Snow drifted lazily down in wayward arcs, the individual flakes twirling in the light breeze that caressed his frozen face. He hefted his bundle of trapped animals slung over his back, a mixture of foxes, wolverines and wolves. The giant man stomped through the light snow, heading for his home in the far outreaches of the Alaskan wilderness. Away from civilization, away from people…
Away from Them.
Thinking of his warm cave, the man tromped down into the valley he called home, looking for his tripwires and checking his bear holes (all vacant) for any unwelcome guests. A sudden gust of wind brought a flurry of snow into his face, along with a scent he had long since hoped to forget.
Motor oil. Sweat. Gunpowder.
There were men in his valley. Dropping his wrapped bundle of trapped animals, one hand moving to clutch his head, he began stripping off his light shirt and the thick jacket, a sudden pounding in his skull making him feel dizzy. His lungs felt as if they were on fire, his heart raced… looking up at the sky he could see the sun setting in the distance, and watched the rainbow of colors dance before his eyes as they strained in his sockets. Reaching to his back, he grabbed a hold of the handle to his weapon and pulled it forward, just as he dropped to a knee, his skin splitting down the seam of his spine, and across his face.
In the distance, a wolf howled a mournful howl.
“Who do you think lives here?” Ben asked, looking around the cave that he and his brother had walked into. They’d been out looking for ghost towns when they stumbled across this valley and noted the footprints in the snow slowly filling in.
Now they stood in a dark cave, fine leather pelts stretched out on homemade racks, a large mound of bear pelts stacked in the corner as if some great beast dwelled here using them as a bed. The whole cave smelled of rot and decay, as well as the unmistakable odor of wolf urine. Probably to keep other wolves away, though how this cave had yet to attract a bear was amazing, to say the least.
“Can’t rightly say,” Brandon replied cryptically, holding up an electric lantern to the wall, examining some charcoal drawings on the wall. “Inuit’s maybe, though how they could stand the cold I have no idea. Ain’t no sign of a fire, is there?”
Ben looked surprised and sheepish at the same time; surprised that there was indeed nothing to keep the caves occupant warm, and sheepish that he hadn’t noticed before his brother. The two always competed when they went out to the rural towns of Alaska, trying to find artifacts worth money to any strange buyer. Some people loved the old-timey stuff one could find in the ramshackle towns, other genuinely collected the pieces of history for academic reasons. And then some collected the pieces found for reasons unknown to the brothers Hans.
A wolf howled in the distance, something that made Ben and Brandon’s hands drift to their guns instinctively. Wolves were never a good thing to encounter in the woods, especially when it was getting dark.
“Looks like we’ll be making camp here tonight,” Brandon said, pulling his .45 from his chest holster. “Gather up some of those pelts and bring’em to the caves entrance while I work on starting a campfire. We should be able to sleep well enough on those, provided the owner doesn’t come back and want to kill us for intruding.”
“That’s what we have guns for Brandon,” Ben said with a sigh, moving to gather the thick, soft bear pelts from the pile. There must have been forty or fifty of them, all of differing sizes. As he was moving them one at a time, Ben got the chance to look them over. He didn’t see any holes marking gunshot wounds, just long slices into the leather hides, as if something with a lone claw felled the beasts. Most of them had been left untouched, buts some showed signs of crude stitching, trying to hold the pelt together where it had been cut up too badly.
Ben dropped the first pelt at the entrance of the cave, before smiling at the two girls sitting on the backs of the snowmobiles. Jane and Jenny Tomson, better known as the “Tomson Twins”, both regal beauties in their own right. Tall and blonde with legs that didn’t end and high, perky chests, they were the dream girls of many of the other guys in town. Ben and Brandon were the lucky ones to nab them, which may have had to do with the fact that the two brothers were identical twins as well. Many a night they would have primal, sweaty fun beneath the stars, swapping partners until they never knew who they were screwing in the end.
Ben smiled… it was a bonding experience, after all.
Jenny was seated on the back of the black snowmobile, a rifle across her lap as she stared at Brandon gathering wood to make a fire. “So we’re camping here tonight?”
“Yeah,” Brandon replied, dropping down to his knees to arrange the wood. “There’s plenty of materials to make sure we’re all snuggly tonight.”
“Snuggly enough to have some fun?” Jane asked, a wry smile crossing her face as she waggled her eyebrows at Ben. Jenny smacked her on the arm, causing Jane to pout. “What?”
“We just had a four-way the other night; can’t you go more than a day without sex?” Jenny demanded.
“God I hope not,” Ben answered for her, earning a round of chuckles from the gathered teens.