Now I was scared for him. “Dobbs!” I yelled. “Dobbs!”
My voice echoed through the woods. I scanned the area with my light but didn’t see anything else. Keep steady, I thought to myself. He could have just dropped it. Or maybe the other Ranger, what’s-his-name. They were likely at the tower together. Or maybe scouting the fire they had spotted.
“Dobbs!” I screamed this time. The sky now was now a little illuminated by the tell-tale orange glow of fire. “Dobbs, can you hear me?”
Then I heard a man’s voice say, “Shut up!”
His sudden voice surprised the tar out of me. If hadn’t been so exhausted I’d have jumped up a tree right then and there.
“Where are you?” he was close but I couldn’t see him.
“Shhh! Keep quiet! It’ll hear us!” he said to me.
I located where the voice was coming from, about 10 feet away and a little behind me, then swung the light at him. I saw Dobbs under a thick patch of cedars up against a big rock, huddled on the ground.
“Turn the light off and get over here,” he whispered.
I was moving to where he was and clicked off my flashlight when it occurred to me what he’d said. ‘It’ would hear us.
He had his big revolver in his hand so I raised my carbine and crouched beside him. That’s when I saw ‘it.’
We were right at the bottom edge of a roughly oval clearing, sloping steeply uphill toward more deep woods. The fire light from above and to our right was brighter, so I figured the fire must be just over the ridge, maybe a quarter mile ahead.
At the far edge of the woods, maybe 30 yards away I saw a tall (can’t guess but easily over 6 to 7 feet tall) outline of an upright figure backlit by the glow from the fire. As if it knew where we were it was turned slightly towards us.
I could not make out facial features but I could see it had large eyes that were reflecting the dim light. If I had thought of it I would have made a mental note of how tall it was in relation to the nearest tree, but all I was thinking was that this time, this was no bear.
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