Writer’s Block Ch. 01

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Ass

To my American readers, I’m sorry if my information is flawed. I did a little research as I was writing but I’m no expert on guns or the USA/Canada. The town of Marchant Falls is fictional as is Echo Springs.

I wanted to write an adventure story and although it didn’t really turn out as I had intended I’m still quite happy with it. I’ve also left it open so new chapters may follow depending on the reception I get from this one.

I’d appreciate it if anyone who reads it leaves feedback on theirs likes and dislikes so I can improve.

Thanks and I hope you enjoy.

*****

The desk was dimly lit, papers spread across it like a broken ice sheet, the laptop buried beneath. Notes on top of notes on top of notes but nothing worthwhile came. Writer’s block they call it, ‘more like brain cramp’ he thought as he wrote a few words, rethinking their meaning, scoring a line through them and writing better ones beneath. “Always use the best words you know!” His English teacher told him, ‘pedantic words that readers will think pretentious.’ His mind told him.

I am too tired to think straight. ‘Nothing I write will be any good if I can’t think. Try again in the morning.’ He thought. Wearily he dragged his bones through the cabin, across the cold, bare wooden floor, to the bunk he shared with no-one, and into the bed he was born in. Images presented themselves; voices spoke loudly yet indecipherable to his inner ear. The darkness played tricks with his eyes.

‘What story would be complete without a writer? We all have stories to tell yet what a shame if a writer doesn’t tell it. If F. Scott Fitzgerald had never put pen to paper and written ‘The Great Gatsby’, if William Shakespeare had never written ‘Hamlet’, the stories would be lost with them.’ Likewise Terrance Fillmore needed to get his story out of his mind but the words, the words he needed wouldn’t form. They were in the box but he couldn’t get to them. Soon sleep found him and rid him of his senses.

Falling; his body weightless, sinking, deeper, down, down. He dreamed of his past. His long distant past in his home town, Marchant Falls, a place named after Devin Marchant a civil war general noted for sending his men to their deaths while other units encircled the enemy for victory, the supreme sacrifice.

The dream took him through his old haunts, down streets, into shops, around unknown corners until he realised he was no longer in his home town. Now he was standing in a forest clearing looking up as birds swirled and rose higher casting shapes together and losing form over and over. He was lying on the wet grass watching the patterns they made until he was one of them; floating, flying, frolicking with the flock.

He left them, flying over the trees towards lights in the distance. Warm air turned cooler and then cold as he neared the lights seeing movement around them. Snow fell, causing sheets of white paper to cover everything. The light became a lamp, a table lamp shining down with dim light onto the snowy sheets of paper below. A small animal scurried across the paper snow, searching, looking for a meal, but he was a bird and he too was hungry. Down he dove at the little mammal catching it in his talons, beginning to devour it in flight. Still cold, landing and wrapping himself in his wings. Terrance woke to see his breath. His wings were the blankets of his bed.

Januaries and Februaries were coldest in Echo springs. It wasn’t much of a community, just three or four occupied cabins in winter and a fair distance between them. The temperature rarely rose above 25°f during the days and fell to 15°f during the nights. Terrance wanted the still tranquillity and peace of the cabin in order to get into his head and pull on the string of a story that knitted itself firmly in his mind. If he could just find that first tenuous thread he might be able to unravel the secrets to the story.

The cabin was colder today than it had been in days. His exhaustion had caused him to choose sleep over warmth, a fact that he now regretted and would like to undo, but this was no longer his dream and he needed wood to burn if he was to get warm again. Tentatively he pulled the covers back. He was still fully clothed but it didn’t stop the cold from biting at him. He pulled a heavy coat on and braved himself before leaving the relative warmth of the cabin. As he opened the door an ice chill entered before her exited. “Better forward planning needed next time” was his only thought.

His gloves were cumbersome and made him clumsy. Whatever he picked up he dropped, cursing himself that it took a good minute to pick up his axe. He took a deep cold breath which burned as he inhaled, then set off in search of a dead tree. Most of the dead wood around the immediate vicinity of the cabin had been cleared since it was the easiest most accessible wood so he needed to walk further to find his fuel. After 20 minutes of searching he found an old, dead standing birch. He pushed lightly against it, then more firmly and lastly put his weight against it kazan escort but it didn’t want to fall. “Good solid wood” he thought with a snigger.

