A Further Sampling from "THE BONES OF SUMMER"

 The chilling collection has twenty short stories....

"1962, Forn Lars and Bjørn Oddvar of the University of Oslo’s archaeology department discovered what they believed was a lost Norse saga.  The text seemed to recount an expedition that traveled inland from the Gulf of St. Lawrence, to the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers into present day Oklahoma before tragedy struck and a sole survivor returned home.  Critics quickly jumped on the two men, claiming the find was apocryphal and their research flawed. The manuscript was soon forgotten, and disappeared into the University’s vast archives. In 1987, Olaf Leifsson a researcher from Iceland learned of the lost tale and obtained it for a paltry sum.  The original can be viewed at the Museum of Nordic Studies in Reykjavík. The following story is derived from his translation…

The warm, still morning belied the death and carnage to come. 
Throughout the long voyage across the great inland seas and down the fat, muddy river, the men encountered just a handful of natives and fewer villages. Glome was bored. A large man with a constant scowl, he hungered for action and looked upon these long explorations as a waste of a good warrior.  Young Erik, by contrast, was excited by every new hill they passed, eagerly searching the horizons to see what was ahead.  Swein was simply ready to find a place to settle. Exploring was fine but he was no longer a young warrior.  He now longed to marry, farm, and grow old beside his own fire, his children gathered near.
            “There is a good place!” Glome pointed to an open stretch of river. Green meadows unfurled into dense, forested hills. It reminded Swein of home and the brief season without the chill of death.  It was why they had set off in search of a more prosperous land.  Some had stayed by the ocean, some had gone north at the vast lakes, and some, like these three had ridden the river south. 
A terrible storm diverted the men into a smaller tributary, which led them here.  They were grateful for the accident, which they saw as providence.  It seemed Odin had delivered them into a fecund, promising land.
 The men pulled the small boat onto the riverbank and secured it to a large tree.  Everyone was in good spirits, even Glome who bragged to Erik of the great farm he would create here.  As the other men unloaded the longboat, Swein scanned the trees.  He sensed eyes watching them but could not tell from where.  He let the other two men take a noisy lead as he followed soft-footed and alert, one hand on his knife.
Over the next few days, Swein felt the eyes several more times. At first, he believed curious, but shy, natives shadowed them. However, after trading with several tribes, Swein realized the tribesmen were neither shy nor frightened. Still the feeling endured, surfacing periodically as the men marched for the next week.
 The trees had just begun to turn gold when Erik broke his leg. The men were forced to retreat to the shelter of a cave. In Erik’s state, they would need medicine and magic so Swein left the next morning to retrieve their supplies. Glome was left to care for the fevered Erik. Swein turned to see his comrades wave from the mouth of the rocky crevice. He had the strangest feeling he would never see them again. 
A bitter, cold wind lashed the countryside a week later as Swein pulled the supplies toward the cave. He cupped his mouth and called but no one came.  There would be snow before the week was out; the sky seemed ready to birth a storm. He could not understand what had driven them from the cave. 
 Struggling up the hillside, he saw the opening was black and cold. He halted. No smoke lingered in the air, no fire flickered within. Setting his load down, he pulled his broadsword free. Swein circled the area, halting at the sight of prints in the damp earth.  Dropping to one knee, he traced the outline, and felt his heart stop in his chest.  Something huge and heavy had been to the cave.  It walked on two legs, leaving prints different and larger than anything they had yet encountered.
 In the bushes nearby, Swein found Erik’s blanket. It was ragged and bloody. “Glome!” he called.  “Erik!” The chilling wind was the only response. "

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"Day One

The person who probably first saw the lights was a backcountry hunter in northern Alaska. Bill Sims was a transplanted New Yorker who had moved to the Inland Passage because that was as far north as his wife would go. It was fine, because he spent most of his time on hunting trips and she spent most of her time in California.

On the night the lights first spilled across the skies, he was settling his camp down for the night. He loved the fact he could go to the hill top and scream his lungs out and nobody would ever hear him except some bear or a wolf. That was the way he liked it. He was so tired of the crowds, the long highways crammed with people and their fuming machines.

As much as he enjoyed the getaways, the unseasonable weather had made this trip worthless. Tramping through mushy tundra, he had spent days with nothing to show for all his skills except sunburn on his cheeks and tired feet. Pausing in the strangely warm night air, he was still in shirtsleeves this winter night, when he saw the noctilucent lights. He’d seen the rare glowing clouds before but these were somehow different.

Captivated he stood by the flap of his tent and watched as they pulsed across the night sky in vivid colors. The glowing glob like clouds seemed to be dancing as they joined, separated, and then joined once more. Was that music he heard? Impossible, he was a hundred miles from the nearest house. He glanced up and stood memorized watching the display. They were so filled with abandon and sheer joy, he laughed sharing their spontaneous happiness. It looked as if there was something alive in the lights.

They reminded him of a film clip he’d seen once of blood coursing through arteries. That was what these look like, huge, glowing blood veins erupting across the inky sky. Then he noticed they were closer, much closer, and they were indeed throbbing as a strange sound, like some faint exotic music followed. As the glowing clouds curved in toward him, his last image was of broad shimmering wings of light opening wide to embrace him.

His screams raced across the northern landscape and just as he had forecast none but a foraging grizzly heard the sounds.

All across the northlands that night the strange clouds passed and in their wake settled an eerie silence. Radio stations were mere static, power grids went black in the blink of an orbiting satellite’s camera eye, and phone calls went unanswered.

Chaos reigned in the cold north all that long first night.

Day Two

In the dawn’s early light an armada authorities flew in. Worried friends, relatives, and people cut off from their favorite television show or radio call-in program had raised the alarm all through night. So by jeep, helicopter and boat, crews set off at first light to repair what they assumed were simple power outages. Soon, however, they radioed back bizarre tales and within an hour, there was a media blackout.

Entering yet another small community via National Guard helicopter, Sheriff Jeff Blanding had never seen anything like it. It was barely eight and this was the fourth settlement and they had found no living being in any house, outhouse, or storage bin larger than a shoebox. Everywhere there was  a total absence of people. "

A taste of one of the 20 stories in THE BONES OF SUMMER: A COLLECTION OF CHILLING TALES by Norman, Oklahoma author Marilyn A. Hudson.  Now available on Amazon

Catalog 2014-2015


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