Sundown at Coffin Rock

Discussion in 'Survival Reading Room' started by monkeyman, Aug 8, 2005.


  1. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Sundown at Coffin Rock
    by Raymond K. Paden

    The old man walked slowly through the dry, fallen leaves of
    autumn, his practiced eye automatically choosing the bare and
    stony places in the trail for his feet. There was scarcely a
    sound as he passed, though his left knee was stiff with scar
    tissue. He grunted occasionally as the tight sinews pulled. Damn
    chainsaw, he thought.

    Behind him, the boy shuffled along, trying to imitate his
    grandfather, but unable to mimic the silent motion that the old
    man had learned during countless winter days upon this wooded
    mountain in pursuit of game. He's fifteen years old, the old man
    thought. Plenty old enough to be learning. But that was another
    time, another America. His mind drifted, and he saw himself, a
    fifteen-year-old boy following in the footsteps of his own
    grandfather, clutching a twelve gauge in his trembling hands as
    they tracked a wounded whitetail.

    The leg was hurting worse now, and he slowed his pace a bit.
    Plenty of time. It should have been my own son here with me now,
    the old man thought sadly. But Jason had no interest, no
    understanding. He cared for nothing but pounding on the keys of
    that damned computer terminal. He knew nothing about the
    woods, or where food came from...or freedom. And
    that's my fault, isn't it?

    The old man stopped and held up his hand, motioning for the boy to
    look. In the small clearing ahead, the deer stood motionless,
    watching them. It was a scraggly buck, underfed and sickly, but
    the boy's eyes lit up with excitement. It had been many years
    since they had seen even a single whitetail here on the mountain.
    After the hunting had stopped, the population had exploded. The
    deer had eaten the mountain almost bare until erosion had become
    a serious problem in some places. That following winter, three
    starving does had wandered into the old man's yard, trying to eat
    the bark off of his pecan trees, and he had wished the "animal
    rights" fanatics could have been there then. It was against the
    law, but old man knew a higher law, and he took an axe into the
    yard and killed the starving beasts. They did not have
    the strength to run.

    The buck finally turned and loped away, and they continued down
    the trail to the river. When they came to the "Big Oak," the old
    man turned and pushed through the heavy brush beside the
    trail and the boy followed, wordlessly. The old man knew that
    Thomas was curious about their leaving the trail, but the boy had
    learned to move silently (well, almost) and that meant no
    talking. When they came to "Coffin Rock," the old man sat down
    upon it and motioned for the boy to join him.

    "You see this rock, shaped like a casket?" the old man asked. "Yes
    sir." The old man smiled. The boy was respectful and polite. He
    loved the outdoors, too. Everything a man could ask in a grandson
    ...or a son.

    "I want you to remember this place, and what I'm about to tell you.
    A lot of it isn't going to make any sense to you, but it's important
    and one day you'll understand it well enough. The old man paused. Now
    that he was here, he didn't really know where to start.

    "Before you were born," he began at last, "this country was
    different. I've told you about hunting, about how everybody who
    obeyed the law could own guns. A man could speak out, anywhere,
    without worrying about whether he'd get back home or not. School
    was different, too. A man could send his kids to a church school,
    or a private school, or even teach them at home. But even in the
    public schools, they didn't spend all their time trying to
    brainwash you like they do at yours now." The old man
    paused, and was silent for many minutes. The boy was
    still, watching a chipmunk scavenging beside a fallen
    tree below them.

    "Things don't ever happen all at once, boy. They just sort of
    sneak up on you. Sure, we knew guns were important; we just
    didn't think it would ever happen in America. But we had to do
    something about crime, they said. It was a crisis. Everything
    was a crisis! It was a drug crisis, or a terrorism crisis,
    or street crime, or gang crime. Even a 'health care'
    crisis was an excuse to take away a little more of our
    rights." The old man turned to look at his grandson.

    "They ever let you read a thing called the Constitution down there at
    your school?" The boy solemnly shook his head. "Well, the Fourth
    Amendment's still in there. It says there won't be any unreasonable
    searches and seizures. It says you're safe in your own home." The old
    man shrugged. "That had to go. It was a crisis! They could kick your
    door open any time, day or night, and come in with guns blazing if they
    thought you had drugs ...or later, guns. Oh, at first it was just
    registration -- to keep the guns out of the hands of criminals! But that
    didn't work, of course, and then later when they wanted to take 'em they
    knew where to look. They banned 'assault rifles', and then 'sniper
    rifles', and 'Saturday night specials.' Everything you saw on the TV or
    in the movies was against us. God knows the news people were! And the
    schools were teaching our kids that nobody needed guns anymore. We tried
    to take a stand, but we felt like the whole face of our country had
    changed and we were left outside."

