It was dark when Richard came to. Very, very dark and accompanied by spooky sounds, like a Halloween soundtrack of scary noises. Screeches in the night, loud chirping, and the flutter of wings in the blackness. He searched for the moon but couldn’t find it. Not even a sliver of light. The noises were just like the ones he had heard the first night he had entered the woods. He swore he also heard some panting close by – yes, he was pretty sure it was panting. Fat bugs zipped around his face, and he slapped at something that tried to crawl into an unguarded nostril.
I hate outside, he whined to himself. I miss my RV. I should have run away with my Goddamn Airstream. There he would have been safe from the creatures of the night.
Whatever they were.
He ran through a series of animal names. The first one that came to mind, and was probably the worst of the lot was a bear (brown or black).
Then some kind of wild cat (Bobcat, Cougar? Mountain Lion). Was there a difference? Then it came to him again, like before: Wolves. How could he have left them for the last? They should be the first, so he reshuffled them in his virtual list. He believed the most common animal that might be stalking him would be a wolf or a pack of wolves. The only rule he could remember to do was not to run.
Maybe play dead. Or was that for bears? That didn’t sound like very good advice anyway from where he was sitting.
Whatever was in the brush several feet away was big. Richard could hear it breathing, in an irregular rhythm. There were also heavy footfalls coming from somewhere in the brush. A cloud moved out of the way and blessed light from the moon shone down but only produced shadows that were moving sporadically.
Richard heard stories about people getting mauled all the time in the woodlands of Montana. Richard remembered reading that most of those unlucky bastards even had bear spray to protect them. All Richard had at this point for a weapon seemed to be bad body odor
It has to be a bear, he finally decided.
And his mind immediately ran different scenarios in him mind. What to do if a bear attacks you? What the fuck to do. Don't run. Was that true? Richard’s mind was racing, he was trying to think too fast and this made his head spin. He noticed his breathing turning rapid, there was a pounding in his chest and it shook his whole body.
Think. Think. Get a bead on what kind of bear it is and then you can make a plan.
It makes no fucking difference, his brain screamed.
Crawling slowly between the bushes, he parted them and tried to focus his vision in the semi-darkness, with only a partial moon barely illuminating the shadows, to see if he could identify the bear.
All he saw was a huge dark blob, moving in his direction.
A deep low growling.
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