WASHINGTON, Dec. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The opening chapter of Ronald Lee Geigle's new novel, The Woods—a saga of love, grand dreams, and transformation set in the world of railroad logging and labor unrest in the Pacific Northwest during 1937—is being presented in serial form December 25 – 28. The novel is being published in association with WordVirgin, an indie publishing platform in Washington, DC, Seattle, and Edinburgh. www.wordvirgin.com
The Woods is available at Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H59NIHQ .
Installment Three, The Woods:
Albert had heard men talk about Nariff Olben. That he was too old and too full of tall tales to be in charge of the section crew. But Albert wanted to shout as the Shay locomotive, with its massive logs behind, passed by without incident.
"What are you so happy about, kid?" asked Conrad Bruel with a sneer. Nariff, Charles Walker, Whitey, and the rest of the crew had already started back to the tool sheds, at the distant end of the clearing.
Albert shrugged. "Nothing. Just happy to see that our hard work paid off."
"Your buddy Nariff Olben ain't gonna keep his job long, you know." Conrad shielded his voice slightly so only Albert could hear.
Conrad smiled, though the heavy ledge of eyebrows turned the smile into a threat. "John Valentine is gonna kick his ass if he keeps mouthing off about him. He's asking for trouble. "
"You mouthed off just as much about Valentine."
Conrad sneered and laughed. "Nobody cares what I say, stupid. But that old man runs the section crew. And they'll all think he's just trying to start more union trouble."
Albert could not fully grasp the anger in Conrad. It popped up at odd times. It seemed that everyone on the crew was mad at something or someone. Everyone hated Valentine—he was the foreman after all. Max St. Bride was always looking to fight. But Conrad's anger seemed less even, and often sharper.
Nariff and the rest of the crew had already loaded most of the shovels and sledgehammers into the tool sheds. Albert noticed two shovels they had left behind on the other side of the track, so set off to retrieve them.
But when he stepped onto the first rail, the earth turned liquid. He stumbled and tried to regain his footing, but the rocks and ties under his feet moved again—everything around him was shifting sideways. He pitched forward, landing hard on his belly across the rock they had just laid. When he got back to his feet, he could see both rails quivering and the spikes bending away from the rails.
He searched for Conrad, who was now running toward a mass of smoke and red flame, far away from him—far toward the end of the landing.
"Albert, grab the shovels." The voice was Bud Cole, Skybillings' owner, who swept past him at a dead sprint. Others followed—the fallers, the Swedes, Valentine's crew, then the rest of the buckers and the riggingslingers. They grabbed shovels and sledgehammers as they ran. Several stopped to hoist-up heavy railroad ties that lay along the tracks. Albert pulled himself out of the mud, grabbed a shovel, and fell in.
The heavy black smoke burned his eyes and the thumming-thumming vibrations in the ground took away all other senses for a moment—but then the full scene opened clearly before him: perhaps fifty yards ahead stood the Shay, now leaning sharply forward and to the right—half off the tracks, the massive iron wheels roaring, spewing mud and rock as they churned full-power into the blackened earth.
The chaos of metal and steam, the fire spitting from the Shay, the choking smell of burning oil and wood, brought Albert to a dead stop.
"St. Bride, St. Bride," screamed Bud Cole, "restart the winch. Get cables around the Shay. Now! Now!" Max St. Bride was already atop the steam winch, throttling the machine furiously. Several men guided the thick metal cable as it uncoiled from the greasy winch, backpedaling toward the Shay. Within a minute, they had looped it around the smokestack.
The winch roared and the cables ground into the Shay, pulling hard against the dead weight, as men scrambled to get out of whiplash range. The cable noose drew tighter—St. Bride's revving brought an angry roar from the engine powering the winch—and the muddy ooze finally gave way. The fuming, wounded locomotive slowly began rising—dripping mud and oil as it did, its wheels still mired, but upright nonetheless—all now tethered by string-tight steel cables to two towering firs and the roaring winch.
Read the final installment tomorrow…
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