    "Me and a friend of mine, when we saw what was happening, we came
    and built a secret place up here on the mountain. A place where
    we could put our guns until we needed them. We figured some day
    Americans would remember what it was like to be free, and what
    kind of price we had to pay for that freedom. So we hid our
    guns instead of losing them."

    "One fellow I knew disagreed. He said we ought to use our guns now
    and stand up to the government. Said that the colonists had
    fought for their freedom when the British tried to disarm them at
    Lexington and Concord. Well, he and a lot of others died in what
    your history books call the 'Tax Revolt of 1998,' but son, it
    wasn't the revolt that caused the repeal of the Second Amendment
    like your history book says. The Second Amendment was already gone
    long before they ever repealed it. The rest of us thought we were
    doing the right thing by waiting. I hope to God we were right."

    "You see, Thomas. It isn't government that makes a man free. In the end,
    governments always do just the opposite. They gobble up freedom like
    hungry pigs. You have to have laws to keep the worst in men under
    control, but at the same time the people have to have guns, too, in
    order to keep the government itself under control. In our country, the
    people were supposed to be the final authority of the law, but that was
    a long time ago. Once the guns were gone, there was no reason for those
    who run the government to give a damn about laws and constitutional
    rights and such. They just did what they pleased and anyone who spoke
    out...well, I'm getting ahead of myself."

    "It took a long time to collect up all the millions of firearms
    that were in private hands. The government created a whole new
    agency to see to it. There were rewards for turning your friends
    in, too. Drug dealers and murderers were set free after two
    or three years in prison, but possession of a gun would
    get you mandatory life behind bars with no parole.

    "I don't know how they found out about me, probably knew I'd been
    a hunter all those years, or maybe somebody turned me in. They
    picked me up on suspicion and took me down to the federal
    building."

    "Son, those guys did everything they could think of to
    me. Kept me locked up in this little room for hours, no food, no
    water. They kept coming in, asking me where the guns were. 'What
    guns?' I said. Whenever I'd doze off, they'd come crashing in,
    yelling and hollering. I got to where I didn't know which end was
    up. I'd say I wanted my lawyer and they'd laugh. 'Lawyers are for
    criminals', they said. 'You'll get a lawyer after we get the
    guns.' What's so funny is, I know they thought they were doing
    the right thing. They were fighting crime!"

    "When I got home I found Ruth sitting in the middle of the living
    room floor, crying her eyes out. The house was a shambles. While I
    was down there, they'd come out and took our house apart. Didn't
    need a search warrant, they said. National emergency! Gun crisis!
    Your grandma tried to call our preacher and they ripped the phone
    off the wall. Told her that they'd go easy on me if she just told
    them where I kept my guns." The old man laughed. "She told them
    to go to hell." He stared into the distance for a moment as his
    laughter faded.

    "They wouldn't tell her about me, where I was or anything, that whole
    time. She said that she'd thought I was dead. She never got over that
    day, and she died the next December."

    "They've been watching me ever since, off and on. I guess there's
    not much for them to do anymore, now that all the guns are gone.
    Plenty of time to watch one foolish old man." He paused. Beside
    him, the boy stared at the stone beneath his feet.

    "Anyway, I figure that, one day, America will come to her senses.
    Our men will need those guns and they'll be ready. We cleaned them
    and sealed them up good; they'll last for years. Maybe it won't be
    in your lifetime, Thomas. Maybe one day you'll be sitting here
    with your son or grandson. Tell him about me, boy. Tell him about
    the way I said America used to be." The old man stood, his bad leg
    shaking unsteadily beneath him.

    "You see the way this stone points? You follow that line one
    hundred feet down the hill and you'll find a big round
    rock. It looks like it's buried solid, but one man with
    a good prybar can lift it, and there's a concrete tunnel right
    under there that goes back into the hill."

