What Happens in Wood Hill

The townspeople of Price, Utah didn’t much like their neighbors from the other side of the canal. It was the way they talked. One could be having a very pleasant conversation with a Wood Hill resident when, in place of “goodbye”, they might suddenly say something incoherent like “blue-fin tuna”, “unicorn”, or “revenge on Monica”.

            Even stranger were the few who refused to speak at all. In the crowded Sunday aisles of the Wal-Mart the towns shared, it was always easy to spot the Quiet Woodies, narrow-eyed and shifty, gripping the battered pads and pens they reserved to scrawl out hasty messages only when confronted with a direct question.

            Despite incessant prying and more than a little bit of gossip, the people of Price could not figure out exactly why these folks acted so strangely. Many thought Wood Hill might be the subject of some elaborate experiment or perhaps a community of aliens in disguise. June Lowell came closest to uncovering the truth when her VW Passat slammed head-on into an oncoming motorcycle crossing the canal bridge. Though they searched the bridge, the twisted frame of the broken bike, and up and down the entire waterway, the police never recovered the biker’s body from the scene. And with the concussion she sustained, poor June was never able to tell them of the magnificent bald eagle she’d seen flying off from the wreckage over the trees.

            See, the people of Price never discovered the thing about Wood Hill; what all Wood Hill parents knew and passed on to their children from their first word. “Take care now what you say. Because when you die, as we all will, whatever you last said is what you will become. Billionaire.”

Riley Paul is a new writer based out of New York City. He works mostly in short fiction and spends his free time singing, scootering, and looking for magic in the mundane. This is his first published piece.