“Cow pasture for hundreds of miles, so much land it would take a month to walk across it.” They stand together on a yellow flower-dotted hill looking down past a small stream into old growth forest.
“A month, huh?”
He doubts that, but doesn’t care. He also doesn’t care that he is nearing 60 and this isn’t a legacy land purchase more of an attempt to get away from every single other human being on the planet. He looks at the woman no older than his daughter, how different the two seem. This one covered in make-up and a come-fuck-me dress desperate to sell land to someone famous and the other all the way on the other side of the world helping war refugees. One of three and the other two weren’t doing too bad either. The boys are never still and their success grows exponentially off of his. And after a lifetime of beating his fists into what in his youth seemed unyielding, now he has too much and finds himself wanting nothing at all.
“I’ll take it.”
She turns and immediately starts walking back to the helicopter giving the whirly motion above her head which gives the pilot the sign to start the engines, which he does.
The businessman with everything doesn’t move. He stands still staring out over the land, something he always wanted and now was his, solitude.
He shakes his head no, “My lawyers are expecting your call,” and he begins walking down toward the woods below.
Where have you gone? We miss you!
It wasn’t difficult trading everything for the nothing of solitude. He had it set up before he left really. His sons were already hands-deep into the business and when he contacted them months later they played like they never even noticed he was gone.
All three visited with their families.
RVs, and solar panels, and sat phones, and wires running, and generators blasting their rumble into the air, kids screaming and playing, and dogs barking then a week later back to nothing again. And he didn’t miss the noise. He didn’t. Really.
So how could they possibly miss him?
He feels the fire as he enters the orange glow. Crisp flames lick brush and destroyed timber. There is a whine of metal distressing under intense heat.
The sat phone is back in the truck. And the truck is twenty miles back toward the homesite. The why of both is simple. He is a fool who liked to hunt with no distractions. He knows he has gone twenty miles because land nav is easy. Why he has gone twenty miles, though, is complicated. It started out following a buck with a round in its flank to witnessing a sudden explosion in the sky.
The crash was over quick.
Was it lightning, or something else Godly he’ll never know but the resulting eruption brought the thing down to the ground. The crash lay him on his backside with his ears ringing. Instead of going for the phone, though, he went for the answer to what the fuck.
It was an hour later when he was walking through destroyed timber and a sense he should turn and go the other direction. Yet still, he approaches the shiny metal tube still on fire, and one end ruptured. He holds his rifle out in front of him as he approaches.
He calls out, “anyone alive in there?” and as he gets closer, beyond the twist of metal, he sees what looks like a human form trying to crawl its way to safety.
He throws down his rifle and does the old man shuffle over to the form and grabs it under the arms to drag it free. So light. Like dragging a Halloween scarecrow. Turning it over he wouldn’t have been surprised to find the shiny jumpsuit empty, instead, he vomits.
It is not human. The flesh is grey. Black mirrored eyes stare unblinking at him. Small slits for a nose then a small soot-stained mouth sucking at the air as if getting nothing. Then it dies. He shakes it, and considers doing CPR before deciding that was silly, and instead doing what he has been best at so far, nothing.
Appraising the crash site he decides the now dead creature at his feet must have been its pilot and did its absolute best to bring the craft down as safely as possible. A suppression system activates as if to give credence to his thoughts. Jets of foam spray out soaking the ground and trees and exhausting all flames. Curious, he decides to step inside. Why? It all could be a dream, so why not. Once there, his eyes adjust to the smoky gloom he finds himself bathed with. The glow comes from several giant globes. He cocks his head. Squints his eye. Doubting his sanity because it almost seems like he is looking at twenty copies of himself from forty years ago floating in globes of blue glowing liquid.