“There are fresh prints. You can see the gap between toes is clear. The ball of the feet is deep. Definitely running. I’m not sure we have enough daylight to head up into the woods. You really won’t to follow a wounded animal up there in the dark?” Gaines looks at his partner.
They are mud and camouflage covered hunters. Large brimmed hat cover Thornto’s face. His desire to kill covers his mouth from speaking the obvious. Long shadows of bare trees and pines crawl out from the forest. The cold breath of the woods pushes at the hunters.
“You see blood?! Ain’t no fucking wounded animal without blood! I’m killing that critter. Gut it where it falls. Come on Man, sack up.” Thornton stands up. His six feet looks bigger when he’s pissed and hunting. It’s killing to him. Deadly serious. He loves the blood.
“You saw it raise up. It about fell over. Shook off three shoots and bounced off on a Sunday morning jog. I got the torches. Let’s get it over. It’s your party.” Gaines draws out two flashlights tapping them against his hand.
“The path is straight ahead. You won’t need those. I’ll kill that thing in a hurry.” Thornton spits and walksv like a possessed man into the woods.
Gaires follows closely. His head on a swivel The pines choke out the fading light. The path grows dark. The breath of the woods becomes musky. Branches pile up on the path. The fresh breaks add pine scent to the growing darkness.
“Stop! You hear movement on the right. Draw out the torch but don’t turn it on til I say so.” Thornton tries to whisper against his deep voice but it carries.
“Got it. You just take that beast out clean.” Gaines is a half step behind.
The darkness clings to all but these two. Sounds of birds saying goodnight havec speed since they entered the woods. The trees seem to sense what’s unfolding.
Two twigs snap in front and behind them. Two more to the right. Two branches fly in front of them from the left.
“Mother…” Thornton pulls up the shoot gun and fires into the woods blind. ” What the fuck is that shit?”
A crushing sound comes from ahead of them. The first boulder rolls by to the left striking a small pine. It staggers to the side and collapses. The second boulder finds Gaines. It glances his right hip pushing him a dozen feet sideways.
Thornton fires again and again, side to side. More boulders come at them from the left and right. Branches take flight in their direction.
Gaines pulls on Thornton. “Hey, let’s take them out of the woods! We can’t see them and know where we are!”
The next boulder takes out Gaines leg.
“Help me! Get us out. ..” Gaines words end with another boulder silencing him.
“I’ll kill all of you! You just keep doing what you’re doing. He was easy. No guns sitting on you! I’m killing some of you. I’ll gut you where you’ll fall!” Thornton fires a couple more and starts to reload.
The boulders stop rolling. The woods grows quiet. A distant wood knock calls to the night. Darkness wraps the scene like a fluffy blanket. One dead. The prey wins this encounter.
At the top of the hill, a small band heads home. Their party all in good health. The young ones get seen to easy.