Proud Hearts Ch 3

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JamieWolfe7

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#1  Edited By JamieWolfe7

The night is clear with a pale moon illuminating the reservation. Behind the town, the river lazily courses with pristine water laden with fisherman's treasure. Only one is out there this evening to appreciate it, and he isn't alone.

The beast sits crouched beside the river. Hunting has been poor and it hungers. It doesn't like being so close to the lands claimed by humans, but recently a mixture of curiosity and necessity has driven it forth.

The two legged mass of fur and fang watches a human fishing the river near the village, its nose twitching as it studies him by moonlight. It sees perfectly in the dark, and it can hear him perfectly fine as well. The man sings Hickory Wind as he draws in his latest catch, a fish flopping for dear life as it's reigned in to be netted then depositted into a cooler.

The beast creeps into the river, its course decided. It swims silently, only its black furred head above water as it makes a diagonal path to bring it nearer to the man. Its yellow eyes glimmer in the dark as it endeavors to keep its lupine snout above water where it can breathe. The man remains blissfully oblivious, the eyes in the dark just another glimmer in the moonlit night.

"All the riches and pleasures, what else can life bring? But makes me feel better each time you begin...callin' me home, hick-ory wind..." the man's basso voice rings out in the pristine evening, his offkey rendition of Gram Parson's classic is delivered with the blissful knowledge of the absence of any meaningful critics.

His attention is called by a brief but heavy scraping noise nearby. The scent of wet fur hangs in the breeze and he's suddenly less comfortable in his surroundings, deciding then to start packing up. He rationalizes it in his head that he's been out late enough.

Winding up his rod and reel, he sets it down to pack up his empty bottles in his drink cooler and close up his bigger fish cooler. He'd have to make two trips, but he shrugs off the feeling of eyes in the dark that worries him over this. He's always been a good neighbor here, never leaving a mess. Glass bottles net a good price, thats one of the reasons he prefers them to cans aside from just tasting better.

He rattles up the path to the woodline from the river where his pick up truck awaits. He sets his drink cooler, foldup chair, and rod and reel in the back, the fish cooler being considerably heavier. Once thats done, he makes the walk back down to get the night's prizes. It hadn't been a bad night.

Leaning over to take hold of the container heavy from water and fish, he mutters words of encouragement to himself as he hefts up the evening's haul. As he turns, he senses movement in the dark long before he sees it. A thing of bestial fury knocks him down, spilling his booty all over him and for reasons he can't place he notices that two of his fish make itback into the river through a mix of fortune and effort.

He swiftly recovers his wind from having a crate full of water land on him and spilled over his face, scrambling as much from panic driven instinct as anything else. Scrambling away and to his feet in a near blind effort to reach the safety of his truck, he pulls the only defensive implement on him: his knife. The snarling black thing appears for all the world like a creature of myth with its lupine features atop a thickly furred bipedal frame emanating feral power.

It settles down onto massive hind legs that seem to him inverted like those of a canine, its mighty arms spreading wide as its baleful yellow eyes seem to size him up. He knows its about to pounce as he holds the knife at the ready while backpedalling up the ridge to his truck. His only chance if it does is to skewer it on his blade, sharp for cutting lines and ropes.

Such massive hands, he thinks as he nears his truck. The creature seems to think better of lunging as he keeps the knife pointed towards it, as if it knows what it is. Instead it advances on all fours like a strange looking bear, the strangest he'd ever laid eyes on and they aren't unknown in his parts. Bears don't have fingers like those, he ackowledges. Clawed fingers as much for flaying as grasping and twisting. Twist my arm right off, he knows.

As he reaches his truck, he gives a cry for help while grabbing the handle of his truck, praying in his head that it doesn't stick. The creature growls low and deep, the matted fur on its back raising menacingly, the man swears its stink just got stronger. He yanks on the door, finding only betrayal at first which the beast answers by lowering on its haunches and barking with a sound that wierdly lay somewhere between a coyote and a massive dog.

As the beast barks again, he throws the door open and makes to throw himself in with another cry for help. This time the beast lunges, but he manages to get the door half closed sparing him the teeth that bite and claws that scratch. Unfortunately, his world turns to pain anyway as the door slams under the weight of the monster on his leg and there's nothing he can do for it as he faces up at the lycanthropic visage snarling down at him through the window where it presses against the door as if meaning to tear through it. By the scraping of its terrible claws, it likely does.

After several long seconds of pounding and scraping, the beast registers the meat dangling and pinned in the door and seizes it. The man nearly faints with terror as he's drug out the door flailing wildly and screaming where it pins him under a seeming disproportionately large paw. Standing on him with its attention fixed on its prize, his screaming ceases from ribs cracking under its weight, the wind driven out of him rendering him mute to express his pain as it starts mangling the leg in its grasp. He feels his leg being twisted and snapped in its unfathomably strong hands, then as its jaws close on his ankle a shot rings out and he knows that there is a god watching out for him after all.

***

Parna and Tara walk the woodline next to the general store of the town. The sun has just crested the horizon and the two have gotten an early start deciding where they want their school. Parna is more quiet and contemplative than usual this morning as they walk the site they are keen on with cups of coffee in hand.

The evergreen forest is well managed, so there isn't terribly much in the way of undergrowth. The father and daughter duo step casually along straw covered floor, sipping from their cups as they visualize what they place will eventually look like.Tara smiles quietly as her dad strokes his handlebar mustache.

"I think it should be open air. Not very big, but everyone should be welcome to see what we do," offers Tara with a smile.

Parna answers a bit more solemnly,"Tara, there are some things we have never spoken of. Your mother and I, we think its time."

Tara's expression fades slightly at this, noting the concern in his voice. She replies in a modest tone,"Oh? What's wrong?"

Before he can reply, the sherrif's truck pulls in in a tear. The reservation deputy is a stout man not much taller than Parna named Jacob Strongbull. His expression is one of worry as he calls over to them,"Hey, Parna! Tara! I need you two over here for a sec!"

Conversation forgotten for a moment, they step over to see what's wrong. The man leans out his window and proceeds to enlighten them,"Laughing Crow's dad is in the hospital, something out here attacked him. Went at his leg like a thigh on a rotisserie, I want you two to be real careful, ok?"

Tara's expression immediately becomes one of concern as she asks,"We will, do they know what it was? Is he ok?"

The lawman waves his hand a little as he replies,"He's fine for now, they think it was a bear. It damaged his truck some and one of the boys in the station got a halfassed look at it. He's lucky my man heard him, we've told him to be careful fishing down there at night but he never did listen."

Parna exhales nasally, shaking his head in dismay as Tara folds her arms. She observes,"Well, we know where his son got it from."

Strongbull chuckles awkwardly in agreement, then tells them sternly,"Be careful. You hear anything strange in these woods, I don't think I have to tell you how good kickboxing is against an animal whose fur can stop a small caliber bullet. You get out of there, y'hear?"

They both nod in agreement, with Parna clapping the big indian on his bicep before the man takes off. The old diesel truck pulls off with a low roar as the lawman heads to likely warn anyone else he finds in the woods. An ironic duty in a community situated within the forest, reflects Parna.

Tara sips on her coffee, observing,"It's starting to be cool anyway. We should head back."

Parna nods his reply, albeit reluctantly. With a hand in his pocket, he keeps one free to tote the morning brew as he makes his way back with his daughter. The trip back would go pleasantly quiet in spite of the baleful eyes in the forest that neither notices when they turn away, Parna's conversation forgotten for the time being.

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