An unlikely angel tale.., p.1
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       An Unlikely Angel - Tales From The Backwoods, Story #3, p.1

           Backwoods
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An Unlikely Angel - Tales From The Backwoods, Story #3
An Unlikely Angel

  A Short Tale

  Written by Backwoods

  Copyright 2015 Backwoods

  All Rights Reserved

  License Notes:

  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any means, electronic, digital, photocopied or otherwise, without expressed, written permission from the author.

  All names and characters are fictitious.

  Any resemblance to an actual person or place is entirely coincidental.

  An Unlikely Angel

  The lightning flickering overhead had Ethan on edge. His mother had finally allowed him to venture outside after three days of heavy rain, and his relentless pestering. His pestering, however, would not likely provide results in the future if the lightning did not supply a prompt return home.

  The abundance of rain collected on the ground, essentially providing a vast system of miniature streams, rivers and ponds spread throughout the woods, much like the human body’s complex system of arteries and veins. The area surrounding his fort had flooded, allowing him an opportunity to study the topography and direction of flow before strategically cutting drainage ditches to avoid further flooding.

  He hurriedly scraped at the ground with the walking stick that he had whittled down during his confinement, trying desperately to complete his project. If he were to leave it unfinished, the task would be postponed until the return of the rain, assuming he would not again face confinement. He was nearly finished when lightning struck again, this time striking a tree merely forty feet away, sending shivers of fear, or electricity he did not know which, down his spine.

  He dropped his stick in place and darted through the small opening into his fort. Raindrops had long since squeezed through the pine twig roofing, collecting yet another system of various arteries and rivers. The muddy flow spread in dozens of directions. A job too big for tonight, he thought, as he hurriedly began to tidy up before heading home.

  Ethan was not like most other ten-year old boys. While others spent their days playing video games at the arcade or gathering for a backyard ballgame, Ethan found pure joy in his wilderness solitude. He took great satisfaction in his ability to create, repair, and maintain not only this fort, but all six that he had meticulously constructed in strategic positions within the one-hundred acre spread surrounding the cabin. For Ethan, a greater sense of accomplishment and pride was found in his collection of masterpieces than any game of ball could ever provide.

  The following day brought a bright sun and warm air, so Ethan returned to his fort to survey the damage and make repairs. Four pine branches served as a front door and he lifted them before crawling inside. The dirt floor had begun to dry and he allowed the conditions would suffice, however noting that it would be at the top of his list of things to do when the rain returned. He studied his handiwork as he sat silently.

  The walls consisted of stacked logs with the gaps in-between packed with grass, mud, and leaves. Intertwined branches, bound with twine, formed a small table and chair. A small lunchbox hid, tucked away underneath the table. Reaching down, he removed the lunchbox, placed it atop the table, and removed its contents.

  The small army men residing within were a parting gift from his father before heading off to war. His father returned unscathed and many years had come and gone since, yet they remained one of his most prized possessions. He pulled each one from their plastic bag home and placed them in defensive positions, preparing them for battle. Several battles and a glorious victory later, he carefully returned them to their hideaway.

  The sun soon began its descent through the trees, so he crawled out, carefully replaced the pine-branch door, and headed for home. The fort was only a ten-minute walk from the cabin, but he hurried along nonetheless, fearful of the wrath of a worried mother, whose limits had already been tested with the lightning the day before. Returning late was a mistake that he had made only once before and it was one that he certainly did not wish to repeat, not only due to the fear of his mother, but the forest turned creepy and mysterious after dark.

  As he sped through the forest, the crunch of a stick nearby stopped him dead in his tracks. Multitudes of critters were commonly found roaming the hills in this area of southern Ohio. Most, the likes of raccoon, opossum, squirrel, fox and rabbit, were harmless. There were coyote, although they preyed upon the before listed critters and would not actually attack anything much larger. Having spent all of his years living within these hills, he had grown familiar with the sounds. This was certainly no small critter, he thought, perhaps a deer, but the hairs standing on his neck sent warnings down his nerves. Just the week before, Old Man Tate had spoken of the dozen panther sightings within only a few miles of their farm. That, and the ever present possibility of bear, flooded his thoughts with concern.

  He remained silent and still, scouring the darkening woods for any sign of life. After several minutes and no further sounds, he proceeded carefully. The sun had disappeared, leaving only minutes of light until darkness would consume the landscape, swallowing everything. Despite his dwindling time, his third step brought another crunch, this time even closer than the last, and he again paused and studied.

  The dangers that Old Man Tate had warned him of seemed moot at the time, but they now poured over him like rain. He knew that most predators would chase a running animal and that the best thing to do was to be still and back away slowly, but fear proved a motivator much stronger than knowledge or common sense, so he turned and ran.

  He ducked branches and weaved through briars, saplings, and fallen trees as he raced down the overgrown trail. He heard another crunch and looked to his left, spotting a very large animal running alongside him, not more than thirty yards away. The beast looked like a dog, but it was the size of a horse. As its ears and face flopped, he thought of his father’s stories of a dog he had as a child, named Jack, who was an English mastiff. His father had shown him a picture once, and it did look big in the picture, but whatever this beast was, was certainly no dog. No dog could ever grow to such a size, he thought. He ran faster, keeping a watchful eye on the beast as it ran alongside him, stride for stride. He felt the sharp sting of bark against his face as he ran squarely into an old oak tree. The forest, along with the beast within, faded to black as his consciousness left him.

  A sharp pain awoke him and he brushed his face, feeling something wet. In the soft glow of moonlight, he could see the sheen of blood, smeared across his hand. He sat up and looked around. The eeriness was indescribable as the glow of light penetrated the woods, highlighting hundreds, if not thousands of strips and dots all around him. There was no dog, or beast, or anything else in sight as he focused his eyes.

  Surprisingly, he was able to see very well in the darkness. The moonshine lit his surroundings and his eyes adjusted well. He stood and looked around, amazed at the new world around him, everything familiar, yet everything changed. As he studied the moonlit objects around him, the realization set in that he was out after dark. His fear sparked a rush of adrenaline and he quickly rushed down the trail. This time however, at a pace allowing a safer distance from the trees alongside the trail.

  The sight of blood put a quick end to his mother’s scolding and he found himself coddled and catered upon his return home. He told his story of the crunches of snapping sticks and the large beast running after him with viscous intentions. His tale, however, proved too unbelievable to his mother, who simply remained quiet and tended to the laceration above his right eye. After a pleading argument, he convinced his mother to find the old pictures of his father’s childhood.
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  He found the picture that he had recalled, and after a brief examination, he blurted out, “It was just like that kind of dog! I swear it! But the beast that chased me was certainly much, much larger than any dog could ever be!”

  His father had been working late and returned home to a complete, step-by-step account of the incident. Ethan cried about a beast twice as large as the dog in the picture that had nearly eaten him, although, his father too, did not believe him. His story provoked, however, an unexpected response from his father, who angrily interrupted.

  “That’s not funny, Ethan! That’s not funny at all! Haven’t you learned by now that the lying only makes matters worse? I don’t know what you were doing, or how you hurt yourself, but it is not funny at all to joke about those things! Jack was my best friend throughout my whole childhood and mocking him is certainly no way to avoid trouble! If you are not going to tell the truth, perhaps you should just go to bed!”

  His head had begun to ache and his disappointment grew overwhelming. A monster had nearly eaten him and his parents thought it was all some big, elaborate cover story constructed to avoid telling the truth. Lying might
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