The smell of the spruce had ignited crazy dreams all night long. They weren’t memories though. I knew because the dream-forest was more climactic than any I’d ever seen. Spruce trees, three hundred feet tall and ten feet across at the base, rested on a bed of humus so thick I nearly sank. Laurels dense enough to confound a team of trackers kept intruders at arm’s length. The laurel hell went off in all directions, like a green quilt. When I opened my eyes, I expected to be in the center of a large, primeval forest, the kind of place that died long before I was born, but the old green was gone.
Killed by axes and steam trains.
"Belsnicklers came to our farm every Christmas, dressed in sackcloth with coal dust all over their faces. Scary sons of bitches. Us kids had to just stand there while they threw candy on the floor. If we fidgeted they whipped us with switches. I've even seen elder spring from the frozen ground on Old Christmas Eve—"
The remains of an old brick pump house sat between us and the mine. The old machine house looked rough, but it still had four walls and most of its roof. Red dog and ash from old coke ovens paved the yard all around it.
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