Sixteen Sunsets (5)

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Peter awoke in his cabin. He preferred the desolation and the wilderness that the Yukon provided. It wasn’t just the desolation he desired, but the anonymity the vast frontier offered.

Peter climbed out if his bed and straightened the layers of blankets and animal furs. His fireplace was burnt down to embers, but a handful of tinder coaxed flame from the red coals. He ate his bowl of cereal and milk at the only table he owned. When he finished, he cleaned up promptly and returned his spoon and bowl to their proper place at the edge of the sink.

That’s weird. Peter thought to himself. My statue has been moved.

He walked up to his statue and put his knee into it. It may have moved a quarter of an inch, but that was enough to satisfy him.

He looked at the calendar on the wall. “Monday.” He said aloud. His voice echoed off the tall roof. Listening to the echo and it seemed to put him at ease. The New York Times. He thought as he fished a newspaper out of a pile secured with twine at the foot of his bed. Let’s see what you reveal to us today…

He flipped pages until he reached the police blotter. A tag line caught his eye. Smashed car leads to failed carjacking attempt. Peter circled the tag line with a grease pencil, removed the page from the rest and tossed the remainder of the paper into a pile near the fireplace.

Peter went about his day and it eventually concluded with a tumbler of Jack Daniels.

***

Peter awoke in his cabin. He climbed out of his bed and straightened the layers of blankets and animal furs. A handful of tinder brought life back to the red coals. After eating his cereal and milk, he begun the process of cleaning his meager dishes.

He looked out a window and gasped. Has someone been here? He thought while reaching for a pair of binoculars. He peered through them, Must be my imagination.

“Tuesday.” He murmured, before walking to the pile of papers bound in twine at the foot of his bed. He rustled a copy of The Daily Telegraph and spread it out and opened it. He scowled at the date printed at the top. It takes too long… What happened in the last week?

After circling a few items of interest, The remnants of The Daily Telegraph took up residence near the fireplace.

As he had the day before, he cross referenced the circled articles with the vast library of books aligning an entire wall of his cabin. Just before retiring, he poured a tumbler of Jack Daniels. Downing it swiftly, he climbed into bed and quickly fell asleep. His snores echoed off the tall roof.

***

Immediately after waking, Peter straightened the layers of blankets and animal furs before stoking and reviving the fire in his fireplace. He filled his bowl and tapped it so the cereal was evenly distributed at a line etched in the metal bowl. A small amount of milk spilled on the table. He examined the gallon jug. Still enough for the rest of the week. When he started to wash his dishes, he reached for the dish soap and paused, mid reach and stared at the soap.

“Did I leave the cap open?” he asked out loud. No one in the cabin responded, so he regarded the soap for a few minutes before continuing with his routine.

He retrieved an issue of The Australian. “Wednesday.” he whispered as he shook the paper open. After comparing the information in the newspaper with his reference books, he stacked the papers that didn’t end up by the fireplace on a shelf next to well-used books.

Putting on a thick down jacket, Peter walked the perimeter of his cabin. Any loose rocks, branches or large piles of snow were removed. When he was satisfied with what he saw, he returned to the cabin for lunch.

More chores followed lunch and as Peter prepared for bed, he retrieved a fresh bottle of Jack Daniels.

***

Satisfied his bed was arranged correctly, Peter tossed kindling and a newspaper-wrapped log into his fireplace. After administering the fixed amount of dish soap to his bowl, he closed the cap on the soap and smiled at the audible click echoing off the tall roof.

The dwindling pile of newspapers was reduced once again. Peter held an issue of The Moscow Times under his arm as he walked to his books for a Russian dictionary. Thursday. He thought to himself. He looked at his Russian dictionary and smiled before declaring to the cabin, “Chetverg.” He closed his eyes and listened to the echo of his poor Russian.

After securing the area around his cabin, Peter ate the same lunch he had the previous day. Bundling up again, he stepped through his front door. Retrieving his axe, he walked to the tree line and selected the growth to fuel his fireplace for the next week.

