Jonah and the Fairybymarkelly©
(This story has nagged at me for close to a year now and it finally got to the point that I had to put it out there. I don't write in the Sci-Fi & Fantasy category yet here I am doing just that, so for all those that read this story please be gentle with me.)
Throughout history the name Jonah has always been associated with bad luck and to be honest up until eighteen months ago I'm sure I would have been right up there with agreeing with you. You see it became tradition that the name Jonah was given to the first son of every generation and as far back as I have managed to trace, that tradition was almost welded into our family.
My Dad sure must of breathed a sigh of relief when he read up on that one and I'm sure it was with a certain amount a glee that he handed this 'gift' to me. Mom protested of course but the whole family both Jonah's and none Jonah's alike just ganged up on her so Jonah it was. Mom's rebellious streak held out and she was the only one that called me by my middle name, David. Now why couldn't this tradition have been to call every generation's first son David, life sure would have been much easier on us Jonah's.
You see, selected Jonah's in our family live on a mountain, we are known as the keepers of the mountain. Quite what we keep has always been a mystery to me after all a mountain is a mountain in anyone's book so who would want to keep one, and yet we do and for several generations I've been told.
Anyway sit back and let me tell you what happened eighteen months ago and maybe it will answer some questions.
Mom knocked on my bedroom door and then entered the tears in her eyes and the letter in her hand told me this was going to be a bad day on such a big scale. She paused trying so hard to think of anyway she could to say what needed to be said, Dad came along side his arm around her waist in support. Dad whispered something to her and although she nodded her head Mom set off into a fresh bout of crying, yet all I could do was sit and watch these events as they unfolded still not knowing what the heck was going on.
"This is yours son, I'm sorry really I am."
Holding an envelope in her hand she was crumpling up the letter she had in the other. I took it and read the front all it had on it was the word 'Jonah' shrugging my shoulder I opened it and read three lines. An appointment was made with a lawyer for the next day along with a time and that was it. But judging from Mom's reactions it didn't take much to figure that my uncle was now dead.
The mood of the house was somber; Dad was constantly in contact with the lawyers trying to sort out the funeral arrangements only to be told they had already been taken care of. Dad was furious but the lawyers wouldn't budge the tradition of the Jonah's, or rather the keeper's in our family took precedence over his appeals to have his brother brought home and buried here. His brother was buried that same day in the town close to the mountain and there was nothing he could do about it.
My meeting with the law firm Statchet, Bingham and Cross the next day went just as well. This same law firm had handled all of the Jonah's business for as far back as any of us could remember. I was shown into the office of Mr Abraham Trenton III and instantly disliked him. More so when he sat me down and with folder in hand started placing sheet of paper after paper in front of me mumbling the words 'sign here'.
Now thoroughly pissed off I got up and with my folks in tow walked out and went home much to the consternation of Mr Trenton III and his still unsigned paperwork. A day later I received a letter from the law firm re-booking my appointment, I in turn phoned back and cancelled it. The law firm was getting more and more desperate as weeks turned into months, once even coming to the house to be told by me that I wasn't in and with a smile slamming the door in there face.
But as they say all good things do come to an end. The folks were getting real pressure from the rest of the family, to them I was turning my back on a tradition that our family had held dear for so long that no one could remember why we still hold it so dear, the lawyers were on the phone daily now even offering to remove Mr Trenton III permanently from all involvement in this and any other Jonah case and replacing him with another from the firm, and then there was that nagging feeling I was having lately that I was being watched.
In frustration I phoned the law firm and agreed to their terms and also that I wouldn't come into the firm until I had been to the mountain and had a look for myself, they instantly agreed and I started to wonder who was putting so much pressure on them to do so. The mood also changed within the family as well and I could clearly see the weight lift off my Dad's shoulders. Mom held her own council on this, telling me it was up to me what I did and she would back me to the hilt if I ever changed my mind.
