This will be the first piece of fiction published on the site. We do publish fiction on here, but it should be short and well-written. The same qualifications for fiction apply as for nonfiction. You have to write well, and we are sticklers about that.
How well? Well, you need to write as well as Alpha Unit. A frequent commenter on the site is Dano. If you look at his comments, you can see how he writes. He was deemed good enough to be on the site. Can you write as well as Maurice, Dano or Alpha Unit? You’re welcome to ask to be a guest writer, but you have to meet the qualifications. If you think you can write well enough, go ahead and ask us.
Alpha and I read this work and we felt it was good enough to be on the site. It is well-written. Sometimes I think it might be a bit overwritten if anything. The style reminds me of my late friend Avram Davidson, the famous science fiction and fantasy writer. He had a similar complex style.
The story is about Bigfoot.
“What Goes “Round…”
by Maurice Cloud
The sun was so deep-down, penetratingly warm that I, after (what seemed to me anyway) an insufferably long and obstinate winter, would have been perfectly happy to lay in its seductive caress until it dipped below the western hills, content to allow its radiant tendrils to entwine themselves around every nippy nerve ending in my receptive body . . .
My senses seemed at last to uncoil, rousing themselves from a cold-air induced hypnos, my body desired to melt away into the warming earth, my hair beguiled, straining to burst from each follicle in my skin to embrace the light.
My eyes slowly began to blink into focus, coercing my consciousness slowly after . . .
“Wa – up! – n’t miss tiss! C’mon, hurrly!” Breathless, monosyllabic gibberings were, amongst my acquaintances, the exclusive domain of I’tey, a Tibetan exchange student I occasionally informally tutored in communications . . . obviously to little effect.
Rising reluctantly to my elbows, I watched him lumber excitedly away, motioning me to follow, his high-pitched voice whistling something about, “. . . the antfarmgy budding!” by which he meant the anthropology building. Other students too here and there seemed to be hastening in the same direction. And then I remembered.
Redwoods College had been host to a visiting professor of biological anthropology – Dr. Lamasti Botifog from Italy – which was as of about as much interest to me, a grad student in creative writing, as milking a cow to the lactose intolerant — a hulking academic with a hankering, I suspected, to see his mug plastered across the front pages of newspapers. Another somewhat unsavory odor that clung to him was his propensity to spend his time larking about the woods with cameras and recorders attempting to capture images of what I presumed were not butterflies.
Unknown homonyms, no, hominins, I believe he called them. His ‘do’ had been advertised for a couple of weeks now, flyers had sprouted like dandelions on campus, local, even, can you believe it, national media had been here to interview the whooping wopster.
Ken Kupas an internationally renowned poet and borderline reclusive-seclusive from Florida had been here mere weeks ago and we couldn’t fill the smallish, outdoor amphitheater for his reading; the preening sophomores in the “Post Modern Readings” course I cover for Dr. Chatquass would just as soon groom themselves for ninety minutes as learn a scrap about the deep and abiding connectors between literature and existence; o, but let ‘monsters’ loose on the campus and the little buggers go ape.
If I was the woman I imagined myself to be I would have just gone back to sleep, or turned heel and headed home, but, I must admit, my dander was up, what, after all, an opportunity to expose Bogtrotter, or whatever his name is, as well as to lay waste to those simply tedious tales of bipedal monsters lurking in the hills hereabout that had dwelt, nectar in the needle, of the imaginations of generations. So I trailed after . . .
The quad, normally at this point in term festive and bustling, was as empty and quiet as a high-Sierra ghost town. A tumbleweed or two blowing across would have just about nailed it.
Bering Hall housed each and every course under the anthropological tent the school offered and, in light of the income it generated for the college, was easily one of the more consequential buildings on the campus. Its enormous eeriness was starkened by the utter absence of bodies . . . had, maybe, UFO’s – no, let’s just not go there. This minor mystery resolved itself as soon as I entered the irritating old hovel, everyone was already in the cavernous lecture hall, I could hear the commotion though I was at the opposing end of a l o n g hallway.
A “No Admittance!” sign was dangling from one of the doorknobs, but I was not about to be deterred by a piece of paper. The doors, despite the best efforts of my caber toss-trained shoulders, didn’t budge.
So yelling and pounding it was. One of my fellow teaching assistants, a husky fellow from up-abouts Klamath Falls apparently assigned to ride shotgun on the ancient, twin slabs of sequoia, gradually cracked one enough to say to me . . . I’ll never know what, the cacophonous convulsion from within was that great, shattering against me like a pane of glass. He coaxed an extra foot or two from the door, which allowed me to enter . . .
From my vantage point the hall was as an inverted fan, loads and loads of huge, comfy seats terracing downwards to a smallish stage, though the room’s subtle symmetry was lost to sight resembling more a not-very-controlled experiment in a confined space of the effect of pheromones on puberty judging by the insane behavior of my peers, and not, ye gods!, just my peers!
