My nose hurt, my feet hurt, my whole body was frozen and hurt. My muscles cried out for help, I had to silence their loud and painful protests, silently calming the riot in my legs and arms and I climbed higher and higher up the tree, being as silent and as still as I could. I'd made the climb to the hunting landing a hundred times, and yet, this felt like the first time I'd ever done it. My bow and quiver on my back rattled lightly and beat against my back, the straps on my legs constricted with holsters for knives and a radio that slung around and made the loudest of all noises. When I reach the landing I took off the obnoxious yellow radio and set the volume and sensitivity to low, I pulled off my quiver and my bear-bow and sat with my back against the tree, pulling my backpack off and taking out the camouflage heavy blanket and wrapped it around me, concealing me and my hunting gear from anything passing by. I felt something pinch my thigh and I looked to a strap on my upper right thigh to see my 9mm pistol, there only in case I need to escape from a badger or mountain lion. I sighed and took it off, putting it by the radio, I'd never use either of them anyway, I had four knifes for throwing, a large hunting knife with the design of an eagle on it, and my trusty 45lb draw bear-bow, with 25 arrows, sharp and ready. I sat there for awhile, no game passing me, save a few squirrels, nothing worth shooting. Slowly and surely, my body was adapting to the climate, the cold that froze my nose and my fingertips now seemed to thaw and leave nothing but a cold sweat, my muscles began to cool their riot and continue to go about their day of obeying their owner. I heard a snap, and felt my body instinctively look in the direction it came from. I recognized it, it was far to heavy to be any small animal, but the patter of feet were too close together to be deer or even a bear.

I saw the faint catch of black among the gray and brown of the earth, and saw the fat little critter crawl toward the front of me, a boar. Nasty, vile and mean things were what my great grandma called them. Up until that point all I had ever seen were deer, badgers, racoons, chipmunks, foxes, some quail, and a family of bears. The only boars I had ever encountered were pets and on farms being raised, they wern't bad either, nor vile, nor mean. Even with that in mind, I was wary of it. It was sniffing the ground and rutting up dirt and roots, looking for truffles and roots no doubt. I watched him eat a little at the base of a tree no more than thirty meters ahead of me, and took in his details. He was fat, really fat, fatter than any boar I had ever seen, he was shorter in length than captive boars, but what made me really wary of him, were his yellowed and browned tusks, with those, he could easily dispose of an inexperienced hunter. I wasn't going to be that way, I was going to outlive this fat pig today. I drew my bow lightly and without sound. Hearing the light creek of the wood as it reach its maximum draw. I heard more creaking, and suddenly, I fell. When I hit the ground out of the tree, my back hurt, my legs hurt, my everything hurt, the wind was taken out of me, and I saw the boar scurry away into the woods. When I heard him squeal, I looked at him, he'd gotten his back leg trapped in a simple deer snare, the boar pulled and pulled in attempts to free himself, doing nothing but drawing fresh blood into the air. Trouble. That's what I was taught to call a wounded animal in the woods, not only would it be willing to fight to the death, and kill a hunter, but worse yet, the smell of that blood would draw more vicious, bigger and meaner animals to it. I had to get it away from me, I got the knife out of my boot and sunk up behind him to cut him free, that's when it hit me. That's when I felt it, the worst pain my body had ever experienced, the boar had reared around and dug his tusk into the back of my right thigh. Blood raced out of my leg and I felt a scream radiate and had no choice but to let it rip.

The boar was trying again to ram the tusk deeper into my thigh, I grabbed the other tusk and pulled it up, rotating his head and freeing my leg from him, the blood ran worse. The boar tried to ram me head on and I put out both my arms and grabbed his tusks to stop the assault, I turned his head and his body went down sideways, I got the knife and plunged it between the vertebra on his high neck, snapping the brains connection and killing him. His death came quickly. I crawled toward the tree where the landing was, only to find out to my dismay that only half of the landing broke off and the half with the radio, was still in the tree. I knew from alot of experience that I couldn't get there with this wound, my bow was broken from the fall (I actually think it broke MY fall). I looked for something, anything. My throwing knifes. I began to throw them, hoping that the shock from their hitting could knock the radio down, after my final knife, something fell. I went to see it, and to my dismay the gun landed over the radio and broke it. I'm no fool. I knew that bears would be by very soon, hearing my scream and smelling the grotoutiuos amount of blood around me. I could try and make it, but it would be harder than ever, I was 145 acres onto our 180 acre land, nowhere near anyone or anything that could save me. There was an underground basement used in case of emergency, it could save my life. It had food and everything in it, ready to be used, the problem was however, that it was 86 acres away. I'd never make it. I'm too small to make it. I'd die halfway there, so, I took the gun, put it on my temple, closed my eyes,

And Saw the Black.

