• The cabin was old. Very old. It's log frame was rotting, the smell of decaying wood filled the air, but what was oldest about it was what had happened there, and who knew about it. It's smell wasn't unpleasant; it was of old pine and dying firs.

    Atleast, that's what I was trying to think about, when I lay on the floor of it's second story bedroom, imagining the countless numbers of spiders and mites and beetles and cockroaches swarming the crawlspace three inches below my head. I took little comfort in anything but the twenty pound rifle I held close to my chest, my own rifle, the one I had worked hours on end at a poorly managed Burger King for.

    The air smelled even stronger in this room, though. I had to be grateful for it, lacking the benefit of a good shower in three days, I smelled mildly putrid. I sat forward, pushing off of the rough wooden floor, and earning myself a quick splinter. With a grimace on my face, I stood, slung the weapon over my shoulder, and pushed open the door.

    "There you are!" My uncle exclaimed, a broad grin stretching across his face.
    "Did you sleep well, Scooter?" My uncle had always called me that. I still winced when I heard the nickname.
    "Yeah, I slept fine." I replied, grimly, before having to stifle a sudden yawn.
    "Well, I'm glad to see you suited up, then, because today is the day we are going to take down the nine-pointer, I'll have you know!" The man said, his eyes smiling wider than his mouth ever could.

    I shrugged, and checked my munitions pouch. The glisten of brass and lead peeked out of the bag, and I grinned. "When are we going?" My uncle turned to me with a surprised look on his face. "We're leaving right now. Aren't you coming?" I raised my eyebrows, and nodded, as if this were truly a ridiculous statement to think otherwise.

    We clambered out into the woods, covered in ghilly cloth and camouflage. My uncle even had me paint my gun to match the forest. My ghilly suit was silent, not a rustle to be heard. The only noise we could hear were the birds singing our arrival and the leaves brushing out of our way.

    "Head north. Radio me when you spot our buck." My uncle whispered, from right behind me. I nodded, smoothly, and began to creep forward, eyes peeled for any sign of our target. I slowly reached down and checked my compass, taking every care not to move erraticly.

    As I approached a great oak, perhaps the largest tree I had ever seen, I glimpsed our buck grazing not fifty feet away. From where I was, I could see the calm in the animal, the carefree life of a buck, it's sleek brown fur and crisp wariness, and I couldn't bring myself to shoot. My hands shaking, I gently set my rifle down in the grass and leaves, and tapped my radio into commission.
    "I have found him."
    "Great work, Scooter! I didn't hear a shot. Is he down?"
    "I don't have a clean shot."
    I could hear my uncle sigh, and then a grunt of affirmation. The radio clicked off. I sighed, and picked up my rifle again. I took aim at the animal, but could not bring myself to squeeze the trigger. I looked over my rifle, and nestled it against my knee.

    I heard the deep thundering boom of a heavy rifle round, and I saw the bark of the tree splinter, wood shards and shavings flying past my eyes. the entry hole to the tree was inches from my head, and I could feel the pain of the bark cutting it's way into my flesh. My vision was halved, I could see nothing but the deep illuminated red of blood in my right eye. The only thing I could think of, the only thought even worth thinking, was to drop.

    I hit the ground as fast and hard as I could, reaching up to feel for the wound to my head. I touched the wooden shard, and grunted in pain. It was longer than my hand.

    There I lay, for several minutes. Or hours. Or days. I don't know how long, until my uncle turned me over. I could see the fear in his eyes, feel his anguish when he thought he had killed me. I couldn't speak, my throat was empty. My voice was taken by the wooden shard. I could see the tears fill my uncle's eyes, felt the drips hit my face, and that's when I spoke.
    His face lit, as if he had heard the voice of God.
    "I think you missed."