It's Halloween! Today, for anybody interested, I'd like to share my newest (spooooky) story: The Snow, The Jungle. Included below is the first portion--if you'd like the rest, comment or PM me and I'll send it along!
On the fourth pale day of January, the hilltops were drowned in cloud. Heavy blankets came churning over the ridges of Montgomery County, tearing themselves to shreds on the naked forests and dumping their winter cargos. Snow drifted on the wind, racing over the narrow valleys and icy creeks. The bitter air squeezed against the branches, set dogs in the holler to cowering and men to sit above the cooking coals, and still the clouds came, an endless ocean pouring in toward the distant Appalachians.
The clouds rolled, and the snow flurries fell. But not one fell on the high slopes of Bell Mountain. There the clouds arched. There the cold wavered. There the snow fell as rain, rain that pattered and dripped along jungle leaves.
The black folk living at the edge of Ankle’s Holler noticed first, and since nobody asked, said nothing. As far as the people around Troy knew, it began when a white coon hunter ran his dogs up the mountain, near the Taylor estate, and returned telling of weeds, queer weeds that overgrew the road up to the man’s land. Others saw the same thing. Soon they saw more; the land, always green in summer, was growing greener, even as the surrounding woods browned and blackened with the seasons. The character of that forest was changing too, in ways the travelers hesitated to describe. Those who went to look for themselves soon found a road swallowed by moss deeper and ferns larger than any they’d ever seen, blooming against the cold. Wisps of steam crept along the ground. Beyond that, the trees closed in.
And that was all at the turn of the road, far from Taylor’s home. What was up there now, people wondered, hidden by the forest? How long had the smothering green been growing up there in the mountain willowwacks, growing through the trees and the boulders, a thick, choking wall spilling down from the trunks and across the road?
So the whispers spread like falling snow, beneath the notice of the respectable, carried by travelers on the cold trails. And in time, they reached the ears of the wanderer Anna O’Brien, who shouldered her bag and turned her stride toward Troy.