Sapling by Nova Arisól LaMason
Root of Hatred
Note: This excerpt is around 20% of the total story….
The almost overwhelming scent of pine smacked him in the face as soon as he got out of his Honda Civic Hybrid, and Syo was determined to gather some samples and data for his class report. He admitted that his car wasn’t ideal for forest terrain, but there was no way that he’d leave that baby on the side of the road. He’d just finished making payments on it. He didn’t plan on staying for very long, though. He was actually on his way back to the dormitory from a café downtown, and he figured that he’d get an early start on his report with some field research. He tied his khaki-brown hair into a short ponytail, ready to go. With pencil, pad, manila folder of notes, and Canon digital camera already in the shotgun seat, he decided to start with some observation, and leave his tools in the back seat for later.
Autumn was kind to him that late afternoon, allowing him to wear a two-layered tee with cargo pants and some black leather boots. He hated when things like temperature stifled his style, as simple as it was. As he hiked over rolled earth covered in pine needles and moss, a nest of bald eagles high above caught his eye. That could only mean that there was running water nearby, according to his notes on their diet. He didn’t even have to check, and he nodded to himself pridefully. A few snapshots of the nest, and he went on his way.
* * * *
Some time and a page and a half of diligently taken notes later, the intrusively repetitive sound of knocking on wood became too much for him to bear. He pushed up his thin glasses and followed the sound. Eventually, he came to a clearing of jagged tree stumps, facing the rear-right side of a single-story, old-fashioned log cabin with a smoking chimney and sheet-curtained, glassless windows. Syo rolled his eyes, betting himself that this was the home of some douchebag lumberjack and his “lifestyle.” The annoying sound stopped. There was a masculine sigh, and then the brushing of shoes on the ground. Syo maneuvered around to the front, but the person there was gone, leaving an axe buried in a stump, and two pieces of wood on either side. He looked around for the man, but found no one.
What Syo stood before was an admittedly impressive home with what looked like three rooms. The horizontal logs of each wall were almost exactly the same in dimensions, and the steep-slanted roof of wooden slates ensured shelter from the elements. Off in the corner was a barrel on a brick, circular base, just sort of sitting there. He had no idea what that was for, but it looked peculiar enough to serve some purpose. He stepped onto the small front porch, where rested a pile of chopped wood, and gave it a few test bounces. Surprisingly stable. Definitely some douchebag lumberjack’s shack. The guy cut down trees to build himself a home in the middle of nowhere to escape from society. He probably didn’t even have the necessities of a hygienic life: soap, clothes, refrigeration, a toilet. The more Syo thought about it, the more disgusted he became. Unthinking, he peeked in through the window and moved the interior curtain aside, intent on finding out how this guy lived. A fire burned in the stone fireplace. Mounts of moose, elk, and deer antlers hung on the wall around it like trophies, next to the bows and knives likely used to obtain them. Hand-carved dresser, wooden chair and table, bearskin rug, hooks for fur coats, flat bed with fur covers—Fucksake! This guy was a woodsman to the root, and Syo couldn’t stand it! Another quick look around, and he was done.
Actually, that made for a very good piece of his report. A personal experience with deforestation and gathered data from it would definitely get him the grade. Syo spent the next twenty minutes jotting down ideas and snapping pictures of the cabin exterior. With each stump that he captured on his camera, he felt pity for the creatures that once lived in the area. He’d always loved nature, which was why he was studying to become a conservationist, particularly with endangered species. Granted, the species that he identified inside weren’t endangered, especially in Canada, but the needless killing of animals just didn’t sit well with him. This whole trip was painful, but worth it. He could even use this research for his thesis.
Syo was just about to take pictures of the interior through the window when a deep, rough voice spun him around. He immediately screamed and fell back into the corner, covering his eyes with his arm. There stood the woodsman, naked as his born day, with a rag and clothes over his shoulder. He was a burly redhead, somewhere in his early forties, with a surprisingly well-groomed, Hollywoodian beard, chiseled with years of felling trees—the epitome of lumberjack.
ut that thick cock really wracked Syo’s thoughts. “Fucksake, don’t you have any decency?” he lashed back, trying to gather his papers with only one free hand. “Put some clothes on! I don’t wanna see that!”
The woodsman shifted his stance and gave Syo a peeved glower. He stepped on a packet from the manila folder just as Syo was about to grab it. When Syo looked up to yell at him, he swooped in, startling him. “This is my house, kid. Last I checked, I have the privacy to do whatever I damn well want, like take a bath in the river. I don’t need some frat brat dicking around, taking pictures of my place, then going off about ‘decency.’ Doesn’t work like that.” He scraped his foot back, sweeping the packet off of his porch.
“Now get out of here.”
Syo watched the packet fall to the ground, then whipped his head back to the man walking into the cabin. He quickly caught the door just before it shut. “You’re just as rude as any other lumberjack!” he growled while fighting open the door.
The woodsman looked ready to retort until that comparison. He narrowed his dark green eyes at Syo through the crack of the door. “What do you have against lumberjacks?”
“Everything!” Syo answered, “You cut down forests just to suit your own selfish needs! You don’t think about any life other than humans—not even! Animals lose their homes because of you!”
“So says the guy carrying a notepad.”
“It’s recycled paper!”
The woodsman rolled his eyes. “Look, kid. You don’t know shit about me. So go kick a can of pop into a recycling box and leave me alone.” With greater strength, he yanked the door shut, and bolted it.
Syo fumed as he gathered the rest of his papers. At first, he wished that he had the power to put the man out of house and home, but eventually, he no longer cared. The man was probably considered dead to the rest of society, for how long he’d been out there. No one would care if he even existed. Besides, taking down one man versus big logging companies wasn’t going to make things better.
He huffed, pushing the woodsman out of his mind to make room for a complete tree-aging analysis. He stooped to count the rings on a stump. The trunk was remarkably strong, having aged nicely, considering its girth. There was no indication of it, but it was possible that it was, at one point, highly productive of sap. The patch of grass at the base was light and soft, neatly gathered. He picked up one of the two sizable pinecones at the base, feeling and weighing it.
Syo’s thoughts wandered. For some time, he pressed his notepad firmly into his lap, trying to tame an imprisoned tiger. This was not the time for such things. He decided to move on to the indigenous fauna. Eagles, of course, bears, and wolves. He paused in his writing to wonder if there were any bears or wolves still around. Would they be on the prowl at this time of the evening? What would they do to him? A bear might leave him alone, but a hungry wolf would devour him with no mercy. Out in the woods, alone, with him…
Things in Syo’s head went into the red zone no matter how hard he tried to focus. The battle between love versus lust raged on as he sat there, reviewing his plans. Deforestation, endangered species, ecological stability—none of that mattered at the moment.
Was it the growl and aggressive nature of the wolf? The build and posture of the bear? Perhaps…the strength of the tree? Syo shut down completely while his mind reeled.
Why am I like this?
Note: This was the first 20% of Sapling, to read more click HERE