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Joshua Logan Slone
The Mountain Letters

My Dearest Sara,
I just arrived to the mountain after a 26-day trek across the land. I find I miss you more and more with each passing day, and were it possible, miss Jacob even more than that. You can be relieved, my love, in knowing that I am in good health. The same cannot be said for my guides to this mountain. One passed away on the journey; the other two succumbed to illness as soon as we reached the small outpost below the mountain. I feel for them and their families but will admit to being grateful that I did not go in their place.

The trip was well worth it. This mountain is a spectacular place. An abundance of trees, streams, snow, animals, and everything else culminate in a peaceful utopia that no human has touched. Mr. Edwards will truly be thrilled to construct a mansion in this area. I hope that I have found a good enough locale for him to increase my payment for this journey. The hundred dollars he has promised would be more than enough to fulfill our dreams, but a little extra has never hurt. We will be able to build our dream at the least, Sara, and live out the rest of our days in it.

Tonight will be my first night in this area. I have been granted stay in a cabin built many years ago by a former resident of the town. I will admit that some of the townspeople seemed quite frightened with talk of the area. I am not sure why, and when I inquired, they would not give a straightforward answer. Perhaps it was overreacting to a long and somewhat traumatic journey. I do not think anything could possibly go wrong in this place, so like the Garden of Eden must have been.

I will mail this letter on the 28th of December. Please, my Sara, include the date in your letter so I may see how long our correspondences take in travel. I will write many letters in that passing time and will yearn for that first response from you.

Until then, send Jacob my love. I would say the same for you, but you know you will always have it.

Yours, Isaac

My Sara,
It has been six days now since I have written you a letter. In this time, I have been exploring the mountain and trying to find a flaw to report. So far, I have found none.

The mountain extends far into the heavens and is picturesque as far as the eye can see. I have climbed high enough on its terrain to feel myself struggling to breathe, and even then, it was one of the most beautiful sights to witness. The snow stays crisp, regardless of temperature. I must confess that even with its frigid appearance, I have yet to feel frostbitten or even cold. It is an enduring mystery. As I said before, it is indeed a special place.

I had a strange experience yesterday, however. While chopping down a tree to use as firewood (for light, since as I said, the temperature seems comfortable throughout even the night), I saw a fox appear, just thirteen or so feet away from me. It was a stunningly beautiful creature and seemed oddly confused by me. I began to study it, and quite suddenly it locked eyes with me. Or, at least, it seemed so at first. I was puzzled. I had never seen a wild animal behave so calmly and human in my time back home or during any of my other travels. It occurred to me after several minutes of this staring, however, that the fox was peering over my shoulder.

I surveyed the area but could not find a hint of anything else around. By the time I turned back to the fox (perhaps a matter of seven seconds), it had gone. I could not spot it anywhere. I stayed in the area for some time, trying to surmise what the fox may have seen or where it had gone. I was shocked to discover that it had left no paw prints. None. Though he was a light animal and the snow is somewhat firm, I expected to find some trace of this quick visit from it. I did not.

I hope he visits me again soon, my Sara, though not as much as I long to be in your embrace again. I find I miss you and Jacob more every minute, nay, every second. I have been considering a plan, but I will not mention the details yet. I must mull it over and come to a decision.

My candle is quick running out. I shall have to retrieve another while visiting the country store. For now, it is time to rest and dream of our life to come.

Love,
Isaac

My love,
It has been another six days since I have written. My longing to see your reply grows. I know that it will be at least 30-40 days before I do, however, accounting for my 26-day trek here. I assume the post shall run slightly quicker than our journey, not being burdened with expedition supplies.

I found a perfect stream for fresh water just by my cabin. I have been here nearly two weeks, yet I somehow missed it in my initial searches. The strangest happening, since it was only yesterday I had been pondering searching for a new water source. The last one was amongst a tangle of weeds and overgrowth (though even those remained a pleasure to view) and was becoming tiresome to trek to every other day. I daresay with a stream this close, I could run piping into the cabin.

I had mentioned before a plan I had been pondering. Sadly, it will not work out. I had meant to find from the local courthouse the price of this cabin, with an idea of moving you and Jacob to it. I received the same odd behavior when I inquired about this with the local officials. They seemed unwilling to speak of it. When I mentioned purchasing the land, they seemed almost panicked by this notion. I asked them who I must speak to in order to complete the purchase of the deed, and they seemed to drift into a fit of chaos. The deskman simply started repeating that there was no one to speak to, that the property belonged to no one. When I asked to buy the property from their county, they assured me the county did not own it either.

