Chapter Eighteen

This entry is part 18 of 36 in the series Bend

Chapter Eighteen

Nocho was a man that knew how to live off the fat of the land. He took his fishing gear out of the boat and headed for the river.

Pio, likewise, took off in search of food. Al sat down on a rock. He would guard the camp.

Along toward noon, Pio returned with a bunch of bananas on his back. The looked plenty green to Al, but Pio assured him they would soon ripen. He stripped them from the stalk and wrapped them in a piece of cloth. “They must be kept in the dark,” he told Al. “In a few days, they will be very good.”

A few minutes later, Nocho returned with three more of the big fish. They had been cleaned and ready for the pan.

After dinner, Al suggested that they should try and get a little sleep. Two of them slept while the other stood guard.

When, at last, darkness came, they were well rested and ready for whatever nightfall might bring. They took up their positions as the night before, and settled down to wait.

The moon rose higher and higher, now and then peeking through the dense growth overhead.

So far, Al had gotten very little sleep. He was playing a waiting game. So was the guy across the river… if there was a guy across the river… he must assume that there was or he would probably end up a dead man! If the guy didn’t come across tonight, tomorrow he would figure out away to get him over here.

At last dawn was breaking. Another night had passed. The scar-faced killer had not come and it was time to get up. Al crawled out of his blanket. Then suddenly he heard a noise. Something or someone was coming up the trail! He grew tense; he flipped the safety on the rifle. The guy had waited till dawn to strike. Well he was ready for him. Let him come! He had never killed a man before, but this one was a killer, and he was the aggressor.

The sounds were coming closer. He’s making a hell of a lot of noise. He probably had someone coming slowly up the trail breaking twigs and making grunting sounds to distract their attention, and then he would attack from the rear! A cold sweat broke out on his forehead. He didn’t know which way to turn!

Then the noise on the trail became louder, much louder! The loud snapping sounds were like dry bones being beat together in rapid succession. Like someone cracking walnuts; black walnuts! Al had never heard anything like it.

Nocho was shouting; “Get up a tree fast!”

Then Al saw them; wild hogs, dozens of them, and they were big! The bristles on the back of their neck were sticking straight up. Huge tusks protruded from both sides of their mouths. Their lower jaw was chattering and making one hell of a racket!

For a moment Al stood frozen. Then Nocho screamed; “Up a tree!”

Al came to life. There was a small tree in front of him. Would it hold his weight? He had better find out fast. They were charging straight at him. He had never considered himself an expert at climbing trees, but this time he must set a world record. The tree swayed back and forth as he made his ascent. How he managed to hang on to he rifle he will never know.

He could feel the tree shake as several of the beasts took a chunk out of the tree with their big tusks. A few more passes like that and the tree would come tumbling down!

The pigs stopped on the farthest side of the clearing getting ready to charge once more. The snapping of their tusks made Al’s blood run cold.

Two nights he had waited for a killer, here were lots of them! He could hit a rock in mid air. These wild pigs were much bigger! The automatic rifle in his hands sounded like a machine gun! The pistols of Nocho and Pio were spiting fire.

The front line of the creatures stumbled and fell. Some of them, badly wounded, were squealing like mad. Those still standing charged once more, Al’s gun was empty. He could feel the tree shake as they slashed at it with their tusks. He slipped a new clip into the magazine. Once more the pigs were ready to charge. Al didn’t wait. Once more the little rifle was belching fire and lead. They were falling like ten-pins!

Al’s left hand was gripped around the rifle barrel and it was burning his hand. He had been ready for the killer, they weren’t the killer but they would do. He jammed in another clip and sprayed them with hot lead! Many of them lay squealing, mortally wounded. This was too much for the rest of them. They charged once more, but not at him, they vanished into the jungle.

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