Short Stories

Short Stories Man v Nature



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Man v Nature

Sam sat with his wife in their favorite local restaurant. They looked across the table at each other.

“Are you really going to do this” his wife asked “You are nearly 60 years old”

“I keep myself in shape” Sam said defensively

“I know” replied his wife “But it has been years since you did anything like this, are you sure you are up to it?”

Sam had always been an adventurer. In his youth he had loved to go hunting, fishing and camping in the backwoods around his home. However life had intruded on this pastime and work, family and other commitments had soon got in the way. His career and family had taken precedence and his adventuring days had waned. Now with the children grown up and retirement having kicked in, Sam intended to indulge himself and was aiming to have a week of solitude in the wilderness. His wife thought he was crazy and tried to talk him out of it, but Sam have forged ahead and bought the camping and outdoor gear needed. A tent, fishing pole and other camping equipment now sat in the spare room of his home ready for use and the following day Sam was heading off into the deep backwoods like he had done so often in his younger days. Sam and his wife sat in relative silence for the rest of their meal, each with their own thoughts.

The following morning Sam woke early. He packed the car, ate some breakfast, kissed his wife and left. See you in a week were his last words before setting off. Within 3 hours he had left civilization and tarmac roads behind and was bumping along a dirt track heading further into the wilderness. He finally reached a trailhead where he parked his car, put on his backpack and set off on foot into the woods. Beautiful, he thought, no one around for miles and it’s just me and nature. He left the trail he had been following and edged ever deeper into the woods trying to find a suitable place to set up camp. He finally found a little clearing among the trees close to a small lake. This is it, he thought, and within a couple of hours his tent was set up, a fire was roaring and some coffee was brewing. Sam sat on a small fold up chair and took in his surroundings. Perfect, he thought, this is going to be one great week.

The next morning Sam awoke with some aches and pains in his body. Wife was right, he thought, body is not what it used to be. He laughed to himself and stretched. 15 minutes later with a couple of cups of strong coffee coursing through his system he felt better. Grabbing his new rod he set off down to the lake and set himself up for a morning’s fishing. A couple of relaxing hours later he had already caught five fish and was ready to head back for lunch. A movement caught his eye and he turned his head to look. Nothing stirred. Must have been my imagination thought Sam. He turned to leave but again he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. This time when he turned to look he saw a bear amble out from the trees into the clearing. Wow, though Sam, that is so cool. With the small lake between them Sam was not overly worried at the appearance of the bear but after a couple of minutes watching thought the best course of action was to beat a retreat and head back to his camp. He turned to look back and saw the bear circling the lake, sniffing the air. He looked down at the fish he carried. Nice bear attractors Sam, he thought. He unhooked a couple of the fish and threw them back towards the lake hoping this would be enough to satisfy the bear. It didn’t. After finishing its easy meal the bear continued towards Sam’s camp. Oh great, what do I do now, thought Sam.

Stay or go? Stay or Go? The question bounced around Sam’s mind. His initial thought was to stay in the camp and ward the bear off. However common sense took over and he moved to the edge of the clearing and stood behind a tree. He watched as the bear took over his camp. It ate the remainder of the fish and looked around for more. Sam watched helplessly as the bear approached his tent. It circled this sniffing then suddenly with a swing of its paw it ripped a gaping wound in the tent. Sam could only watch as the bear got inside and began ripping apart his possessions. In less than 5 minutes Sam’s gear lay in tatters around his damaged tent. He decided to take action and shouting, screaming and flailing his arms he moved towards his camp hoping the noise would scare off the bear and let him salvage what remained of his possessions. This turned out to be a bad decision. The bear turned to watch but rather than moving away it held its position. Realizing he was doing no good Sam stopped and moved back to the edge of the clearing. The bear followed.

Man, this just keeps getting worse, Sam thought, as he moved deeper into the woods. He ducked behind a tree and turned to watch. The bear reached the edge of the woods and stopped, sniffing the air. Oh for goodness sake, thought Sam, just go away. The bear did not hear his silent plea and moved into the woods. Sam continued to move deeper into the woods but began to worry that carrying on was going to get him lost in the wilderness. He decided to climb a tree. He found one with low hanging branches and pulled himself up into it and then climbed higher. He felt tired but kept on climbing and when he thought he was high enough he stopped and looked down. He saw the bear approaching and prayed with all his might for the bear to pass by. God’s not listening today, he thought, as the bear stopped under the tree and looked directly up at him. Sam started to panic realizing he had trapped himself in the tree. He looked down as the bear stood up to its full height and reached up. His eyes locked with the bear and it growled. A flicker of fear ran through his body as he realized this bear was not going to give up. To his utter dismay the bear started to climb. Sam looked around desperately for an escape. He thought back to his wife saying he was crazy to be running around the woods at his age and saw she was right. This was fast turning into a nightmare that he thought he might not escape from.

After looking around for an escape the only idea that came to mind was to jump. He looked down. It seemed like a long way but the sight of the bear moving ever closer was enough to stiffen his resolve. He moved out onto an overhanging branch and lowered himself so that he was hanging by his arms. He waited for the bear to draw level with the branch and as it did he closed his eyes and let go. He crashed down through the branches of the tree and hit the ground hard. Although winded he jumped to his feet and started to run as best he could. He quickly turned to look and saw the bear climbing back down the tree but it seemed in no hurry. Sam didn’t stop running until he hit the clearing where his destroyed camp was. He desperately searched around for the pouch containing his car keys. He eventually found it and picking it up he took one final look at his gear and decided his camping days were over. He quickly moved out of the clearing and headed back to the trail which led to his car and safety. He turned for one final look and saw that the bear was back in his camp. Fortunately it appeared to be more interested in finding food in the camp than pursuing Sam. However he decided to take no chances and jogged along the trail eventually making it back to his car. He quickly unlocked it and jumped in breathing a sigh of relief. He looked down the trail half expecting to see the eyes of a bear watching him, but all looked clear. Sam backed the car onto the dirt track, put his foot down on the gas and sped for home.

“Camping not so good?” asked his wife when she saw him arrive and get out of the car.

“Nature won” was all that Sam could reply.

 

More about this author: Ian Farquharson

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