Pulling up alongside the cabin and getting my first look at it, my mind was just about made up there and then to go back to civilization and pull the cabin down. It just felt too remote for my taste, but a promise was a promise and so with continuing doubts about why I was here in the first place I left the comfort of my truck and ventured towards the cabin. What surprised me was how clean everything was, considering my uncle had died several months back and it had taken me this long to take time off of work, from the outside there didn't seem to be anything wrong with it.
Hearing footsteps coming from the side and then seeing a man come around the corner of the cabin instantly shocked me. At first the man stood and looked at me, feeling like he was trespassing I suppose he noticed my glare and he smiled and for some reason I was more at ease, re-evaluating him. He stood just over five foot although the way he leaned on the stick that was just as tall as he was I would think about adding maybe another two inches to that, his beard was grey totally contrasting with his brown eyes.
The animal skin jacket and trousers he wore seemed to suit him although I kept getting the feeling I was looking at Grizzly Adams, and even when he dropped his pack off his back and with the aid of the stick started walking towards me I still didn't feel threatened by his actions.
"I guess you're Jonah, the names Jacob."
We shook and smiled.
"I see news travels fast in this neck of the woods. Yes I'm Jonah."
"We've been expecting you, the mountain doesn't seem complete without a Jonah here, and I hope you like the cabin."
Shrugging my shoulders I still stood watching him, too many questions and no answers and that's a puzzle I just can't stand, so I tried again.
"You from around here?"
Jacob sensed something in my question and smiled that disarming smile of his.
"Oh I'm from everywhere, I tended to drop by and see how old Jonah was getting on and we used to share a drink on the porch and watch the occasional sun set, glad to see with you here now that tradition can continue."
Something in his statement didn't feel right and no matter how many times I run it over in my head, the answer still remained the same.
"We'll see Jacob. I'm only here for a week I have yet to decide if I want to live here."
This time the smile faltered before his eyes smiled and shaking his head, slowly turning and walking back to his pack bent down and picked it up, slung it over his shoulder and walking back around the side of the cabin. I followed a few moments later only to find no sign of him anywhere. Now feeling a little weirded out I walked back to the truck pulled my bag out and entered the cabin.
The inside was just as neat and tidy as the outside, even the fire was lit and burning up a nice warm feeling. Making a mental note to add a lock to the door on my next trip into town I set about making the place my home for the next week. By the time I had straightened everything out it was dark outside, grabbing a coffee and sitting on the porch watching the stars, listening to the breeze through the trees and the fireflies that skipped across the clearing started to give me a new perspective about the place.
Hell why lie, I was so at peace here I just didn't know places like this existed, yes there was something odd about the place but something magical as well and natural born cynics like me don't come across this sort of thing all that often. With the remnants of my coffee now cold I headed for the door and bed only to feel the hairs on the back of my neck raise. Looking out towards the clearing was a useless act considering the only illumination on the mountain was coming from the stars, but I simply couldn't shake the feeling that I was being watched again. I must have spent a good ten minutes looking outwards trying to put my mind at ease, eventually shrugging my shoulders and heading inside to sleep.
Morning brought the dawn song of what felt like every bird on the mountain. Since there was little point in trying to sleep in I got up, made breakfast and sat out on the porch, for a moment I still had that nagging feeling that I was being watched, and finally even that left me to be replaced again by the peace I felt last night. There was no point in fighting off the inevitable, I was hooked, this mountain held me in its grasp and there seemed little point in denying it. I totally understood why my uncle lived here and why he rarely came to family gatherings.
Over the next weeks and then month I put my business in order and listened to Mom as she gave me reasons why I was insane and didn't have to follow the tradition of the rest of the Jonah's. Finally Dad whispered in my ear and the stroke of genius of inviting Mom onto the mountain for a visit put her at ease, she came for a week and stayed for two. Mom was now on my side and that was important to me, she even met Jacob and his charm and there sight seeing trips all over the mountain won her over, as I took her home she realized that she was out numbered and out maneuvered.
