Trebone Bartholomew’s Field Notebook
Today’s the day we leave for the forest. Before that happens, I wanted to write down what I’ve learnt about the bugmen so far:
Unlike the original manuscript, the statue in the village show that the bugmen have a physique similar to the average man. However, the size of the statue here also shows that the bugmen have a height close to the description written in the text, with a height of around 7½ to 8 feet. Besides being exceptionally lean, the bugmen also have another astonishing feature set; They have three sets of trapezoidal wings, with the two small pairs on the forearms and the sides of the calves, and the larger pair starting at the shoulder blades and hanging down to the mid thigh.
Other than these details, the statue only managed to leave us with questions, The face of the statue, for one, had been defiled beyond any possible recognition by the villagers. When asking the guide who led us here, Tito, all I got was a dark face and a cryptic response, “Don’t ask the villagers … they become wary of the forest when winter comes.”
Not answering my question, I returned to the statue to ponder, before realizing the most daring of questions, one that sat right in front of me the entire time.
Why did the people erect a statue of a bugman in the first place?
Thinking about this, an even more serious question came up.
And why did the villagers defile its face, but not destroy the statue itself?
Trebone put his pen down and squeezed his temples, feeling a wave of pain.
I guess I had one too many corn beers yesterday night.
One too many was an understatement. Trebone vaguely remembered the events of the night, except for the large amounts of dancing, and Tito having to carry him home over his back.
Trebone looked over to the empty bedsheet to his right. Tito must’ve left early that morning, before he had woken up. Tito had been a good companion on the trip, and he and Trebone had shared many good memories on the road. His company would be sorely missed. But …
Tito is just walking his own path, the same way I am now.
With that passing moment of appreciation, Trebone found the energy to overcome his hangover and face a new day of adventure.
Dropping his notebook and pen, Trebone ripped off his bedsheets and jumped up. He went outside, leaving the warm interior of his leather tent and facing the cold morning air.
Working his way around the tents, Trebone made his way over to the edge of the plateau. He made his way down, carefully side stepping the slope down to where two scientists were, facing a gray box.
Hansen and Placida were busy logging data.
“Why are we getting different moisture levels? This would be small enough to kill us.”
Placida contemplated the problem, before looking to Hansen. “Any ideas?”
Hansen stared at the information, rubbing his chin. “There has to be something wrong here. I know it.”
Trebone, seeing the conversation play out as he descended, planned something to lift the group's dreary spirits. Aiming at Placida, he started off by asking innocently, “Whatcha guys up to?”
Placida kept staring at her readings, dutifully logging them into her lab notebook.
Hansen glanced Trebone for a second, then to Placida, then back to Trebone.
Trebone feeling the silence, scratched his collar and looked down, asking again in a small, steady voice. “So … what are you guys working right now?”
He looked to Hansen, hopeful for an answer.
Hansen looked to Placida. She was glued to her notebook. Hansen looked back to Trebone, and reluctantly answered. “We’re checking the air density for anomalies … the data isn’t matching common sense.”
“Oh.” Trebone responded punctually, already knowing the answer to his question. Somehow, his joke seemed a lot less funny now.
The group stood in silence, everyone staring down, away from each others’ eyes.
Abruptly, Placida shut her notebook. Still looking at the ground, she said, “I’m going to the edge to sort out this data … and my thoughts.”
Placida nearly whispered the second part, and Trebone wouldn’t have picked up on it, if it wasn’t so silent and there was something else to listen to.
Placida started her walk to the edge, crossing past the machinery and cutting through Trebone’s direction, before going through the center of the plateau. Once she disappeared between the tents, Hansen signaled Trebone to come out.
“Come here.” Hansen’s voice was surprisingly strong, after his prior reluctance to speak with Placida around.
Trebone walked over, still quiet from before.
“Hey … are you okay?” Hansen asked, his eyes on Trebone’s.
Seeing the worry in Hansen’s eyes, Trebone decided to shake himself out of his quiet rut.
“Yeah. I’m good.” he replied, with his typical and charming grin. Even with his best effort, Trebone couldn’t shake his discomfort.
“Man. I didn’t think things would be like this without Tito.”
With a sigh, Hansen put a hand on his shoulder and looked him straight in the eye. “This isn’t about Tito, Trebone. You messed up yesterday.”