06 April, 2014

6 April 2014

The main problem, as Einar saw it, with approaching the moose that evening was the rapid descent of darkness. Sure, it would provide him some cover should anyone be watching by conventional means and not with infrared...but it would also prevent his thoroughly examining the area for the signs which might warn him of recent human presence. He might end up walking right into a trap, falling asleep with a belly full of moose and waking up in federal custody. Not a difficult decision for Einar, usually, given the odds. The need to remain undetected and therefore free far outweighed nearly every other consideration which might have been a factor in such a decision, but in this case he could tell that he would be in some serious trouble should he attempt to pass the night without first finding himself a bit of fuel.

Lying down to sleep in his current state--wet with melted snow and rather beyond exhausted--was out of the question, and while a solution would usually have been found in traveling all night and thus keeping himself warm through exercise, this was less than practical under present circumstances, largely because of his need to tread carefully and watch for signs of recent human presence as he traveled up the canyon. Besides which--would have been loath to admit the fact, but knew it, nonetheless--he very likely lacked the energy to keep himself moving through the night, even should he decide to try. Already he could feel himself slowing down, beginning to stumble more frequently, misjudge his steps, and though he might have liked to attribute this entirely to the cold-induced numbness in his leg, he knew better, knew there would be no real improvement until he secured himself some energy.

So. Moose. And he'd better hurry, too, if he wanted any chance of getting there ahead of full dark so he could have a look around.

The place of the moose Einar remembered well, the two tall, snaggle-topped dead spruces which he had set in his mind as landmarks, and now, moving carefully but with the speed required by the situation through the timber at the base of the cliffs, he searched for them. Light failing and a damp cold descending on the canyon Einar restrained himself with some difficulty when at last he spotted the landmark-trees, some part of him wishing very strongly to rush ahead and lower a moose quarter so his feasting would be delayed no longer than necessary. Restrain himself he did, though, caution taking over and his approach slowing to a wary stalk as he closed the last two hundred yards. Too dim to get a really good look at the ground or the surrounding terrain—should have been enough to stop him, right there, to turn him around—Einar not liking the fact, knowing how easy it would be for him to overlook a hidden camera or sensor even in full daylight. But, with his decision made and with no solid reason to suspect the place had been discovered, he at last gave up his watching, and made for the two dead trees.

Scalp tingling as if anticipating the sniper’s bullet that seemed fairly likely to come when he stepped out into the relatively open area before the trees which concealed the moose, Einar moved quickly, keeping himself low to the ground and thinking all the time that if anyone was watching, they were sure to be suspicious now if they had not been before, the way he was acting… Reached the place, crouching in the deeper shadows beneath the cache-tree, taking a moment to listen and hearing nothing, Einar rose, head briefly swimming with vertigo as his heart struggled to catch up after the rapid sprint of movement.

All appeared—best as he could see in the uncertain light—to be as he and Liz had left it at the moose cache, meat hanging in its tree apparently undisturbed and the only tracks showing in the spring-rotted snow those of a coyote and his mate--creatures had circled and circled the tree, rearing up against its trunk and even lunging as if attempting to begin a climb--and several weasel-family creatures, these last difficult to definitively identify because of the melting that had occurred since their imprinting. Looked as though nothing, either animal or human, had managed to get at the meat, and Einar was somewhat reassured of this supposition when he found the knots holding the moose-cords to be exactly as he had tied them. No certainty in that. If they’d been here, they would of course have tied the knots back exactly as they’d found them, or the trap would never work. Don’t underestimate them. Underestimate your enemy, and you’re done for.

Hands shook as he stood over the lowered moose quarter, all the old fears of poisoned food and traps baited with his own supplies returning so that he could barely bring himself to touch the stuff, but he gritted his teeth and did it anyway, acting hurriedly before the pressing notions of danger and doom could really begin to take hold. Must do it, he told himself. Took the risk of coming here and now you must do it, give yourself the energy to make it through the night, make it back home and hopefully to carry a lot of this stuff with you, too...if it turns out to be safe. Only one way to find out, and crouching like a wary animal beside the frozen moose quarter, prepared to eat.

When finally Einar did eat, the meal hardly resembled feasting, frozen slivers of moose haunch carved off with his knife and swallowed whole to leave him shivering at their icy chill in his stomach, but he was grateful for the food, immensely, unspeakably grateful, a noticeable surge of energy going through his body as it began digesting the stuff, and he had more, shaving with the knife and gulping down the results until he feared to have any more lest he develop problems of another sort which would slow down the morning's travels. Rising, standing perfectly still for a long moment, listening and hearing nothing out of place, Einar hoisted the remainder of the quarter onto his shoulder and retreated some distance up the timbered slope in search of a place to pass the night.

Einar's search did not take long, body weary nearly to the point of immobility with the effort of digesting all that newly-introduced food, and as soon as he'd found a place which seemed sufficiently distant from the moose cache to allow him to observe any activity that might take place around the hanging-tree but near enough to gather information about the same, he stopped for the night. The tree, a spruce, was not a particularly large one, but its boughs were low, dense and spreading, which was exactly what Einar needed both for shelter and concealment, and the deep bed of fallen needles below gave him some hope of protection from the still mostly frozen soil. Making one final check of the area, such as he could in the dim starlight that lay outside his dense shelter, he curled up under the tree to sleep, arms wrapped around his knees for warmth, still damp and shivering after his long descent through the snow and his frozen meal, but with a belly full of meat to digest and a dry place to spend the night, he knew he would make it.

Unless…but he was asleep before the thought could complete itself.


  1. Chris, I really liked the vignette of Liz, doing her home making stuff... waiting for hubby to return home from 7/11....

    It is that sort of keeping up with the Jones, that I really like, but I missed posting it before E found the bacon!!!!

    I have been easily side tracked lately!

    Thanks for writing!


  2. and IO am using a Keyboard with my iPad, what will they think of Next, sliced bread, bought at a Store????

    philip, ;)

  3. Philip, yep, keyboards are a good invention. :D

    Thanks for reading!