Soon the months took on a life of their own, the only times I was ever off the mountain was going to get supplies and visit my folks, thankfully they came to me as well. Dad told me once on one of our walks with Jacob that his one regret was that we as a family never came to see his brother while he was on the mountain. Jacob told him that his brother understood and he never begrudged him the life he had with my Mom, it was strange how Jacob had seemed to have snuck into my life to the point where he seemed to be a permanent fixture, my folks looked on him as an eccentric uncle and told him so. I can still hear his laugh ringing across the mountainside even now.
It was on one of my trips into town for supplies that things changed dramatically. Not sensing any great change, had I known would I have done anything different? I could lie and say yes but one look at my eyes and you would know my heart would give me away.
"Jonah you best stay in town tonight."
Henry was standing by the door to the store, a photo in his hand I was just about to speak when he detached himself from the door, walked to the edge of the porch and showed me the picture.
"I've just pulled this off the weather stations satellite feed, them clouds are the other side of the mountain and if that lot comes down all at once its liable to wash away half the mountain top."
My first instinct was to agree with him. The picture in his hand contrasted totally with the bright blue skies above us but something in the back of my mind kept telling me I needed to be on the mountain so I waved Henry goodbye and headed back. The wheels of the pickup just touching the small dust road leading to the bridge before the first of the rain hit the screen, rapidly turning into a downpour so bad that the wipers had trouble keeping up with the water hammering onto the screen.
The rain clouds so dense now that I had to turn on the lights, the darkness growing by the second and the noise of the rain hitting the truck kept me fully alert and very worried. Even in four wheel drive the pickup was having trouble keeping to the dirt track, my knuckles where white I gripped the wheel so hard trying to keep a straight line and not end up slamming sideways into a tree. Lightning added to my problems, flashes causing my night vision to be all but useless to me now. I knew I couldn't increase my speed as much as I wanted to; the old road had now become too treacherous to even attempt it.
The rain had already washed away the dust layer causing the hard under layer to just let the water run down at a frightening rate. Even the risk of using the brakes had to be considered twice. The next lighting fork allowed me to see the bridge up ahead and my heart sank, the force of the rain now had made the river higher and it was now time to start worrying about the bridge.
Gingerly I placed the front wheels onto the bridge and waited, it gave a groan. Opening the window made the noise sound almost human like; the rain had already soaked my head and chest and made life real difficult when I tried to look up the mountain. Bits of debris followed the rushing white water hitting one of the main supports, the vibrations going through the bridge now being felt through the trucks steering wheel.
Again that need to be on the mountain was pushing me but my instinct for survival still urged caution, crossing this bridge now and in this weather was insane yet I smiled to myself as I pushed the gearshift and the truck slowly rolled forward. The rain seemed to intensify making it look like the bridge was its own private river, my hands ached with the grip I held that wheel my knuckles white and contrasting with the blackness of the wheel.
Now halfway across and looking straight ahead desperate not to look down or distract myself in any way, I'm sure if it wasn't rain running down my face it would have been sweat. Suddenly I yelped as I heard a crack then the left hand side of the truck dipped, all movement forward now ceased, and terror gripped me forcing instinct to take over and my shaking hand stuck in into reverse, nothing.
"Well Jonah your already wet you may as well get it over with."
Leaving what I thought was the safety of my truck and moving to the front to inspect the damage. Inwardly I groaned, one of the boards had obviously weathered and snapped wedging the front tire into the gap. Another roar and crash made me look out towards the rushing water running down the mountain. I'm sure the look of horror on my face didn't do the true fear in me justice. A huge tree now came crashing down the river pulling up yet more trees in its wake and slammed into the bridges main support.
The force sent me against the truck and then to the floor of the bridge. It felt like the bridge moved an inch, instinctively I held onto the truck as another tree followed the last one against the support. The shudder made the truck lurch and the fear of dieing outdid any sentiment I had for that truck any day. I ran for it.
