Chapter 01: An Innocuous Entry.

Imagine for a minute, a deep valley. On the hills surrounding the valley are small encampments. Sometimes remanants of trailers plopped down long ago, shantys cobbled together from reclaimed lumber, small logs chipped together as patchwork log cabins.

It was a bright and clear day down in the valley. The regulars had been preaching out by the corner store and enjoying the sunny afternoon with their homebrewed malt liquor and body-modification pamphleteering (I’m pretty sure thats a word). The morning had been quiet and dry and it seemed like most of the valley residents were content to just pretend that they were sleeping in, rather than just doing the morning malt-liquor drag that they start in the early hours. Before the sun really starts cooking in mid-morning.

The valley wasn’t always like this. It used to be a respectable place, a place where couples would go and spread out picnic blankets and listen to the grasshoppers screech in the distance. It was a comely valley, springs choked it with scotchbroom, which grew brittle through the summer and into dead husks by fall. In the days when there were residents, you’d see the shacks circling the valley pumping out small plumes of smoke and the residents trawling down to clear a path in. When cleared, the local community would do some hokey farm shit and hawk the runts of their less successful crops to the neighboring folks.

Times had been hard on recent years, though. The scotchbroom stalks had hardened and fostered a thistly underbrush under the heavy bark. With the years of neglect, the surrounding shanties all but abandoned and the valley became an unimpenetrable mishmash of undergrowth, overgrowth, weeds, and vines. The fertile grounds providing ample root to each parasitic plant.

And as the valley filled, and the responsible, social folk gave up and moved back down the hill to the town, lets call it Narcolepsy (im sure i’ll run that fucker into the ground later), the unoccupied trailers decayed through seasons and shacks collapsed to wet lumber and then to mulch. The remaining camps became more reclusive and shunned the local town as well as each other. In time, the number and locations of the remaining installations were forgotten, and presumed dead, save for the occasional stray report of wildfolk in the hills past the woods.

The reality is that the hill folk were largely hermits, but there were a few families that grew to settlements, and through a few hard winters had learned a small-scale self-sufficiency. The hermits remained, occasionally one would pass or an outcast from the town or local settlement would try to reclaim an old spot.

The exception to this was the south ridge. At least, geographically speaking. The south ridge was a large rectangular plateu. While the rest of the ridge faded gradually, and could support a hermit, a shack, a log-chopping stump, a small family of pigs and a still every few hectares, it was not flat enough for easy construction or parking. The south ridge, however, was a haven to transient travellers.

The Compound was a small settlement along the south ridge of the Valley. Its beginnings were as much coincidence as proximity: in the early stages of uninhabitability, two neighboring family farms found themselves quickly isolated in the early abandonments, having mostly been surrounded by seasonal trailers. In the slow winters, they soon found that they were better to trade with each other, than the dwindling vacationing hillfolk. Capitalizing on the slow decay, they reclaimed trailers and materials from dilapidated settlements, and in doing so, closed off the landmarks any returning transients might find.

The transients were people who had heard of the south ridge, and would show in the seasonable winter months. No one was sure if they were from the town, or hermits from some other godforsaken place, but they came. In the prosperous years, there were tourists who brought RV’s, and permanent trailers. As the years wore on, visiting hill folk would squat the small trailers. They would slowly camp closer to the prey, watching and waiting for any motion or sign of a perennial return. At first the squatting was inconspicuous, trying to leave no trace in case the weather or situation changed. In case the actual owners showed up.

Over the seasons, the compound grew and stabilized. Reclaimed trailers were grouped together, and salvaged lumber used to build communal areas. The remaining hermits found the compound useful as a trading post and gradually moved closer. As the outer encampments became more reclaimed or abandoned, any paths to the rest of the ridge or the town soon became forgotten. The trailers spawned against the ridge, prime real estate.

The trailers were hardly luxury. They were called trailers because at one time, you could attach them to a truck and drag them trailing along. They were slightly wider than the width of a large car, and just a little bit longer. In the prosperous days, the faux bourgeouis would have a trailer installed as a summer time, to say they had a vacation home. Generally, the trailers had two double sized bunkbeds, a card table, a propane stove and oven, and a small chemical toilet.

In a semi-ironic configuration problem, the trailer toilets were almost always built to the minimum size to fill the requirement of having a toilet, but to minimize the size of the “toilet footprint”, meaning tha the chemical toilets were built for, and had the capacity for, a single obese chimpanzee. As a result, the south ridge had a few “sanitation” points studded with larger public chemical toilets, and the less than transient residents found that the toilets could easily be drained and provide the most utility if they flanked the trailers along the ridge.

The trailers WCs worked, certainly. But the trailers that counted faced the ridge and they flushed directly into the Valley. They were really convenience, mostly used to flush corn husks and chicken feet. They certainly filled their primary function, as well. The ridge, unlike a lake, never washed the stains away, and the pathways to the valley became stained with the waste of sheltered humanity.