2017 Erotica story: The Secrets of Liberty Mountain – Chapter 22
Rattlesnake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is the culinary equivalent of cruel and unusual punishment. I had about had it with rattlesnake by the end of the third meal on the first day. I skipped the midday meal and picked at supper the second day. I hated snakes as much as Seraina did by the evening of the next day.
Mood affects perception. The blue funk of disappointment settling over us transformed our dark and ‘cozy’ shelter into a dank and dismal prison. We slept like babies and fucked like rabbits to pass the time. We talked about our lives, food, and life at Liberty Mountain in between sleeping and screwing.
I fixed a batch of Lipton Tea flavored with pine needles and our last packet of sugar split between two mugs. The nicest thing I can say about my hot brew is that it didn’t taste like rattlesnake.
The Society of Sisters is not as isolated as I assumed. Weather permitting, Lisa, the leader of the clan, scheduled trips to Denver to resupply and do some in-person banking every three or four months. Sisters were free to go ashore as often as they wanted.
“Is there ever a problem of a sister going AWOL?” I took a sip and studied Seraina’s face for her reaction to my question.
“We’re not prisoners here. Everyone is free to stay or leave as they like,” she chuckled, then her eyes narrowed, and she tilted her head to one side, “Well, maybe not everyone,” as she nodded her head toward me.
“Your unexpected arrival at Liberty has the society in a tizzy. Lisa will not send you away after granting sanctuary as a point of honor, even if it was offered in error.” Seraina fidgeted and played with a braid of her hair.
“What’s going to happen when we, or I, return to the mountain assuming that we get out of this alive?” I rubbed the back of my neck and fingered the beaded Vietnam Service necklace I wore.
Seraina shook her head as she warmed her hands on the hot mug of tea, “I don’t know what Lisa will do. She’s in a box when it comes to you.”
I didn’t like the image she was painting; one person’s box could become another person’s coffin. “What kinda box are we talking about?” I pressed Seraina for details.
“Lisa feels that she’s stuck with you. She can’t send you away without jeopardizing our location. You know too much. She can’t keep you as a prisoner, that’s not who we are, and she’s not going to execute you. You haven’t done anything to harm us,” she took a sip and stared into the rising steam.
“How do the other women of the Colony feel about my presence?” I inquired.
“Lisa thinks that you are ‘interesting,’ and most of my sisters agree with her assessment,” Seraina blew on her cup to cool it before taking another sip.
I want to know how Lisa’s mind works. I’ve got to take a page out of the Dos Equis beer advertising campaign and become ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World’, not bloody likely if being exciting is keeping me alive. Despite several days’ worth of unshaven stubble, I’m not a bearded, debonair gentleman like the 78-year-old actor Jonathan Goldsmith whom legend says can speak Russian in French.
“So the women of the Society of Sisters are okay with me?” I licked my lips with cautious hope.
“Most of them don’t seem to mind; you’re a welcome diversion from daily routine, but a couple of the gals really hate men and told Lisa that they’ll assassinate you if you remain at Liberty Mountain,” Seraina took my hand in hers and held it tight, “Don’t worry about it; probably just wild talk.”
Crazy talk or not, I didn’t like the idea of being on someone’s hit list, even an imaginary list. ‘Forewarned is forearmed’ as my grandfather used to say.
Seraina’s news did nothing to improve my disposition. Cabin fever and paranoia are real buzzkills. A change of scenery seems to help when I get in a funk. I glanced around our shelter; the tent sides sagged in rumpled creases, stray pine needles littered the plastic floor, and the place looked like a dump.
“Screw it! Let’s get some sleep and see if we can kill something with legs for dinner in the morning,” I doused the light and rolled over and went to sleep. Maybe eight hours of slumber will reset my attitude.
“Wake up, Honey,” Seraina gently shook me out of a pleasant dream involving vast quantities of double bacon cheeseburgers and coffee milkshakes.
I groaned. I was stiff, sore, and felt like a fleet of garbage trucks had used me as a parking lot. My mouth tasted like something had died in it. All my moving parts hurt; just another shitty day in paradise.
Bright morning sunshine and scattered clouds greeted us as we emerged from the abandoned gold mine. Eighteen inches of fresh powder covered the ground and blanketed the trees. Several black dots were traveling across the valley in the distance.
