed to different things that we passed while whispering to the doll. Everything was as normal as stumbling upon a lost child in the forest could be if it were normal. Until we got to the police station. I walked in with the little girl in tow and sat her on a chair in the lobby while I looked for the officer that I’d spoken to on the phone. When we came back to the lobby the little girl was gone and only the doll was there sitting upright in the chair. Except, the quilted dress that matched the little girl’s dress was dirty and looked old. The paint on the wooden head was faded. My friend who was the officer gave me a confused look and we imeadiatly ran outside thinking that the little girl had wondered off again. We searched the rest of the day but found nothing and nobody else had seen her. We went back inside and decided that the best thing to do would be to look through the missing child reports and try to at least figure out her name. The doll was unique and should be something that would be in a report. The internet had nothing that fit the description of the child or the doll. So we began to search through a file cabinet. The officer pulled out an arm load of folders and one slipped out of his grip and scattered on the floor. As we gathered the lose papers he spotted something. The edge of a paper sticking out from under the file cabinet. He managed to slide it out to find a newspaper clipping. His face went as white as a sheet and he held it out for me to see a story about a missing child. The little girl in the black and white photo was holding the doll which was still sitting in the chair out in the lobby and the headline was from 1929. We agreed to pretend that it never happened and I decided to head back home. But as I passed by the opening of the road up through Panther Mountain I saw movement in the trees. I stopped the truck in the middle of the highway and watched as a young woman approached a tree and the little girl in the quilted dress ran into her waiting arms. Then they were covered by a thick fog and disappeared into the mists.

The Ghost Girl is a traditional Appalachian folk tale that has taken on several versions. Most of the time the girl is a teenager who hitches a ride and barrows coat. When the driver tries to retrieve the coat he learns that the girl had passed away long ago. The origin of the tale is not known to me but Incident On Panther Mountain has been my take on it. I have taken quite a bit of creative liberty with the plot to make it fit with the images that I had on file and if course, it needed to fit Halloween and have have a happy ending.

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The Passing Seasons

I am amazed at the velocity of time. The scene in tonight’s feature image is only one week ago. While I have not been to same spot twice in the past week I can tell by trees and leaves in my yard that the fall colors are almost gone. As I look up to the tops of the mountains I can see the bare branches. It’s as if the older trees are stretching their arms with a sleepy yawn and preparing for the winter’s hibernation. The reds and oranges and yellow are fading to browns and tans. I can see the squirrels in the tops as they run from branch to branch patrolling their borders. A young friend commented today that she wished this day would end as she took on one difficult task after another. I heard the voice of every elder in my life coming out of my throat as I replied to her by advising her not to wish time away.

The special moments of life are fleeting indeed. And entire season (natural season, not calendar season) has, passed before my eyes in just a few days. Like drops of water they add up and before you know it there’s a sea of moments that are forever gone.

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I Dare You (part 1)

With Halloween occurring in a few days the hobgoblins are beginning to gather and roam the countryside looking for whatever they can devour. Usually a pillowcase full of chocolate is what’s needed to ward them away. I have have also seen plenty of superheroes patrolling the neighborhoods but I wouldn’t count on them. I’m pretty sure that they are in cahoots with the hobgoblins. Never the less, they will require a few bits of candy for their services as well. You’ll know for certain that it’s a conspiracy when you spot Iron Man, Batman, the Devil and a horde of zombies meet on the corner to discuss which houses have the sugary sweet chocolate awesomeness and who’s handing out the ever dreadful and stale popcorn balls.

Then there’s the other Halloween tradition. The pranks. Older kids who are up to mischief. One of the less harmful pranks was to rub a bar of soap on the windows of those houses that were “fuddy dudies”. The soap made just enough of a mess that something had to be done but yet not enough of a mess as to lead to legal action. I was only caught once and the responding officer was content to supervise us as we cleaned up our own work to his satisfaction. (The takeaway lesson their is that mild infractions can be handled creatively).

