Scouting mission turned into near death experience


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I began to thank my lucky stars. After what had been a cold and lonely night spent on the back seat of what used to be somebody's family car, I had been trudging along through this storm for hours now hoping for something...anything that would help me survive until I could find help. I'd been doing OK since I came to, although I didn't know for how much longer. The weather was terrible, and the wilderness even more so.

Coming into view I could just see through the wind driven snow, the bulky outline of what seemed to be a large building. I forced my freezing body onwards, in grave need of shelter from the howling wind pushing against me, gripping my chest tightly, and there was simply no better option in sight in this white, barren landscape. Approaching closer I could see what appeared to be fruit trees, with some scrawny looking rabbits running around beneath them, feeding on any green vegetation they could find. My own stomach growled. Was I soon to experience that same desperation? My worry was starting to get the better of me I realised. What was I doing out here...I'm not made for this!

Making my way further toward the building, looking up shielding my eyes from the bitter wind, the relief was enormous. Not something I thought I'd be doing today as I mounted the front stairs and banged my fist on the farmhouse door, considering I should have been somewhere up there, comfortably cruising thousands of feet above it at altitude, with unlimited refills on my coffee. No answer. I swung open the door.

Despite first appearances of being lived in the house looked recently abandoned once inside. Whoever left here did so quickly. There were still some tins of food and a few bits of gear scattered around that I could use if needed I suppose, but I hoped in some corner of my mind that despite my fears saying otherwise, this old place wouldn't need to be "base camp" and my meager "supplies" that I'd scavenged consisting entirely of snack bars, a packet of jerky and a bottle of water would be all I needed once I found help, or a radio at least...but for now, the furniture should suffice for the fireplace as I slowly ate a snack bar and thawed my body, wondering just what exactly to do.

Sunrise. Still alone. The fire had burnt down hours ago as even the cast iron stove was now cold. Nothing in this old place is going to bring help to me, so I'm going to have to go out there and find it. If I don't do something I'm not going to last much longer, let alone be moving about. What if there wasn't anyone around? What if I had to make it to the next town, wherever that is? I need a map. Food. Warm clothes to replace these rags. This isn't going to be simple. I reached for the hunting rifle that I'd found yesterday. I'd never used one of these before and they are actually quite intimidating I feel, but now it would seem like a good bloody time to learn. Although I only had a few bullets and some other basic tools, I was confident that I with everything at my disposal, I could last long enough to locate some help, or at least another house with some more food. Perhaps a starving rabbit. Besides, the weather looked better than last night.

Looking back at the house to make sure I had my bearings before venturing beyond eyesight, I noticed newly formed grey clouds descending from the distant mountains from across the ranges, bringing with them nothing but a miserable, dangerous time for me, especially if I was caught outside when they dumped their freezing snow. That much of wilderness survival I did know. Time to move quickly. I turned back around and took a few more steps and as I rounded a large pine tree I froze mid step, my eyes flying open with fear.

Roughly 30 meters away it was there, alone, head down, engrossed in devouring the deer carcass before him. A black wolf. Possibly the most terrifying predatory beast to encounter in the woods. Worse still, if you are alone. What to do? He hasn't noticed me yet. My mind raced. Fight or flight? I had to decide. My heart was thumping.

Too late. He raised his head, turning it toward me, sniffing the air briefly then peering in my direction. First his left, then his right. His front paws seemed to move in slow motion as his body tensed and he sprang from his prey, coming towards me lengthening its stride running now at a full gallop. I scrambled and fumbled with the rifle. I starting stumbling backwards as the beast sped closer, his size becoming very apparent and my chances of survival already fast declining. Fifteen meters. Ten. I couldn't move. Six. I looked up. This is it.

BANG! The rifle jumped sent forth an explosion of smoke and sound, snapping me out of my trance. Five meters in front of me, it lay there with blood draining from where most of its face once was. Did I do this? What? How? But sure, it was me, it must have been me. I didn't remember shooting the rifle, I don't even know how, do I? But there he was, along with the bullet shell here beside me. Crazy! No-ones ever going to believe this I thought, as I punched the air and let out a whoop that echoed quietly off the hills.

With the echo fading, so too did my smile. I had not eaten for some time now and I couldn't help but wonder, what does wolf taste like? I'd tried a few different meals in my life, that's one thing, but this. I wasn't sure but I knew it was foolish to leave two carcass's go to waste given my snack bar supply was nearly done. Cutting away the flesh with a hatchet was not pretty, although as time went on and the wolf began to freeze, I found it somewhat easier. I found my mind slipping. My focus was going, it must be the cold. Or the fear. Probably both.

Loaded with raw meat, as much as I could carry and then some, I left the two carcasses for the crows as I decided to haul ass back to "base". I was ok. My mind was only able to focus on the immediate now, being petrified from the wolf seemed so long ago, despite the sun only moving halfway across the sky.

I should have guessed. My heart leaped once again. I couldn't be so unlucky, could I? But then again, since when do wolves normally travel alone? I knew no better. I began to sob. Another one. The wolf had a friend, and it was coming right for me.

I dropped everything and grabbed my rifle. I can do this I thought, please, let me be capable! He was closing fast but I still had time. Thirty meters. How do I reload this thing? Why didn't I reload before? I'm such a fool! Twenty meters. Come on, work!! Ten meters. Aim! BANG!

I hit him. Square on. Amazing isn't it? Never shot a rifle, yet two out of two hits in one day. Any pilot could be proud. But that only mattered for a micro second. It was too late. He was on top of me, his gnashing teeth inches from my face and his weight bearing down on me. Why does it always happen this way? Is it always in slow motion I thought, when we fear for our lives? I could smell him, his stench, gained from living amongst the granite canyons and frozen lakes, feeding on the unfortunate inhabitants of his realm. His saliva was dripping from what were giant fangs, spraying everywhere as he growled and barked, biting at my hands and arms. I yelled at the beast as I desperately struggled for my life, trying to keep my body parts out of his jaws, mostly from fear but also from anger. Anger at being stranded out here. If this was going to be it, I wasn't going to go out easily I decided. My fingers touched something. My hatchet! If only I could get an opening, just a moment to get a swing... Oh my god, I'm dying here. I'm going to have one chance at this. He's hurting badly, but hurting me more.

Thud. The hatchet buried deep in his skull and his lifeless eyes began to roll in their sockets. His entire weight came down on my chest as his legs collapsed and his muscles changed from expending immense amounts of energy trying to take my life, to lifeless. Still. Blood was everywhere. I didn't know who's was who's, mine or his. It didn't matter, I was bleeding out fast from numerous wounds. Where is the farm house? My head swam. I had to stay focused. Stay with it. This is serious...I'm weakening. Those trees. They make an archway. Thats it I remember, go there! It was slow. My makeshift bandages were holding my lacerations together, but they were still leaking. I had to get back, now!

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