Chill wind played in the hunter’s hair as he waited for his game to tromp through the underbrush.
In his spot just off the trail, he savored the quiet that came before a kill. He had learned to be patient and still, to become one with the woods around him.
His breath was slow and measured. The bracing fall air felt good in his lungs. Somewhere in the thicket, a wren trilled.
Finally, to his left, a twig snapped. Then another. He saw a flash of movement through the branches.
It was time.
The hunter lunged, his black nails ripping through skin. His game tumbled sideways, shrieking. He pinned the thrashing prey, sinking in his teeth and tearing away flesh.
The dying man’s arm, clad in blood-soaked camouflage, flailed for his rifle. It had fallen in the leaves, just out of reach.
The hunter looked up from his half-eaten prey. More bears had emerged from the trees, their muzzles dripping red. They awaited his lead.
He growled and turned, lumbering toward the lodge.
Hunting season opened today. There would be plenty more game there and in the town down the mountainside. Perhaps beyond.