|More spooky, Halloween inspired fiction on this windy October day.
Thanks YeahWrite.com for inspiring me!
href=”http://yeahwrite.me/speakeasy/80-open”>All I wanted was to go for my morning run.
I never expected this autumn morning to be the day my life would change forever.
I woke up before dawn on a completely ordinary October morning.
It was dark. It was cold and damp in my mountain cabin. My cats cried as I pulled my exhausted body out of bed; they wanted me to build a fire or turn on the heat at least. It had been warm in my bed under an old quilt and a heating blanket turned to high. The wood floors of my cabin were freezing even through thick wool socks. The floor boards squeaked under my legs as I hurried about, getting dressed and than lacing up my New Balance running shoes.
My tights were dark grey with black thick wool leg warmers worn over them. I was dressed in layers this cold fall day. I would shed my bright layers of puffy vest, two orange sweaters, and just be down to a neon orange tank top as I ran and warmed up. Hunters would be all over these hills by the time the sun rose above the treeline and the skies lit up pink and orange.
This is October and here in southern California that means it’s deer hunting season and bright colors are not just fashionable, they are life saving when you are a runner and you run in these woods.
It’s a ten minute drive on winding mountain roads to one of my favorite trails. On the drive in, it may still be dark, but I count seven muddy four by fours littering the highway. through the dense fog I steer my SUV through. Ten minutes ago, men with guns sat inside those trucks, drinking black coffee and pondering the fate of the deer they would soon ” bag”
I hate those motherfuckers
But my hate isn’t to strong.
You see I know something that they don’t.
There are not any deer here.
I have no idea why they drive from miles away to hunt in this area. There are never any deer over here. I have run these mountain trails every day for the last twenty years. I know these trails like the back of my hand and I have never seen a deer on Dirty Springs Trail. Sure I see hoof prints in the wet mud, but never a live deer.
That’s why when I see the rows of Ford and Chevy pick ups parked on the shoulder I keep driving. Another four miles along shrubby hillsides farther into the forest and away from the hunters and I pull off the highway and onto an unmarked dirt road. The sun is a thought in the sky now and the pinks and purples of a epic sunrise are ahead of me. I laugh at the hunters in my rear view mirror in their camo gear. Good luck finding a buck in those parts. The deer in this area are smart. If they don’t want to be found they won’t be.
I park my SUV in the wet sand by the creek bed, grab my pack with my camera, water and first aid supplies and lean against a lonely oak tree to stretch my legs. A dark grey Cooper Hawk takes flight right above the skinny oak trees branches and I take it all in as this giant bird spreads its wings in the morning sky. I strap my pack around my waist and I’m running down a skinny trail, manzanita as tall as my head on both sides of the trail.
I’ve gone about two miles in to the silent forest when the trail opens up a bit and I’m at the edge of a little meadow. It’s not really dark now; the sun is still behind the mountains but the glorious colors of the suns rays on the mornings clouds are beginning to fade. I’m just reaching for my water bottle when I hear the first CRACK!
What was that? I think to myself, than it is followed quickly by one more and one more and than it’s none stop and I realize it’s the sound of bullets being fired and they are close, very close.
WHERE ARE THEY COMING FROM?
I don’t know if I should run or stay where I am! The shooting goes on and on and I decide the best thing to do is to drop to my knees and hide in the tall grasses and wild flowers of the meadows. I can smell the putrid mud with my face down here in the dirt and still I can hear the gun shots every where. My heart is racing and I think, they must be able to see me; I’m wearing bright neon orange! Bambi never dresses up in day glo colors! Why are these idiots still shooting and where are they?!
I try to yell but my voice is lost in the gun fire. My heart is pounding, shit what do I do, how do I get out of here with out being shot at? This is so weird, no one hunts up here. Have I stumbled onto a Marijuana growing field or something equally dangerous?
I have my cell phone in my pocket but who exactly do I call?
All of a sudden the shooting stops.
I keep calm and silent in the grass, afraid to move. I stay like that for at least thirty minutes waiting for my heart to stop pounding. The whole time I hear nothing; no birds singing, no voices, nothing.
I have to get out of here, I think to myself. So I will myself to sit up.
When I sit up in the grass the sun has risen over the mountains and is blinding me. The mornings early fog has moved out and the morning is clear. I put my hands over my face to block out the glare as I gaze around the meadow. I see no one and it is still silent. I don’t hear the wind or even a bee buzzing.
I’m terrified to stand up, but I know I need to run back to my truck.
Taking a deep breath, I push myself to my feet and sprint back in the direction I came as fast as my shaking legs will take me.
That is when I feel the searing pain in my right shoulder even as the CRACK tears through the meadow and I feel like the breath is knocked out of me.