Snowed in and cutoff from the world, a trapper and his wife cling to hope while their son slowly succumbs to an unsettling ailment.
Narrated by Soren Narnia
Written and produced by Doryen Chin
Sensitivity Reader: Katie Anna Ellis
"Long Note Two"
by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
[content warning: missing child, animal death, child death, mild gore, unreality]
Note: The audio you will hear is slightly altered from the text below, but the transcript is accurate for most purposes.
by Doryen Chin
My name is Amos Mockbee. I do not know what is to become of my family. It has been five years since I took purchase of a homestead in the eastern reaches of the Coconino territories. The land came cheap due to its remote and wild nature. Being a trapper by trade, it suited us fine. In the Summer, I cut many pines to make our home and built it in the clearing where they stood. By Fall, we had taken residence there. The following Spring, my wife was delivered of a son, Lafayette. So named after his mother's father. God rest his soul.
I have come to the opinion that the trouble began right about three months ago. The boy and his mother joined me in collecting what I feared might be the last traps of the season. Winter came quick and with little warning. A long, dry summer left us wanting for rain. In return for our thirst we were buried under six feet of snow fall in the second week of November. We scarcely made enough on trade to last our stores till Springtime. Eudora reminded me that the Lord keeps those who keep to His Word. And so we prayed.
It is not the winter which troubles me now, though it is a growing burden. Despite my warnings about the cold and quickening night, my wife did not return with Lafayette until after sundown. The boy wandered while she was busied with a trap and, finding him, lost her way home in the wood. I swore in my anger, though it was mainly fear that burrowed in my heart. The boy ate little and slept long the following day. We made his bed by the fire.
There came a break in the weather, and I was obliged to make use of the sun while it stayed. Many traps remained unchecked, and I had little hope of seeing them all. My wife watched over our son in my leave, and I promised to return home before the dark came.
I was dismayed to find that most of the traps remained empty, and collected as many as I could so they would not rust in the snow. By midday I was forced to stop to eat and rest. I did so on a felled tree, where a gap in the canopy allowed the sun to come through. While I sat and ate, I saw in the distance what I took to be a queer branch or tree root. Its odd shape struck me so that, after a minute, I stood to see it better. But it made little difference. I was forced to approach the thing, which I was now certain was neither branch or root. When I got to near about four or five yards, its nature became obvious. A creature. Larger than a steer. I believe the northerners call it a caribou. I do not know. It was very large. The protrusions I saw were its antlers. It was dead.
This I knew, for its eyes were open and its black tongue hanged from its muzzle. I found no trace of injury or disease on the beast. It was my best guess, due to how it lay and the condition of the carcass, that this poor creature had froze to death. Caught unawares in the cold snap. I wept, for our prayers had been answered. Then I fetched the saw.
With the help of Eudora, I was able to carve the animal into pieces small enough to carry, and we filled up most of the cellar with the meat. The cold and the dark would preserve it well through the wintertime. That night we ate hearty, and had lively spirits for the first time in recent memory. Even the boy enjoyed some of the meat, and we stewed the bones for his supper.
Eudora had taken to sleeping beside the boy on the lower floor by the fire. I did not begrudge her, but I preferred the comfort of our bed in the attic. That night, or very close to it, I was awakened from my slumber by the gentle prodding of Eudora's finger in my back. When I turned to face her, I found that she bore an expression of worry. She regarded me with wet eyes but would not speak. I asked her what the matter was, and still she gave only silence. Fearing the worst, I tore the blankets from the bed and clumb quickly down to Lafayette's side. But my fears were quieted by the sight of him fast asleep upon his cot.
Nothing else among the room disturbed, I returned to our bed up the stairs and asked Eudora again to explain herself. Yet she would not. Only she would have me hold her until we both fell asleep again together. Ever after that night she refused to sleep aside him by the fire.
The days got short, and still Lafayette spoke not a word. Yet his appetite grew and grew, which we firstly took as an encouraging sign. But the shadow which had overtook him did not pass. He slept through the day, but by night Eudora and I could hear his movements below while he thought us asleep. Further I pressed Eudora to tell the story of what she saw which made her awake me in the night. But she guarded her words close. I could not make her tell. It was thus that I did vow to sleep beside him one night. Would that I had done so sooner...
After supper, I bade Eudora good night and took a buckskin for a blanket. She was wary to let me alone with the boy, and even then she would not tell why. I confess that I showed my anger then, much to my shame. I hold none about it now.
I fell asleep with little effort, as was my habit. The boy in his cot and the fire beside. A cozy situation on any other day. While I slept I dreamed. I found myself lost in the wood. Cold. Hungry. I longed to see the faces of my mother and father. I heard my father's voice, and ran to him. But fell quickly to the ground with a stab of pain in my ankle. Looking down, I saw that my foot had found a trap hidden in the underbrush. I could not reach for the trap, so great was the pain. My father's voice came nearer, but as I cried out to him I felt the trap begin to tug. Pulling me. The trap disappeared into the dark earth, my foot with it. No matter how I clawed, I could not stop it. I screamed and cried, throwing my arms and body against the ground, but it made no difference. As my head sunk beneath the soil, I awoke.