He blinked a few times and squeezed his eyes shut as he tried to clear the miasma that lingered from the night before. The heavy fog outside the deer blind that early morning rivaled that which engulfed his mind.
His hands tightened around the rifle, although it was unloaded and he’d brought no ammunition with him. This deer blind on his ranch was a place of solitude for him, a place to reflect and shed the after effects from the fraternity reunion the night before. He and his frat brothers still got together regularly and although several decades removed from college, they partied like they were still 18. He shook his head ruefully. He might just be getting too old for that.
He peered through the small rectangular opening on the north side of the blind, and although ten feet off the ground in this simple wooden box of a blind, could see nothing but the fog, that blasted fog everywhere. His head throbbed on both sides, with Jim Beam sledgehammering his left temple and Pearl Beer driving her pickax through the right.
He raised the rifle to his shoulder and steadied his gaze through the scope. A slight ripple in the fog just to the west made him instinctively hold his breath. He heard a slight rustling and then the distinctive, methodical pushing of branches that was a clear signal something was headed towards him.
He was not here to shoot this morning, just to watch, and now he wished he’d brought a camera, because he judged from the approaching sounds that this was a buck of size. It stopped near the blind, just outside of the small area clear of fog around the blind. He could hear it breathe, but what slowly penetrated his slow thought processes was this wasn’t the small controlled breaths of an unaware deer. These were heavier, deeper. Perhaps this wasn’t a deer at all, but a feral hog, or a javelina.
Whatever it was had noticed the blind. It scraped closer to the bottom posts and he caught a glimpse of fur. A light brownish gray, it was not a hog, javelina, or any other animal he’d ever seen in South Texas. It disappeared from his sight and was now directly under the blind.
An unearthly shriek that penetrated the thin plywood floor and into his very soul paralyzed him. The blind vibrated. This..this…thing, this creature, this fog being, was pulling on one of the support posts under him.
His rational mind fought for logic. Maybe he was having a hallucination, brought on by last night. Maybe this was not happening at all, and he was dreaming. Maybe…
A sudden jerk so hard that it made him drop his rifle confirmed his reality, though. He could not jump because that would throw him right into the grasp of…what? What was this?
A hard thump on the side of the blind loosed a panic inside him that oozed from his control. The thing was climbing up the blind. His breathing pushed out in audible yips and he almost cried as he prayed a long forgotten prayer. Another thump and it was now on the roof of the blind, pounding a staccato beat.
That piercing shriek came again, immediately followed by a sight he would never forget, one that seared so deeply it was probably all the way down in his DNA. There at the small opening was a red face, one so hideously red and ugly it didn’t seem real. The next happened so quickly it was hard to patch together the disjointed images. In the red were dark eyes, and then a mouth that screamed again, and teeth, fangs…
He tumbled headfirst out of the blind, landing on his side and rolling, not even caring he didn't have his rifle. He didn’t quit running until he got to his truck, jammed the keys into the ignition and floored the accelerator. He screeched to a stop at the small convenience store seven miles away. He was already sure of his course of action by the time he turned the engine off.
Two men in the store watched as the truck careened into the back corner of the parking lot. They raised their eyebrows as a disheveled man quickly jumped out of the truck and pulled two bottles of whiskey out of the cab of the truck, opened them, and poured them out onto the ground. They continued to watch as he opened beer can after beer can and poured all of those out onto the ground, as well.
The grizzled owner looked at the customer and shrugged. “To each his own, I guess…”
The customer shook his head as he handed the owner a flier. “That was just plain weird.” He laughed a little. “I do appreciate you posting this for me, though.”
The owner looked carefully at the picture on the flier, advertising a reward for the return of an escaped snow monkey from a nearby exotic game refuge. “Those things sure are ugly- those red faces and big teeth make ‘em look like something out of a horror movie.”
“They really are beautiful animals,” the customer replied, “but if you’ve never run into one before, it can be kind of startling to see for the first time.”