tagSci-Fi & FantasyA Fairy Tale

A Fairy Tale


"Sir, I politely inquire if you have any special assignment that could get me a bonus. My wife and kids, oh my kids have grown up so much, would like to live in a house. And, I need a good bundle of money for a down payment. I am not asking you to raise my salary. I am asking you, if there is any extra task or mission that would make you a great deal of money and me a little extra."

Peter was a self assured sales man for a Canadian timber company. He was neither married nor had any kids. The pitch was formulated to appease to the owner in front of him. The office was full of family photos: The little portrait groupings, the scenic vacation shots, and the kid doodled hand paintings.

The office had a large behemoth of a desk. The giant window behind the owner overlooked the lumber yard. There were giant piles of tree trunks. The trucks and cranes had the square grips typically used for large lumbar. A large barn housed saws, whose aggressive whine vibrated through the window. Burly men in overalls and yellow hard hats milled around the yard.

By any measure, Peter was a tall and well built man. As most sales man, he was preoccupied with his appearance. He pushed heavy irons in the gym. The suit was bought in the finest store of the big city five hours away. His mid length hair was neatly gelled and combed back. His black leather shoes were shined every single day. His smile was neatly practiced in front of a mirror. However, among the hulking lumber jacks, he looked like a skinny school boy.

The owner was twenty years Peter's senior. Two fluffy clouds of gray hair sat on the owner's left and right side of the head. The bottom heavy body had been wedged into the leather upholstered executive chair with the golden highlights. The chair and the body had become inseparably molded together like an old pair of fine jeans. The owner's hand rubbed back and force on the mahogany stained armrest.

"There is such a mission that would make me a good deal of money. However, I hesitate due to its delicate nature. Okay, here we go. Far up in the Northwestern Territories, there is a large forest that I own. Reports tell me of beautiful giant trees. We could charge a premium for those. Imagine a double wide conference table without the glue lines of putting different boards together. The trees are that large."

"The problem is that I already sent three surveyors up there. They did not return. I tried to pay local men to launch a rescue party. However, they all refused to enter the forest. Those three men have cost me a large sum of money in raised premiums to the company's life insurance policy. That's why I stopped sending any more surveyors up there."

"Tell you what. If you quit the group life insurance policy and get me all the surveying paperwork done in three months, I will pay you $50,000. That's a good bundle of money for you. You made last year, like what, uh like $65,000. That nearly doubles your take home. What do you say Peter?"

The road into the far North of the Northern Territories was a straight bee line gravel road through ever constant thick forest. Peter's large SUV was fitted with over-sized studded tires. The gravel gently sunk beneath the heavy weight of the tires. As the tires passed, the top gravel pieces were accelerated to a sharp shooting speed to fling over the gravel bed. A hundred satellite radio stations kept Peter entertained and fumbling with the dials.

With no traffic and well groomed gravel, Peter could accelerate the car at a high speed. The car slithered lightly side to side in the grooves and bumps of the road. Yet, he had to remain alert at all times. A large tree branch might have fallen down or a deer may stand dazed in the middle of the road. At 70 mph and straight road, he had a good view. Yet, any attempt at stopping the two tons of steel and provisions would be a long drawn out slide through the gravel with a tough fight to keep the SUV from rolling over. Worst, if he was disabled, nobody would come for weeks to rescue. Even a minor injury could have devastating consequences.

After two days, he arrived in Carmacks, the small timber village. His mind was baked from the long drive. Carmack was one muddy town square with five wooden buildings around it. The tavern had a welcoming sign. The office building was the only building with a large window, and the only building with a white painted facade. The other buildings were all dark brown painted with amber wood protecting stain. The remaining three building were boarding houses with bunk beds for the lumberjacks.

The early fall weather stuck its stiff cold fingers beneath Peter's clothes, when we walked across the town square to the tavern. The tavern was the toughest place on earth one could find. There were young men, middle aged men, and old men. There was not a single woman. Not a single man had a feminine figure. They all wore heavy sweaters and jackets. Only a single fluorescent tube lighted the whole place. The second fluorescent tube had been removed. The walls of the tavern were pitch black.

