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The Whispering Caves

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Chapter 1

_Chapter 1_

Fover looked up at the clouds rolling in as he made his way down the narrow lane to the old house. Nothing had changed in this old place since he had first set foot off of it as a young man. He came back now returning as a man, although in what state he wasn’t entirely sure.

He had needed to escape from his life he had built up. His mind only briefly touched the subject, and then it turned in the other direction and ran.

Bottomdown Road, where he found his grandfather’s old home. As he drove up and slowly ground to a halt, he stopped his old Bronco. As it turned off, his mind tried to recall the last time he had seen his father either.

It may have been the greater distance of five years that had passed. Fover needed a break so badly; he hadn’t even told anyone that he was leaving. He left in the middle of the night, and just took a few bags with him. He didn’t need much.

Thanks to his previous investments, Fover had accomplished healthy financial independence so his home back there had been paid for, in cash. No one needed to bother with him anymore; he had ceased contact with most friends since Emmeline’s end five years ago.

Again a flashback pushed into his memory. A pair of eyes, striking blue eyes, and they belonged to her. He closed his eyes trying to forget it all again, for what felt like the millionth time, and just that day, not to mention all the others.

The overhangs of the porch loomed out and almost glared at Fover as he got out of the car. He hadn’t felt connected at all to his grandfather, in fact as far as he knew his parents had been somewhat estranged from one another. As to why, he wasn’t sure. Something about an inheritance that his parents didn’t want him to have any part of. He figured it had been about poor taste in Vinyl records, not great family secrets.

Fover wiped his brow slowly. The effort it even took to express how tired he was, well, he felt too tired for even that. He had been at his desk for....oh how long had it been? He studied the clock; twelve hours he had been sitting in his small corner desk, with room for a phone, a headset, and a notepad. Sluggishly he got up from his chair, rubbed his sore back. His heart felt heavier than his body tonight. His misplaced melancholy didn’t make a whole lot of sense to him, but he had stopped trying to identify anything in himself awhile ago.

The morning sun was peeking in through the front windows, which helped encourage him to get to his Bronco. He hadn’t meant to work tonight, but since recent times had stressed the average civilian more, it was harder to find enough staffing, especially for more, high anxiety situations like his career.

As much as he felt he capable with the extra emotional capacity, he tried to say yes to the extra shifts. It was not easy on his heart though; not every phone call or plea ended in the way someone would generally hope it might. Sometimes not every story had a happy ending, and he had stopped writing them in his head since he had seen so many unhappy endings.

The turnout of many of these situations wasn’t like people often expected after seeing the neatly wrapped happy endings portrayed on Hallmark. It often ended in someone giving it their best, and still losing. His heart sighed against heavy news, and he tried to shake it off. After all, if he let this sit like an elephant on him every day, then he wouldn’t get much done.

His truck picked up speed while he got on the local highway. He was looking forward to getting home and lifting his spirits with a hot shower and a strong smoke and a drink. He chided himself for thinking of both; but he was more human some days than others. Thankfully, especially after working the extra night shift, he was afforded at least two days off before returning to take up the good work again.

Time for his heart to wash off all that weariness and wallowing; time to celebrate his quiet life with his cat, Miko. Miko had also been a rescue cat from a local shelter; Fover had felt misplaced in New York so he figured he would provide a home for a misplaced character like himself. Miko was a small tabby cat, and she loved French fries.

Almost precisely a half an hour later, Fover made it home, and pushed open the door with a hefty shove.

“Miko! I’m home!” He announced himself, as if the feline cared for his arrival, or had much noticed his departure. Still, the human in him wanted to feel acknowledged; at least someone was here waiting for him, even if that someone was only little Miko. At least someone alive wanted to be in his life too; even if that standard was only for food at the moment. It would suffice; baby steps into broken emotional intimacy.

Miko trotted down the second floor stairs and Fover gave him a pet. Honestly, the cat had an automatic food dispenser, so there really wasn’t much need for Fover other than to keep supplying sacrificial kitty kernels.

All of a sudden his pocket vibrated. Fover’s phone received an incoming call, from likely “Spam”, as the basic Caller ID software on his phone indicated. He sighed heavily, no, he definitely didn’t want to tell this spammer for the billionth damn time that they needed to take a long hike and never come back. He had no more words. Instead, he tossed his phone on the entry way table top, agreeing to himself to forget it for the time being and get to that hot shower.

Later that morning he finally recalled his phone again; he finally felt like getting something to eat and it definitely wasn’t going to be anything he cooked or drove to get.

But then again, he saw not only the first missed call from earlier, but also a second missed call. Now he felt like something might be up; it was the middle of the morning on a Tuesday, no spammer had any reason to harass him for more than once today.

