The sun had already started its slow journey behind the mountains. As it descended, it painted the sky with an amazing mix of yellow and orange. Three weeks ago, Tommy Haskin had found these sunsets special as they spoke to his soul and his love of the outdoors.
He now watched the spectacle with an icy pit of dread in his stomach.
Tommy threw another log onto the fire. The fire had to be big, it had to be hot, and most of all, it had to be bright.
He dug a photo out of his coat pocket. The small, wallet-sized, photo was faded and bent, but it was the most precious thing he carried on his person. Especially now.
In the photo, his wife Sally held their newborn, Henry. Sally sported a caring smile and nothing but love in her eyes as she beamed with the glow of their child. Even little Henry gave a cheeky grin. Tommy said it was probably him passing gas, but Sally insisted it was genuine. Who was he to argue?
He kissed the photo and put it back in his pocket. His breath formed small clouds in front of his face. It would snow soon, but he wasn’t sure he’d be around to see the first flakes fall. Not with it out there.
The sun finally went to bed and the twilight washed the forest. The moon was on the rise and Tommy didn’t have to look to know it was full. He had known this would be the night.
He grabbed the spears he had crafted. They were carved from pine and tipped with knapped obsidian he had found. Tommy wished he could have found a harder wood, but they would have to do. The spears were well-crafted and he thanked his old primitive skills instructor for being so detailed in their instruction. Tommy’s life depended on these weapons.
He sat by the fire for hours, staring at the flames. In the beginning, his senses had been hyper-sensitive and he jumped or focused on every little branch that broke or owl that hooted. However, as the night wore on, fatigue began to hit, and he wasn’t as sharp.
Tommy tried to stay positive. Perhaps he would survive until morning. Maybe he could make it home.
He should have known better.
The woods fell silent. The only noises were the crack and pop of his campfire along with the beating of his heart.
Tommy stood and whirled around. He grabbed one of his spears and stared into the trees. The full moon provided a decent amount of light, but the way the shadows danced through the branches of the pines and aspens made it hard to see anything.
A tree snapped behind him. He spun and caught the firelight reflecting on a set of eyes.
Tommy’s heart pounded in his chest. He gripped the shaft of the spear and set his feet in the dirt.
His screams echoed through the night sky.