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  • Writer's pictureJ. S. Eiland

Old Oakes Quarry

This land bears a strange and foreboding tale. An apocalyptic feel. It reeks of death and decay, the smell borders on unbearable. The ground, made up of a porous dark stone, looks burnt and scorched as if a massive fire has stained the rock with leftover charcoal. There is nothing more than the occasional sagebrush and dried grass growing, though not over more than forty percent of the land could even be considered potable. The surrounding area is dotted with half dozen or so tiny pools of green stagnant water which are likely (or at least were likely) spring fed. However the rank smell of sulfur filling the air around these pools leads me to believe the latter. Surrounded by a few patches of large reeds fighting for the last bit of water they can have, these pools and their sparse vegetation must compete with the scorching sun as it dries the pools up rapidly, diminishing even more any chance of survival in this wasteland. Around the pools you can see the high-water stain showing just how much they’ve shrunk recently. The landscape in the distance is dotted with occasional larger trees though I doubt any of them even eclipse twenty feet in height. Little bits of foliage here and there create something akin to meadows, but the ground is hard and the grass prickly, not ideal for bedding down at all. I continue walking and scouring the horizon for some sign of safety or life.

Eventually I come upon hundreds of old, woody vines climbing over jagged rock outcroppings with scraggly pine trees clinging to what little life they have left in between the open crags. The sky holds a dark, ominous feel to it as the clouds roll by, covering this desolate, death sworn countryside in a welcoming layer of shade. Of course the respite is not a permanent one and in a matter of seconds the sun has burned through those clouds and has resumed its convection of the countryside and me along with it. Nothing stirs as I walk across the barren rock. No birds flutter to the air from surrounding bushes, no small rabbits nor snakes scurry across the ground to escape my path as I tread. Nothing but bugs, nature’s cleanup crews, float around from plant to plant attempting to harvest what little they can, in what can only be described as a meagre attempt at life in an uncontrollable ecosystem.

I am filled with feelings of deep, dark, and distant dread. Nothing current. Nothing immediate. But something from a past life perhaps, or a distant future some time yet to come when this land will be put to the test and evil brought down upon it in its already weakened state. What life does remain will be snuffed out. The whole area ground to dust just as this black limestone that I tread upon breaks up under the weight of my stride. One cannot know when this war will happen but deep inside me, I can feel that it's coming. The land seems to speak to me, seems to tell me what it wants me to know. Shows me its secrets. Informs me of its past. Prejudices me against its future. Its past and its future both call to me and shoo me away at the same time. Eager to share what they know, but wary of outsiders who may bring with them more evil to add to the dread looming over this land. The knowledge that is gained through this same fearful feeling also shows me that I may become enshrouded in its darkness if I am not careful. A prisoner in itself, it has become a malignant tumor and taken over. But so desolate is this land that the tumor is being destroyed from the inside out by itself.

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