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Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:46 pm

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William Tomas Moore was having one of those days. It started bad then proceeded to storm downhill quicker than an avalanche. First there was the twenty mile hike to town to get food for the week. Of course he had to go on foot because the “horse was tired”. Then came the exploding coffee pot incident, and now this, broken fingers and spilled chilli.

He tripped. He wasn’t sure of what he tripped over; he just knew that he’d tripped. As a result of the fall, William had ended up with his left hand stuck between the counter and the pot. He didn’t remember the pain too well, but he remembered seeing the pot crash to the ground almost in slow motion. The crack of it hitting the compacted dirt snapped him back to reality. William let out a sigh.

William uttered a string of curses. The fact that three fingers on his left hand were broken didn’t matter. The fact that two days worth of chilli was spiller on the floor upset him slightly. He let out a long sigh. John was not going to be happy about this.

John Ablehad Parker was in the make-shift barn feeding the horse. He was proud to know that he was in charge of his own little mining operation. He never said anything but it was obvious that he was the boss. The way he walked, talked, and even dressed screamed it to the snow capped world.

William lumbered out of the cabin (splattered with chilli) holding his left hand in his right. He stalked to the river with a grim look on his face. He crouched at the river’s edge and stuck his swollen fist in to the cool water.

An enraged shout erupted from the cabin, causing William to jolt upright. John must’ve found the mess that was lunch. William stood up with a grunt. This whole situation reeked of trouble.

William sprinted to the cabin, half expecting to get his ear chewed off by John for spilling the chilli. The reality of what happened was much more brutal than he could have imagined. When he burst into the large central room he was surprised to find it seemingly empty. And then, a loud shout, a sickening thunk. William’s vision was becoming red and black around the edges. The last thing he saw was John, standing over him holding the rifle like a bat.

Greed can make a man do stupid things. John was staring down at his seemingly dead partner. He was tempted to shoot William. The one gold nugget that he’d found would be a small fortune for one man, but for two it was next to nothing.Slowly he raised the gun and aimed it at his friends head. His finger rested on the trigger. He lowered the gun. “No,” he muttered, “just take what you can and go.” John gathered anything of use, including all of the food and fire wood. He stored the lump of gold in his jacket. Then he set off, heading south, toward his escape.

After what felt like ages William began to stir. Blearily he opened one eye, then the other. His vision was still fuzzy. And his head hurt. What had happened to him? Had he bashed his head on the door frame? No, there was a lump on the back of his skull. Not the front. While he was pondering this he drifted off again.

A voice drifted out of the murky blackness.

“William? William, you have to wake up now.”

“Mom?” mumbled William. His words were slurred.

“Yes Will, it’s me. Now you have to wake up!”

He sat up slowly, taking in his surroundings. He was in the large central room of the cabin. Alone, as usual. But something seemed wrong. Slowly he stood up, and then quickly threw up. He stumbled towards the cupboard where they usually stored food. Empty, not a crumb in sight. This wasn’t looking good.

He lurched outside. The crisp mountain air cleared his head. William found that his feet were taking him to the barn. Empty, just like the cupboard. At about this time he noticed he was hungry. He glanced around the barn. Rope, he needed rope. And a knife. With a sly grin he grabbed what he needed and set off.

William wandered through the forest, marking his way on trees with the knife. He walked until he came to the holes by the berry bushes. He set the rope as a snare over one of the holes then went to hide and wait. And so William waited, and waited, and waited. And then there was a blood curdling shriek. The snare had worked.

It was just a young rabbit, scrawny, but meat was meat. William grabbed the rope, rabbit attached, and the knife, and meandered home. Upon arriving he tossed the rabbit in the cupboard, and then went to get some fire wood. There wasn’t any. “That bastard thought of everything.” He thought to himself.

William went out and gathered kindling and some large logs. He stored the kindling in the cabin then went out to chop wood. He got the first log almost completely hacked into manageable sized hunks when a loud roar interrupted his thoughts. It was a bear. A grizzly bear. He dropped the axe in shock. It landed square on his foot.

Williams’s vision was becoming red around the edges again. He tried to get a better look at his foot, but found himself staring at the bear, or rather, bears. It was a mother with cubs. William’s first thought was food, but his survival instinct was screaming louder than his stomach. He grabbed the axe and as many little logs as he could carry and ran for the cabin.

