The Saga of Miles Forrest

There were two, maybe three wolves outside the make-shift tent.  Glancing around the camp I spotted a pile of wood, that made me feel some better as I didn’t figure the wolves would try and enter as long as I kept the fire going.  Problem is, there wasn’t enough fuel for the night.  It was cold and it was going to get colder.  There were two bedrolls, I could stay warm, but once the fire died down, plus the dead body of Ebert, well, it was an open invitation for those varmints.
    I could go out a blasting and probably get back to the train before darkness set in, but, as I looked at the body, I promised him, and I knew what those wolves would do.  They would tear it completely apart, gorging themselves upon the flesh and organs.
    My thoughts went back to Molly and the others at the train.  They would be expecting me.  Then the thought struck me, no, she wouldn’t come looking for me.  None of them should be out here with the cold and the hunger of the wolves.  They usually didn’t bother humans, and they shouldn’t be that hungry.  The winter hadn’t been hard as of yet.
    Then I heard another howl, and it wasn’t a wolf.  It was the snarling cackle of real evil, the Pale Rider.  It brought a grim smile from me.  This is the second time he has tried to get me with wolves.  The last time was about five years ago or so, time seems to pass by so quickly, up near Meeker when I was helping Juanita and her mother out.  It was a severe winter and we most barely made it.
    I saw a glimpse of fur where the canvas was tied down.  I fired, heard a yelp then the savage attack of the wolves on their wounded mate.  Reaching down I snatched the bandana off the neck of the dead man and rigged up a sling for the shotgun and slung it over my right shoulder.  Then checking my pistol I made sure I had six cartridges loaded.  Stooping I picked up the body, which was becoming stiff and slung it over my left shoulder.  
    Easing back the canvas, I looked to the left and saw the snarling animals tearing at the wounded wolf.  Then a snarl in front of me.  Something leapt at me.  I threw the body I was carrying at it and fell letting the wolf go over me.  He was tangled briefly with the body of Ebert while I struggled to get my pistol out.  My coat was in the way, so I pulled the shotgun off my shoulder and swung it as hard as I could, hitting the wolf along its jowls.  I thought that at least he wouldn’t be eating anything.  It gave enough time to fire one barrel from the Greener.  At that range the blast lifted the wolf up and managed him into mincemeat.
    Momentarily it scared the others away as well.  Laying the shotgun on the ground I reached for my burden sling him again over my shoulder then reached and picked up the Greener and started on my way.  It was dark now but I knew the way back to the train, plus I could see the glow of the fires they had made.  I just needed to watch my step; I surely didn’t want to twist and ankle or break a leg out here.
    I was sweating, but I wasn’t worried about that right now.  Normally, I wouldn’t rush like this and get a layer of sweat on my body with this severed cold, but I would soon be able to get by a fire.  Then I heard the sound of the wolves, it had changed.  They were now on my trail.  Only about a quarter mile away.  They would be upon me.  There was a small outcropping of rock.  Laying down the body, I blew on my hands then leveled the shotgun.
    There were still four of them I could see.  They had slowed, knowing that I had stopped.  As soon as I could see them I fired wanting to wound at least one of them hoping they would turn upon him as they did the others.  Cutting loose with the other barrel, I hit one.  I think I broke it leg and it yelped hobbling.  Only this time they didn’t turn on him; I could see them slowly moving on me.
    Dropping the Greener, I pulled my pistol and waited.  Then a shot, a yelp.  With that I fired, hitting another one.  Now there was confusion and they were turning on each other.
    “Miles!” came the shout.  It was Theo.
    “Over here,” I answered.  “I’m starting to move back.”
    “I can see your shape, just keep going straight back.  I’m coming with you.”
    Within minutes I was back with the refugees of the train.  Molly was standing by one of the fires looking out into the dark as my shape came into view.  “Are you hurt?” she asked softly, then, “Who’s that?”
    “This here was Clem Ebert.  He and his brother Silas were the ones that blew up the train and shot Charlie,” I said as I dropped Clem to the ground.
    I reached for Molly and gave her a big hug.  “Wolves,” I said with a heavy sigh.  “Lots of them.”
    Theo was there next to us.  “I don’t reckon they’ll bother us, but just in case we’ll keep the fires burnin’ hot and men posted with guns.”
    “Where’s Lucas?” I asked wanting him to know that he didn’t have to worry.
    Wolves began to howl…