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Shooting Blanks

September. A Wednesday. Foggy. I woke up to a white-out of fog. So thick I couldn’t see the end of my gun when I balanced it on my shoulder to aim. Not being able to find the target sort of defeats the purpose of hunting, but that little detail didn’t stop me from heading out into the chilly morning mist. It swirled around me. Tingled in microscopic drops on my face.

Made me feel alive.

It was the noise that put a pause in my step. A snort, it sounded like. Maybe a chortle. An unknown, invisible being laughing at me. The whiteness billowed like it breathed, like it was an extension of the thing, the menace that was out there. Somewhere. I could hear it, sucking in air, could even smell its exhale. In and out, the stench of consumed death made my eyes tear and caught in my throat like bile.

I rubbed my eyes and pressed onward, determined to reach the place along the river, the one I targeted the day before. My compass kept me on track as I cut through the atmospheric cobwebs. Determined, I blotted out the animal sounds that assaulted me from I-could-not-tell-where.

Over a rise, the swirling ground cover parted, teasing me with a glimpse of a ribbon of water. Some riffling white patches on its surface, rapids crying to be run. I reached for my scope to see the way ahead. In a nauseating cloud of stink, I saw it, its bared fangs still red from feeding and its mouth a mask of dried blood, remnants of its last unlucky meal. A grizzly.

I stared into its wild eyes, and I knew. I was next. I was going to meet my end. Chomped between those teeth or crushed underneath that rump or shredded by those claws. The manner of death wouldn’t matter. In the end, I would be consumed. The circle of life, one way or the other.

It reared up on its hind legs and belted out a roar of sorts, a deep bass-like thing that reverberated through my core. At least eight feet tall. I was too stupefied to even think about my gun, my mouth ajar at all that raw power. I forgot to aim until it was on its four paws, charging me, jaws chomping.

Back. I ran backward. Toward the edge of the cliff that fell away into the river. I balanced my gun on my shoulder, closed my eyes, and fired.

That grizzly lurched to its side, part of its head sheared away, twitching on the ground. And, I can’t explain it, how those big brown eyes glazed over with a sheen of peace. Without a care, it slipped into the unseen.

I wanted to go with that bear. When Death comes calling, why does He always spare me?

This post is part of the series Death Becomes Me. It is a series of fiction. If this is your first visit to the series, please click here to read the first installment, and go here for the second.

31 Comments Post a comment
  1. Everyone has an appointment.

    September 15, 2012
    • But, why do some people want to make theirs too soon? That’s the whole point of this particular series, for me to try to figure out why this particular character craves his date with destiny.

      September 15, 2012
  2. Wow! Well, it was going to be one or the other…

    September 15, 2012
    • I kind of feel sorry for the bear, Tom, but I’m glad our screwed up hero lived to die another day.

      September 15, 2012
  3. Jack Harkness syndrome.

    September 15, 2012
    • Oh, Lou, well done. I do love some Captain Jack.

      Andra, this: “The whiteness billowed like it breathed, like it was an extension of the thing, the menace that was out there.” That’s got a vintage King feel to it. Happy shivers.

      September 15, 2012
    • Cam, I don’t think I will ever write like Stephen King, but thank you. You made my whole weekend. xo

      September 15, 2012
  4. I can identify with the feeling of the character. One only has to feel this once or twice in life to understand it. Those who are afraid of these topics are ones who aren’t being true to themselves.

    Yes, Lou! Totally some Captain Jack! Goodness, I miss Torchwood.

    September 15, 2012
  5. Daggone those instincts. He could have gone with a real roar, or he could have fallen, but NO he had to suddenly shoot the bear and save himself for both. Oh well. Maybe next time…

    September 15, 2012
  6. So life-like. I wanted to run!

    September 15, 2012
  7. A little Captain Jack treat.
    Captain Jack Harkness Tribute (Doctor Who) by LilithiaRain

    September 15, 2012
  8. The same reason I stomp on the brakes and jerk the steering wheel over even though I really want someone to ram into me and total my Ford – thereby buying me a new one. Deep down, the survival instinct takes over. It is older than we are. Older than our group consciousness. That instinct is what caused us to climb out of the primordial ooze to begin with, and it will not give us up now.

    September 15, 2012
    • But, is that what this character is feeling? The instinct to not be a totalled Ford?

      September 15, 2012
  9. a disturbing series of posts. thanks for making the thoughts buzz

    September 16, 2012
  10. You do such great atmosphere, it always makes me want to go do writing exercises or something. This guy is so conflicted about life and death; makes you wonder why he resists when death comes calling.

    September 16, 2012
    • Part of the reason for my writing exercises here. :) Trying to figure him out.

      September 16, 2012
  11. Too bad it didn’t go the other way . . . it would have been a Win~Win for them both. ;)

    September 16, 2012
  12. I may want to go, but not by Grizzly bear. In my sleep would be nice. Ha. Scary. I thought he was going to shoot and be knocked backward by the kick of the rifle and tumble over the edge of the cliff…that’s what I get for letting myself get carried away. Nicely done Andra. Nicely done.

    September 17, 2012
    • I don’t know why he didn’t think to just fling himself over the edge of the cliff, given his mindset most of the time. I would be sad to see him go, though. He’s morose, but I like him somehow.

      September 17, 2012
  13. I read this on my phone while out of town and just read it again! I particularly like the “And, I can’t explain it, how those big brown eyes glazed over with a sheen of peace. Without a care, it slipped into the unseen.” I think that’s the key to what some people “see” when they envision their death. The absence of the roar and fight, and the peace without a care. This is really quite a provacative story and it provides a great deal to think about, Andra! D

    September 17, 2012
    • I am glad it is causing people to think, and for the most part, they seem to be enjoying the read. I always enjoy it when a character takes me on a ride.

      September 17, 2012

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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