Sunday, February 11, 2018

Bear Hunting

Bear Hunting
By Michael Cannata

He shifted the weight of the pack on his back, resting for a minute as he gazed out over the valley to the western slope and the high ridges beyond. Another half mile and he'd be back at camp ready for a fire and a hot meal. He would start his annual hunt just before daybreak.

He felt the familiar rush of freedom and exhilaration that always came over him when he was deep in the wilderness breathing the fresh air. Out here it was all about survival, real survival. Not the kind he faced everyday back in the city; where survival meant getting to work on time, paying the bills and staying one step away from bankruptcy.

Out here, deep in the mountains, one mistake, one wrong step, meant the difference between living and dying. But this was where he felt most at home. He loved being as far away from the loading dock as he could get. Once a year he took his vacation and went hunting alone.

On the docks his co-workers called him, "Bear." He was 6'7" and weighed just over 300lbs. His impressive size made him stand out in a way he never enjoyed. All his life he felt awkward and clumsy. He wasn't aggressive but he was unattractive, he knew it in his heart. Men feared him and women shunned him. Out here in the woods standing under ancient trees that soared to the sky he felt just the right size. It was where a bear of a man should live.

He was strong and resourceful; he knew these woods like most people knew their backyards. He could carry a 300 pound buck a mile on his shoulders.  He could easily live without the need for the company or creature comforts that the city offered.

He took the large duffel bag off his back and dropped it to the ground. It hit with a thud and a small groan escaped it. 'Good,' he thought. She was waking up.

She was a strong one; he had stalked her for weeks, watching her as she worked out at the fitness center. It was where he found the best victims. He hoped she would be a formidable foe. It had been a year since he'd known a woman. She would fight him tonight beside the fire, but he would have his way, alive or dead. Hopefully, if she was smart too… If she survived the night, she would get her first chance to live tomorrow.

She was the prey for this year's hunt. With an hour's head start she had a good chance at getting away. His goal would be to capture her alive and bring her back to camp for another night. He would release her again the next morning.The game would continue until she got away or his hunt would have to end and he killed her. No one had ever made it out of the woods, so far.

He opened the bag, watching lustfully as she crawled out with her hands and feet bound. She lay naked on the ground staring up at him with terror in her eyes. Along with the terror he saw something else in her expression, the thing that would make her strong. She looked at him with unbridled hate as well. She had a lot of fight in her. This promised to be a great hunt.

He settled in and started the first night's fire.

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