It was strange waking up, it felt like I passed out, or was asleep in the leaves and dirt, I saw the earth stirred in front of me, where the pig once was, and small tracks leading away, where the boar got up and walked off. That was impossible, I killed it, I heard its vertebra snap and felt its final exhale, I knew it died...and if that was the case, then I'm dead too. I knew I had to be dead, I shot myself in the head with my own gun. I got up slowly but surely, feeling no dizziness, no pain, nothing really, save the few leaves on my face. I began to walk, and as I started away, something possessed me to look back, so I did. There I lay, my actual body, fallen to the right side, within a pool of blood, my skull fragments and another area of heavy splattered blood was not too far away from the pool, and I watched my blood for a moment, trickle and flow like a river back to its source at my skull, as if trying to cram itself close enough to get sucked back into my skull and bring me back. I however, knew that was never going to happen to me. I died, end of story. I was stupid and careless, and died because of it. I grabbed what I could, a flashlight, knife, blanket and my gun and began to head off to my house.

It took me what felt like a day or so to get back, which to me sounded about right, seeing as that's how long it took me to get there. I reached the woods that divided away into the clearing of my family's home. There, inside the two story home, would be a warm electric heater, old photos of all my family, and my sweet and amazing great granny Margie. I dropped my things off on the porch to the side of the house and jumped over the rail to the second story deck. (the first floor was the garage and basement half underground, the second story was at ground level.) and entered the old house through the side door, just like I always did. I took off my shoes and felt the copper shag carpet under my toes, I'd always loved the way that felt. I couldn't smell anything, but that was, i deduced because my granny was asleep. I walked silently down the hall just big enough for me, my sister and my great grandma to fit through without having to walk sideways. I passed the doors, first on left was the storage room, for all our hunting gear, first on right was the bathroom, second on right was the spare bedroom, and the second on left, filled with bright red shag carpet and white drapes and a small creme bed, was my granny, asleep in her bed, her glasses taken off, and her body twisted toward the nightstand. I smiled and touched her shoulder.

"I'm sorry gran," I started with a heavy frown. "I just didn't make it back this time. I was careless, and it was my own fault..." I felt the tears I never knew I had begin to well up slowly, as if awaking from a sleep. "I'm sorry I didn't bring back some food for ya, I saw a nice deer out there, but, it had little ones, cute little ones, I just couldn't bring myself to do it...I got real bad hurt, and so, I didn't get to say goodbye..." The tears were fighting my eyelids, they hurt me, and they tore at me. "If you hurry, you... you might be able to get that boar I shot, he was a real fat one, outta last you a good few days...I brought my gear back, what I had anyway. I don't know where I'm gunna go from here, but i can't be staying. Just take real comfort in knowing,... that-that..." I began to cry, the tears fell down faster than I could wipe them away, but I let them, they helped me. "...Well, would'ja lookie here, I'm cryin gran, I guess dying made me able to cry again..." it's true, I felt that I should be strong, my mom had no sons, which upset a lot of my family, but they taught me how to do things like men anyway, and soon, I even stopped crying, I just couldn't do it. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I tried to let it, it didn't happen, so I gave up. "...Just take comfort in knowing... that- that, I'll be with all those angels you love so much. And that I'll be with everyone else, papa dutton, mama dutton, grandpa, I'll be with them. And, I'll make it there. So, just sleep well for now, alright gran? Just do it for me. Sleep and live well, it'll hurt, and it may not go away, but, I'm alright. So you be alright too. You hear?" I said with as steady a tone as I could keep without letting myself bawl in my voice too. I shook off the sadness, even though it still lingered, and hugged my sleeping grandma, she twitched for a moment, and whispered as faintly as ever.

"I love you, be careful now. You hear?" The tears attempted a comeback and I nodded a yes, heading out of that room, I shut the door and opened the one across the hall, the spare room, with my sleeping parents. I gave them the same story, with different words, and fought back those pesky tears again as I began to tell my mother and father how sorry I was for how I turned out, that it was all my fault, i was just too much of an Oklahoman kid to be like Kari. I left their room, kissing both my parents and leaving them to rest. I went to the living room, and on the large creme couch with roses and floral prints, there lay my sister, sound asleep, her feet sticking out from under the blanket, she was always tall for a kid her age, and pretty too. Now that I was gone, she'd be all that was left...

"Kari," I began as I put my hand on her cheek, feeling her warm cheeks and looking at all her freckles, "I'm gone now, I'll no longer be able to take care of everyone like I used to. So, I need you to do that for me, okay? You're a strong kid, I know you are, I watched you grow up. Even though we fought alot, it's alright, cause, we still loved each other. So, I need you to take care of mom and dad alright? It's gunna be tough on them, me dead and all. Just know that, my killing myself was the only route I had, lest I bleed out to death. But, I want you to promise me something..." This time, I didn't fight the tears, I let them run, i let them hit her cheek and my hand, I let them fall like heavy water. "Don't you ever, make the same mistakes I did, don't you ever hurt yourself, don't you ever let a guy take yours too soon, don't be stupid and arrogant like I was. Wear what you want. Be who you want. Just, don't be like me...And don't learn to hunt, don't ever go into the woods like I did and kill things. You're to fragile for that, you love animals too much to understand why we need to do that... and you'll get hurt, or worse...alright Kari doodle?" I patted her cheek and kissed it shakily. Nodding my head, I turned and headed out the door, not looking back this time. When I left the house, the road wasn't there. There was nothing, everything was black and gone.