I never knew that the sound of wood that I once looked on as so solid now twisting and breaking could ever make noises like this, too scared to even look back I just kept running watching my feet as best I could while the bridge floor seemed to do its own dance under me. With one final lunge I jumped away from the bridge and to the safety of the muddy river bank gasping for air, my truck gave its last farewell groan as it and the bridge disappeared into the river.
Not feeling brave enough to look down the steep bank to look at the damage I just picked myself up accepted that I couldn't get any wetter and inwardly hoped I wouldn't get struck by the lightning dancing across the mountain, simply cussed out a few words my Mom, even at my age would slap my ass for and started my walk to the cabin, dry clothes and a roaring fire.
My clothes seemed to stick to me like a second skin, getting them off was taking longer and longer until with one final effort my pants were now a sodden heap on the floor the rain soaked jeans spreading their excess water across the cabin floor. The fire started to grow and pushed its warmth over me and further into the cabin. Another flash of lighting instinctively made me wince. The roar of thunder was almost instant telling me the storm had now crested the mountain.
Another flash and again the roar of thunder, instantly I was alert, something was very wrong. Yet again a flash of lighting this time the thunder telling me it was directly overhead now. Again I heard it, my mind processing the information and me stubbornly refusing to believe it. I could have sworn it was a woman's scream, leaping to my feet and rushing to the door I doused the lights hoping it would help me see beyond the porch and deeper into the clearing.
I squinted against the rain in a effort to see anything I was just about to call out when the lighting again flashed only this time the thunder came a couple of seconds later, the storm was slowly moving off the mountain. Again my brain was processing what it had seen in the second of light afforded by the lightning. Legs, I had seen legs at the far end of the clearing by one of the trees that marked the path by the mountain spring.
Instinctively I grabbed a coat and hat, my nakedness under the coat not even thought about. The rain had soaked my coat before I had even gone more than a few feet the mud pool that was now the clearing causing me to struggle for every foothold. Taking a moment to check my bearings and precede the legs had not moved, another crack of lighting helped in lighting my path but also warning me that it was still dangerous to be out here in this weather.
Kneeling next to the woman I cringed she had obviously collided with the tree her dress was torn, I checked for a pulse and called out to her, she made no movement. Another crack of lightning, this one hit the tree, there was a loud bang and flames the branch directly above us seemed to explode and groan, its own weight now adding to its impetus as it gave a sudden lurch and leaned towards the ground. Instinctively I grabbed her hand and pulled her away from the tree a ripping sound telling me the dress refused to leave.
I couldn't afford the time to look down now I had to keep pulling the woman away from the tree and the branch that would soon come away and fall to the ground right where she lay. The roar of thunder only seemed to add to the urgency of my movements, any additional damage I was doing to this woman would have to be dealt with later. I knew I had seconds now and had to make a choice.
"Shit Jonah she's a woman not a sack of corn. Man up." I told myself.
My decision made I pulled her upright and in one swift move pulled her over my shoulder into a fireman's lift and run for it. Seconds later there was a sound of a whoosh, then a bang and the ground seemed to shake as the branch hit the floor of the clearing I just kept moving my lungs burned so much with the effort. My foot touched the step to the porch and I almost fell forward, the hand rail came into my view and I held onto it pulling us both onto the porch and into the cabin.
Gasping for every breath my whole body in agony with the effort of carrying this now semi naked woman out of harms way and into my cabin, smiling to myself when I actually thought I sounded like an old man not a twenty one year old, placing the woman onto the bed, my eyes trying desperately not to check her out as I did so and rebuking myself when I actually did.
I had never seem a woman with such shocking red hair, it's length stopped just below her shoulder blades, her skin was fair as you would expect from a redhead. She had rather broad shoulders for a woman, yet still seemed to complement her body shape very well, her breasts looked to me like a B-cup with areolas that covered the top of her breast and complimented with small nipples that were about half the size of erasers. She was sure skinny for a woman.