I’ll See You in the Trees – Part 3

Hi there,

Well, here we are: the final part of my short story. If you’ve come back for more, I can only assume that you enjoyed part 1 and 2. Either that or it’s like a car accident that you can’t turn away from.  I just have to repeat a few words before we start.

If you haven’t read the first two parts, you can find them here:

https://richardaustinwriter.com/2017/10/06/ill-see-you-in-the-trees-part-1/

https://richardaustinwriter.com/2017/10/07/ill-see-you-in-the-trees-part-2/

This is completely unofficial. It is just my attempt to have a peek into the world that they created. I hope they don’t mind.  This is just for fun and completely free. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  If you’re new to the world of Twin Peaks, I hope it’ll inspire you to seek out the real thing. If you’ve been a fan for as long as I have, then I hope you feel the love I have for that world in what I’ve written. So, here’s the finale.

All the best,

Richard Austin

 

PART 3 – “Who’s there?”

The fir trees that lined the dirt road grew more and more dense as I progressed, and my midsize rental struggled with the terrain. The little green line on the Sat Nav was diminishing and I was edging closer and closer to whatever lay in store. The headlights were on a constant full beam which rocked up and down into the branches of the trees with every dip and pothole in the road. From total darkness there would be, starkly illuminated, a vision of foliage moving in the night breeze. Dark, light, dark, light, safe, not, in a repeating asymmetrical pattern that brought me nothing but disorientation. Every once in a while I would imagine a glimpse of something in the trees, a branch moving out of sync maybe with its neighbours. With every rise of the lights, I would expect to see that figure ahead; that red-clothed thing at the window.

The track turned sharply to the right and, as I rounded the corner, I stamped on the brake as hard as I could. There was something in front of me: lying across the track. I looked at the Sat Nav. Was this it? The green line had not come to its conclusion yet. It looked like a person, dressed in white; a woman.

I stepped nervously from the car, lacking faith in my eyes. I shouted but there was only the faintest hint of movement: a turn of the head, maybe. Reaching back into the car, I pressed the horn and instantly regretted doing so. The forest seemed to amplify the sound tenfold and the figure on the floor writhed around, startled into a grotesque series of spasms and shakes as she pulled herself to a standing position and looked at me. In the stark glare of the headlights, she appeared like alabaster, all colour of life washed from her face. She had on a white pair of jogging bottoms and a white sweater but these were wet through and stained by the dirt track she had been lying on. In amongst the shock of her appearance was something else: she was not young but she had that air of youthful beauty that some people are blessed with. My mother was the same. What was she doing out here?

“Hello?” she said, peering past the glare of the headlights.

Realising that I must be hidden behind the blinding full beams, I stepped forward, blocking one of them with my legs.

“It’s alright. Are you okay?”

“Where am I? I was… somewhere.”

She inched closer to me; a sudden, odd look of recognition in her eyes.

“Nicholas?”

“No.”

“You’re wearing his coat. It’s just yours, I mean his, that’s all. Nicholas? ”

I took the coat off and wrapped it around her shoulders, asking her name.

“Shh. Shh. I’m… shh. I’m Audrey, or somebody. My purse, where’s my purse?” She fingered the material of the coat, “They whisper to you; always bad things they want you to do. How many died to make this? Not right, like the little, the little… pine weasels.”

“It was my Dad’s.”

“Too many stories. He saw me die.”

I shook my head, unable to understand what she meant. I was about to lead her to the car when a loud noise distracted me: an owl high above somewhere in the canopy of the trees. When I looked back, she wasn’t there. Instead, I was looking at myself as if in a mirror. My face wore a terrible, unnatural smile. I held up my hands to confirm my instant fear and, sure enough, they were not mine. I saw the sleeves of my Dad’s jacket and then her hands; Audrey’s hands. I looked up again and the smiling reflection of me was gone. There, where I had stood, was the thing in red. Its white mask of a face was pointed at me, the crooked stick held aloft with undisguised menace.

