This week’s Flash Friday features the final installment of author Kent Warren’s tale of suspense, Backwoods. Kent lives with his wife Karin on five beautiful acres in southwest Washington. In addition to being a loving husband, father, and grandfather of three, he is a skilled builder, master inventor, expert marksman, true patriot, and a very talented writer. He is currently working on his first novel. Enjoy!
by Kent R. Warren
The black K-Bar slid easily out of the leather scabbard attached to my belt. A little wet and muddy, but I was still able to get a good grip.
I had never taken my eyes off the big female mountain lion. She was standing rock still 30 feet away trying to evaluate the situation.
These animals normally stalk their prey for some time then attack from the back. They are able to leap 20 feet to take down their dinner. Here, on the other hand, she was looking at a very strange sight indeed. She was confused and wary but clearly not discouraged.
I took my eyes off the big cat long enough to glance over at Jose’. He was still unconscious. Maybe she would think he was dead and leave him alone. Maybe he is dead.
Never in my wildest had I contemplated being in this kind of a mess. My heart was pounding and I fought to keep the fear from taking over the part of my mind that I now needed for logic and strength. I remember reading Dune where it was said “Fear is the mind killer”. I can’t let that happen or I will die.
The cat lowered her head, shoulder muscles shrugged, and very slowly took a couple of steps forward. That would be in my direction.
I began to run some options through my mind. I could start yelling and waving my arms and generally acting aggressive and crazy or I could remain quiet and still and just wait until she got close enough to take my best shot with the K-Bar to her face. My first try with the knife would have to be good because it could be the only chance I get. A miss would leave my arm fully extended and make it easy for her to sink her teeth to the bone. Game over.
She began moving in a slow arc toward Jose’. I moved enough to get my back up against the tractor hood so she would have to come at me face to face. She was now only a few feet from him and at that time I decided that even though my best chance for survival might be to lie still until I could get a good shot at her with the big knife, I could not just let her kill Jose’ without doing something.
I began to yell and cuss (the cussing was to bolster my attitude) wave my arms as much as I could and act crazy.
That got her attention! She backed up a couple of steps and glared at me. Her eyes told the story and sent a chill up my spine. She was not afraid and was not going away.
If you have had the opportunity to participate in military combat operations, you know the unmistakable deep bass thumping noise an approaching helicopter makes and that is a very sweet sound if you are on the ground surrounded by bad guys or if you or yours are wounded. It means help is on the way. Well that’s what I heard. Even though it was faint, you only hear that sound if the chopper in question is heading directly toward your location. In this case, however, it was a giant stretch to think that would do us any good.
Helicopters in this area are not uncommon. The cops use National guard choppers in their quest to locate pot growing operations in the mountains. Even though we had managed to open up a small hole in the forest canopy with our firewood harvesting, the possibility they would see us was slim, although an opening in the canopy was exactly what they are looking for.
The cat was crouched and moving ever so slowly toward Jose’. I could hear her breathing…maybe that was me.
I didn’t think Jose’ could move that fast, even when he doesn’t have his bones sticking through his clothes. His right arm shot up and he unloaded a thick steady stream of the nastiest pepper spray on the planet directly into the face of our feline friend. The reason I know how nasty it was is because the gentle breeze had carried the overspray in my direction.
I was spitting and choking and otherwise showing my discomfort when I realized the chopper was approaching our little clearing.
The noise was horrendous but welcome as they stopped forward motion above the clearing at about 200 feet. I could almost read the name badge of the guy standing with full harness in the open doorway. Our eyes met and he gave me thumbs up as they moved away.
Through my teary bleary eyes I saw the tail of the bitch as she disappeared into the backwoods. She hadn’t liked Jose’s surprise one bit.
It seems Jose’s lifelong fear of bears had prompted him to carry that spray religiously when out in the field. It had paid off, for both of us.
A long way off, but I could hear the sirens.
“Hey boss? What you think?”
“You’re the man, Jose’. You’re the man.”
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