Eventually this leads to the dare. (Queue dramatic music) The dare was the inspiration for tonight’s feature image. In every town there’s the place that’s taboo. Nobody wants go there no matter what time of year. Sometimes the path leads to an abandoned graveyard. Sometimes it’s the abandoned house or an old factory. In West Virginia there is even an abandoned amusement park. Whatever is out there it always at the end of some foreboding path. The trail seems open enough at first but then the trees seem to close in on you. Thick vines trail along the way like tentacles that just might grab you and drag you into the underbrush. Do you take the dare or face the teasing on the next day? Okay then, I knew you’d be the type who wouldn’t back down. Go ahead. I’m right behind you. Cautiously we step onto the pathway slowly walk. What was that in the shadows? Something is moving parallel with us. Shine your light off to right. Did you see it? Was that… eyes shining back at us? Suddenly the eyes are gone deeper into the shadows of the thick bush. We’re to far away from the group to head back. Whatever it is might chase us or drop from one of the trees. We’re going to have to keep moving. The trail should open up again soon. Shouldn’t it? No sooner do we start moving forward again that the sound of something in bushes starts again. Instinctively you turn the light towards the source of the noise. The eyes are back. Brace yourself. I’m going to flush it out whatever it is. I bend down slowly without looking away from the eyes and pick up several small stones from the trail. The first one is not much larger than a marble. I gauge the position of the glowing eyes and toss the stone. Suddenly it leaps out onto the trail. It’s just a cat. A black one and it’s just crossed our path. Not a good sign. After catching our breath and with a sigh of relief for not having been eaten we get back to our mission to find out where this trail ends. To be continued on part 2.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. Please also consider following Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook. If you don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website at the bottom of the Welcome Page.

Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “I Dare You ” and is available for purchase by contacting me on Facebook or by using the Contact Form on my website.

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May require some cropping.

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Jump to part 2 of I Dare You here.

The Hunter (part 2)

Hello Friends, before I continue my prehistoric fiction story inspired by the rocks at Beartown State Park in West Virginia I wanted to invite you to make sure that you read Part one first. The Hunter (part 1)

The hair on the back of the hunter’s neck stood up . He strained his eyes trying to penetrate the shadows as he prayed for strength. The thumping of his his heart was so loud it was drowning out the growling and hissing from the back of the cave. His voice cracked as his prayers grow more audible. He moved slowly as he leaned to the right and groped the dark cavern floor for the shaft of his spear. He could not break the lock that the beast had with his eyes. Instinct told him that if he looked away that the creature would pounce. He kept his movements subtle and deliberate. Finally he felt the bite of the spears stone tip against the palm of his hand. He drew the shaft forward projecting that razor sharp obsidian blade towards the danger. With his main tool now in place he braced the butt of shaft with his foot and waited for the terror in the shadows to make its move. His eyes widened as a shrieking howl burst forth. The noise sounded almost like the screaming of a woman. The eyes moved lower as something slinked his direction and paused. Another scream shattered the cavern air and the hunter tightened his grip on the spear. As the firelight fell on his opponent his worst fears were confirmed. The jet black cave lion drew it’s hind legs in tight and sprang forward. The hunter gasped as the cat became airborne and for a split second it seemed to hover in mid air. The hunter felt the full impact of the cat’s weight as it fell motionless across his body. His spear had found it’s mark at the last second. The cat was nearly as large as he was. His muscles strained as he pushed the animal off of himself. He he quickly scanned the cave to make sure that there was no mate to avenge the first cat. Satisfied that he was once again alone he picked up his discarded flute and renewed his song of thankfulness to the creator.

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The Hunter (part one)