Then he saw a voicemail had been left. That hot shower seemed further and further away already, even though he had only gotten out of it not an hour prior. The training in him soothed his nerves, he knew to stay calm and steady in any case, no matter what walls may appear to be in front of him. Although he suspected it to be a dud, and almost got distracted by the food app before he got anything else done.

Sitting down, he looked at the cell phone. The voicemail was only a short five minutes or less. It couldn’t be terrifically horrible if it was so brief.

The voicemail quickly didn’t sound to be fraud, but instead it was a middle-aged woman, whom he had never met before or heard of previously. It turned out that she worked with, or for, his grandfather. His mind briefly leafed through what information it had on his grandfather, and it came up with not much.

He knew that his grandfather was his mother’s father and had amassed great wealth during his life. His retirement had been comfortable that from what he understood; what could he possibly have to do with his grandfather? He hadn’t met his elderly grandparent since he was a young man before he left for school. That was a long time ago, and he was a different person then.

His focus came back to the phone as Miko startled him with a nudge against his leg. Like any urgent situation, he may as well get on with it. The seconds seemed to resume, and he took in the rest of what she had to say.

Her name was Reece. “Hi there, I’m looking for Fover Toldoe. I’m calling on behalf of my employer, your grandfather Felix Toldoe Sr. Unfortunately he has passed away last night.”

Fover paused the message (visual voicemail), and just leaned back into the seat. While he hadn’t been very close to Felix Sr., he also hadn’t expected that. For all the training he was prepared with to encounter the unexpected, it failed him unusually now in his personal circumstance. He pressed play again.

“We found him in his bedroom, and he’s currently at the local morgue being processed and cared for. I am sorry for your loss. In light of his passing, his legal team has began processing the Tucanan estate. Tucanan was the family that Fover came from. His Will has been read, and he left everything to you. While your grandfather possessed a fortune, his display of wealth was not an exurbanite one. He bought a beautiful cabin out in the Montanan wilderness. He deeply enjoyed his solitude so its 30 acres altogether; 5 for the home itself and 25 for private forest and mountain use. Since your mother was his only child, and she...” He could tell she paused ever so slightly here... “she passed away some years ago, that leaves you as the sole living heir to the estate. Everything he owns, including his financial resources, but also his land and home, goes to you now.

I had the keys, there’s only one set. I worked for Felix helping him keep everything in order since he was quite on in age. I would love to meet you in person to exchange the keys and give you the general access codes you’ll need to get on and off the property. Well, that’s a lot I’m sure. Take your time, and give me a call back when you feel able; I’ll follow up next week if I don’t hear back from you then. Cheers.”

With a short click that concluded the message. Fover tried to take that all in. He couldn’t quite take it all in very well. He was sitting down, but he felt like he wanted to sit down some more, and a little longer.

He had honestly accrued a nearly ridiculous amount of Paid Time Off at his work since he hardly ever took time off; after all who did he have to see? On a side note, even amidst the crazy revelation a few minutes ago, he had room to consider that it was very difficult to possibly meet anyone dateable, from a small, corner desk. Not to mention his line of work didn’t make him feel spectacularly energized after work. It was stressful, and so far he had only really felt that his feline Miko was the only one to understand.

Back to taking it in; more than sorrow, he felt, sad...for his grandfather, but not greatly out of a sense of loss. He did encounter death and less than perfect endings on a daily basis, where most people encounter them only a handful of times in their life. He felt curiosity too. He hadn’t planned on taking a rugged, mountain vacation.... but when life put a plate in front of him he felt like digging in.

It felt like a good time for a change. He was currently living and working in New York, on the edge of the world. He could tell at least this much was related between him and his grandsire; he also liked generally staying away from people and also having his seclusion. Fover reflected that he liked the solitude because it leant him quiet space to think. Why did his grandpa like the solitude he wondered?


A mere 14 hours later, Fover was on a flight to Billings. He had never particularly sought out Montana since he didn’t live anywhere near there. But it was worth a try, to go and at least explore a little. Adventure awaited. At least business matters to attend to awaited. The plane ride was the usual mostly fine day with a few annoying moments thrown in just to make sure his travel was seasoned with disgruntlement.

At least it came with free snacks, he thought. He had packed lightly, and quickly ran to REI, a local outdoor store, to grab some a waterproof jacket and hikers, since he found himself on the brink of the deep chilly season now in mid October. He had taken a whole month from work, which seemed plenty enough time to get there, decide what to do, and to get home.

After all, could he honestly see himself keeping the land and the cabin? To his understanding, it didn’t have any particular familial roots, rather Felix had purchased it during his later years, without any anticipation or clear inclination as to why. But he had lived there some 20 years with no bother to the outside world; it had never been of any consequence to Fover; he figured the older people get, the more they do as they please. Persistence and tenacity made stubborn keepers.

