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Ed Matlack

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Surviving an American Gulag
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In the days before Don't Ask! Don't Tell, the military had a way to marginalize undesirables. Welcome to the Gulag...  
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It was snowin' & blowin'
By Ed Matlack
Friday, July 15, 2011

Rated "G" by the Author.

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As well it was late at night. The snow & wind blew with a fright. I was in my little 25 footer; an Arctic Fox trailer trying to keep warm. My dog was with me keeping me company & my bed warm. The wind shook the trailer; even with it hooked to my ¾ ton truck for towing. We were parked in a rest area in the Rocky Mountains. Couldn’t go forward, nor back, as the snow was too intense & the roads were covered with at least 2 feet of fresh snow. Plenty of food & propane we had, at least for a week or two, if necessary. We would have to tough it out till the snowplows arrived. This storm was predicted to continue for several days. We will live day by day. After all there was a rest building with bathrooms & a snack machine. But we may not have been the only two braving that spot on top of that mountain that late night.


The winds did blow and make sounds like screams most shrill. The dog’s ears were up, there was something else out there in the night, he knew. I was just watching TV; I had satellite & generator power. The noises he heard were scary, like the howls of creatures long dead. Even he showed trepidation, but he was there to protect me & for that I loved him even more than ever.


Suffice it to say, I was NOT going out in the dark if I could help it.  I could open the door for him to go out and do his business, coming back barking for me to open the door to let him in. Even he did not want to venture out that first night, so we stayed behind a locked door with the windows shut tight. The heater ran off & on and we felt relatively secure.


The camper then shook.  But this was no gust of wind. This was a planned shake. It then shook again & again, with the sound of grunting from the outside. It was as if someone or something was trying to move us sideways. The camper held firm, but she shook a great deal. This continued for about 15 minutes as we huddled together in fright. Then came that old “fight or flight” response & I did the only thing I knew how. I cranked up Jimi Hendrix’s song Machine Gun on the outside weatherproof speakers. Blasting whatever was out there with sound!


I kept it cranking for a full five minutes as the shaking stopped almost immediately anyway. Daring to look out a window, I saw “something” run away into the dark, so on I turned my “scare” lights as well. They seemed to totally do the trick, as whatever it was ran even faster, never to return, that night.


Of course there were no tracks the next morning as the heavy snow took care of that. But on the front side of my fiberglass camper were scratch marks; pretty darn deep too. Like something was digging into the fiberglass to gain entry, to get at us, for what reason I know not. Later when I told the state police and showed them the marks, they nixed it as some kind of bear, though what kind of bear is even awake in the middle of winter, I thought they all hibernated…?


Is this fiction? Well, let me just say I will never just stop at a roadside rest in the dead of winter, especially on top of a mountain in the far north of this country in a snow storm. Maybe just a nice Holiday Inn or Best Western next time, with a room as high as I can get from ground level…


© ed ~ 7/15/11

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Reviewed by Lark Pogue 4/20/2013
Well, I in my weirdness, loved this. I love campers and you can keep the Holiday Inn! Good story.
Reviewed by Phyllis Jean Green 4/23/2012
Brrrrrrrrr!! Thanks for freezin' my, er, ah, let's just say I am
having a hard time not slidin' outta my chair. Fingers are icicles, 'cet, yata, 'cet.

As for whether it is fiction, hmmmm. Call it flash or sudden fiction or a long prose poem? Friction?? Don' matter. Got thrills 'n' chills & you end up safe and sound. Determined to stay that way!

Bears came within an inch of a tent we pitched in the Smokies...eeeyiiiikes!! Ray and I hunkered down in the sleepingbag, praying our hearts wouldn't stop. Not a fun time.

I vote for central heat and a picture-postcard view.

Livin' t'tell!!

Keep writing !!!

xOx Phyllis xOx
Reviewed by John Coppolella 3/15/2012
Two to tango to life and death, cold outside, hmm... warm inside? The brain of the beast reckoned with the camper and strange beasts inside. May be another time and the strangers in the travel trailer would be co-habituated between the beast outside and the dog/human beasts inside. Maybe you could offer a nice pic-a-nic basket to Yogi and boo boo instead of being the pic-a-nic! Provocative and well written. Super stuff, Ed.

Reviewed by Tom Hyland 7/16/2011


Reviewed by J Howard 7/16/2011
funny and elusive...what hunted and haunted you and your canine companion-one will never know!
loved it,
Reviewed by Rose Rideout 7/16/2011
This is great Ed maybe you should ofeer us more.

Newfie Hugs, Rose
Reviewed by Jerry Bolton 7/16/2011
Strange things go bump and rock trailer during blizzards. You should've just opened the door, poor things just wanted to get worm. Nice story, Ed.
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 7/16/2011
Great to see you posting stories, Ed; I LOVE how you write! Excellent tale, and the ending is cute! LOL You got me, Ed! LOL

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Texas, Karen Lynn. :D
Reviewed by Mr. Ed 7/16/2011
Poor little stray kitty cat, looking for a little warmth and food and kindness. I sure hope you open the door next time and let him in.

PS: If someone scratches on your door in the middle of the night at the Holiday Inn, don't open it unless you have plenty of beer you're willing to part with.

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