Willie and the Bear (PG-13, language)
More brambles. “Shit.” Willie swore looking at the overgrown trail as he crested the ridge. “You could always take the road,” croaked the crow unhelpfully. “Like that’s an option,” Willie shot back. The goons would be on the road, and while they were dumber than a pile of rocks, they had automatic weapons and were more interested in shooting people they didn’t know than talking about it. It had taken five days to get to the mountains outside of the city, dodging both the paramilitary survival freaks and the ‘legitimate’ military. Willie had plenty of supplies and had heard that on the other side of the Appalachians things were a little less intense, with more space and less people to worry about.
He started down the old hiking trail, the thick undergrowth managing to stab through his jeans like he was being attacked with thousands of tiny hypodermic needles borne by deranged fairies. He made a fair amount of noise, with a little more swearing and a lot of pulling himself through the tangling briars. Blackberries stained his clothes as he crushed them on his bid to get down the trail. “Told you you should have brought gloves,” the crow chided, following it with tongue clicking sounds. “All that noise and berry juice is going to bring a bear and it’s going to enjoy fucking you in the ass as it eats you alive.” Willie thought about finding a rock and throwing it at the crow, but he was fairly certain that would take too long and he was less certain it wasn’t a hallucination from detoxing on the water additives that the government was adding to pacify the population. Willie looked up at the crow, “go eat a bag of dicks, bastard.” The crow just cackled at him with mocking laughter.
The cackle died off and was replaced by something crashing through the undergrowth. Willie froze. “It’s the goddamn bear! Run, idiot!” screamed the crow. Willie took off through the underbrush, shredding his hands and forearms, as whatever it was changed direction to trail him. Willie redoubled his efforts, scrambling through the brambles and up a rocky slope. He chanced a look back and nearly fell over as he saw a large brown bear sized object thunder out of the trees on to the path. “Run! Run” Willie wasn’t sure if he was yelling it or it was the crow, but it seemed like good advice and he obliged by regaining his balance and charging up the last bit of the trail. He found a hilltop clearing waiting for him and an abandoned ranger platform at the far edge.
Behind him, the underbrush crashed and he could hear snorting and panting as the beast rushed up the path behind him. He broke into a sprint, aiming to catch a cross member on the supports and leverage himself up.
He crossed the field and as the bear entered the clearing he leapt, catching the crossmember. His legs kept going and he felt his body continue through an arc and his grip failed as he reached the full swing. “Shi-” The crossmember receded from him and he landed flat on his back, his breath leaving his body as panic set in. The crow flapped around in front of his face, “Get up, he’s gonna eat you, dumbass!” A roar from across the field came as he gasped and struggled to regain his feet. He could hear the weight of the bear charging as he made a desperate leap for the cross member, catching it and using his feet against a support to assist him. He scrambled up, pulling his feet after him as the paws hammered the support where his feet had just left. The entire tower rocked dangerously at the impact. Willie clung to the upper support and pulled himself into the platform, which was rocking like a ship in heavy seas as the bear tried to knock it down.
He layed in the dust and mold, praying that the platform would hold up under the abuse. The rocking slowed and finally stopped with a frustrated snort. Losing interest, the bear started to wander off. The crow cackled, “I told you there was a fucking bear, and that he wanted to eat you..” Willie turned his head to look at the crow, “you’re still an asshole.”