OUTFOXED by Max Hawthorne

I was hiking in the woods of Connecticut, recently, accompanied by my brother and one of his closest friends. It became obvious that the two of them had gotten a bit on the sedentary side, and I started to take the lead. They grumbled about me pushing them too hard, and I responded by teasing them periodically about there being two couch potatoes rolling down the hill behind me.

I was about 500 feet ahead of them when I saw the fox. It popped out of the surrounding bushes, right onto the trail maybe 50 feet ahead of me. It was big for a fox, a surprisingly dark red, and had a very bushy tail. As I thought to myself, Wow, what a beautiful animal, the fox turned toward me and proceeded to open its jaws, giving me a great view of its very sharp teeth.

Thoughts of rabies filled my head, and I froze like Little Red Riding Hood doing her “But, Grandma . . .” routine. I stood there, watching fearfully as it turned away and trotted down the trail in the same direction I was headed. Suddenly, the urge to continue on alone faded and I found myself standing there, waiting for my less fit comrades to catch up.

When they showed up 5 minutes later, gabbing about what fast food place they planned on hitting for lunch, they seemed surprised to see me waiting on the top of the rise. My brother’s obnoxious friend said, “You said you were going on ahead. What happened, you got tired?” I pretended to snigger and replied, “Nah, I just felt bad for you guys and decided to wait so you could catch up.”

Then I turned to my brother’s friend and said with a grin, “Go on. You take point.”

-Max

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