    The old man stood, watching as the sun eased toward the ridge,
    coloring the sky and the world red. Below them, the river still
    splashed among the stones, as it had for a million years. It's
    still going, the old man thought. There'll be someone left to
    carry on for me when I'm gone. It was harder to walk back. He
    felt old and purposeless now, and it would be easier, he knew, to
    give in to that aching heaviness in his left lung that had begun
    to trouble him more and more. Damn cigarettes, he thought. His
    leg hurt, and the boy silently came up beside him and supported
    him as they started down the last mile toward the house. How
    quiet he walks, the old man thought. He's learned well.

    It was almost dark when the boy walked in. His father looked up
    from his paper. "Did you and your granddad have a nice walk?"

    "Yes," the boy answered, opening the refrigerator. "You can call
    Agent Goodwin tomorrow. Gramps finally showed me where it is."

    ************************************************** **************

    Editor's note: "Sundown at Coffin Rock" is a work of fiction. Any
    similarity to actual events or to actual people, living or dead,
    REMAINS TO BE SEEN.
    .
    Next post is the follow up story or sequel to this one.
    __________________
     
    kellory, PapaGrune, Pezz and 4 others like this.
  2. Bogie

    Bogie Monkey+++

    Sunrise at Coffin Rock - read Sundown at Coffin Rock first.

    SUNRISE AT COFFIN ROCK ..... #2 in series
    by Raymond K. Paden
    Thomas sat alone upon the cold stone, shivering slightly in the chilly pre-dawn air of this April morning. The flashlight was turned off, resting beside him on the bare granite of Coffin Rock, and involuntarily he strained his eyes in the gray non-light of the false dawn, trying to make out the shapes of the trees, and the mountains across the river. Below, he could hear the chuckling of the water as it crossed the polished stones. How many times had he fished there, his grandfather beside him?

    He tried to shrug away the memories, but why else had he come here except to remember? Perhaps to escape the inevitable confrontation with his mother. She would have to be told sooner or later, but Thomas infinitely preferred later.

    "Mom, I’ve been expelled from the university," he said aloud in a conversational tone. Some small night animal, startled by the sudden sound, scurried away to the right. "I know this means you won’t get that upgrade to C-3, and they’ll probably turn you down for that surgery now. Gee, Mom, I’m sorry." It sounded so stupid. "Why?" she would ask. "How?"

    How could he explain that? The endless arguments. The whispered warnings. The subtle threats. Dennis had told him to expect this. Dennis had lost his parents back in the First Purge back in ’04, and his bitter hatred of the State’s iron rule had failed to ruin him only because of his unique and accomplished abilities as an actor. Only with Thomas did he open up. Only with Thomas did he relate the things he had learned while in the Youth Re-education Camp near Charleston. Thomas shuddered.

    It was his own fault, he knew. He should have kept his mouth shut like Dennis told him. All of his friends had come and shook his hand and pounded him on the back. "That’s telling them, Adams!" they said. But their voices were hushed and they glanced over their shoulders as they congratulated him. And later, when the "volunteers" of the Green Ribbon Squad kicked his ass all over the shower room, they had stood by in nervous silence, their faces turned away, their eyes averted, and their tremulous voices silent.

    He sighed. Could he blame them? He’d been afraid too, when the squad walked up and surrounded him, and if he could have taken back those proud words he would have. Anyone is afraid when they can’t fight back, he’d discovered. So they taught him a lesson, and he had expected it to end there. But then yesterday had come the call to Dr. Morton’s office, and the brief hearing that had ended his career at the university. "Thomas," Morton had intoned, "You owe everything to the State." Thomas snorted.

    The light was growing now. He could see the pale, rain-washed granite in the grayness as if it glowed. Coffin Rock was now a knob, a raised promontory that jutted up from a wide, unbroken arm of the mountain’s stony roots, its cover of soil pushed away. There were deep gouges scraped across the surface of the rock where the backhoe had tried, vainly, to force the mountain to reveal its secrets. He was too old to cry now, but Thomas Adams closed his eyes tightly as he relived those moments that had forever changed his life.

    The shouts and angry accusations as the agents found no secret arms cache still seemed to ring in his ears. They had threatened him with arrest, and once he had thought the government agent named Goodwin would actually strike him. At last, though, they had accepted defeat and turned down the mountain, following the gashed trail of the backhoe as it rumbled ahead through the woods.

    At home, he had found his mother and father standing, ashen faced, in the doorway. "They took your grandpa," his father said in disbelief. "Just after you left, they put him in a van and took him."

    "But they said they wouldn’t!" Thomas had shouted. He ran across the yard to the old man’s cottage. The door was standing open and he wandered from room to room, calling for the grandfather he would never see alive again.