I heard a clicking sound and felt something in between my fingers. When I looked down at the arm, it was draped in a red sleeve and holding the stick. I screamed and tried to drop it but couldn’t open my fingers. I tried to pry them open with my other hand but it was useless and I saw that Audrey was nowhere in sight. I looked back at my hand and the stick was gone. It was my hand. My other one was clawing at it still, drawing blood from the palm for long moments even after I thought my mind had accepted the return to reality. The thing in red was gone, Audrey with it, and I was alone. Had she been there at all?

Yes.

My coat was gone.

I ran headlong to the car and jumped inside, heaving the door shut behind me. In a panic, I turned on all the heaters and gripped the steering wheel. The car was normal; I needed normal, something real. I breathed in the smell of the upholstery; that new smell that all rentals have. Every breath brought me closer to calm until I was able to ease the car into Drive and carry on along the trail. I had to get this done.

It was just after ten to three in the morning when the green line on the Sat Nav came to an end. The track ended in a clearing, the centre of which was encircled by what looked like young sycamores; twelve of them from what I could see. This was the place the tall man had shown me. My hand was suddenly drawn to the light bulb on the passenger seat. I picked it up and studied it.

What was I supposed to do?

The air was even more frigid than before, made worse by my lack of a coat. I felt a sudden pang of guilt over it, lost after all this time.

It was such a surprise when it arrived in the post on my sixteenth birthday. Mum always said that my Dad didn’t think he would make such a good parent because of him not having any parental guidance himself and that was why he’d gone away. When I pulled out the coat from the package, she was so shocked; it was like she’d seen a ghost. There was no real explanation; just a note. It was some greeting card line about individuality that teenage me wasn’t interested in. I wanted a Dad; not his coat and it was too late for either. It was only years later that I’d put it on for the first time. Between then and now, it had become part of me.

Black oil. There was a pool of it in the centre of the circle of trees. Its edge was dusted with white and looked as far from natural as could be. I peered into it, studying my reflection, glad to see that it was still me. Where was that thing in red? Was it trying to stop me getting here or simply driving me on like hounds drive foxes into the path of the hunters? I thought of the red coats then; red coats on white horses and trumpeting horns back in England on the news. It never ended well for the fox.

I walked a circuit around the sycamores, pondering my next move. I pulled out the light bulb from my pocket once more and looked at it. Light reveals what is hidden, I thought. That’s what he had said. What was hidden, though, and how was I supposed to find it with a light bulb in the middle of the forest?

As I stared into the bulb in the poor light offered by the half moon above the clearing, the filament suddenly ignited into life. The sudden illumination blinded me and I tried to blink it away. I put my hand out in the darkness to find something to steady myself on, fingers reaching out through what felt like miles of open air before settling on something. The instant the connection was made, I felt nausea inside me the likes of which I had never felt before. It was beyond sickness. Not merely something rejected by the body; this was something the whole world was rejecting, rotten and foetid, an infection lodged in the most sensitive part of our existence. It was laughing. Not a happy laugh; not even a mocking one. This was a laugh that cut through what it meant to be alive and had no care either way. Whatever this thing was that I had touched; it was a God next to me. The burning glare of the light bulb in my eyes started to dissipate and I saw that horrid mask of white staring through me. All resistance fell away and my arms dropped to my side.

As they did, I felt the light bulb drop. The mask followed it with what could have been curiosity. I turned my head and watched it roll towards a tree. As soon as it touched the root, the filament flashed back into life and illuminated the scene once again. The masked figure was gone as quickly as it had appeared, leaving nothing but a sickly feeling in me. I walked over to the bulb at the foot of the sycamore and picked it up. As I did, it went out. Touching the tree again, the bulb glowed. Where was the electricity coming from? I tried again; take it away and it went out, put it next to the tree and…

I wasn’t holding the bulb. I was holding that crooked stick and I was clothed in red. I clutched at my face with my free hand, pulling the white mask away. As I did, all turned to daytime around me.

There was the pool of oil as it had been but without its circle of trees. Out of it, barely aware of my presence, crawled a strange creature; pathetic insect wings flapping as it shoved itself forward on frog-like hind legs. I heard voices just then and, as I turned, I saw the sycamores were there once more. They were mere saplings, though. A man approached leading a white horse behind him. He was dressed strangely, like someone from an old history book, and he was being guided into the clearing by an escort of Native Americans. They pointed at things eagerly and he took copious notes in a journal as he went. They led him to the pool in the centre and pulled something from its depths to give to him. I edged closer to see what it was but they were gone. In their place was a small boy, lost.

