Please read Part one of Followed before continuing…
He took several deep slow breaths to settle his nerves. He’d been “in the trenches” but it’s not really something that a person gets used to. He decided that the best way to approach the edge was to belly crawl with the spike of his stick out front. Whatever made that noise wouldn’t have had enough time to climb very far and would be preoccupied with finding hand and foot holds in the failing light. The rough surface of the stone floor was covered by decades of dust and debris from the surrounding forest causing him to have to stiffle a sneeze several times. It made him chuckle a little to think about something as simple as a sneeze giving away his position. While maneuvering to get a view of the bottom of the cliff his elbow brushed a loose stone knocking it over the edge. His boxing experience had given him lightning fast reflexes and instinctively his hand shot out to catch the the stone as gravity took over its momentum. He felt it rub the very tip of his fingers as it escaped his grasp. The stone impacted the rocky face of the cliff several times with an echoing clack and then hit the ground with a thud. The thud was followed by sound something much larger crashing through the underbrush and dry leaves. By this point he fully understood that anything he might have been hiding from knew exactly where to find him and so he stood up fully with his spike tipped walking stick in a ready position. That’s when he realized that the crashing noise was moving away from his cliff instead of towards it. He peered over the edge just in time to see a small doe leap across the pathway. Breathing a sigh of relief he watched as she ran up the opposite hillside. His bumbling had frightened her pretty good. Suddenly she froze in mid stride throwing leaves and dirt out in front of her. She looked at something just out of sight and broke to her left in a full sprint. He had no idea what could have gotten her attention so Suddenly like that. Knowing that his cover was already compromised he decided to retrieve his light from his pack. He turned the knob on the side of the light releasing a few drops of water into calcium carbide. Instantly the lamp began to hiss as he cupped his hand over the reflector and counted to three. He slid his hand across the striker wheel and with a loud pop the gas was ignited casting a bright light into the shadows just in time to illuminate the figure walking up the hill. But something was very odd about the walking figure. It stood upright and moved on two legs like a man but it was covered in thick fur. The Travler produced a simple spy glass from his jacket pocket and fumbled with the focus a bit until he could make out canine ears on the head of creature as it disappeared into the thicket. He rubbed his eyes in disbelief. As a journalist he’d heard stories of werewolves in Europe but had always attributed it to tales made up to excite tourists or possibly wheat contamination from hallucination inducing fungus. In fact his pack had a little bag sewn to one of the straps that contained a Saint Christopher’s medallion and a measure of dried wolfsbane. It was a gift from an elderly woman in France who wanted to repay him for an act of kindness. He kept it as a memento of his time traveling the French countryside. He didn’t actually believe in such nonsense until he saw it with his own eyes. Tonight would be a long night indeed. He passed the night writing of this encounter in his journal and doing sketches on walls of his cliffside shelter. If he disappeared like the the ones he was investigating then perhaps one day someone would find the sketches and know what happened. He kept the lamp burning until he heard the birds singing at dawn. He’d dozed off a couple of times but for the most part he managed to keep his vigil. He gathered his belongings back into his pack and began to cautiously descend back down to the pathway stopping often to make sure he was alone. The path was fairly clear and he ate a little jerky as he walked. He had thought he was making good time when he got the feeling that he was being watched. The forest had grown quiet again. He tighten the grip on his oak staff stopped pretending to interested in a patch of mushrooms growing on log that partially blocked the way. He could the rustling of leaves behind him. The beast was slowing closing in on him. He wished that he’d been carrying a weapon other than his stick. Preferably one loaded with silver bullets. His spiked staff would have to do. He may not survive this fight but the werewolf would know that he’d been in a fight. He could hear the heavy breathing and an occasional grunt. He spun around and set the staff against his foot with the spike out in front of him hoping that the creature would impale itself in the charge. But as he raised his eyes it wasn’t a werewolf that had been stalking him. It was a bear. His sudden turn had surprised the bear causing it to hesitate. He was slightly more confident that he faced a natural creature instead of legendary beast but this would still be a fight for his life. The bear was on all fours with its lower lip extended in anger. The traveler observed the bears anatomy and planed his counter strike as the bear stood up. Time seemed to freeze for a moment and the tension was broken by a loud “FA-BOOM”. The traveler recognized this as the sound of a black powder rifle discharge. The bear howled in pain and took a bounding leap in the traveler’s direction only to fall dead at his feet. Stunned, the traveler looked in the direction of the shot to see a giant of a man standing not fifteen yards away. The man wore buckskin pants, a wool overshirt and a jacket made from coyote pelts. The hood of wich retained the coyote’s face including the canine ears. The mountaineer spoke softly but clearly. “God expects us to watch over strangers in our hills.” The traveler had never been so relieved in his life. Not only did werewolves remain in the world of mythos but the person he’d mistaken to be one just saved his life.
This concludes the Halloween portion of my story. Inspiration continues to flow so my plan is to continue with the adventure of these two characters for a few days.
Good night friends and be blessed throughout your days.
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