He removed his gloves to get a good grip on the axe handle. This needed to be quick or his hands would be useless once they got cold. He swung into the fourteen inch body of the dead tree, again, again. His body warmed a little from the exertion, but not enough. Five minutes after starting the tree fell. Then the job of getting it back to the cabin began. Cutting it into two smaller lengths and removing the limbs made it easier to move.

He tied a rope around one end of a length of the tree and made a loop at the other end of the rope to pull it. The tree was heavy but it moved leaving deep tracks in the snow. 30 minutes later he had it back at the cabin, loading it up onto the saw horses ready to be sawn into useable lengths. The axe was put back into the tool shelter and he pulled out his bow saw to start the job of cutting. It was therapy to do such work. Not working for money or for the sake of work, but working for the sake of living. There is no more rewarding work than that which sustains.

The saw was old, blunted, and hard to move through the wood but it was cutting slowly. Terrance’s thoughts wandered to his dream, was there any meaning to it? As he pondered the unconscious mind he noticed a real flock of birds above as they swarmed, pulsing patterns through the sky. He smiled at the freedom he felt during his sleeping flight and wished it was possible in real life.

By lunch time the wood was sawn, chopped and stacked but he was no longer cold. The work had warmed him enough to cause him to sweat heavily. The heavy iron stove in the corner of the cabin was set up ready to be lit as soon as he needed it later but for now he needed inspiration. He changed his sweat soaked shirt, pulled on his heavy coat, slung his rifle over his shoulder and left the dark cabin for a walk in the forest. As he walked he would check his traps for his next meal. He had plenty of rice and pasta to last a nuclear winter, not the most nutritious foods though so he subsidised it with wild meat; deer, rabbit, squirrel or any other animal that was caught by a trap, or shot.

The first two traps were empty, untouched. He left them as they were. The third trap had a squirrel for him. At least he would get a bit of protein. His walk was hardly inspirational but it was pleasant, the sun shone and although the air was cold, the sun was warm on his skin.

There were noises all around. It wasn’t busy like a warm forest might have been but there were noises; the odd bird singing, a moose in the distance with its distinctive eeerrrrrrrraww and some shouting…

‘Shouting?’ Terrance thought he was hearing things. He waited a few seconds. In the distance he swore her could hear someone calling for help.

Trying to pin down a direction Terrance listened hard. Again the call for help. This was remote forest and the person calling was likely only being heard by Terrance. “HELLO???” He called, waiting for his echo to dissipate.

A faint. “Help, at the river!” Came the reply.

At least the person knew someone had heard them. Terrance was on high ground looking down over a snowy plain. In the distance, maybe three quarters of a mile away was the river. That would be a trek in this deep snow but it was a journey he was obligated to make just by hearing the call. This was bear country, they would know of his presence long before he knew of theirs. His eyes and ears were on full alert. “I’M COMING TO HELP YOU!” He shouted as he made his way towards the shouts. “KEEP CALLING SO I CAN FIND YOU!”

“I’m here.” The call came every twenty or so seconds. Terrance slipped the rifle off his shoulder giving a look around for any bears that might have sneaked up on him, and used the sights to try to locate the voice. There was no sign.

He kept moving forward, slowly trudging through the snow, closing down the arc of probability as he approached the voice. “I’m nearly with you!” He called.

The voice was near now, just a hundred or so metres away. He still didn’t have any visual contact with the person and didn’t want to become a victim himself so his rifle was ready in case they were playing possum. “I’m here.” Came the call as he saw an arm waving above the snow.

Terrance put all his will into the final few metres to get to the person. Bloodied and hurt, it was a woman. “What the hell are you doing out here?” Asked Terrance as he fell to his knees next to her trying to figure out how badly hurt she was. “You’re soaked! Where are you hurt?”

“My left leg, I think it’s broken.”

“Anywhere else? You’re bleeding; I need to find where you’re bleeding.”