“Mr Robertson? Where’d you go?” He looked around, playing with a low branch of one of the sycamores until he was startled by a figure emerging from the woods. Long, grey hair was tied back in a pony tail that hung down over a denim jacket and jeans.

“There you are, Leland,” said the man, his smile a flawless copy of the real thing that the boy was unable to see through. This scene, I knew in my heart, would not end happily. I screwed my eyes shut and opened them.

Now it was dark again.

“Cooper?” The shout took me by surprise and I turned sharply to its source. It was a man in a police uniform, calling out into the dark. There was a flat bed truck with its doors open to my right.

One blink later and I was back in front of my rental car, its headlights trained on the circle of trees. I was me. The light bulb was in my hand and I started to remember. If I held it against one of the other trees, there was nothing. When I pressed it to any part of the first one, it burned with such intensity that the heat hurt my fingertips.

Jump, Jump. I heard the tall man’s words again and I knew. I ran to the car and opened the boot. Prising open the spare tyre compartment, I pulled out various tools and odds and ends until I found what I was looking for: a set of jump leads. I got into the driver’s seat and drove as close to the tree as I could, popping the bonnet release lever before turning off the engine and getting out. I opened the hood and found the battery, attaching the jump leads to the appropriate terminals. I then stretched them out to the sycamore, attaching each one to a low branch. I climbed back into the driver’s seat and slid the key into the ignition. Pausing for a second, I realised that it was completely silent. The noise of birds and of branches swaying in the wind had stopped.

I turned the key.

Next thing I knew, I was looking down at the car at a man in the driver’s seat. He fell out of the car, clearly disorientated and stumbled around. A smartly dressed man, I thought. Long coat over a dark suit and tie.

“Carl?” he shouted. “What the hell?”

I shouted to get his attention as he didn’t seem to have noticed me but he didn’t hear. He must have still been confused. I was about to try again when I heard another vehicle approaching. The lights of a minivan poked their way through into the clearing, coming to a halt behind my rental. The one in the suit watched as the door in the side slid open and an elderly man lowered himself gently out.

“Who’s there?” the old man said.

“FBI. Special Agent Chet Desmond,” came the reply followed by a shake of the head and, disbelieving, “That you, Carl?”

“Sure is.”

“Who is it?” The voice belonged to a younger man who had come from the minivan. He was accompanied by another. I was rooted to the spot, unable to move as the four men drew close to each other.

“Carl, you seem older than when we last met,” said Agent Desmond

“Can’t say the same for you. This here’s James Hurley and his buddy, Freddie Sykes,” Carl went on. “These are the ones told me we might find someone out here. I guess they were right.”

“I guess they were right.” Agent Desmond looked around the place, studying everything from the car to the pool of oil and the light bulb on the floor of the clearing. I kept talking but no-one seemed to hear; kept trying to move without success. More and more fear built up inside me. More and more I heard my Dad’s advice somewhere in the back of my head.

Agent Desmond stopped to look in the wing mirror of the rental car. He stroked a hand across his face and then looked once more at Carl.

“Carl? What year is this?”

“I never got told about no motor. Where’d it come from?” said one of the younger ones; the one Carl had introduced as Freddie, stalking around the car.

“And why is it hooked up to a tree?” his friend James finished off the thought.

They followed the cables from the battery of the car across the open space to where I was standing. They would see me now, I was sure. I tried to look down to see where the cables were attached to the tree but I couldn’t. Just then I knew. I knew what I would see. The cables were attached to me. Me. I was in the tree. Trading places. One for one. Was that it? My Dad always said, when he was around anyway, if something didn’t seem right to me, I should do what Pancho said to the Cisco Kid. I should get out of there before I was dancing at the end of a rope without music.

I couldn’t move, though.

All I could do was scream. I screamed and screamed without control.

“Can you hear that? Like a ringing sound?” Agent Desmond said to the others.

They all found it interesting; they probably even talked about it more as they drove away. James unclipped the jump leads and he and Freddie took my car as Agent Desmond climbed in with Carl, and then I was alone.

 

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