Hey everyone! Work continues forward on Unusual Events, and I thought you’d all appreciate another sneak peek! Today’s look comes from Vacation, a short story about a tour guide and tourist in Alaska. And of course, nothing has gone as planned.
You can read it after the break.
Well, this is lovely, Mike thought as the tree swayed beneath him. A sharp vibration ran through the trunk at his back, moss, pine needles and other debris raining down on him from above. Several of the needles landed on his neck, and he reached back with one hand to wipe them away before any could work their way down the back of his shirt or to the inside of his coat.
Then again, it could be worse, he thought as the tree shook beneath him once again, a faint scraping sensation resonating through the wood. He lifted his hood as the shaking loosened more of the detritus from above, waiting as the shaking subsided. We made it to the tree. Now all they had to do was wait it out.
A few feet below him, clutching another branch with pale, shaking hands as the tree shook once more, was his client: a pasty, slightly soft, overweight Californian named David—a few years or so younger than Mike was, judging by his looks—who’d wanted a three day fishing and camping trip. At the moment Dave looked too scared to speak, his eyes locked on the brown bear still beating his paws against the base of their tree. Which at least meant the man wasn’t panicking.
Small blessings, I guess, Mike thought as he shifted, trying to find a more comfortable position. If the bear decided to wander off after a few minutes they wouldn’t need to be in the tree for long, but if the bear decided to have fun with their camp … Well, they’d be there for a while. And both the radio and the gun were down next to his tent, completely out of reach—not that he really wanted to shoot the bear; just try and scare it off, though if it hadn’t left them alone already …
Still, the radio was what he really wanted. At least then he could call somebody. Or at least have somebody else to talk to other than his client.
Still, what was done was done. He couldn’t go back and choose to grab the radio instead of Dave. Besides, he was pretty sure he’d have made the same choice.
“Aah! It’s looking at me! This isn’t right!”
Then again, maybe not. He glanced down at Dave, trying to hold back a sigh as he watched the man panic. Time to speak up before his client did something to rile the bear up and make an enemy out of him.
“Of course he’s looking at you,” he said. The bear was indeed looking up at them, standing on its hind legs with what looked like a curious expression on its face. Maybe he’s wondering how we’d taste. That or he just smells the fish on us. “Calm down.”
“But what if he wants to eat us?” Dave asked, giving him a quick glance before looking back down at the bear.
“That happens a lot less often than you think,” Mike said, shaking his head. “He might maul you, but he’s probably not going to eat you.”
“That’s … not very reassuring,” Dave said. A low moan of terror followed a moment later as the bear rose up on its hind legs once more, planting its front paws on the tree. “Why won’t he just go away? Bears aren’t supposed to bother people!”
“I think you’ve got that backwards,” Mike said, rolling his eyes as he shifted on his branch once more. “People aren’t supposed to bother bears. It’s the other way around. Bears won’t usually bother people, but if they decide they want to, there’s not much you can do to stop it.”
“What about bear mace?”
“Please,” Mike said, trying not to snicker. “I saw that little can you were carrying. It’s pepper flavoring.” Down below, the bear in question dropped onto all fours once more and wandered back over toward the brightly colored tents.
“Well … what about you? Don’t you have anything?”
“I did, and I would have grabbed it if I hadn’t have had to grab your sorry behind,” he said, glaring down at the other man. “Or the gun. Or maybe the radio. Didn’t you listen to a word I told you when we had this conversation about bears last night?”
Dave had an indignant look on his face, his forehead creased with lines. “Well … yeah.”
“Then why didn’t you do what I told you?”
“Because it’s a bear!” Dave shouted, the noise drawing a look upwards from the bruin down in their campsite. “I panicked. I didn’t actually expect to see a bear while I was up here, you know!”
Mike lifted one eyebrow. “You came all the way to Southeast Alaska to go camping and fishing for three days, and you didn’t expect to see a single bear?”
“Not up close,” Dave said, shaking his head. “I thought it was a wilderness thing!”
“You might have missed the memo, Dave,” Mike said, shaking his head. “But we are in the wilderness here. This whole place is wilderness.” He spread his arms, gesturing to the thick trunks of spruce and pine around them. “This is wilderness.”
“But there are people here.”
Mike let out a groan. “So what? Far as that bear is concerned, this is his territory and we’re the intruders.”
That seemed to shut his client up. He leaned back against the trunk, scowling as he watched the bear wander to their fishing equipment and start sniffing at it. I really hope that moron didn’t leave food inside his tent. I told him not to.
With a snort the bear moved away from their fishing gear, instead deciding to head towards Dave’s backpack. There was a tearing sound as its claws dug into the material.
Shame, he thought as he watched the bear tear into the side pockets, trail mix and M&Ms falling out onto the ground in a shower of multicolored rain. That was a nice pack, too. Brand new, in fact, like most of his client’s gear. Purchased just for the trip.
You can get a full look at Vacation as well as find out what becomes of Mike and Dave when Unusual Events hits the digital shelves! You’ve only got about a month to wait!