Now the question bothered him a touch more. Landing he found the rental cars rather quickly, and he was off to meet Reece. She had picked a nearby simple restaurant to talk at; the need to do business was certain, being uncomfortable was a choice. Indoors a few booths lined the walls, and it was adorned with quaint wall paintings of local alumni, of other town festivities like fall carnivals. Briefly Fover reflected he greatly missed the hometown feeling; a feeling of belonging to self and to a local community.

His attention shifted from the various old picture frames to a woman of medium height, with black hair tucked back in a messy bun. She certainly didn’t strike him as the scary lawyer type, more like the do-you-have-a-cup-of-sugar type. He also reflected it had been a lifetime since he’d met any woman who felt even remotely been interesting enough to take interest in; he wondered who she might be.

She stood up and stuck out a small and firm handshake in greeting. Fover returned her gesture. “You must be Fover,” she vaguely threw out there. “Your picture matches from the ones your grandfather, Felix, had.”

Fover was taken aback by the sentiment; before he could properly reply in greeting, instead he followed with: “He had pictures of me?”

The woman laughed. “You bet, he did. He spoke a lot about your younger days visiting him.” A smile crossed her face like she recalled something fond, but hidden from the outside world. Fover felt surprised at the sentimentality that was here in Montana, where he previously thought there was a total absence of any family bonds.

Fover didn’t recall visiting his grandfather, obviously in just the few short minutes that he had talked with Reece, he had more questions than he had arrived with. Why had he visited his grandfather? Why didn’t he remember? What was with all this land that nobody knows anything about? Fover struggled to fill in the gaps where the information was missing, but to his further dismay, nothing came forward. It was like opening a book with a title, publishing date, copyright…but no words. They hadn’t been spoken yet.

Back to the main question of keys at hand, she formally introduced herself. “I’m Reece, as you’ve probably already gathered. I’ve brought what we need to get started on your acceptance of your grandpa’s property.” As if on cue, she brought out a few huge keys that clanked on the table. They were big and brass, and made a heavy clank as they set themselves on the table.

Where did they lead? Where did they go? Interrupting and breaking his thoughts, Reece jumped in.

“There are only 3 keys to the property. One accesses the main door, another accesses an old large storage shed that is just housing some old equipment, and then lastly the final key accesses the attic, where he preferred to never share what was up there.”

She slid them across the table. He picked them up and felt such a weight in his hands. He clinked them as he picked them up, and he wondered what mysteries they might hold.

“So, what do you think you’ll do now? Move in, or sell it?” As she asked him about the choice, she also slid a stack of papers over to him. While he turned the question over in his mind, she continued. “These are just a few papers to sign to turn over the house and accounts to you. The accounts total in 4 million dollars U.S. dollars in value.”

Fover sat back in the booth; was any waitress going to ask if he would like coffee? As if on cue, the waitress came over and nodded at him with a coffee pot. “Would you like a cup honey?” He nodded back in agreement.

He took in all of the massive information and tried to take it all in, it felt somewhat like a firehose hitting him in the face, without the chance to breath. “I honestly don’t know yet; I never expected to be in a situation like this. I may sell it, because honestly, I have got my whole life back there.

“But I think I will stick around for a little while, take some time off. I have been working some really long hours as a 911 operator, and lately, oof, there’s not been a lot of wins. There has been a lot of grief coming as the holiday creeps closer. Makes me want to sleep off the next few months; wake me up when its June and sunny; time for margaritas on a beach somewhere. If I have the energy to drive to the beach.”

His tired eyes glanced down the coffee cup he was holding, more to hold to for warmth; instead of pushing himself through the morning haze with the flavorful caffeine.

He took a sip while he mulled things over. “I think at least I’ll get to know the place, and poke around a bit. After all, the Montana fresh air would be good for me. Clear a little bit of that mental junk. I’ve seen a lot of...endings lately in my time, it’d be nice to see a beginning.” What beginning will I have, Fover wondered silently to himself. What future did he really want? The question felt like a sleepy item lost at the back of a junk drawer in his thoughts. It had been there, and maybe even mattered, sometime ago. As of today, sitting across from Reece…. Fover did not feel like he had a good idea of what to do, where he should go. He had felt so lost and aimless after his almost-fiancé Emmeline had passed in front of him so grotesquely. The question hardly felt like it mattered again.

They sipped each of their coffees some more, for she had gotten one too, and eventually brought it to the simple point of signing that huge stack of paper with black ink. Unlike buying a house, this felt strangely liberating like having a free home instead. He penned the last signature and looked out the window towards what he hoped might be an interesting new future.

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