This evening’s post is a passage from my novel,In The Forest Of The Night. It is a description of a state trooper (who is investigating a murder) driving from the rural coalfields of southern West Virginia to the State Capital. It’s not meant to give you much of the story – you’ve got to buy the book for that (link to Amazon page in right margin) – but it is posted here to give you glimpse of the writing in the book. I hope you enjoy.
He drove north along the four-lane, through the long shadows the mountains cast west in the rising sun. As he neared the mountaintops, he passed between the highwalls of terraced sandstone, stair-steps each thirty feet high and eight feet deep, slanting and terracing away from the bed of the highway and up to the ridges. The pitched planes of stone were marked top to bottom at regular intervals with perfect vertical grooves, the remnants of drill-holes where charges had been sunk and tamped and exploded in precise order and measure as the road crews had brought the mountains low and, with the stuff of those mountains, exalted the valleys.
He was doing eighty-five in the cruiser with no other car in sight, the only sound the white noise of the engine and the almost regular bleat of the tires over the seams in the pavement. Twenty miles from Charleston he crossed over a ridge; the valley ahead was pasture bounded north and south by mountainsides that were cleared halfway up and fenced. A herd of white-faced cattle dotted the valley to his left and on the far mountainside.
Varner saw a flicker of light on the tree-line of the far mountainside. He could not tell what had caused the glimmer, or whether it was just his imagination. Then, just below that tree-line a hawk soared. Everywhere in the valley was the silence of its flight. It glided to the east in a line so true as to prove its total independence from the earth, and that it drew no bearing from its shadows of turning nor from any fallen and imperfect thing. It was so distant as to be barely perceptible to Varner. He squinted and dropped his foot from the gas and the hawk seemed stationary in the air and all that moved was the earth and the things of man and the things that will perish and the earth moved on its axis and the cruiser coasted north and all things moved away until the hawk was nothing to them but a shimmer in the sunlight.