(Check in the category Light in the Woods for the first part of this story and the two previous pieces about this area)
The loggers arrived very early the next morning and lined up the bulldozers. As soon as the foreman, Scott, arrived and gave the word, the bulldozers began advancing on the woods. There was no more pretense of doing conservative forest management. The woods were to be leveled and then a housing development would be built on the old forest grounds.
Scott watched as the bulldozers approached the woods, thinking of all the money he was going to make off this job, when suddenly the bulldozers stopped. They hadn’t just stopped. Rather they had turned off their ignitions. What was going on, thought Scott as he walked over to the nearest driver.
“What are you doing? Why did you stop?” yelled Scott.
“I didn”t,” replied a very worried driver. “The bulldozer just stopped on its own.”
“Don’t be absurd,” shouted Scott. “Get moving, all of you!”
The drivers started up the engines again and if they went backwards away from the woods, the engines continued to work, but if they got within ten feet of any tree, the engines just stopped.
As Scott was trying to decide what to do, the Mayor arrived. Scott said, “What kind of funny business are you trying to pull here, Mayor?”
The Mayor looked puzzled. He had only lived in Swallow for a few years. He was using it as a stepping stone to bigger plans, both financially and politically, and while he had heard rumors about a light in this forest, a light that mysteriously helped out those in trouble, he didn’t believe any of it. When he had been approached by both a lumber company and a land developer, each wanting the woods to be taken down, well, it was just too good an opportunity to pass up.
That is when he took the advances from both companies and bribed the majority of the town council so he could railroad through his plans. It all seemed so simple. These people did not understand the ruthless business world. They lived in some sort of magical world. Most of them had been born in Swallow and the few newcomers either succumbed to the mystery of the place or they moved on. It was a golden opportunity for the Mayor. These people were too stupid to stop him, or so he had thought until this morning.
“I have no idea what is going on,” said the Mayor. “I know the townspeople believe in some mystical mumbo jumbo, but that isn’t real!”
Scott replied, “Real or not, something is stopping us. Unless you have some ideas, we are going to go elsewhere for our lumber and you will just have to give back the monies you were advanced.”
The Mayor began to panic! He couldn’t give back that money. He’d used it to bribe the town council members to support him and he’d also had to buy his wife a new wardrobe and a new car to keep her in this tiny town. He just wasn’t going to be stopped by some weird magic. He needed answers and he needed them now. Then he remembered that there was a new science teacher in town. Surely he would have a rational explanation for this. The Mayor decided to contact him right away.
“Listen, Scott,” answered the Mayor, “I am going to get answers for you. I just need a little time. Please, can you give me twenty-four hours?”
Scott thought for a minute, and then replied, “Ok, twenty-four hours, and no more of this namby-pamby soft sell to the townsfolk. No more talk of just thinning the woods. We are going in tomorrow morning and we are going to take all this wood and that is that. You agreed to that, and that is what you are being paid for, so it is all or nothing and if we don’t start felling trees tomorrow, you’d better be ready to return the $500,000 advance or things won’t go well for you at all.”
The Mayor looked very uncomfortable, but he nodded in agreement. Now he just had to find that science teacher–what was his name? Bill, that’s right, and he was not a native so he wouldn’t believe all this garbage and he was a scientist so he would have answers and the trees would then start falling tomorrow. The Mayor was sure that he could get Bill’s help, and if he had to bribe him too, well, then so be it! There was a fortune to be made here, not only from the lumber, but from all the cheap tract homes that would be built. Swallow might be a small town now, but its location just two hours away from Olympia made it a prime spot for cheap housing, and the Mayor planned on making a fortune from both the lumber and the housing. No one was going to stop him.
And with that, the Mayor went in search of Bill.
To be continued. . .