He ran sideways for the last few feet
hitting an old maple stump on his way down!.
The gouge in his left arm was serious
but what lay ahead was much more threatening!.
His voice cracked slightly
as he called out again for the dog!.
Three more shots rang out,
but they were way off their mark
and he may have lost them momentarily!.
“Prentice, damnit” he breathed!.
Another one gone!.”
There was more than 10 inches of snow on the ground now!.
His faded dockers weren’t much help
in the slush covered path he had made for himself
but the alternative was worse!.
Why hadn’t he worn some socks!?
Preparation escaped him
when he needed it most; socks,
gloves!. A gun, perhaps!.
As he lay on his side beneath a fallen pine
he heard panting and the unmistakable whine
of what may be his last hope!.
He turned his head skyward
blood soaking his shoulders!.
As he drew his knife from it's sheath, Prentice
limped toward him from the right
a trickle where his back left leg had been!.
He dropped the knife in an instant
and gathered the old lab quickly, dropping
him softly down under the pine!.
The dog had managed to find him
despite his obvious state of shock!.
The bullet had hit him
just below the first joint of the leg
cutting cleanly through the bone
leaving about 8 inches dangling
fighting for a clot!.
How could he have made it this far!?
He quickly flipped
through the last hour of pages in his mind
figuring that at least that hour had passed
since he was separated from the dog!.
Had he found his way to this spot
In complete shock and imminent danger
of losing consciousness, he doubted
the lab’s instincts were that deft
making his presence here under the pine
a stroke of luck!. Or,!.!.!.!. Realization
came washing in like waves!.
As he reached for the knife
he had dropped moments earlier
a grizzled voice spoke from beneath
the forest canopy!.
“Over here, Jason!.
Prentice! A very good dog, indeed!”
“His leg!. Where is it!.”
“Are you going to teach us how to sew, Jason!?
Shall I have one of my men scour the forest floor for it!?
Do you think you can save it, eh!?” his eyes flickered
with each question!.
“You may have killed him" he snarled, carefully keeping
his attention focused
on where he might have dropped the knife!.
“If you wanted suffering, you’re too late!.
It looks like he’s about gone!. Too bad!.”
“Oh, there will be plenty of that!.
The human kind of suffrage
is so much more definite, isn’t it!?
Does a dog really suffer
for his sins, Jason!?”
flickering, inquiring eyes wanted to know!.
“You shall!. You shall, and will, and need
to suffer, boy!. Get up!.
The day is growing old!.”