Standing in the middle of the thicket, I can hear the whispered tick tick tick of the frozen snow as it hits the ice covered ground.. The constant noise has added electricity to the air instead of evoking a calm, adding to the static feel of the night.
The frozen air burns my nostrils as I inhale, the moisture is creating ice crystals on the tender skin just inside my nose.. It is the coldest out that it has been in a long time.
What is that smell, there it is again.. I know I have smelled that before. The snow is landing on my eyelashes and melting quickly as I blink my eyes to focus on my surroundings. I can still see sharp as ever.
There it is again.. the movement..I freeze.. I can hear my heart pounding loudly like bass drums in my ears.. It is drowning out the noises around me..
I can feel the urge to run..the urge to bolt forming in my throat and chest.. the adrenalin is about to take over my better judgment..
All of the familiar little thicket creature noises have stopped too. Usually I can hear the chir chir chirp of the chickadee and the “thump thump thump thump thump thumpthump brrrrrrrrrrrrrr of the Grouse, the Whistled “wee-oo” from the Gray Jay…. and the scamp scampering across the thicket floor of the deer mice scurrying to carry all their food finds back to the safety of the nest. I usually can also hear the small Deer mice babies from the nest calling the mother and father mice home..
All of a sudden there was what sounded like thunder when a tremendous flapping sound startled me, as the Great Gray Owl took flight.. his enormous outstretched wings almost touched the trees on either side of him. Screeching out to the night as if it had bit him on the tail.
I strain to see that movement again. the one that does not belong.. I am grateful for the thorny interlocked branches that are providing cover of my shape to the all ever seeing night..
There it is again.. the stench that I smelled before.. I cannot describe it..
Foul but Sweet and there is also a hint of smoke.. I remember that..from when I was young.
Just then I see the movement, and the adrenalin wells up again at my throat and I cannot control it this time.Even before I am thinking of it I feel everyone of my muscles in my strong legs contracting and carrying me forward. I feel the ground reverberate up my legs as each one of them strike and absorb the shock of the frozen ground.
I can see each tree plainly, as I pass each one. I quickly make split decisions while I am running and zip and zagging through the trees. I miss every one of them.. just then there is an opening in the trees..I have to pass through that opening into the safety..
That is when I heard the noise.. the loud crack that split the night like a log on a chopping block..or a clap Thunder when the rains come.., but this was not rain.. There was a split flash of light. Then the pain tore through my shoulder. I can feel it parse through me. I was bleeding and running now erratic.. I could feel the heat of the flow down my neck
I start to panic and ran right over the ridge into to the hard river that cuts through the woods.. I stand there hoping that I am now out of danger just to see the lights and the sounds of the machine come careening into my view..I am in shock and starting to not think clearly..I cannot move.
The machine the veers off the road right in front of me and hits the side of the bank. There is another one of them the animals that do not have hair. There it is, the smell that is what I have been smelling.
I am too tired to bolt.. My heart is pounding harder than it was before. I reserve to just kneel down on my front legs and lay my massive antlers on the hard river. I am hoping for some cooling to come over me and take away the confusion that has set into my brain..
I do not feel the cold anymore. There is the creature standing over me. I try to lift my head and strike it with my massive antlers… and I find I am with out the strength to lift my head.
I close my eyes and darkness now silences my fears..faintly I can smell the smell getting closer… Then I cease to know, any more..