This is the final version of Chapter 3 of my new novel, The Prisoner' Dilemma
The morning was still cool as the four left their campsite by Lilly Pond. The trail followed a rippling stream that wound through tall pines that smelled fresh in the morning dampness.
For about one-half mile they passed along the miniature rivulet. The water swirled over small rocks and pebbles and was so clear that one could see polished pebbles on the bed of the stream. The morning sun shining through open areas in the tall pines shimmered and reflected sparkling shadows and created rainbows in the misty air.
Michaels shifted his daypack as the trail led into a clearing. “Guys,” he said to the boys, “this water is so clean we could drink from it.” They sat on a fallen log and all took a swig of water.
“Nothing like cold, fresh, mountain water,” said Dryer.
“I can’t wait ‘til we get to Twin Ponds. We’ll go swimming and have a picnic lunch,” said George. “Dad, why do they call them ponds when they’re big enough to be lakes?”
“That’s what they say here in Maine. You could have a lake ten miles long and they would still call it a pond,” answered Tom.
After a short rest, they continued up the trail until they reached a high meadow bathed in red and purple wildflowers and surrounded by tall pines and maples. Insects flitted back and forth among the wildflowers. The trail continued across the meadow following the winding stream. By now the sun was warming the air and the four began to sweat. Sean and George pulled off their sweaters and stuffed them in their daypacks.
On the other side of the meadows the trail re-entered the woods and became steeper. In the coolness of the shade, the men and boys took a short break. All refilled their water bottles from the stream. Dryer took a long swig and spat it out. “Something’s wrong with this water? It tastes bitter!”
The others did the same and had the same reaction. “It’s never tasted like this before,” said Michaels.
They followed the trail over some fallen rocks for another half mile. “Up ahead in about three-quarters of a mile, we’ll come into another meadow just before we reach Twin Ponds. If I remember correctly, there will be another couple of scrambles after that and then we reach our destination.”
“Dad, what’s that noise ahead?” asked Sean.
They listened and could hear a series of sluggish retorts carrying across the hills. Suddenly a loud blast that ripped through the air like thunder and rolled over them like a steamroller.
They practically ran up the trail. They came to the final curve before the meadow and saw several men operating construction equipment.
Rounding the final bend of the trail, they were stopped short by a chain-link fence. Behind the fence were several bulldozers and concrete mixers. The men were laying foundations for several buildings.
There was a collective gasp of horror from all. “What the hell is going on?” asked Dryer.
“Look over here,” said Michaels. He pointed to a sign on the fence that read:
Coming soon to the shores of Twin Ponds—High Mountains Resorts:
Golfing, fishing, hunting
A condominium development by Mighty Meadows Development of Seattle, WA
Prices starting at $850,000.
A man in a security jeep drove over to them. “Can I help you?” he asked.
“Well, yes, we were trying to get up to Twin Ponds,” Michaels said.
“This trail is closed. Mighty Meadows bought up the property from the former owner. This is private property now.”
“But there has always been public access to the Ponds. Most owners, at least in Maine, traditionally allow people access to the lakes,” said Dryer.
“Not any more. They’re making property available for people to buy retirement and vacation homes. The new owners won’t want strangers trampling across their property. They’re even putting in a private access road on the other side of the mountain.”
“So we can’t hike through to Twin Ponds?” asked Michaels.
“I’m afraid not. You’ll have to leave.”