April 19, 1948


I’d been caught in a hard rain.

Shortly after I’d broken camp, the rain had started, coming in at a slant as the wind drove it across the land. Branches were snapped off older trees, and younger trees were torn up by the roots and cast into the air.

It was a hell of a way to start the day.

I fought for about an hour through the storm, hoping to come out the other side of it, but I finally gave it up for a lost cause. Instead, I looked for a place to hunker down, start a fire and wait the damned thing out.

On the edge of a bit of a glade, I found a rough cave set in a hillside. The remnants of a fire were against one wall, and there was plenty of room for me to set back and let myself dry off.

There was a fair bit of dried wood around, though not so much that I could start a raging fire. If I was smart, I could make the fire last the day.

I had no intention of being foolish.

I set flint to steel and soon had a fair bit of a fire going.

What I didn’t have was food. I’d been planning on doing a bit of hunting as I’d seen mallards the day before and heard them calling out to one another before I finished breaking my fast.

My stomach growled and reminded me it was empty, and I wondered – not for the first time – why it was I could take a bullet to the chest and heal within minutes, but I couldn’t stand missing a meal or two.

Movement outside the cave caught my eye, and I spotted a bird dog standing there, watching me. The poor thing was soaked to the skin, but when I called for it, the dog took to its heels.

With a sigh, I took out the tobacco I’d taken from the man I’d killed the day prior and set about packing his pipe. The damned thing smoked better than my own.

A few minutes later, the dog reappeared.

This time, he had a pheasant in his mouth.

He came into the cave, dropped the bird by the fire and sat down.

“Food for some warmth, Blood?” the dog asked.

“Aye, that sounds more than fair. What’s your name?”

“Champ,” he replied. “And I hate the rain.”

“That makes for two of us,” I agreed and picked up the bird.

As the rain and wind hammered the world, I plucked the fowl and smoked my pipe.

The day was getting better.

#nature #horrorstories

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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