It was a few days after Samhain when the rains stopped. It had rained for over a week with the latest “Storm of the Century”, and before that we had enjoyed warmer than usual temperatures. I taught my morning class, but I left my afternoon class in charge of an assistant and drove to the southerntier, where I had a hunting camp on a few acres which butted up next to the State Lands. I had long desired to retreat here permanently, but it was too far to drive on a daily basis. The cabin once belonged to my uncle, and was totally up to date with electricity and well water that didn’t smell and comfortable furnishings. I was surprised when he left the property to me in his will. But none of my siblings were interested in hunting and fishing, while I had always been one with Artemis.
It was still misty when I walked out to my tree stand. I never liked afternoon hunts, but there was nothing I could do about it; I got to go when I got to go. With the heat of the first week and the rain of the second, I hadn’t been able to hunt at all. Having practiced all summer, I knew my bowshot was accurate. I wanted to bring down a beautiful buck for my wall or a tasty doe for the freezer. Either way, I had the itch. My step quickened. Past the circle of birches I called the dancing ladies, along the creek bottom and up the hill.
I climbed into my stand and attached my harness. I set my bow on its hook and relaxed. Time to sit, to watch, to listen. Time to meditate, time to pray. Time to let go. The hours passed.
It was almost dark when I saw something. It was getting misty again. I was having trouble seeing; even there was a deer, even a buck, I didn’t know if I would shoot. I put up my binoculars to look. Whatever it was, it was way over by the dancing ladies … inside them, wandering around. What was that? Not a deer. I couldn’t tell what it was. I shook my head and took another look. There wasn’t anything there. I was getting tired; it was time to go.
I walked back in near darkness. I had a small mag flashlight but I had walked this way so many times I really didn’t need it. I was proud of my ability to walk in the woods in the dark. But, just in case, I kept my hand on it, snug in my pocket. You never know. Just in case.
When I approached the circle of birches, I stopped. There was something there. What was it? Another hunter? What was another hunter doing on my land? It was posted and I hadn’t given anyone permission to hunt. Even if he was tracking a deer, my cell number was clearly printed on every sign, he could have the curtesy to call. I mean, give me a fucking break. Now I was glad I had my mag light and I pulled it out my pocket, turning it on immediately. I went forward, all righteously pissed off. Then I stopped dead in my tracks.
It was Mary Queen of Scots.
She was dressed in a steel grey dress streaked with brown and black stripes of – what? Dirt? Mud? Or was it part of the fabric? I couldn’t tell. She blended in with the woods as well as my Mossy Oak. Even better, since she was a hologram.
“You are writing the wrong story,” she said.
“I’m hunting,” I replied.
“You are writing the wrong story,” she repeated.
“I haven’t written anything in a long time,” I argued.
“You are writing the wrong story,” and then she was gone.