The men seated at the bar counter were like mighty island states. Anyone coming near their sovereign territories would have a fierce war on his hands. The bartender slammed a heavy bottomed glass on the counter in front of Peter. The bartender wanted to know, how many shots. The tavern only served whiskey, no water, no scotch. But, you could get it in as many shots as you wanted to.

The giant brawn with the coarse hair on the back slammed onto the bar counter and pushed the man next to Peter around. Thin scar lines ran across the hand from chopping and sawing accidents. The man had pitch black beard stopples and yellow teeth. Yet, his eyes looked soft like that of a Newfoundland dog.

"We are going to have a fight in ten minutes."

Peter gasped, "Please, there is no need for violence. I assure you that I am a very well behaved individual and glad to buy you a drink."

"Not us, you dummy. The tavern is putting on a competitive fight with betting. The two largest foremen are going to face off."

"Ah, I am so relieved that you say that. Let me buy you a drink anyway."

"Alright! Foreigners never buy drinks for nothing. You are digging for information. That's fine with me, as long as you keep the drinks coming."

"Actually, my name is Peter. I am here to survey the forest land N26Z. People at the headquarter told me nebulous danger surrounded the forest. What is the going on there?"

"Forest N26Z! I would have thought that the old man would have given up sending any more people to their death. Nobody has returned from that forest, no surveyor, no mounty, no trapper, no Native tribes man. They all vanish in that forest." [A mounty is a nickname for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.]

"But surely, there must be at least one person who only went into the forest a little bit and returned."

"Haha, actually you are right. In summer, we have young college girls coming up here for a wilderness experience. They get all the boys riled up, while passing through. They go into N26Z. They go there. After a few days, they come back. And, they giggle. They giggle the whole time, like possessed by an insane voice. The following year, they always come back with more girl friends. But mind you, the rare male college boys that accompanied them never returned."

"No disrespect man, you are telling me a wonderful yarn. So, is it bears, wolves, or moose that I have to prepare for? Moose have given me the most trouble in my forest follies. They are stubborn and charge at you with no reason but their territorial indignation of being visited."

"You can believe what you please. But, in the upcoming fight, Morgan is going to win. He's a hell of a fighter."

The rustic, heavyset tables and chairs were moved away. The legs of the furniture protested loudly on the rough floor boards. The floor consisted of heavy planks with big branch holes. They were laid directly on the bare ground. A lumberjack with a black-and-white striped shirt and a whistle proudly led the fighters around the bar by their raised arms.

The fight was brutal. Bare knuckles wrapped in old bar rags punished the bones of the other body. Thick layers of leather skin, blubber fat, and trained muscle absorbed the blows to the chest. However, the head bumps, when skull crashed onto skull, sounded a loud crack like bucks in heat cracking their antlers against each other. The occasional sweat, spit, and blood flung onto the spectators only excited even louder roars. Peter placed $20 on Morgan and doubled his money.

When the heavy drinking started two hours later, Peter suavely weaved his way in between the roving drunkards to the exit. The rough, drunk lumberjacks may crush him like a beetle without even realizing. The outside air was nippy. His breath was visible as mist in the air. The tall trees covered the little settling in deep darkness. He slipped into one of the boarding houses.

The door was nailed together from heavy wood. The bare wood planks of the walls were visible inside the boarding house. The boarding house was one giant room of bunk beds. Next to the door was a shelf with bedding bundles. Nobody came this far out, who did not belong. So, the door did not have a lock. And, the bundles were for the taking.

He picked a lower bunk bed to reduce the chance of picking a bed that one of the rowdy lumberjacks in the bar had claimed many seasons ago. The bunk bed was a deep hole framed by wood boards. The mattress was worn soft. His butt and back sank all the way to the ground. He always hated these outposts with the crude manliness threatening fights and indignities at every turn. At the same time, he soaked up the original male essence that dominated unabashed and unchastised by metropolitan women. Those women always made their men feminine, and then complained about their lack of sexual drive.

