The clear crisp morning and the sound of the waterfall quickly brought me back to reality, and soon the dream faded into the background. It was time to get back to the clear-cut and our rondevoiux with the good Doctor. I nudged Mike and Greg awake, and noticed Lenny was missing. Probably relieving himself, I mused. We were rolling up our sleeping bags, when I heard Lenny rushing out of the bushes.
"Hey you guys, come check this out . . ." he said. We followed him several hundred feet into the brush and came smack dab in front of a small geodesic dome structure. "I looked inside . . ." Lenny added; ". . . someone lives here!"
"But this is State Forest land!" I exclaimed. Never the less, the place was obviously occupied. But the occupant was no where site. The dome was a small hexagon-shaped affair, no more than ten feet in diameter, and obviously hand-made; constructed of thin fir poles. It was roofed over with what looked like double-ply plastic trash bags, alternating white bags with black. The roof was constructed from the same poles as the rest of the structure in a sort of semi-dome arrangement. Duct tape held the pieces of trash bags together.
The only door was constructed in a similar manner as the roof, and yielded to our curious pushes. Inside the furnishing were spartan, with a hand-crafted wood frame chair, bed and small bookcase. But no books; only row after row of cassette tapes. Each tape was neatly numbered and dated. A small battery operated cassette recorder was placed on the top shelf. A tattered military fatigue jacket hung from a nail in the wall.
"I bet this is Skip's place . . ." Mike theorized. "Skip who?" Lenny inquired. Mike and Greg proceeded to recount the story of a young man from Abiqua who was drafted and sent to Vietnam in the mid-60s. He came up AWOL, and was later found wondering in a daze months later near a bombed-out Buddhist monastery by a passing patrol. He was medically discharged and spent several years in a VA psycho ward before returning home.
He never fit in, and ended up living up in the hills. No one ever knew exactly where, but they would see him once a month when he came to town to collect his VA disability check and buy supplies. He seldom talked, and never gave anyone trouble, so people just let him be. It was always a mystery as to what exactly happened to him over there. Most assumed he couldn't handle the carnage, and freaked out.
But Mike related that he had heard once that he got drunk one night and talked up a storm in a local tavern about how he met "them," and that he had become enlightened. "A friend of my older brother said that ole Skip talked about being kidnapped by dragons . . ." He added, ". . . of course everyone just thought he was whacko . . ."
But after the events of the last week, "whacko" is in the eye of the beholder. We decided that maybe Homestead Falls was not such a secure area after all to stash an alien space ship, and we gingerly made our way out of the cabin back to the car.
When we got back, there were the Capthraw kids, engaged in a dialog with Skip himself! At least, a one-sided dialog, as Skip did not have on a translator. He was dressed in faded jeans with a blue work shirt. His frame was thin and wirery, with sandy-blond hear streaked with gray. A small goatee and round wire-rimmed glasses filled out his face.
The kids were talking fast and furious in their parrot-talk while Skip just sat there wide-eyed with a big grin nodding, as if he understood it all! The door to the car shimmered on the side of the cliff just behind the kids. When he noticed us approaching, Skip turned around and glared at us. A look of terror crept over his face, as if WE were space lizards!
"Howdy Skip!" Mike said, extending his hand in greeting. Skip just stood there eyeing us with suspicion, glancing back periodically to the kids. "It's cool . . ." Greg reassured him, ". . . we're with them!" This seemed to calm him down somewhat, but not much.
I put on my headset, and asked F.B. what happened. "We came out of the car, and this guy was sitting in front of the door just looking at us." She said. "We assumed that he was another one of your friends, since he seemed quite at ease, so we did not become alarmed either." Scrawny added.
This entire situation was rapidly getting out control, and now this new wrinkle . . . "What are we going to do now?" I asked of no one in particular. "You are disciples of the Dragon Masters?" Skip asked us. "Say what?!?" Lenny answered.
I glanced at the kids, then back towards our group, and an idea materialized in my mind. "Yes . . ." I answered; ". . . we have been chosen by them to reveal their ancient teachings." My three friends looked at me as if I was flipping out. I continued: "These two picked us to spread their words of wisdom. We have picked this location to start our great quest for knowledge."
The kids looked at each other upon hearing this, probably wondering the same as the others. This human is loosing it. I shot them a wink, but I'm not sure if they caught the meaning. "I too have been chosen . . ." Skip added. ". . . many years ago in 'Nam the Dragon Masters came to me. I knew they would return one day, so this is why I chose this place to wait. Something told me that they would come to this spot. But the others were different than these two. Much bigger. Like HUGE!"