His mind was racing. She was wet which in the cold meant she was probably hypothermic. She was bleeding quite badly so he needed to stem the flow and if she had a broken leg there was no way she was going to walk out of the situation. He had done basic first aid but this keçiören escort was beyond his comprehension. He tried to think of the most important thing first, probably the bleeding. He took his heavy coat off and put it over her to keep her warm while he removed her jacket and shirt to find the source of the blood. She had a nasty gash on her right shoulder blade. It was deep. ‘She might not make it’ he thought, but he was damned if he was going to let her die without a fight.

While he thought about their options, he pushed hard on her wound to close it and control the blood. He lay next to her to provide some warmth to her. The leg would have to wait. As he lay there for a minute he reasoned his only option was to make a compress to keep pressure on the wound while he came up with the next solution to the problem. He stood, removed his shirt and tore it into strips. He found a short length of straight-ish wood and wrapped it in a piece of the cloth placing it on the wound. “Are you able to hold this in place?”

She used her left hand around her body to hold it. “I’m sorry if it feels like I’m getting familiar with you but I’m just trying to save your life!” He said as he was tying strips of his shirt together.

“What do you mean?”

He didn’t have time to explain. He put his hand around her chest passing a length of tied shirt under her left side and securing it at the wound. “This might hurt but I have to make it tight!” He told her as he pulled.

“Uhhh!” The air left her as he pulled the strapping tight. He put another around her almost fondling her left breast as he did. “I’m sorry. I don’t have time to be a gentleman right now.”

The woman was just grateful for the help. She would have been dead soon if he hadn’t found her so ‘a little petting was a fair price to pay.’ She thought as she lay with Terrance trying to fix her. As the second strap was tightened the bleeding reduced noticeably. “Ok that takes care of the blood but we’re going to lose light soon. We don’t have time to get you back to my cabin and we have no way to signal for help. We’re going to have to stay here tonight. You stay under my coat and stay as warm as possible. I’m going to get a fire going.”

As fast as he was able, he found dead wood. He needed stuff that was off the ground ideally but the snow was covering everything so it wasn’t easy. After ten minutes he’d found enough to get a fire started. He could look for more once she had warmth.

There was a sapling close by that he cut with his knife. It was thick enough to have strength but thin enough to bend slightly. He removed a lace from his boot, tied it around one end of the sapling and bent it into a bow, tied the other end of the lace to the other end of the sapling to keep the bow shape. One of the pieces of dead wood was almost straight so that would be used as a drill. The lower piece needed a dimple and notch to catch the dust, which Terrance made with his knife. The top piece just needed a dimple to hold the drill. He twisted the drill into the bow, set it in the top and bottom dimples then pushed and pulled the bow with easy pressure on the drill to create hot wood dust. Once there was a good amount of dust he put more pressure on the drill to create more heat.

After a minute or so there was a fair amount of smoke so with dry grass and leaves he transferred it to near the fire and blew hard to ignite it. He put it under some thin dry twigs and fed the fire with increasing sizes of wood until it was blazing. The woman watched as he started fire from nothing but what lay about around them, imagining that cavemen might have used a similar solution but coming up short for the shoe lace. She watched the warming flames as they heated her skin. She felt blessed that the man had found her and that he had some intelligence.

After searching for as much wood they would need for the night Terrance returned to the woman to check the dressing. She wasn’t bleeding but the wound could still become infected. He had bought her and himself time. “What the hell were you doing out here alone?” His first question.

“I was out here with a guide. It was supposed to be a guided trip. All my kit was in our canoe. We hit rapids and we were both thrown into the water. The canoe was lost and we got split up as we were thrown about.” Her explanation.

“So you don’t have any survival kit on your person?” His voice was demeaning and a little angry. “You always carry items of importance on you, not in your bags!”

“Noted, but I don’t think I’ll be doing this again.” She said wishing she hadn’t done it this time.

“Where are you from?” He asked trying to lighten the mood and take her mind off the situation.

“Burlington, Vermont.”

“So you’re no stranger to a cold winter then! Are you feeling any warmer?”

The woman nodded, mesmerised by the fire, losing herself in the dancing flames as they flickered and jumped.

“You got a name? I’m Terrance.”

“Maria. You live out here?” She asked wanting ankara escort to know more about her saviour.

“Not exactly, I’m a writer. I’m out here looking for inspiration, and I think I just might have found some.” He said as he looked at her.

He remembered the squirrel he found in his trap. “You hungry?”