Once inside William grabbed the largest of the logs and used it to bar the door. He looked at his injured foot and recoiled from the sight. It was bleeding profusely and four of the toes were missing. After some thought he removed what was left of his sock and bandaged the wound, then set to work preparing the rabbit and starting a fire.

The rabbit was roasting over the fire, its hide drying beside it. William was huddled by the door waiting to see if the bear was going to come after him. His foot was bleeding, his head was throbbing, and his mind was racing. Who had done this to him? Why did they do it? Fuzzy memories filled his mind. There was a gun involved. And where was John?

As William turned the rabbit he pondered the events of the last day, or was it two? He sighed and shook his head. And then it hit him. The fuzzy memory from right after he was hit. John, standing over him, holding the rifle. That murderous cur! It was him that took the food and fire wood! It was him that had knocked William out! It was him that stole the horse and cart. “That greedy bastard!” William roared louder than the bear. He was going to kill John.

The rabbit was sizzling pleasantly over the fire, William, on the other hand was fuming. He couldn’t believe his friend had betrayed him. Had tried to murder him.

Meanwhile, somewhere in south-central Alberta, John A. Parker was walking along with dozens of farmers and traders on their way to town. His clothing was torn and he was thin. The guilt of trying to kill someone was killing him inside. Little did he know that hundreds of miles away his would-be victim had realized what he had done.

William was sitting eating. The family of bears had wandered off, leaving him in peace. He should go out to chop more wood, but what happened last time he tried that left him wary of what could happen. The fact that it was rapidly getting dark out was another factor in his decision. He finished eating then crawled under the one thick blanket that was left in the cabin.

The next morning William regretted his decision to just get some sleep and not do any work. A blizzard rolled in during the night and it was still snowing heavily. He tried the door and not surprised to find if stuck. There was a lot of snow. He tried the window, also blocked. William was trapped inside the cabin.

William was mentally making a list of what he had and needed. Food, shelter, and fire wood he had, water he needed. But the food wouldn’t last long. His shelter was good, as long as the roof didn’t collapse. As for fire wood, well, there was always the furniture. But water, that might present a problem.

The door handle was held in the open position by some rope. William was standing at the other end of the cabin, holding a log like a battering ram. He looked focused. He charged at the door, log held slightly in front of him. He hit the door with a loud thump. It didn’t budge. Again and again he tried, every time with the same result. After an hour of this he sat down, exhausted. He had only succeeded in denting the door.

It snowed more during the night. William was sitting in what was becoming almost a tomb. He needed out. He grabbed the axe and marched to the door. There was a mad gleam in his eyes. He started swinging wildly. The door came down, but he didn`t care, he just kept swinging. He swung the axe at the door until he couldn`t move his arms. He had dug a foot into the ice and snow that was blocking the door.

William collapsed against the doorframe. Dehydration was taking over. Feebly he reached over and grabbed a chunk of ice and shoved it in his mouth. The feeling of the cool water running down his throat seemed unfamiliar. He crawled over to what had been his brooding spot and wolfed down the rest of the rabbit. Then he passed out on the floor.

When William woke up he felt like a different person. He felt... stronger, more sane, than he had the day before. Once again he grabbed the axe and marched for the door frame. He started hacking at the ice. Swing after swing. The ice was growing thin. And then, daylight! William kept swinging at the ice until there was a hole big enough for him to squeeze through.

Once outside William made a bee line for the river. Luckily it didn`t freeze over during the storm. He took one step onto the bank, which collapsed beneath his weight. There was a sharp pain in his leg, broken. He was stuck. He looked up to see what he had slipped on. It looked like a shiny metal of some kind. He looked closer. Gold! He had struck gold! But he couldn’t reach it. Once again, he was trapped

That night it rained. It was a pleasant, warm rain that melted the last of the snow and ice. The rain ran towards the river, dragging dirt with it, causing a minor mudslide that covered the gold and pushed William into the river, in effect carrying him to his watery doom.

Four months later, John A. Parker returns to find the cabin empty. He searches the area around the cabin He even kicked through the mud and grass by the river bank. No sign of William. He gathers all of the remaining useable supplies and leaves, assuming his friend took off to find a better life.



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