Deep in the Miramichi Woods

He was roundin the turn in the river and was trying to keep from falling into the water as he inched his way along on the moss-covered rocks beneath his feet. From the corner of his eye he caught the flash of something black slip behind a thick growth of alders about thirty feet in front of him. At the very same moment fear enveloped him and he began to tremble uncontrollably. He felt weak, a bit sick to his stomach. Although he had no idea what was in the north woods with him he felt that something awful was about to happen.

Gusbur Glaspie had logged this stretch of woods about 15 years back. He was very familiar with the stream he was traveling and he had a good memory of the lay of the land. After all, he had walked it many a time checking on his lumberjacks as they took the big burly logs to the stream near the spot where he was now frozen in fear.

Memories of quick glimpses of movement in this same area flashed through his mind, giving him the feeling of uneasiness he felt in the past. All had gone unexplained.

In the recesses of his mind he never stopped wondering what could be in this part of the woods which only he had seen. His heart began to return to normal, the pounding in his ears dropped to where he could hear the ripple of the water flowing over the worn granite in the stream. His pace quickened, caution was on his mind but curiosity was overpowering.

The spot where the black thing disappeared into the thick alders led quickly to a steep slope. It would be impossible for man, or beast to scale the slope without disturbing the forest blanket. "The thing is waiting for me to come closer", thought Gusber. He knew not what to do and the curiosity gave way to the sickening felling again. Never before had he felt this alone. "But, I'm not alone", he said to himself. His mouth got dry and the harder his eyes strained to try and locate and identify the black thing, the more his eyes watered. He wasn't crying, but tears were running down his cheeks. He felt like shouting. If he could just blat something out the black thing might give its location away, or it might just run away forever. He wanted to shout his mother's name. Just thinking about her brought him a little comfort.

Seconds earlier he had heard the sound of the rushing stream and the slosh of his feet pushing water away as he waded. Birds had been singing. He heard the breeze blowing, but now there was no sound. He heard nothing over the pounding of his heart.

The twilight was setting on the trees on top of the steep slope. A great-horned owl gave a whooshing sound as it screamed in full flight over his head, feeling the ripple of air flow past like the roar of a voodoo jet.

Gusber managed to get his mouth open to begin shouting his mother's name, but no sound came out, the tears began to dry and stick to his bearded face. "A grown man I am" he thought. Reaching in his pack-sack for his torch and a handful of dried beans.

His fingers, acting like eyes, searched the inside of the pack-sack for matches and beans, but they could not be located. Afraid to take his eyes away from where the black thing might be he let his fingers continue their frustrated search in the darkness of the pack. He began feeling frustrated and grew angry. Under his breath he began to curse. His frustration and anger quickly turned to shame as he thought about his poor old mother watching and listening from above. What would she be think of him right now. She had raised him to be better than this. She never showed fear for anything. She was always kind, gentle, sweet, curious and understanding. He never knew her to be weak. His father on the other hand was a different story. He was a drunk and afraid of his own shadow. As weak a man as he had ever seen, but not toward his mother who he abused repeatedly before the liquor bottle sucked his cowardly life away one cold winter night. "Thank God for that", he thought. "Snap out of it, snap out of it. Don't be a God-damned coward like your father", he said to himself.

There was a rustling in the leaves, the whisper of a light breeze blowing through the pines on top of the hill stirred his emotions to where the tears began to flow again. Darkness was coming, his sight was becoming distorted to where the tree in front of him was just a blur. He thought to himself " Should I set up camp here for the night with this thing in the woods around me?"

"Mother of Jesus, Help me" his voice screaming at the top of his lungs. "What have I done to deserve this".

His face fell forward till his chin thumped against and settled on the top of his chest. Several tears dropped from his cheeks and into the stream. He remained motionless for an eternal second. Instinctively his eyes opened and slowly his head rose. There, not fifty feet in front of him, was the black thing standing in mid-stream. "What in Jesus' name is it", he thought. "Who are you? What are you that torments me so? What do you want", he shouted.

The splash of the stream flowing past the black things legs was all Gusbur could hear. Then in the faint breeze flowing through the trees off in a distance he could hear a voice calling his name. Trying to keep his eyes fixed on the black form, he cocked his ear towards the top of the steep slope hoping to make out what the voice was calling, a call similar to the one his mother used to call the cows from the pasture at milking time.

The black thing splashed towards him-------------------------
to be continued...........................
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