I then proceeded to ask where I may submit the paperwork to take claim for land (an odd procedure, since I was unaware that there was land left unclaimed this side of the Mississippi) and the officials refused even that. They said the land must remain without owner. Suffice to say, I left the courthouse in a bit of a rage.

It matters not, though, for with this bad news, I also send good news. I wired a message to Mr. Edwards about what I had found. He assured me that if this place is as good as described, he will up my pay to three hundred dollars! Three hundred dollars, my love! We could retire to a country side, farming and living out our lives together. I hope he is as impressed as I with this land. I truly do not see how he couldn’t be.

I love you dearly,
Isaac

My love,
It has been another six days since I last wrote. I have explored the mountain five miles in all directions now and can say I have never beheld such an amazing location.
I have also built a piping system into the cabin, allowing for drinking water at any time using the stream’s own pressure. I must say, I am impressed with my creation. It runs efficiently and has allowed me more leisure time throughout the days. If only I could make the fire wood chop itself as well!

I came about my fox friend again, or, at the least, one who appeared the same as he. It was in the area where I gathered wood before. The fox trudged towards me, to the same distance as before, stopped, and gave that same peering look over my shoulder. I was unsure of what to think, to see a wild animal behaving in such a pattern. I watched the creature intently this time and saw as it grew more and more frightful. It was to the point of shaking when, I admit, fear overcame me, and I turned to find nothing once again. The fox had again disappeared when I turned around. Once again, no sign it had ever appeared.

This time, I decided to inspect closer the area into which it had been staring. I made a quick pass and began expanding outwards. I did this for nearly two hours when, in the very direction that the fox had been staring, I discovered a rectangular stone in the ground. It was perhaps two feet by one, far too smoothly molded to have been done by weather. I can only assume it to be a land marker or perhaps a grave marker. I have pondered this and considered the idea that perhaps this fox was a spirit. A spirit who simply wished to let me know it was here among me and to wish me well. While that would be a wonderful happening, I do not believe it to be true.

Perhaps the time on the mountain alone has made me believe in coincidences being more than what they are.

I hope you and Jacob are doing well, and I will continue to look forward to our reunion.

Farewell, my love,
Isaac

My Sara,
It has been only two days since I mailed out my last letter, but I felt it urgent to write to you and free my mind of a terrible dream. The images were truly haunting and have been my only bad experience in this Garden.

The dream seemed at the time to be as real as my every waking moment. I was staring out from the cabin across the grounds, taking in some of the fresh water I had pumped into my home. It was then that I noticed a shadow, nay, a blur of a figure out among the tree line. I was not sure what to make of it at first, so I stared more intently.

I was overcome by a feeling of dread at this point and an extreme need to look away. Though it took several minutes (in real time or dreamtime, I am not sure), I finally managed to take my gaze from the object at the tree line.

It was then that I awoke, covered in sweat and quivering in fear. I have no idea what caused such a dream to occur to me, but it shook me to my core. I immediately reminded myself of your warm embrace and of Jacob’s playful smile to fill myself with happiness and comfort once again. I pray to Him that I never have such a dream again, my love.

I think today I shall explore the tree line and try to surmise what could have made me have such a vision. I pray that it was simply all in my imagination.

Love, Isaac

My love,
It has been four days now since my last correspondence, and I have had yet another terrible dream. I worry that my isolation has been playing tricks on my mind. I pray that I have not gotten ill, or worse, lost my grasp on reality.

After surveying the area of my dream, I noticed that the snow was mustered up in that area, dusky being the best word to describe its appearance. This could have been caused by a number of things. I was careful not to connect the two, though found it an odd coincidence.

Then last night the dream reappeared in my mind. This time, however, it was not a shadowy figure or outline. It was a man, standing at the edge of the tree line. He did not seem concerned with me, yet I was filled with fear and dread. He was not looking towards me, nay, he was staring at the snowy ground. He was perhaps six and a half feet in height. He wore a black overcoat, black pants, and a blue button-up shirt. His face was obscured by a hat, much like the Amish in our area wear, but he had no beard. His hair was shoulder length and scraggly. His arms hung at his sides, with his shoulders slightly slouched. He was truly the most frightening figure I have ever witnessed.

I once again forced myself to look away and awoke. I was covered in sweat again, and took considerably more time to calm myself. I did not go and check the window, for I feared that he would be there, my love, there waiting for me, to do with me as he pleased.

When I checked the next day, I found footprints in the general area but could not be sure if they were mine or not. I have trekked the area so much these past weeks that it is impossible to tell at this point. I can only pray that my mind clears of these terrible thoughts soon.

