It was a long two days.
From what I can gather, they picked up my scent outside of the church and tracked me over the better part of ten miles.
I made camp up on a small rise, with only one avenue of approach.
I think it was that simple detail that saved me.
The weather was cold, but I didn’t light a fire. I had the jerky from the church, and I ate while I cleaned, oiled, and reloaded the Colts. I put the Bowie knife to a whetstone and listened to the darkness around me.
There were night sounds I didn’t recognize, the songs of birds and cries of animals foreign to my ears.
But the soft tread of someone who doesn’t want to be heard, well, I’m more than a little familiar with such a sound.
A fair amount of moon and starlight illuminated the land, and when the dog came into view, I knew it was like no dog I’d seen before.
Its eyes were black, and a low, foul rumble emanated from its throat when it saw me. As its hackles raised up, a stench reminiscent of rotting meat rolled off its hide, and I knew the dog was dead.
The man behind him wasn’t.
Our eyes locked, and we knew each other for what we were.
I put a bullet through the dead dog’s skull, and the man put one through my chest. Bones shattered and splintered, the pain sickening as I put two bullets into his chest.
But neither of us was killed.
He fumbled to reload his shotgun, and I sent the last three rounds from the Colt into his belly, causing him to drop the gun and struggle to draw his knife.
Coughing blood and dropping my Colt, I managed to draw the other revolver as he pulled out a long, thin skinning knife. He tried to bring it up for a throw, and I sent three shots crashing into his hand and arm, the blade dropping from his shattered grip. Of the last three chambers, only two hit him. One in the throat and the other in his left shoulder. The last one grazed his ear.
I crawled over the twice-dead dog and took my knife to the man, but he was as hard to kill as I am.
It took most of the night to cut him down to size.
In the end, I had to start a fire, and it took most of the day to feed him to it.