Monday, March 7, 2005

A Short Story of Revenge

Doug eyed the grizzly sow and her cub through the telescopic sight on his rifle. He wasn't interested in the meat nor was his life endangered, he wanted the thrill of killing such a large beast. Never mind that the grizzly sow couldn't see him on top of his perch of a small granite cliff some three hundred yards away. Nor could she smell him because the gentle wind was blowing into Doug's face. Giving her a sporting chance never crossed his mind as Doug aimed the crosshairs just behind the front shoulder blade and waited for her to stop moving. He just wanted to take a few pictures for his personal hunting collection and call it a day.

The grizzly sow arrived at another clump of berries with her cub in tow and came to a stop to graze. As Doug steadied his rifle for the shot, she appeared to look up in his direction as if sensing him somehow or at least sensing her fate. Doug pulled the trigger and a small tuft of fur erupted from her side just where he had been aiming. Startled, the grizzly sow ran but stumbled and fell; tumbling head over heals down the steep mountainside and coming to rest against the base of a lodge pole pine. The bewildered cub came running after her thinking this had all been some new game or lesson in life. The cub paused at the body of his mother sniffing the air and sensing that something that was wrong. It felt a sting as it's left ear disintegrated into the air followed by the crack of a rifle. Instinctively the young male grizzly cub lay down beside his mother and became still. A hushed whimper of pain escaped his mouth.

Doug zipped his rifle in its protective case, stood up and eyed the place where the sow had come to a rest. He had shot at the cub but had missed and had only taken off one ear instead. The cub had dropped out of his line of sight and had not stood back up. Doug decided that he no longer had the energy to find a way down through the bluff line to the sow and her cub below for a few pictures and instead decided he would rather hike out to his truck and head back into town for a beer. The thrill, what little there had been, was now gone.

He shook his head and cleared out the cobwebs, which seemed to grow thicker there as the years passed by. That had happened twenty years ago and Doug wanted to remain alert in case another grizzly decided to dine on the fine berries that grew below. Alcohol had paid it's toll on Doug's body and an accident down in Arkansas on a hot shot run that he had been in almost a year after he had shot the grizzly sow, hadn't improved things. He had broken a leg swerving to avoid hitting some man walking across a highway in the middle of a rainstorm and had been plagued with arthritis ever since. The man had been hit and killed by an RV driver a few minutes later much to Doug's satisfaction but the accident had definitely slowed him down. Now he was on a last hurrah tour of sorts and had come back out to Wyoming for some big game hunting and to maybe poach another grizzly should opportunity arise.

His mind still lost in thoughts of the past, didn't sense the stillness of the wilderness around him until it was too late. His shoulder erupted in a fire of pain as he pitched forward off the bluff with such force, he hit the main trunk of a tree ten feet away and proceeded to fall like the puck in that Price-Is-Right game, ricocheting from branch to branch as he tumbled the forty feet down to the base of the bluff. Coming to rest in a slumped kneeling position, he knew that things were not good. Blood was trickling down his back and side, his right arm was hanging loosely by his side but was thankfully not sending any signals to the rest of his body, several of his ribs were busted, and probably both of his legs. Still dazed by the fall in shock, he looked up towards where he had been sitting on the edge of the bluff ten feet over and forty feet up. A shiver of fear slipped through his broken body when he thought he saw the head of a large male grizzly was looking down at where he lay but just as quickly it disappeared. Had it been just an image created by his mind as a means to distract him from his situation? He hoped so.

Fifteen minutes later, still in shock, the reality or the situation was setting in for Doug. He wasn't going to make it out of this one alive. He was still in a slouched kneeling position propped against the base of a tree with a mess of broken bones and miles from his truck. The blood loss from his shoulder wounds and from the compound fractures in his thighs were taking the edge from the pain and robbing him of his life. The end was probably only a matter of hours away and he was powerless to do anything about it except watch it come. He was now a mind with a broken body not responding to his signals anymore. With what control he did have, he turned his head to look along the base of the bluff and waited for death to arrive. He just didn't know that it would arrive so quickly.

It took Doug's mind a few seconds to realize that the large brown object walking towards him along the base of the bluff was a grizzly bear and it was heading directly for him. The bear seemed to be following a scent and Doug realized that it was his own bloody one. Had he control of all his senses, he would have realized that his bladder just let go, but Doug was focusing what few he had left towards the bear now only ten feet away. "Go...leave me be," he weakly shouted, "Let me die in peace." The grizzly bear stopped a few feet short of Doug, it's foul breath saturating the air as it looked at him, like a man eyeing a T-bone steak sizzling on a grill. It was only then that Doug noticed that one ear was missing.

Had Doug not been shock from the trauma and the blood loss, he would have screamed in holy terror but all he could do was watch. The grizzly lowered its head and bellowed a great roar spraying stinking saliva all over Doug's face. The last thing he would see was the way the bear's muscles rippled under it's skin as the front leg swung out at him, armed with razor sharp claws, filling up his field of view, then darkness.

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