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 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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Today is June 20th 2018. It’s a state holiday. Today is the 155th anniversary of West Virginia becoming a state of it’s own. The American Civil War was raging when Abraham Lincoln separated us from Virginia. We’re the only state in the union to be created from another one. The T.V. and internet if full of trivia and history about West Virginia.
Rather than cover what’s already covered so well by mainstream sources I want to talk about today. West Virginia is still a frontier. I’m not just talking about the “hills and hollers” that are seldom seen by human eyes. I’m talking about the unwritten future. Yesterday’s post about what it must be like to step outside time-space and actually be able to view all the past, present and future maybes was meant in part to help people see that the future is the product of our choices. On this day of remembering history and pride in our state I want to ask what June 20th 2026 will be like? How about June 20th 3018? As we look to our past and remember the greatness of our ancestors let’s not forget that the responsibility of future history is in our hands today. If we want our descendants to be proud Mountaineers we have to create that history today. Today’s challenges go by different names than our ancestors faced but the solutions are ultimately the same. Namely, innovation, self motivation and gumption. Our ancestors built a lifestyle that we are proud of because they didn’t wait for someone to do it for them and we’re not going to pass on that heritage by waiting for someone else to fix our economy or solve the drug problem or any other challenge of modern life. West Virginians are a culture of doers. In the past we lit up the world one lump of coal at a time and today we can do so much more if we’ll just put our hearts into it. The way I see it, West Virginia Day 3018 is looking pretty good.
I stood in the mists and listened, and I heard the echoes.
The echoes spoke to me and here is what they those echoes said.
Once there was a house and the house was a home.
Once there was friendswho would gather.
Once there was laughing.
Once there was a song.
Once there was dancing.
Once there was the smell of dinner cooking over an open flame.
Once there were games played on the lawn.
Once there was a warm bed and quietly spoken conversation by candlelight.
Once there was a sadness and a warm embrace to lessen the scars on a wounded soul.
Once there was work to be done and rest to be enjoyed.
Once there was love and love grew into life. And life was good.
The echoes fade away but love lives on.
Poetry by Lloyd A Dempsey II
The Feature image for this post is the Old Mason-Drennan house. Sadly, it’s a historic site that is quickly succumbing to the effects of time.
As I look at site I think about all the different stories that would have played out at the old resort. In the early Twentieth Century this was a destination for people who would travel from far away. I wonder how many family lines got started at the dances and social gatherings that were held there? That question was the inspiration for my poem. As the old inn fades away do the memories live on like an echo in time?
As the weather in the Northern hemisphere warms up people in Appalachia generally gather around a camp fire and tell ghost stories. But such stories don’t always have to be scary. After all, it’s just a story… isn’t it?