The old man was being followed.
If they were after the precious mineral, he would have to kill them.
He started down the thirty-degree decline, careful to avoid any uneven ground that might cause a slip or fall. The rifle slung to one shoulder gave him whatever confidence he required to protect what he’d toiled so hard to remove from the earth’s unyielding crust.
He cast a wistful look at the darkening sky. Into his eighth decade, the man bemoaned the arthritis in his hips and knees that slowed him considerably, and he no longer relished the thought of being caught exposed to the elements past sundown without adequate shelter in such a desolate and unforgiving region. Temperatures could drop precipitously and the wind chill would make any attempt at sleep near impossible.
But then sleep was no longer an option.
He was being followed. He was certain of this.
Reflexively, he touched the scarred wood stock of the 30.30
. With each step
he took, the rifle gently tapped his side like a loyal minion. Winchester
Yes, if they were after the gold, he would have to kill them.
Sensing more than actually hearing the danger lurking ever nearer, he slowed enough to look back over his shoulder. He tried to ignore the tendrils of fear crawling up his spine, but the willpower of his youth had long since deserted him.
Unexpectedly, he found himself hoping it was the gold they were after.
The man clutched the tiny ivory lynx hanging from his neck for luck and pressed onward.
SMILODON. Don't go hiking in the woods alone!