“Don’t tell me you keep fillet steak in your pocket as well as your other items of importance?”

“As it happens, I do.” He pulled the squirrel from the pocket of the coat Maria was wearing.

“I’m not eating that!” A look of disgust on her face.

“When they’re cooked they taste great. You have to try everything at least once.”

Maria grimaced but didn’t answer. She looked up at the clear sky, her lucky stars twinkling down at her as the evening darkened. She knew she was in a world of shit right now, but didn’t seem to care because she had Terrance with her. She didn’t know him, had no idea of the kind of person he was but he had saved her life, at least for the moment anyway. He was the only hope she had of surviving.

Terrance skinned the squirrel and gutted it throwing the entrails on the fire. He skewered it on a stick and held it by the flames turning it like a spit so it cooked all over. Maria smelled the cooking meat. “That doesn’t smell too bad actually.”

Terrance smiled. It had been a while since he had entertained a woman for dinner. The last time was three years previous when his sister’s friend visited and he asked her for a date. He cooked orange chicken and they had a nice evening. They ended up sleeping together that night but in the morning she became neurotic, blaming him for taking advantage of her when actually she had initiated. It left a scar on him. “I really am sorry for touching you the way I did earlier but I had to stop the bleeding. It really wasn’t about anything other than that.”

Maria smiled at him and blinked softly. “You have nothing to be sorry for. I’m glad you were close by. You might have found me dead if you hadn’t come by when you did.”

It was Terrance’s turn to stare at the flames, wondering what fate had in store for her. Surely the universe wouldn’t be so cruel as to save her life only to take it away after a short time?

“We need to move you tomorrow somehow. Where is your leg broken?”

“I’m not sure it is. It hurts on my thigh when I move it so I suspect it may be.”

Terrance moved over to her to check. He gently squeezed her thigh but felt nothing out of the ordinary she felt searing pain as he moved to her middle thigh but it could have been severe bruising. Her pants were still soaked. “I’m sorry Maria but we need to get you dry or you could still get hypothermia. Let me help you up.”

She stood on her good leg. Terrance took the coat she had been using as a blanket uncovering her bare chest before throwing it around her and fastening it. The coat came down to well below her knees. “Take your pants off then huddle down inside the coat as much as you can to stay warm. I’ll hang your clothes by the fire; you can dress in them once they’re dry.”

Maria dropped her pants and gently took her bad leg out but to get her good leg out she had to sit down. As she moved Terrance saw a flash of her womanhood and looked away “such a gentleman.” Maria smiled. “Actually I don’t think my leg is broken. I’ll try to walk on it in the morning.”

Terrance took her clothes and hung them on small branches near the flames. After a few minutes they started to steam. Maria was in some obvious discomfort with her back and leg. The hypothermia was no longer a problem but the Adrenalin was leaving her and the pain was kicking in. He passed her the squirrel. “Eat!”

Breaking a leg off, she tried it. “Not bad.” She hadn’t realised how hungry she was.

Terrance took a leg and passed the squirrel to Maria. “You need it more than me!” He said patting his slightly overweight belly as he said it.

“What would I have done without you?”

“Doesn’t bare thinking about. I found you and you’re going to be fine. Keep that in your mind instead of what might have been.”

The night was cold. More so than usual with a clear sky but at least it was unlikely to snow. Terrance fed the fire continually to keep Maria warm. Each time he put another branch on it sent sparks whizzing and curling skyward like sprites dancing to a forest ballet.

Maria’s clothes dried quickly with the heat so he put her pants back on her legs and she pulled them up. Then she took off his coat and put her shirt on unashamed of showing him her breasts. She struggled to get her shirt on but managed. Terrance helped with her jacket. “We should try to sleep. We have a long way to go tomorrow and it’s going to take a lot out of us, especially if your leg is broken. You sleep close to the fire. I’ll sleep behind you for warmth and we can both get under the coat.”

Maria was happy with that. She didn’t know him well but he’d helped her and seemed nice enough. She was glad she had someone with her. Terrance got behind her and spooned her to share body heat while she had the fire in front to warm her too. Terrance was out like a light but Maria watched the fire for some time before she too fell asleep. During the night Terrence woke periodically to feed the fire before returning to his position behind Maria.

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