Early in the morning, the lumberjacks rose five minutes before the first crack of light. They stumbled around the room in their giant underwear and the giant undershirts that could have clothed an entire orphanage. While the men busied themselves with the morning toilet over faucets with steaming hot water, Peter gave them precedence.

He opted to clean and prepare his weapons. He had a .44 Magnum hand gun. The bullets were soft-pointed for maximum knock-down power. The hand gun was for close range defense against grizzly bears, when the charging bear had come too close to have the time to swivel a rifle around. For wolves, he prepped a 12-gauge shotgun. He'd pop one blast after the next at those bastards. The spray of spherical pellets would maim a wolf without even aiming properly. The pump action would be able to load six shells in rapid succession. Any pack of wolves should be scared into a fast route from six members dropping in the blaze of a moment.

With the arms polished, loaded, and placed on the passenger seat, Peter went back into the boarding house to do his morning business. The lumberjacks had left fogged mirrors and yellow dried pee stains in the sink. At night, they were too lazy to walk outside in the cold and thus relieved themselves in the sinks. Hair droppings from the few shaving lumberjacks had lodged itself into the corners of the sink. It would be nice to be away and by himself in the forest.

Exiting, the boarding house, he wore thick jeans, a puffy-warm jacket, and a brimmed hat. A cook in white apron stood behind a metal table with pans. The cook was busy scrubbing the heating surface. Most lumberjacks had already left into the forest with their chainsaws and ear mufflers. Peter stuffed a large coffee cup with scrambled eggs and ham.

The SUV rumbled over the unmaintained dirt road. The back of the SUV swayed sideways, when the tires dropped down a rock. He held onto the steering wheel with one hand. The thumb was carefully placed next to his index finger. Holding the steering wheel with the thumb easily broke them in the rough terrain, when a sudden rock could snap the wheel around. The other hand casually dipped into the ham and scrambled eggs in the coffee cup. The egg yolk was still runny and coated his fingers with a yellow wax.

Two hours out, the road became impassable with bushes and trees sprouting middle in the road. He stepped out. The soil had not yet frozen. It crumbled softly under his boots. He strapped on the expedition backpack. The rifle was slung over the shoulder. He checked the bullets in his .44 Magnum one more time. He verified the compass heading against his map. Then, he stepped into the dark forest.

The forest was a lifeless desert of pine needles and rotting underwood. There was not a single plant or green thing on the ground. There were many tree trunks. The trunks were giants. Perhaps, three men were needed to hug around a tree with their outstretched arms and then only holding onto each other's finger tips. No wonder, the factory boss was so eager to get the ancient giants logged. High up in the sky was the canopy of the trees. The thick canopy absorbed all the light and left the forest floor as a lifeless desert.

Half hour into the forest, his ears became familiar with the periodic wooshing sound of wind in the trees. The crisp cricke-dee-crick of the pine needles and cones under his boots became second nature. Only much too late was he able to hear the other paw steps.

The first time, the cricking sound in the distance startled him to look, he caught a glimpse of a Gray Wolf. The head hung low with the ears curiously focused forward. The step was a soft and carefree bounce. The leg stepping down made the hump of the wolf bounce up and down. The coloring of white thick fur below and a tough grey coat on top was unmistakable.

He pulled his side arm out of the holster and released the safety immediately. He kept walking steadily as not to display fear and trigger an instant attack. Where there was one wolf, there was always pack. Ever gently, he shifted the aim of his steps toward a large tree. The trunk was hollowed in a way that he would be protected from two sides.

The second wolf appeared behind a tree on his other side. These wolves were gigantic. He had seen timber wolves before. But, these wolves were in an entirely different category. The most terrifying aspect was their muscles. Normal wolves were larger than dogs, yet had something sleek about them. They were skinny like marathon runners from roaming hundreds miles in a short time. However, these wolves had shoulders that were packed with muscles. The definition and grooves of the individual muscles was as visible as that of a body builder sweating under the stage light.

