Mathuin cowered in the corner of the trapper cabin, desperate not to make a sound.
The black bear raged outside, huffing and pacing, searching for a way in. Its fur smelled like mildew and muck, and its breath was like rotting fish. Mathuin struggled to keep from retching.
His father’s shotgun hung above the door and rattled with every forceful lunge from the creature.
His old man would be disgusted with him cowering. Quit being a goddamn wimp, and kill that sumbitch. Easy for the man who’d hunted over two dozen bears.
But his father wasn’t here, and the bear was.
It rammed against the trapper cabin, making the door hinges scream and the bolts bend. It would only take another hit before the bear was inside.
Mathuin sprung from the corner and snatched the shotgun. He cracked it open. Shit! No shells. Where were they?
He spied them on the low shelf above his father’s bed and stumbled across the room. The bear thrust its massive paw through a small window by his head, and he barely ducked to avoid it.
He lay low beside the bed and struggled to get his hands on any of the ammunition. His fingers seized on two shells, and he pulled them down.
The paw disappeared, and for a moment, Mathuin hoped the creature had given up. But he knew better and struggled to get the shells in the double barrels quickly.
The bear slammed hard, and the door ripped off its hinges. The giant beast pushed its way inside and plunged the room into darkness.
Mathuin scrambled beneath the bed, but the creature yanked it away and exposed him. He rolled back under and fumbled for a shell—
Dammit! He’d lost one! He didn’t have time to look. He slid his last one into the chamber.
The beast pulled the bed aside, and Mathuin stared face-to-face with it.
Its eyes were wild, and its mouth frothed. It was rabid and ready to murder him.
Shoot the sumbitch, Mathuin!
He lifted the shotgun, aimed into the chest, and pulled the trigger. The sound ricocheted off the walls, and the monster flailed in pain. Mathuin wanted to hide, but there was nowhere to go.
The creature did the only thing it knew. It ran. It burst out of the cabin and disappeared into the woods.
Mathuin lay in the shattered remains of his father’s cabin, happy to have survived the encounter.
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