Predators on a hiking trail
She peeked through a crack between vertical boards. Nothing moved. Pressing her ear to the same crack, she waited. No sound. The three-sided hikers’ shelter was empty. Going around to the front she entered the dim interior. The temperature dropped a few degrees. Despite the high elevation of the hiking trail in this section of the Appalachians, the day was hot.
"Where'd you come from?" said a male voice.
She jumped and let out a yelp.
The grimy man laughed heartily.
Cheeks burning, she said, "I could ask you the same."
"I've been resting here for a while. Come on over here and set a spell."
She was nervous about complying. He could easily overpower her.
"Come on. I won't bite you," he said. "Good. Now can you see the trail from here?"
"Yeah," she said.
"So can I, and I didn't see you come up either direction." He waited for a reply. “Not telling. Okay, then, what’s your name?"
"Bait," she said.
"That’s an odd name. Well, Bait, are you lost?" He looked her up and down. “It can be dangerous on the trail you know."
Bait stepped away from him.
"I can understand why you’re skittish, Sweetheart. Paper said two hiker's bodies were found not far from here." He stood up.
She backed away from him.
He pulled a knife from his belt. "I’ve been hoping a solo hiker might show up."
Bait ran from the shelter and scrambled up the forested mountainside. She could hear the man pursuing. Too close. He was almost on her. She heard a cry of pain followed by a small slide of gravel and pine needles. Stopping, she turned back. An arrow pointed at the sky from the man’s chest.
“Next time,” she said to her approaching sister, “you’re the bait.”
Word count: 299