He tore at the sulfur-smelling paper with his teeth, trying to breathe steadily as his heart thundered in his chest. It was coming closer – quickly – crashing through the thick Pacific brush.
Hands shaking, he poured the powder into the blunderbuss’s flared barrel. Just like a drill, he thought. Routine. Hold it together, soldier. It’ll bleed, like a man.
Is it a man?
Next wadding, then shot: brass bearings rolling into the bore, ready to fire. Ready to save his life.
Through the leaves it came, shaggy red-brown with eyes too human. Snarling teeth that were not.
The hammer fell.