Chapter 29

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After three days in the woods, Jason and Sarah’s luck was going from bad to worse. Every camping trick they had learned throughout their lives just wasn’t working, making life in the woods miserable. Sarah had made sure to tie all their food into a smell proof bag, hanging it high above the ground, yet the very first night some animal actually chewed through the rope she used to haul the food up, tore the bag open and ate their main supply of food. Jason tried to get Sarah to pack up that morning, but she pulled out the freeze dried food she had stored away and they had been living on that.

On her first trip out to check the cameras on the second day she leaned her rifle against the trunk of a tree for less than two minutes while she changed out the memory card in the first camera. When she turned around the rifle was gone. Thinking she had misplaced it or maybe it had fallen behind the tree she spent almost an hour looking for it, only to come up empty handed. Once again Jason urged her to leave the woods but her insistence, along with a certain form of adult bribery, changed his mind. Luckily they still had Jason’s rifle.

That night there was a light rain. Normally that wouldn’t mean much to them except that small tears had somehow appeared on all the walls of the tent and on the tarp that covered it. They woke up that night shivering, their sleeping bags soaking wet. Neither of them could figure out why a brand new tent would have so many small tears on its second trip into the woods. Jason was sure he had packed it up carefully the last time they had used it.

The next morning they were forced to pack up camp and move further upstream. As Sarah went to get water for their morning coffee, she discovered a dead and bloated deer, its throat torn out, had either fallen into or floated down to their little part of the stream. Jason almost got sick off the smell, and neither of them had the stomach to try and pull it out of the water. It took them the rest of the morning to find another camp site and get setup.

That afternoon was the straw that almost broke the camel’s back. After getting the campsite setup for the second time, they dropped their supplies and reluctantly went back to the stream to cool off and cleanup. Jason’s bad mood that had been forming the last two days faded away when Sarah insisted with a mischievous smile that they go skinny dipping in the stream again. Being a mile or two at least from the nearest trail they happily took advantage of the lack of people, and spent the next few hours laughing together in the stream. When they finally got out and back to camp they were greeted with yet another unwelcome surprise. Some animal had pushed the zipper open to their tent and made its way inside. Jason cautiously opened the flap of the door with the barrel of their remaining gun. When no animal jumped out at him he stuck his head inside, pulling it out a second later coughing and gagging.

“Whatever the hell got in there pissed all over our sleeping bags” he exclaimed.

“What do you mean” she replied, shocked.

“I mean, both our sleeping bags are covered in piss and the tent smells like crap” he yelled.

Sarah flinched, he had never snapped at her before. She knew the stress of the last few days was getting to him and she was feeling guilty for making him stay out here. Still, she wanted to see this through. The problem was with most of the food gone, holes in the tent, and now no sleeping bags, she knew it was going to be hard to keep him out here much longer.

“I’ll tell you what,” she said, “I’ll pull the sleeping bags out and get rid of them somehow, maybe burn them, I don’t know. We’ll let the tent air out today, if it still smells we can use our spare blankets and sleep under the stars. Just give me tonight and tomorrow at the most, and we’ll get out of here I promise, pictures or not.”

“I don’t think the tent is going to air out honey” he mumbled, a little ashamed of his outburst.

“Then we’ll throw it out too, it’s all torn up anyways. What do you say? Can you give me two more nights? It’ll still be less than the week you promised me, and I’ll make it worth your while.” While she talked she ran her fingers through his hair, something that always calmed him down, and usually helped her get her way. Hoping he didn’t catch the extra night she threw in, she brushed his cheek with her hand on the last part, knowing by the look on his face that he was about to give in. He finally relaxed and let out a long breath.

“Alright, just two more nights and then we’re getting the hell out of here, and I’m not sleeping in that tent again!”

She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, then brushing her hands off, she got ready to pull out the sleeping bags and try to figure out what to do with them. Jason carried his pack next to the small fire and got ready to make some coffee.

“I’m going to need this,” he said to himself, “and something stronger when we get back home.” Suddenly he realized something. “Wait, two more night? I thought you said tomorrow!”

Sarah just laughed quietly from inside the tent.

….

Just outside of earshot from the campsite, a large white wolf watched the couple move around their ruined camp. He had run too far away to make out the conversation and didn’t want to risk coming in any closer and being seen. His fur was too bright to hide him effectively this time of year. From here he was downwind and able to smell them though.

Humans have different scents depending on their moods, with enough experience and practice, most of his kind could tell what they were feeling just by the scent in the air. He sniffed at the light breeze coming from their camp, making out enough of what was happening in the conversation by their scent and body movements to know that they were staying. For the past couple days he had done everything he could think of to chase them out of the woods short of scaring them out himself, and them seeing him was the last thing he wanted. With every trick he pulled he could smell frustration on them, especially the male. Today he could smell outright anger and watched closely for any signs of packing it in and moving out.

Things were getting dangerous in the woods around the mountain and he wanted them gone, and if the vampire was right about what they were hunting, he would have no time to babysit these two. When the male calmed down and began tending the fire again, he let out a quiet growl and barred his teeth at them.

“What is it going to take for these two?”  

 He had to restrain himself once more from charging into their camp and chasing them off himself, but to do that would be the opposite of what he was trying to accomplish. They had seen others from his pack already, they didn’t need a second look at his kind to further their ambitions. Only one thing left to do then. If they were still insistent upon being out here he would have to leave them to their fate for a while. He had other business to attend to. With a final snarl at the couple he took off running, a white blur among a sea of greens and browns.

He made a loop away from the camp until he came to the small trail the woman had walked a few days prior. Following the faint scent she had left behind, he came to the first of her trail cameras. He stopped in front of it in time to hear the faint sound if a picture being taken. No matter. He stood with his front paws against the tree and bit down on the camera, then with a quick shake of his head he had it ripped off the tree. The sound of cracking plastic filled the air as he snapped the straps and loops that held it to the tree. When it came loose he swung his head and released the camera, throwing it against the tree with such force that the plastic front shattered like glass to reveal the insides. He took a half second to smell the inside pieces before he found the small memory card that stored the pictures, gripping it carefully in his front teeth he pulled it free, snapping it in half between his teeth. Hopefully when she found all her cameras ruined the woman would leave, and more importantly she would leave with no proof of his kind.

Satisfied with his work on the first camera, the wolf took off running down the trail to sniff out the rest, being careful not to run through any soft mud that would leave footprints. As he ran he swerved to avoid one muddy part of the path that came too close to the stream, missing the sound of another camera snapping a picture just off the path as he ran by.

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