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Rated: E · Fiction · Contest Entry · #2183344
A winter storm complicates a mountain cabin retreat.
The mountain cabin window shattered startling Eric up out of his cushioned chair. Snow blasted through it on a wild sub-zero gale. The hearth fire did not provide enough light to see out into the fierce night. He was holding his breath. Breathe he thought. It was just a freak gust of wind.

A defining roar caused Eric to drop his book and step back almost into the fireplace. Immediately a large paw reached through the opening followed by a bear head. Terror froze Eric in place.

Pushing to get through, the bear cut itself on the remaining window glass. Eric looked about in panic and grabbed the iron poker. With relief he realized the bear was too big to get through the small cabin window. This gave him courage.

He ran up and drove the poker tip into the bear’s face. A red line ripped across the bear’s cheek. The bear roared in pain, pulled its enormous head back outside while swiping claws raked Eric’s forearm. Eric cried out and leapt back dropping the poker. Blood poured from his cuts. Looking back to the window, Eric could not see the bear anymore. Was it gone?

With a bear no longer plugging the window, the room temperature plunged. First things first, I need to take care of my arm, and then barricade the window. The first task was painful. Eric did not like the depth of the cuts. They went ugly and deep. Perhaps even to the bone.

The second task, nailing sofa cushions over the window was terrifying. He feared the bear would leap out of the darkness again. Eventually he stepped back. No way would his repair keep out a bear, but it would keep heat in. Eric added more wood to the fire. His arm throbbed.

I need medical attention. I can’t stay here for the rest of the week as planned. But I can’t leave either, he thought. The snow is too deep for my 4-wheel drive SUV. I can’t walk 5 miles to the road. What if the bear comes back? He tried to sleep, but the pain was intense. By morning, there was no choice. The injuries were infected.

Eric tossed some beef jerky, Slim Jims, crackers, water, and the first aid kit into his back pack. He searched the cabin for snow shoes, and finally found some in the storage shed. Jamming a box of rifle bullets into his coat pocket, he picked up his rifle, and set off down the narrow mountain road among the leafless trees.

It was a sunny day. Birds sang for the first half hour. Eric noticed they had stopped. Did birds only sing in the morning? He’d have to ask someone.

He found the snow shoes awkward and hard work. Despite disliking them, they were vital to his hike.

The trees parted and he found himself at the top of a 40 foot cliff. Where is the road? Looking around he could not see it. He did see a car moving on the main road in the distance. No way could he miss it. It crossed his current direction. He’d just have to climb down the cliff. It didn’t look that bad. It had a slight slope to it. Taking off his snow shoes and pack he tossed them over the edge onto the deep snow below. What about the rifle? He decided to climb down holding on to it as long as possible.

When he was about 12 feet from the ground, a bear galloped out of the tress below straight toward him. Eric screamed and scrambled a few feet back up the cliff. It was too hard to climb up. He started to slid and grabbed onto a leafless shrub branch. The bear roared up at him in frustration. After 15 minutes of continued attempts, the shaggy creature noticed his pack. It tore open the pack and consumed the Slim Jims and beef jerky.

His injured arm was worthless but he could crook it by the elbow around the shrub’s thick stem. Carefully, Eric aimed his rifle. Luckily, he thought, it is a nice big target. Pulling the trigger, the gun jumped and fell from his hand. The bear roared and bit at its side. Then it took off running.

Eric waited to see if it would come back. When it didn’t, he completed his climb down. Gathering his gun and putting on his snowshoes, he continued toward the road. After another mile of hiking, Eric came across a bright red line of spots in the snow. He lifted the rifle mussel up, ready to shoot from the hip. He turned completely around. The bear was still out there. Maybe it was even stalking him. Seeing no hint of movement, Eric shuffled on. He would have moved faster but even fear could not overcome his increasing exhaustion. Before long he could see the main road. He’d made it. He’d crossed the finish line.

Out of the corner of his eye Eric saw movement. Loping through the trees is the bear kicking up snow as he runs directly at Eric. “No,” Eric yells. Fumbling with the rifle he takes aim and shoots, and keeps shooting. All of the bullets miss. Oh, my God, thought Eric. I’m going to die. This monster is going to kill me. But instead the bear frightened by the sound that means pain, runs back into the trees. Eric continues to watch the trees until he hears a car approaching. It’s a family in an SUV. Waving them down, he explains he needs a hospital. As they make room for him, the bear walks out of the trees onto the road. The kids are delighted. Eric is horrified. They are not going to escape. But then the father honks his horn scaring the bear out of the way. Everyone except Eric laughs at the silly old bear. What a wonderful treat to see Mother Nature up close and personal.

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