The tree was another twenty seconds away. He knew wolf psychology would keep them from attacking him immediately. The wolves would normally spend hours circling the prey, until it either exhausted from anxiety or started an energy robbing sprint. Despite the mental knowledge, his heart was pounding. And, his trigger finger placed against the barrel of the gun to avoid an accidental shot was shaking.

He reached the tree. He pushed his expedition backpack against the tree. Bark pieces broke off and landed on his jacket shoulders with a soft scratching sound. He considered switching to his rifle. However, he decided that a wolf coming around the tree may get too him so close to swirl the long nozzle around in time.

Then, he watched them. They watched him. Seven large wolves circled around him. They'd always keep their safe distance. They always closed any gaps between them to prevent a bum rush escape. They paused at times to face him. They never stared. They just looked at him. Their fur of their faces was so neat that one could have sworn that they stepped straight out of a dog grooming shop on Melrose Street. One had to stay focused on the real danger and not believe for a second that they were as friendly as a house dog.

After a few minutes, patterns started to appear. He recognized one of the wolves had a darker patch on the back than the others. He noticed that one wolf had always lowered ears and tail. The other bumped into him aggressively on occasion. That was the omega wolf, the runt of the litter that bore the aggression of everyone else.

The other wolves all stood erect with raised hackles. They were beta wolves. Their friendly demeanor of letting the open mouth hang out the tongue was charming. They were relaxed not because they were friendly. They were relaxed to conserve energy, while draining him through his tension. They were the beta wolves.

All the while, the alpha had slowly crept up to him inch by inch. He had not noticed the alpha at all, because the alpha had been completely immobile, starring at him. Every time, he had moved his head the alpha had made a small step closer. The alpha wolf was so close that he could make out the individual strands of fur. The eyes were entirely unlike an animal. They had the intention and intelligence of a man facing down a fight, where every move could be a deadly attack.

With his free hand, he reached into his outer jacket pocket. He pulled out a pen with a large cylinder around it. He depressed the safety pin. Then, he launched the bear banger not at the wolf, but beneath him, straight beneath the soft belly. The bear banger exploded with a load ear pain inducing pop. The wolf flew into the air, propelled by his hind legs that had jumped up in fear. The helpless wolf fell on its back showing his submissive belly side. Then, he grabbled to his feet and ran off with the pack.

For a few minutes, Peter pondered if the wolves would calm down and come back. Then, he decided the coming back from a humiliating defeat was purely human psychology. A squirrel barely escaping a fox would not return with the intent of beating the crap out of the fox, because the squirrel had felt disrespected. So, he moved on deeper into the forest.

Around lunch time, he saw a peculiar sight. There was a forest clearing. The light filtered down to the forest floor. The forest floor was filled with tall grasses and a few bushes. He could even make out the colorful dots of flowers blooming. The peculiar aspect was the light. The sunlight was oddly bright. Even in the middle of the day the sun was only a bleak underpowered lamp at this Northern latitude. However, the light in the awning was radiantly bright and blissfully yellow.

Clearings offered food to deer. Deer was food for apex predators. Peter chose his rifle this time, released the safety, and cocked it. He carefully approached the clearing with bent knees and many glances over his back. As he drew closer, he could make out more details. The grass was deeply green and lush. A fluffy white bunny sniffed in the air. A purple-yellow butterfly almost perched on top of its rosy nose.

The bright light definitely came from the center of the clearing. Being in the dark forest, he was blinded by it. He would have to make it into the clearing, before he would be able to look directly at it. Light contrast is another reason predators love clearings. There are many places to hide and get close to the prey. He switched to his .44 Magnum preparing for potentially close body combat with more wolves or a grizzly bear.

What he saw at the center of the blinding light knocked his breath out. As a salesman, he had become accustomed to use deep breathing and intellectualizing to nonchalantly ignore startling aspects of his clients to make the deal. There was a young woman in the clearing. The young woman was not only stunningly beautiful, but she hovered two feet above the ground. Four round wings behind her back were swirling. The wings were see-through and about two feet long, much like bee wings only larger.

He put his safety on and put the gun into his holster. He steadfastly walked towards the young woman and called out: "Hi there, my name is Peter. I am the forest surveyor. Who are you?"

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