Below is the latest chapter from A Man of the Mountain, the prequel to my first novel, Whiteout, which just released. It tells the story of a man who just wants to keep the Bigfoot legend alive and the monster hunters who want to stop him.
For those who want to read Whiteout, it’s out now on all platforms and currently holds a 4.5/5 on GoodReads with 22 reviews in so far! Order below and share my work if you like it! It’s also free for Kindle Unlimited members!
OK, end plug, here’s the story
9. The Spiral
The hike down the mountain had taken hours, but the return trip passed by in a series of blurs. Miles were gone in seconds, and half the time, Jonas barely felt in control of his own feet. A red tint had come over his world, casting everything in dim light. He tried to keep up the guise of being just another hiker on the trail, but with each passing minute, it became more difficult. Primal instincts surged just behind his eyes, telling him to run, slash, and hunt down those who threatened him. He thought of Mansen’s smug face and had to stifle a howl.
Going down there was a mistake. I left town for a reason. Hearing Mansen debunked so flippantly felt like a bullet to the chest. Hell, maybe a bullet would have been easier. In less than five minutes, the man who had been his idol had been brought lower than low. Had Mansen been accused by anyone else, Jonas might have been able to deny it, but not Shirley. Hearing her frustration with the man made it all the worse. Not only was Mansen making a mockery of the legend, he was disrespecting the only people willing to tell the truth.
Jonas’s body was a raging furnace, each breath feeling like the vent of a volcanic fissure. Hardly noticing, he stepped off the main trail and onto the paths only he knew. His legs were numb and mechanical, continuing to move without any real effort. After a mile or so, nearly to the cabin, he checked his surroundings to ensure there were no cameras, and no curious hikers. Satisfied, he let out a roar of rage and anguish, and fell to his knees. He beat his hands into the melting snow until he reached the forest floor. The impact of his fists on the soft earth beneath felt righteous. He smashed and pounded until his blood poured from his knuckles and his joints were swollen. Tears ran down his cheeks, carving clean lines in the dirt.
The television special was supposed to bring renown and grounding to the legend, but instead, it would become a joke. Mansen was supposed to be a member of a secret society, not the laughing stock of it. Eventually, Jonas’s adrenaline waned and weary exhaustion flooded his limbs. Lances of pain shot through his beaten hands. Through his anger for Mansen, he began to see images of Nick Ventner. It was a silver lining through the haze of pain, anger, and fatigue. Mansen might not be the hunter Jonas needed to face, but Nick might be. Jonas had seen the pistol concealed on Nick’s right hip and how he had casually dropped his hand to it when approached. If nothing else, he knew about the legend, and had some training.
The thought gave him the will to stand. Jonas pushed himself to his feet wincing with every ounce of pressure on his hands. That was a dumb thing to do. He looked at his bruised knuckles, blood oozing from the places he had beaten raw. There’s still so much work to be done. Jonas walked to a snowbank and shoved his hands into it. Icy tendrils of beautiful, numbing pain worked their way through him. The mountain provided, and he would provide for it. The legend wasn’t going to die, it was going to grow.
I have been given a gift, he reasoned. In the end, Rick was going to be a far easier kill than previously anticipated. There was still the issue of getting past his crew, but Jonas hardly spared them a thought. The real challenge was going to be taking down Nick. Two high profile kills in one day. Even if he died and was exposed, he would go down as the man who was dedicated to the legend above all else. Who knows? Maybe Shirley will write about it.
When his hands were sufficiently numb, Jonas removed them. The air might have been cold, but it felt like the breath of a dragon. His fingers thawed, and steam rose off them into the chilled air. With each passing moment, he felt righteous purpose building. There was still work to be done, and glory to be had. A fight was coming whether Mansen deserved it or not. One way or another, the legend would be made in a few days’ time.
Reinvigorated, Jonas trudged back in the direction of the cabin. As he approached it, he immediately noticed a package far larger than the usual drop. His employers had always stuck to the routine, and anything that broke it was suspicious. With some trepidation, he approached the parcel and tried to pick it up. He managed, but it was far heavier than what he was used to. He half carried, half dragged the box into the entryway of the cabin and shut the door behind him. He unclipped the knife from his belt and sliced through the tape to open it.
The first thing he noticed was a large sheet of yellow paper with a note scrawled on it. Welcome to the big leagues, kid. Sounds like Mansen is going to be coming up the mountain soon. You know what to do. Hopefully these gifts will help you level the playing field.
P.S. Good to see you getting into town a little bit. I hope you will take the liberty again in one year’s time. Until then, stay on the mountain, there’s work to do.
Any trepidation he had felt evaporated. The note cemented exactly what it was he needed to do. Clearly his employers also knew there was going to be a fight, and if this wasn’t tacit approval, he didn’t know what was. Unable to contain his excitement, Jonas began pulling out the contents of the box one-by-one. Christmas had come early.
It was an entirely new set of gear. The suit he pulled out was far thicker and appeared to have a layer of Kevlar beneath it. It was the closest thing to bullet-proof he was going to get. Next, there was a set of claws made to look like bone. Silver glinted beneath the ivory white curves of each nail. Shining razor edges had been embedded beneath them. It was light and allowed for more movement than the older model. The rest of the gear followed suit with higher functionality and theming than the suit he had previously worn. The final addition nearly took his breath away.
At the very bottom of the box was a full headpiece. It had been molded to sport a long, pronounced, forehead, overgrown with fur, followed by deep-set eyes and a mean jaw. The effect was so lifelike that it looked as though it could have been severed from the actual shoulders of a sasquatch. Jonas held it in his hands with great care and lowered it onto his head. Initially, there was pitch black inside, but after a few seconds, screens illuminated where the eyeholes would have been. The dark interior of his cabin lit up in shades of red and blue.
Jonas raised a hand in front of him and marveled at the white-hot center, fading to red around the edges. A wave of deep gratitude swept over him. No one had ever given him such a gift. The playing field hadn’t just been leveled, it had been flipped. Mansen isn’t going to stand a chance…
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