- The trapper pulled his fur coat closer around his body, it may be spring down in the valleys but up in the mountains an icy wind still ravaged the slopes. The trapper had just been arming a set of snares along the game trails leading down to the valley floors in hopes of capturing anything moving off the frigid peaks, and was now heading down himself along the main path. The sun was lowering in the sky, but he was not worried for he knew these woods well. Twenty years ago the Buckley family had moved out west to the highlands, but the wilderness was cruel and now William was all that was left. He made his living catching and skinning anything with a pelt to sell to the gold rush boom towns that had sprung up alongside the riverbanks below him.
- Times have changed in those twenty years, with the discovery of gold the once desolate mountains became the designation of great caravans of young men who dreamed of finding their fortune in the river. And with them came the monsters. Most of them caused no trouble, they became a source of entertainment to the miners in the towns. However such large concentrations of young men in such a remote and secluded area could not go unnoticed by the larger, more ferocious monsters. William saw them occasionally, stalking men who stray from the group in hopes of finding an un molested pile of gold.
- At first they never noticed William, however they soon caught on to his snares. It is difficult to get an animal out of a snare without causing some commotion so the monsters would often wait for him if they saw a trapped animal. He had managed to stay one step ahead of them so far, but he was now very cautious of walking in the woods alone. In his hands he carried a longrifle, the kind popular with the woodsmen. It was long and slender, its delicacy looking out of place amongst his other rugged gear. Inside one of the deep pockets of his fur coat was a bulky double barreled pistol, easily hidden in the thick fur.
- He had not walked for more than thirty minutes when he heard something rushing through the undergrowth to his left. William did not waste any time. He got off the trail and cocked his rifle. He did not hide, but instead leaned against a tree and seemed to melt into the background of the forest, like he was always meant to be there anyway. He controlled his breathing and aimed drew his weapon up towards the sound. Moments later a can staggered out of the foressest and onto the path. In his hands he bore a musket, which was cocked and ready to fire. He appeared to be hurt, and winced whenever his right foot touched the ground. Despite this, he was trying to make a quick pace down the path.
- It was painfully obvious that this man needed help, and William was not the kind of man to turn his back on others in need. He stepped out of the treeline and onto the path and called out to the wounded man.
- “Hey! Hold up! What’s the rush? Devil on your heels?” The man spun around and stared with wide eyes. It seemed to take him a moment to recognize William as a human. His face was red. His hair matted with perspiration and dirt. Cuts from brambles crisscrossed around his body wherever they could find exposed flesh. He avoided putting weight on his hurt ankle. When he talked his voice was hoarse and raspy from sucking in the cold air at an alarming pace.
- “I-I know you! Your that hunter, I bought a deer hide off you! Thank god you're here!” William stared at the man's ankle. An injury like that could ring a mans death toll out in the wild. He began to talk to back as he moved closer to the wond.
- “lets see… your from Bresby right? What are you doing out here at this hour? Here sit down a moment.” But the man recoiled from his touch.
- “No! Theres no time!” he began his speedy wobble down the path, William following close behind, nervously looking at the man's ankle. “Someone told me there was an old mineshaft up in these mountains. I wanted to find it, maybe there is still some gold in it, nobody can find crude in the river.” the man looked sad for a moment. “but I got lost, an’ In the woods, I saw somethin’...” his fear was visibly returning to his face. “I-I can’t rightly tell you what it was, but it was big, I ran from it like the gate of hell opened up on my heels.” He looked around with panicked eyes “I keep feelin’ like it’s watching me…” He trailed off.
- “what about your ankle?” William persisted.
- “twisted it on a boulder or sumthn’ I don’t know! You know your way outahere right?”
- William knew a dangerous situation when he saw it, and having a badly hurt man on the edge of shock walk tramp through monster territory in the dark was about as bad as it gets. He pinched the bridge of his nose and exhaled. “Look you ain’t getting out of here on that leg of yours, you're going to get yourself well and done killed if you keep going you know that?”
- “L-look I told you, something’ was out there! I’ve heard the stories! Men taken and never see the light of day again!” The miner’s hands clenched down on his musker, his knuckles turning white. “I-I can’t get taken!” the mans voice now began to choke up “I need to find gold! Ive got to… I need to set things right, I-I can’t undo my sins, but I need to set them right…” The man seemed to snap with this, his head hung low and his face became contorted with sadness. Sobs shook his body.
- William stood by awkwardly. He was a kind man, but possessed little skill in the way of reading others emotions or knowing what to do when confronted by them. Most people who came out to the wilderness did not have great people skills, and he was no exception. He put a hand on the man’s shoulder and squeezed.
- “Look, I get it, I get it. But you’ll never make it out of these woods at night. We need to stop. Theres a hollow about two miles in the woods to our right, we can make camp there for the night. I know its not ideal, but you need to rest now. I’ll watch the camp tonight, you just rest.” He helped steer the miner towards the treeline. The injured man seemed to be finally spent, his adrenaline wearing off and his mad dash and subsequent meltdown drained him. The pair heading off the path and into the wilderness beyond.
- Six eyes watched their progress into the woods intently. They radiated anger as the monster’s face screwed up in frustration. Dammit! Just a little further down the trail and he would be hers! She let out long sigh and rested her chin in her palm. Why did that stranger have to stumble so close to her home? And just her luck that he would make a beeline straight to her prey. She had spent the entire morning in the cold setting up a trap of her own, but this had now all gone to waste. Oh well, she thought. Plans never work out anyway. She raised her huge body off the ground and began to stalk her quarry into the woods. Soon the sun would be down, and by the light of the quarter moon she would strike.
- A large fire burned in the hollow. William had been aprehensive at first about making it so big, but in the end he decided that if they were being watched they should be a prepaired as possible for anything that could happen. The miner had calmed down substansualy and was know laying down with his back proped up on a treetrunk. William tossed a stick into the flames. He was no conversatinalist and had remained silent since they entered the tree line. However the silence had now become awkward, and William had decided that it was high time to strike up a little small talk.
- “I dont think we ever met properaly.” The miner had been staring off into the horizon and took a moment to snap back to reality.
- “Oh! Well my name is David Hunskull, yours?”
- “William Buckley, pleased to meet ya. I take it you’ve not been here long?”
- “Got that right. moved west in the fall, been stuck here since the mountain passes froze over. I had hopped to find a fat nugget before summer, hell the stories back home you hear, you’d think you’d be swimmin’ in gold within a week. Now I’d be happy to find some dust. Just a few flakes even. Thought this would all be a quick trip to the bank, we all did. Sold everything for the prospecting tools, now I’m down in the hole. I came here to put thing right you see. Back home, I used to have a family.”
cantthinkofonesorry Apr 23rd, 2015 (edited) 1,009 Never
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