We were in luck; the deer herd was active and searching for food. Rifles in hand, we set out for the grove of evergreen trees and hopefully a rendezvous with dinner.
The trick to walking through drifts is to knock enough of the drifts down with your hands, knees, and upper body so that you can lift your leg high enough to take a step forward. Every few steps of advancement required us to take turns breaking the trail.
We reached our goal after about an hour of slogging. I was drenched in sweat, utterly exhausted, and chilled to the bone. Our hunting gear was about as waterproof as a screen door and did nothing to stop snow from sneaking in around the edges of our clothing.
I set about hacking tree branches down.
“Building a fire in a hunting blind is not a good idea,” Seraina said.
“True, but it’s a better idea then freezing to death waiting for Bambi burgers to come into rifle range,” my teeth chattered, and I shivered as I laid down the base for the mother of all campfires.
A tiny bit of luck was on our side. The old evergreens had a plethora of dead dry limbs for kindling. I stacked the dead stuff in a pile about three feet high and two yards across and covered the mound of kindling with two or three feet of evergreen sprigs.
“Don’t ya think you’ve got a little too much wood there?” Seraina observed.
“There’s no such thing as too much fire when you’re freezing to death,” I said as I flicked my Bic. We held our breaths as the little fire struggled against the wind for a few minutes before the dry wood finally caught.
The woodpile quickly became a blazing inferno as it roared to life. The radiant heat forced us to retreat as our clothing began to steam and smolder. There was a new crackling sound as we backed away from the flames. The lower branches of the overhead pine tree blazed like a Tiki torch. Oh, shit! Maybe there is such a thing as too much fire.
The heavy snow blanket covering the outermost branches of the canopy slowed but did not stop the fire’s relentless progress. The needles covering the inner portion of the crown ignited and blazed as the windswept fire leaped from one tree to the next. Every tree in the entire grove was in flames within minutes.
“You’re a fucking idiot!” Seraina shouted as we ran for the safety of the open field through a rain of burning embers and clumps of melting and falling snow. I offered no argument; she was right, but it had seemed like a good idea at the time.
The smoke from the burning grove rose into the pristine mountain air for a few thousand feet before the wind smeared it across the sky in a nasty brown and black streak. The black dots of the deer herd we spotted earlier were gone. Elvis had left the building.
I have to give Seraina credit; she resisted the temptation to play Smokey-the-Bear to my accidental arson. “You’re lucky nobody was around to video that stunt. You would be topping the charts in the virtual stupidity department,” she laughed over her shoulder as she plowed through the snow with me trudging along in her wake.
The journey back to our depressing shelter was easier than our outward bound mission. We had broken a trail and simply followed the same path.
I called for a break at about the midway mark. My legs and back were killing me. Getting old sucks, but it sure beats the alternative. I lay on my back as I groaned in relief. The snow is a much better mattress than the pile of pine branches under our sleeping bag.
I closed my eyes for a few moments and then reopened them and stared into the heavens. I could easily have taken a restful nap if hypothermia wasn’t an option. I smiled at the thought. It’s so peaceful here. The valley was filled with a profound silence except for the annoying hum of a mosquito.
Mosquito? No fucking way. I sat upright and looked around for the source of the buzzing sound.
“Do you hear that?” I asked Seraina.
“What are you talking about? I don’t hear – wait – yes – I hear something. What is it?” she joined me in a visual search for the odd noise.
“Look!” Seraina tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to a tiny black dot high in the sky near the top of the ridge.
The silhouette of an industrial helicopter drone could clearly be seen as the black dot moved closer. Like dancers, we rose to our feet and did jumping jacks as we shouted and waved our arms to attract attention.
The calisthenics was unnecessary; the drone had already spotted us and was headed directly to our position. The drone’s camera pointed straight down at us as the aerial machine hovered 20 feet over our heads within a few minutes. Something that looked like a black fishing line detached from a reel on the side of the drone and dropped toward us.
A set of earbuds with a built-in microphone dangled from the end of the wire. It was obvious that someone wanted to communicate with us. We huddled together as we each plugged one of the buds into our ears.
“This is Lisa. Are you guys ready to come home?”
“Oh, God, yes!” Seraina cried as tears streamed down her face.
My waterworks turned on as I joined my partner in a choir of thankful joy. We have been rescued.
2017 Erotica story: The Secrets of Liberty Mountain – Chapter 22