There was Dr. Chatquass and several of his brethren, also apparently taken in by the big lug on stage . . . Not a soul was shy about voicing their opinion — whistling, whacking, thumping and jumping, hooting, howling, teeth gnashing, and back of the seat bashing . . . to those in the know, a typical display of Redswoodsian intellectual oneupsmanship. I turned, well, inchingly pivoted to leave, the door was just steps away!
But it was then I heard what could only have been Botulism’s booming, amplified voice rolling like a roiling ash-cloud over the chaos, declaiming about “gait mechanics”, which stopped me in my, umm, tracks, then he was on about “muscular division” and “singular formant structures in vocalizations” all in a tone so basso profundo as to be felt in the very marrow of one’s thigh bones. Maybe I’d stay.
Like a fur coat tossed into a closet that had eaten just too much I was shuttle-cocked into the only open space available – a sliver against the wall to my left.
Elbows were caroming into my ribs (as well as somewhat more delicate parts of my body), my feet were constantly stamped, stepped, and jumped upon, indeed one would be forgiven for thinking that a slipstream of time had opened up and dumped one and all into a punk club ca. 1978 . . . But I did have a passable view of the stage and, as I was about to discover, more importantly, entirely agreeable sightlines to the screen behind our venerable guest professor.
So I didn’t complain, and I didn’t hit anyone.
In the space of an inhalation, I was as an aerialist on the thin wire of wonder, by the time I exhaled, I was hooked!
Clearly I had been unkind to Dr. Bee, Boo . . . well, I still couldn’t remember his name, but my predetermined opinion of his intentions reflected childishly upon me as I strained to listen to his narrative. What, I had quickly come to see, was actually a serious scientific investigation was, sadly, being treated by the majority of those in the room as nothing more than a burlesque of backseat cinema, all that was missing was the popcorn and 3-D glasses.
Each and every attempt of our cryptic cryptozoologist to explain evidence of tool use or shelter building was countered by yelps, yodels, and yowls ranging from “Get on with it!” to “Who’s in the suit!?” — and its slightly less popular cousin “Did you bring the suit!?” – to “Fake!” “Fraud!” “Hoax!”, all countered by “I seen these things!” “They’re real!” and “They eat children!” How our Italian cousin summoned up the patience to not only persevere but to attempt to respond to these slope-headed nitwits astounded (and deeply impressed) me.
But persevere he did, until that time – match to fuse – he announced that the lights should be dimmed . . . Silence descended swifter than water down the throat of a parched dromedary, several hundred sets of buns balanced on pins and needles. And then –
The image was shaky and uneven to begin, he was running over a boulder and log littered sand bar that paralleled a small stream, doing his best to steady his camera though not particularly successfully. Something was moving on the far side of the stream, also down a long sand drift. A brief shot of his right foot was seen as he settled it on a log to stabilize himself . . . and then, there it was.
Silence fled as completely as it had come. A hellacious roar that seemed capable of rearranging skeletal structure pounded against the walls of dear old Bering Hall with a Cyclopean fury so seamlessly discharged that I was almost tempted to look for a group of orchestrating cheerleaders. Professor’s Fogitop’s narration was once again lost to chaos, nary a word discernible, any sense of syllables lost in the sound. But, really, I didn’t need narration.
Skin like the semblance of light, hair that I can only describe as being seen in mushroom-induced reveries, body proportions so unalike, yet so similar. It was so, unreal, wasn’t it . . ? I knew then the life I lived was lost, writing, publishing, poof! Evaporated. Horizons, longings, the real made magic, these now the genie-smoke in my nostrils . . .
I was mesmerized. Space, time existed only within my heartbeat. The creature’s movement exhausted my capacity for superlatives. Natural, flowing, lithe, yet with a determination, but not . . . frantic. It seemed sure of its ability to get away if necessary. My mind, already on overload, just about lost its tetherings when, seconds later, the creature on the screen turned to look at its pursuer. It had breasts! It was a she! I slumped down, overwhelmed, breathless.
Time could not have passed slower had I been on the surface of Pluto. How long I sat, arms around my knees, I’ve no idea. Lights had returned to their normal brightness. Techs were coiling cables, the few remaining hangers-on were in the process of hanging off. But he was still on stage arranging lecture notes, sipping water. Somehow I found both nerve and energy to work my way down to talk to him. My stomach jumped, too, my wits. I finally reached the stage.
For all I know, I was to him just another one of the knuckle-dragging clots who had behaved so boorishly during his presentation, but his gaze, like his voice, exuded a kindness and tolerance that I could only someday hope to possess.
“Excuse me, Dr., D – Professor, but what do you, what were – are, umm, what do you call those things . . ?”
He nudged his bifocals up his broad, well-combed nose and murmured, “Humans . . .”