Down by the Mountains

February 3, 2017
By Anonymous

The town bustles with bearded drunkards and howls of coyotes in the distance.  The saloon’s never empty during the night.  Too many drunks and too much whiskey for evenings to be calm.  Roads are still dry dirt and gravel in the mainland, unlike the big cities. 

Not too far off from the saloon is a wooden unpainted one-story house.  Could be a prettier sight but the natural spectacle of the mountains make up for it.  A livable residence for three nonetheless.  Father and Mother are already fast asleep.  Kid, fourteen year old is up in his room reading stories of hunter legends and mountaineers.  The Boy is quite learnt for his time; easy to pick up on new ideas and techniques. Father taught him how to fire a muzzleloader and he can shoot about four times in a minute flat.  Moon is high and full - he decides to lay the book down, blow out the candle on the floor and tuck himself in.  A good night’s rest for a big day ahead exploring the timberlands hunting for buck.

At the crack of dawn, Father and The Boy grabbed their packs filled with basic camping supplies and dried fruits. They headed for the forest.  Beautiful scenery of the sunrise light glimmered through the pine leaves.  The wet floor of the moss sparkled while the morning birds chirped.  Unbeknownst to the two, this was only the calm before the storm.

As they walked along the dirt trail which was still arid,  a deep exhale of a nose grunted over the shrub to the right.  Suddenly a loud roar emerged from the same shrub, twelve foot tall beast with knife-sized teeth in its chopper is standing upright ready to swipe at Father - and that’s what it did.  The swing must’ve knocked him at least 5 feet away; would probably be 5 meters if it were the Boy.

  That boy ran the fastest he ever could; dust trail underfoot blocked his vision behind him, unsure if the brute was still there or not. 

A gunshot is heard as it echoed through the woods, birds flapped away from the branches.  Shortly after the gunshot another sound echoed throughout the forest - this time it was a thunderous blood-squelched yell.
The Boy hid behind a tall oak, he felt the urge to call out for his father but he knew it would’ve meant suicide. 
Grizzly was at least twenty-something years old; at least 2 times the size of the Boy’s pa who stood six feet.  This wasn’t any ordinary bear, this was a creature of legends.

Waiting and waiting, some hours pass and The Boy finally built up the courage to go back and check the scene of the happening.   Sore, breathing heavily, and heart pounding like a drum -  he scans the trail.

…...There he is. Father.  A terrible eyesore.  His torpid body slumped on the uneven ground; face up. That was a sight The Boy won’t forget. The way a body is stripped from emotion, the word lifeless seemed like an understatement to him.   An overwhelming sense of anger and sadness filled The Boy’s body down to the bone. Not the kind heart he always was, he would hurt a fly.  The Boy grabbed his father’s pack and trusty Hawken rifle from damp forest floor. The size of the rifle being nearly the same as The Boy.  The maple wood of the gun’s stock is worn but still shiny and smooth in most places.  Sixty-eight caliber bullets filled his right pocket and a small jar of black powder filled his left.

The Boy sighted the Bear over the hedge about 40 feet away and his adrenaline kicked in.  The boy quickly loaded his black-powder rifle in fourteen seconds flat, he lifted the barrel up as the jamming rod jingled then lined up for a shot at its neck and fired.  The sound rung the boy’s ears and the blast crackled in the distant leafage. Thud went the lead as it entered the Bear’s collar.

It quickly turned to The Boy and started to rush toward the sound.  Loading his rifle as quickly as he could he was able to line up another shot, but the beast was too close. It’s colossal paw and giant claws swiped at the head of The Boy, but before it could make contact The Boy dove sidewards, dodging the strike.  The Bear stands up staring straight at the kid; a perfect shot for the head.  The kid lines up another shot at The Bear’s eye socket. Another boom echoed through the forest.  The beast gives out a final roar and then hastily transitions to a whimper.  It’s seventeen-hundred pound body falls limp and rumbles the ground as it collides. 

It was dead.

The Boy let out a large sigh of relief; unable to be cheerful.

The forest was never a safe place for just a kid. Wolf packs are always on the move, mountain lions always stalking, and the constant risk of getting lost.  All these thoughts surrounded The Boy but proud that he killed the Bear.  Now to make way for the journey back home.

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