    It was his heart, they said. Two days after they had taken him, someone called and tersely announced that the old man had died at the indigent clinic a few hours after his arrest "Sorry," the faceless voice had muttered. Thomas had wept at the funeral, but it was only in later years that he had come to understand the greatest tragedy of that day: that the old man had died alone, knowing that his own grandson had betrayed him.

    That grandson was Thomas Adams, and he was now too old to cry but in the growing light of the cold mountain dawn, he did anyway.
    Thomas was certain that his father’s decertification six months later was due to the debacle in the forest. As much as anyone did these days, they had "owned" their home, but the Certification Board would still have evicted them except for the intervention of Cousin Lou, who worked for the State Supervisor. As it was, they lost all privileges and, when his father came down with pneumonia the next autumn, medical treatment was denied. He had died three days after the first anniversary of Grandpa’s death.

    Thomas had been sure that he would be turned down at the University, but once again his cousin had intervened and a slot had "opened" for him. But now that’s finished, he reflected. He would be unable to obtain any certification other than manual laborer. "Why didn’t I keep my mouth shut?" he asked the morning stillness. In a tree behind him, a mockingbird began to sing its ageless song, and as if in answer, the forest below began to twitter and chirp with the voices of other birds, greeting the new day.

    No, what he had said had been the truth and nothing could change that. The State was wrong. It was evil. It was unnatural for men to be slaves of their government, always skulking, always holding their tongues lest they anger The State. But there is no "State," Thomas considered. There are only evil men, holding power over other men. And anyone who speaks out , who dares to challenge that power, is crushed.
    If only there was a way to fight back!

    Thomas shifted on the stone, hanging his feet off the downhill side. His feet had almost touched the grass that day, but now, although his legs were certainly longer, it was at least ten inches to the scarred rock surface below. As he kicked his heels back and forth, he could almost hear his grandfather speaking to him from long ago…

    "One day, America will come to her senses. Our men will need those guns and they’ll be ready. We cleaned them and sealed them up good; they’ll last for years. Maybe it won’t be in your lifetime, Thomas. Maybe one day you’ll be sitting here with your son or grandson. Tell him about me, boy. Tell him about the way I said America used to be.

    "You see the way this stone points?" the old man was saying. "You follow that line one hundred feet…" Thomas’ heels were suddenly still. For many minutes he did not move, playing those words over and over in his mind. "…Follow that line…"

    What hidden place in his brain had concealed those words all of these
    years? How could the threats have failed to dislodge it? He stood upon shaky legs and climbed down from Coffin Rock. In his mind’s eye, he could see the old man pointing and he walked down the hill and through a clinging briar patch, counting off the paces. The round stone did seem solidly buried, but he scratched around near the base and found that the rock ended just an inch or so beneath the surface. "One man with a good bar can lift it," Grandfather had said. Thomas forced his fingers beneath the stone and, with all the strength in his 21-year-old body, he lifted. The stone came up, and he slid it off to one side. Cool air drifted up from the dark opening in the mountain. Thomas looked to the right where the scars of the State’s frustration ended, only 15 or 20 feet away. They had been that close.

    He squatted and stared into the darkness and then remembered his flashlight. In a moment, he was back with it, probing into the darkness with the yellow beam. There was a small patch of moisture just inside, but then the tunnel climbed upwards toward the ridge. On hands and knees, he entered.

    It was uncomfortably close for the first 20 feet or so, then the cavern opened up around him. The men who had built this place, he saw, had taken a natural crevice in the granite rock, sealed it with masses of poured concrete, and then covered it with earth. The main chamber was bigger than the living room of a house, and they had left an opening up near the peak of the vaulted roof where fresh air and a faint, filtered light entered.

    Wooden boxes and crates were stacked everywhere on concrete blocks, up off of the floor, stenciled with legends like, RIFLE, CAL. 30 M1, 9MM PARA., M193 BALL, 7.62 x 39MM, and 5.56MM. He pushed between them and crawled to the wall where he found cardboard boxes wrapped with plastic sheeting. They were imprinted with strange names like CCI, OLIN, WW748, BULLSEYE, and RL 550B. He did not know what the crates and boxes contained, and was afraid to break the seals, but near the center of the room he found a plastic-wrapped carton labeled, OPEN THIS FIRST. With his penknife, he slit the heavy plastic wrapping.