The crisp breeze gently shakes the trees. Brightly coloured leaves rain softly from the canopy. The rustic boardwalk welcomed me foreword and with the first step the outside world disappeared. The rock cap ferns form a thick mat in the leaf litter atop each crag. The rocks at Beartown State Park form a Labyrinth with tunnels and canyons that wind their way through the forest. I imagine that Millenia ago this was a large cave system. Perhaps some prehistoric hunters took shelter here while tracking a primeval beast. In my mind’s eye I can see him unroll a bundle pelts with all of his treasures tucked away safely inside. Wrapped up in the leather pouch at center is the dried meats and wild roots that sustained him on this journey. His fire kit is bound in a separate pouch. Not just any dry sticks will start the fire. The twigs were selected with great care. This was magic and must be treated with the utmost respect. With ritual precision he places a stick in the notch and begins to sing the fire song and spin the evening fire. Soon the smell of smoke rises up from the joining of the wood. He knows not to quit yet and keeps his efforts in time with the fire song. Once the last verse has ended he shakes free the ember from notch and places on a dry mushroom. He remembered the words of his father when the magic was passed down to him. “The fire is a living thing and like all living things it must breath”. The hunter kindles the ember by passing on the breath of life. Again his father’s wisdom speaks to his memories, “living things must be fed slowly so that they do not choke “. The hunter starts to feed the fire fluffed leaves and then small twigs. He progresses from step to step when the fire was strong enough he began to cook his meal. He doesn’t require much. Just a thin stew from his provisions. After the meal he thanked the creator by playing his flute. He had a lot to be thankful for. Good shelter, a warm meal and a rich heritage to keep him strong. As he played something stirs in the back of the cave. Something that is not happy about the noisy music in the cave. The hunter whirls around and comes to one knee. Deep within the shadows of cave the greenishglow of eyes in the firefight glare back at him.

To be continued…

The Hunter (part 2)

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Overcoming Produces Beauty

I’ve said it before about how much I love twisted and crooked, gnarly trees. The curls sweeps of the wood speak of challenges that were overcome to survive. I’m not sure what caused the arabesque in the trunk of this one but the moment I saw the double curve I fell in love with the tree. No doubt that it had to have carried the weight of at least one or maybe two larger trees as it grew. I also have no doubt that it’s unique shape prevented it from being harvested at some point in its history.

Sometimes God allows us to go through struggles that we don’t understand. We might wonder how much longer a situation will last. We might think that the burden we carry will pull us down. But if we just keep going and we don’t give up we can make it. Sure, there’s going to be scars and we may not stand as tall as some of our contemporaries. But, that doesn’t make us any less beautiful. It makes us overcomers and it makes us unique.

As I looked around at the surrounding forest there were hundreds of trees that were straight and tall. Some of trunks were so thick that you and your best friend couldn’t reach all the way around them by joining hands. But they all faded into the background. The only one that stood out and begged to be photographed was the one who was unique. One day this tree will fall just like the rest of them. As a woodworker I can imagine some bent wood furniture being made from crooked trunk. If it ever happens it will be a centerpiece in someone’s home where the others couldn’t compete with the graceful curves produced by overcoming the struggle. Don’t ever give up. Bend and adapt to overcome and you’ll grow into something special.

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What Was The Question?

Tonight’s image is an old mile marker that’s found along an abandoned road near the Meadow River in West Virginia. Apparently it marks mile number 42.

Fans of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Universe have already begun to snicker. For the rest of the world here’s why. In the book and subsequent movies a large supercomputer named Deep Thought was built to answer the ultimate question of “What is the meaning of life, God, the universe and everything?” After billions of years Deep Thought came up with the answer 42. The irony was that the people who built the computer were long dead and by the time the answer came nobody could remember the question or why it was asked. Now, to be honest I have never read the book and was only present while the movie was playing. As such, I’m only familiar with the trivia. But when I heard the story I began to appreciate implication.

We as humans seem to be hardwired to want to skip learning experience and go straight to mastery of just about everything. We want the “cheat codes”. So much so that we often put more efforts into gaining the cheat than we do experiencing the win. In the Hitchhiker’s Guide the scientists and priests who spent all that time looking for the meaning of life did so at the expense of living life to its fullest. This is the folly of trying to win at all costs. It’s the struggle that makes the victory sweet. If you skip the struggle then the victory is hollow and you never really get to experience it fully. What’s more is that you tend to be so focused on the goal that the importance of the original purpose is lost.

Maybe I’m making that very mistake myself in trying to make my point. Let me close by simply saying that life is an adventure. One that you’ll miss if you try to skip ahead.

Oh and the answer to the question asked by Douglas Adams? Well, I have an opinion of course. The meaning of life, God, the universe and everything is that we were created by God to know the love of our creator. That’s it. It’s that simple. No need for advanced AI or billions of years waiting for an answer that’s as vague as the question. Just talk to him and listen for answers.

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