Sometimes, they need to run.
I’d been ambushed about three-quarters of a mile into Toten Island. I don’t know who the men were or why they’d thought it was a good idea to bushwhack me, but they did.
The first shot took me clean through the right thigh, the bullet missing bone but taking a fair amount of meat in its passing. The second shot caught me in the belly and that hurt like hell.
They fired from cover, which was smart.
They let me get to cover, which sure as hell wasn’t.
I had my Sharps rifle with me.
Ignoring the burning pain of my wounds as they stitched themselves back together, I brought the Sharps up and looked for a target.
Some fine fellow had decided to wear a hat with a bright red feather in it.
I thanked him accordingly by putting a round through his temple.
The crack of the Sharps in the woods brought a momentary lull to the firing as the bushwhackers took cover.
They made too much noise as they moved, and their voices were raised in a furious argument. I couldn’t understand the language, but I sure as hell understood the tone.
This was more than they bargained for.
I saw movement behind a thin fir tree, and I shot through it, killing the gunman trying to hide there. As his body struck the ground, the others opened fire. I saw some of them move, and as I drew a line on a man, the island shook.
The baying of hounds shattered the air and drowned the gunfire.
In a heartbeat, a pack of hounds burst into view, and the men screamed. A few turned their weapons on the dogs, but they were no match for the canines’ speed and ferocity.
In a moment, the living men were gone, running from the hounds.
I stood up, rifle at the ready, and found myself being watched by a figure twice my height and shrouded by ancient gray winding sheets. I could make out neither their face nor their sex. A long hand, almost skeletal though still wrapped in skin, reached out and stroked a hidden chin.
“You know, Blood,” the being said, its voice the rumbling of rock against rock. “It is best at times to let the hounds run.”
Without another word, it turned and followed after its dogs.
I went the other way.