Episode 10 – In the Countryside

I’m suddenly awakened by footsteps in my room. The afternoon sun is low…look up to see Britney standing at the foot of the bed, her cheeks stained by tears. “Come on,” she says blankly. “It’s time to visit Charlie.”

I jump out of bed and take her hands in mine. “Britney, please, it’s not easy leaving my old life behind.”

She pulls away. “I don’t want to talk about it. Let’s go.”

I study her face. Her eyes are hard. She’s already left me.

“Hurry!” she says. “We’re going to be late.”

We start to walk to the SUV. Brit turns to me. “Crouch down,” she says. “Let’s not make this complicated.”

I think how different it is from our joyous morning departure.

We drive five miles out of town and turn down a narrow road that leads to the base of the mountains. At the end are three driveways. Two overgrown, leading to ruins, one neat and tidy. We head up that one. It’s steep and icy, so we spin and fishtail. The lights are on in the house. The sun’s dipped below the mountains. Charlie’s waiting out on the porch. As we come to a stop, I sense an aura, vague and undefined…the Ogre, and what? Elves? I feel a surge of excitement. Are some of my people nearby? I close my eyes and turn in a circle. Get a strong aura from the ruins. Could Elves be that close?

Charlie comes down the steps…stands next to Britney, watching me closely. “What’s up, dude?” he asks. “Is it the bear?”

“No,” I say, concentrating as hard as I can. “It’s a couple of things. One’s an Ogre.”

Charlie’s stumped. “A what? What’s an Ogre?”

“A rare mountain creature. Humans call them Abominable Snowmen, but they’re really Ogres. I’ve seen signs of them, but my father used to see them all the time.”

“Jesus! And one’s actually around?”

“Yup,” I say, pointing to the mountains. “Up in those rocks waiting for dark. It’s after Elves.”

Charlie’s eyes widen. “So, you think it’ll come down? That thing the other night was humongous.”

“Sure. There are definitely Elves here too…in those abandoned farms.”

It’s almost dark, and the snow’s creating an eerie blue gloom. I figure the Ogre’s starting down. I notice Charlie’s arm around Britney…leans toward her. “We better call your dad.” I definitely hate the fucker.

The situation’s confusing, even for me. The Ogre’s after me and my kind, but it’s part of our tradition and heritage…part of the world of non-humans, or humanoids…sprites, gnomes, trolls and fairies. I hate the idea of Troopers blasting away…maybe hitting innocent Elves by mistake…so, I decide to handle things the way I’ve done all my life…by myself. “No,” I tell Charlie. “I don’t need any help. It’s stuff I’m used to.”

“Arne, you’re crazy!” Britney cries. “Dad needs to know what’s going on. It’s ridiculous to deal with it alone.” I sense her seething anger. It’s suddenly like she resents everything about me.

“Look, you gotta trust me,” I explain. This is a conflict between non-Human powers. Bringing police on the scene’ll just confuse the situation and lead to more injuries. I need to find out what’s bothering the Ogre.”

Britney tightens her fists, reddens. “Arne, this isn’t a fairy tale, it’s real, and in case you haven’t noticed, you’re not the biggest guy in the world.”

“Yeah,” Charlie says. “The thing’s fucking huge!” Turns to her. “Ease up, Brit. Arne knows this shit a lot better than we do. Let’s go inside and get warm…I need a beer. You guys want one?”

Britney accepts, but I decline…need my head to be clear. Inside, the farmhouse’s really comfortable with thick rugs and cozy furniture. Turns out Charlie’s dad’s a lawyer. We get a quick tour…settle in the living room in front of a roaring fire. Charlie heads to the kitchen.

She turns to me. “Arne, you’re such an asshole!”

I’m caught totally off guard. “Why?”

“All your Elf protocol. I don’t believe you know more about Ogres than I do. You admitted you’d never actually seen one…how do you expect to deal with one. It’s nuts!”

“You’re right. I don’t have a lot of actual Ogre experience, but I have Elf intuition and that’s a lot. Right now, I sense it’s making its way down the mountain. I want to find out exactly what the problem is. Maybe I’ll be able to find a solution and get it back where it belongs.”

Britney studies me intently. “I can’t believe what you said earlier today. Am I just a fun amusement before you find a real partner?’

“No way!” I protest, but we’re interrupted by Charlie, a beer in each hand.

I realize Britney’s right in a way. When I first got to Pikeville, I was so incredibly horny, I didn’t give a shit about Elf Protocol…but after a year of multiple hook-ups a day, I’m feeling satisfied and interested in my culture again…which is unbelievably thoughtless and hypocritical. I’m not with Elves anymore, so it’s sort of snobby to act like I’m following some superior heritage, or whatever. Humans have traditions that are just as old, so Britney has every right to be pissed.

Two sofas face each other in front of the fire. I’m on one and Britney’s on the other, Charlie beside her. They click cans and chug their beer.

“Thank god for alcohol!” Charlie cries. “No way I can face an Ogre sober!”

Britney laughs…her thoughts come though loud and clear. She still likes me, but she’s sick of all the Elf “noise.” Happy to be hanging with Charlie again…and strangely enough, I understand it. Unlike me, he’s not all sensitive and clingy. I guess with my family gone, I was more needy than I thought…latched onto the Knights, too fast maybe, and got totally hung up on the idea that Britney and I were destined to marry…and make a life-long commitment. Unfortunately, it was all Elf stuff that didn’t match up with Human reality.

Charlie heads to the kitchen for beer round two…Britney and I sit staring at each other. Finally, I can’t hold back any longer. “Brit,” I say, “I realize I’ve been monopolizing you, and pontificating about Elf tradition…and it’s meaningless, because I’m not living with Elves anymore. Whatever happens, I want you to know I’m sorry, and only want the best for you.”

“It’s okay, Arne,” she says sweetly. “I just need space for a while. We’ve been going hot and heavy for a long time, and I’m drained. In the beginning, it was fun and goofy, but now it’s getting heavy…and I’m only eighteen. I miss my class and all my friends.”

I nod, as Charlie returns. “Arne, you sure you don’t want a beer. I’m almost ready to tackle that fucker myself!”

Suddenly, we’re all aware of distant vibrations. Steps moving closer.

“Oh shit!” Charlie exclaims.

To be continued…Read next episode!