"What did they look like?" I queried.
"HUGE!" he repeated. "With horns on their heads, and tiny arms . . . no legs . . . with blue scales . . . but they really weren't scales at all, but really feathers . . . soft to touch . . . I have one in my cabin . . . they floated around like big balloons, and they took me to their temple." Oh boy, I thought. This guy really is whacko.
I repeated what Skip had just said to the kids. They looked at each other, and said in almost perfect harmony, ". . . Dravph . . ." "This makes sense to you? What is 'Dravph'?" I asked them.
"Rather, WHO are the Dravph." FB replied; "The Dravph were a race of Capthraw that left the planet to colonize the remote reaches of the solar system. They made their mark building off-world colonies and star ships. Ours for example. They preferred the places where the effects of gravity were small, and over many generations, they grew to be very big."
"And they had blue feathers . . ." Scrawny added. ". . . and they weren't very nice people, I've been told."
Skip watched my conversation with the kids, and repeated that he had a blue dragon feather in his cabin. "Might be worth a look." Greg said. Skip then ran back to his shack, and returned shortly with a hand-made wooden box, from which he produced a shiny blue feather, roughly the shape and size of a sword fern leaf.
It was a beautiful azure shade of blue that had an almost metallic sheen to it. It was similar in shape to the kid's own green feathers, only much bigger. Theirs where about half an inch, if that, while this one was easily a good ten inches or more.
I asked if I could look at it more closely, but Skip quickly shoved it back into the box, and closed the lid. He glared at me and held the box close to his chest. This was turning out to be quite bizarre. First green feathered space lizards, and now blue feathered Vietnamese dragons. Too weird!
But weird or not, we still had an appointment to keep. FB assured me that the car was secured, so that it would be safe to leave here. Fortunately, Skip did not the see the car in it's full glory; only a bizarre looking hole in the cliff from which the kids climbed out of. We finished packing up our gear, and Skip ran back to his cabin to hide his dragon feather. Scrawny then closed the door, and the new outcropping of rocks looked like they had been there for years. We headed down the stream along Skip's path, past his cabin and on out to the Abiqua Main Line road. We waved at him as he starred at us through the open doorway.
I could only imagine his reaction when he went back to the falls and found the door closed . . . oh well!
We were almost back to the Abiqua Mainline, when the now familiar sound of a helicopter gradually filled the air. We took cover under some trees, and watched in horror as the chopper headed straight up Homestead Creek towards the falls. We could hear the craft apparently hovering in the general area.
We moved as quick as we could to get back to the meeting site. The kids were soon out of breath, so we had to pause every little bit to rest. Hopefully they would be able to make it the rest of the way without us carrying them, but it didnít look to hopeful.
Just several hundred feet from the Doc's land rover, we stopped at the sound of approaching vehicles. Again, we scrambled for cover just as two four-by-fours roared past. One was labeled "State Police," the other "County Sheriff." They were headed back the general direction we had just come from.
We reached the land rover, and from our vantage point across the canyon, we could see the chopper still hovering over Homestead Falls. Too small an area to set down, I thought to myself. "I wonder what ole Skip is thinking now?" Mike inquired. The Doc leaned out the window and called for us to get it. We were more than happy to comply, and soon we were off back to Llama Land.
The kidís condition was not lost on her keen eye, and she asked for a translator. "How do you feel?" she asked our space lizard friends. I donned a pair myself and heard F.B. explain the obvious: ". . . hard to breathe . . . I donít understand . . . Iím in great shape!"
Scrawny offered an explanation: "This may be our ancestor's original planet, but things are not the same as they were . . . the air is drier and thinner . . . I guess a lot can happen in millions of years!"
"Well, we have other problems . . ." the Doc said. ". . . those two four-bys stopped and some suit asked me what I was doing here, and asked if I had seen anyone around here. Of course I said no, that I was up here taking pictures of the scenery. He didn't look convinced, and he wrote down my rover's license number." Great, I thought. Now they have a record of two of our vehicles.
We pulled out, and again followed the back roads back to the farm. The kids' heavy breathing subsided somewhat, now that we weren't hiking around the hills. We were back in the relative safety of Llama land within a couple of hours.
© 1996 by R. D. Frederick
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