Love to you both,
Isaac

My Sara,
He returned to my dreams again last night. I am so fearful now that I am losing a grip on reality. I have visited a local doctor and he says I am physically fine. I told him of the recurring dreams and he told me not to worry. When he asked where he could reach me later, I told him of my residence on the mountain. I saw a panic pass over him, and he exited the room without another word. I think I saw that. At this point I am not entirely sure if I can even trust my own thoughts.

Mr. Edwards assured me he will be here in the coming weeks to survey the place himself. He sent word by wire that he was leaving just two days ago. I must admit this former place of beauty has me worried for my safety. I will look forward to leaving it behind.

The dream was similar to the rest, only this time he had moved in from the tree line to the area similar to a yard. I still could not see his face, but I know it is horrible. I can feel it.

Please, pray for me.

Yours, Isaac

Love,
I found the fox dead outside the cabin. I am not sure what killed it, but I did not see any signs of physical trauma whatsoever. It filled me with loss and regret and sadness to find the poor animal in that state. I only wish I knew what happened to him. Perhaps I will take it to a doctor and find out the answer, if I can find the time.

Thankfully the dreams have ceased the past week. I pray they are gone forever and the shadowy figure does not come back for me.

Yours forever,
Isaac

My Sara,
He returned to me last night, in the most horrifying way I have witnessed yet. He was closer now, closer to my window. I could feel his menace from that distance . . . and to my horror, he began moving. Moving towards me with slow, painstaking steps; each one filled my heart with more anxiety. He was right at my window, not three feet from me, when I witnessed the worst sight of my life. He raised his face to me, Sara, raised it and looked at me. I would call him human, but I do not think humans can possess such qualities. He stared at me with cold, black eyes. He was emotionless, but projected every sense of wanting to harm me. I do not know why he is doing this to me. We were locked in gaze for minutes, and much to my fright, he turned and headed toward my door.

As soon as he left my view, I awoke. The fear was overwhelming, and I was sure that my heart was reaching its final beat. At this point, I pray that I am losing my mind, my love, for if something like that is real, I do not wish to continued living.

Edwards says he shall be here very soon, perhaps in the next few days. I will hold out until then and come to you with the money he has promised, hopefully making this all worthwhile. For now I just pray my mind will stay together long enough for that to happen.

Love,
Isaac

TRESPASSING!
. . . over soon

My Sara,
I do fear my grip has been lost. The postman came about me yesterday in town while on a supply run and asked me why I had sent two letters in the same day. I assured him that I had only sent the one and that he must be mistaken. He said a second letter had been dropped off to the building and he had just seen it on his way out. He put it in his outgoing bag for the postman to retrieve. I wonder if he has been reading my letters, my love, and is now trying to play on my sense of reality. The townsfolk have not seemed warm to my presence since I arrived. Even during the conversation the man kept peering over my shoulder, as if waiting for something to be there.

Mr. Edwards met with delay and will now be six days before arriving. The dreams have not came back to me as of yet. I pray they have passed. Soon we will be reunited, and I will hug and kiss you and play with our son. That day keeps me warm at night in a place that has suddenly become very cold.

I love you,
Isaac

My Sara,
I am packing up and leaving the day after this letter will be mailed. Whether I have my mind or not, I do not know. What I do know is that this place is not fit for man to be in. I have sent wire to Edwards telling him to turn around and not come to this area. No one should be here, no man or creature. Something is very wrong about this mountain. At first, I believed it special. Now I believe it evil.

He was outside my door last night, my love. He was. Whether it was a dream or real, I do not know, but it was a sign that I should be gone. I am writing this to you in case I do not survive the trip back, so you will know to warn others of what this place is. God help me, Sara. I will need Him.
I should have left sooner, my love, but I will be leaving soon.

I love you,
Isaac

Sara,
In my time on this mountain, I have experienced many things: feelings of happiness, of hope, of despair, of fright, and of madness. One thing throughout has remained constant: this is a special place. I knew it the first day that I laid eyes upon it. I knew it the day I drank its water. I knew it the day I used its lumber for warmth. I knew it the first day I felt its ground and its embrace. I have always known it, and I will continue to know it.

No one must inhabit this place, except me, Sara. I know that as if it were a part of my being. I leave this letter in hopes that it will be found by a search party. I am leaving it on this desk, where all the letters before it were written. I am also leaving your address with it, Sara, with instructions for it to be mailed to you after being read.

No one else must come here, Sara. This letter is a warning to everyone in this world that “He” created. No one must come here.

Your husband was correct.

He should have left sooner.

Joshua Logan Slone, of Wayland, is a BSCTC student.

 

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