Beamo’s Gold part 18
Beamo and the outlaws ride up a mountain trail haunted by strange beings and phantasms.
The day died a long, slow death. I took the lead from Bonehead. As dusk set in we rode into the foothills of the Shining Mountains, what the ancient Merican maps called the Rocky Mountains. Dark pines and fir trees lined remnants of the old Dezret highway until we meandered through a series of ancient copper strip-mine pits that went on mile after mile in bare rock desolation.
Finally got the twenty-one riders through that rough road. We now ascended a trail that reared up steeper. In the last light a hulking two-legged form stepped out of the tree line on our left. As he rode past it, Bonehead gave a power salute with his right fist. I passed, slowed, then turned around and halted forty yards uphill to get a better look at the female boggymo. Covered in three-inch dark brown hair from head to feet, even over its pair of big breasts, unlike any other animal in the world. The creature must have stood seven-and-a-half-feet tall. A dead skunk smell came off of it when the breeze blew. Its eyes flashed bright amber eyeshine like a wild animal.
This was only the third boggymo I had ever seen despite all my years out in the bush. First one I saw I was eleven, fishing with my dad on a johnboat out on Missysip. We were downriver where the Big Muddy River flows into Ol’ Man River. Late afternoon in the early spring. We just rowed to the spot supposed to be good for channel catfish.
I watched this figure walk out of the woods and down the riverbank about seventy yards away. The tall, hair-covered, two-legged being walked straight into the murky river. Instead of jumping in to swim, it kept walking deeper and deeper. When it got neck-deep, it turned its pointy-head to look over at us. My dad Vauk Roamer calmly ordered: “Don’t look-it in eyes.” But I kept watching as it walked itself all the way underwater.
Disturbing vision, I admit, but for some reason it didn’t scare me like the glint of chrome off a MA chopper would have. Despite my looking forward to this fishing trip all winter long, dad right off rowed us back to the riverbank, packed up our atvee without saying anything else and drove us out of there. The thing hadn’t given my dad any dread, more like him walking away from a bad business deal.
The boggymo in front of me now watched the outlaws and goons ride past then zeroed in on blonde dollmoll Packit. She was riding solo for the first time on the recently deceased goon’s cycle. The young girl’s mouth opened wide but she couldn’t scream as the beast charged down at her then ran parallel, not closing in the last twenty feet. It looked like a hairy blur as they came up on my position. She tried to speed up but the boggymo ran amazing fast over the rock-strewn ground with a smooth, bent knee gait, grimacing at her with its wide mouth showing white flat teeth. I pointed my rifle at it, and the boggymo dropped down on four legs then veered off out of sight back up into the pines.
Packit only rode another hundred yards then tilted over and fell off the cycle. We all circled around her with our headlights and rifles pointed into the dark trees. She collapsed from shock. Little Bit got over to her with smelling salts. Packit woke back up and started bawling even though she didn’t remember what scared her. Since she couldn’t ride herself any more, Bonehead took a hose and expertly siphoned out the poison go-juice into a spare jercan, and we abandoned the goon cycle.
We pushed on in the dark up into the towering mountains with peaks already snow covered in early September. Northern lights streamed across the horizon, flashing on and off, eerily undulating aqua, vermillion, and purple. None of the others ever saw mountains like these or such a spectacle in the clear night sky. Even Tee Sal showed awe.
They wanted to stop but I had reasons to keep going. Several times I argued and coaxed them forward when we halted to get around deadfall trees or a rockslide. Soon they saw why I didn’t want to camp. We came upon the largest mass grave I ever discovered, a gigantic open pit that went on beyond sight, jam-packed with mummified bodies of hundreds of thousands of Mericans who died at what they called a FEMA camp. The Government back then forced millions of badly sick people into hundreds of remote places. They labeled them super-spreaders because they were taking too long to die. The high elevation cold and dryness up here preserved the endless heaps of bodies for eleven hundred years. For some reason even scavenger animals were put off by the place.
Next to a rust pile I could tell had been a bulldozer parked all those centuries ago, we all saw the first phantasm of the quest. A young boy without a face staring at us as we rode past. Actually, his face rotted off by the Slow-Pox Plague. Each of the twenty-one other riders withdrew inside themselves. Phantasms appear a lot out in the bush, especially the site of a major battle or tragedy. You pulled inside yourself when you saw one because it gave the feeling of standing on the edge of a cliff, looking down at no bottom, and the phantasm more often than not wanting to drag you off the edge.
Started hearing things too. Multiple engines roaring way too loud; what their big-rigs and flying machines in real life must have sounded like. Raging shouts and screams of torment echoed around the mountain canyons. Ghost gunshots too. Burnt body stench along with a field infirmary gangrene smell not quite dead but not quite alive either. Then we rode right through glowing silhouettes of spindly people blocking the trail, chilled your insides to the marrow.
Bonehead took it best, turned himself into a kind of ghost. His natural ability at camouflage even went to this, but the charnel pit we were riding alongside of went on too long and even he started to wear down.
At first Tee Sal kept his head up high as he rode. His sable hair blowing back defiant at what he refused to care about. He wanted everybody to know that anything not contributing to his plan for glory, however shocking, was not worth his consideration. After just a short minute or two he scrunched himself small on his cycle like everyone else.
I bobbed to my fight-fear song playing inside my mind. An ancient jumper called Bust a Move. Nothing much evil outthere could touch me when I played that tune in my head. Couldn’t help but give quick glances back to Little Bit. She pushed on. She would always push on, powered by her intense love of her outlaw gang family combined with her lust to find the greatest treasure in history so she could pull up the downtrodden with well-funded revolution.
At last, we spilled out of that nightmare stadium of crowded death, down across a shallow, wide stream, and then back up following the torturous mountainside trail. Almost midnight again when I finally halted us at a mountain valley lakeside.
Major Kaim’s cycle seized-up a mile back on the mountain trail before we stopped. He had to coast down to our campsite. Bonehead looked the machine over with his flashlight. He told the head goon his cycle was history; friction from all the grit and the steep trails wore the engine out. Major Kaim rode a high-end bike but it needed babying with constant lube maintenance, unlike the simpler more rugged outlaw bikes the Sawbird Gang rode.
To my surprise, Bonehead told Major Kaim to jump on the back of his cycle. They tore out back up the trail to ride past the FEMA camp death pit again to go get the abandoned goon cycle ninety miles back.
CW, I’m just enjoying this saga, just letting it wash over me!
great storytelling. That super spreader reference is so apt.
Thanks Bhi. Yes the whole COVID thing has me wondering what the powers that be would actually do if a more serious bio-threat emerged.
Great to see this one, CW, I missed it first time around. Beamo’s instalments were/are a real pleasure to read and I’d buy the book in a snap. One of the best UKA serial subs ever imo and a unique style.
My only (minuscule) gripe is when the occasional passive voice sneaks in.
Hey Steve, glad you got to read this one. I am about 10,000 words from finishing the 1st draft. After that I will be working on revisions. I am slow but steady. Would like to send you a review copy when I get it published, one way or another.
Hi, CW! Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been suffering some unexpected side effects of of gathering years. Yes, I’d love to see a review copy when it’s completed and spread the word. 🙂 I’ve always found revising and editing work takes around ten times longer than the initial writing. I’m still cutting and re-shaping stories from years ago. One 70,000-word short story collection is complete and the next one about halfway through. Amazing how beneficial it is to leave a piece for a few months and then find a hundred way to improve it. I’m definitely look forward to… Read more »