What was that?” Something small, maybe the size of a cat, blundered through the brush ahead of them.
“Dinner” his voice brightened considerably, the annoyance of her company temporarily lifting.
“Really? We have to kill something? Don’t you have some dried meat or hard tack we could eat instead?”
“We’re not in the wild west so, no, I don’t have any hard tack in my saddlebag.” His annoyance was back, along with a healthy dose of sarcasm. “We’re out here without horses and supplies because of you, so stop complaining.” He walked forward a couple of steps before spinning to face her. “And you do realize that any dried meat I might have had was alive at one point, right? Someone somewhere killed your food for you.”
She huffed, defensiveness wrapping around her. “Yes, I realize it was alive at one point. I was just hoping I could keep out of the killing portion of my food. Obviously I was wrong.”
“Obviously.” He stalked forward again, eyes scanning the ground for something she couldn’t decipher. “Here.” He stopped suddenly, kneeling down in front of a moss covered log.
As she got close she saw that the middle portion of the log was suspended from the ground leaving a six inch gap. He pulled out mesh bag and a length of thin rope and started twisting a coiling it quickly. She could see that, whatever he was doing, he’d done it before. He hopped over the log and knelt back down on the other side, digging a small hole before covering it with a couple twigs and laying the bag on top. The rope was looped over a branch on the fallen tree pulling the mouth of the bag open. He dug into his small leather satchel again, pulling something out and rubbing his hands together before carefully placing it into the mesh bag. He hopped back over to where she still stood watching. One more handful and rub and then small crumbles were scattered in a trail leading to the bag.
“Oh!” She gasped. “Those are…are…” she wasn’t sure exactly what it was but she knew it was food.
“Crackers.” He answered matter of factly. Standing, he brushed his hands against his pants and started scanning the nearby trees.
“You said you didn’t have any!”
“I said I didn’t have any hard tack, crackers I have.”
“Then can I have some?” She tried to make her voice sweet.
“No. Either I give them to you and shut you up for all of five minutes before you’re complaining you’re hungry again or I use them to feed both of us.” He stopped in front of a large tree that looked like an oak and hauled himself up two branches while she stood, mouth hanging open, stupefied from his audacity. Finally looked down, “Are you coming up or what? Dinner won’t arrive until you’re out of the way.” Her glare was cold fire before she followed him up into the leaves bits of bark flaking onto her skin as she climbed. They sat in cold silence for awhile before curiosity got the better of her.
“So, what are we doing?”
“Waiting for more malmoles to come by.”
“Oh, like a stakeout!” he rolled his eyes and she ignored it. “How do you know this is where they’ll be?”
“Because they always travel in pods. I heard the other one snuffling around so I know there are more nearby. We just need to wait until one stumbles onto the trail.”
“You really think one will just walk right into your bag?” she was skeptical. Getting an animal seemed like it might require more of a weapon, like a bow and arrow or a spear or something.
“Well, normally I’d have a few more options but since you managed to spook both horses and left me with my bag, a pocket knife and ten crackers we’re doing it this way.” It was like he could read her mind. “And yes, once it gets a whiff of the crackers it should just walk into the bag. They’re not that bright, they move slowly, and smell is their best sense. That’s why we’re up here out of the way.” He leaned back against the trunk and closed his eyes. She wondered at a life that could make you so comfortable in a tree that you’d close your eyes without worrying about losing your balance and falling out of it.
“So, does it taste any good? You’re going to cook it, right?” She drew the line at raw flesh.
“Yes, we’ll build a fire and roast it.” His voice gave away his alertness even if his body looked completely relaxed. “They don’t taste that bad. They’re better baked.”
“Too bad we don’t have an oven.”
“Yes. That’s the real tragedy in all of this.”
I get an email every day with a prompt to use for writing. I've been
ignoring them since January but it's time. I'm challenging myself to use
at least one prompt a week and write something, anything... I'll be
posting some of them here on the blog. I have no idea where they'll take
me. You've been warned. (The prompt word(s) will be italicized in the