    It contained books, he saw with some disappointment. But he studied the titles and found that they were manuals on weapons and how to repair them, how to clean them, how to fire them, and ammunition…how to store it, and how to reload it. And here was something unusual: A History of the United States. He lifted it from the carton and crawled back to the open air. Leaning against a stone, he tore open the heavy vinyl bag that enclosed the book and began to read at random, flipping the pages every few moments. On each page, something new met his eye, contradicting everything he had ever been taught.

    Freedom is not won, he learned, by proud words and declarations. He remembered a quotation taught at the University: "Blood alone moves the wheels of history." An Italian dictator named Mussolini had said that, but now he read of a man named Patrick Henry who said, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." Mao was required reading at the University, too, and he now recalled that this man called a hero by the State had once said, "Political power comes out of the barrel of a gun."

    Freedom is never granted, it is won. Won by men who are willing to die, willing to lose everything so that others may have the greatest possession of all: liberty.

    Mentally, he began to list those he could trust. Men who had been arrested for speaking out. Women whose husbands had been arrested and never returned. Friends who had been denied certification because of their fathers’ military records. The countryside seethed with anger and frustration. These were people who longed to be free, but who had no means to resist…until now.

    Thomas laid the book aside and then worked the stone back into position, carefully placing leaves and moss around the base to hide any evidence that it had been disturbed. He tucked the book under his arm and started for home with the rays of the rising sun warming his back. He imagined his grandfather’s touch in the heat. A forgiving touch.

    A long, hard struggle was coming, and he knew with a certainty that defied explanation that he would not live to see the day America would once again be free. His blood, and that of many patriots and tyrants would be spilled, but perhaps America’s tree of Liberty would live and flourish again.
    There is a long line stretching through the history of this world: a line of those who valued freedom more than their lives. Thomas Adams now took his place at the end of that column as he determined that he would have liberty, or death. He would be in good company.
     
    kellory, Pezz, mwatson and 5 others like this.
  3. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Link to MORE by same Author

    Here is a link to more from the Author of the Coffin Rock stories

    Raymond K. Paden has other short stories and even novels on his website. Novels
     
  4. groovy mike

    groovy mike Immortal

    New readers - be sure that you read BOTH parts!
    If you stop after the first part it will just tick you off all day.

    You MUST read part two!
     
  5. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Moderator Moderator Founding Member

    Ya, the first part has a "nice" twist in it. Second part is better, but my blood pressure was still a bit high after reading it!
     
  6. groovy mike

    groovy mike Immortal

    don't forget to read the sequel "sunrise at coffin rock" too!
     
  7. andy

    andy Monkey+++

    great read thanks...
     
  8. Pauly Walnuts

    Pauly Walnuts Monkey++

    LOL, I was pissed and wanted to shoot the little bastard!
     
  9. TheGoodWife

    TheGoodWife Monkey++

    Russian kids were brainwashed to inform on their parents, too.

    Face it, if your neighbor has a gun pointed at his head, or the head of his wife or son, he'll inform on you unless he also wants to be a free man.
     
  10. The Expendable

    The Expendable Bread and Circus Master


    Oh c'mon... that could never happen here... :rolleyes:
     
  11. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    BUMP

    Edited, and streamline and chopped a ton of atta boy posts out of this thread. This allowed me to put the first three posts together for everyone to easily find. I hope you all approve.
    .
    post one.... Sundown at Coffin Rock
    post two.... Sunrise at Coffin Rock
    post three.... Link to this Authors other novels and short stories.
     
  12. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Moderator Moderator Founding Member

    bump for some of the new people.
     
  13. beast

    beast backwoodsman

    nice read, thanks
     
  14. Yoldering

    Yoldering Monkey+

    WOW! Thanks for the bump! Really glad I read the second one!
     
  15. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Moderator Moderator Founding Member

    Bumping this great story for all the new Monkey's!![flag]
     
  16. oldawg

    oldawg Monkey+++

    Time for another bump.
     
  17. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    I find no story, and no links to stories. :(
     
  18. ghrit

    ghrit Old, mean, and nasty Administrator Founding Member

    The first post is the whole thing ---
     
  19. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    I saw the listing at the top of this page, where it looks as there should be a link to the story sections. (didn't see this thread had a previous page)
     
  20. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    I liked it. It should one of dozens of minor stories, of similar bent, leading to a major book.
     
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