Sometimes you can see a faint pillar of smoke rising up out of the trees. On those nights where the wind doesn’t blow, but whistles, the same nights where no one has their car on the road and for some odd reason the crickets forget to cricket, and you find yourself out all alone with nothing but the Chemical Plant that sits close to State. As if this wasn’t enough, the plant is continuously churning out this unnatural noise that just makes you question every breath of air you take. Only on nights like these is it possible to see the smoke.
The smoke itself could easily be written off as being a product of the ever present fog, or the “who knows what” escaping from the vents from the chemical plant, but to those who are unfortunate enough to catch a glimpse of this mysterious pillar, the sight is unmistakable.
Something about the smoke sets it apart. Just hearing about the smoke gives a person a sickening feeling, the same one your grandmother can get when it’s sunny and 75, not a cloud in the sky except for the one that has perfectly shielded just enough of the sun’s rays that you can stay outside for hours without getting too hot, but right as you are enjoying that perfect warmth Grandma walks back inside the screen door, only to warn you of the eminent storm approaching.
One who has caught sight of this eerie billow of smoke often has trouble getting a clear view. You see, for some reason there is a mystery as to exactly where the smoke arises from. It can barely be distinguished from standing on the train tracks, and if you go farther back toward I-64, for some odd reason, the smoke is hardly noticeable. Still, for one reason or another, a person knows it’s there. Many people can truthfully say that they have seen the strange fog, but few have been able to comprehend its existence.
Many locals who believe that there is more to the mysterious smoke than just coincidence, have erected many a tale to explain the occurrence, but one seems to stand atop the rest. A while back, when everybody still lived in the hills, there lived a group of miners who resided somewhere deep in the trees, not necessarily miles back to where no one could easily approach them, but in such a place that made it difficult to be found. At the same time it was a place where it was easy to find lost souls meandering through the woods on the nights previously mentioned.
As the story goes, there were three men: Artimus, Winley, and Job. And while the men were not related by blood, through some long-standing relationship, or a binding experience, they were brothers. And on those nights where the crickets forget how to cricket, and the wind doesn’t blow but whistles, the brothers would go out. It is never specified what made them decide to go on this unnatural mission, but what is known is that they were hunting. Hunting for sustenance, hunting for life. On those nights the men would wait, hoping for a curious soul to stumble upon their camp, not knowing what would be waiting in the brush.
But on those nights the men’s hunger would take hold, and when an unlucky creature would cross paths with Artimus, Winley, and Job, no one ever heard a noise, neither a yelp nor a cry, not a grimace nor a moan. All that could be seen was the meek pillar of smoke, rising up from the trees, the smoke that smelled of human flesh.
©Randall Mincy – 2015