As he had the days prior, Peter sat on his bed regarding a bottle of Jack Daniels. He stroked his scraggily grey beard and fussed with his lengthening hair. Almost time for a haircut. He thought staring at the calendar on the wall. He poured his nightly drink and shook the bottle. Peter was unhappy with the sound of the liquid swishing in the bottle. He poured a small amount of the dark amber back into the bottle and shook it again. He reached to place the bottle on a shelf next to the bed. When his initial attempt failed, he squeezed his eyes closed and repeated the action – this time it was successful.

***

One… Sheet three inches from the pillow, quarter fold.

Two… Peter pinched two blankets together at the corner and aligned them with the hem of the sheet.

Three… He smoothed wrinkles out of the blankets.

Four… He tugged a down comforter over the blankets and ensured it remained tucked into the space between the bad and the frame.

Five… He arranged animal furs with equal precision and care.

Peter perform his daily routine, preparing, eating and cleaning up his breakfast. Each element’s five discreet steps fulfilled before moving on to the next.

He picked up the last newspaper and performed the five steps required to dispose of the twine. This portion of his routine ended with the audible “Friday.” After hearing five distinct echoes, he got to work reading and translating five days of The Rio Times.

Peter grilled five ounces of venison on a grill in his fireplace. He tapped the five tined fork five times on his temple while waiting for his food to cook. After his dishes were cleaned, Peter opened and closed the front door five times to alleviate the cooking smells in the cabin.

five minutes before he pulled back five layers of bedding, he filled his five ounce tumbler from the fifth bottle of the week. He tapped he bottle five times against the glass to get any remaining liquid.

Within five minutes of closing his eyes, Peter was asleep.

***

Peter awoke in his cabin. He preferred the desolation and the wilderness that the Yukon provided. It wasn’t just the desolation he desired, but the anonymity the vast frontier offered.

Peter climbed out if his bed and ignored the layers of blankets and animal furs. His fireplace was burnt down to embers, but a handful of tinder coaxed flame from the red coals. He ate his bowl of cereal and milk at the only table he owned. When he finished, he tossed his spoon and bowl into the sink.

He looked at the calendar on the wall. “Saturday.” He said aloud. His voice echoed off the tall roof. Ignoring the echo, he stepped out to his porch. He scanned the skies with a pair of binoculars. The clear Yukon air allowed him to see for miles. Satisfied no one was watching, his breath permeated as he said “It’s time. to go into time for supplies.”

***

Peter stood across the street from the Canada Post. To call it a street was giving it more credit than it deserved. He walked to the door and stepped inside.

“Have you got my supplies, James?” Peter called out as he closed the door. He turned around and James was nowhere to be seen. Standing behind the counter was a woman. Peter had never seen this woman before.

“Are you Peter?” She asked apprehensively.

Peter nodded, mute.

“I’ve got a bundle of newspapers for you.” She reached under the counter and Peter tensed every muscle in his body.

The woman dropped a bundle of newspapers secured with twine. “James left me with very specific instructions on how to prepare these. I hope it’s up to your standards.”

Peter stepped up to the counter and placed a hand on the bundle. He was about to respond when he spotted a dirty hat on the floor. The hat was off white with an American flag stitched onto it. A Canadian flag sticker covered the stitching and was peeling at one corner.

“Where is James?” Peter stammered.

“He’s on vacation. I’m filling in for him.”

“He would never leave his hat.” Peter accused. “What have you done with him?”

“Nothing.” She took a step back from the counter. “You’re making me uncomfortable.”

Peter slammed his hands down on the counter. “Who are you?”

“I… I’m not..” She squared her shoulders and continued. “If you don’t leave immediately, I’ll call the R-M-C-P.”

Peter ran for the door. “You’ll never take me alive!” He screamed before throwing open the door and running down the street.

16Sunsets – Revelations


I know this is actually my sixth 16Sunsets story post, but in the book, this will likely be chapter five. I finished up at 1,618 words. I feel I rushed it at the end to adhere to the arbitrary sixteen chapters of 1,600 words. The more I work on this, it feels like it’s going to be a novel instead of a novella.

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About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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